Our Five Favorite Adaptogenic Mushrooms Explained

Posted by Katey Brigham on

Mushrooms are amazing! Not only because they have a low environmental footprint (they're basically trash recyclers) and not only because they're rich in vitamins, minerals, and fiber, but because of their adaptogenic qualities. Let's dive deeper into our Five favorites and their primary functions.

cordyceps, adaptogenic elixer, functional mushrooms

Hercules: Cordyceps

Scientific Name: Cordyceps militaris

Primary FunctionStrength + Stamina

Cordyceps might be one of the coolest fungi out there depending on who you ask. This fungus parasitically takes over the Central Nervous System of caterpillars and the fruiting body sprouts from the dying caterpillar's body. Woah! Fortunately today, most Cordyceps are cultivated in rice or grain avoiding animal cruelty. Testing shows that cultivated and wild Cordyceps are similar in chemical profiles.

Cordyceps is a powerful adaptogenic fungi used primarily to boost energy and exercise performance. In Chinese Medicine Cordyceps are used to strengthen Qi, our vitality. Scientifically they have been tested and shown to increase the body's production of ATP which is essential to delivering energy to muscles. It's very commonly used in Coffee and Adaptogenic Elixers but we suggest using it in your pre work out mix and seeing what happens :)

 reishi benefits, adaptogenic elixer

The Protector: Reishi

Scientific NameGanoderma lucidum 

Primary Function: Calming, Immunity

Reishi might be the most famous of all the functional mushrooms. It's hard to say it only has one primary function because it can be beneficial in so many ways. Reishi’s Chinese name, Lingzhi, means “herb of spiritual potency.” 

Research in cancer patients has shown that some of the molecules found in the mushroom can increase the activity of a type of white blood cell called natural killer cells. These cells fight infection and cancer in the body.

lions mane benefits, adaptogenic elixer

The Smart One: Lions Mane

Scientific Name: Hericium erinaceus

Primary Function: Cognitive Function

Many describe the flavor of Lions Mane as similar to crab or seafood. Out of the five mushrooms in our list, it's the best tasting in our opinion and goes great in some fried eggs or tofu.

Studies have found that Lions Mane contains two compounds that can help stimulate the growth of brain cells: hericenones and erinacines. In fact, there have been studies in mice that have shown Lions Mane can help reduce memory loss and can reduce neuronal damage that is linked with Alzheimers.

Lions Mane is one of the key ingredients in our Focus Blend because of how great it can be for the brain. Additionally, many of the benefits it can provide the brain have been shown to help those with anxiety and depression. Just another reason to love Lions Mane.

chaga benefits, adapotgenic elixer

The Cooling One: Chaga

Scientific Name: Inonotus obliquus

Primary Function: Anti-Inflammatory
When Chaga grows it forms a growth that looks similar to burnt charcoal. However, when broken up it has a soft orange core. It's been consumed for centuries in teas via its powdered form and today can be taken in capsules. 
One of the primary benefits that studies have shown for Chaga is it's ability to reduce inflammation in the body. Chaga may help regulate the body's production of Cytokines by producing more beneficial (increasing white blood cells) and less harmful (which trigger inflammation).
turkey tail benefits, adaptogenic elixer

The Immune Booster: Turkey Tail

Scientific Name: Trametes versicolor

Primary Function: Immunity

 If you're on a hike, you have a relatively good chance of finding this mushroom on a dead log. So keep an eye out! Turkey Tail is packed with antioxidants including phenols and flavonoids that have a number of immune boosting benefits.

PSK and PSP are powerful polysaccharopeptides found in turkey tail mushrooms that may strengthen your immune system.

In Closing

The benefits of mushrooms extend way beyond this article and have been used in cultures for thousands of years. Unfortunately because of the way we think of modern medicine we like to think that something only has one primary benefit. It's always important to speak with your doctor before incorporating new herbs into your diet, and everyone's body is different so what may work for you won't work for everyone. 


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