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What are Adaptogenic Mushrooms?

Holistic medicine sings their praises, and even scientists are starting to take notice of the many benefits adaptogenic mushrooms can provide.

But what exactly are adaptogenic fungi?

Read on to learn more about the adaptogen benefits, risks, and uses, functional mushrooms, and how they can help you maintain your mental and physical health and even prevent certain illnesses.

Article Jumplinks:

What are adaptogens?

What do adaptogens do for you?

Adaptogenic mushrooms science facts

How can you take adaptogenic mushrooms?

What are Adaptogens?

Adaptogens are phytonutrients (bioactive compounds from plants or fungi) that may help our body and mind cope with stress and be more resilient. These compounds help your body adapt and maintain homeostasis in stressful situations.

For example, if your cortisol is elevated due to anxiety or external stressors, certain adaptogens will reduce the levels of this hormone. On the contrary, if your cortisol levels are low (which can result in chronic fatigue and brain fog), adaptogens raise it to meet your body’s needs.

2021 meta-analysis of adaptogens “showed that plant adaptogens could provide a number of benefits in the treatment of chronic fatigue, cognitive impairment, and immune protection.” This study concluded that “there is great potential to register medicinal products that contain plant adaptogens for therapeutic purposes.”

How Do Adaptogens Work?

Adaptogens increase your body’s resistance to stress, whether physical, psychological, or chemical, and help improve your stress response. They do so through your body’s main stress response system, the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA axis), which consists of hypothalamic, pituitary, and adrenal glands in your body.

The main function of this system is to release glucocorticoids, including cortisol (the stress hormone) into the body. By affecting the production of these hormones through the HPA axis, adaptogens are able to enhance resistance to stress, as well as promote homeostasis in the body.

After the consumption of plant-originated adaptogens, physical exercises do not increase the level of cortisol and nitric oxide in the human body; in fact, the levels decrease, comparing to those present prior to physical exercise. (Liao, et al.)

adaptogenic mushrooms

Adaptogenic Mushrooms Benefits

Adaptogens can provide amazing health benefits and even prevent some illnesses. Studies have shown that adaptogenic supplements enhance the body's resistance to stressors, combat fatigue, fight cancer, enhance gut health, and improve your overall health.

Different adaptogens have different effects on your body. While some calm you down and reduce the effects of stress and anxiety, others give you an energy boost.

Since there’s no one-size-fits-all adaptogen, it’s best to do your research on adaptogens that are beneficial for your particular health issues.

Adaptogenic Mushrooms Side Effects

Adaptogens are generally safe for healthy individuals. However, if you’re not used to taking adaptogen products, they can cause mild digestive issues such as constipation, diarrhea, and nausea.

Those prone to allergies may be allergic to some adaptogens, as well. If you notice any signs of an allergic reaction, stop taking the adaptogen immediately, and contact a healthcare professional.

Can You Take Adaptogens Every Day?

Yes, it’s completely safe to take adaptogens every day, as long as you don’t exceed the recommended daily dose. You’ll experience more health benefits of adaptogens and adaptogenic mushrooms if you take them regularly, as some long-term benefits become more pronounced the longer you take the adaptogenic products.

What Foods are High in Adaptogens?

To be considered adaptogenic, foods need to have these three qualities:

  • when taken in prescribed doses, adaptogens are non-toxic
  • adaptogens maintain your body’s homeostasis
  • they help you deal with stressors (mental and physical)

Medicinal mushrooms such as cordyceps, reishi, chaga, turkey tail, and lion’s mane are known adaptogens. Goji berries, maca root, and licorice root also have adaptogenic properties, as well as adaptogen herbs such as ashwagandha and ginseng.

What is an Adaptogenic Mushroom?

Adaptogenic mushrooms, otherwise known as medicinal or functional mushrooms, are mushrooms that seem to have the ability to help the human body improve its stress response patterns.

Evidence suggests that adaptogenic mushrooms, sometimes also called functional mushrooms, may have antiviral properties and decrease chronic inflammation in the body, as well as lower blood sugar levels and fight cancer.

They are packed with antioxidants and other nutrients, many of which are only just beginning to be understood by science. The anti-inflammatory properties of adaptogenic mushrooms are a result of the wide variety of bioactive compounds they possess. 

