Mushrooms are the newest way to boost your wellness! Get ready to reap the health benefits of mushrooms and check out the top ten best mushroom supplements to look out for.
We know the idea of mushroom supplements may seem slightly strange. But mushrooms and mushroom supplements aren’t just the latest health fad. In fact, they’ve been used in Eastern medicine for centuries. It’s because of this long history of alternative use that they are also sometimes called “medicinal mushrooms”. They’re jam-packed with beneficial properties that come with a whole host of potential benefits. These include anywhere from boosting your brain to soothing your nerves.
Let’s look at ten different types of mushroom supplements and their potential uses and benefits.
First up we have a mushroom known as the lion’s mane mushroom. Not only do lion’s mane mushrooms have a cool-sounding name (and look like a pom-pom), but they’re also brimming with antioxidants.
What’s it good for?
Lion’s mane may be helpful in offering immune support and boosting brain function. According to some studies, what makes this mushroom stand out is that it aids with the production of NFG, or nerve growth factor, a group of bioproteins called neurotrophins(1).
Lion’s mane can also help with the production of another protein called myelin, studies have found. Both myelin and nerve growth factor are vital for maintaining optimum brain health. According to researchers, lion’s mane may help with cognitive function, especially in regards to memory, concentration, and even mood (1, 2, 3).
If you’re a fan of stir-fries, ramen, or other East Asian cuisines, you may already be familiar with shitake, or shiitake, mushrooms. But you might not have been aware that these tasty mushrooms are also brimming with a wide range of health benefits.
Benefits of shitake
Dried shitake mushrooms have a great nutritional profile. They’re rich in vitamins and minerals such as vitamin B5 and copper, not to mention other health-boosting compounds such as polysaccharides, lipids, and terpenoids.
But shitake mushrooms aren’t only a staple in many dishes. They’re also often found in supplements. In mushroom supplements, shitake mushrooms are used in powder form. According to some studies, shitake mushrooms can help support heart health by having a positive impact on cholesterol levels.
Despite almost sounding like a classic Tiki cocktail, maitake mushrooms also go by many other names including hen-of-the-woods and sheep’s head. These mushrooms, known as “dancing mushroom” in Japanese, are native to Japan, China, and North America. They typically grow at the base of Oak, Elm, and Maple trees.
Boost your immune system with maitake
These immune-boosting mushrooms are packed with antioxidants, amino acids, as well as vitamins and minerals like copper, potassium, and vitamins B and C. Scientists are conducting more and more research to discover more about the potential health benefits of these fungi, especially over the last ten years. And their current findings look pretty promising.
For example, a study conducted in 2013 examined the potential benefits of a compound called D-Fraction. The findings of this study suggested that maitake D-Fraction might be helpful in diminishing the growth of harmful cells in the body.
Reishi mushrooms are one of the most popular species when it comes to medicinal mushrooms. And it’s no wonder either! Reishi, also known as Ganoderma lucidum or lingzhi, originates from Asia. This fungus plays a big role in traditional Eastern medicine thanks to its multiple health perks. It’s multi-tasking properties make it a must-have in any mushroom supplement.
Relax with reishi
Aside from supporting normal immune function (1) and potentially helping with weight management (2), there is another aspect that makes reishi entirely unique.
According to several studies, this fungus is full of triterpene. These chemicals, also thought of as mood-boosters, are thought to give reishi its calming properties. Studies suggest that reishi can have a positive effect on symptoms of anxiety and depression. A study conducted in 2012, claimed that this soothing fungus may help promote better sleep.
Some also anecdotally claim that reishi can help with focus. However, scientists would need to conduct more research to determine reishi’s effect on sharpening focus.
If you’re running a little low on energy and need a bit of a boost, cordyceps is just the thing. This fungus has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries to help with issues ranging from fatigue to low libido.
Perks of cordyceps mushrooms
Lately, the cordyceps mushroom seems to hold promising benefits, especially when it comes to energy levels, athletic performance, and muscle recovery. Two specific species of the cordyceps mushroom are of particular interest to researchers, although over 400 have been discovered. These are Cordyceps sinensis and Cordyceps militaris.
A 2014 study suggested that cordyceps mushrooms may be useful in enhancing blood flow by helping the body use oxygen in a more efficient way. It claimed that this could possibly help regular exercisers and athletes.
