Guest Post: Mushroom Medicine by Dr. Sarah Cimperman, ND

by Michelle on August 17, 2010 · 5 comments

in Guest Post

Hi Everyone.
This week’s guest post is a by Naturopathic Doctor Sarah Cimperman talking all about mushrooms plus a recipe for delicious Mushroom Soup! For more about Dr. Cimperman have a look at the end of the post. Thanks Dr. Cimperman for sharing such a great recipe with us all. If you would like to Guest Post, please have a read of the guidelines.

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Mushroom Medicine
By Dr. Sarah Cimperman, ND

Mushrooms have been revered as both food and medicine for thousands of years. As powerful modulators of the immune system, they play an important role in protecting the body against pathogenic microorganisms and abnormal cell growth. Some medicinal mushrooms are almost inedible, like woody reishi mushrooms, but two varieties – shiitake and maitake – make good ingredients for meals with medicinal benefits.

Shiitake Mushrooms

Scientifically known as Lentinula edodes, shiitake mushrooms are native to Asian countries and wild ones are typically found growing on fallen trees. Now cultivated throughout the world, shiitakes are widely available in both dried and fresh forms.

These mushrooms have been used traditionally in Japan and China to cure the common cold, increase energy and eliminate intestinal worms. Preliminary trials suggest that shiitakes may be useful for conditions including hepatitis B, HIV infection, human papillomavirus (HPV) infection and genital warts, and pancreatic and stomach cancers, especially when combined with chemotherapy.

Maitake Mushrooms

Grifolia frondosa, commonly called maitake mushroom, is also known as the “dancing mushroom” because its overlapping fruiting bodies resemble dancing butterflies. Maitakes grow wild in the mountains of Japan, Europe and North America, including New York, but are extremely sensitive to environmental changes and difficult to cultivate.

Polysaccharides found in maitakes are some of the most powerful medicines studied in mushrooms so far. MD-Fraction, an extract containing the polysaccharide beta-D-glucan, appears to activate special immune cells including natural killer cells, macrophages and T-cells. Maitake mushrooms have been used traditionally in Asia to promote wellness and vitality. Studies investigating their potential for the treatment of HIV infection as well as the prevention and treatment of cancer are currently underway.

Medicinal Mushroom Soup

Therapeutic dosages of medicinal mushrooms are usually achieved through consuming concentrated extracts. Eating mushrooms in food form may not cure cancer, but it can still have beneficial effects on health, including immune support during cold and flu season.

If you can’t find fresh shiitake or maitake mushrooms, rehydrate dried ones (and reserve the strained soaking liquid for a portion of the broth). Or, if necessary, substitute other varieties like oyster or cremini mushrooms. Avoid using white button mushrooms because their flavor is too mild for this soup.


  • 1 large portabella mushroom cap
  • Extra virgin olive oil, first cold pressing
  • Sea salt
  • Ground peppercorn
  • 2 leeks, halved, thoroughly cleaned and thinly sliced
  • 1.5 cups thinly sliced shiitake mushroom caps (reserve stems for soup stock)
  • 1.5 cups thinly sliced maitake mushrooms
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves or 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 2 garlic cloves, grated, crushed, or minced
  • 2 cups organic beef stock, or vegetable or mushroom broth
  • Water


  1. Preheat the broiler. Wipe the portobello clean with a damp cloth and place it gill-side up in a shallow baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt and ground peppercorn. Broil until the mushroom becomes tender and the gills start to crisp, about 7 minutes. Set aside to cool. Once cool, dice the portobello and reserve any juices.
  2. Meanwhile, warm 2 tbsp olive oil in a soup pot over medium-low heat. Add the leeks and a pinch each of sea salt and ground peppercorn. Sauté until soft, about 7 minutes. Add the sliced shiitake and maitake mushrooms, bay leaf and thyme. Stir to combine and cook until the mushrooms become soft, about 10 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook until it becomes aromatic, about a minute. Do not burn the garlic.
  3. Add the stock or broth, the diced portobello mushroom and any juices, and enough water to cover all of the vegetables. Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes.
  4. Turn off the heat and transfer approximately two-thirds of the soup to a blender or food processor, working in batches if necessary. Cool slightly, then purée until smooth. To prevent heat explosions, fill blenders only half to two-thirds full and ventilate while blending.
  5. Return the soup to the pot, taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary. Reheat soup gently over medium-low heat. Serve warm.

About Our Guest

Dr. Sarah Cimperman is a naturopathic doctor in private practice in New York City. She specializes in nutrition, loves creative cooking, and writes a healthy whole foods blog, The Naturopathic Gourmet. To learn more, visit her website, Dr, and her other blog, A Different Kind of Doctor.


Health Food Lover is Michelle Robson-Garth. Michelle is a degree-qualified Naturopath (BHSc) and Massage Therapist. She is also a passionate writer, recipe-creator and all-round foodie from Melbourne, Australia. © Copyright: 2009-2012 Michelle Robson-Garth. Please ask permission first when using any text or images on Read the disclaimer here. Have a look at the recipe index for more health food lovin’ recipes. Join the Facebook page & follow Health Food Lover on twitter.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

healy August 18, 2010 at 9:04 am

worth to read. . .


Alex@amoderatelife August 19, 2010 at 11:20 pm

Hi ‘Chelle! This article is wonderful! I have long known that mushrooms were healthy for us, but had no clue they were so medicinal even in food form, and not concentrated down into extracts and tinctures from the health food store! I would love to share this on my thoughts on friday link love post because I think it is so important for folks to know they can heal using yummy food! Bravo to Dr. Cimperman for a wonderful post and recipe! :) Alex@amoderatelife


Michelle August 20, 2010 at 10:21 am

Thanks so much Alex :)! See you there!


Jupiter Chiropractor, Palm Beach August 22, 2010 at 5:07 am

Wow I really loved mushrooms and now your saying that they are medicines? That’s good to hear, Thanks for sharing.


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