Mushrooms are rich in anti-inflammatory components, such as polysaccharides, phenolic and indolic compounds, mycosteroids, fatty acids, carotenoids, vitamins, and biometals. (Muszyńska, et al.)

While the science is still fairly young, and many studies have used animal test subjects rather than humans, the body of evidence in favor of adaptogenic mushrooms is fairly robust. 

7 Amazing Adaptogenic Mushroom Science Facts

Adaptogenic fungi are some of the healthiest foods you can consume. Here are some interesting facts about functional mushrooms you may not have heard of:

1. Adaptogenic Mushrooms Can Help You Prevent and Fight Cancer

Several mushroom species were shown to have anti-cancer properties. They appear to aid in cancer prevention and treatment, as well as alleviate some side effects of chemotherapy.

Medicinal mushrooms may have a therapeutic potential for cancer patients during and after conventional oncological care with regards to quality of life, reduction of adverse effects of conventional care and possibly other surrogate parameters like immune function. (Jeitler, et al.)

recent study examined the effects of Cordyceps militaris on non-small cell lung cancer. The methanolic extract of cordyceps fruit bodies seems to have reduced lung cancer growth by increasing levels of several tumor-suppressing proteins.

The reishi mushroom (Ganoderma lucidum) appears to be particularly beneficial for bladder cancer. This medicinal mushroom contains immunomodulating substances that appear to modulate cytokine production by enhancing bone marrow macrophages.

Cytokines are a type of protein that affects your body’s immune response. By enhancing the production of cytokines and bone marrow compounds (including white blood cell production), this functional mushroom can bolster your body’s ability to fight bladder cancer.

To learn more about the benefits various medicinal mushrooms can have for cancer, read our article on the best mushrooms for cancer.

2. Your Mental Health Can Benefit from Functional Mushrooms

Adaptogenic mushrooms have a lot of potential benefits for stress relief. The lion’s mane mushroom, in particular, is incredibly beneficial for mental health. This mushroom appears to relieve stress levels and anxiety, as well as reduce symptoms of depression.

Japanese study examined the effects of lion’s mane on anxiety and depressive symptoms in menopausal women. After taking a lion’s mane supplement for 4 weeks, these women reported feeling less depressed and anxious than they did at the beginning of the trial, while the women who were taking a placebo did not report an improvement in their symptoms.

Another study found that “mice receiving H. erinaceus had…increased exploratory behavior toward novel objects…indicative of lower levels of anxiety.”

Lion’s mane also appears to benefit people with ADHD. This adaptogenic mushroom reduces stress and anxiety common in ADHD and improves memory and focus without interfering with ADHD medication.

To learn more about the many benefits lion’s mane mushrooms can have for the brain, read our guide to Hericium erinaceus brain benefits.

3. Adaptogenic Mushrooms are Incredible for Your Skin and Hair

All medicinal mushrooms contain the necessary nutrients for your hair, skin, and nails to be healthy. However, chaga mushrooms were proven to be particularly beneficial for skin care and hair growth.

In addition to having anti-cancer properties, chaga has been used as a medicinal shampoo in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries, and a recent study confirmed its positive effect on hair health and growth.

Researchers applied triterpenes found in chaga to human hair follicles. The results suggest that four out of five of these compounds had an anti-alopecia effect. Although further research is needed, chaga mushrooms appear to have a stimulative effect on hair growth.

chaga mushrooms benefit skin and hair

4. Your Immune System Will Thank You for Taking Adaptogenic Mushrooms

Medicinal mushrooms can have an incredibly positive effect on your immune health. For example, a 2015 study examined the effects of shiitake mushrooms on immune function in healthy young adults.

This fungus is chock-full of vitamins and minerals that keep your body in optimal health and prevent inflammation. After taking 5-10 grams of shiitake daily for four weeks, the participants had fewer inflammatory processes and showed signs of an overall immunity boost.

Medicinal mushrooms may also protect against microbial infections. A recent study concluded that “the extracts of the three wild mushrooms have shown promising antimicrobial activities against the tested organisms.”

