Grow mushrooms the EZ way.

Healthiest Mushrooms to Grow.

Most people know that mushrooms contain valuable nutrients that help the body remain healthy, that is why an increasing number of studies are being undertaken into the different health benefits of mushrooms. Some of the healthiest mushrooms are not readily available in fresh-food stores and are instead sold as expensive supplements which could realistically contain very few active ingredients. I believe more people should learn the art of growing mushrooms at home instead of depending on store-bought products thus producing these healthy medicinal mushrooms at home for their own benefits. In this post, I will discuss the healthiest mushrooms out there which can be grown in a home environment and their benefits. 

Each section will be broken down into “health benefits” and “Growing Profile” and a short snippet of my top picks can be found below.

So…

Here are the healthiest mushrooms to grow at home:

  1. Lions Mane
  2. Shiitake
  3. Reishi
  4. Turkey Tail
  5. Cordyceps

Lion’s Mane Mushroom

Health Benefits

Lion’s mane mushrooms have a few bioactive components that have significant effects on the body and several studies have been performed to investigate this. The health benefits mainly affect the: brain, gut, and heart. The following are the health benefits of Lion’s mane mushrooms:

  • Helps Boost Mental Functioning

As people age, they begin to have declined mental functioning. This is because of the brain’s declining capacity to grow and learn new things. The lack of proper and stable mental functioning has a huge effect on one’s quality of life. To boost brain functionality, you can take Lion’s mane mushroom. Studies indicate that taking this mushroom can help to minimize symptoms of memory loss. Additionally, studies suggest that a continuous intake of Lion’s mane mushroom powder can boost the growth of nerves, which is essential for proper mental functioning.

  • Relieves Anxiety and Depression

Studies show that 1/3 of people in developed countries experience anxiety and depression. Yes, there are multiple sources of anxiety and depression today, but one that is of interest to this article is inflammation. In this respect, animal studies have shown that lion’s mane mushrooms have anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce anxiety. 

Lion’s mane mushroom extracts contain components that may help improve emotional responses. If you have improved emotional responses, chances are high that you won’t struggle with anxiety & depression.

  • It Boosts Recovery from Nervous System Injuries

People who incur injuries to the brain can suffer from paralysis and cannot lose normal mental functions. Normally, it takes a lot of time to heal from such an injury, depending on the degree of the injuries. Fortunately, consuming Lion’s mane mushroom has the potential of speeding recovery from such injuries. Generally, this mushroom helps in accelerating the growth and restoration of nerve cells. Studies have shown that rats with brain-related injuries reduce healing time by 23-41% after taking Lion’s mane mushroom extracts.

  • Protection against Ulcers

Ulcers can form anywhere in these areas of the digestive tract: stomach, large intestine, and small intestine. They develop in these areas as a result of bacteria called H. Pylori and damage to the stomach lining. Lion’s mane prevents the development of ulcers by slowing down the development of H. pylori. It also ensures that the stomach lining doesn’t get damaged. People with stomach ulcers can take Lion’s mane mushroom extract to prevent further damage to the stomach lining.

Growing Parameters for Lion’s Mane Mushroom

When you are growing this particular mushroom at home, the most important factors to consider are substrate and humidity in my opinion. Other factors such as CO2 levels will only affect the shape of the mushroom and not heavily affect the yield. Lions mane is fast colonizing which makes it more resistant to contamination.

In nature Lions Mane grows out of the dead and rotting hardwood trees so hardwood substrates are preferred however Lions mane is not overly picky as long as there is some sort of wood-based substrate involved (even cardboard will do). Lion’s mane mushrooms are easy to grow and will fruit in non-ideal circumstances. I have written a post on how to grow lion’s mane mushrooms on a simple substrate inside a jar here.

