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Functional Mushrooms: 5 Varieties Newbies Should Know About

Functional Mushrooms: 5 Varieties Newbies Need To Know About

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably noticed a bunch of people talking about functional mushrooms lately. Mushroom coffee, mushroom chocolate bars, mushroom gummies – there seems to be a new product popping up every week or so.

Are mushrooms a new trend that will fizzle out in a year, or are they the real deal? What even are functional mushrooms and should I consider incorporating them into my healthy lifestyle?

That’s what we’re going to look at today. I’m going to give you a brief overview of what they are, and we’ll look at 5 heavy hitters that you should start learning about if you really want to start optimizing your health.

So, let’s dive in and see if consuming functional mushrooms is a healthy habit you want to start incorporating today.

What Are Functional Mushrooms

Mushrooms have long been a staple in many cuisines around the world. They add a wonderful umami flavor and earthiness to any dish, but did you know that some mushrooms can provide more than just flavor?

Functional mushrooms, also called medicinal mushrooms, are a special types of mushrooms that have been used for centuries in traditional medicine practices for their numerous health benefits. But what makes them so functional?

What makes them different from regular old mushrooms is that they contain powerful bioactive compounds that can help support various aspects of your health. It’s pretty interesting when you start to learn how some of these compounds are capable of supporting your body.

The Benefits of Mushrooms

Some functional mushrooms contain beta-glucans, which are complex polysaccharides that have been shown to boost the immune system. Some contain antioxidants that can help protect your cells from free radical damage, while others contain adaptogens that help your body better adapt to stress and promote overall well-being.

Functional mushrooms come in many varieties, each with its own unique set of compounds and benefits. In the following sections, we’ll dive deeper into five of the most popular types of functional mushrooms and explore their potential health benefits.

While these mushrooms have been used for centuries to promote health and wellness, modern research is lacking when it comes to confirming all of these benefits. Even so, they show great promise and I feel they’re worth exploring further and experimenting with if you’re drawn to them.

The Top 5 Functional Mushrooms

Let’s take a look at 5 functional mushrooms that you’ll typically see in a lot of these new mushroom products popping up everywhere.

This article is meant to be an introduction to these mushrooms and the possible benefits that they provide. Find the ones that resonate with you and then dig deeper into them to see if you want to start incorporating them into your lifestyle.

Let’s go!

Reishi Mushroom

reishi mushroom
Reishi Mushroom

Reishi mushroom, known as Ganoderma Lucidum, Ling Zhi, and the mushroom of immortality, is highly sought after for its numerous health benefits. These ancient mushrooms have been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries and have been linked to a range of potential benefits. Here’s a look at some of the things reishi mushrooms might be good for:

  • Immunity – Reishi is believed to help support a healthy immune system. It’s been shown to increase the activity of natural killer cells which help to fight infection and cancer cells.

  • Helps with depression – Reishi mushroom has been shown to possibly help alleviate symptoms of depression

  • Stress relief – Reishi are adaptogenic mushrooms that help the body adapt to stress.
  • Sleep better – The stress relieving and calming effects of the compounds in Reishi can help you get better, more restful sleep.

Who Should Consider Reishi Mushrooms

Reishi mushrooms may be beneficial for anyone looking to enhance their overall wellbeing, relieve stress, or get better sleep.

Turkey Tail Mushrooms

Turkey Tail Mushroom
Turkey Tail Mushroom

Turkey Tail mushrooms, scientifically known as Trametes Versicolor, have been used in traditional medicine for centuries. They are believed to date back to the Han dynasty in 200 BC. These mushrooms are packed with bioactive compounds that have various potential benefits. Here’s a look at some of the benefits of Turkey Tail mushrooms:

  • Lung Support – Turkey Tail has been used in traditional Chinese medicine to support lung function.

  • Immune Support – It’s been shown to support immune function.

  • Anti-inflammatory – It can help reduce inflammation in the body and ease joint pain.

  • Gut health – The prebiotic fiber in Turkey Tail has been shown to help diversify the microbiome.

  • Cancer support – Turkey tail mushrooms contain compounds called polysaccharopeptides (PSPs) and polysaccharides-K (PSKs) that have been shown to have potential anti-cancer properties. These compounds can help activate immune cells and inhibit tumor growth.

Who Should COnsider Turkey Tail Mushrooms

Turkey Tail mushrooms may be beneficial for anyone looking to improve gut health, reduce chronic inflammation, or support their bodies through cancer treatment. As always speak to your doctor before supplementing with anything if you’re currently undergoing treatment for cancer.

