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 adaptogens, functional mushrooms, and how they can help you maintain your mental and physical health and even prevent certain illnesses.
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.
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, improve gut health, and maintain overall wellness.
Different adaptogens have different effects on your body. While some calm you down and reduce 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 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 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 respond better to stressors.
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.
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. For example, cordyceps mushrooms were shown to be beneficial in cancer treatment, especially for lung cancer patients.
A 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.
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 and anxiety, as well as reduce symptoms of depression.
A 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 fungi.
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 adaptogenic mushrooms, it’s best to combine the benefits of a few fungi. And, what better way to do so than with a bowl of cereal?
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 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 mental health and cordyceps for energy-boosting benefits).
The best types of adaptogenic mushrooms are:
- Lion’s mane
- Turkey tail
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).