Adaptogenic mushrooms have been all the rage for the last few years. We’ve seen powders, tinctures, teas and coffees storming the market, boasting all kinds of health-boosting effects courtesy of these adaptogenic ‘shrooms.
But, let's take a step back – what are adaptogenic mushrooms? Are they actually effective? Is there research on these mushrooms, and are they safe?
You’ve got questions, we’ve got answers. So, if you’re curious about the mushroom products you see everywhere, keep reading – here’s everything you need to know about adaptogenic mushrooms in 2023.
What Are Adaptogenic Mushrooms?
Let’s start from the top – adaptogenic mushrooms, also known as functional mushrooms, are mushrooms with adaptogenic properties. Simply put, they help your body fight the negative effects of stress and improve your overall health.
See, stress releases free radicals in your body. When free radicals run amok, they can lead to a range of health issues – for instance, they may contribute to inflammatory and cardiovascular diseases, cataract and cancer. Apart from cronical health issues, free radicals are also behind most of the changes in our bodies as we age, such as aging skin.
So what do adaptogens do? They neutralize the free radicals in your body, by taking care of the ones that have already formed and preventing more from releasing. You can think of them as a defense that complements your natural immune system in the fight against free radicals and stress-related health issues. Your body can’t produce them on its own, just like it can’t produce the vitamins that boost your immune system.
Now, adaptogens are not limited to mushrooms – you can find them in many foods and beverages, such as coffee, blueberries, tumeric, nettle and many more.
But adaptogenic mushrooms have grown increasingly popular as we start to understand how little we previously knew about how mushrooms can help our health. There are a ton of different mushrooms, each with a range of adaptogens that can be harnessed to boost your health in many different ways – and since they are quite concentrated, they have been proven especially powerful.
Are All Mushrooms Adaptogenic?
No – not all mushrooms are adaptogenic. The white caps you chop up for your pasta, for instance, are not adaptogenic.
Whether or not a mushroom is considered adaptogenic depends on whether it contains the specific stress supportive compounds that are beneficial for your health. Some of the most common ones include lion’s mane, reishi, cordyceps, chaga, turkey tail, shiitake and maitake.
What Are the Benefits of Adaptogenic Mushrooms?
The benefits of adaptogenic mushrooms are many, and depend on which mushroom you are consuming. Reishi mushroom, for example, boosts your immune system and according to some studies may even offer cancer-fighting properties. Lion’s mane is another well-known functional mushroom, that may help protect against mild or severe cognitive issues, heart disease, and may also help reduce anxiety.
Because there’s such a range of functional mushrooms, a comprehensive list of the benefits would be very long. But some benefits of adaptogenic mushrooms may include:
- Lowering cortisol levels
- Alleviating the effects of stress
- Protecting the liver
- Lowering the risk of cancer
- Protecting against cardiovascular conditions
- Supporting brain health
- Lowering cholesterol
- Supporting natural, healthy energy levels
In short, functional mushrooms are a great way to be proactive about your health, and lower the chances of a range of chronic health issues down the line – as well as improving your overall health, mood, and energy levels right now.
Do Adaptogenic Mushrooms Work?
Despite the boom of adaptogenic mushrooms in recent years, adaptogenic mushrooms are nothing new. In fact, they’ve been used in herbal medicine in various parts of the world for thousands of years.
That said, in the last few decades the research around risks and benefits of adaptogenic mushrooms have boomed – and while it’s still developing and more human-focused studies are needed, there are already plenty of studies proving that adaptogenic mushrooms are effective and can improve your health in various ways.
Does that mean that every mushroom extract, tincture, powder and product out there is effective? Sadly, no. Because the market is still new, it isn’t yet regulated in a way that prevents companies from taking advantage of the booming interest in medicinal ‘shrooms.
But some functional mushroom products really are effective, and can bring genuine health benefits into your life.
So how do you know whether a mushroom product will give you actual results? Here are a few things to look for, that can help you determine if an adaptogenic mushroom product will work – including dosage, extraction method, and sourcing.
Today, there’s no regulation for how much mushroom a product must contain to be marketed as an adaptogenic mushroom product. As you can probably guess, this means many products out there don’t contain enough to make a difference for your health.
So to avoid scams, look for companies that are transparent – genuine mushroom products tend to list how many milligrams of mushroom extract each product or dose contains.
There’s no official recommended daily dosage of mushrooms, since each mushroom has different adaptogens and how much is healthy to consume can vary. However, for most functional mushrooms, less than 500mg per day would give little to no effect.
The adaptogens in functional mushrooms are locked away tight inside their cells, and your body can’t break these down on its own. So, if you just ate a medicinal mushroom as is, or as a powder from its raw form, you wouldn’t access all of the benefits that’s hidden inside it. This is why it’s so important to know how the adaptogens have been extracted from the mushroom.
Some adaptogens are water soluble, while others are alcohol soluble. Ideally, look for products that have used a at least a dual-extraction method – this means they have used both water and alcohol to make sure all the beneficial compounds in the mushroom have been unlocked.
Which Part of the Mushroom Are They Using?
The visible part of the mushroom – the cap and stem – is called the fruiting body. But not all adaptogens are in the fruiting body itself. There’s also the mycelium, which is the root system and the spores, and it contains beneficial compounds too.
Some companies use only the fruiting body for their extracts. But if you want the full benefits of functional mushrooms, look for full-spectrum mushroom products. These use both the fruiting body and the mycelium for their extracts, ensuring all the adaptogens are used.
Where are the mushrooms grown? Adaptogenic mushrooms absorb their environment – both the air and the soil – so if they’re grown in places with heavy metals or toxins in the soil, this could make it into the final product. Counter-productive for something meant to boost your health, to say the least.
We recommend looking for organic mushrooms, sustainably-grown and ideally ones grown in the US, where the regulations around growing environments are controlled and reported.
Are Adaptogenic Mushrooms Safe?
Studies have found that mushrooms such as lion’s mane, reishi and cordyceps are generally safe for most people.
But it’s important to note that functional mushrooms have an effect on your body, and certain conditions may be affected by them. Reishi mushroom, for instance, can lower blood pressure, so if you’re someone with low blood pressure to begin with, you should not consume reishi without first consulting a health professional.
In general, if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, taking prescribed medication, have low blood pressure, low blood sugar or hypoglycemia, diabetes type 1, or a bleeding disorder, you should consult your doctor before jumping into the world of functional mushrooms. And if you’re just starting out with functional mushrooms, it’s a good idea to keep track of how you’re feeling in case of allergies.
Most of all, it’s important to remember that while functional mushrooms contain adaptogens that are beneficial for your health, they are not intended to replace prescribed medicine or treat specific conditions. They work to strengthen your immune system and improve your overall health in a proactive, pre-emptive way, but for anyone with a condition or health issue, seeking medical advice is the way to go.
How Often Should You Consume Functional Mushrooms?
So, if you’re serious about getting the most benefits out of functional mushrooms – how often should you consume them? Great question, and as we mentioned earlier, the exact amount recommended can differ depending on which mushroom you’re consuming.
But most studies of functional mushrooms reference “chronic supplementation” to achieve best effects. Meaning, supplements taken regularly, ideally every day, is generally agreed to be the surest way achieve noticeable effects.
Now, while many people forget to take pills and powders, a coffee drinker never forgets their morning cup of coffee. Which is why, in our opinion, functional coffee is one of the best ways to get this healthy habit into your daily life and really benefit from functional mushrooms. You don’t have to change a thing about your routine – all you have to do is switch out your beans.
Peak State Is the World’s First Whole-Bean Mushroom Coffee
Besides being a great way to get your daily dose of functional mushroom with minimal effort – since you most likely have your bean routine in place already – functional mushrooms can actually make your coffee better, too. See, adaptogenic mushrooms can help to reduce some of the negative effects you may experience from coffee, such as jitters, caffeine crashes, stomach aches and acid reflux. No bad, huh?
Now, most adaptogenic coffees are pre-ground, but at Peak State, we were so passionate about whole bean coffee that we developed the world’s first whole-bean mushroom coffee. All our mushrooms are US grown and certified organic, full-spectrum, and each 8 oz serving contains 500mg of mushroom extract, to ensure you get a real effect with each cup.
Curious to give it a try? Get a 4oz free sample of any of our coffee blends delivered to your front door today, and feel the difference for yourself!P.S… Curious to learn more about the benefits of each mushroom? Check out this post next!