Functional mushrooms are the new kid on the block in the wellness world. Although they’ve been used in Eastern medicine for thousands of years, it’s only recently that the west has caught onto the potential healing power of mushrooms.
Functional mushrooms are a group of fungi that's health benefits extend beyond their nutritional value. The precise benefits depend on the species of mushroom. Close to 20 species are currently recognized for having “functional” benefits. Some of the most popular include reishi, lion’s mane, and turkey tail.
Functional mushrooms are quickly gaining popularity, promoting everything from an immune boost to improved mood and reduced stress.
Mushroom supplements, such as capsules and powders, have been designed to make consuming functional mushrooms easy and convenient.
But just how effective are mushroom supplements? Do they really work?
Do Mushroom Supplements Work?
While each functional mushroom boasts its own specific health benefits, they all work to promote general health and wellness. In general, all functional mushrooms support immune health, help balance your energy levels, and support digestion.
Mushrooms are loaded with polysaccharides, beta-glucans, polyphenols, antioxidant properties, and other beneficial compounds that contribute to these therapeutic effects. Moreover, each species contains additional unique compounds, giving each one distinct health benefits.
So, do mushroom supplements really work? Well, it depends on what effects you’re hoping to achieve.
There is no denying that functional mushrooms are loaded with health-promoting properties that are great for overall wellness. For instance, beta-glucans are a soluble fiber that may offer several health benefits, such as boosting the immune system and improving blood sugar management. Antioxidants, another mushroom component, help fight free radicals, thus protecting against aging and several diseases partly caused by oxidative stress.
Another factor to consider is the mushroom species, especially if you’re looking for specific effects. Since each one has unique properties, they’re touted for different health benefits. For instance, a lion’s mane supplement is typically used to improve focus, concentration, and mental clarity, while reishi can help reduce stress and support restful sleep.
However, you need to recognize that everyone is different and may have a different experience with mushroom supplements. While they may work for one person, another may find them ineffective. Several factors could affect their efficacy, including your physical and mental health, tolerance levels, genetics, and diet.
Finally, we can’t ignore the role that quality plays in the efficacy of mushroom supplements. Unfortunately, not all mushroom supplements are created equal, and there are some real inferior, cheap, ineffective products on the market.
For optimal results, mushroom supplements should be sourced from reputable and trustworthy brands with a high standing reputation among customers.
How to Find High-Quality Mushroom Supplements
Here are the most important factors to consider when choosing high-quality mushroom supplements.
Reputable brands are transparent about their sourcing. It’s important to know where the mushrooms come from, where they’re grown, and their cultivation standards. China has the longest history in mushroom cultivation, with superior knowledge and expertise. Also, ensure that top-notch extraction processes are used to create pure and nutrient-dense extracts.
Fruiting Bodies vs. Mycelium
The fruiting body is the stalk and cap of the mushroom, while the mycelium is the root. The fruiting body is more potent, containing higher levels of beneficial compounds and, therefore, believed to be more favorable. Mycelium has a much lower potency but is cheaper for companies to produce. So make sure you’re buying mushroom supplements made from fruiting bodies.
Always make sure that mushroom supplements are certified organic. Mushrooms are very absorbent and soak up everything from their environment, including harmful toxins like pesticides, herbicides, and heavy metals. Look for a USDA or organic certification from another reputable organization to verify the product is organic.
Some mushroom supplements contain unnecessary fillers, like artificial flavors, colors and binding ingredients. You want to ensure the product contains all-natural ingredients that you actually want to put into your body.
The best mushroom companies send their products to independent laboratories for lab testing. These labs examine the purity, potency, and safety of the products. Trustworthy brands publish the lab reports for customers to view.
Final Thoughts: Do Mushroom Supplements Work?
Determining whether mushroom supplements work is pretty subjective. Generally, it depends on what the user is hoping to get out of their mushroom experience.
Functional mushrooms are loaded with beneficial compounds that help promote overall health and wellness. But each species contains its own unique properties that contribute to distinct health benefits. Purchasing high-quality products from reputable brands is the best way to ensure optimal results.
Also, keep in mind that mushroom supplements may not work for everyone. However, the best way to find out if they’re a valuable addition to your health regime is to try them.