Mycophysiology and Hominid Perks

Take a moment to forget.

Forget about the idea that mushrooms have chemicals that have pharmacological potential. Forget that you want to learn about the mushrooms so that you can ‘use’ them.

Just for a moment, let’s see the mushrooms as their own organism.

Their own organism with all of their chemicals not for the human system, but for the fungal system.

Every constituent that we wish to extract and isolate and identify has an important role within the living mushroom, and a role within the entire ecosystem.

Let’s explore these compounds and their functions within the mushroom before exploring their functions and relations within the human system.

Remember, a human is not their cholesterol, a human is not their pheromones, a human is not their amino acids. A human is a synergistic organism made up of thousands of molecules and cells all working together. It is impossible to understand who a human is from just analyzing one of these molecules.

When we look at the mushroom through the lens of its parts, keep in mind it is the synergism between these parts that makes the organism, not the isolated constituents.

The purpose of this writing is to first investigate major myco-constituents that have been researched for their medicinal value and understand their innate role in the fungal organism. After delving into the mushrooms on a cellular level I’ll discuss how these constituents interact with the human system. We did after all evolve with the mushrooms, we just work so beautifully together. Through understanding the innate role of these compounds and where they are within the mushroom organism, we gain insight into the best ways to extract these compounds to support our own physiology. Specific constituents that will be discussed: Polysaccharides, volatile compounds (Alcohols, monoterpenes, sesquiterpenes, aldehydes, ketones), triterpenes, ergosterol, phenolic compounds, and fatty acids.

The Fungal Cell


The cell wall is an exquisite and imperative structure in all organisms. The cell wall role in fungi is similar to the role of the cell membrane in humans – it is dynamic in controlling the shape and protecting the organism from the environment. The cell well is made up of compounds involved in morphogenesis, reproduction, cell-cell and cell-matrix interaction. The fungal cell is rigid as it is made up of one of the hardest substances, chitin. Although rigid, it must also be complex to allow for budding, growth and adaptation to environmental stress. The fungal cell wall is composed of multidimensional, communicating polysaccharides including chitin and glucans. (Taborda)


– Many simple sugar molecules attached to one another, referred to as glucans when it is glucose molecules-

Screen Shot 2018-04-06 at 10.13.37 PM

 In the Mushroom

These chains of sugars may be extracellular (outside the cell wall), may be associated with the cell wall and membrane, or may be intracellular. Extracellular polysaccharide function is unclear, pullulan a polysaccharide similar to glycogen and mycodextran are alpha linked glucans that are extracellular. From what I could gather, the function of these may be as storage reserves. Beta 1,3 and beta 1,6 glucans are also sometimes found on the outside of the cell, but are most often important components of the cell wall itself. (Griffin) The major role of polysaccharides is in providing cell wall structure. As Basidiomycota (fungi with fruiting bodies) grow and mature fruiting bodies, the total polysaccharide levels increase. (Friedman)

With this knowledge about the role of these compounds as structural support and barrier to the fungal cell we can understand the role within the human organism.

In the Human

The polysaccharides act in the human in an analogous way as they act in the fungal cell. They support the human cells in responding to environmental stressors within the human terrain.

Polysaccharides play a number of functions in the human system. Once ingested, these compounds move through the GI, coming into contact to mucous membranes all the way down through the inner tube from mouth to anus. The mucous membranes have lymphoid tissue called gut associated lymphoid tissue (GALT) that contains immune cells called macrophages. These macrophages, or big eaters, are an important part of our innate immune system. These immune cells have specific receptors for beta-glucans, Dectin-1 and TLR2. Once the beta- glucans come into contact with them, there are chemical messengers called cytokines that are stimulated. Specifically, IL-12 and IFN-y. These cytokines are important in stimulating Natural killer cells, Cytotoxic T cells and TH1 cells. Once these cells are stimulated they target viruses and cancer cells. (guggenhein)

Polysaccharides also function as soluble fiber. When they enter the gut, they slow the release of glucose into the blood stream, acting as hypoglycemic compounds. They also help to decrease cholesterol through binding bile acids. When bile acids end up in the soluble fiber, they are pooped out and then the body will use cholesterol to make more, rather than recycling the bile acids. Along with binding bile acids, they also prevent absorption of cholesterol from food in the GI, further lowering serum cholesterol. These polysaccharides are also beneficial in controlling blood sugar. Polysaccharides inhibit the enzyme, alpha-glucosidase, this enzyme is known to induce after meal hyperglycemia. Along with inhibiting this enzyme, polysaccharides have also been shown to upregulate the GLUT 4, insulin-response glucose transporter, while down regulating NFkappa-B, a nuclear transcription factor that controls regulation of inflammation. (friedman, shamtsyan)

Polysaccharides as antioxidants: Polysaccharides increase activities of liver oxidative enzymes, catalase, glutathione peroxidase, and superoxide dismutase and increase glutathione and malondialdehyde levels. This is all to say that these compounds support our innate antioxidant systems supporting the human in relieving oxidative stress and free radical damage.

Polysaccharides as prebiotics: The oligosaccharides and polysaccharides contained in mushrooms are consumed by Bifidobacterium and Lactobacilli, two important bacteria in a healthy microbiome. Through supporting a healthy gut microbiome, this can also be helpful with asthma, allergies, anxiety and even depression.

Extraction method:

Hot water – 100 degrees C for at least 2 hours


Volatiles Compounds and Triterpenes

Low molecular weight, carbon based compounds that vaporize at about 20 degrees Celsius. Include: Alcohols, monoterpenes, sesquiterpenes, aldehydes, and ketones

Triterpenes have 30 carbons and are too heavy to be volatile, but I put them here since they are made in the same pathway as monoterpenes and sesquiterpenes.

Screen Shot 2018-04-06 at 10.27.09 PM

In the Mushroom

These volatile compounds are derived from primary and secondary metabolism pathways; they diffuse through the atmosphere as “infochemicals”

These chemicals function as attractants and deterrents to insects and other invertebrates. Fungal volatiles have important properties as pheromones and defense. Some of these compounds are an efficient way of defending against fungal feeders. Octanol, often called mushroom alcohol, is an alcohol that deters banana slugs from eating mushrooms while also serving as an attractant for fungus eating beetles. Amusingly, octanol from human skin serves as a host odor cue that attracts blood sucking insects. Trametes versicolor is an example of a polypore mushroom that produces sesquiterpenes: specifically, cardinene, beta guiaene, isoledene and gamma patchoulene that attract fungivorous beetles. (morath,Rosecke) Through attracting these insects the mushrooms are better able to spread their spores and inoculate nearby substrate. A good way to make more of themselves!

Monoterpenes, sesquiterpenes and triterpenes are all compounds in mushrooms that have a cholesterol backbone. (The chemical structure looks similar to cholesterol)

Triterpenes are the heaviest of the three since they have 30 carbons and the others have 10 and 15 carbons respectively. Within the mushroom cell, triterpenes are converted into various metabolites including sterols, steroids, and saponins. They are produced via a pathway called the mevalonate pathway with a starting molecule called acetyl-coa. Animals have a very similar pathway that leads to cholesterol synthesis! This pathway in fungi also leads to ergosterol (a precursor to vitamin D2) which plays the same role that cholesterol plays in the human cell. It is a major component of the plasma cell membrane in fungi, important for membrane permeability.

Cytochrome p450 is important in gene expression and triterpenoid production. There is significantly more CYP450 during the transition from primordia to fruiting bodies, correlating with a higher triterpene content in the mushroom fruiting bodies. – developmental stage of fungal growth plays an important role in the regulation of secondary metabolite genes. (rep NP) (Schmidt-dannert, Schrader)

 In the Human

Volatile compounds are very low molecular weight and cross easily through barriers and membranes. It is for this reason that essential oils are so readily absorbed through the skin and mucous membranes. Some volatile compounds can be neurotoxic for this reason, and some can be neuroprotective. There is research now exploring the role of octanol as an antiseizure agent. (Manjarrez-Marmolejo, chang, jahromi) Octanol reduced seizure induction and seizure discharges when it was applied directly to the epileptic focus in the somatosensory cortex. Additionally, it has been reported that administration of octanol significantly reduces the frequency and amplitude of epileptiform spikes, as well as the epileptic behavioral score induced by the administration of penicillin. (Manjarrez).

