We might not get to grasp of it, but there are so many different types of mushrooms out there. The mushroom kingdom is huge!! There are poisonous mushrooms, psychedelic mushrooms, but also edible and medicinal mushrooms. Medicinal Mushrooms are edible mushrooms, that are classified as “food” under the EU regulations.

As the power of mushrooms is becoming more and more known to us and with science backing up more and more evidence about this fascinating kingdom, I also feel a strong pull to clarify the misconception people hold in understanding the difference between certain mushrooms.

In this blog post, I will try my best to clarify the difference between MEDICINAL MUSHROOMS, also known as “Functional Mushrooms”. And PSYCHEDELIC MUSHROOMS, also known as “magic mushrooms, or shrooms”


For thousands of years, medicinal mushrooms or “functional mushrooms” have been consumed in Eastern medicine for their benefits beyond essential nutrients. Only recently have they been recognized in the West for their powerful health benefits. A medicinal mushroom is a mushroom that contains a high amount of health-beneficial compounds and is tested to be used to fight illnesses and diseases. From certain mushrooms, they create penicillin and other antibiotics, whilst others are used for culinary dishes. Most of us have even seen some of them in our local (super) market like; Shiitake mushroom, Oyster mushroom, Maitake mushroom, and Lion’s Mane mushroom.


Medicinal Mushrooms aka Functional Mushrooms are usually non-psychoactive and are accepted as immune system boosting foods, and may offer benefits beyond basic nutrition. Medicinal mushrooms support our gut health, stress management, brain, and nerve health, as well as enhance our immune system. These super mushrooms also have the potential to support energy levels and aid digestion. Medicinal mushrooms’ main health benefit is to help our body to regulate our immune system, either in suppressing an overactive immune system or in helping to build up a damaged immune system. This is important, as the immune system function is truly at the core of what makes one healthy or sick. More specifically, there are two active compounds found in abundance in medicinal mushrooms known as triterpenoids and beta-glucans

Beta-Glucans are a well-studied type of polysaccharides stimulating the immune system by activating macrophages and natural killer cell function (macrophages are those white blood cells that attack and remove foreign particles and pathogens). When lymphocytes and macrophages are activated it causes increased production of cytokines, which are the messengers of our immune system. This immune modulatory effect means that medicinal mushrooms can benefit people needing immune support and people with autoimmune disorders. Some medicinal mushrooms are so extraordinary as they contain these compounds in extremely high amounts for example Chaga Mushroom.

Triterpenoids are lipids (fats) found in higher plants and fungi. They show a wide range of biological activities such as anti-oxidative, anti-cancer, lipid-lowering, liver protective, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and wound healing capabilities, helping our bodies function at a higher potential

Some medicinal mushrooms can be easily prepared as food, like Shiitake, and are widely available at our local market, while other less accessible ones are available as powders or extracts. To obtain most of the medicinal powers of mushrooms, it’s highly recommended to consume and extract them. With an extract, high amounts of health-beneficial compounds get extracted in the most potent form available. This can be in most cases up to 8-10 times higher, than a simply just a pulverised version of the mushroom.

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Lionsmane – Chaga- Reishi


Psychedelic Mushrooms, aka Magic Mushrooms, or Shrooms, are wild or cultivated mushrooms containing psilocybin, a naturally-occurring psychoactive and hallucinogenic compound. There are more than 180 varieties of mushrooms that contain this compound and are found all over the world. Psilocybin is considered one of the most well-known psychedelics, that can make you see, hear, and feel sensations that seem real but are not. When ingested, psilocybin turns into psilocin in the body. Psilocin is able to cross the blood-brain barrier and bind to serotonin receptors.

Psychedelic mushrooms have been used for thousands of years by tribes around the world for both spiritual and medicinal practises, aiding as a tool to enter altered states of consciousness. for example the Aztecs called psilocybin mushrooms Teonanacatl, which translates to “God’s flesh”. The connection to God and these mushrooms emphasizes the importance of these mushrooms in their culture.

In many countries around the world, psychedelic mushrooms are still illegal and are classified as Schedule 1 drugs under the United Nations 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances, signifying that they have a high potential for abuse and serve no medical purpose. However, more and more studies are coming out providing profound evidence that the use of these psychedelic mushrooms has a positive effect on people who battle depression. You could potentially say that psychedelic mushrooms are also medicinal mushrooms.

If this blog post inspired you in one way or another and you haven’t watched the fantastic movie “Fantastic Fungi”? I highly recommend you do! This Netflix documentary will take you on a journey about the magical, mysterious, and medicinal world of fungi and their power to heal, sustain and contribute to the regeneration of life on Earth that began 3.5 billion years ago.

fantastic fungi


Try combining your favourite medicinal mushroom with Ceremonial Cacao. Click this link to see the full collection from Herbal Cacao


BROWN with Chaga mushroom & YELLOW with Lion’s Mane mushroom

Thank you for reading my blog post in our Herbal Cacao Journal. 

Feel free to share this post with anyone who you might think can benefit from reading this.

Sharon Fernie (Founder of Herbal Cacao)

With love, 

Sharon Fernie, Founder Herbal Cacao