What if there was a way to ramp up the energizing effects of your morning cup of joe in a healthy and natural way? There are many benefits to drinking mushroom coffee, and this article will outline the 5 main ones.
If you’re frequently tired, you know that relying on caffeine is a delicate dance between drinking just enough to get the juices flowing and not overdoing it to the point of hand tremors.
But do you know how you can boost your energy without chancing a mid-day caffeine crash? Add a scoop of mushroom extract to your morning coffee or tea.
Tiredness can manifest through both physical and mental signs. From sore, weak muscles and slowed reflexes to brain fog, moodiness, and difficulty concentrating—fatigue is many-sided.
We’ll look at the different ways in which mushroom extracts in your coffee can:
Mushrooms are antioxidant powerhouses that help your body to maintain healthy inflammation responses, which could get derailed by chronic inflammation.
Persistent low-grade inflammation (1) keeps your body in a state of high alert, expending more energy than it has available—this creates a feeling of fatigue.
Inflammation is a natural part of how your immune system works to protect your body from harm. That said, chronic inflammation typically builds gradually, manifesting as feelings of tiredness, headaches, muscle aches, and joint pain. Therefore, you need to look at balancing out inflammation as a long-term game.
To counter the negative effects of unbalanced levels of inflammation in the body, current research (2) found that chaga mushroom extracts:
It makes sense to use chaga mushroom extract in your daily coffee or tea to help maintain healthy levels of inflammation in your body. This will support optimal energy levels and stave off fatigue.
However, it’s important to think of your entire system and lifestyle as working in tandem.
That’s why certain lifestyle changes may also ease fatigue-inducing inflammation. These lifestyle changes include:
This was Drew’s experience with chaga mushroom powder:
“It gave me energy. Prior to the use of Chaga… I could hardly wake up. Now I feel refreshed… I will be a lifetime customer.” — Drew, ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Verified Real Mushrooms Customer
Expert tip: Mushroom coffee benefits are built on accumulation. To fully experience the beneficial effects of our 100% pure organic mushroom powders, we recommend taking a ½-teaspoon a day for a prolonged period of time.
Sometimes, because of age, poor diet, or hormonal changes, our metabolism may function sub-optimally. This impacts our energy levels, including our ability to exercise regularly and effectively.
Functional mushrooms, specifically Cordyceps, can enhance our metabolism and have an invigorating effect.
So, considering exercise boosts mood, focus, heart health, and better sleep, how can we support healthy metabolism in order to be more active?
A study on the effect of Cordyceps on the metabolism (3) found that regularly supplementing with these mushrooms:
Regularly supplementing mushroom extracts can aid your body in providing balanced energy, allowing you to stay active well into old age.
Here’s how two of our customers experienced their energy boost from Organic Cordyceps Mushroom Extract Powder:
“Helped me with my workouts. I noticed I didn’t run out of breath as quickly and I felt like I had more endurance.” — Daniel, ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Verified Real Mushrooms Buyer
“It gives me energy in the morning before my workout.” — ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Beth D., Verified Real Mushrooms Buyer
Expert tip: Cordyceps sinensis (wild Cordyceps) is so rare and difficult to cultivate that you won’t find it in any supplements available in the North American market. But what you will find in your Cordyceps mushroom supplement is commercially cultivated Cordyceps militaris, which is cultivated at scale in a sterile medium and doesn’t harm any insects.
Make sure that your Cordyceps mushroom powder is extracted from the fruiting body and not the mycelium (vegetative body). One way to check this is to see the package details for measured amounts of beta-glucans.
The fruiting body yields higher beta-glucan content and has no starch filler, unlike most mycelium-derived products. If you want to get actual health benefits from your mushroom coffee, pay attention to your product label!
Speaking of beta-glucans, these compounds are the key structural component of mushroom cell walls. As active ingredients in mushrooms, they help the body and its systems manage chronic stress, which often causes fatigue.
Let’s briefly break down how they do this.
Good bacteria in the colon ferment dietary fiber, including beta-glucans. The process releases nutrients that support a healthy immune response and improved psychological well-being.
This ability to support our bodies in self-regulating natural stress responses and aiding relaxation without compromising your health is what makes mushrooms adaptogens.
In one study(4), beta-glucans extracted from oyster, shiitake, and reishi mushrooms were used as supplements over a 6-month period. The results showed that these mushrooms:
Stress and therefore fatigue may also negatively impact heart health.
How do we counter this?
An animal study (5) showed that supplementing with shiitake and maitake mushrooms also helped to manage blood pressure and cholesterol levels—leading to better heart health.
A medicinal mushroom complex that includes shiitake and maitake, like Real Mushrooms’s 5 Defenders supplement, is a great way to manage physical and mental stress. One of our customers shared their experience with this health-balancing effect:
“Since taking Five Defenders I’ve been less susceptible to catching colds and in general I feel stronger and more balanced.” — Ingrid, Verified 5 Defenders Buyer.
Expert tip: If coffee (caffeine) makes you a jittery mess, you can still benefit from the mushroom powders by adding them to smoothies, yogurt, hot chocolate, elixirs, and even baked goods.
You can get the benefits of mushroom extracts by adding them to coffee, or by adding them to other drinks, snacks, or meals. Here’s our free mushroom recipe book to help you get started on your mushroom supplementation journey today.
Traditional Chinese medicine used reishi mushrooms to ease restlessness and insomnia for hundreds of years, showing that even ethnomedicine recognized sleep as a key health marker.
All the obvious symptoms we typically link to tiredness, such as slower reflexes, reduced cognitive efficiency, and impaired memory, can point to poor sleep quality.
In fact, one study (6) showed that it takes longer than 7 days of full sleep to recover from the same number of days of restricted sleep.
Good sleep hygiene is essential because, without it, we lose the regenerative effects of sleep hormones like melatonin and growth hormone. We also get a high amount of stress hormones in the body, which wreak havoc on the body’s resilience, immune response, and metabolism.
So, how exactly do mushrooms aid in good sleep quality?
An animal study (7) found that reishi mushroom extracts increased total sleep time and non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep.
It’s no surprise since during NREM sleep, your body:
Our customer Steve definitely had this sleep-improving experience:
“I have been a light sleeper for a long time and relied on Melatonin and other sleep aids… I have been using Reishi extract exclusively for the past three months, and I am continuing to sleep noticeably better than before.” — Steve, ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Verified Real Mushrooms Buyer
Expert tip: We recommend taking your Organic Reishi Mushroom Powder in the evening in your hot chocolate or tea to regulate your natural biorhythm and get you into a rejuvenating, deep sleep.
Balance these effects with the benefits of mushroom coffee in the morning. Simply add Organic Cordyceps Mushroom Extract and Organic Lion's Mane Mushroom to your brew to reset your biorhythm, wake the body up with an energy boost, and prime the brain for optimal functioning.
Many of us depend on our morning coffee or tea to wake our minds up and increase mental acuity. If you count yourself among this group, then you may have noticed that caffeine has its downsides.
Caffeine reduces the effects of adenosine, a brain chemical that makes you feel sleepy. Simultaneously, it increases the fight-or-flight hormone adrenaline to give you energy (10). This is why many people struggle with sleepless nights, anxiety, and jitters after consuming caffeine.
Caffeine can also make you feel fatigued and irritable and even give you a headache after its effects wear off. This is often referred to as “crashing.” It typically occurs about five hours after consuming this stimulant (7,8,9).
One of the great benefits of lion’s mane, like the other medicinal mushrooms, is that it is a very effective adaptogen for promoting a healthy inflammatory response and supporting a healthy immune system. But it also has another unique characteristic.
Lion’s Mane has been receiving a lot of attention in relation to its effect on brain function and cognition. This is a relatively new use for this mushroom and is related to discoveries around its effect on Nerve growth factor (NGF) in the 1990s. More recent clinical studies have supported this discovery (11).
Human clinical studies have shown lion’s mane mushrooms can improve scores on anxiety and depression scales (12). Human studies have also demonstrated that lion’s mane can support better memory recall in aging people with mild memory issues (13,14).
Animal tests indicate compounds from lion’s mane may support nerve impulse transmission as well as support short and long-term memory (15). Interestingly, the same compounds were found to counter oxidative stress on the brain (15).
As many of our customers have noted, their cognition, memory, energy, and mood improved once they began supplementing with lion’s mane extract.
“I use Lions Mane in my coffee every morning, it helps calm my nervous system and is helping my anxiety greatly. I don't want to be without this in my daily routine! Also, I feel more energetic and less fatigued throughout the day.” - Annette, Real Mushrooms Verified Buyer
“From adding the lion's mane to my morning coffee I have really felt a benefit in my mental acuity.” - Dylan, Real Mushrooms Verified Buyer
Expert tip: Lion’s mane extract powder can be taken either as a replacement for caffeine or can be added to your caffeinated drink to help offset the potential for jitters and anxiety.
We’ve covered a lot of benefits but these immune-modulating, antioxidant, stress-relieving, and sleep-improving benefits of mushrooms are just the tip of the iceberg.
Let’s review, in the table below, how all these mushrooms work to boost energy:
Remember, the effectiveness and potency of your mushroom supplements depend on their extraction from fruit bodies, grown organically; which is a core value of Real Mushrooms.
You can use the mushroom extracts individually or try them in a super blend, such as our 5 Defenders Organic Mushroom Complex.
With this 100% pure, organic blend, you’ll get a powerhouse of nutrients from chaga, shiitake, maitake, reishi, and turkey tail mushroom extracts. Together they deliver more than 20% of the recommended daily intake of beta-glucans.
Expert tip: Use our collection of mushroom coffee recipes to find unique ways to amp up your morning beverage game for whole health.
Did you know that the scientific name of the lion’s mane mushroom, Hericium erinaceus, literally translates to hedgehog in Latin?
This is because it’s thought to look like a faceless hedgehog.
Perhaps you might think this mushroom looks more like a lion’s mane, as it’s commonly referred to. Or do you think it looks more like a beard, or a monkey head, which are all names synonymous with Hericium erinaceus?
Today, we’ll delve deeper into the unique characteristics of lion’s mane mushroom and explain how there’s more to this fungi than the brain-supporting properties it’s known for. We’ll also explore:
As mentioned earlier, Hericium means hedgehog in Latin. Mushrooms in the genus, including the lion’s mane mushroom, have icicle-like structures that resemble a hedgehog’s spines, making them easy to misidentify.
Other than Hericium erinaceus, mushrooms in the Hericium genus include:
The bear head tooth fungus grows on living or dead hardwood species and softwood trees as well.
This mushroom is also known as the coral tooth fungus and bears a resemblance to a branched hard coral—hence the name.
Now that we’ve learned about the two lion’s mane mushroom lookalikes, let’s explore how to identify the lion’s mane mushroom and what distinguishes it from these doppelgangers.
The lion’s mane mushroom grows on decaying or live deciduous trees and can also be found on beech and oak trees. It appears widely throughout North America, Canada, Europe, and Asia.
This mushroom can be found on fallen logs or much higher on a living tree’s trunk. It's a cool-weather mushroom and can be found in late summer and fall in North America or in winter and spring in warmer climates.
It has the following characteristics:
Let’s now take a look at how all the other common names for H. eracineus describe its features.
The key identifying feature of the lion’s mane mushroom is its snowball-like shape, from which the spines emanate.
Both H. americanum and H. coralloides spines grow from branches that emerge from the stem or other branches. But, H. erinaceus doesn't branch and its spines hang from a central stalk.
Expert tip: Though the genus name Hericium means hedgehog in Latin, only lion’s mane (H.erinaceus) is referred to as hedgehog mushrooms.
Note: There's a completely separate mushroom known as the hedgehog mushroom that has a cap-and-stem mushroom shape with “teeth” instead of gills on its underside. However, this mushroom isn't in the same family as the Hericium. It belongs to the Hydnaceae family instead. As a cousin of chanterelle mushrooms, it is likewise a delicious edible mushroom.
Fortunately, none of the lion’s mane mushrooms lookalikes are poisonous.
These three species in the Hericium genus are edible and they can be used for culinary purposes.
Lion’s mane mushrooms are not only delicious but also have a rich nutritional profile, which makes them an ideal culinary mushroom.
Most people claim they have an earthy taste with a hint of seafood flavor, but apart from taste, what really matters is their nutritional value.