Some fungal sesquiterpenes have also been shown to inhibit TGF-b, decreasing kidney fibrosis in late stage kidney disease. Triterpenes are major compounds of interest in cancer research. Triterpenes have been shown to be directly cytotoxic to many cancer cell lines. (Rios, Grienke, Bhattarai, Ren, Jin, , Zhu) Triterpenes also have specific antiviral activity, inhibiting an enzyme, neuraminidase, which is important for viruses to be able to leave one cell to enter another. (Teplyakova, Gao) Triterpene compounds have been shown to be very beneficial in treatment of hypersensitivity reactions. Hypersensitivity reactions include allergy, asthma, dermatitis, and rhinitis. Triterpenes inhibit histamine release from mast cells – less histamine will result in less of a reaction. These can also be used in treatment of inflammatory reactions caused by insect stings and bites. (Rios)

Extraction Method

Volatile compounds need to be extracted from fresh mushrooms and will escape into the atmosphere with heat. They are alcohol and fat soluble. Best to do a cold ethanol extraction for volatile compounds. 24 hours is sufficient.

Triterpenes will not volatilize and are also fat and alcohol soluble. There are terpenes within the cell, and so it is best to break the chitin cell wall first with a water decoction, before proceeding with ethanol to extract the triterpenes. A triple extraction method will be provided at the end of this post.

Fatty acids

– Molecules that are long chains of lipid-carboxylic acid found in fats and oils and in cell membranes as a component of phospholipids and glycolipids –

In the Mushroom

Principal lipids in mushrooms are palmitic and linoleic acid. The fruiting body and pileus (cap) contains more linoleic acid and the stipe contains for oleic acid. The linoleic acid plays a role in fungal reproductive mechanisms. Trametes versicolor contains more short chain fatty acids – octanoic, decanoic and lauric acid. (Summer) Fungal membranes contain large quantities of free fatty acids, specifically glycerolipids and acylglycerols. These fatty acids occur in fungi as the major constituents of oil droplets suspended in mycelial and spore cytoplasm. They are also minor constituents of membranes and cell walls. Their primary function is storage material. Phophoglycerides are formed from a combination of fatty acids and are found primarily in the plasma membrane of cellular organelles, where they occur as complexes with proteins.

In the Human

Short chain fatty acids found in Trametes species modifies human fecal microbiota composition, increasing healthy bacteria – Bifidiobacteria and Lactobacillus while decreasing E.coli. (Yu) Short chain fatty acids also lower the intestinal pH, inhibiting growth of microbial pathogens (Plummer)

These fatty acid compounds also have antioxidant activities found to be as effective as alpha-tocopherol (Vit E) while also showing significant antimicrobial and anti-fungal activity.  (Younis)

Extraction method:

Fat and alcohol soluble

 Phenolic compounds

-The term ‘phenolic’ or ‘polyphenol’ can be defined chemically as a substance which possesses an aromatic ring bearing one or more hydroxy substituents, including functional derivatives (esters, methyl ethers, glycosides etc.)- Commonly known phenolic compounds include: bioflavonoids and proanthocyanidins

 In the Mushroom

The phenolic compounds in mushrooms are secondary metabolites derived from intermediates of the shikimic acid pathway, the primary role of which is to provide the essential aromatic amino acids phenylananine, tyrosine and tryptophan. The intermediates of the shikimic acid pathway are precursors of aromatic compounds, including phenolic compounds. The biosynthesis of these compounds has demonstrated that they possess enzymes such as ammonia-lyases that convert phenalynine and tyrosine to cinnamic acids. These compounds represent the building blocks for pigments in mushrooms. The phenolic compound hispolon is an example of a yellow pigment in mushrooms. (Velisek)

In the Human

Phenolic compounds act as powerful antioxidants in the human organism. These compounds help to reduce oxidative stress through their own free radical scavenging activity as well as through stimulating the innate human antioxidant systems. (Geng) Phenolic compounds in mushrooms have also been shown to inhibit alpha-glucosidase in rats and significantly help with diabetic complications caused by this compound.  A specific phenolic compound, hispolon, found in Phellinus species has been shown to have analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects as well as inhibits the growth of human cancer cells via the inhibition of the cytokine, TGF-beta. Hispolon also activates caspase, an important enzyme that induces cancer cell death. (Govindappa, Huang, Hong, Chang, Wu, Hsieh)

 Extraction Method:

Ethanol or Water depending on how polar the phenolic compound is, best to do a triple extraction so you are sure to get them all.

Triple Extraction 

The best way to get all of these compounds in one extract is to do a triple extraction method. The first part of the triple extraction is an overnight ethanol extraction. I use 95% ETOH and poor it over finely chopped/shredded fresh mushroom. Let this sit for 24-48 hours. Press the ETOH from the mushroom material and set aside (ETOH extract #1). Next, place the mushrooms from the original extraction into a crockpot or soup pot, cover with water and simmer for 2-12 hrs (The aqueous extract). Next, place these mushrooms and aqueous extract into a jar and leave the jar 1/3 empty. Fill the last 1/3 of the jar with the ETOH extract #1. Let sit (macerate) for a few weeks, shaking and loving daily. Press out mushrooms (the marc) from ETOH/Aqueous solvent (menstruum). Now you have your triple extraction – containing the volatile compounds, the polysaccharides, the triterpenes, phenolic compounds, and fatty acids.

