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Medicinal Mushroom Supplements Are the New Thing - Here's Why People Are Using Them

Medicinal Mushroom Supplements Are the New Thing - Here's Why People Are Using Them

Functional mushroom supplements are very different from the psychedelic variety that many people use recreationally. Instead of inducing hallucinogenic effects, authentic functional mushroom supplements are praised for their therapeutic properties and sweeping health benefits.

Specifically, mushroom supplements are touted for their ability to boost the immune system, enhance energy levels, reduce stress, improve sleep, and more. There are various types of mushroom species available, and while most promote general health and wellbeing, each has their own unique effects. Some of the most widely available varieties include reishi, cordyceps, chaga, turkey tail, and lion’s mane.

This guide takes an in-depth look at what medicinal mushroom supplements are, and why they have become so popular.

What Are Medicinal Mushroom Supplements?

Each variety of mushroom has different properties and may affect the human body differently. For instance, some may increase energy levels and aid in muscle recovery, while others may improve concentration and cognition. 

Recently, mushrooms have made their way into the mainstream market and are now being sold in various forms. Typically, you will find medicinal mushroom supplements in the form of powders, teas, and capsules. Capsules are one of my favorite ways to consume mushrooms because they are completely tasteless and easily incorporated into any wellness routine. They’re also low-fat, low-sodium, and low in calories. 

Here is a glimpse at the nutritional power of medicinal mushrooms:

  • Rich source of protein: In dry weight, mushrooms contain up to 40% of protein
  • Backed with B vitamins: Many mushrooms contain an array of B vitamins, including thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), pantothenic acid (B5), folate (B9), and cobalamin (B12). In fact, mushrooms are one of the few vegan-friendly sources of B12.
  • Antioxidant powerhouse: A diet high in antioxidants has many potential health benefits. Mushrooms contain an array of antioxidants, including beta-carotene, selenium, lutein, vitamins A, C, and E, and polysaccharides.
  • High content of essential minerals: Some of the important minerals found in mushrooms include iron, potassium, calcium, magnesium, and more. 

Why Use Mushroom Supplements?

Medicinal mushrooms are thought to have over one hundred health-related functions. Research is still in the early stages, and more human trials are needed regarding their direct impact on preventing and treating specific health conditions. Nevertheless, research thus far is promising.

Here are a few of the reasons you might want to add mushroom supplements to your daily wellness regime.

1. Boost the Immune System

Most medicinal mushrooms contain powerful polysaccharides called beta-glucans. Known as the most robust immune modulators in the world, beta-glucans help stimulate all aspects of the immune system’s function. Maintaining good immunity is essential for fighting off common colds and flu, along with several other types of illnesses.

2. Increasing Antioxidant Activity

Antioxidants are compounds that protect the cells against free radicals. This is significant because free radicals may wreak havoc in the body due to the cellular damage they cause. Specifically, this cell damage may increase your risk of developing several health issues, including those related to aging. 

Antioxidants like vitamin C and E and carotenoids may counter the adverse health effects of these free radicals. 

A study from 1995 reported that reishi reduces free radical activity, while a 2016 study discovered that chaga has rich antioxidant properties. More specifically, a chaga polysaccharide was found to have “strong antioxidant activity for scavenging free radicals.”

3. Managing Blood Sugar Levels

Medicinal mushrooms may help you manage blood sugar levels. In one study, a cordyceps polysaccharide was found to lower blood sugar levels in genetic diabetic mice. The same study also reported that this cordyceps-sourced polysaccharide helped lower triglyceride and cholesterol levels.

4. Increased Energy and Improved Exercise Performance

Medicinal mushrooms have been linked to improved athletic performance. Cordyceps extracts have been found to dilate arteries in the body that supply oxygenated blood to the entire circulatory system. This significantly increases blood flow, thereby enhancing endurance during high-intensity exercises.

5. Brain Health

Medicinal mushrooms can improve your memory, mood, concentration, and other parts of the brain. Lion’s mane mushrooms are of particular interest when it comes to brain health. Potent compounds in lion’s mane have been found to increase the release of nerve growth factor (NGF). NGF is a protein that is necessary for the growth, maintenance, and survival of neurons in the brain.

What’s The Best Way To Add Medicinal Mushrooms To Your Diet?

Due to their bitter taste and a lack of education regarding what medicinal mushrooms can do for health, they generally aren’t incorporated into people’s daily routines. 

However, mushroom supplements are increasing in popularity, and many brands now offer them in easy-to-use, convenient forms, such as capsules and powders. Powdered formulas can be added to your favorite beverage, like tea, coffee, or even smoothies, while capsules can be taken in the same way you consume any other vitamin supplement. 

That said, finding expertly crafted, high-quality capsules from a reliable brand can be challenging. One of my personal favorites is Vidacap, an American company specializing in mushroom capsules. They offer five different types, including lion’s mane, turkey tail, reishi, cordyceps, and chaga, as well as a specialized sleep blend. 

Medicinal mushrooms have a number of potential health benefits, including boosting the immune system, lowering blood sugar levels, promoting brain health, and more. However, each variety is different and has different effects. Therefore, it’s important to choose the right type of mushroom supplement depending on your health needs.