  Spawn Run Pinning Fruiting
Difficulty Easy Easy Easy
Temperature 21-25c 10-15c 18-24c
Humidity 95-100% 95-100% 85-95%
Timeframe 10-14 days 3-5 days 4-5 days
Grain Any Any Any
Substrate Wood Based Wood Based Wood Based

Reishi Mushroom

Health Benefits

If you’re thinking of growing mushrooms, Reishi is one of the healthiest mushrooms you can opt for and has been used in chinese medicines for thousands of years. This is a slow growing mushroom that does well in warmer temperatures. Reishi mushrooms are extremely fast colonizing which makes them very resistant to contamination however, it can take up to 30 days for a fruit to start forming on your substrate block after full colonization, as a result this mushroom may take longer than others to grow.

The following are the health benefits you can expect to get from this particular mushroom:

  • Reducing Fatigue

If you have a constant feeling of low energy, it’s high time that you consider Reishi mushroom tea. Research has shown that taking Reishi supplementation among people with breast cancer helps to reduce feelings of tiredness significantly. Further research has shown that fatigue has a huge effect on one’s overall quality of health. It leads to physical, emotional, and mental symptoms that affect general performance and wellbeing. Hence, consider growing this mushroom for the much-needed energy boosting.

  • Boosting Immune System

Immune system boost has received a significant share of research in the recent past. It’s out of these studies that Reishi mushroom emerges as a valuable ingredient for boosting immunity. In fact, there’s documentation of its use in herbal medicine as an integral immune booster. It has a high concentration of complex sugar that contains immunomodulating functions. Additionally, cancer patients can benefit greatly from the molecules found in Reishi mushrooms as they activate and strengthen the function of white blood cells. White blood cells are responsible for protecting the body from anything harmful.

  • Improvement of Gut health

Another major health benefit of Reishi mushroom extract is the improvement of gut health. Studies have shown that this particular mushroom contains prebiotic polysaccharides in high concentrations. This leads to the growth of probiotic bacteria. It also ensures that the resilience of probiotic bacteria is high enough to improve gut functions. Essentially, taking Reishi mushroom is good for the growth of good bacteria that plays a big role in improving digestion. Proper digestion helps in avoiding diseases related to poor gut health.

  • Reducing Depression and Anxiety

Anxiety and depression are problems that many people are facing today. The good news is that these are problems that growing mushrooms in your home can solve. Studies show that people who take Reishi mushroom experience less depression, fewer feelings of anxiety and improved sleep.

  • Anti-Cancer Properties

Anything that is able to fight cancer today is a valuable asset. Well, Reishi mushroom extracts have properties which may prevent cancer development. Actually, a study conducted on 4,000 cancer survivors found out that 59% of them took Reishi mushroom. The anti-cancer properties help by killing cancerous tumour cells, thus preventing the further spread. 

Growing Parameters for Reishi Mushroom

Reishi is very easy to grow and is very tolerant of bad conditioning. I like to grow it on coco coir inside a monotub as this is the most accessible method for home growers. Reishi thrives in warmer environments across the globe so you will probably get better results growing in the warmer periods in your area, unless of course you are happy leaving your heating on for them.

  Spawn Run Pinning Fruiting
Difficulty Easy Easy Easy
Temperature 23-28c 23-28c 21-28c
Humidity 95-100% 95-100% 85-95%
Timeframe 10-30 days 5-7 days 30+ days
Grain Any Any Any
Substrate Wood Based Wood Based Wood Based

Shiitake Mushroom

Health Benefits

Shiitake mushrooms are among the most well-known mushrooms in the world. Their savory taste and multiple health benefits are some of the reasons why they are so popular today. Here are some of the benefits of Shiitake mushrooms:

  • Helps with Heart Health

One of the attributes that makes Shiitake mushrooms one of the healthiest mushrooms to grow is the capacity to enhance heart health. For example, as you well know, high cholesterol levels are not good for the heart. These mushrooms have the ability to lower cholesterol levels. There are three components that help with the lowering of cholesterol levels in the body. One of them is Eritadenine. This particular compound restrains the enzyme that produces cholesterol, thus protecting the heart from complications. The second compound is Sterols which blocks the absorption of cholesterol in the gut. The last compound is Beta glucans, which helps to reduce cholesterol levels.