Work Cited

  1. Bhattarai G, Lee Y-H, Lee N-H, et al. Fomitoside-K from Fomitopsis nigra Induces Apoptosis of Human Oral Squamous Cell Carcinomas (YD-10B) via Mitochondrial Signaling Pathway. Biol Pharm Bull. 2012;35(10):1711-1719. doi:10.1248/bpb.12-00297.
  2. Chang H, Sheu M, Yang C, et al. Analgesic Effects and the Mechanisms of Anti-Inflammation of Hispolon in Mice. 2011;2011. doi:10.1093/ecam/nep027.
  3. Chang WP, Wu JJS, Shyu BC. Thalamic Modulation of Cingulate Seizure Activity Via the Regulation of Gap Junctions in Mice Thalamocingulate Slice. PLoS One. 2013;8(5). doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0062952.
  4. Friedman M. Mushroom Polysaccharides : Chemistry and. 2016. doi:10.3390/foods5040080.
  5. Gao L, Sun Y, Si J, et al. Cryptoporus volvatus extract inhibits influenza virus replication in vitro and in vivo. PLoS One. 2014;9(12). doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0113604.
  6. Geng P, Siu KC, Wang Z, Wu JY. Antifatigue Functions and Mechanisms of Edible and Medicinal Mushrooms. Biomed Res Int. 2017;2017. doi:10.1155/2017/9648496.
  7. Grienke U, Kaserer T, Pfluger F, et al. Accessing biological actions of Ganoderma secondary metabolites by in silico profiling. Phytochemistry. 2015;114:114-124. doi:10.1016/j.phytochem.2014.10.010.
  8. Griffin, David H. (State University Of New York, U. Usa. Fungal Physiology. John Wiley And Sons, 1996.
  9. Guggenheim AG, Wright KM, Zwickey HL. Immune Modulation From Five Major Mushrooms: Application to Integrative Oncology. Integr Med. 2014;13(1):32-44
  10. Hong D, Park MINJU, Jang EUNH, Jung BOM, Kim NAMJ, Kim JHO. Hispolon as an inhibitor of TGF ‑ β ‑ induced epithelial ‑ mesenchymal transition in human epithelial cancer cells by co ‑ regulation of TGF ‑ β ‑ Snail / Twist axis. 2017:4866-4872. doi:10.3892/ol.2017.6789.
  11. Hsieh M, Chien S, Chou Y, Chen C, Chen J, Chen M. Phytomedicine Hispolon from Phellinus linteus possesses mediate caspases activation and induces human nasopharyngeal carcinomas cells apoptosis. Eur J Integr Med. 2014;21(12):1746-1752. doi:10.1016/j.phymed.2014.07.013.
  12. Huang G, Hsieh W, Chang H, Huang S, Lin Y, Kuo Y. r -Glucosidase and Aldose Reductase Inhibitory Activities from the Fruiting Body of Phellinus merrillii. 2011:5702-5706. doi:10.1021/jf2003943.
  13. Jahromi SS, Wentlandt K, Piran S, Carlen PL. Anticonvulsant actions of gap junctional blockers in an in vitro seizure model. J Neurophysiol. 2002;88(4):1893. doi:10.1152/jn.00801.2001.
  14. Jin X, Ruiz Beguerie J, Sze DM-Y, Chan GCF. Ganoderma lucidum (Reishi mushroom) for cancer treatment. Cochrane database Syst Rev. 2016;4:CD007731. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD007731.pub3.
  15. Manjarrez-Marmolejo J F-PJ. Gap Junction Blockers: An Overview of their Effects on Induced Seizures in Animal Models. Curr Neuropharmacol. 2016;14(7):759-771. doi:10.2174/1570159X14666160603115942.
  16. Melappa G, Roshan A, Nithi C, Mohummed TS, – C, Poojari CC. Phytochemical analysis and in vitro antioxidant, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and cytotoxicity activities of wood rotting fungi, Trametes ochracea. Pharmacogn J. 2015;7(2):136-146. doi:10.5530/pj.2015.2.8.
  17. Morath SU, Hung R, Bennett JW. Fungal volatile organic compounds: A review with emphasis on their biotechnological potential. Fungal Biol Rev. 2012;26(2-3):73-83. doi:10.1016/j.fbr.2012.07.001.
  18. Plummer NT. Part 2: Treatments for Chronic Gastrointestinal Disease and Gut Dysbiosis. 2015;14(I):25-33.
  19. Ren G, Liu XY, Zhu HK, Yang SZ, Fu CX. Evaluation of cytotoxic activities of some medicinal polypore fungi from China. Fitoterapia. 2006;77(5):408-410. doi:10.1016/j.fitote.2006.05.004.
  20. Rep NP. Traversing the fungal terpenome. 2015;31(10):1449-1473. doi:10.1039/c4np00075g.Traversing.
  21. Ríos JL. Effects of triterpenes on the immune system. J Ethnopharmacol. 2010;128(1):1-14 doi:10.1016/j.jep.2009.12.045.
  22. Rösecke J, Pietsch M, König WA. Volatile constituents of wood-rotting basidiomycetes. Phytochemistry. 2000;54(8):747-750. doi:10.1016/S0031-9422(00)00138-2.
  23. Schmidt-dannert C. Biosynthesis of Terpenoid Natural Products in Fungi. 2015;(November 2014):19-61. doi:10.1007/10.
  26. Sumner JL. The fatty acid composition of basidiomycetes. 2012;8643(1973). doi:10.1080/0028825X.1973.10430293.
  28. Teng F, Bito T, Takenaka S, Yabuta Y, Watanabe F. Vitamin B 12 [ c ‑ lactone], a Biologically Inactive Corrinoid Compound, Occurs in Cultured and Dried Lion ’ s Mane Mushroom ( Hericium erinaceus ) Fruiting Bodies. 2014. doi:10.1021/jf404463v.
  29. Teplyakova T V., Psurtseva N V., Kosogova TA, Mazurkova NA, Khanin VA, Vlasenko VA. Antiviral Activity of Polyporoid Mushrooms (Higher Basidiomycetes) from Altai Mountains (Russia). Int J Med Mushrooms. 2012;14(1):37-45. doi:10.1615/IntJMedMushr.v14.i1.40.
  30. Velíšek J, Cejpek K. Pigments of Higher Fungi : A Review. 2011;29(2):87-102.
  31. Wu Q, Kang Y, Zhang H, Wang H, Liu Y, Wang J. Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications The anticancer effects of hispolon on lung cancer cells. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2014;453(3):385-391. doi:10.1016/j.bbrc.2014.09.098.
  32. Younis AM, Wu F-S, El Shikh HH. Antimicrobial Activity of Extracts of the Oyster Culinary Medicinal Mushroom Pleurotus ostreatus (Higher Basidiomycetes) and Identification of a New Antimicrobial Compound. Int J Med Mushrooms. 2015;17(6):579-590. doi:10.1615/IntJMedMushrooms.v17.i6.80.
  33. Yu Z, Liu B, Mukherjee P, Newburg DS. Trametes versicolor Extract Modifies Human Fecal Microbiota Composition In vitro. 2013:107-112. doi:10.1007/s11130-013-0342-4.
  34. Zhu Q, Bang TH, Ohnuki K, Sawai T, Sawai K, Shimizu K. Inhibition of neuraminidase by Ganoderma triterpenoids and implications for neuraminidase inhibitor design. Sci Rep. 2015;5(AUGUST):13194. doi:10.1038/srep13194.



















Powdered Mushroom Extract

A How To

Why make a powdered mushroom extract?


This preparation makes it possible to get all the benefits of a mushroom dual extract, and doesn’t involve any alcohol.  The initial boiling of the mushroom material breaks down the tough chitin cell wall and extracts the polysaccharides. The water is boiled down until there is a thick mushroom slurry. This slurry contains the polysaccharides, high molecular weight terpenes (still in the mushroom material itself), minerals, and sterols (still in the mushroom material). Since the water is extracting only limited amounts of the triterpene glycosides* and negligible amounts of other hydrophobic compounds, it is essential we consume the entirety of this slurry. Water can extract the polysaccharides and minerals, while the human body is an excellent solvent, and can take care of the rest. After dehydrating this slurry and following up with a grind, there is a powdery extract that is easy to add to oatmeal, coffee, soup, honey, tea, and anything else you desire mushroom extract in. This powdered extract can also be encapsulated.

*Triterpenes are common secondary metabolite compounds in medicinal mushrooms. Research shows that these compounds have cytotoxic effects on many cancer cell lines, they are anti-inflammatory, hepato-protective, anti-allergic, and anti-viral.1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8

Ganoderma applanatum – whole, chopped, and powdered extract

Things to acquire:

  1. A mushroom fruiting body; Turkey Tail, Artist Conk, Reishi, Red Belted Polypore, Willow Bracket, Lion’s Mane, etc.
  2. Sharp knife for chopping
  3. A pot to boil in
  4. High speed blender
  5. Dehydrator or oven



  1. Chop freshly harvested mushroom fruiting body
  2. Further grind fruiting body in blender
  3. Dehydrate over night
  4. Place in pot and cover with water
  5. Boil down until there is a thick mushroom slurry

    IMG_3825 2
    “It is by going down into the abyss that we recover the treasures of life. Where you stumble, there lies your treasure.” – Joseph Campbell
  6. Place slurry on dehydrator tray (or oven tray)

    Mush Love – AKA mushroom slurry
  7. Dehydrate 12-24 hrs at 110 degrees F (if using oven – use lowest setting possible)
  8. Grind down in high speed blender
  9. If you desire a less fibrous extract, sift further for a finer powder



Work Cited

  1. Bhattarai G, Lee Y-H, Lee N-H, et al. Fomitoside-K from Fomitopsis nigra Induces Apoptosis of Human Oral Squamous Cell Carcinomas (YD-10B) via Mitochondrial Signaling Pathway. Biol Pharm Bull. 2012;35(10):1711-1719. doi:10.1248/bpb.12-00297.
  2. Eo SK, Kim YS, Lee CK, Han SS. Antiviral activities of various water and methanol soluble substances isolated from Ganoderma lucidum. J Ethnopharmacol. 1999;68(1-3):129-136. doi:10.1016/S0378-8741(99)00067-7.
  3. Guggenheim AG, Wright KM, Zwickey HL. Immune Modulation From Five Major Mushrooms: Application to Integrative Oncology. Integr Med. 2014;13(1):32-44.
  4. Effects of triterpenes on the immune system. J Ethnopharmacol. 2010;128(1):1-14. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2009.12.045.
  5. Ren G, Liu XY, Zhu HK, Yang SZ, Fu CX. Evaluation of cytotoxic activities of some medicinal polypore fungi from China. Fitoterapia. 2006;77(5):408-410. doi:10.1016/j.fitote.2006.05.004
  6. Wang G, Zhao J, Liu J, Huang Y, Zhong J-J, Tang W. Enhancement of IL-2 and IFN-γ expression and NK cells activity involved in the anti-tumor effect of ganoderic acid Me in vivo. Int Immunopharmacol. 2007;7(6):864-870. doi:10.1016/j.intimp.2007.02.006
  7. Yoshikawa K, Inoue M, Matsumoto Y, et al. Lanostane Triterpenoids and Triterpene Glycosides from the Fruit Body of Fomitopsis pinicola and Their Inhibitory Activity against COX-1 and COX-2. 2005:69-73.
  8. Zhu Q, Bang TH, Ohnuki K, Sawai T, Sawai K, Shimizu K. Inhibition of neuraminidase by Ganoderma triterpenoids and implications for neuraminidase inhibitor design. Sci Rep. 2015;5(AUGUST):13194. doi:10.1038/srep13194.


