2 Mushrooms That May Help Protect Us from the Flu

Washing your hands may not help. And covering your mouth when you sneeze may not really matter.

Research has found that Cordyceps mushroom can effectively fight an influenza A viral infection.

According to the latest studies, the flu virus can spread up to six feet from a patient’s head in tiny particles called submicron particles. (1)

These tiny particles are released into the air while talking or breathing. Before the results of this study were in, it was thought that the flu virus could travel only a short distance in large particle droplets released during sneezing or coughing.

George Lamoureux, owner of Jing Herbs and a Master Herbalist, explains that when it comes to protecting ourselves during flu season (or fighting an infection), medicinal mushrooms may hold some of the answers we are looking for.

Medicinal Mushrooms Help Modulate the Immune System

Reishi is a medicinal mushroom that can support respiratory health and promote longevity. Reishi is also antiviral and may be used to alleviate herpes and influenza A viral infections.

Medicinal mushrooms strengthen the protective energy of the body while boosting our immune response system.

Special structural sugars called beta-glucans are found in all medicinal mushrooms. These beta-glucans pack a powerful punch, and they are what help to modulate the immune system—stimulating attack only when necessary.

This adaptogenic quality is one reason why medicinal mushrooms are so effective against a wide range of disorders that involve the immune system, ranging from infection and cancer to autoimmunity and allergies.

George explains that each medicinal mushroom creates a unique beta-glucan structure. “You may have some polysaccharides that are going to increase natural killer (NK) cell activity, and others that increase the production of T-cells from the thymus.”

When using medicinal mushrooms, it is a good idea to recruit the help of multiple mushrooms. Each mushroom stimulates the immune system in its own unique way. And—according to Chinese medicine—each mushroom also addresses unique forms of exhaustion and low energy.

1. Reishi Fights Infection and Supports Longevity

Reishi mushroom, also known as “spirit fungus”, is valued in Chinese medicine for its ability to nourish the energy of the heart and promote longevity. Reishi also supports the respiratory system, which has a close relationship with the cardiovascular system.

In traditional Chinese medicine, depleted heart and lung energy can show up as:

  • Anemia
  • Forgetfulness
  • Palpitations or irregular heartbeat
  • Insomnia
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Autoimmune diseases, like lupus (or systemic lupus erythematosus, SLE)
  • Heart disease
  • Cough and wheezing
  • Accumulation of phlegm

Research into Reishi has found that while it can boost the immune system in order to fight infection, it can also lower high blood pressure, reduce high cholesterol, and regulate blood sugar.

Reishi is uniquely antiviral. Studies have found that it can help to combat viral infections of:

  • Oral herpes, type 1 or HSV-1
  • Genital herpes, type 2 or HSV-2
  • Influenza A virus (2)

Some of the oldest texts in Chinese medicine praise Reishi for its ability to enhance longevity. According to these sources, using Reishi mushroom over the long-term can lighten the body, prevent aging, and extend life.

2. Cordyceps Enhances Endurance and Lung Function

Research has found that Cordyceps mushroom can effectively fight an influenza A viral infection. (3)

However, besides its ability to fight infection and modulate the immune system, Cordyceps addresses its own unique pattern of fatigue. According to traditional Chinese medicine, Cordyceps can alleviate a form of exhaustion that affects the respiratory and endocrine systems.

This exhaustion may manifest as:

  • Weak lower back and sore knees
  • Sensation of cold
  • Edema
  • Diarrhea
  • Chronic cough and wheezing
  • Asthma
  • Bronchitis

Cordyceps is so nourishing to the fundamental energy of the body that in 1993, three female athletes broke world records at the national games in Beijing, China, with the help of Cordyceps mushroom.

Medicinal Mushrooms: Superhero Herbs That Control Candida?

Few herbs in Chinese medicine can “do it all.” Medicinal mushrooms fall into a remarkable group of herbs that can support the body while fighting infection.

George adds that, “There is a very big discrepancy between the button mushrooms that you eat and medicinal mushrooms. These are not the kind of mushrooms that feed disease conditions; these are actually the kind of mushrooms that fight against those kinds of conditions.”

For centuries, medicinal mushrooms like Reishi and Cordyceps have been used in Chinese medicine. Only recently has research into the effects of mushrooms on the immune system put medicinal mushrooms into the limelight.

While medicinal mushrooms are customarily recognized as safe, it is always a good idea to work with an experienced healthcare practitioner when deciding which medicinal herbs best suit your health needs. (4)

What To Remember Most About This Article:

Contrary to popular belief, washing your hands and covering your mouth may not protect you from the flu. Recent research confirms that the flu virus can spread up to six feet in submicron particles from talking or breathing.

One of the most effective ways to protect your health during flu season is with natural remedies like medicinal mushrooms. Medicinal mushrooms guard the body by strengthening its immune response. Different medicinal mushrooms in Chinese medicine can boost immunity to address issues like low energy and exhaustion.

Support your health this flu season with two standout medicinal mushrooms:

  • Reishi Mushroom

    This mushroom is known to fight infection and support longevity to treat symptoms like anemia, insomnia, heart disease, and autoimmune diseases.

  • Cordyceps Mushroom

    This mushroom can enhance endurance and improve lung function to treat symptoms like diarrhea, edema, chronic cough, and asthma.

Medicinal mushrooms offer a safe solution to support the body while fighting infection. Before using a medicinal mushroom as a health remedy, always consult with your healthcare practitioner prior to treatment.


  1. WE Bischoff, et al. Exposure to Influenza Virus Aerosols During Routine Patient Care. J Infect Dis. 2013 Jan 30. [Epub ahead of print]
  2. Seong-Kug Eo, Young-So Kim, Chong-Kil Lee, Seong-Sun Han, Antiviral activities of various water and methanol soluble substances isolated from Ganoderma lucidum. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. Dec 15 1999; 68 (1–3): 129-136. DOI: 10.1016/S0378-8741(99)00067-7.
  3. Ohta, Y., Lee, J.B., Hayashi, K., Fujita, A., Park, D.K., Hayashi, T., 2007. In vivo anti-influenza virus activity of an immunomodulatory acidic polysaccharide isolated from Cordyceps militaris grown on germinated soybeans. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 55, 10194–10199.
  4. S Wachtel-Galor, et al. Ganoderma lucidum (“Lingzhi”), a Chinese medicinal mushroom: biomarker responses in a controlled human supplementation study. Br J Nutr. 2004 Feb;91(2):263-9.
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