Edible mushrooms come in all shapes and sizes. If you think beyond mushrooms and chestnut mushrooms, you quickly reach the area of medicinal mushrooms. You may already know one of them. Shiitake is not only very tasty in the wok. Japanese researchers have also found substances in the shiitake that are extremely healthy. There are many other mushrooms that may be of use to you. Although they are not available in the supermarket, they can be found in our health and smart shops.

Extracts of Edible Mushrooms

From liquid tinctures to mushroom powder, edible mushroom extracts are flying over the counter at health food shops and online smartshops. On the one hand, this is of course because you read articles like this. Mushrooms such as chaga, cordyceps and reishi are becoming more known because bloggers write about them a lot. But there is a much more important reason why mushrooms are suddenly more known. The progress of scientific research into the value of mushrooms is increasing. Sometimes, research even reveals remarkable results. Some results correspond to what you can read in ancient writings. But you have to take that with a grain of salt. In one of the first Chinese books on herbal medicine, the reishi mushroom is known as the mushroom of immortality. We can invalidate that for you right from the start. However, in this example, the mushroom does bring balance and reishi is bursting with beta-glucans.

Before we say anything about that, let us say that we have no medical background. Therefore, we are not going to tell you about medical details. According to the law, that is not allowed and, moreover, we do not have the need for it. So in this article, you will not read anything about diseases, but about the benefits of some special mushrooms.

Fungi, Spores and Mycelium

Did you know that mushrooms do not officially fit into a "plant-based" diet? Mushrooms are not plants. They are actually just the sexual organs of some fungi. Mushrooms, or rather fungi, are a completely different kind of life form than plants or animals (or bacteria to complete the list). The evolutionary split between animals and fungi took place about 1.538 billion years ago. And between plants and animals 1.547 billion years ago. This means that mushrooms are more closely related to humans than to plants by 9 million years! [1]. 

So mushrooms are sex organs. And what about the rest? One of the most important parts is actually the mycelium. These are the extremely fine fungal threads which you could see as the roots or the system of blood vessels and nerves of the mushroom. The mycelium transports nutrients from one side of a fungus to the other, gives signals about threats and looks for opportunities for extra nutrition. It has even more intelligent functions that play a role in the interplay of plant roots, but then we would be dwelling on the details. However, this little fact is nice to mention: 

Largest living thing on earth

The largest living thing on earth is a gloomy honey fungus that lives in the US state of Oregon. The network of fungal threads (mycelium) of this 2400-year-old unit covers an area of 8.9 square kilometers and is 3.8 kilometers long [2]. That is larger than the municipality of Alblasserdam! 


That white stuff is the mycelium; this is the part of the mushroom that lives under the ground.

Another part of the fungus you need to know is the spores. Spores are similar to the pollen of a plant. Only spores do not have to fertilize other mushrooms. If the conditions are right, the spores grow into a new mycelium network wherever they can. This is exactly why you have to work so cleanly with our mushroom grow kits and why mildew is so stubborn on weed plants. In any given liter of air there are always spores.

Cordyceps

Ok, enough biology lectures. Time to introduce you to some specimens. To get straight to the point with the most bizarre fungus, this is cordyceps.

In nature, cordyceps is known as a caterpillar killer. This is because the spores of cordyceps land and stay on insects. There the mycelium can grow right through the insect's armoured skin. But that is not all. The fungal threads find their way into the poor animal's nervous system, where it carries out commands, as it were. It is like a cheesy zombie film. Cordyceps instructs the animals to walk to higher areas such as trees, where the cordyceps eventually forms the mushroom. BANG! The mushroom shoots out of the head or body of the infected insects up there and the spores that swirl out have the best chance of reproducing. Don't believe it? Check out the video below if you dare.

Vegan Cordyceps

So. Are there caterpillar corpses in our cordyceps extracts? Well, no. All producers of edible mushrooms with whom we do business supply vegan cordyceps. No caterpillars, flies or ants in your capsules, but 100% organic cordyceps grown on plant material. Mushrooms grow everywhere, as long as the conditions are favourable. They have no preference. But we do! 