Ergogenic Potential of Medicinal Mushrooms


Medicinal Fungi complement the human system on a complexity of different levels. The awareness of mushrooms for medicinal use is most present in conversations around the immune system, yet there are further dialogues – in more recent research and in deeper exploration of ethno-mycological studies – that mushrooms support just about every system in the human body, not solely the immune system. This post is going to focus on mushrooms and movement. Specifically, how medicinal mushrooms support the human system through different anti-fatigue mechanisms allowing us to move better longer and with reduced risk of injury.

There are several theories of peripheral fatigue, and not surprisingly, many medicinal mushrooms support the bulk of them. Theories range from metabolic depletion; ATP and creatine-phosphate specifically, lactic acid accumulation, oxidative stress with depletion of endogenous anti-oxidant capabilities, muscle and liver glycogen depletion, tissue damage, and central/psychological factors.

Lactic Acid Accumulation

Let’s first focus on lactic acid accumulation. The accumulation of lactic acid during exercise will inhibit energy metabolism and reduce muscular endurance, resulting in fatigue. (The accumulation of lactate can interfere with nerve impulse and therefore muscle contraction) The theory goes, that if lactic acid accumulation can be controlled, then fatigue wont set in as quickly. Medicinal mushrooms such as Lion’s Mane, Hericium erinaceus, Reishi, Ganoderma spp. and Cordyceps spp.


all enhance the rate of lactic acid clearance during exercise or in the case of Cordyceps, can even inhibit production of lactic acid.1,5,7 The polysaccharides in H. erinaceus had a positive effect on the swimming time of mice, significantly increasing their exercise tolerance in a forced swimming model.  Ganoderma spp., Tremella spp. and Cordyceps spp. have been shown to stimulate the enzyme lactic acid dehydrogenase (LDH). The increase in LDH activity helps to increase ATP for exercise under anaerobic conditions as well as accelerate removal of lactic acid. From this information, we can postulate that when we have these mushroom extracts in our systems during exercise, we may benefit from a decrease in lactic acid accumulation, and therefore improve our endurance.

It is no surprise that Cordyceps has been found to improve exercise tolerance. This is of course, how this organism has been used for centuries. The Nepalese people observed live-stock consuming Cordyceps and saw how it increased their sexual vitality and general stamina. They began to consume them as the other animals were, and found that it increased their own vitality as well – increasing stamina, endurance, and treating impotence.15

Oxidative Stress

Intense use of skeletal muscle during exercise leads to oxidative stress. Of course the human system has its own antioxidant system built in, but this system can be weakened through excessive exercise leading to more oxidative stress. Medicinal mushrooms such as Ganoderma lucidum, Tremella spp., Cordyceps spp. and Fomitopsis pinicola all help to mitigate fatigue by supporting the free radical scavenging ability within the human antioxidant system.4,6,11 These mushrooms support superoxide dismutase, glutathione reductase, and catalase; all endogenous enzymes involved in innate antioxidant functions. In a human double-blind placebo trial that assessed the oxidative stress biomarkers in athletes supplementing with Cordyceps and Ganoderma, the researchers found that after 3 months of supplementation with 1335mg Cordyceps extract per day and 1170mg Ganoderma  extract per day, the athletes had significantly more free radical scavenging activity after a race than the placebo group.17

Fomitopsis pinicola

One study that explored Ganoderma tsugae, a mushroom very closely related to our local Ganoderma oregonense, found significant liver protection against exhaustive exercise-induced liver injury in rats.10 “The results concluded that G. tsugae could increase the running time to exhaustion in animals, decrease lipid peroxidation and protect against hepatic apoptosis after exhaustive exercise.” Basically, G. tsugae has protective effects on the liver that can improve exercise performance.

Blood Flow

Ganoderma spp. and Cordyceps spp. contain the nucleoside adenosine.17 Adenosine is a regulator of skeletal muscle blood flow. The role of adenosine in exercise is vascular smooth muscle relaxation, contributing to the local vasodilation which accompanies muscle contractions. Adenosine contributes around 14-29% to vasodilation in humans especially during higher frequency contractions, like during exercise. Increased 40% in exercise lasting longer than 5 minutes.2  

Ganoderma applanatum also increases endothelial nitric oxide synthase. This also has a dialing effect on the endothelial smooth muscle in our blood vessels, increasing blood flow to skeletal muscle.14

This is the first post where I have discussed mushrooms that do not necessarily grow here in the PNW. I feel confident that our local Ganoderma species would have analogous interactions with our biochemistry as Ganoderma lucidum. I also think that the west coast Hericium species are analogous with Hericium erinaceus. Cordyceps are more common in the Himalayas and South America and worth investing in for personal stamina experimentation. In my experience, they are extremely powerful. We are however, extremely fortunate to have abundance of Fomitopsis pinicolawhich has a beautiful relationship with our innate free-radical scavenging systems and I would propose more use for this mushroom in relation to physical exercise.


Making medicine to support you through exercise

Beet Juice Matcha Latte

Why Beets and Matcha?

Beetroot juice increases blood flow and increases efficiency of mitochondrial respiration and oxidative phosphorylation9

In a study evaluating the anti-fatigue effects of Epigallocatechin-3-gallate, a polyphenolic compound in green tea, the researchers concluded that EGCG significantly prolonged exhaustive swimming time of mice.8 In another study done on male sprinters, green tea extract supplementation prevented oxidative stress.12 The polyphenolic compounds in green tea were also found to significantly protect rats from fatigue, inflammation and tissue damage induced by acute exhaustive exercise.13

Matcha Mushroom latte with Collagen 


  • 2tsp Matcha powder
  • 2tsp Beet juice or beet powder
  • ½ tsp Ganoderma spp. extract powder*
  • ½ tsp Hericium spp. extract powder*
  • ½ tsp Cordyceps spp.*
  • 1Tbs Hydrolyzed collagen powder (supports connective tissue)
  • 1 cup of milk of choice – I love hemp ‘milk’ straight from the teet of the hemp
  • ½ C hot water


  • Heat up milk and water
  • blend with all other ingredients (I use an immersion blender – you can poor into any blender, or if you have a frothing device, I imagine that would work too)
  • Add sweetener if necessary
  • Move your body!

Drink 30 min to 1 hour before working out

*If you don’t have access to powdered extracts, make a strong decoction of these mushrooms and use this as the water portion of the drink.