5. Functional Mushrooms Improve Athletic Performance

While some medicinal mushrooms have relaxing properties, others can give you an energy boost. For instance, cordyceps mushrooms seem to boost energy levels by aiding in ATP production in cellular mitochondria.

According to a human study, the cordyceps mushroom appears to reduce inflammation and increase the body’s natural ventilatory and metabolic thresholds.

After 12 weeks of taking a cordyceps mushroom extract, the subjects were able to exercise for longer and recover quicker than their counterparts who were taking a placebo. This study concluded that “supplementation with…Cordyceps sinensis…improves exercise performance and might contribute to wellness in healthy older subjects.”

6. Your Pets Can Benefit from Adaptogenic Mushrooms, Too

The power of medicinal mushrooms doesn’t stop with humans. While they can’t eat them raw, your furry friends can reap many beneficial effects of adaptogenic fungi through a mushroom supplement.

For example, the turkey tail mushroom was shown to improve the survival rate of dogs with cancer. A randomized, double-blind study examined the effects of turkey tail on dogs with hemangiosarcoma. The dogs that took the mushroom capsules lived longer and had fewer metastases.

7. There’s an Abundance of Ways to Consume Medicinal Mushrooms

You don’t have to like the taste of mushrooms in order to reap the benefits of adaptogenic mushrooms.

Nowadays, there’s a wide variety of mushroom products to choose from. You can mix the mushroom powder with tap water or put it in a protein shake, or go with mushroom capsules.

If you prefer having the mushrooms with your food, go with fortified mushroom products (such as mushroom coffee or our superfood granola). 

Are You Interested in Taking Adaptogenic Mushrooms?

If you’re interested in trying adaptogens, it’s best to combine the benefits of functional mushrooms. And, what better way to do so than with a bowl of cereal?

Our adaptogenic mushroom granola is exactly what you need. Our adaptogenic mushroom product contains a hyperconcentrated extract of lion’s mane mushrooms.

adaptogenic mushroom granola

The granola is vegan, gluten-free, and delicious. You can choose from one of our three amazing flavors, or go with a bundle if you can’t decide on a favorite.

Adaptogenic Mushrooms FAQ

How much adaptogenic mushroom extract is in Forij granola?

Forij granola uses a high-quality extract made from whole medicinal mushrooms. Our dual extraction method extracts both water-soluble beta-glucans as well as alcohol-soluble triterpenes. Our decoction process breaks down indigestible chitin cell walls of the mushroom to get much more of these compounds out than ordinary processes do.

One serving of our granola provides 250 mg of hyperconcentrated mushroom extract, which is eight times more concentrated than a regular mushroom supplement. Therefore, you get as much chaga, lion's mane, and cordyceps as you would if you were taking a 2000 mg mushroom powder supplement, all in one bowl of granola.

Are adaptogenic mushrooms drugs?

No, adaptogenic mushrooms are not drugs, as they can’t influence your perception and sensory experience. Functional mushrooms can have spiritual benefits, improve focus and memory, and even prevent physical and mental health issues. However, they do so by maintaining your body’s homeostasis without getting you high.

Are adaptogenic mushrooms hallucinogenic?

None of the mushrooms mentioned in this article are hallucinogenic. Also known as magic mushrooms, hallucinogenic fungi contain psilocybin, a compound that provides feelings of sensory distortion and euphoria (a high). Adaptogenic mushrooms such as lion’s mane, reishi, chaga, and cordyceps don’t contain psilocybin and can’t get you high.

What are the best types of adaptogenic mushrooms?

Adaptogenic mushrooms are among the healthiest mushrooms you can consume. When using medicinal mushrooms, it is advisable to combine mushrooms that offer different health benefits (for example, taking lion's mane for brain health and cordyceps for increased energy).

The best types of mushrooms are:

  • Cordyceps mushrooms
  • Lion’s mane mushrooms
  • Reishi mushrooms
  • Chaga mushrooms
  • Shiitake mushrooms
  • Turkey tail mushrooms
  • Maitake mushrooms
  • Can adaptogenic mushrooms get you high? 

    No they can’t!  Mushrooms that can cause a high contain a naturally occurring psychedelic called psilocybin. Adaptogenic mushrooms, like the ones we use in our superfood granola, are not psychoactive. They do not contain any psilocybin.  

