"Functional mushrooms are about to be everywhere." Well+Good proclaimed this in their 2021 Wellness Trend Report.
They weren’t wrong. They were very right and for a good reason.
What are Functional Mushrooms?
Mushroom varieties like Reishi and Lion’s Mane are considered functional compared to culinary mushrooms like shiitake because scientific research and traditional applications have shown that they have benefits on cognitive health, stress levels, and immune strength.
They’re also considered adaptogenic mushrooms for their benefits on helping the body to adapt to certain stressors.
All that is to say, they are powerful miracles of nature with amazing, scientifically studied, benefits.
You can find mushrooms everywhere (shout out to Well + Good for that prediction!). From pre-made lattes mixes, protein powders, to supplements, wellness beverages, and even here - on the page in front of you.
Reishi Mushrooms (Ganoderma Lucidum)
Reishi mushrooms are a source of fungal polysaccharides with immunomodulating properties (aka stimulates the immune system), used in herbal medicine to help maintain a healthy immune system.
They have also long been used in Herbal Medicine and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) as an adaptogen to help increase energy and resistance to stress. It has a long history of use in Japan, China, and other Asian countries. For some, it is regarded as “a herb of spiritual potency, symbolizing success, well-being, divine power, and longevity.”
Reishi mushrooms are a source of antioxidants, which counteract oxidative stress and support your overall health and wellness.
So many benefits, one little mushroom. Some call them a “superfood.” We call them one of the ingredients that bring an array of benefits to our Immune Strength wellness beverage mix.
Lion’s Mane Mushrooms (Hercium Erinaceus)
Lion’s Mane is a mushroom that contains health-promoting substances, such as antioxidants and immune-supportive beta-glucan. Lion’s Mane is often used in herbal medicine as an adaptogen to relieve symptoms of stress temporarily.
Lion’s Mane may help reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression and has been shown to improve cognitive function. A 4-week study published in 2021 by Biomedical Research observed that people given Lion’s Mane were less irritable and anxious and had less difficulty concentrating than members of the placebo group.
Further studies have shown the benefits of cognitive function. One such study of a group of 30 participants, published in the journal Phytotherapy Research, studied the benefits of Lion’s Mane on cognitive function over 16 weeks. Half the participants received a Lion’s Mane supplement, while half received a placebo. The researchers noted that the subjects who took the mushroom supplement showed significant improvement on cognitive skills tests. In contrast, those who took the placebo showed no changes.
What to Look For?
When checking ingredient lists for functional ingredients like mushrooms, look for 500 - 1000 milligrams per serving.
Are They Safe?
While Reishi and Lion’s Mane mushrooms are generally safe for most people, it’s best to consult with your doctor first if you’re introducing any new product or supplement into your regime.
Everyone’s body is different; just because your friend uses (insert whatever the new fad food is) to balance her (energy, hormones, weight, stress level, whatever) and it worked for her, doesn’t mean that the same will be for you.
And just because your fave coffee shop has a cool new latte or your fave blogger lives for specific herbs, doesn’t mean that you should be having it. Legit, it’s not worth the Instagram photo for what it could be doing to your body and/or mind. This works for hairstyles and clothes, not for supplements.
Resist the urge to put something in your body because you saw an influencer talk about it. Get curious about it, and look into it to see if it’s right for you.