A good source for medicinal mushroom extracts – Dandelion Botanical co


Work Cited

  1. Geng P, Siu KC, Wang Z, Wu JY. Antifatigue Functions and Mechanisms of Edible and Medicinal Mushrooms. Biomed Res Int. 2017;2017. doi:10.1155/2017/9648496.
  2. Ballard HJ. Invited Review ATP and adenosine in the regulation of skeletal muscle blood flow during exercise. Sheng Li Xue Bao. 2014;66(1):67-78. doi:10.13294/j.aps.2014.0009.
  3. Mateo DC, Pazzi F, Muñoz FJD, et al. Ganoderma lucidum improves physical fitness in women with fibromyalgia . Nutr Hosp. 2015;32(5):2126-2135. doi:10.3305/nh.2015.32.5.9601.
  4. Zhonghui Z, Xiaowei Z, Fang F. Ganoderma lucidum polysaccharides supplementation attenuates exercise-induced oxidative stress in skeletal muscle of mice. Saudi J Biol Sci. 2014;21(2):119-123. doi:10.1016/j.sjbs.2013.04.004.
  5. Song J, Wang Y, Teng M, et al. Studies on the antifatigue activities of Cordyceps militaris fruit body extract in mouse model. Evidence-based Complement Altern Med. 2015;2015. doi:10.1155/2015/174616.
  6. Hao L, Sheng Z, Lu J, Tao R, Jia S. Characterization and antioxidant activities of extracellular and intracellular polysaccharides from Fomitopsis pinicola. Carbohydr Polym. 2016;141:54-59. doi:10.1016/j.carbpol.2015.11.048.
  7. Liu J, Du C, Wang Y, Yu Z. Anti-fatigue activities of polysaccharides extracted from Hericium erinaceus. Exp Ther Med. 2015;9(2):483-487. doi:10.3892/etm.2014.2139.
  8. Teng Y, Wu D. Anti-fatigue effect of green tea polyphenols (-)-Epigallocatechin-3-Gallate (EGCG). Pharmacogn Mag. 2017;13(50):326. doi:10.4103/0973-1296.204546.
  9. Domínguez R, Cuenca E, Maté-Muñoz JL, et al. Effects of beetroot juice supplementation on cardiorespiratory endurance in athletes. A systematic review. Nutrients. 2017;9(1):1-18. doi:10.3390/nu9010043.
  10. Huang CC, Huang WC, Yang SC, Chan CC, Lin WT. Ganoderma tsugae hepatoprotection against exhaustive exercise-induced liver injury in rats. Molecules. 2013;18(2):1741-1754. doi:10.3390/molecules18021741.
  11. Reis FS, Pereira E, Barros L, Sousa MJ, Martins A, Ferreira ICFR. Biomolecule profiles in inedible wild mushrooms with antioxidant value. Molecules. 2011;16(6):4328-4338. doi:10.3390/molecules16064328.
  12. Jówko E, Długołęcka B, Makaruk B, Cieśliński I. The effect of green tea extract supplementation on exercise-induced oxidative stress parameters in male sprinters. Eur J Nutr. 2015;54(5):783-791. doi:10.1007/s00394-014-0757-1.
  13. Liu L, Wu X, Zhang B, et al. Protective effects of tea polyphenols on exhaustive exercise-induced fatigue, inflammation and tissue damage. Food Nutr Res. 2017;61(1):1333390. doi:10.1080/16546628.2017.1333390.
  14. Acharya K, Yonzone P, Rai M, Acharya R. Antioxidant and nitric oxide synthase activation properties of Ganoderma applanatum. Indian J Exp Biol. 2005;43(10):926-929.
  15. Panda A, Swain K. Traditional uses and medicinal potential of Cordyceps sinensis of Sikkim. J Ayurveda Integr Med. 2011;2(1):9. doi:10.4103/0975-9476.78183.
  16. Singh M, Tulsawani R, Koganti P, Chauhan A, Manickam M, Misra K. Cordyceps sinensis increases hypoxia tolerance by inducing heme oxygenase-1 and metallothionein via Nrf2 activation in human lung epithelial cells. Biomed Res Int. 2013;2013:1-13. doi:10.1155/2013/569206.
  17. Rossi P, Buonocore D, Altobelli E, et al. Improving training condition assessment in endurance cyclists: Effects of ganoderma lucidum and ophiocordyceps sinensis dietary supplementation. Evidence-based Complement Altern Med. 2014;2014. doi:10.1155/2014/979613.

Fungi and Skin *Healing the ‘Derma’ with Ganoderma and other mushrooms*

Using PNW Mushrooms in Skin Care

Fruiting bodies protrude from their hosts throughout our forests, the Ganodermas are a sight to behold and entirely hard to ignore. Ganoderma in itself means “shiny skin” of course referring to the varnished crust on many of the species in this genus, but how can we not apply this to our own, human skin. Following is research that has been done on Ganoderma lucidum, Ganoderma tsugae, and Tremella fuciformis and their uses in skin care. I am postulating that we can use out Northwest analogs, Ganoderma applanatum, Ganoderma oregonense, and Tremella mesenterica, the same way.

Sacchachitin and Polysaccharides for Wound healing

There is a product made, called Sacchachitin that is used as a wound dressing. It is made from the pulp of the Ganoderma fruiting body and when used, significantly speeds up the healing process of skin wounds. (Hung 2004) This product of course is not manufacturable by the general public, yet it is easy enough to chop up the Ganoderma into small pieces, place in a blender with a little water and create a pulp that is then simmered for about an hour. The simmering is not necessary for a styptic effect, but you want to extract the polysaccharides to see anti inflammatory, antioxidant and increased healing time effects. Speed of wound healing was also observed when Ganoderma polysaccharides were applied to the wounds of diabetic mice. It was observed that the polysaccharides accelerated the wound healing my inhibition of mitochondrial oxidative stress and improved wound angiogenesis (Tie 2012).

Healing from UVB damage

Tremella fuciformis has been used in skin care in Asia for decades, yet there is little research on our local species of Tremella, Tremella mesenterica. The polysaccharide content is comparable and so I am using the research and traditional uses of Tremella fuciformis as being analogous to the potential uses of Tremella mesenterica. Tremella is known to be a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory fungus. The Tremella polysaccharide extract was tested on hydrogen peroxide-induced injury of human skin fibroblasts. The polysaccharides from Tremella reduced oxidative stress and cell apoptosis in the treated skin. It also protected the skin fibroblasts from oxidative stress. (Shen, Gusman) Oxidative stress is one main reason our skin becomes wrinkled as we age, so using these polysaccharides topically could be beneficial in protecting our skin from wrinkles. The Polysaccharides, which make up about 90% of this species of mushroom, also assist the skin in its ability to retain moisture, an ability that decreases as we age.  Tremella polysaccharides have also been researched for lightening skin spots in sun damaged skin and have been shown to inhibit melanin formation. Another study explored Ganoderma polysaccharides and determined that these compounds protect against “photo-aging” by eliminating UVB-induced reactive oxygen species. (Zeng 2016). One local Ganoderma to the PNW is Ganoderm oregonense, an analog to the Ganoderma Tsugae of the Eastern states. In one study, lanostane terpenoids extracted from Ganoderma tsugae fruiting bodies protected human keritinocytes from photodamage. (Lin 2013)

Triterpenoids and Polysaccharides for Atopic Dermatitis

Atopic dermatitis is a type 1 hypersensitivity reaction, which means it is an IgE mediated immediate hypersensitivity reaction, like an immediate allergic response. Researches explored a beta-glucan based cream for mild to moderate atopic dermatitis. Topical application resulted in significant improvement. In this study, the people with dermatitis put the cream on half their body, and nothing on the other half. The half of their body that the cream was applied to showed significant decline in dermatitis. (Jesenak 2015) This benefit would come from the water soluble constituents of the mushrooms, while another study looked at the lipophilic triterpenes for type 1 hypersensitivity reactions. They found that the triterpene extract inhibited histamine release from rat mast cells induced by IgE. (Rios 2010) This is a great example where a cream made from both the water and oil extract of the mushroom could be extremely beneficial for these skin conditions. Another example of a type 1 hypersensitivity reaction is the inflammation and itch that we get in response to mosquito bites. A study looked at the methanol extract of Ganoderma lucidum and the response of mosquito bitten mice. Results proved the mushroom extract to calm the scratching response of the mice. (Andoh 2010).

So Let’s Make a Body Butter and Lather ourselves With Mushroom Medicine!


This body butter is a host and fungi preparation. What this means is that the materials used are derived from both the host tree, Pseudotsuga menziesii (Doug Fir), and the mushrooms found inhabiting this tree, Ganoderma applanatum (Artist Conk) and Tremella mesenterica (Witch’s butter).  The more I delve into mushroom medicine, the more I find it is important to use the tree and mushroom together in formula. So much of the energetic properties and physical properties of the mushrooms are determined by their host tree. These trees have provided oxygen, habitat and strength throughout their lifetimes in the forest and this wisdom flows through the mycelial like veins and into the mushroom fruiting body, that has now come to assist this edifice of the forest in breaking down and returning to the soil.


  • 1/2 C Ganoderma infused oil*
  • Doug Fir Pitch oil**
  • 1Tbs cacao butter
  • 1Tbs Shea butter
  • 1/3oz beeswax
  • 1tsp lanolin
  • 1/4 C Ganoderma applanatum hydrosol or hot water extract
  • 1/4 C Pseudotsuga menziesii hydrosol or hot water extract
  • 1 small piece of fresh or rehydrated Tremella mesenterica
  • 10-20 drops Doug Fir essential oil



  • Using the double boiler method, add Shea butter, Cacao butter, Ganoderma oil, Doug Fir pitch oil, and beeswax to the top bowl an melt together, stirring every so often.


  • In a separate jar mix the hydrosols or water extracts (make sure the extracts are at room temp if recently made. It is a good idea to make them ahead of time and keep refrigerated) IMG_3167
  • Add the Tremella piece to the mixed water solution and blend with an immersion blender until well combined.
  • When all the oils have melted together with the beeswax, add the lanolin (optional) and slowly poor into the jar full of the aqueous material and blend with immersion blender. After well blended, add the essential oils and blend some more. The final product should be very creamy and will become thicker after it cools off.


