David Wolfe’s Top 25 Superherbs

Posted by – December 24, 2012
Categories: Food & Nutrition

Chaga by David WolfeExcerpt from Chaga: King of the Medicinal Mushrooms by David Wolfe


“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”

This famous dictum—from a founder of Western medicine who championed treating the body as a whole and not just treating its parts—is frequently referenced and observed, cited and reflected upon, but in only half its glory. The first phrase, “Let food be thy medicine,” is well known and understood by many, yet the second half of this age-old prescription contains what I perceive as the greater insight for our times. Eating medicine as food appears to be a literal statement. If we read Hippocrates literally, he is clearly telling us: eat herbal medicines regularly as food.

For thousands of years, the Shaolin monks (famous Buddhist warriors) and the Daoists of China gathered a wealth of information, wisdom, and knowledge about the medicinal properties of herbs, mushrooms, and other plants. And though they found many herbs wonderful as occasional foods, these same herbs were often inappropriate for consistent, daily use as food. However, the ancient Shaolin community recognized a distinction whereby the superior, “tonic” herbs were different and could be eaten regularly as food. A tonic is “tonifying,” meaning that it is an overall health and wellness booster that helps restore, tone, and enliven body systems.

From my research, I find that the most powerful of these tonic herbs are the medicinal mushrooms (of which chaga is one), and they fall into a class I call “superherbs.” Due to their naturally high nutritional and medicinal content, proven history, and whole-herb synergy, these superherbs have real potential for healing and invigorating us. I’m talking about more than sprinkling dried oregano on spaghetti. We can gain exponentially greater benefit from superherbs when we know how to incorporate them into our diet on a regular basis.

Over the last decade the Internet has become saturated with information on natural healing technologies, organic foods, raw foods, wild foods, herbal medicines, adaptogens, and especially the superherbs. Plant-based approaches to health challenges are increasing in popularity at an astonishing rate, probably because they work. We are nearing a critical mass of folks who are shifting their energy and financial power away from a bankrupt, misdirected, environmentally destructive pharmaceutical model of “disease care” to a sustainable, preventative, health-building, self-responsible model of wellness. Superherbs are likely our best allies in this global healing movement.

Following Hippocrates’s dictum in its entirety to me implies exploring these tonic superherbs. And again, based on scientific research and the history of human usage, medicinal mushrooms crown the category.

It seems fitting to inaugurate a new series of books focused on the superherbs of our planet with chaga, fabled “king of the mushrooms,” the bounds of whose beneficence have not yet been found.

David Wolfe’s Top 25 Superherbs


Chaga—King of the medicinal mushrooms.

Horsetail—Ancient antifungal, Ormus-rich, bonestrengthening superherb.

Nettles—Anti-inflammatory, bone-building, bloodnourishing, testosterone-building, silica-gifting superherb: leaves and root.

Reishi—The most well-studied herb in the history of the world.

Rhodiola (Arctic root)—Adapt to less oxygen and improve your performance with this fitness super root.


Ant—King of Herbs? No, Herb of Kings.

Astragalus—Nitrogen-fixing, temperate-climate super root that heals you with its polysaccharides and helps you live long with its astragalosides.

Deer Antler—Nature’s source of hormone-building nutrients.

Ginseng—Even though its legend is as old as the hills, ginseng is still there to help heal you. Ginseng’s magic will be with us forever. Use it.

Gynostemma—The longevity and health-building surprise of Chinese medicine.

Ho Shou Wu (Polygonum multiflorum)—Yin jing, bone marrow–nourishing, stem cell–building tonic, longevity, super root.

Schizandra Berry—This liver healer and antiviral is one of the most potent balancing herbs in Chinese medicine.


Cat’s Claw—Invasive jungle plant that invasively protects your body from viruses and certain fungi.

Chanca Piedra—The “stone breaker” helps remove calcification in the kidneys, liver, and blood.

Coca Leaf—The most powerful food-herb on Earth; that’s why it’s illegal.

Pau d’Arco—Antifungal, anticandida, delicious super tea.

Sacha Jergon—Center of the Amazonian herbal system medicine wheel.


Featured image by Mike from Vancouver, Canada (healing herbs) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Tags: David Wolfe

About the Author

Based in Berkeley, California, Talia is the Online Marketing Lead for North Atlantic Books. She works with a full roster of authors, promoting titles in alternative health, nutrition, spirituality, sustainability, literature, and pop culture. She manages NABCommunities.com and has a passion for social networking. In her free time, Talia enjoys visiting her local farmers' markets, cooking, doing yoga, hiking, and curling up with a good book.