Comparative to lion’s mane mushroom (H. erinaceus), there is little research on the nutritional and medicinal properties of its lookalikes, H. coralloides and H. americanum. One exception concerns the antioxidant properties of these mushrooms. There is more than one study to confirm the high antioxidant content of H. coralloides and H. americanum [5,6]. In fact, one study found that H. coralloides has even higher levels of antioxidants than lion’s mane.
However, lion’s mane mushroom is the mushroom that has been extensively cultivated, so it is the Hericium mushroom that you can find and buy most easily. Take advantage of the accessibility of lion’s mane to tap into this rich source of antioxidants and nutrients.
Hericium mushrooms also contain compounds known as hericenones and erinacines . The lion’s mane mushroom has been used extensively to study these compounds.
Studied effects of hericenones and erinacines:
So, are these lion’s mane mushroom benefits from the hericenones and erinacines interchangeable with the other mushrooms in the Hericium genus? There is very little research yet to guarantee that this is true.
However, one study identified compounds unique to H. coralloides that appear to have qualities that induce nerve growth and brain-derived neurotrophic factor . The compounds in lion’s mane are similar and induce the same kinds of effects. Both these mushrooms’ compounds have implications for supporting brain and nervous system health. The study’s findings further support Hericium as a genus of mushroom that has brain-boosting properties.
Fortunately, foraging is not the only way to get fresh lion’s mane mushrooms because they are sold in grocery stores and farmers’ markets. You, however, have to ensure you buy organic mushrooms.
Mushrooms are very absorbent and will soak in pesticides and pollutants when grown inorganically. These chemicals are almost impossible to wash off once absorbed by the fungus, and you might end up ingesting them in your cooked lion’s mane mushrooms.
To ensure you buy organic fresh lion’s mane mushrooms, check food markets that sell organic foods.
If you’re in the United States, ensure that the mushroom packaging has an organic seal from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). This proves that the mushrooms are organically farmed, have passed inspection, and were grown using natural processes.
Alt: fresh lion’s mane from grocery store with organic seal
If you can’t find fresh lion’s mane from grocery stores in your area, consider growing your own. You can easily order lion’s mane mushroom growing kits online.
While adding fresh mushrooms to your diet is a good way to get their nutritional benefits, you won’t be getting all of the lion’s mane mushroom health benefits this way. Your body can’t absorb most of the active compounds from the cooked mushrooms.
Active compounds such as hericenones, erinacines, and beta-glucans are responsible for most of the lion’s mane mushroom health benefits, like its brain-boosting traits.
These compounds need to be extracted with the use of specific mushroom extraction processes suitable for lion’s mane.
Extract powders have a higher bioavailability of active compounds, which means your body gets all the benefits of these functional mushrooms.
However, you should exercise extra caution when you are buying a lion’s mane supplement since not all supplements are made equal.
Some are made from non-organic mushrooms, while others are made from mycelium (the “root system” of the mushroom). Using a mycelium-based supplement means you get more starch than health-benefiting compounds.
Consider the following while picking a lion’s mane supplement for the first time:
This buying guide for lion's mane mushroom powder extracts provides more details on why each of the above factors is crucial. Following it will ensure you get a lion's mane powder extract that has the beneficial compounds you require to reap the lion's mane's broader health advantages.
We use the hot water extraction method to ensure our supplements have a high beta-glucan content of more than 25%. Beta-glucans are the primary compounds in mushrooms that account for most of their health benefits.
These qualities make our supplements the best on the market and efficient in boosting overall brain power, mental focus, and clarity.
Order your first bottle of the Organic Lion’s Mane Extract Capsules, and enhance your brain power and memory.
1. Vikineswary Sabaratnam, Wong Kah-Hui, Murali Naidu,and Pamela Rosie David (March, 2013). Neuronal health – Can culinary and medicinal mushrooms help? Retrieved Sep 2, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3924982/#ref4
2. Puei-Lene Lai, Murali Naidu, Vikineswary Sabaratnam, Kah-Hui Wong, Rosie Pamela David, Umah Rani Kuppusamy, Noorlidah Abdullah and Sri Nurestri A Malek ( June, 2013). Neurotrophic properties of the Lion's mane medicinal mushroom, Hericium erinaceus (Higher Basidiomycetes) from Malaysia. International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms. Retrieved Sep 1, 2022, from https://www.dl.begellhouse.com/journals/708ae68d64b17c52,034eeb045436a171,750a15ad12ae25e9.html
3. Spelman, K., Sutherland, E., & Bagade, A. (2018, December 6). Herbal Medicine for Alzheimer's disease: Lion’s mane (hericium erinaceus). Restorative Medicine. Retrieved Sep 2, 2022, from https://restorativemedicine.org/journal/neurological-activity-lions-mane-hericium-erinaceus/#:~:text=In%20Chinese%20and%20Japanese%20medical,%2C%20general%20vigor%2C%20and%20strength
4. Wittstein, K., Rascher, M., Rupcic, Z., Löwen, E., Winter, B., Köster, R. W., & Stadler, M. (2016). Corallocins A-C, Nerve Growth and Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor Inducing Metabolites from the Mushroom Hericium coralloides. Journal of natural products, 79(9), 2264–2269. https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.jnatprod.6b00371
5. Atila, F. (2019). Comparative evaluation of the antioxidant potential of Hericium erinaceus, Hericium americanum and Hericium coralloides. Acta Scientiarum Polonorum. Hortorum Cultus, 18(6), 97-106.
6. Zhang, J., Zhang, J., Zhao, L., Shui, X., Wang, L. A., & Wu, Y. (2019). Antioxidant and anti-aging activities of ethyl acetate extract of the coral tooth mushroom, Hericium coralloides (Agaricomycetes). International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms, 21(6).
Turkey tail mushrooms are among the primary saprophytes (fungi that grow on dead matter) that attack and decompose rotting wood. It’s therefore no wonder that these mushrooms are most commonly found on fallen logs or tree stumps.
Though these mushrooms can also be found on living trees, they mostly grow among other mushroom saprophytes, such as the false turkey tail mushroom. It’s for this reason that you need to learn how to properly ID these mushrooms to avoid look-alikes.
Fortunately, there are no toxic look-alikes of turkey tail mushrooms, which generally makes them a “safe” mushroom to forage for.
Similar mushrooms, however, lack the health-supporting compounds that these functional mushrooms are known and valued for.
To help you correctly identify the true turkey tail, and to give you some helpful facts about this mushroom and its uses, we’ll answer these 11 questions:
We’ll also discuss some ways to consume turkey tail, including which way is best for getting maximum potency from it. Let’s first identify the most common look-alikes.
The false turkey tail, scientifically known as Stereum ostrea, is the mushroom most commonly misidentified for turkey tail.
Like turkey tail mushrooms (scientifically known as Trametes versicolor), they also grow on stumps and fallen logs of deciduous trees.
Some other similar features it has to the “true” turkey tail:
The table below highlights the key differences between turkey tail and Stereum ostrea, a common type of false turkey tail mushroom.
The key identification feature of the false turkey tail mushroom is its underside. Being a crust fungus, it has a smooth underside, unlike Trametes versicolor (the scientific name for turkey tail mushroom), which has pores.
The underside is also yellow or tan, unlike the true turkey tail, which has a white underside.
Another identifying feature is its growth. Stereum ostrea often curves upwards to the edges, while the turkey tail often has plane growth.
Turkey tail mushrooms have a wide range of colors, from red and brown to dark blue and purple hues, which makes them easy to misidentify.
The following six-step process will, however, ensure you correctly ID Trametes versicolor:
There are two more species that are also misidentified as turkey tail mushrooms:
As you can probably tell from their names, both species are also polypores, like the real turkey tail. They also have concentric growth rings on the cap with an irregular outer margin.
The table below highlights the key differences between turkey tail, violet-toothed polypore, and gilled polypore.
Fortunately, as we mentioned before, none of the Trametes versicolor look-alikes are poisonous. But do they have any health benefits when consumed?
One study has identified Stereum ostrea as having antibacterial and antifungal activity against certain pathogens. The study highlights that this fungus “has long been used for folk remedies even without any knowledge of which compounds are responsible. The ethnobotanical uses of this mushroom to heal both human and plant diseases have been accumulated but scientific evidences are not yet well known” (1).
Trametes betulina (gilled polypore) is from the same family as turkey tail—hence the similar first name. It shares some antioxidant properties in common with the Trametes group (2). However, it falls short (in health benefits) since it doesn’t have as rich or diverse a composition of health-supporting compounds as true turkey tail.
Research on the turkey-tail lookalikes is still limited. True turkey tail, on the other hand, is one of the most studied mushrooms in the scientific world, so we can be more certain of its health-supporting properties.
Turkey tail mushrooms contain polysaccharopeptide and polysaccharide-K, which have many health benefits, including:
Yes, you can.
Tea is actually the most common way foragers consume wild turkey tail mushrooms. Hot water will help break down some of the polysaccharides in the mushrooms, so your body can absorb and benefit from them.
Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you make turkey tail tea after foraging for them.
Though some foragers also like to make tea from the false turkey tail mushroom, there aren't any sources that can corroborate whether its tea has any actual beneficial effects on the body.
The best way to get a concentrated dose of all the beneficial compounds in turkey tail is through turkey tail extracts in supplement form.
It’s easy and convenient, and you don’t have to go through the whole process of identifying the true turkey tail from wild mushrooms.
You, however, need to ensure you identify the best turkey tail mushroom supplements, which will be:
They also have a beta-glucan content greater than 30%, which is the highest in the market. Beta-glucans are powerful polysaccharides responsible for most of the turkey tail mushroom’s health benefits.
Yes, you can.
Turkey tail and reishi mushrooms individually have unique health benefits. Combining them will ensure your body gets a wide range of benefits synergistically.
Some other mushroom supplements you can combine with turkey tail:
You, however, need to ensure you take the recommended dosage of 1–3 grams daily when combining the mushroom supplements.
Real Mushrooms has the 5 Defenders Organic Mushroom Blend Capsules, which combine organic extracts from the following mushrooms:
“... I like the specific mushrooms selected for this capsule as they are each powerhouses in their own right.” Jane
Expert Tip: You can also make tea from a combination of functional mushrooms that you forage for. It’s easy: All you have to do is follow this guide and mix a handful of mushrooms instead of using one.
Real Mushrooms has a line of mushroom supplements extracted from the actual mushroom. This ensures that you get all the unique benefits of functional fungi without the starch found in supplements made from the fungal mycelium grown on grain.
Order our turkey tail extracts and help your body boost its immune function.
“These mushroom supplements are contributing to my husband's and my health. I truly believe that the Turkey Tail, in particular, has been critical to our immune system.” Mary Rose
1. Department of Biology, University of Incheon, Incheon 402-749, Korea (2007, December). Antibacterial and antifungal activities of Stereum ostrea, an inedible wild mushroom. Retrieved September 1, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3763174/
2. Victor O Oyetayo, Antonio Nieto-Camacho, Baldomero Esquivel Rodriguez, & Manuel Jimenez (2012, June). Assessment of anti-inflammatory, lipid peroxidation and acute toxicity of extracts obtained from wild higher basidiomycetes mushrooms collected from Akure (southwest Nigeria). Retrieved on Sep 1, 2022, from https://www.dl.begellhouse.com/journals/708ae68d64b17c52,33e1986c385c2cd3,3f3cb68f064811fd.html#
3. Alena G. Guggenheim, Kirsten M. Wright, & Heather L. Zwickey (2014, February). Immune modulation from five major mushrooms: Application to integrative oncology. Retrieved on September 1,2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4684115/
We’ve come a long way when it comes to healthcare.
Still, there’s no denying that women’s health concerns are often downplayed or overlooked. Women experience unique health challenges, such as pregnancy issues, menopause, increased risk of autoimmune disorders, and certain types of cancers.
We at Real Mushrooms understand the importance of women’s health. That’s why we’re dedicating this article to functional mushroom benefits for women and common concerns about their well-being.
We’ll look at some of the well-studied benefits of 3 functional mushrooms: reishi, lion’s mane, and cordyceps. We will review how they can help women manage the symptoms of menopause, promote healthy hormone levels, and how they can support fertility.
In this article:
Menopause is a time of major changes for women – in the middle of their lives. It marks the end of menstrual cycles, a result of a steep decline in estrogen and progesterone.
Though inevitable, many women dread perimenopause (the transition period to menopause) and menopause. The fluctuations and eventual cessation of ovarian estrogen and progesterone production lead to symptoms like sleep problems, mood changes, hot flashes, and anxiety.