*Ganoderma infused oil is made my chopping up any Ganoderma species into the finest pieces possible and covering with oil, I used jojoba oil, but you can use olive oil. This is then let to sit for a few months, or I have been placing it in my dehydrator at 115 degrees F for about a week, the heat will speed up the extraction process.

**Doug Fir pitch oil is made by collecting pitch (sap/resin) from the trees and placing in a sacrificial crockpot, and covering with a small amount of oil until it is just barely covered. Let this warm for many days, strain out and you are left with a beautiful thick resinous oil.

Works Cited

  1. Andoh, Tsugunobu, Qun Zhang, Takumi Yamamoto, Manabu Tayama, Masao Hattori, Ken Tanaka, and Yasushi Kuraishi. “Inhibitory Effects of the Methanol Extract of Ganoderma Lucidum on Mosquito Allergy €“Induced Itch-Associated Responses in Mice.” Journal of Pharmacological Sciences 114.3 (2010): 292-97. Web.
  2. Gusman, Jessica Krisanti, Chien-Yih Lin, and Yang-Chia Shih. “The Optimum Submerged Culture Condition of the Culinary-Medicinal White Jelly Mushroom (Tremellomycetes) and Its Antioxidant Properties.” International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms 16.3 (2014): 293-302. Web.
  3. Hung, Wei-Sheng, et al. “Effect of SACCHACHITIN on Keratinocyte Proliferation and the Expressions of Type I Collagen and Tissue-Transglutaminase during Skin Wound Healing.” Journal of Biomedical Materials Research, vol. 70B, no. 1, 2004, pp. 122–129., doi:10.1002/jbm.b.30028.
  4. Hyde, K. D., A. H. Bahkali, and M. A. Moslem. “Fungi: an Unusual Source for Cosmetics.” Fungal Diversity 43.1 (2010): 1-9. Web.
  5. Jesenak, Milos, Slavomir Urbancek, Juraj Majtan, Peter Banovcin, and Jana Hercogova. “β-Glucan-based Cream (containing Pleuran Isolated Frompleurotus Ostreatus) in Supportive Treatment of Mild-to-moderate Atopic Dermatitis.” Journal of Dermatological Treatment 27.4 (2015): 351-54. Web.
  6. Kurtipek, Gulcan Saylam, Arzu Ataseven, Ercan Kurtipek, Ilknur Kucukosmanoglu, and Mustafa Rasid Toksoz. “Resolution of Cutaneous Sarcoidosis Following Topical Application of Ganoderma Lucidum (Reishi Mushroom).” Dermatology and Therapy 6.1 (2016): 105-09. Web.
  7. Lin, Kai-Wei, Yen-Ting Chen, Shyh-Chyun Yang, Bai-Luh Wei, Chi-Feng Hung, and Chun-Nan Lin. “Xanthine Oxidase Inhibitory Lanostanoids from Ganoderma Tsugae.” Fitoterapia 89 (2013): 231-38. Web.
  8. Rios JL. “Effects of triterpenes on the immune system”. J Ethnopharmacol. 2010;128(1):1-14
  9. Shen, Tao, Chao Duan, Beidong Chen, Meng Li, Yang Ruan, Danni Xu, Doudou Shi, Dan Yu, Jian Li, and Changtao Wang. “Tremella fuciformis Polysaccharide Suppresses Hydrogen Peroxide-triggered Injury of Human Skin Fibroblasts via Upregulation of SIRT1.” Molecular Medicine Reports (2017): n. pag. Web.
  10. Tie, Lu, Hong-Qin Yang, Yu An, Shao-Qiang Liu, Jing Han, Yan Xu, Min Hu, Wei-Dong Li, Alex F. Chen, Zhi-Bin Lin, and Xue-Jun Li. “Ganoderma Lucidum Polysaccharide Accelerates Refractory Wound Healing by Inhibition of Mitochondrial Oxidative Stress in Type 1 Diabetes.” Cellular Physiology and Biochemistry 29.3-4 (2012): 583-94. Web.
  11. Zeng, Qinghai, Fang Zhou, Li Lei, Jing Chen, Jianyun Lu, Jianda Zhou, Ke Cao, Lihua Gao, Fang Xia, Shu Ding, Lihua Huang, Hong Xiang, Jingjing Wang, Yangfan Xiao, Rong Xiao, and Jinhua Huang. “Ganoderma Lucidum Polysaccharides Protect Fibroblasts against UVB-induced Photoaging.” Molecular Medicine Reports 15.1 (2016): 111-16. Web.

Concentrated Mushroom Extract

Creating a concentrated tar

– with a dose of just a mL- potent, shelf-stable, alcohol free medicine-

A 5:1 concentrated extract or sometimes called a solid extract simply means there is an equivalent of 5 grams of original substance per 1 mL of final liquid extract

I love these concentrated mushroom extracts, yet it is important to note that these do not replace dual (aqueous and ethanolic) extracts. In the process I will describe below, lipophilic constituents like Triterpenes will likely not occur in the final concentrate.

What will be extracted:

Water soluble constituents that are not destroyed by heat. In the case of mushrooms, specifically Fomitopsis pinicola, Trametes versicolor, and Ganoderma applanatum, which are the mushrooms in this extract, we are extracting; immune-stimulating, immune-modulating, hypoglycemic, and hypocholesterolemic polysaccharides and anti-oxidant phenolic compounds.

What you will need for this preparation:

Mushrooms: at least 300g

Water: enough to cover the mushrooms by a few inches

Crockpot or soup pot

Stove top or hot plate

Beaker to measure mL of liquid

Honey – enough to equal the final amount of liquid in the extract – if starting with 300g of mushrooms, and we are aiming for a 10:1 extract, we need 30mL honey to add, to get a 5:1.


  1. Collect mushrooms or purchase dried mushrooms from your local  herb shop, slice thin and dry over night

2. Get the dry weight of the mushrooms in grams, then place mushrooms in crockpot or large soup pot and cover with water – so water covers by a few inches

3. let Simmer for a minimum of 2 hours, if using a crockpot it is great to simmer overnight

643g polypores simmering

4. Press out mushrooms from decoction – compost mushrooms, or pour 100 proof vodka over them to extract triterpenes. – if you do this let it mushrooms macerate in ETOH for 2 weeks

5. Place aqueous extract (decocted liquid)  in smaller soup pot and let simmer – this is where you want to keep a close eye on the process, stirring somewhere in between occasionally to avoid over simmering and burning

6. Simmer down until there is 30mL of extract (if you started with 300g) – the idea is that you have an equivalent of 10g dried mushroom material for every 1mL liquid. – 10:1

10:1 64mL of concentrate

7. Take off the heat and add an equal amount of honey – if there is 30mL of extract, you will add 30mL of raw honey and mix thoroughly, now you have a 5:1 concentrated syrup.

Raw Honey added, now 5:1

Place in amber jars – Refrigeration is unnecessary-




Fungi, Stress, and Winter

Winter; Traditionally a time of sleeping, eating, and burrowing. Though, we no longer live with the seasons in our society, so consequently, winter has become a time, like all the other times, one of business and stress. This resistance to succumb to the slow, dark pace of winter can result in a manifestation of disease. We are fortunate during this time to have the plants and fungi as our allies.

Love the polypore perennial mushrooms for allowing harvest throughout all seasons.

“Without leaves, without buds, without flowers, yet from fruit; as food, as tonic, as medicine: the entire creation is precious.” – A poem found in an ancient Egyptian temple

Let us neither forget nor ignore this preciousness during this season.

Polypore Mushrooms endure great stress. They are some of the most weathered beings out there. As I sit cozy inside, the Fomitopsis’ the Trametes’ and Ganodermas of the forest stand the wind, the rain, the snow, the cold, the warmth, yet they continue to grow, gaining more resistance as the weathers abound.