    Are functional mushrooms safe while pregnant or breastfeeding?

    This is an area where there is still much research to be done.  Currently, there is no scientific research on the safety of mushrooms like lion’s mane during pregnancy.

    Functional mushrooms are considered safe for most people, and there is no conclusive evidence that they cause any harm during pregnancy. However, due to the lack of research, pregnant women may choose not to take them while pregnant.

    For those who do choose to consume adaptogenic mushrooms during pregnancy, it is recommended that you consult with your doctor first. Since there is not a lot of research available, it is impossible to know how much of these fungi are safe to consume during pregnancy. To learn more about the effects of adaptogens on breastfeeding, read our guide to consuming lion’s mane while breastfeeding.

    Can you overdose or consume “too much” of an adaptogenic mushroom? 

    In short, no. There is little to no risk of overdosing on adaptogenic mushrooms, even when consuming extremely large doses. Too large of a dose may lead to mild side effects like upset stomach or diarrhea, but the risk of an actual overdose is incredibly low. In fact, from the research that has been done, it is safe to consume not just one adaptogen, but multiple different adaptogens at the same time. 

    Are there any drug interactions with adaptogenic mushrooms? 

    There is evidence to suggest that certain adaptogens can interact with certain classes of prescription medications. For instance, lion’s mane mushrooms seem to have antiplatelet effects and may interact with medication with the same effect.

    To learn more about medication lion's mane and other adaptogens may interact with, check out our guide to lion's mane drug interactions. If you are on any medications, it’s advisable to consult with your doctor before adding adaptogenic mushrooms to your routine.

    Can adaptogenic mushrooms cause low blood pressure?

    Fresh, organic mushrooms should not cause low blood pressure. However, more concentrated fungal and herbal medicine containing adaptogenic mushrooms can lower blood pressure levels and interact with medication that does the same, so it’s important to consult with a healthcare professional before you start taking adaptogens with antihypertensive drugs.


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    2. Liao, L. Y. (2018). A preliminary review of studies on adaptogens: comparison of their bioactivity in TCM with that of ginseng-like herbs used worldwide. Chinese Medicine, 13(1).
    3. Muszyńska, B. (2018). Anti-inflammatory properties of edible mushrooms: A review. Food Chemistry, 243, 373–381.
    4. Jeitler, M. (2020). Significance of Medicinal Mushrooms in Integrative Oncology: A Narrative Review. Frontiers in Pharmacology, 11.
    5. Bizarro, A. (2015). Cordyceps militaris (L.) Link Fruiting Body Reduces the Growth of a Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer Cell Line by Increasing Cellular Levels of p53 and p21. Molecules, 20(8), 13927–13940.
    6. Nagano, M. (2010). Reduction of depression and anxiety by 4 weeks Hericium erinaceus intake. Biomedical Research, 31(4), 231–237.
    7. Rodriguez, M. N. (2022). Lion’s Mane (Hericium erinaceus) Exerts Anxiolytic Effects in the rTg4510 Tau Mouse Model. Behavioral Sciences, 12(7), 235.
    8. Sagayama, K. (2019). Lanostane-type triterpenes from the sclerotium of Inonotus obliquus (Chaga mushrooms) as proproliferative agents on human follicle dermal papilla cells. Journal of Natural Medicines, 73(3), 597–601.
    9. Dai, X. (2015). Consuming Lentinula edodes (Shiitake) Mushrooms Daily Improves Human Immunity: A Randomized Dietary Intervention in Healthy Young Adults. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 34(6), 478–487.
    10. Gebreyohannes, G. (2019). Determination of Antimicrobial Activity of Extracts of Indigenous Wild Mushrooms against Pathogenic Organisms. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2019, 1–7.
    11. Chen, S. (2010). Effect of Cs-4® (Cordyceps sinensis) on Exercise Performance in Healthy Older Subjects: A Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 16(5), 585–590.
    12. Brown, D. C. (2012). Single Agent Polysaccharopeptide Delays Metastases and Improves Survival in Naturally Occurring Hemangiosarcoma. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2012, 1–8.

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    This article was written strictly for informational purposes. Our products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or inform about medical advice. The statements contained herein have not been evaluated by the FDA (the Food and Drug Administration).

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