In other words, menopause can make women feel like they don’t recognize themselves anymore.
If you’re a woman experiencing menopause, there are things you can do to support your body. Let’s look at the mushroom benefits for women experiencing menopause and how 3 types can help alleviate some common symptoms.
Reishi (genus Ganoderma) mushrooms seem to be in their own league when it comes to potential health benefits. While there may be as many as 2,000 Ganoderma species, the most common is G. lucidum. Read about the historical uses of reishi in Reishi Mushroom History: Cultural Uses & Reverence.
Let’s examine how reishi can support your body during menopause.
If you’re going through menopause and can’t sleep, you’re not alone.
Experts estimate around 12% of women experience sleep difficulties. But sleep complaints increase dramatically among women in their late 40s to early 50s (1). Because this age range is when women typically transition to menopause, the increase suggests a potential link between sleep disturbances and menopause transition.
Reishi mushrooms are used in traditional Chinese medicine for their sedative (An-Shen) effect (2,3). This means regular use of reishi mushrooms could help you not lose sleep from your racing thoughts.
A study in rats showed that reishi decreased sleep latency, or the time it takes one to fall asleep. In doing so, reishi increased the rats’ sleeping time, non-rapid eye movement (REM) sleep time, and light sleep time (4). The findings from this study suggest that the bioactive compounds in reishi may affect the gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) pathway. GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter known for helping reduce stress and enhancing sleep (5).
A similar study showed the influence of reishi mushroom extracts in rats. Just 3 days of treatment at 80 mg/kg increased total sleep time and non-REM sleep time (3). Researchers also found increases in tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-ɑ), a key regulator of sleep (6).
Another way by which reishi promotes sleep may be through your gut microbiome. A mouse study published in the journal Scientific Reports reported that the sleep-promoting effect may be due to a signaling increase in a serotonin-associated pathway in the brain. This effect appears to also be dependent on the health of the gut microbiome, as it disappeared when antibiotics depleted the gut microbiome (7).
These animal studies suggest various mechanisms through which reishi helps promote higher quality sleep. More research will be needed to confirm these findings.
Traditional Chinese medicine physicians call reishi “the mushroom of immortality” for its all-encompassing health support (8).
Let’s look at some of the research.
A common method used to study anti-tiredness effects in mice is a forced swimming test. Multiple animal studies show a significant anti-fatigue effect in reishi. For example, a study published in 2012 showed that polysaccharides from reishi extended the exhaustive swimming time of mice. The polysaccharides also displayed their powerful antioxidant qualities in this study by decreasing the blood lactate and serum urea nitrogen contents (9).
Fatigue is also a common side effect associated with medical conditions. A study evaluated the effects of reishi mushroom and carob on women with fibromyalgia. After 6 weeks of taking 6 grams of reishi per day, the participants showed significantly enhanced physical fitness and up to 30% less pain. The group that took the carob supplements showed no improvements (10).
A preliminary study from Thailand looked at the effects of reishi mushrooms on 50 subjects with chronic fatigue syndrome. The subjects who received the treatment for 12 weeks reported less fatigue and better quality of life (11).
Interested in learning more about reishi? Check out Reishi Mushroom Benefits & Usage: A Comprehensive Guide.
Lion’s mane (Hericium erinaceus) is known by various nicknames, such as the “monkey head mushroom” or the “pom-pom” mushroom. These mushrooms are easily identified by their long, thin, soft white tendrils that resemble, well, a lion’s mane.
Any discussion about the lion’s mane mushroom would be incomplete without talking about its brain-boosting properties.
Let’s examine how lion’s mane can help you during menopause.
Women are disproportionately affected by Alzheimer’s disease. Experts estimate that out of the 6.5 million Americans living with the disease in 2022, almost two-thirds are women (12).
Researchers are still trying to figure out why, but here’s what we know so far:
One Harvard researcher proposed that women’s stronger immune systems may be the reason behind their greater risk for Alzheimer’s disease (15).
Even without this risk, the decline in estradiol — the primary form of estrogen in the brain — can impact memory function.
The good news is, there are many things you can do to maintain your brain health regardless of your age. And lion’s mane can play a part.
The brain-supporting properties of lion’s mane are attributed to two highly studied compounds: hericenones and erinacines. These two compounds stimulate the production of nerve growth factors (NGFs). Research studies have linked NGF deficiency to memory impairments and impaired production of new neurons (neurogenesis) (16).
In a Japanese human clinical trial, subjects were given either a lion’s mane mushroom supplement or a placebo for 12 weeks. Both groups were evaluated using 3 tests: a mental state exam, a visual retention test, and a verbal paired-associate learning test. Only the supplement-taking group showed improvements at the end of the trial, demonstrating the potential of lion’s mane to support cognitive function (17).
Another human trial using lion’s mane in menopausal women showed reductions in feelings of anxiety and irritation after 4 weeks (35).
Interested in learning more about lion’s mane? Check out Lion’s Mane Mushroom Benefits: A Complete Supplement Guide.
Fatigue is a common symptom of perimenopause and menopause. The decline in estrogen and progesterone can knock other hormones off balance, resulting in fatigue. And as discussed earlier, many women also experience poor sleep quality, which also contributes to fatigue.
Rather than reaching for yet another cup of coffee or an energy drink, cordyceps mushrooms may offer a caffeine-free way to sustain energy.
Unlike many other functional mushrooms, cordyceps mushrooms don’t grow on wood. Instead, the spores of these parasitic fungi infect insects and arthropods. Each cordyceps species infect a specific bug.
To date, more than 400 species of Cordyceps mushrooms have been identified. The two most famous cordyceps species are Cordyceps sinensis (now Ophiocordyceps sinensis) and Cordyceps militaris.
To learn more about these fascinating mushrooms, check out our guide Cordyceps Mushrooms: Supplement Types & Health Benefits.
So how can parasitic fungi support you during menopause? Let’s look at a few well-known properties of cordyceps and how this type of mushroom can benefit women’s health during menopause.
Cordyceps mushrooms are popular in traditional Chinese medicine for their invigorating and energy-enhancing qualities.
A clinical trial studied the effects of cordyceps supplementation in 20 healthy elderly subjects. One group received the placebo, and the experimental group received 333 mg of a cordyceps mushroom supplement three times a day for 12 weeks. At the end of the study, the subjects who received the cordyceps supplement saw increases in their metabolic threshold and their ventilatory threshold. On the other hand, no significant changes were seen in either threshold for the control group (18).
If you’re an athlete though, it’s possible that you won’t experience the energy-enhancing benefits from cordyceps mushrooms.
A study involving 22 endurance-trained male athletes showed that cordyceps mushroom supplementation had no effect on endurance or aerobic capacity (19). The researchers in this study theorized that because trained athletes are already close to their aerobic capacity, cordyceps mushroom supplements wouldn’t have a significant effect.
So how do cordyceps mushrooms accomplish all of this? Animal and laboratory studies may provide some insight into this question.
One research team studied the effects of a 2-week C. militaris supplementation in mice. Administration of the fungi increased ATP levels and antioxidative enzyme activity. The treated mice had lower levels of lactic acid, lactic dehydrogenase, malondialdehyde, and reactive oxygen species compared to untreated mice. In short, the cordyceps mushroom supplements helped enhance stamina in the treated mice (20).
Your hormone levels taking a nosedive during menopause has another huge impact — a lower sex drive, or libido. You may have a harder time becoming aroused, or you may find that your body isn’t as sensitive to intimate touches as it used to be. For some women, vaginal dryness resulting from hormonal changes can make sex downright painful (21).
Practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine have long appreciated cordyceps mushrooms for their effects on sexual functions.
Few clinical trials investigating the libido-enhancing effects of cordyceps mushrooms have included women. In one placebo-controlled trial involving elderly patients with decreased libido, an astonishing 86% of women taking a Cordyceps mushroom supplement reported improvements in their sex drive. Even more impressive, this improvement was seen after only 40 days of Cordyceps supplementation (22).
A similar clinical trial involved 189 subjects (men and women) with decreased libido. After 40 days of treatment with Cordyceps mushrooms, 66% of the patients reported improvements compared to just 24% of those who received the placebo (22).
The mechanism for the aphrodisiac activity of cordyceps mushrooms remains unclear. One possibility is that its ability to support testosterone production could benefit women, especially those undergoing perimenopause and menopause (23). While it may seem counterintuitive, recent studies actually show that adding testosterone to hormonal therapy in women can improve their sexual function, including boosting their sexual desire (24).
Hormones are chemical messengers that allow your cells to communicate with one another. The lack of energy and poor sleep quality discussed in the above sections have a common root cause: hormone imbalance.
All women, not just those in menopause or postmenopause, can experience hormonal imbalance. That’s because hormones work together to keep your body in a state of balance, or homeostasis. Scientists have identified more than 50 hormones so far in the human body, just a few of which include (25,26):
Hormones influence just about every aspect of your body. That’s why even minor disruptions in their delicate balance can lead to unwanted symptoms like mood swings.
There are plenty of ways to support healthy hormone levels, beyond lifestyle factors like a healthy diet and regular exercise. Research suggests that adaptogens, especially plant-originated ones, can help strengthen the stability of your body’s internal environment and avoid damage (27).
As adaptogens, functional mushrooms like reishi can help support a healthy endocrine system.
Let’s take stress as an example. Stress and anxiety can increase your cortisol level. This natural, valuable system helps your body respond to immediate threats. But as a woman in our modern society, you likely have to endure more stress than ever, from your career to childcare. And this long-term activation of your stress response system (and overexposure to cortisol) disrupts the balance of your other hormones.
From our discussion so far, you might have guessed that reishi can help your body adapt to stress. In one study, scientists explored the adaptogenic potential of reishi in mice using the elevated plus maze model. They found that mice given a reishi extract at the dose of 200 mg/kg showed lower levels of anxiety than those that received a placebo (28).
Reishi has also demonstrated estrogen-like activity in cell models and rats, which suggests that it could be useful in regulating estrogen levels (29). Further evidence is needed to confirm whether it exhibits similar properties in humans.
Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is a common hormonal disorder among women, characterized by higher-than-normal levels of androgens and changes in insulin sensitivity. High levels of androgens may interfere with ovulation, lead to the formation of cysts, and produce other symptoms like excess hair growth on the face (30).
Anti-androgens are compounds that can either block or suppress the action of hormones like testosterone. There has been increasing interest in plant- and fungi-originated anti-androgens as complementary therapies to conventional medications.
Research shows that reishi may have the strongest testosterone-inhibiting activity. A study by Fujita and colleagues compared the 5-alpha-reductase activity of various mushroom species (31). The enzyme 5-alpha-reductase converts testosterone to dihydrotestosterone, an androgen that stimulates the development of masculine characteristics.
Of the 19 species tested, reishi exhibited the strongest inhibitory activity against 5-alpha-reductase, suggesting that it may help promote a healthy hormonal balance.
Another great functional mushroom for women with PCOS is maitake (Grifola frondosa).
One study found that maitake mushrooms may benefit women with PCOS as well. Maitake extract monotherapy induced ovulation in nearly 77% of the patients. It also displayed ovulation-inducing abilities when used in combination with clomiphene citrate, a common medication to treat infertility in women (33).
These findings suggest that maitake may induce ovulation in patients with PCOS either as a monotherapy or in combination with other fertility treatments. However, larger trials are needed to confirm these theories.
Chronic stress, obesity, hormonal imbalance, and other factors can increase your risk of infertility.
Fortunately, reishi mushrooms can help.
Stress isn’t just “I have a million things to do” stress. It can come to you in various forms, such as pro-inflammatory foods, financial challenges, relationships, not getting enough sleep, etc.
The list of stressors is endless.
Adaptogens like reishi can help your body adjust to occasional stress and maintain stability in your body. In addition to promoting better sleep quality, research indicates that reishi can modulate the endocrine organs involved with stress hormone production. This supportive activity may help balance excess stress hormone production (34).
If you’re struggling with high stress, consider adding reishi to your daily regimen.
Women face many unique health challenges that may benefit from the support of functional mushrooms. Before making any changes to your diet or supplements, we recommend consulting your physician to make sure they’re right for you.
If you’re looking for the best functional mushrooms to support your health, look no further than Real Mushrooms supplements. You can be confident in the safety, efficacy, purity, and potency of our products.
