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Introduction 

Following the exponential growth the world has seen in terms of the CBD industry, a new player has come on to the scene: functional mushrooms. Is there a good reason why these non psychoactive alternatives are gaining popularity, or is it just a trend? While you may see the rise of popularity of these functional mushrooms, you probably have questions on what these shrooms’ actually do and the benefits of them. 

Digging into the history of these mushrooms, it’s clear that they’re anything but a fad. Functional mushrooms have been around and integrated into cultures around the world for centuries, and are just now gaining attention for their medicinal and other beneficial properties. In this short guide, we’ll be diving deeper into everything functional mushrooms, the real benefits, who should take them, and the best methods of doing so. 

Stick around, and get enlightened.

What are Functional Mushrooms?

The term “functional mushrooms” can be confusing, especially if it’s your first time hearing it. These aren’t your typical white buttons and other popular mushrooms used for a variety of cooking purposes. And no, they also don’t refer to so-called “Magic Mushrooms” which long has been the known term for describing mushrooms with psychedelic effects.

Functional mushrooms more usually refers to the type of rare mushrooms that grow naturally in dense forests, or mountain ranges high in the sky. These mushrooms are packed with antioxidants, superfoods, with a huge range of potential health and medicinal benefits.

It’s no wonder why these little shrooms’ have been used for hundreds of years and adopted by the healthiest cultures in the world. Because of the extensive studies and research performed in the space over recent years, and the growing demand for natural health products like CBD, the real magic of these functional mushrooms are finally being exposed to the rest of the world.

What Are Adaptogens?

Adaptogen shroom’s, another word for functional mushrooms, describes the class of mushrooms that promote significant health benefits. Whether it be promoting improved brain function, energy levels, hormone balance or more, these “magic” fungi can provide an immense amount of benefits when integrated as a healthy aspect of your lifestyle. 

There are dozens of different types of adaptogen mushrooms, all with their own benefits, specialities, and methods of ingestion. It’s important to first do your own research to identify the type of adaptogen that works best for you and your lifestyle.

What Type of Mushrooms Are Classified as “Functional”? 

There’s such a large range of functional mushrooms on the market, it can be a tough task finding the right ones for you, especially if it’s your first time researching on the topic. To make your life and research journey a bit easier, we’ve compiled a list of the most popular, and benefit packed functional mushrooms. (They’re also our favorites). 

Reishi

These mushrooms have a deep history, most notably for being an essential aspect of Chinese and Asian medicine for over 2000 years, specifically named for its longevity and spirituality. 

Reishi is a type of mushroom classified as a “adaptogen”, which stands for a substance in the herbal medicine space that claims to assist the body in coping with stress, and normalizing and regulating common body processes like rest and digestion. Reishi on its own, is most commonly utilized to support restful and balanced sleep, reduce daily and chronic stress, as well as acting as an immune system booster.

Lions Mane

Just like the various strains of CBD, each strain of mushrooms boasts its own unique benefits and properties. 

Lions Mane is another popular strain of functional mushrooms, originally named for its fluffy, “lion mane” like appearance. Traditionally, the history of these mushrooms go back hundreds of years, utilized by Buddhist monks to assist in focus and concentration while undergoing deep meditation sessions.

True to its roots, these functional mushrooms are still known to increase focus, and boost levels of both memory and concentration when supplemented as part of a healthy diet and lifestyle.

Chaga

For those looking for immune system boosters, look no further than the Chaga mushroom. This mushroom is one of the richest in antioxidants in the whole fungi kingdom. A healthy intake of the antioxidants found in Chaga is said to boost immune systems and promote anti-inflammatory benefits. 

The mushroom generally needs 15-20 years to fully mature where its health boosting benefits will be at its strongest, making it a slightly rarer mushroom to see in products.

Cordyceps

Cordyceps is a relatively common functional mushroom that has a long history of being used in medicine worldwide. This mushroom is originally found in the mountains high in the Tibeatan plateaus. 

This mushroom is said to promote energy, vitality, endurance, as well as containing a rich amount of antioxidants for immune system health. The energy and endurance aspects of Cordyceps makes it a popular choice for athletes looking for a “natural” pre workout supplement, or to keep them energized during long durations. 

Maitake

Stomach digestion is never fun to deal with, and often times taking over the counter or prescribed medication doesn’t always solve the problem. Maitake is a mushroom originally found in Japan that is a natural remedy for sensitive stomachs.

Maitake is typically taken in between meals to promote healthy digestion, and is also popularly used in teas and within natural supplements. 

Shiitake 

Shiitake is by far the most common functional mushroom on this list, and there’s a few good reasons why.

Shiitake is a superfood that has also been used for hundreds of years and is incorporated in to food, healthy, as well as cosmetic products. Shiitake is packed with vitamins and minerals, and is known to contain nine of the amino acids that are essential for healthy body processes.

Who Should Consider Taking Them?

You may be asking yourself if functional mushrooms are a good fit for you. After rattling off the different types of functional mushrooms, it’s easy to see the benefits they can provide. 

Especially when trying functional mushrooms for the first time, it’s important to find strains that fit your needs and lifestyle. That being said, who should consider adding functional mushrooms as a part of their diet and lifestyle?

In general, most people can benefit from adding some sort of functional mushrooms to their diet. The antioxidants and other nutrients that virtually all functional mushrooms provide alone are a huge benefit. 

However, like CBD, some strains are more specialized for certain types of people. For example, mushroom strains that promote endurance and energy are perfect for athletes, while others are natural immune system builders, and others promote focus and relaxation. 

Before introducing any new food into your diet and lifestyle, especially if you have underlying conditions, it’s recommended to first consult with your doctor. In general, those who are pregnant, lactating, or are currently being treated for a health condition, are advised to first get approval from a health professional. 

How to Take Functional Mushrooms

For those who are just beginning their journey with functional mushrooms, a question you may have is, what’s the best way to incorporate functional mushrooms into your diet? 

The general answer is that there are several ways, and none is “right” or “wrong”. However, the most common method of ingesting functional mushrooms, is through the use of a natural supplement made with your mushroom of choice. 

Some types of functional mushrooms can be difficult to find fresh in most parts of the world, which explains the popularity of mushroom powder which can be made from any type of strain. Powders can be used alone in shakes, cooking, or even teas or smoothies. 

For those looking for a quick and easy way to get their intake of functional mushrooms, especially for those looking to increase endurance or energy levels for an activity, supplements are recommended. 

Conclusion 

It’s a wonder why it’s taken the modern world so long to adopt and fully comprehend the immense benefits that these magic fungi can provide to so many people around the world. 

If you’re interested in trying to incorporate functional mushrooms into your diet and lifestyle, it’s a great idea to do additional research on the specific strains and ingestion methods that work best for you. 

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