What's The Deal With Medicinal Mushrooms?

By Jessica Hamlin

Your average mushroom has health benefits. But some superfood mushrooms can power you up with extra perks that would make even Super Mario jealous. (That fun plumber loves his fungi). 

Some of these mushrooms have been used in Chinese medicine for centuries and have gained popularity in the U.S. in recent years. I’m not talking about psychedelic ‘shrooms, or the kind you’d throw in a stir-fry. These fungi are often sold in powder form to add to smoothies or as mushroom tea, coffee, hot chocolate, or elixir. I’ve tried Four Sigmatic’s mushroom elixirs and like the savory mushroom taste, but I don’t dig the taste of the added stevia. I didn’t necessarily feel a lot of the purported benefits like increased energy or focus, but everyone’s different and sometimes the dose matters. 

If you want to try a little before buying a bunch, Whole Foods and Sprouts sell individual packets of Four Sigmatic’s mushroom drinks.

HERE ARE SOME OF THE MAIN MEDICINAL MUSHROOMS AND WHY THEY MAY BE POWERFUL.

Chaga can boost immunity and soothe bodily irritation thanks to its high antioxidants and antimicrobial properties.

Lion’s Mane can help with memory, mood, and focus. It helps stimulate nerve growth factor (NGF), which can boost brain function and also reduce anxiety.

Cordyceps can be a pre-workout powerhouse. “Several studies suggest that cordyceps can improve physical abilities, endurance and stamina partially because they boost the body’s supply of ATP, one of the primary sources of energy during exercises,” Dr. Axe notes.

Turkey Tail can help boost immunity, and one study found that it can even help boost immunity in breast cancer patients.

Reishi can help with relaxation—and there are also claims that it has anti-cancer effects, though it seems more research is needed to be sure.