The Integration of Chinese Medicine: A Case Study on the Lion’s Mane Mushroom

Joe Oliva
16 min readJan 21, 2019

Author’s Note: There has been a rapid rise in consumer health and wellness markets of functional mushroom products. Companies like Four Sigmatic and Host Defense (led by mushroom expert Paul Stamets) have led the way with innovative and effective wellness products. This paper will discuss historical and scientific roots of Lion’s Mane, centered within a discussion about the integration of what is often characterized as “Eastern” and “Western” medicine. For personal food, nutrition, and wellness content, follow me @olivahealth on Instagram.

Lion’s Mane Mushroom growing in nature.


In the world of medicine, public health, and wellness, there exist many problems and each may have numerous solutions, both known and unknown. Multiple paradigms of thinking in addressing health exist and often challenge one another. This is observed between conventional Western medicine and Chinese medicine, which are often viewed as two vastly different and potentially incompatible schools of thought. Chinese medicine practices that claim ancient wisdom have been praised by some, while scoffed at by others as quackery, pseudoscience, or just poor medical practice. In this regard, it can be difficult, particularly for consumers of healthcare, to dispel the distinction between pseudoscience and evidence-based medicine, quackery and truth. Oftentimes, political agendas, the need for research support, financial incentives, and other biases may lead some to overstate the benefits of certain medical practices without sound methodology or proper evidence. This is demonstrated in the “invention” of the formal concept of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and its standardization in practice, which began in the 1950s under Mao Zedong’s rule as a Communist and nationalist project for political and pragmatic reasons.[1] Bias can result in both a conventional Western medicine model or a more traditional model such as Chinese medicine. Thus, there is a constant need to conduct additional research to challenge beliefs, verify existing thought, further understanding, and generate new applications for health sciences. In particular, it may be beneficial for our current medical and healthcare systems to integrate conventional and traditional thinking to develop evidence-based and safe methods of care that can address large problems…

Joe Oliva

Student-Athlete | University of Pennsylvania, The Wharton School of Business | Concentrations in Finance and Entrepreneurship & Innovation | Minor in Nutrition