Lion’s Mane Mushroom

Lion's Mane Mushroom
Lion’s Mane Mushroom

Lion’s Mane mushrooms, also known as Hericium Erinaceus, are a type of functional mushroom that has been used for centuries and often reserved for royalty and Buddhist monks. Here are some potential benefits of incorporating this mushroom into your routine:

  • Brain health: Lion’s Mane mushroom contains compounds called erinacines and hericenones that have been shown to stimulate nerve growth factor (NGF) production in the brain. NGF is a protein that plays a major role in the growth and survival of neurons, which can help support cognitive function.

  • Mood and anxiety: Some studies have found that Lion’s Mane mushrooms may have potential mood and anxiety benefits. One study found that supplementing with this mushroom for four weeks was associated with improvements in depression, anxiety, and sleep quality in individuals’ anxiety.

  • Digestive health: Lion’s Mane mushrooms may have potential digestive benefits. Some studies have found that the extract can help protect against stomach ulcers and promote the growth of beneficial gut bacteria.

  • Immune Health: The beneficial gut bacteria that help with digestive health can also help with improving immune function.
  • Nerve regeneration: Lion’s Mane medicinal mushrooms may have potential nerve regeneration benefits. Some studies have found that they can help promote the regeneration of injured nerves and improve nerve function in animal models.

Who Should consider Lion’s Mane Mushrooms

People who may benefit from incorporating Lion’s Mane mushrooms into their routine include those who are looking to support their brain health, improve their mood, reduce stress and anxiety, promote digestive and immune health, or promote nerve regeneration.

Cordyceps

Cordyceps Mushroom

Cordyceps mushrooms, also known as Ophiocordyceps Sinensis, are a type of functional mushroom that has been used in Chinese medicine and Tibeten medicine for thousands of years. If you can look past the potential mutant-zombie effects from ‘The Last of Us,’ here are some potential benefits of incorporating Cordyceps mushrooms into your routine:

  • Athletic performance: Cordyceps mushrooms may have potential athletic performance benefits. Some studies have found that Cordyceps extract can help improve oxygen utilization and endurance during exercise.

  • Respiratory health: Cordyceps mushrooms may have potential respiratory benefits. Some studies have found that Cordyceps extract can help improve lung function and reduce inflammation in people with asthma.

  • Immune support: Cordyceps mushrooms contain beta-glucans and other polysaccharides that can help support a healthy immune system. These compounds can help activate immune cells and improve immune function.

  • Energy and fatigue: Cordyceps mushrooms may have potential energy and fatigue benefits. Some studies have found that Cordyceps extract can help improve energy levels and reduce fatigue in individuals with chronic fatigue syndrome.

  • Sexual health: Cordyceps mushrooms may have potential sexual health benefits. Some studies have found that Cordyceps extract can help improve sexual function and libido in both men and women.

Who Should consider cordyceps

People who may benefit from incorporating Cordyceps mushrooms into their routine include those who are looking to improve their athletic performance, promote respiratory health, support their immune system, boost their energy levels, or improve their sexual health.

Chaga Mushrooms

Chaga
Chaga Mushroom

Chaga mushrooms, also known as Inonotus obliquus, are a type of functional mushroom that has been used in traditional Siberian and Finnish medicine for centuries. Here are some potential benefits of incorporating Chaga mushrooms into your routine:

  • Immune support: They promote the production of cytokines which are proteins that regulate the immune system, and they stimulate white blood cells.

  • Antioxidant properties: Chaga is rich in antioxidants, including melanin, which can help protect against oxidative stress and inflammation.

  • Blood sugar regulation: They may have potential blood sugar regulation benefits. Some studies have found that Chaga extract can help improve insulin sensitivity and reduce blood sugar levels in individuals with diabetes.

  • Digestive health: Chaga may have potential digestive benefits. Some studies have found that Chaga extract can help protect against inflammatory bowel disease and other digestive issues.

Who should consider Chaga Mushrooms

People who may benefit from incorporating Chaga into their routine include those who are looking to support their immunity, protect against oxidative stress and inflammation, regulate their blood sugar levels, or promote digestive health.

Conclusion

Functional mushrooms have been used for centuries in traditional medicine and have gained popularity in recent years due to their potential health benefits. We’ve highlighted five popular functional mushrooms, each with their own unique medicinal benefits: Reishi, Chaga, Cordyceps, Turkey Tail, and Lion’s Mane.

However, it’s important to remember that this is just an introduction to these mushrooms, and there is much more to learn about the medicinal properties of each one. I encourage you to do your own research and speak with a healthcare professional to determine which mushrooms may be best for you based on your individual health goals and needs.

Incorporating functional mushrooms into your routine can be a great way to support your overall health and wellness. Whether you’re looking to boost your immune system, improve your athletic or cognitive performance, or support your digestive health, there’s likely a functional mushroom out there that can help.

So go ahead and explore the world of functional mushrooms and discover which ones resonate with you. With so many potential benefits, you never know what positive changes they may bring to your life.

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