  • It Has The Potential To Boost Immunity

Consuming Shiitake mushrooms on a regular basis can help boost one’s immunity system. Studies indicate that taking Shiitake mushrooms on a daily basis for a month can improve immune markers considerably. As you take the mushrooms, the polysaccharides in them act by boosting the level of your immunity. This helps to protect your body from diseases and complications.

  • Ability to Strengthen Bones

Mushrooms are a rich source of vitamin D. You need this vitamin to build strong bones. Since there are few foods that contain this nutrient, Shiitake mushrooms happen to be popular in providing it. For Shiitake mushrooms to have a high concentration of vitamin D, they should be exposed to light when growing them. Thus, if you would like to increase your bone density, you should increase your intake of Shiitake mushrooms.

  • Contain Anti-Cancer Properties

The polysaccharides in Shiitake mushrooms have the potential of anti-cancer effects. For example, lentinan is a polysaccharide that plays a big role in fighting against tumors through the activation of the immune system. Studies have shown that lentinan inhibits the development and spread of leukemia cells. With lentinan being a major compound in Shiitake mushrooms, consuming them has the potential of fighting against cancer.

Growing Parameters for Shiitake Mushroom

Shiitake mushrooms can fruit in elevated CO2 levels this mushroom is appropriate for growing indoors at home. This strain is unique in the fact the pinning requires either a cold shock treatment or giving the fruiting block a smack to begin fruit growth (pinning). Shiitake can be grown using pasteurized or sterilised supplemented hardwood sawdust blocks.

  Spawn Run Pinning Fruiting
Difficulty Easy Medium Medium
Temperature 21-27c 10-16c 10-16c
Humidity 95-100% 95-100% 60-80%
Timeframe 30-60 days 5-7 days 5-8 days
Grain Any Any Any
Substrate Wood Based Wood Based Wood Based

Turkey Tail Mushroom

Health Benefits

Turkey Tail happens to be another mushroom that you can grow at home. To grow this strain Inoculate sterilized wood based substrate and place into a 80-90%RH humidity chamber. This mushroom is a slow fruiter  so probably not the best for first time growers but once you have a few grows under your belt and understand sterile practices you can try Turkey Tail.

This mushroom has several benefits making it one of the healthiest mushrooms to grow:

  • Anti-Cancer Effects

It will interest you to note that this specific mushroom has anti-cancer effects just like Reishi. As you well know, cancer has become a serious health problem that people are doing as much as they can to deal with it. Studies show that Turkey Tail has chemical constituents that contain anti-tumor effects. Also, it has the ability to build a strong immune response against cancer. In the same vein, it’s important to note that its immune boosting capacity is stronger than its anti-tumor effects.

  • Antimicrobial Effects

Studies have shown the potential of Turkey Tail to cause antimicrobial effects. It has the ability to kill and deform bacteria in the human body. Clinical studies have shown that people who take Turkey Tail extracts together with other herbal products have a significant improvement in their capacity to deal with bacterial infections. If your body is prone to bacterial infections, you can solve this problem by growing Turkey Tail in your home.

  • It Works As an Antioxidant

Antioxidants are highly essential to the body. If you want to prevent cell damage, the best thing to do is to take foods containing antioxidants. The good news is that growing mushrooms at home provides you with the much-needed antioxidants for a healthy body. Turkey Tail contains substances that act as antioxidants, particularly when they go through processing. The antioxidant effects in Turkey Tail helps to reduce the risk of various diseases including heart disease and particular cancers.

  • Improvement of Digestive Health

If you choose to take Turkey Tail supplements, one of the health benefits you expect to receive is an improvement in digestive health. Just like most edible mushrooms, this particular one contains fiber, which plays a huge role in maintaining healthy digestion. Moreover, it helps the gut to balance bacteria, which is an important requirement for the improvement of overall health. Thus, adding Turkey Tail extracts in your diet is highly valuable in improving your digestive health and, consequently, your overall health.