Cordyceps Effects

But why take cordyceps? It is possible that cordyceps stimulates cells and substances in your immune system. Cordyceps contains polysaccharides and cordycepin, which play an important role in current research. The Chinese Olympic team has been using cordyceps for decades because it legally improves athletic performance. And at that level, of course, every little advantage is a bonus. In a neat study from 2017 [3], 28 participants were randomly given 4 grams of cordyceps mushroom blend or a placebo every day for 3 weeks in a double-blind study. Among other things, participants had improved maximum oxygen uptake (VO2max) and took longer to reach exhaustion.

Cordyceps is known as the sport mushroom for these reasons. Drinks with cordyceps such as Cordyceps Beetroot Latte from Mushrooms4Life are therefore consumed as a sports drink before exercise.

Chaga Extract

In Russia and northern Europe chaga was already used in the 16th century for its good properties. Chaga is packed with antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, phenols and enzymes, making the “diamond of the forest” perfect for preparing a tea or dietary supplement. Chaga contributes to the normal functioning of the immune system. That is why almost every chaga extract is marketed as a superfood for natural immunity. ChagaHealth from Estonia has developed a whole line of organic immuno elixirs from this healthy mushroom.

Buying Chaga

You can buy chaga as a tincture, chaga powder or as an extract in capsule form to feel great every day. Whether you choose Chaga from Mushrooms4Life, Foodsporen or Pure Mushrooms; Chaga at Dutch-Headshop is organic and moreover sustainably cultivated in Eastern European forests on real birch wood. Chaga is in theory one of the edible mushrooms, but very impractical. Chaga has the texture of solid wood! That is why powders, lattes and elixirs are made from it.

Reishi

Reishi is the easiest name in a book of names that includes the stalked lacquer mushroom (Ganoderma lucidum). You can buy reishi in capsule form or tincture, but we also have reishi spore powder in capsules. Or how about a relaxing Reishi Zen Coffee? The relaxing and adaptogenic effects of reishi help reduce that nervousness of caffeine. So you can have your morning cup of comfort without shaking hands. 

Reishi is one of the edible mushrooms, but not easy to prepare. You can remove the rock-hard skin or let it soak into a soup or broth. This is a common practice in both Chinese and Japanese cuisine. Delicious with a few spring onions and lots of herbs. Sometimes Lion's Mane is also used in such oriental mushroom soup.

Lion’s Mane

The magnificent lion's mane mushroom is perhaps best at home in the smartshop. That is because lion's mane is used as a nootropic. Lion's mane is being studied to determine whether it gives us a stronger memory. Where Lion's Mane supplement really shines is in its long-term benefits. Lion's Mane stimulates a physical process called Nerve Growth Factor (NGF), but that takes time. You can find out exactly what this does online, but we can say it has something to do with your nerves and memory. You will need to take the dietary supplement for six weeks to experience all the benefits of Lion's Mane. Lion's mane produces edible mushrooms (and very tasty ones!). They have a bit of a crab texture and from personal experience do well in lion's mane tacos. If you can find fresh lion's mane of course. Popular are our lion's mane capsules. Probably because the convenience of taking a pill is easier any way. But also try the lion’s mane tincture from Foodsporen. Highly concentrated and triple-extracted: powerful stuff!

Medicinal and Edible Mushrooms

Can't choose from our range of edible mushrooms? Then choose for example Fit Mix by Pure Mushrooms. These easy-to-swallow capsules contain reishi spores, cordyceps (vegan cordyceps of course) and maitake. This healthy cocktail is designed to provide you with your daily dose of mushrooms. Just take a capsule or two with a glass of water and you are good to go!

Psilocybin

The mushrooms we haven't discussed yet are of course the psychedelic magic mushrooms that the smartshop is known for! Of course magic mushrooms are edible too, but not directly intended to be used for cooking a meal. It is possible though: .

Magic mushrooms, and magic truffles as well, contain psilocybin, which makes you hallucinate. Do you want to know more about what magic mushrooms and truffles can do for you? Read one of our extensive blogs:

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