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Originally published June 2 2010

Powerful Medicinal Mushrooms Grow Wild throughout North America

by Melissa Sokulski

(NaturalNews) The West is catching on to what the East has known for thousands of years: mushrooms are beneficial to health. They increase immunity, provide vital nutrients, and have been shown to fight cancer. Many of the most powerful medicinal mushrooms like Reishi and Maitake grow wild right all around North America and are easy to find once one knows what to look for.

Reishi or Ling Zhi mushroom (Ganoderma lucidum) is one of the oldest known medicinal mushrooms. It has been used as a medicinal mushroom in China for over 4000 years. Ling Zhi can be translated as "mushroom of immortality," and is in many supplements that are currently used to build immunity and fight cancer. In America this hard red mushroom can be found at the base of living deciduous trees, especially maple, from May through November.

Maitake (Grifola frondosa) is commonly known as Hen of the Woods. It's a well loved mushroom for its choice edibility and the joy it causes when finding it. The Japanese name, Maitake, means "dancing mushroom" because people are said to do a dance of joy when they find it. In particular this mushroom is known to increase immunity, regulate blood sugar and pressure, and is rich in vitamins and minerals.

Even common mushrooms like the puffball and wood ear are found in the Chinese herbal Materia Medica. The wood ear (Tremella fuciformis) is known as Bai Mu Er in Chinese, and is used to treat Lung consumption. It can be found growing on stumps and logs in the late summer. To be used medicinally it is dried and then steeped as tea. This mushroom can also be found in soups in many Chinese restaurants. The common puffball (Calvatia booniana) is a large white mushroom appearing in fields and meadows. It also benefits the lungs, but this time helps in situations when the throat is red and burning as well. In the Chinese Materia Medica it is known as Ma Bo.

Recently the Shiitake mushroom (Lentinula edodes) was found to contain tremendously increased amounts of vitamin D when dried in the sun. This is a cultivated mushroom in America and is not found wild. It is commonly found in grocery stores and can be purchased fresh and dried in the sun. It can also be grown at home on logs from spores.

It is not necessary to buy expensive supplements from overseas with questionable ingredients because many of these mushroom can be found wild. When hunting mushrooms, it is always best to first go with someone who knows mushrooms very well, as look-alikes can be toxic. Groups like The North American Mushroom Association and Western Pennsylvania Mushroom Club can be very helpful.


National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Mushrooms.

Bensky and Gamble, Chinese Herbal Materia Medica.

Lee GS, Byun HS, Yoon KH, Lee JS, Choi KC, Jeung EB (March 2009). Dietary calcium and vitamin D2 supplementation with enhanced Lentinula edodes improves osteoporosis-like symptoms and induces duodenal and renal active calcium transport gene expression in mice:

About the author

Melissa Sokulski is an acupuncturist, herbalist, and founder of the website Food Under Foot, a website devoted entirely to wild edible plants. The website offers plant descriptions, photographs, videos, recipes and more. Her new workbook, Wild Plant Ally, offers an exciting, hands-on way to learn about wild edible plants.
Melissa also runs The Birch Center for Health in Pittsburgh, PA, providing the best in complementary health care: acupuncture, therapeutic massage and herbal medicine.

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