Like reishi, chaga is also full of potent antioxidants, which may help against free radicals to protect against oxidative stress. Chaga mushroom is also referred to as Inonotus obliquus, black mass, and birch canker. It gets the latter of these names because it often grows on the bark of birch trees. Chaga is native to colder climates. It is known to thrive in places like Northern Europe, Siberia, Russia, Northern Canada, and Alaska.
Why choose chaga?
People brew this nutrient-dense mushroom as a tea or use it in supplements for optimum health benefits. Just make sure that whether it’s in tea or supplement form, that it’s of high quality. Some of the potential health benefits of chaga include supporting immune function and potentially lowering ‘bad’ cholesterol levels, some studies suggest. It is also thought to have positive effects on blood sugar and inflammatory responses. That’s why this mushroom is often included in many a mushroom supplement.
Like most of the other types of fungi on this list, turkey tail is also an antioxidant powerhouse. Also known as Trametes versicolor, this mushroom also contains other compounds such as polysaccharopeptides and prebiotics.
Why take turkey tail?
Polysaccharopeptides may play a role in boosting immune function to lend immune support. Turkey tail also has potential gut supporting qualities thanks to its prebiotics, which may be helpful in promoting gut health.
Although this familiar mushroom may be slightly less exotic than the others, it’s just as potent. Also known as champignons or the common mushroom – we can assure you there is nothing common about its potential health benefits.
The best of white button
In fact, white button mushrooms are an excellent source of vitamins and minerals such as vitamin D, selenium, and phosphorus. They also have a pretty high protein content for a vegetable. This is definitely something to consider if you follow a vegan or vegetarian diet.
These mushrooms also contain antioxidants and may be beneficial in supporting heart and gut health.
Unlike the cold-loving Chaga mushroom, black fungus loves tropical climates. It can be found in places such as Hawaii, India, and Nigeria, although it’s mostly found in China. Black fungus also goes by some other names including Auricularia polytricha, tree ear, and cloud ear fungus. It’s often used in China as both a culinary ingredient and in traditional Chinese medicine.
What so great about black fungus?
Its potential health benefits are fairly similar to many of the types of fungi found on this list. Black fungus may, for example, also have a positive effect on oxidative stress. This is due to the high number of antioxidants it contains. It also has polyphenols. These are compounds that are thought to help lower LDL or “bad” cholesterol levels, according to some studies.
Also called Agaricus blazei, this immune-booster of a fungus rounds out our list of top mushroom supplements. Also high in antioxidants, this mushroom grows predominantly in Brazil, Japan, and China. It has been used in folk medicine in these countries for many centuries. However, it’s only more recently that it’s been discovered in the West.
Reap the benefits of royal sun
Researchers are conducting an increasing amount of studies into the potential benefits of royal sun. One of its main purported benefits is in supporting healthy inflammatory responses that may aid gut health. One study conducted in 2010, for example, examined its potential effects on Crohn’s disease and Ulcerative Colitis.
For more gut health tips check out our article 10 Ways to Improve Your Gut Health.
What else should I know about taking a mushroom supplement?
And there you have it, the top ten health-boosting mushroom supplements to look out for!
There are many ways to incorporate a blend of mushrooms into your lifestyle. Some, like button and shitake mushrooms, are easier to include in your diet through food. Others, like lion’s mane, cordyceps, or reishi mushrooms might be a little trickier.
Taking them in supplement form is an easy, convenient, and effective way to reap the benefits of these natural superstars. Because of their popularity, mushroom supplements come in a variety of different forms, from teas to coffee, capsules to powders. The latest trends show that a lot more people are choosing to take their supplements in gummy rather than capsule form. This means, of course, that mushroom gummies are definitely now a thing! These chewable mushroom supplements are usually a blend of different mushroom extracts.
How do I choose the best mushroom supplements?
If you’re planning to try out mushroom supplements, it’s important to choose a brand that uses quality ingredients and carries out third-party lab testing. Mushroom supplements, like other dietary supplements, are not regulated by the FDA, the Food and Drug Administration. Therefore, it’s a good idea to go for a product that is certified third-party lab-tested as it’s a good indicator of quality.
Another tip is to look out for mushroom gummy supplements that are vegan, non-GMO, and gluten-free as these are the most likely to suit a wider range of people. Some of these blends may also contain mushroom extract from organic mushrooms. However, in some cases, it is not possible to fully guarantee that the mushrooms are certified organic, which is why it may not be stated on the label.
Before trying any new supplement, it’s generally a good idea to discuss any particular concerns that you have with a physician or medical professional. This is particularly the case if you have prior or existing health conditions, issues, or illnesses.