I was recently reading about this therapy of ‘Grounding’ – The idea that the electrical currents from the earth can improve our sleep, anxiety, inflammation, and accelerate healing time post injury. As our deep fascial network provides a mycelium like sock over our musculature, electrical currents run through passing information throughout. Each muscle its own knoll, and valleys and ravines lay in between. These waves move in amongst and throughout it all delivering signals around. When there is a blockage in this fascial network, these signals do not move as quickly. A blockage can be formed from events like tight muscles, dehydration, inflammation – knots can form from lack of stretching and water intake, fascia will bind to muscle and skin, making it difficult for information to pass. Electrical pulses stimulate the growth of mycelium, and very well do they hasten our own healing. The electrical pulse of the earth in direct collaboration with our own mycelial-like fascial network can improve our own response to stress and inflammation. Mycelia work as a network of communication for the flora of the forest, as our fascia and neurons do for our own internal terrain. Maybe this connection is the doctrine of signatures that explains a way that mushrooms work as adaptogens – how they help our bodies adapt to stress – or decrease the blockages so information can move through without so many obstacles, in turn increasing our own vitality, or Qi.

       Human Fascia
Mycelial Network

(These pictures look strangely similar to me, I don’t now if everyone will feel that way)

Polypore Mushrooms and the Stress Response

This idea about the fascia and blockage of our information network is just me postulating about the doctrine of signatures relating mycelium to fascia.  There is much information regarding Medicinal Mushrooms being beneficial for what can be debilitating consequences of a prolonged stress response.  This is a good time to grasp this knowledge, seeing that it is the holiday season and many of us have time off from stressful lives at school and work, and then are hit with the stress of the holidays. The response to stress is, like most of our bodily processes, beautiful, perfect, and a negative feedback loop, not meant to be constant. Throughout history of humanity, the stress response is critical to acute stressors, and up until recently in civilization this idea of chronic stress did not exist. The systemic response to stress is the HPA axis. This is the Hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis. When a stressor occurs, like being chased by a bear, or having to take an exam, the hypothalamus releases corticotropin releasing hormone, signaling the pituitary to release adrenal corticotropin releasing hormone and then the adrenals release catecholamines, and corticosteroids such as cortisol. The cortisol then acts on the hypothalamus in a negative feedback system, turning off the production so that no more cortisol will be released. When this stress turns chronic, the negative feedback system stops working so well – the adrenals become fatigued. This can then lead to fatigue, inability to fall asleep and/or stay asleep, immune system suppression, weight gain, low libido, etc.

Adaptogens are a class of herbs and fungi which facilitate the body in adapting to this chronic stress. Ideally we would be able to stop the major cause of stress and would not need the adaptogens, but that isn’t always an option. Adaptogens can be both beneficial and detrimental to ones health, depending on the ones we choose. A more stimulating adaptogen like Rhodiola rosea or Panax ginseng can help in the time of stress but then, consequently, leave you feeling even more burnt out.  Medicinal mushrooms are considered to be gentle and safe, and I have yet to hear of someone experiencing burnout from taking them.  Though, they do not tend to work directly with the HPA axis, so some would not even consider them adaptogens. Other than one article¹ reporting positive anxiolytic effects in mice, using Royal Sun medicinal mushroom, Agaricus brasiliensis, I have not been able to find any research regarding medicinal mushrooms and the HPA axis specifically, but rather an abundance of research regarding the mushrooms and the repercussions of chronic stress; this being their immunomodulating, hepatoprotective, antihistamine, weight stabilizing, anxiolytic, aphrodisiac and anti-tumor properties.

The Triterpenes, or secondary metabolites, have been studied the most in this regard. The spores and crust of the polypore mushrooms have the highest triterpene content, and these are best extracted using methanol, ethanol, acetone, or oil (You will see in the recipe below, that there is coconut oil added to the syrup for this reason).  A comprehensive review² of the biological activities of Ganoderma ssp. triterpenes concluded numerous actions that indirectly help the body to adapt to stress. Allergies and viruses are more active when our body is under stress, and the Ganoderma triterpenes have been found to have potent activity against herpes simplex virus and inhibit histamine release. Lanostane triterpenes, (the triterpenes found in Ganoderma spp.) Ganoderic acid B and C both have histamine inhibitory effects.³  In regards to body fat, Ganoderma triterpenes were found to significantly reduce triglyceride accumulation by 72%, as well as inhibiting HMG-COA reductase (the key regulatory enzyme in cholesterol production). Under stress, it also becomes difficult to think clearly and the Ganoderma triterpenes have anti-cholinesterase activity. Less degradation of the neurotransmitter Acetylcholine can improve cognitive functioning, and some anticholinesterase drugs are used to treat Alzheimer’s disease. (Rosmarinus officinalis and Salvia miltiorrhiza both have anticholinesterase activity as well – I’m sure you have heard of Rosemary enhancing memory. Also, under chronic stress inflammation may be more prevalent. Macrophages are one of the critical immune cells in the regulation of inflammatory responses. Activated macrophages secrete a number of different inflammatory mediators. When there is an excessive production of these mediators, inflammatory disease is exacerbated. Lanostane triterpenes can help prevent and treat inflammatory disease by inhibiting production of inflammatory cytokines.4 Ganoderma applanatum, Ganoderma oregonense and Fomitopsis pinicola all contain these lanostane triterpenes.

Mushrooms, like people, are more than just a bunch of different molecules. They contain their own energy and this is one of strength and endurance. We don’t need to know about the chemicals they contain to know that they are grounding beings of great vigor. Simply observing this, and their way of being throughout the seasons, gives us enough information that they are superb and precious medicine, and a medicine that can be of great importance during times of stress. 



Recipe for the Season – A syrup to help with holiday stress and viral defense

Elderberry and Fungi Syrup

kings-sambucus½ C Elderberries

6  Ganoderma slices

¼ C Chaga mushroom pieces

1 Tbs Licorice root, chopped

1 Tbs Ginger (Dried and chopped is fine, but fresh juice will have stronger antiviral action)

1/3 C coconut oil

2 1/4 C water

Raw Honey



  1. Put all ingredients, except for honey and ginger juice, in a pot and heat until it comes to a boil
  2. Bring down to a simmer
  3. Mash up with potato masher every once in a while
  4. When water has reduced by half (about 45 min), decant liquid from plant and mushroom material
  5. You can let it cool down a bit, put it all in a cheese cloth and squeeze as hard as you can
  6. Mix raw honey with ginger juice and oil-water extract so they are equal parts (Honey:Extract+Ginger juice,  1:1)
  7. With a hand held emulsifier, hand blender or any other kind of blender, emulsify the mixture. The purpose of this is so that there isn’t a layer of oil sitting on top of your syrup. Also, doing this emulsification step creates a creamy delicious consistency.
  8. Store in little glass jar
  9. Put on Oatmeal, Pancakes, Waffles, or just take it by itself!



Work Cited

  1.  Zhang, Chunjing, Xiulan Gao, Yan Sun, Xiaojie Sun, Yanmin Wu, Ying Liu, Haitao Yu, and Guangcheng Cui. “Anxiolytic Effects of Royal Sun Medicinal Mushroom, Agaricus Brasiliensis (Higher Basidiomycetes) on Ischemia-Induced Anxiety in Rats.” International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms Int J Med Mushrooms 17.1 (2015): 1-10. Web.

  2. Xia, Qing, Huazheng Zhang, Xuefei Sun, Haijuan Zhao, Lingfang Wu, Dan Zhu, Guanghui Yang, Yanyan Shao, Xiaoxue Zhang, Xin Mao, Lanzhen Zhang, and Gaimei She. “A Comprehensive Review of the Structure Elucidation and Biological Activity of Triterpenoids from Ganoderma Spp.” Molecules 19.11 (2014): 17478-7535. Web.
  3. Ríos, José-Luis. “Effects of Triterpenes on the Immune System.” Journal of Ethnopharmacology 128.1 (2010): 1-14. Web.
  4. Dudhgaonkar, Shailesh, Anita Thyagarajan, and Daniel Sliva. “Suppression of the Inflammatory Response by Triterpenes Isolated from the Mushroom Ganoderma Lucidum.” International Immunopharmacology 9.11 (2009): 1272-280. Web.

Disclaimer: The information I provide on this blog isn’t intended to treat or diagnose any disease, just information from published research, read by me and written to you. You can decide what to do with it.