What would we do without our furry friends?
Those gentle snuggles after a stressful Monday and giant welcome-back hugs at the airport make life all the better.
Simply put, pets are family. This is why we’re always looking to keep them healthy, and mushroom extracts are a versatile way to do that.
Unfortunately, not all mushroom supplements work. Some contain diluting fillers that limit their bioactive compounds and functional benefits.
To help you pick the best mushroom supplement for your pets, we’ve gathered information about three types of mushroom extracts: Turkey Tail, Reishi, and Lion’s Mane. As we go over their features, you’ll learn:
But first, let’s look at the different types of mushroom supplements and their uses.
There are various options for mushroom supplements with different bioactive compounds and benefits.
However, all medicinal mushrooms contain beta-glucans that can stimulate your pet’s immune system.
The following table highlights three mushroom supplements and the various needs they support:
Let's delve into these mushroom supplements and their features.
Lion’s Mane Extract from Real Mushrooms is produced using hot water to break down the fibrous cell walls to release this mushroom's bioactive molecules
This method is called hot water extraction and results in concentrated levels of beta-glucans which have important immune system benefits. Beta-glucans help train your pet's immune system to be vigilant and to defend against possible challenges to it, among other benefits.
To get an idea of how pet owners have been using Lion’s Mane for their furry loved ones, read their reviews and latest prices:
Reishi Capsules from Real Mushrooms are produced using hot water and alcohol. The hot water extracts the water-soluble compounds of Reishi mushrooms while the alcohol pulls out the water-insoluble components.
This procedure leads to a wholesome supplement with various bio-actives, from immune-boosting beta-glucans to triterpenes that promote a healthy inflammation response in your furry one.
For instance, Reishi Capsules have triterpenes (defensive compounds) such as ganoderic acids, which are non-water soluble and best extracted using alcohol.
The Reishi Mushroom Capsules give you additional active ingredients, but if you want to learn more, read their reviews and latest prices.
Similar to Lion’s Mane, Turkey Tail Extract by Real Mushrooms is also produced by hot water extraction.
This process keeps beta-glucan levels high (at over 30%). Turkey tail is the subject of more scientific studies than any other functional mushroom. Time and again it has shown its effectiveness in supporting the immune system, even among animals.
You’ll get more beta-glucans with Turkey Tail Extract, but if you want to learn more, check out the reviews and latest prices.
Mushroom supplements such as Lion’s Mane Extract can enhance your pet’s gut health. They contain oligosaccharides, which are natural carbohydrates that act as prebiotics (food for the good bacteria in your pet’s gut).
There are also human clinical studies showing Lion’s Mane can be highly beneficial in relation to gastrointestinal issues, and ulcers (2,3,4).
Mushroom supplements such as Turkey Tail Extract support your pet’s immune system by boosting the production of cytokine and T cells (one of the primary lymphocyte cells that form the immune response).
These supplements contain polysaccharide-Krestin (PSK), a compound that one study found to support T cell production.
Holistic vets like Dr. Rob Silver DVM, and Dr. Donna Kelleher DVM recommend Lion’s Mane extract for slowing the progress of neuro-degenerative ailments in dogs and cats such as Degenerative Myelopathy (a.k.a. Dog Lou Gehrig’s Disease) and Canine Cognitive Dysfunction (a.k.a. Dog dementia).
Using Lion’s Mane extract as a natural solution for pet neurological support is based on human and animal studies that have demonstrated the positive effects of this mushroom on protecting cognitive function, stimulating nerve growth, and even helping regenerate damaged nerves (5,6,7,8,9).
Giving your dog or cat a Lion’s Mane supplement is also a good preventative step for protecting their cognition and brain health as they age. Reishi is also useful as a stellar source of antioxidants for keeping neurons healthy as pets age.
The best mushroom supplements feature various bio-actives with different benefits, but they also share some features and advantages—for instance, they use the mushroom itself, not mycelium or fillers, and they have high beta-d-glucans content.
Here’s a deeper look at these features and their advantages.
For these fungal organisms, the mushroom, sometimes referred to as the fruiting body, is just one stage in its life cycle. It’s what you see growing above the ground and what you are buying in the supermarket. However, many so-called mushroom supplements sold in North America do not have mushrooms in them at all!
Instead, these companies use the root system of the mushroom, which is called the mycelium. Why? Because it is far more economical to produce mycelium than to grow mushrooms in full.
Mycelium for supplements is typically grown in a grain-based substrate (the medium the mycelium grows on). When harvesting the mycelium, the grain is not separated from the mycelium and goes straight into the final product. This grain is just filler and provides no health benefits.
Between the grain-based filler and the lack of mushrooms, many supplements contain low concentrations of beneficial compounds from fungi, and high concentrations of starch.
We provide a detailed breakdown of the key differences between the mushroom (fruiting body) and the mycelium (vegetative body) in our article Medicinal Mushroom Benefits: Mycelium vs Fruiting Body.
Top mushroom supplements are processed without mycelium, chemical additives or preservatives. They use only the mushroom.
Here’s an example of a label from Real Mushrooms that clearly indicates the product is made of 100% mushrooms, not mycelium, and with no added fillers or starches of any kind (green arrow).
These are common polysaccharides (carbohydrate arrangements) found within the cell walls of mushrooms and in supplements.
Beta-d-glucans serve your pet by turning the immune system up or down (immunomodulation) among other benefits, but this effect isn’t consistent across all mushroom species and supplements.
Immunomodulation depends on factors such as:
Expert Tip: Check the label on your mushroom supplement before purchasing to ensure you’re getting the highest quality. The best manufacturers document the levels of bio-actives present in their products.
The most common talking points on mushroom supplements for pets among users were regarding:
"My dog has been taking Turkey Tail for three weeks and I see a dramatic improvement in her energy level." Ellie, Turkey Tail Reviewer
"My dog is almost 17 and I am excited to find a supplement that has taken years off his age." Stacy, Lion’s Mane Reviewer
"My senior foster is very unsettled at certain times of the day. These chews help her relax and settle down." Beth H, Mushroom Relax Pet Chews Reviewer
Yes, you can. In essence, mushroom supplements are functional foods and work best when combined with a balanced diet.
This timeline is variable, but mushroom supplements like Reishi and Lion’s Mane can take effect after 2–3 weeks of daily use.
Most mushroom extracts can be taken once a day and still be effective. Check the labelling on your supplement to confirm the recommended dosage.
Some of the functional mushrooms are too tough to be edible (i.e. reishi and turkey tail). Also, mushroom supplements are made with an extraction process that makes the natural compounds within mushroom more accessible to your pet’s body. Otherwise, these valuable compounds would remain trapped behind chitin fungal walls—the same tough substance that makes up crustacean shells—and undigested.
So there you have it—three needs uncovered by three types of mushroom supplements: Lion’s Mane, Reishi, and Turkey Tail.
Whichever option you choose, consider the following:
At Real Mushrooms, our goal is simple: to offer high-quality supplements from actual mushrooms. This stems from the industry problem of diluted supplements.
A recent study of mushroom supplements found that 74% of Reishi products are inauthentic. Most contain diluting fillers such as grain and mycelium.
Dilution causes higher concentrations of alpha glucans and lower levels of crucial beta-glucans. As such, these supplements offer little value to your pets.
Real Mushrooms supplements are made solely from mushrooms (the fruiting body). This reality is why we list the scientifically verified ingredients and active compounds on our products. unlike most companies.
You’re taking the no-pressure approach to healthy eating and losing weight, and we understand why. There’s a mind-numbing amount of dieting information out there.
Let’s zero in on functional mushrooms whose low carb, high fiber qualities make them ideal for any lazy dieter.
“I encourage people to eat mushrooms because I look at mushrooms as the missing dietary link. A mushroom isn’t an animal or a plant. It sits right in the middle. Mushrooms have 20–40% protein, are low in fat, high in fiber, and have no starch.” - Jeff Chilton — Founder of Nammex.
Beyond the macronutrient content, mushrooms are also packed with active compounds such as terpenoids and beta-glucans. These immune modulators work from the inside out to support the immune and digestive systems, which can affect your health and weight.
With these benefits in mind, we want to delve into:
Reishi is a functional mushroom best known for helping support the immune system. Additionally, it is useful as a mushroom supplement to ease occasional stress and anxiety, and as a sleep aid.
The duration and quality of your sleep affect your hunger levels, fat retention, and weight. Reishi’s positive impact on sleep quality and stress relief is a great addition to any diet.
Recent research shows that:
Basically, if you want your effortless dieting to pay off, you must get the quality of your sleep and habits in check. This is where the adaptogenic effects of reishi come in.
The easiest way to consume it as a powder is to make reishi tea, but here are some delicious, dieter-friendly recipes that make use of reishi for its health-supporting properties:
Start the day right with a mushroom chia seed pudding that includes reishi and cordyceps powders. Thanks to the full-fat coconut milk and fiber from the chia seeds, mushroom chia seed pudding is a filling, yet effortless, breakfast.
Just mix the milk, flavorings, chia, cacao, and mushroom powder together, and put it in the fridge overnight. In the morning, it’ll be ready to go.
Up your snack game with these healthy reishi bounty bars which mesh together the flavors of chocolate and coconut with functional mushroom health benefits. All you have to do is melt some chocolate, mix the ingredients together, and let your freezer do the rest.
Incorporate reishi into your evening dessert with these delicious paleo brownies, which take only 20 minutes to bake. The coconut flour has a lower carb content than wheat flour, and the healthy fats in cacao butter will fill you up.
Warm up your days with our nourishing mushroom elixir. It’s packed with five functional mushrooms, namely:
The full-fat coconut milk and cacao make it deliciously rich, while the dates and honey sweetly counter the reishi’s bitterness.
Maca adds iron and iodine to the drink, both essential nutrients for regulating energy production and nutrient use in the body.
As part of your night routine, mix our Organic Reishi Mushroom Powder with cinnamon, turmeric, plant milk, and honey for a relaxing golden milk.
Expert Tip: If your reishi isn’t bitter, it’s not real reishi. You need to find an organic supply with real mushrooms in it.
Obviously, sweeteners like honey can counter this bitterness. However, chocolate or coffee will meld beautifully with the naturally earthy and bitter flavor profile of reishi.
At the end of the day, if you simply don’t like the taste of reishi powder, you can always take your reishi supplement in capsule form!
When it comes to flavor, shiitake and maitake mushrooms are probably the tastiest options in the functional mushroom roster. It’s fitting that these mushrooms are the most important when it comes to managing your diet and weight long-term.
Besides having the above benefits of beta-glucans, maitake mushroom extracts can modulate blood sugar levels, insulin sensitivity, and the composition of gut bacteria. These three factors need to be balanced in order for your body to maintain a healthy weight.
Shiitake mushrooms are rich, buttery, and meaty when cooked. They lend their flavor well to savory recipes.
Maitake mushrooms are more delicate than shiitake mushrooms but have a stronger savory flavor profile than porcini mushrooms.
You can pan-fry them, air-fry them, add them to soups, and even fold them into your omelet.
The mushroom and onion quesadillas above are a quick, yet filling breakfast or lunch option, especially if you’re restricting calories.
It won’t take you long to prep the five ingredients: shiitake and maitake mushrooms, onion, spinach, tortillas, and cheese. We love that the cheese and yogurt are calorie dense, while mushrooms are high in fiber—together, keeping you full for longer.
Make these recipes your own by using vegetables that are in season or ones that you already have in your fridge.
If, in the genuine spirit of lazy dieting, you can’t be bothered to cook, just add a teaspoon of our 5 Defenders Organic Mushroom Complex to your tea, coffee, or hot chocolate to get the health benefits of mushrooms daily.
You can also use the 5 Defenders mushroom powder to prepare a pre or post-workout Cashew Mocha Mint Smoothie.
Finally, we have a slew of mushroom coffee recipes for you to try.
Check out our free recipe book for even more recipes.
Expert Tip: Fresh shiitake and maitake may be hard to find. Rehydrating them from dry with a hot water soak works just as well for most recipes.
The functional mushroom supplement blend like the 5 Defenders complex includes three additional mushroom supplements: chaga, reishi, and turkey tail.
As we mentioned earlier, these mushrooms support your immune system and help regulate your blood sugar and energy levels, all of which are vital when eating healthily and losing weight.
What about exercise and endurance?
For an extra kick of energy to get you moving every day and increase your endurance during exercise, cordyceps mushrooms are your go-to.
When your body is breaking down food efficiently (into energy for your muscles and storing less fat, both notable effects of supplementing cordyceps), you may notice a reduction in your weight.
A weight loss fitness plan often means that you’re working out harder and more often. Cordyceps’ effect on endurance and post-exercise recovery means you can maintain your calorie-burning activities with less downtime.
For an active body, these findings may mean more energy for the muscles and less post-exercise fatigue, which is usually caused by the release of free radicals and inflammation. Therefore, your body bounces back to action faster, burning calories and fat.
Another study examining performance in healthy elderly people found that supplementing with cordyceps increased their metabolic and ventilatory thresholds.
This means more oxygen delivered to the muscles and a longer exercise period before experiencing muscle fatigue from lactic acid buildup.
"Helped me with my workouts, I noticed I wasn't running out of breath as quickly and I felt like I had more endurance," Daniel
Cordyceps mushrooms are pretty scarce as culinary mushrooms. Your best bet is to source a high-quality cordyceps mushroom supplement with a USDA organic certification, such as our Organic Cordyceps Mushroom Extract Powder.
Blend one teaspoon of Organic Cordyceps Mushroom Extract Powder with your cold brew, milk, nut butter, and protein powder for an energizing coffee drink.
Enjoy cordyceps extract powder in simple, healthy treats, like our keto cloud bread which only has three base ingredients: eggs, cream cheese, and cream of tartar. You can add or leave out the toppings according to your taste preferences.
You can batch-cook these delicious paleo superfood butter biscuits so that you never leave your healthy snacking to chance.
Expert Tip: Those on blood thinners or with blood clotting issues should be cautious when taking cordyceps.
It’s best to consult your physician naturopath doctor before taking any functional mushrooms, including cordyceps. This will ensure you get the best out of your mushroom supplements and that they are being used safely.
Here’s a table summarizing all the benefits you can expect when you incorporate healthy mushrooms into your routine. Basically, a mushroom cheatsheet:
Each of these functional mushrooms tackles a specific aspect of regulating your weight, whether it be boosting energy or regulating sugars and fats.
It’s crucial to remember that all functional mushrooms contain a significant amount of beta-glucans and other compounds that balance out the immune system, which handles 40% of our body’s ability to regulate weight.
Getting the immune system to work better can allow the body to build healthy fat and let go of the weight that’s keeping you at a plateau. Lastly, your diet is only as good as what it’s made of.
Expert tip: If you’re kicking off your healthy weight-loss diet in the spring, consider doing a functional mushroom-supported spring cleanse using these instructions & recipes.
Make sure your mushrooms and supplements are organic and have no grain fillers to dilute their benefits. If you’re ready to boost your diet and health, start with our 5 Defenders Organic Mushroom Complex which offers the benefits of five mushrooms in one supplement.
Deemed The King of Mushrooms, reishi mushroom (Ganoderma lucidum or lingzhi) is living up to its name. It’s been shown to have many benefits uncommon in other functional mushrooms, such as alleviating occasional stress. It’s only one of the several reasons that drinking reishi mushroom tea is beneficial for health maintenance.
But what really makes this mushroom special?
Perhaps, a journey back in history will tell us:
Ancient Chinese herbalists called reishi Lingzhi (灵芝) because it means “herb of spiritual potency.” It was revered by Chinese emperors because of its scarcity and reputation for being one of the most celebrated herbs in the Chinese “bible” of medicinal plants: Shennong Ben Cao Jing (a.k.a. Materia Medica). Of reishi, the author writes, “If eaten customarily, it makes your body light and young, lengthens your life, and turns you into one like the immortal who never dies.”
For thousands of years, reishi has been used as a functional and therapeutical solution throughout Asia for various problems such as:
Luckily, we can now enjoy these benefits more conveniently through Reishi Mushroom Powder which we can use to make our own reishi tea.
Recent studies (that we share below) have also discovered new benefits of reishi mushrooms, making reishi mushroom tea a must-try.
Skin aging and deterioration intrinsically occur when the production of certain hormones, like estradiol and testosterone, decreases.
Extrinsically, overexposure to solar radiation may lead to sun damage (1), causing premature aging.
These issues often lead to symptoms such as skin dryness, hyperpigmentation, collagen degradation, and wrinkle formation.
Because these issues can’t be avoided, cosmetic companies are in constant search of natural compounds and extracts that will help to delay the aging process.
Thanks to its antioxidant properties, the reishi mushroom recently found its way into the skincare industry as a functional cosmetic ingredient.
It can help reduce wrinkles and fine lines and neutralize free radicals in the body which damage healthy skin cells and create oxidative stress (2).
Reishi also contains beta-glucans—the long chains of sugar molecules that help to promote the skin’s ability to store water—keeping the skin hydrated from within.
The table below outlines the specific properties of reishi that make its tea great for the skin (3).
The Institute of Food Technologists describes functional foods (4) as those whose ingredients provide added benefits beyond their basic nutritional value.
Historically, people consumed the reishi mushroom because of its nutritional and medicinal benefits. This historical claim has led to a recent research project (5) in which reishi’s bioactive components, as well as its nutritional and therapeutic values, have been explored.
The study revealed that the reishi mushroom contains water-soluble proteins, dietary fiber, minerals (such as sulfur and phosphorus), and vitamins (including riboflavin and thiamin), all of which contribute to its nutritional benefits.
Additionally, reishi’s bioactive components, including alkaloids, polysaccharides like beta-glucans, polyphenols, terpenoids, sterols, and lactones, are known to help promote therapeutic effects like supporting cognitive functions and alleviating occasional stress.
These benefits combined make the reishi mushroom a functional food with positive effects on the body.
It is unpleasant to eat the mushroom in its raw form because its texture is so tough and leathery. However, we can still enjoy all of its benefits by adding an extract of this mushroom to hot water to make a reishi tea.
But the quality of your mushroom extract matters. Note that one study found that 74% of reishi products are not authentic, and this calls for extreme keenness when making your purchase.
Fortunately, Real Mushrooms offers the highest-quality mushroom extracts produced in their purest form, without any fillers, carriers, or additives.
So for any purchase you make, you’re certain to receive all the benefits that reishi mushrooms have to offer.
"... I was blown away by how effective it is at reducing anxiety, racing night thoughts and insomnia." HikerMom13, Verified Real Mushroom's Reishi Mushroom Buyer
Collagen, the body’s most abundant protein, plays a critical role in the wound repair process. How fast a wound heals depends on the production, accumulation, and maturation of collagen in the wounded area.
Collagen’s accumulation significantly depends on the presence of hydroxyproline. A higher concentration of hydroxyproline means higher collagen production, leading to faster healing.
Results from a recent study (7) indicated that reishi mushroom aids in activating the concentration of hydroxyproline and hexosamine. Both hydroxyproline and hexosamine give strength to repaired tissues and in turn help to activate the wound healing process.
Another study (8) reported similar results, attributing reishi’s role in activating wound healing to its high polysaccharide content.
Natural polysaccharides have previously been linked to faster wound healing as they help to facilitate the activation of the immune system. It’s believed that this process results from polysaccharides’ ability to help activate macrophages, one of the major inflammatory cells in the body which cleans up the wound site after injury (9).
Poor diet, hormonal changes and medical conditions can all contribute to hair loss.
Male pattern baldness, for instance, is one of the major reasons for hair loss in men. It occurs when testosterone is converted into dihydrotestosterone (DHT) by the enzyme 5α-reductase. DHT then sticks to the hair follicles in your head and kills them through a process called miniaturization.
Fortunately, reishi mushrooms have recently been found to have several health benefits for our hair.
Men with male pattern baldness have scalps that are sensitive to DHT. Luckily, it’s possible to inhibit DHT production and reduce hair loss.
A recent study (10) suggests that the reishi mushroom is a great inhibitor of 5α-reductase, which helps to lower the amount of DHT produced in the body. This, in turn, reduces DHT levels on the scalp, protecting the hair follicles from miniaturization.
Reishi mushrooms are also rich in antioxidants, which may help shield the scalp from toxins and damage from free radicals. Less damage results in a healthier scalp and a conducive environment for the regeneration of hair follicles, bringing forth thicker, stronger hair.
Reishi mushrooms are well known as antioxidant powerhouses that support a healthy inflammation response.
They help to improve blood circulation, allowing the smooth flow of nutrients and oxygen into the scalp. This promotes the growth of healthy hair and reduces the chances of scalp conditions, such as dandruff and psoriasis.
Reishi mushrooms help to retain your hair’s sheen and vibrant hue for longer, preventing premature or age-related graying (5).
Also, as a strong antioxidant, reishi helps to lower normal oxidative stress, allowing your hair to remain strong and retain its color.
You can drink your mushroom tea at any time throughout the day. But for maximum results, ensure you take it consistently.
We recommend adding a half teaspoon of Organic Reishi Mushroom Powder to your tea twice a day—one in the morning and a second cup in the evening.
Because the reishi mushroom can improve your digestive health, it’s a great supplement to start the day with.
It may also promote relaxation, thanks to its mood-lifting properties, making it the perfect addition to your evening routine as you wind down after a long day. Many people take reishi before bed and report having an easier time falling asleep.
Many companies in the functional mushroom industry claim to sell products that are extracted from pure mushrooms. But this is not always the case.
These products often use mycelium, the mushroom’s root system, which contains fewer health and nutritional benefits than the mushroom itself.
That’s why it’s important to purchase your mushroom supplements from a trusted source that uses the highest-quality, health-promoting mushrooms extracted in their purest form.
At Real Mushrooms, we live up to our name, producing mushroom extracts from real mushrooms directly sourced from organic farms in China, the birthplace of mushroom cultivation. It’s one of the few places in the world where you can extract mushrooms in their purest form.
"I am impressed after switching from other brands that I found were mycelium and fillers. The difference has been quantifiable." Patrick
Our Reishi Mushroom extracts have no added starch, mycelium, or grain of any kind and are vegan-friendly, non-GMO, and gluten-free.
Order today to enjoy all the benefits that reishi mushroom tea brings.
Regardless of the season, mushrooms for cooking are always available at the grocery store or farmer's market. The type of mushrooms might change, but it’s easy to get fungi year-round. You can find the finest gourmet mushrooms at the high-end markets, but the humble button mushroom is also high in nutritional value and can be found in almost every grocery store.
When you’re cooking up that savory mushroom dish, consider setting some of the cooked mushrooms aside for your dog. They can be a great addition to your pup's diet and are highly nutritious.
Mushrooms contain protein, fiber, minerals (selenium), B vitamins, vitamins C and E, and are low in digestible carbohydrates and total fat. The indigestible carbohydrates and soluble fibers in mushrooms support the health of the microbiota. Additionally, Mushrooms can be an abundant source of vitamin D2 when exposed to UVB light. Mushrooms are also home to unique antioxidants like ergothioneine and glutathione.
The short answer to “Can dogs eat cooked mushrooms?” is YES! Our article explains all the health benefits plus offers 3 nutrient-dense mushroom recipes for your furry friend.
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The general rule of thumb is that if a mushroom is safe for humans it will be safe for a dog. Therefore, any mushroom you buy at the grocery store or trusted farmer's market should be appropriate for your dog.
Never give your dog a mushroom unless you know exactly what type of mushroom is and that it’s safe for human & dog consumption. Never feed your dog a mushroom that you found foraging in the woods.
If your dog finds and eats mushrooms while out on a walk or in your backyard, call your veterinarian immediately. Mushrooms can pop up overnight in your backyard, and many of these backyard mushrooms could be poisonous to your pet.
Your veterinarian may suggest you call the Pet Poison Control Hotline: 800-213-6680. If possible, try to find some pieces of the mushroom that your pet ate, and have them ready in a baggie should your vet or poison control want to see them. Photographing the area where the mushrooms were found can also be helpful. If your pet vomits, collect it in a plastic bag. This can be helpful in identifying the mushroom that was eaten and determining if it was poisonous.
Why give dogs mushrooms? Mushrooms have vast and far-reaching benefits, and each variety of fungi has its own unique properties and organs they can support. There are, however, beneficial features of mushrooms that are common to all of them:
When mushrooms are consumed (as food or supplement), it activates a form of cellular communication in the body. The compounds in edible fungi inform the immune system of where attention is needed to maintain balance and vigor. How does this beneficial immune response occur? Mushrooms are rich in bioactive compounds called polysaccharides, which include beta-glucans.
Beta-glucans are anti-inflammatory, neuroprotective, anti-viral, anti-neoplastic, microbiome-supporting and so much more. Some of the immune cells that beta-glucans interact with are monocytes, natural killer (NK) cells, neutrophils, macrophages, and dendritic cells.
In simple terms, mushrooms activate a “wake up and be alert system” in the body, and a message to send resources where needed. The message is “this isn't an emergency, but it could be, so be vigilant”.
More information on the specific way beta glucans & polysaccharides facilitate this “call to vigilance” can be found here: https://www.realmushrooms.com/beta-d-glucan/
If you decide to give your pet mushrooms as part of their diet, it is recommended that they be cooked. Cooking mushrooms allows more of the medicinal benefits of the mushrooms to be utilized!
Cooking mushrooms will also make it easier for your dog to digest. This is due to the fact that all mushrooms contain a component called chitin, which resides in the cell wall of mushrooms. Chitin is the same material that makes up the hard outer shell of insects and crustaceans. Very few mammals produce chitinase, the enzyme responsible for breaking down chitin. Dogs are no exception here. The chitin that makes mushrooms difficult to digest is easily broken down by cooking mushrooms at a minimum of 200 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 to 15 minutes.
It’s actually almost impossible to overcook mushrooms, so feel free to cook them well.
Hot water extraction is the best practice for increasing the bioavailability of the active, health-supporting compounds in mushrooms. Therefore, we recommend adding mushrooms to bone broth and slow cook for a long time. You can add this mushroom-infused bone broth to your dog’s food.
Utilizing this hot water extraction method or cooking mushrooms breaks down the indigestible polysaccharides that make up the cell wall, which provides mushrooms’ substantial amount of immunomodulatory benefit (1).
Learn more about the benefits of mushrooms for dog health in our article Can Dogs Eat Mushrooms? Facts About Fungi for Your Furry Friend.
Bone broth is chock full of vitamins, minerals, and amino acids. The collagen from the bones can support joint health. Adding mushrooms can enhance the benefits!
**Do not feed the cooked bones to your dog**
This bone broth can be used as a “gravy” on top of your pup’s food. Dry kibble can be very hard on digestion, so adding water or this bone broth can be very beneficial.
This delightful recipe for dogs was created by Dr. Suzi Beber (2).
This recipe was adapted from a Real Mushrooms stuffed mushroom recipe for humans by Renee Michael for her dog, Roscoe.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
*Depending on the size of your mushroom caps, you might have leftover turkey mixture that you can make into turkey meatballs for your pup!
Have a doggie-friendly mushroom recipe? Please share it with our pet-loving Facebook group.
1) János Vetter. December 2007. Chitin content of cultivated mushrooms Agaricus bisporus, Pleurotus ostreatus and Lentinula edodes. Food Chemistry 102 (2007) 6-9.
2 ) More about Dr. Suzi Beber: Dr. Beber started the Smiling Blue Skies University of Guelph Cancer HFund and the Ontario Veterinary College (OVC) Pet Trust. She has been supporting pet parents with pets suffering from cancer for 20 years, including integrative oncology supportive supplements provided by the trust to pet parents who are in financial need. Dr. Beber has been a huge advocate of the use of mushrooms to create healthy pets and support them through the cancer journey. She has published a number of recipe books for pets, and many of those recipes include fresh and/or dried mushrooms.
Thinking about cooking lion’s mane mushroom? Maybe you’ve heard of some of the health-supporting benefits of lion’s mane and want to find some tasty ways to add them to your diet. Or perhaps you want to branch out from your standard portobello and button varieties and try your hand at a different gourmet mushroom. Whatever the reason, you’re in the right place to learn how to make the most of cooking this versatile, delicious mushroom.
Along with a couple of simple recipes, we’ll cover where to buy lion’s mane and how to clean, store and prepare it. We’ll also briefly review some of the fascinating ways this mushroom can support your health. Read on to learn everything you need to know to begin cooking lion’s mane mushroom.
What’s in this article:
Lion’s Mane (Hericium Erinaceus) is a common mushroom found throughout the Northern United States and Canada. They’re often found growing on dead and decaying trees, as well as birch, beech, elm, and oak trees.
The lion’s mane mushroom gets its name from its shaggy, mane-like appearance. They are large, white, and covered with hair-like structures called teeth that hang down around the mushroom. Its fuzzy appearance is also what earned it the nickname the bearded hedgehog mushroom and the pom-pom mushroom.
This unique mushroom is used all over the world for culinary purposes and for its health-supporting properties. It’s a versatile mushroom and can be enjoyed raw, cooked, dried, or steeped as a tea. Lion’s mane extracts are often used in supplements for health support.
Most of us would like to receive more health benefits from our food, which is one advantage of cooking with lion’s mane mushrooms (another is that they’re delicious!). From brain health to gut health, to being possibly one of the best mushrooms for anxiety, there are a lot of reasons to eat more lion’s mane.
Lion’s mane mushroom has a long history of use in Asian medicine. In Chinese and Japanese medicine, it has traditionally been used to support spleen and gut health. Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners employ this mushroom to promote good digestion, vigor, and strength (1).
Modern research suggests that lion’s mane mushrooms may be able to support your health in a variety of different ways. One of the most exciting discoveries made about them is their potential to support brain health.
Lion’s mane mushrooms contain two unique compounds that may be able to protect the neurons and nerves in our bodies. These compounds are called hericenones and erinacines. Studies show that these compounds may be able to protect the brain from cognitive decline associated with aging (2).
Studies show that lion’s mane can increase the production of nerve growth factor (NGF), a compound that maintains neural health in our brains (3). This compound is linked to supporting the growth of nerve tissue and nerve function as shown in animal studies (2).
Research suggests that this mighty mushroom may be able to support brain health in other ways including:
Lion’s mane may be one of the best mushrooms for anxiety. In a clinical trial, lion’s mane mushroom was able to decrease feelings of anxiety, irritation, and frustration (6).
Lion's mane could support your health in other areas of your body as well. For instance, it can promote a healthy immune response. Studies show that it can do this by regulating bacteria in the gut and intestines (7). Animal studies show that these mushrooms can support immune system strength by regulating intestinal mucosal activity (8).
Cooking with lion’s mane mushrooms is also a fantastic way to get more nutrients in your diet. Mushroom proteins contain all the essential amino acids your body needs to stay healthy. Amino acids are the building blocks of each individual cell, and finding complete sources of all essential amino acids is required to give your body the fuel it needs to function.
Together with the low-fat content and high proportion of polyunsaturated fatty acids, these nutritional properties add to the significant health value of lion’s mane mushrooms. When reliable extraction methods are used, lion’s mane extract can be used as a supplement to more easily tap into some of the desirable health benefits mentioned above (9).
If you’ve never tasted lion's mane mushrooms before, you’re in for a treat. When it’s cooked it’s juicy, delicate, tender, and meaty. The taste of lion’s mane mushrooms is best described as seafood-like and it’s often compared to crab, lobster, and other shellfish. This is why it’s often used as a vegetarian substitute in seafood dishes.
You can purchase lion’s mane mushrooms fresh, dried, or as a powder. Each format is useful for different culinary purposes.
For instance, fresh and dried lion’s mushrooms may be better for frying and grilling, whereas powders may be better for broths, baking, and drink mixes.
Mushrooms are very absorbent which is great when it comes to marinades and sauces, but not so great when it comes to pesticides. That’s why it’s best to purchase organic lion’s mane mushrooms.
If you’re on the hunt for fresh or dried lion’s mane mushrooms, the first place to look would be your local health-food or farmer's market. They are sometimes sold at Asian markets as well, just make sure they were grown organically.
If you’re not having any luck finding them in your area, you can try ordering them online or growing your own. You can use a quick Google search to find fresh and dried lion’s mane and lion’s mane grow kits.
Organic mushroom powders can be found in some health food stores and easily online. However, if you are buying mushroom powders to support your health, it’s important to make sure you are buying the highest quality product. Check out our 4-point buying guide for Lion’s Mane powder extracts to learn how to spot a quality mushroom product.
When cooking lion’s mane mushroom, fresh is best. But, you don’t want any extras to go bad before you can enjoy them. If you’re not planning on eating them right away, you’ll need to store them properly.
If you plan on eating your fresh lion’s mane mushrooms within a few days, storing them in your refrigerator is fine. Store them in a roomy paper bag so that they can breathe. Keep them away from water and other liquids to prevent mold from developing.
As they age, lion’s mane mushrooms will begin to turn yellow. You can cut off any yellow parts to preserve their flavor. If they turn orange, feel soft or slimy, or show signs of rot, it’s time to throw them out.
With proper storage, fresh lion’s mane can last for about a week in the fridge. If you’re not planning on using them that soon, you’ll need to consider other storage options.
One option is to dry them, but first, you’ll need to clean excess dirt off them. You can do this by rinsing them off with water, or by using a mushroom brush to gently sweep off any particles. If you rinse them in water, let them sit in the sun for a couple of hours so excess water can evaporate.
Once your mushrooms are clean, you can dehydrate them in an oven or a food dehydrator. Using a shape knife, cut the lion’s mane from top to bottom about a quarter of an inch thick. Then place them on dehydrator trays or parchment-lined baking trays in a single layer so the slices don’t touch each other.
If you’re using a dehydrator, set the temperature to 135 degrees for four to six hours. You can dehydrate the mushrooms at a lower temperature for a longer period of time if you want your pieces to be less firm and more delicate. If you’re using an oven, set it to the lowest temperature and let the lion’s mane dry for two to four hours.
When you can easily snap the mushrooms between your fingers, they’re ready. Let them cool and place them in canning jars or storage bags. You’ll want to make sure the containers you store them in are air-tight to reduce the risk of them going bad. With proper storage, dried lion’s mane mushrooms can last indefinitely.
Another option is to freeze your lion’s mane mushrooms. Because of their high water content, it’s best to sauté them before freezing. Cook them as you normally would, or use our sauteed lion’s mane recipe below, and then let them cool. When ready, put them in an airtight freezer bag or a vacuum-sealed bag to prevent freezer burn, and store them in your freezer for up to a year.
Cooking lion’s mane mushrooms is as easy as it is delicious. The best way to cook lion’s mane mushrooms is to sauté or roast them. Once they’re cooked, you can eat them in a sandwich, stir-fry, or on their own.
Sauteeing or roasting is a great place to start if you’ve never cooked lion’s mane mushrooms before. If you’re feeling more adventurous, you could try making your own lion’s mane “crab” cakes with them, or using them in a vegan lobster roll.
Before you cook your lion’s mane mushrooms, you’ll need to prep them. Rinse them in water or use a mushroom brush to remove any excess dirt. If you rinse them, set them out to dry for a couple of hours, preferably in sunlight so the extra water evaporates.
The bottom of the mushroom is likely dirty and maybe a little tough. You’ll want to cut that piece off and any other dirty or yellowing spots.
Depending on the dish you’re using your mushrooms in, you can either cut them into slices or shred them into pieces.
If slicing, use a chef's knife to cut the mushroom in half from top to bottom. From there, you can cut it into half-inch segments for a thicker slice, or quarter-inch segments for a crispier slice. If shredding, you can simply use your hands to pull the mushroom apart into bite-sized pieces. Just like with slicing, the smaller you shred the mushroom, the crispier it will be.
Sauteing is an easy and quick way to prepare lion’s mane mushrooms. Here is a simple and tasty recipe for sauteing mushrooms.
Roasting is a decadent way to cook lion’s mane mushrooms without having to do a ton of prep work. Try this method to impress your friends and family at your next dinner party.
We’ve assembled a collection of 7 more delicious meals that you can make using this mushroom in our article Lion’s Mane Recipes: 7 Creations Using This Unique Mushroom.
We've also combined the addictive flavors and textures of avocado toast with this brain-boosting mushroom in our Lion’s Mane Mushroom Avocado Toast Recipe. Give is a try for yourself!
We hope you have fun trying these tasty lion’s mane recipes! We’d love to hear how they worked for you, share you’re mushroom dishes in our Facebook Group or on Instagram, and don’t forget to tag @Real_Mushrooms.
Don’t be fooled by its name: there’s nothing fowl about the turkey tail mushroom. In fact, these helpful fungi are abundant in compounds that can help keep your furry friend’s immune system strong and address other common canine health concerns. This article dives into the applications of the turkey tail mushroom for dogs as a safe and versatile natural pet care supplement.
Turkey tail mushrooms (a.k.a. Trametes versicolor) have centuries of use by humans for a variety of health complaints. Based on modern research and human studies, we have a greater understanding of the benefits of the many individual bioactive constituents in the turkey tail mushroom.
Many veterinarians believe that the same historical benefits and safety for humans will also translate to our pets’ health and wellness. There are only a few studies using the turkey tail mushroom in dogs to objectively suggest its benefits. I outline them in this article to suggest the possible applications of turkey tail extracts for dogs.
Read on to learn the multiple benefits of turkey tail mushrooms that modern studies have revealed. This article also answers frequently asked questions about how to administer turkey tail as a dog health supplement.
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This article was written by R.J. Silver DVM, MS, Chief Veterinary Officer for Real Mushrooms.
The turkey tail mushroom contains multiple different beta-glucans. Beta-glucans are a type of soluble fiber in the cell walls of certain plants and fungi. They have been studied extensively for their capacity to help regulate the immune system, cholesterol levels, inflammatory responses, and blood sugar levels.
Each beta-glucan molecule in turkey tail is slightly different from the other. It is this multitude of similar but different beta-glucan molecules that gives turkey tail such robust immune enhancement properties.
Terpenes, both triterpenes and sesquiterpenes, are a second source of strong immune-enhancing compounds in turkey tail mushrooms. Terpenes have many beneficial effects, including antioxidant activity. Triterpenes in the turkey tail mushroom are, like the beta-glucans, found in a variety of molecular variations. Each of these triterpenes types has potent bioactivity against infectious agents and neoplastic cells.
Turkey tail’s cocktail of terpenes and beta-glucan molecules provides the therapeutic profile of immune effectiveness for which it is known.
The various “immune system-positive” compounds in turkey tail mushrooms are one reason why they support a robust immune system response. It’s why this mushroom can address health challenges such as infections, immune deficiencies, and malignant cell growth in our pets.
Several studies have explored the value of turkey tail mushrooms with respect to a variety of health conditions (1). Some have focused on the antioxidant and inflammation-balancing effects of the bioactive molecules in this species of mushroom. One animal study found that the turkey tail mushroom could induce analgesia (mild pain relief). This effect is due to the ability of turkey tail polysaccharides to increase the cytokine, IL-2, which can reduce inflammation. Subsequently, mild pain and discomfort reduce (2).
Published studies in experimental animals also found a protective effect of turkey tail mushroom on liver damage from alcohol (3). This is relevant to dogs whose livers have been impacted by drugs such as steroids and chemotherapy agents. In rat models, this mushroom also showed the ability to protect the heart from damage secondary to diabetes (4). Turkey tail extracts have also been studied for its potential antimicrobial activity (5).
With respect to its mode of action (MOA) for fighting cancer, the turkey tail mushroom extract has a dual effect. It mobilizes the immune system to activate elements of the innate immune system to defeat microbial pathogens. Furthermore, turkey tail has a direct cytotoxic effect on these same pathogens (6).
Historically, turkey tail mushroom has been helpful in cancer treatment protocols in human beings. There are two commercially-available products derived from turkey tail bio compounds. The Chinese have isolated polysaccharopeptide (PSP), and the Japanese have isolated polysaccharide-Krestin (PSK).
Isolating and concentrating specific compounds in turkey tail mycelium produce these products. China and Japan have approved PSP and PSK, respectively, as drugs. While PSP and PSK are derived from mycelium, they are not at all similar to the turkey tail myceliated grain commonly found in North American mushroom supplements.
Both PSP and PSK have been in use in Asia concurrently with chemotherapy for many decades. These have demonstrated benefits and safety for human patients with a variety of cancer diagnoses.
One pilot study, published in 2012 gave a small number of dogs PSP. In the group given the highest dosage of PSP, the dogs with naturally occurring splenic cancer (hemangiosarcoma) had improved survival times (7).
A larger, prospective, randomized clinical trial, has been recently published evaluating the benefit of PSP in a larger number of dogs with hemangiosarcoma (8). This more recent study used the highest dosage (100 mg/kg) that was most successful in the previous pilot study. This trial compared the benefit of PSP alone or combined with doxorubicin chemotherapy in these dogs with naturally-occurring hemangiosarcoma.
The results of the 2012 pilot trial were surprising and encouraging. The prolonged median survival time (MST) for the dosage level in this pilot study was 199 days! The historical average for MST for dogs with hemangiosarcoma on doxorubicin chemotherapy was 141-179 days. The MST reported in a variety of studies for those dogs with hemangiosarcoma who do not receive chemotherapy, is 19-86 days. Fewer than 10% survive for 12 months (9, 10, 11).
In the 2022 follow-up study there was a significant difference in response to the PSP extract between male and female dogs. The first pilot study groups included mixed male and female dogs. The response of the dogs was not evaluated based on sex. However, in the follow-up study, female dogs did not do as well as the male dogs when they received either PSP alone or PSP and chemotherapy.
Interestingly, although the MST did not reach that very prolonged 199 days that the pilot study found, male dogs receiving the PSP alone did as well as the male dogs receiving chemotherapy alone. There was no measured benefit to the use of PSP together with chemotherapy for either males or females.
This study measured the immune-modulating ability of a single, isolated turkey tail molecule (PSP). However, the entire turkey tail mushroom extract, versus the pharmaceutical mycelial isolates of PSP or PSK, may have better effectiveness against cancer. This assumption is based on the fact that there is a wide variety of bioactive molecules in the whole mushroom. Compared to the single isolates of PSP or PSK, an extract of whole turkey tail mushroom will have a full complement of molecules that work together synergistically to improve host immune function.
Both the PSP and PSK isolates have had good objective measured benefits in a number of human cancer diagnoses. Many studies have been published since the 1970-80’s when these extracts were developed. Hemangiosarcoma cancer in dogs is a very aggressive, toxic disease, rapidly progressing in most patients. The fact that isolates of turkey tail mushrooms showed the potential they did in extending the life of dogs with this aggressive cancer is very encouraging.
There are many situations where your pet could benefit from adding turkey tail mushroom extracts to their daily supplement program. In particular, this mushroom can improve immune function to help resolve a variety of problems. Health issues such as chronic infections, especially involving respiratory, skin or urinary issues can be addressed with the support of turkey tail extract. Used along with antibiotics, turkey tail extract can help further mobilize immune system activity. Therefore, certain conditions may respond better than with using antibiotics alone.
Cancerous conditions are a complex problem, needing complex solutions that support your pet’s immune system. Like humans, pets need interventions that not only help to reduce the toxic effects of cancer growth, but that help them better withstand the rigors of conventional cancer therapies. Humans have used turkey tail safely for this purpose (12). Therefore, animal application is the next field of inquiry.
A 2011 study looked at whether turkey tail could help stressed, immunosuppressed shelter puppies achieve protective antibody levels from rabies vaccinations. Most of the puppies in this study were unable to achieve a protective level of antibodies from their rabies vaccination alone.
Rabies is a fatal disease for animals and is zoonotic. This means it can also infect people and be fatal for them. The researchers gave the puppies a beta-glucan extract of oyster mushroom for a month to condition their immune system. The immune-restorative benefits of the mushroom beta-glucans helped the puppies achieve protection from their re-vaccination for rabies (13). The beta-glucans in turkey tail are an effective, natural way to improve immune system function.
The above study used a dosage of about 4 mg/kg daily of beta-glucans in these puppies. To help support your dog’s immune system with mushroom beta-glucans, you can give dogs an ongoing daily dose of turkey tail extract.
This is easily achievable with Real Mushrooms’ turkey tail mushroom extracts as follows:
1. If you are using the turkey tail pet-labeled capsules, then, give 1 capsule for each 10 pounds of body weight daily. This will provide the same beta-glucan amount as used in the above study.
2. If you are using the turkey tail bulk powder labeled for human use, give ¼ teaspoon daily for each 10 pounds of body weight.
3. If you use our Mushroom Immune Soft Chews, give 1 soft chew daily for each 10 pounds of body weight to achieve immune benefits for your dog.
4. Our Mushroom Relax Soft Chews also contain substantial amounts of beta-glucans. Give 1 soft chew for each 10 pounds of body weight daily. (You can use this on an anxious puppy to both soothe its nervousness at being in a new place, and improve its immune system.)
Turkey tail (Trametes versicolor) mushrooms have been in use by humans for thousands of years without evidence of any toxicity to the people who have used them. Anecdotally, turkey tail mushrooms have a long record of safety. It is for this reason that objective safety and toxicity studies are rare to find in the world’s scientific literature for turkey tail and most other medicinal mushrooms.
One study, published in 2011, administered a variety of different doses and forms of the turkey tail mushroom hot water extract to laboratory rats. The researchers gave doses of up to 5000 mg/kg a day for 28 days. Observations of rat mortality, impact on their behavior, adverse events, and relative organ weights were measured and histological, hematological and biochemical measurements were taken. No remarkable adverse effects were observed in any of the rats who were administered turkey tail at any of the dose levels (14).
These findings confirm what has been observed for thousands of years, that the turkey tail extract did not cause any abnormal findings in any rat at any level of dosing.
A safety study for turkey tail that specifically tests high dosages of the mushroom in dogs as the target species, has yet to be conducted. Such a study is needed to ensure that the high dosage use of turkey tail mushrooms for dogs with serious problems such as neoplasia and viral infections has objectively been proven safe in the canine.
Extracts of turkey tail mushrooms for dogs have become very popular since 2012 when a study was published that suggested that the turkey tail mycelial extract could improve outcomes for dogs suffering from hemangiosarcoma better than chemotherapy could (4). The mycelial extract used in that study was grown in a special liquid broth, and then pharmaceutically isolated, and is sold as a patented product by the Chinese company that manufactures it. This isolate is called PSP (polysaccharopeptide).
Most of the turkey tail extracts available in North America are mycelium grown on grain. However, these products do not contain enough of PSP isolate to have an effect. Plus you can’t separate the mycelium from the grain, which is very high in starch carbohydrates. It is known that cancer cells receive most of their nourishment for growth from carbohydrates. As a result, most cancer diet strategies suggest eliminating simple sugars and most carbohydrates.
Not all turkey tail mushroom supplements are the same.
It's important to understand where the mushroom supplement you are considering giving to your dog came from, and especially, what it was grown on. Many medicinal mushrooms grow in nature on dead and dying wood. Growing mushroom mycelium on grain is the next step in mushroom cultivation, not the last step.
Based on the information above, you should first find out whether the product you are looking to buy contains grains and mycelium, or the whole mushroom. If you feed your dog a grain-free diet, why would you want to give your four-legged friend a mushroom supplement that was 50% grain, and didn’t even have any actual mushrooms in it, only fungal mycelium?
In order for mushrooms to release their potency for use in health supplements, they need to be dried, ground-up finely, and then heated in near-boiling water for a period of time in order to rupture the tough fungal cell walls. This process is necessary to release the bioactive molecules found in the cell wall and inside the fungal cell. Consuming just powdered dried mushrooms is less likely to have as much potency as mushrooms that have been hot-water extracted.
Real Mushrooms uses organically grown mushrooms grown on their native substrate: wood. No grains or mycelium are part of these products, they are 100% derived from the mushroom (fruiting body) and third-party analyzed for potency and purity.
The dried mushrooms are harvested at their highest potency and dried and ground into a powder that is then subjected to hot water extraction. This extraction process releases the potent molecules contained inside the fungal cells and cell walls. It is dried and powdered and then analyzed to contain the standardized amount of beta-glucans.
It is this potent powder that is filled into capsules, compounded into soft chews or provided as the pure powder. This impeccable quality control guarantees your pet safety and consistency in potency from administration to administration.
If you are using Real Mushrooms turkey tail extract you can expect greater than 300 mg of beta-glucans per gram (15).
Approximately ½ teaspoon of this powder weighs about 1 gram = 1000 mg;
Daily Dosage Guidelines by Specific Purpose
1. For Wellness, health maintenance and preventative applications, minor conditions, and topical applications:
2.5-5 mg of mushroom beta-glucans per kilogram of your dog's body weight is a good place to start
1-2.5 mg of mushroom beta-glucans per pound of body weight of your dog’s body weight is a good place to start
2. When your pet’s condition is more medically serious, then increase the amount of mushroom beta-glucans and talk to your veterinarian about your pet’s condition. They are there to help. Here are general guidelines for administration of turkey tail extract under more medically serious conditions:
5-10 mg of mushroom beta-glucans per kilogram of your pet’s body weight
2.5-5 mg of mushroom beta-glucans per pound of your pet’s body weight.
