By Dr. Josh Axe
Looking for a supplement that can help provide immune support, assist your body in adapting to stress, and also boost your energy and reduce fatigue?
Consider adding a high-quality mushroom supplement to your routine — ideally one that features multiple mushroom species, which together provide an array of compounds that help the body to maintain equilibrium.
What Is A Mushroom Supplement?
Mushroom supplements are made with “functional mushrooms” — species you won’t find at ordinary grocery stores and that you’re unlikely to ever cook with.
These include mushrooms like chaga, reishi, lion's mane, maitake, cordyceps, turkey tail and others.
These mushroom species naturally feature beneficial compounds such as polysaccharides and polysaccharide peptides, beta glucans, glycoproteins and triterpenes, which may be lacking in your diet if you don’t regularly consume a variety of nutrient-rich plant foods.
Many mushrooms are touted for their polysaccharide content specifically; in general, polysaccharides provide many benefits for the immune system and are digested in a way that makes them a potential energy source with a low glycemic index. Beta glucans act to support a healthy immune system by supporting important players that help promote our body’s immune defenses, while glycoproteins are often considered “essential” nutrients we must get from our diets much like certain fatty acids and amino essential amino acids.
While they may have only recently grown in popularity worldwide, functional mushrooms have been around for centuries. Indigenous people living in Asia and elsewhere have long admired their unique superfood properties that are generally capable of benefiting multiple systems in the body.
Eastern thought points out that the body needs to maintain its “equilibrium” to fight stressors and more — and beneficial mushrooms help the body to do just this.
Importance of Organic Mushrooms
Like other crops that are grown using conventional farming methods, mushrooms that are not organically grown are often treated with prohibited pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, synthetic fertilizers and many other "processing agents” to help make the growing process easier. Unfortunately, this can cause some of these chemical agents to remain on the mushrooms, even after they are rinsed.
Did you know that nearly 20 percent of the 17,000 (or more) pesticides in use today are known as systemic pesticides, meaning they penetrate a plant’s root system and permanently remain in the plant even after being washed? This is especially true of mushrooms that have the capacity to absorb lots of liquid and other substances from their environment.
It remains a controversial topic whether these residual processing agents may have health effects once consumed. Because there are still unknowns, a growing number of consumers are making it a priority to choose organically grown crops. In addition to concerns about consuming chemicals, there’s an advantage to choosing organic crops because these plants tend to be more resilient by nature, since they must fight off predators on their own while growing, and have some of the very compounds and natural resilient characteristics that we can and often should include in our diet.
What are mushroom supplements good for? Here are some of the benefits that mushroom supplement formulations can offer:
1. Supports cognitive function
Mushrooms such as lion’s mane and chaga contain multiple types of powerful antioxidants, polysaccharides, beta glucans and beta-glucoxylan compounds, which can generally help support healthy cognitive function by supporting the brain and body. Historically, lion’s mane was used for improving focus and concentration among meditators.
2. Supports a healthy immune system
Turkey tail and shiitake mushrooms, which have a long history of beneficial uses among indigenous people living in Asia, Europe and North America, can generally help support a healthy immune system by supplying important nutrients such as amino acids, prebiotics, vitamins and minerals.
Reishi, maitake and chaga mushrooms also contain a collection of compounds that generally support cellular immune response, including antioxidants, beta glucans, triterpenes, alkaloids, sterols and a variety of polysaccharides that have the ability to help fight oxidative stress. Maitake extract has specifically been shown to promote immune system modulation, while shiitake mushrooms contain lentinan, a potent protein that is thought to help support a healthy immune response.
Polysaccharides found in functional mushrooms naturally occur in the cell walls of fungi, bacteria, yeasts and more. They are natural overall immune system supporters and must be obtained from our diets, since our bodies cannot make them on their own.
3. Supports healthy energy levels and reduces fatigue
Cordycep mushrooms are typically known for their positive impact on physical performance, particularly exercise performance, stamina and recovery.
Functional mushrooms such as cordyceps also contain polysaccharides, which are digested by and used by the body as potential energy sources, but have a low glycemic index. Chaga is exceptionally high in antioxidants and other compounds that seem to support healthy energy levels, so much so that it was used similarly to coffee many years ago.
4. Supports the body’s ability to handle oxidative stress
Generally speaking, reishi and other mushrooms can help the body adapt to oxidative stress as well as emotional stress, and work to support a variety of healthy body processes.
