Are All Mushrooms Adaptogens?
In the world of dietary supplements, adaptogenic mushrooms have recently risen to great fame in a short amount of time. And that’s no wonder, considering their innumerable proven health benefits.
Popular adaptogenic fungi such as the maitake, shiitake, cordyceps, and lion’s mane mushroom provide many beneficial compounds that can improve both physical functioning and mental well-being.
But with so many different kinds of adaptogenic mushrooms available and new ones constantly hitting the market, the question arises: which mushrooms aren’t adaptogens?
Are all mushrooms adaptogenic by definition?
What Are Adaptogenic Mushrooms?
First, let’s back up a bit. What makes a mushroom an adaptogen to begin with?
In simple terms, an adaptogen is any substance that helps relieve the body of stress's adverse effects and impacts. Because stress can affect us in so many different ways, a mushroom being an adaptogen does not by itself imply much about its impact on our health apart from providing stress relief in some form.
This could be by interacting with the brain somehow or by lessening inflammation in certain internal organs, for example. Adaptogenic mushrooms are also often good detoxifiers, as high blood toxicity is often correlated with symptoms of stress.
It is important to note, however, that adaptogenic mushrooms are not the same thing as “magic” or psychedelic mushrooms. Adaptogens do not alter our perception in this way, and they do not carry psychotropic properties.
Types of Adaptogenic Mushrooms
Not every adaptogenic mushroom is the same. In fact, in most cases, adaptogenic effects are but one of the various benefits that each type of mushroom may provide, in addition to plenty of other nutritional and medicinal goodies.
Let’s look at some of the most important types of adaptogenic mushrooms and compare.
The cordyceps mushroom has been consumed for its medicinal properties in the far east for many centuries. It is a crucial ingredient in traditional Chinese medicine, and its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits are widely studied.
As a dietary supplement, cordyceps has caught on more recently in the West due to its ability to amplify and improve athletic performance. Particularly for competitive athletes, this has made cordyceps an excellent choice to add to an existing meal plan.
But you don’t need to run marathons every day to appreciate the health benefits of cordyceps. As a strong adaptogen, it fights physical markers of stress while reducing fatigue and improving mental clarity and focus.
The lion’s mane is a mushroom denoted by its unique fluffy, often white appearance. Like many others, it too has been used as a medicinal herb for generations. However, unlike many medicinal mushrooms, the lion’s mane also enjoys great popularity as a culinary ingredient thanks to its unique and pleasant taste.
In scientific studies, lion’s mane has been shown to prevent decreased dopamine and serotonin levels from stress-related changes in brain chemistry. These and other effects of lion’s mane have made it a promising alternative treatment for clinical depression and anxiety.
The lion’s mane mushroom also boasts many anti-inflammatory benefits, in addition to supporting nervous system health and lowering the risk of heart disease.
The reishi is a type of mushroom native to humid regions of Southeast Asia. Particularly in Japanese and Chinese medicine, its use has continued for millennia. Today, it is one of the most common medicinal mushrooms sold worldwide in the form of supplements.
The adaptogenic benefits of reishi are some of the most well-documented within the mushroom kingdom. It stimulates the adrenal glands, thus promoting healthy cortisol levels within the body. As you might already know, cortisol is one of the hormones most intimately linked to the body’s natural stress response.
Besides that, the reishi mushroom is also a potent immunomodulator, strengthening the body’s ability to fight infections. In trials, it has shown to have anti-tumor properties, suggesting it might be effective as an alternative treatment for certain kinds of cancer.
Benefits of Adaptogenic Mushrooms
While the individual properties and benefits of different adaptogenic mushrooms vary quite a lot, it is still possible to generalize a bit in trying to give an overview of just what adaptogens can do for you and your health.
- Adaptogenic mushrooms boost the immune system, preventing infections from taking hold and relieving the body by encouraging the production of white blood cells, for example.
- Adaptogens can help some individuals maintain or lose weight by stimulating the metabolism and the gastrointestinal tract.
- They are also beneficial to those suffering from cardiovascular problems, as they improve heart health and lower blood pressure.
- As mentioned previously, adaptogenic mushrooms play an essential role in lowering stress by moderating cholesterol levels.
- Adaptogens also aid in brain functioning and are linked to reduced anxiety, better focus, concentration, and overall cognitive functioning.
- In physical exercise, adaptogens boost recovery times and can help increase stamina.
Are All Mushrooms Adaptogens?
In a word: no. While many mushrooms have adaptogenic properties, and while a big chunk of the medicinal mushrooms known worldwide does carry some degree of adaptogenic benefits, this is not a hard and fast rule.
There is no correlation between a mushroom being healthy, much less being edible, and it also being an adaptogen. For example, most psychedelic mushrooms are neither strongly medicinal nor adaptogenic in any way.
Best Mushroom Adaptogens
If you’re curious enough to try some mushroom adaptogens yourself, you’re in luck! These days, many high-quality mushroom supplements are available online, leaving the entry bar fairly low.
Read on for our guide to the top mushroom adaptogens today!
TRUWILD is a brand specializing in adaptogenic supplements above all, and for that alone, they deserve some respect. Their standard bottle of adaptogens contains 60 capsules, each filled with an extract from 7 different adaptogenic mushrooms. Among these, you will find highly potent and universally-loved species like cordyceps and maca, as well as non-fungal adaptogens like ashwagandha.
TRUWILD offers excellent value compared to the competition, and their blend of 7 adaptogens means you’re getting quite a lot out of each capsule. This makes them an easy pick and equally easy to recommend to anyone wanting to start with mushroom adaptogens today.
If you’ve been active in the dietary supplement scene before, The Genius Brand might be familiar to you. As a big player in the industry, they benefit from the resources and refinement you often won’t find at lesser brands.
Their Genius Mushrooms are advertised for their strong immune system and mental function support, and it’s easy to see why: with extracts of both reishi, cordyceps, and lion’s mane, the Genius Mushroom capsules cover every major base in terms of adaptogenic benefits.
At 90 caps per bottle, they offer great value, too!
The Adaptogen Blend Mix by Four Sigmatic stood out in our testing for a simple reason.
It combines 1,600 mg per powdered serving of reishi, cordyceps, panax ginseng, ashwagandha, amla, schisandra, holy basil, and gynostemma, all powerful adaptogens, and do so affordably and without compromising on the purity of any of the individual extracts.
This alone makes Four Sigmatic’s supplements quite impressive, but there’s more. The company went the extra mile in certifying their product as gluten-free, GMO-free, vegan, and organic, which serves as a badge of trust. If capsules are not your thing and you’re looking for a more flexible, yet wallet-friendly adaptogen solution, then this powder supplement is a great choice.