Mortality, Mushrooms and a Wholesome Recipe

Mushrooms and Mortality

The 16th century alchemist, Paracelsus, explained,”[Alchemy] is like unto death, which separates the eternal from the mortal, so that it should properly be known as the death of things.” I hadn’t thought much about alchemy and death before reading this quote, but had always thought about mushrooms as the alchemists of nature – assisting in the dying process, breaking down the mortal and transforming the eternal to birth new life – and so with the noticing of the fungi-death connection and mushroom-alchemy connection, it would make sense that “alchemy is like unto death”. I am not talking about turning lead into gold, but a different kind of alchemy. In the alchemy that is of interest to me is assisting in the transformation of plants and mushrooms. This herbal alchemy uncovers secrets in the vegetable and fungi realm through distillations and calcinations, separating the eternal plant soul and spirit, from the mortem or mortal body. There is much to learn from mushrooms about the dying process, and what I have found, through a cocktail of my own experiences and readings about the fungi used in the Chinese Materia Medica, is that mushrooms are strong medicine, physically and spiritually, throughout any process in experiencing loss. I think they can be an important medicine and ally for people during times of grief, pre and post death.2014-07-25 10.59.01

The mushroom-like herb that is most often used throughout the dying process is Indian pipe, Monotropa uniflora. Though, this is neither a mushroom nor a a typical photosynthesizing plant. M. uniflora is a saprophyte, benefiting off of an already established relationship between a plant and fungi. This ghostly plant has a history of use not only as an ‘antipsychotic’ but also used throughout bereavement, both for the person who is themselves dying and for those who are grieving their loss. My love and curiosity about this saprophytic plant has had a part in instigating my wanderings into the realm of fungi and mortality.

This mushroom medicine is of a different kind than what I usually write about. This is the kind of medicine that goes deeper than chemical processes, this mushroom medicine reaches your spirit. It is true, that in times of grief your immune system will be down and2014-08-21 18.48.17 your adrenals will probably need support, and so the mushrooms will be helpful in keeping your body systems strong, but they will also keep your spirit strong. In Chinese medicine the Reishi mushroom, Ganoderma lucidum, is known to nourish the Shen,or the Spirit, which resides in the heart.

In fact, the spagyric of the Oregon Reishi, G. oregonense is the most immediately uplifting medicine I have yet to try. I talk about the experience on the specific post titled, “Ganoderma oregonense“. The mushroom medicine can lighten the heavy, grieving heart, and be uplifting in times of bereavement.  It has been my experience that it is not only the Reishi mushrooms that can be an ally when the spirit is vulnerable, but all polypore mushrooms that I have thus far talked about throughout this blog. The mushroom’s mycelial network reminds us too of the importance of community throughout the dying process, the importance of reaching out, and getting permission to receive nourishment through our connections.

Recipe to Nourish the Spirit

This Kichri is nourishing to body and spirit, grounding, sustaining, and easy to make.

Polypore Kitchari

Things that are helpful to have: A crockpot

First, make the broth:

Polypore Broth

  1. Place a handful of polypore mushrooms; Oregon Reishi, Artist’s Conk, Red Belted Polypore, Turkey tail.. (slices or whole) into Crockpot and fill with water (If you do not have a crockpot, simmer on your stove top on low heat)
  2. Add chopped onion and garlic
  3. Put the lid on and place on low
  4. Let simmer for at least 2 hours (it is easiest to throw it in the pot and let simmer over night or throughout the day)
  5. Strain out Mushrooms from the broth (these mushrooms are too woody to eat)
  6. If you are into Bone Broth, bones make a delicious and nutritious addition


41/2 Cups Polypore Broth836_39_60-mung-bean-pod

1 Cup rice (any kind, I prefer brown, but do what you like)

1 Cup Mung Beans, uncooked

1 Sweet potato, chopped

1 C Nettles, dried or fresh

1.5 Tbs Ghee or Coconut oil

1 Tbs Garam Masala


  1. Mix all ingredients in a crockpot or on stovetop
  2. Bring to a boil, and then down to a simmer for about 2 hours. If you use a crockpot, you can have it on low throughout the day and come home to a nice hot meal.
  3. Enjoy!


Distillations on Ganoderma Applanatum

Each process of work I engage in with the fungal kingdom continues to remind me of how similar we humans are to our fungal allies. Thus far, on this blog I have brought up research that I have collected on the various mushrooms, and barely touched on the different levels of medicinal preparations that I have been experimenting with. Most recently, I have been experimenting with polypore distillations.

gano pic

This magnificent mushroom was collected early in the day, chopped, and then vitamixed (high speed blended into tiny fibers). After the body of the mushroom was processed into the smallest pieces possible, it was added to a 2L flask.

Steam distillation begins.

considering the limited information on the volatiles of G. applanatum, I was skeptical if there would be any oil collected at the end of this process. There was one paper I found in the journal of Essential Oil Research that tested for the essential oils of G. applanatum. The paper, “Volatile Metabolites from the Wood Inhabiting Fungi Bjerkandera adusta, Ganoderma applanatum, and stereum hirsutum” by Ziegenbein et al. found 22 volatile compounds that could could be identified, with R-(-)-1-octen-3-ol (Octanol) and phenylacetaldehyde being the major constituents of the oil. Other constituents found in amounts between 5-10% are (E)-2-octenal, (E,E) 2,4-decadienal, 2-nonenal and 5 ethyl cyclopentene-1-carbaldehyde. This is the first time that 5 ethyl-cyclopentene-e-carbaldehyde has been found as  a fungal metabolite.

Octanol, also known as mushroom alcohol, is a chemical that attracts biting insects, like mosquitos. It can also be found in human breath and sweat. Maybe this is why the mosquitos love me so much…you could probably make a trap using the volatiles, put a bowl out with the hydrosol or a little oil and the mosquitos will go to that instead of to you. I would suggest not spraying yourself down with the hydrosol before walking through the woods. Octanol is found in many edible mushrooms and also Lemon Balm, Melissa officinalis. There is also small mention of it’s use in perfumery. In my experience with smelling the volatiles from this mushroom the scent is reminiscent of spicy, yet sweet decaying earth.( A hard to find smell in the world of perfumery) There is also research being done on using octanol to treat involuntary tremor disorders. 

Phenylacetaldehyde is found abundantly in nature, it is a derivative of the amino acid, phenylalanine. This can be found in chocolate, flowers, and certain insect pheromones. It has also been used to flavor cigarettes and added to fragrances to add a grassy-rose like flavor.

(E) 2-octenal is used as a flavoring agent in food industry, said to have a nutty flavor, and is mostly found in fungi and lamb. Also, one of the major constituents in the stink bug stench!

(E,E) 2,4-decadienal is an aromatic substance found in butter and cooked beef. Said to have a deep fat, brothy flavor and smell. When distilling mushrooms, the entire room usually ends up smelling like cooked steak…

2-nonenal is an important aroma component in aged beer, and according to wikipedia the smell that comes along with the aging of humans.

After about an our of distillations, the fumes filled the air of my house, and my eyelids felt like bricks. complete exhaustion came over me and I napped for most of the time the distillate trickled through. This has been the strongest sedating effect I have felt from any substance I have encountered. It felt painful to stay awake. I suppose there is implication for the hydrosol to be used as a strong sedative. Since then, I have sprayed the hydrosol throughout my home before bed, and the sedating effect is still there. Ganoderma species have a history of use as a sedative, so this was no surprise.

After 2 hours there was a build up of fatty emulsion in the condenser and it slowly fell into the oil separator.

gano distill

Hours went by, and the thick white substance continued to build up in the condenser. After turning the water off, the build up in the condenser fell in to the oil separator. The cold water running through the condenser was keeping it in a more solid form, and when the condenser warmed it softened and fell through. I thought it would potentially liquify at room temperature, but it stayed as a substance the consistency of lard. This smelled extremely aromatic; Decaying forest with coinciding notes of sweet and pungent.

I ended up collecting 20 oz of hydrosol and about a teaspoon of the lard-like substance.

I had a taste of the water left over in the boiling flask, strongly infused with the water soluble components of the mushroom, and it seemed to be the antidote to the sedation. It awoke me in a flash. Mushroom medicine is amphoteric medicine. If your immune system is suppressed the mushroom medicine will stimulate it, if it is overstimulated, the mushrooms will suppress it. This is the same with the energizing and sedating qualities of the Ganoderma sp. This experience is suggestive that I have separated these two qualities.

If anyone has any interest in working with this hydrosol in perfumery let me know, I am happy to provide it, as I know it is not easy to find.

The soul/volatile sulfur of G. applanatum is substantial. It is comforting, strong, balancing and grounding. A supportive and tenacious ally.

To read more about mushrooms and alchemy check out this beautiful website: