The Fungus Among Us
Written by Taylor Roberts
If you have recently strolled through your local Whole Foods, Erewhon, or Bristol Farms, you have probably seen products extolling the magic of mushrooms. Mushrooms, roots, herbs, and other natural adaptogens have been used for centuries in Chinese and Ayurvedic healing. Luckily, they are enduring a modern revival due to creative rebranding and convenient incorporation into the products we already know and love.
These functional mushrooms are not your normal truffle or portobello, nor are they psychedelic mushrooms. Adaptogenic mushrooms are special in that they are completely natural and can be consumed in a variety of forms—powders, supplements, vitamins, and as additions to recipes. Their benefits are extensive and diverse, supporting overall wellness. Almost every functional mushroom variety is proven to strengthen immunity and aid inflammation. These adaptogens maintain balance by buffering our response to cortisol, an adrenal stress hormone that is often the culprit of stress and anxiety, immune suppression, weight gain, inflammation, and exhaustion.
Exotic mushroom varieties can be daunting, so here is a breakdown of how to better incorporate feel-good fungi into your daily routine. Your guide begins with the four main mushrooms that are justifiably taking the wellness world by storm: Chaga, Reishi, Lion's Mane, and Cordyceps.
Chaga mushrooms, referred to as “King Healer Mushrooms,” support balance and wellbeing across the board. Rich in antioxidants, Chaga effectively fights inflammation and free radicals. This mushroom grows on birch trees for 15 to 20 years until it is harvested at full maturity. Over time, Chaga accumulates an impressive arsenal of B-vitamins and zinc, which fuel our cell function, energy levels, and metabolism.
Reishi, praised as the “Queen Healer Mushroom” is celebrated for its adaptogenic and spiritual potencies. This mushroom is linked to stress and anxiety relief along with improved sleep and skin complexion. Reishi is a key player in balancing our cortisol response, making it the perfect addition to a bedtime tea or snack. The benefits of Reishi are great thanks to triterpenes and beta-glucans, which combat high cholesterol.
Lion’s Mane is recognizable for its hair-like appearance. Best known for its brain support benefits, these mushrooms can improve cognitive function as well as treat anxiety and depression. Lion’s Mane also stimulates the production of nerve growth factor to help keep our mental clarity sharp. This variety makes for the perfect coffee substitute to increase productivity—free of the caffeine jitters and dreaded crash.
Cordyceps specializes in boosting energy levels and stamina, whether it be at work, in fitness class, or in bed. This natural energy shot aids increased oxygen circulation and absorption, which perfectly explains why it is frequently used by endurance athletes.
Spore specializes in functional mushroom vitamins, which are sure to outshine your childhood Flintstones alternative. Spore’s Mike’s Mushroom Mix is a well-rounded concoction that captures all of the benefits of ten functional mushroom varieties into one daily supplement. Within each capsule, you will find the Chaga, Lion’s Mane, Resihi, and Cordyceps that we previously learned about in our mushroom reference guide. Other Spore products feature Lion’s Mane and Cordyceps, which are the key ingredients in the Focus Performance for cognitive support. Spore’s Chill Out is a great alternative to melatonin or other sleep aids as it includes Reishi, natural chamomile, and herbs to help calm down and relax.
Sun Potion products promote the magic of mushrooms and other adaptogens from their headquarters in Santa Barbara, California. Their mushroom powders are thoughtfully sourced and versatile, making them a perfect addition to teas, smoothies, soups, and other recipes. The Sun Potion Cordyceps Mushroom Powder promotes improved oxygenation, endurance, immunity, and cognitive function. The Reishi Mushroom Powder is a proponent of immunity, stress and anxiety relief, and skin complexion. The Chaga Mushroom Powder is perfect for steeping a slow-cooked tea in order to extract its maximum benefits.
Mushrooms are rarely perceived as glamorous and often associated with undesired fungus and garden eyesores. However, it is truly worth experimenting with the power of these plants beyond your dinner plate. By simply adding these functional mushrooms to your morning coffee, midday smoothies, dinner soups, and nighttime teas, you will experience how small changes to your daily routine can revamp your wellbeing.