Certain mushroom supplements are also made with supportive botanicals such as ashwagandha extract. Both ashwagandha and reishi have long been prized for their stress-relieving effects. Ashwagandha especially offer benefits such as supporting a healthy response to physical, emotional and mental stress, supporting restful sleep, boosting energy, reducing fatigue and enhancing focus and stamina.
5. Supports a healthy nervous system
Functional mushrooms such as cordyceps and lion’s mane, along with adaptogenic botanicals, can support a healthy nervous system, healthy cognitive function and healthy energy levels.
6. Supports a healthy response to inflammation
Compounds such as beta glucans found in mushrooms act to support a healthy immune system by supporting important players that generally help the body respond healthily to inflammation.
Maitake and turkey tail, for example, promote immune system modulation thanks to their polysaccharides, glycoproteins, triterpenes and other beneficial nutrients. Maitake has especially been used in ancient health traditions for healthy responses to inflammation thanks to, at least in part, the positive effects of specific beta-1,3-D-glucan polysaccharides within the immune system.
Best Mushroom Supplements
Looking for a high-quality mushroom supplement that combines multiple species of organic mushrooms with other beneficial botanicals, herbs and spices? Of course, you should always check with your healthcare professional prior to beginning any new dietary or lifestyle regimen, including dietary supplementation.
Then check out Ancient Mushrooms Multi Mushroom Immune Organic Once Daily supplement, a full-spectrum formula made with a blend of organic mushrooms.
This formula includes the following mushroom species: turkey tail, reishi, shiitake, lion’s mane, chaga, cordyceps, maitake, and white jelly mushroom (snow jelly).
When supplementing with this unique mushroom blend, you’ll benefit from multiple specially selected mushrooms, which together provide you with compounds that work complementary to help the body maintain equilibrium (or balance). While each individual species of mushroom offers its own benefits, the combination of compounds in this blend is a game changer for generally supporting a healthy immune system, can boost exercise performance, can support healthy cognitive function and more.
What sets Ancient Nutrition’s Multi Mushroom Immune Organic supplement apart from other mushroom products?
- It’s made with multi species of organic mushrooms (no use of prohibited pesticides, herbicides, fungicides or synthetic fertilizers), plus it’s non-GMO
- Made without grains, dairy, nuts or soy, and is vegan, paleo-friendly, keto-friendly and gluten-free
- Supports healthy immune system modulation, promotes the body’s ability to adapt to stress, supports cellular immune response and more
- Uses the TCM (Traditional Chinese Method) of formulation, which is more than 2,000 years in the making and helps bring a holistic approach to your wellness routine
In addition, Ancient Nutrition carries the following individual mushroom supplements that tout specific benefits:
- Lion’s Mane Mental Clarity and Concentration Tablets: Combines the nootropic properties of lion’s mane mushrooms with the wide-ranging benefits of ashwagandha root and leaf extract, which promotes mental clarity and concentration, reduces stress, supports healthy energy, and more.
- Cordyceps Energy and Endurance Tablets: Formulated for energy and stamina with extracts from organic cordyceps mushrooms and ashwagandha root and leaf.
- Turkey Tail Immune System Balance Tablets: This product is intended for adults looking to support a healthy immune defense and immune system balance.
- Reishi Stress and Immune Support Tablets: Reishi benefits include supporting immune system balance and the body’s ability to adapt to stress
How to Use
A general recommendation for adults is to take 1 tablet daily with 8 ounces of water or another beverage. The exact recommended amount will depend on the specific formula, so be sure to follow label directions and suggested use.
Mushroom supplements can be taken with or without food. When should I take mushroom supplements? The time of day is up to you, depending on when it’s most convenient.
As mentioned, before starting any new dietary or lifestyle regimen, including supplementation, you should always consult your healthcare professional.
Mushroom supplements are made with “functional mushrooms” such as chaga, reishi, lion's mane, cordyceps and turkey tail.
Some supplement formulations also contain other specially selected ingredients for added benefits. Benefits of mushroom supplements — particularly those combined with other botanicals — include: support for a healthy immune system, healthy digestive function and more.
Dr. Josh Axe, DC, DNM, CNS, is a doctor of chiropractic, doctor of natural medicine, clinical nutritionist and author with a passion to help people get well using food and nutrition. He operates leading natural health website DrAxe.com and is co-founder of Ancient Nutrition, a health supplement company. He’s also author of the books Eat Dirt, Essential OIls: Ancient Medicine, Keto Diet, Collagen Diet and the newly released Ancient Remedies.