Your Adaptogenic Guide To Functional Fungi

Your Adaptogenic Guide To Functional Fungi

What are functional mushrooms, and do they make the world go round? Although these mushrooms don’t influence the earth’s rotation or transport you to other dimensions, they do offer exceptional adaptogenic properties. It’s not secret that there is a fungi frenzy, which can make selecting mushrooms or mushroom blends quite confusing. Which mushrooms do what and how do you know which ones you need?

What Are Functional Mushrooms?

Functional mushrooms are edible mushrooms that exhibit adaptogenic properties, which extend beyond the nutritional benefits. Adaptogens are compounds that help support the way the nervous system responds to stress. Functional mushrooms help support the body’s stress response, but they don’t stop there. Different mushrooms exhibit different nutrients and phytonutrients, but all of them contain beta glucans. These complex carbohydrates exist in the cell walls of mushrooms. According to researchers, fungal beta glucans can help improve gut health, inflammatory response, immune function, heart health, and beyond. 

The quality of the mushroom, or mushroom supplement, is just as important as knowing which mushroom to choose. Some mushroom supplements, for example, may not even contain mushrooms! They use mycelium (roots) of the mushroom, but the real benefits come from the beta glucans and other compounds in the mushroom’s fruiting body (above ground parts). So if you’ve ever considered experimenting with functional mushrooms, consider the following information your guide to adaptogenic fungi. 

Turkey Tail Mushrooms

The name comes from the fact that these mushrooms look like fanned turkey tails. They almost seem like they are out of a fairy tale book, growing on fallen logs or branches. Of all the mushrooms, turkey tails are the most researched and may help support optimal inflammatory response, cell growth, respiratory health, and liver function. There’s no need to forage any further than turkey tails if you want to reap some immune-boosting properties

Lion’s Mane Mushrooms

Your hair will not resemble that of a majestic male lion if you eat lion’s mane mushrooms. These functional fungi do offer majestic health properties, though. According to numerous studies, lion’s mane has positive effects on cognition and nerve growth. Other studies reveal that it may help improve overall brain and neurological health, so if you want to stay mentally sharp and focused, these fungi are your friends. 

Chaga Mushrooms

Chaga mushrooms differ from other mushrooms in that their benefits are concentrated in the mycelial mass, not the fruiting body. Chagas exhibit high antioxidant activity and support immune function and overall health. When it comes to purchasing chaga mushrooms or chaga supplements, make sure that they are chosen responsibly. You want wild-crafted mushrooms that are organic, if possible.


Best known for their ability to support healthy stamina and physical energy, cordyceps have a long history of use. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), cordyceps were used to support kidney and lung function. Their energy-boosting properties make them highly sought after by people, especially athletes, who want to maintain peak physical performance. You may also find that chagas help support healthy stress levels

Maitake Mushrooms

Historically, maitake mushrooms were used as currency in Japan. If that doesn’t say something about their value, we don’t know what does. Maitake mushrooms work to support immune function and promote cellular health, especially when combined with other mushrooms. That is why you typically find maitake and chaga mushrooms in the same mushroom blend. Sometimes, you will even see them combined with immune-supporting agents like ginger or elderberry, both of which improve the taste of the powder supplement.



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