Growing Parameters for Turkey Tail

Turkey tail is very fast at colonizing but will take a longer time to fruit (if you want to see the best fruits), it will grow on a hardwood sawdust substrate block outside in most conditions as long as you keep it moist. 

Normally Turkey Tail can be grown in n 2, 3 and 4 month cycles (inoculation to harvest).

Spawn Run Pinning Fruiting
Difficulty Easy Easy Easy
Temperature 21-25c 18-24c 18-24c
Humidity 95-100% 95-100% 85-95%
Timeframe 10-14 days 5-7 days 10-14 days
Grain Any Any Any
Substrate Wood Based Wood Based Wood Based

Cordyceps

Health Benefits

Cordyceps have become popular because of the health benefits associated with them especially due to their alleged effects on sport performance. Supplementing Cordyceps is one of the latest trend in the west due to several major health benefits which put Cordyceps on the list of healthiest mushrooms to grow:

  • Potential Exercise Performance Booster

Cordyceps have proved to boost the production of adenosine triphosphate which helps in directing energy to the muscles. If you’re one that does exercises regularly, this mushroom could come in handy in giving you the much-needed energy boost. According to studies in China Cordyceps improve the consumption of oxygen during exercise, more oxygen usually equals a better workout. A study found out that those who take Cordyceps improved their fitness levels considerably compared to those who didn’t. However, it’s worth noting that current research finds Cordyceps being effective only in older and young adults as opposed to well-trained sportsmen.

  • Anti-Aging Effects

If you’re interested in the subject of anti-aging, this is the mushroom that you should consider growing at your home. For a long time, elderly people in asia have been using Cordyceps to boost strength and also lessen fatigue levels. Scientists assert that the anti-aging capacity of this mushroom comes from the antioxidant profile. Usually, antioxidants are responsible for preventing cell damage in the body. Aging comes as a result of cell damage. While the capacity to slow down aging in humans by Cordyceps is still under research, reports show that they have the potential.

  • Potential to Manage Type 2 Diabetes

Studies show that Cordyceps have a component that can help manage diabetes. People who suffer from diabetes have to ensure that their blood sugar levels are well managed. This is where Cordyceps comes in. It acts as insulin by ensuring that blood sugar levels are in a healthy balance. The intake of Cordyceps has the potential of managing the condition by maintaining the right range of blood sugar levels.

  • It helps in Boosting Heart Health

Heart health is a subject that has continued to receive a lot of attention recently. It’s for this reason that there has been a lot of research on the subject. Still on the same, researchers have focused their study on Cordyceps as a component with the ability to boost heart health. One of the areas of heart health that this particular mushroom has been found to help in is in the treatment of arrhythmia. This refers to the condition where the heartbeat behaves in these three ways: irregular, too slow, or too fast. Moreover, researchers have found out that Cordyceps have a considerable content of Adenosine. This is a compound with the capacity to protect the heart from health complications.

  • It Can Help Fight Inflammation

Inflammation can cause serious diseases like cancer and heart disease. Cordyceps helps by suppressing the proteins that raise the level of inflammation in the body. It’s out of this that researchers affirm the potential of Cordyceps being used as an anti-inflammatory.

Growing Parameters for Cordyceps

Cordyceps can be grown in small spaces using mason jars and a special nutritional substrate as detailed here. I haven’t tried this yet myself but will give it a go in the future and create my own writeup.

  Spawn Run Pinning Fruiting
Difficulty Medium Easy Easy
Temperature 15-23c 15-23c 15-25c
Humidity 95-100% 95-100% 85-95%
Timeframe 10-30 days 5-7 days 30+ days
Grain N/A N/A N/A
Substrate Nutrient broth Nutrient broth Nutrient broth

Summary.

Growing mushrooms at home is a great hobby. Given the many health benefits associated with them, you will be able to produce fruits which are not only tasty but also highly nutritious. The good thing is that they are easy to cultivate. Consider growing mushrooms to enjoy these multiple benefits.

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