3. Conditions that have the need for the highest amount of mushroom beta-glucans–the complex, difficult, serious, chronic, degenerative and potentially terminal conditions:
For these kinds of conditions, begin with administering a daily dosage as follows:
10-30 mg/kg of mushroom beta-glucans
5-15 mg/pound of mushroom beta-glucans
The answer to that question is–absolutely yes! Mushrooms are food. They are functional superfoods, actually. Turkey tail extracts work best when given daily with a balanced meal, over a long period of time.
The longer you feed medical mushrooms to your dog, the more in-depth their actions.
It's not correct to consider mushrooms as having any sort of an immediate drug-like activity when we are looking at their immune modulating capabilities. The immune system needs time and continued exposure to these immune modulating beta-glucans and other molecules from mushrooms in order to modify immune activity for the better.
Consistency of administration over extended periods of time is the best formula for clinical success when using mushrooms medicinally for your pet.
Although mushroom-drug interactions have been reported, there are few reports where turkey tail is concerned. For most medications and for the relatively small amounts of mushroom extract administered daily for health and wellness, the potential for interference between these two is low. Nonetheless, it is important that if your pet is on another strong medication from your vet, for you to ask that vet to check your dog’s blood levels to see if this mushroom is having an adverse effect on that medication level.
Reactions to something that is new and hasn’t been given before are always possible. Reactions are even possible with safe stuff that isn’t new and that has been given before. This is why I think it's a good idea to start slow with a low “dose” just to be on the safe side. That seems to help with the transition for most doggies.
There are some reports of allergic reactions. Even to tasty edible mushrooms like shiitake. These are uncommon occurrences, but something to be aware of.
Allergic reactions tend to occur fairly quickly; toxicity may take hours.
If there is a reaction that you think is due to the mushroom ingestion, then stop giving it, and wait 24 hours to see if the reaction has gone away. If it hasn’t, then call your vet and take your furry friend in, to be safe.
Mushrooms can have two different times that you can feel their effect. If you are taking them for their calming and settling influences, which are most commonly found with high doses of Reishi, Lion’s Mane, or Tremella, then you are likely to experience some peacefulness that day.
That immediate feeling will fade into familiarity over time, but then the second effects of Reishi, Lion’s Mane and Tremella will come into play after maybe 2-3 weeks, which is a calmer, more orderly thought process. This helps with sleep, but also will help your pups adjust to stress and change.
Mushrooms are super-functional foods and work like all the other functional foods, slowly and naturally.
Mushrooms are most effective when consumed daily with meals. They can be consumed once daily or multiple times to achieve the daily amount to consume for optimum benefits. They don’t need to be given more than once daily. After more than 6 months of regular administration, you can give 5 days on and 2 days off, or every other day if it makes your schedule easier. Once you’ve built up momentum training your dog’s immune system by the regular administration of mushroom extracts, you can begin lessening the number of days a week you give your dog this supplement.
The short answer is “never”. Mushrooms are meant to become part of your dog’s daily lifestyle if they are to play a major role in your 4-legged family’s health maintenance program. This is also the case if you and your 2-legged family members decide to use mushroom extracts for health maintenance.
Some areas where turkey tail mushroom could help our canine friends are suggested by its well-studied properties. Therefore, extracts of this mushroom may be given to dogs for six general purposes:
To learn more about how mushroom extracts can support the health of your 4-legged friends, read our other articles:
Mushrooms are becoming increasingly popular as a functional food and powerful ally in the holistic medicine toolbox, and with good reason. There is abundant historical data going back thousands of years supporting the benefits of mushrooms in the diet. The peer-reviewed studies are growing as well, with over 2000 results for “medicinal mushrooms” on PubMed.
This same popularity has extended to our companion animals! Fungi are in their heyday, and the potential for mushrooms to benefit our furry friends is significant. But, just how are mushrooms good for dogs and cats and why should you consider using mushroom extracts?
Let’s dive into the details!
Mushrooms have vast and far-reaching benefits, and each variety of fungi has its own unique properties and organ targets. There are, however, beneficial features of mushrooms that are common to all of them.
Throughout their evolution, animals encountered the immune-stimulating effects of fungi, some of which were strong pathogens. These fungal pathogens were strong incentives for animals to develop immune system mechanisms to detect and protect against these pathogens.
This “potential danger” message the body receives when mushrooms are consumed triggers the immune system to be “on alert.”
When mushrooms are consumed (as food or supplement), it activates a form of communication in the body, informing the immune system of where attention is needed to maintain balance and vigor. How does this beneficial immune response occur? Mushrooms are rich in bioactive compounds called polysaccharides, which include beta-glucans.
Beta-glucans are immunomodulating compounds that help to balance the immune system and keep it in optimal working order. Some of the immune cells that beta-glucans interact with are monocytes, natural killer (NK) cells, neutrophils, macrophages, and dendritic cells.
In more simple terms, imagine the immune system to be like a sleeping soldier. Reveille is the bugle signal that sounded at sunrise to call soldiers to duty. When this bugle tune is played, the soldiers rise and prepare for the day, alert to whatever comes their way, prepared to face any threat.
In a similar way, this is what happens when we (or our pets!) consume functional (a.k.a. medicinal) mushrooms such as turkey tail, reishi, lion’s mane, and cordyceps. The mushrooms activate a “wake up and be alert system” in the body, and a message to send resources where needed. The message is “this isn't an emergency, but it could be, so be vigilant.”
So, one of the biggest reasons functional mushrooms are good for dogs and cats is because they help their immune systems be more resilient.
More information on the specific way beta-glucans & polysaccharides facilitate this immune-system “call to vigilance” can be found in our article, A Look at the Powerful Benefits of Beta-D-Glucan.
There is a lot of crossover within these categories. A mushroom can be edible and medicinal. It can be psychoactive and medicinal. It can even be slightly poisonous, edible, and medicinal, as in the case of Amanita muscaria.
The mushrooms I am focusing on in this blog are either edible, medicinal, or both. Examples of mushrooms that are both edible (culinary) and medicinal are: lion’s mane, cordyceps, shiitake, oyster, and maitake. Examples of medicinal mushrooms that are theoretically edible, but just aren’t the kind of mushrooms whose taste and texture are optimal for culinary purposes are: reishi, chaga, and turkey tail.
Mushrooms can be an excellent addition to your pet’s diet. The general rule of thumb is that mushrooms that are safe for humans are also safe for animals. Never feed mushrooms to your pet that you have found in the wild (unless you are an expert at mushroom identification). I buy my mushrooms at the grocery or local farmer’s market. Some of my favorite mushrooms to give my dog Scruffy are oyster, shiitake, and lion’s mane mushrooms.
Mushrooms are highly nutritious! They contain protein, fiber, minerals (selenium), B vitamins, vitamins C and E, are low in digestible carbohydrates and total fat and are high in polyunsaturated fatty acids. The indigestible carbohydrates and soluble fibers in mushrooms support the health of the microbiota. Mushrooms can be an abundant source of vitamin D2 when exposed to UVB light. Mushrooms are also home to unique antioxidants like ergothioneine and glutathione.
Should you decide to give your pet mushrooms as part of their diet, it is recommended that they be cooked. In fact, cooking mushrooms allows more of the medicinal benefits of the mushrooms to be utilized!
That mushrooms should be cooked before feeding them to your pet is due to the fact that all mushrooms contain a component called chitin. Chitin resides in the cell wall of mushrooms and is the same material that makes up the exoskeleton of insects and crustaceans. Chitin decreases the digestibility of mushrooms but has a positive biological role as a dietary fiber.
Hot water extraction is the best practice for increasing the bioavailability of the active ingredients in mushrooms. Therefore I like to add mushrooms to bone broth and slow cook for a long time. I add this mushroom-infused bone broth to my dog’s food.
Utilizing this hot water extraction method or cooking mushrooms breaks down the chitin that makes up the cell wall, which “unlocks” the mushrooms’ important immunomodulatory compounds like beta-glucans (1).
While I sometimes add mushrooms I cook to Scruffy's bowl, I always have a few mushroom supplements in her protocol. The more I read about mushrooms and their benefits, the more enthusiastic I am about making sure my dog always has mushrooms in her system.
Depending on the mushroom, there are also other applications. For instance, cordyceps is ideal for a natural boost of energy and supports lung heath. Lion’s mane can help support cognition and healthy brain function. Reishi can be used as a calming agent and also help improve sleep quality.
Certain mushrooms can also function as adaptogens when ingested. Adaptogens are stress-response modiﬁers that enhance the tone, vigor, and function of the body.
Adaptogens help the body “adapt” more easily to physical and emotional stresses when used daily over the long term. Here are some more benefits that adaptogens can provide:
• Increase attention and endurance
• Reduce stress-induced impairments and disorders related to the neuroendocrine and immune systems
• Key clinical uses include: stress-induced fatigue, impaired attention and mental performance, mental health, poor quality of life, and as an aging tonic
• Adaptogens help the body to better adapt to stressors by fine-tuning the stress response (2).
My favorite mushrooms to use as adaptogens are cordyceps( energy, respiration), and reishi ( longevity, calming), and chaga (gut health).
The fact that mushrooms share so many beneficial qualities is wonderful, but it can also make choosing a specific mushroom to add to our pets’ regimen confusing.
If you are considering mushrooms to support a specific health condition, it is a good idea to talk to your veterinarian about which mushroom would be best. I also recommend reading Dr. Rob Silver’s article Can Dogs Eat Mushrooms? Facts About Fungi for Your Furry Friend.
If you are interested in proactively supporting your dog or cat with mushrooms and they don't have any specific health conditions, I suggest providing a combination of medicinal mushrooms.
Veterinarian Dr. Barbara Fougere does a lot of work with mushrooms and has found that she sees the best results when her patients are on mushroom combos. She feels that mushrooms work better in synergy. A wonderful combination mushroom product is our Real Mushrooms 5 Defenders for Pets.
There are a variety of ways to add mushrooms to your pets’ diet. As mentioned above, cooking mushrooms and adding them to your pet’s bowl is always a good option, although most likely not for cats. Always start with a small portion of mushrooms when adding them (or any new food) to your pet's bowl.
Mushroom supplements in the form of capsules, powders, or “soft chews” are the most efficient way to assure your pet is getting their daily mushroom dose. Capsules can be hidden in the food or a pill pocket. They can also be opened and sprinkled on your pets’ food. Powders can be mixed in with food or added to bone broth.
Some pets are very wary of anything added to their food. It is for this reason that Real Mushrooms has created mushroom soft chews. These chews can be given like a treat! Real Mushrooms’ line of soft chews includes one for calming and relaxing your pet (Mushroom Relax) and one for supporting your pet’s immune system (Mushroom Immune).
Real Mushrooms has recently launched a Pet line, with products specifically created for your dog or cat. They added this new pet line because so many pet parents were buying the Real Mushrooms “human” products. Dr. Rob Silver, Chief Veterinary Officer for Real Mushrooms, has created a line of products that is safe for pets, with pet dosages listed on the bottles. We have many more pet products coming! See our current line of mushroom products for pets here.
It’s important to have realistic expectations about mushrooms for your dog or cat. Mushrooms work best over time, so if you don't see immediate results that doesn't mean that the mushrooms aren't adding a benefit. Mushrooms are most beneficial given daily over the lifetime of your pet, or as an addition to a protocol to address a medical condition.
Mushrooms should be part of a well-rounded and robust regimen for your pet that includes healthy food, herbs, exercise, and mental stimulation/play.
Learn more about mushrooms for pets in our other articles:
1) János Vetter. December 2007. Chitin content of cultivated mushrooms Agaricus bisporus, Pleurotus ostreatus and Lentinula edodes. Food Chemistry 102 (2007) 6-9. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/222696666_Chitin_content_of_cultivated_mushrooms_Agaricus_bisporus_Pleurotus_ostreatus_and_Lentinula_edodes
2) Panossian A, Seo EJ, Efferth T. Phytomedicine. 2018 Nov 15;50:257-284. Epub 2018 Sep 20.
Functional fungi can help balance the immune system, help with sleep, and give you a boost of energy. But what are the best mushrooms for anxiety and can mushroom supplements be calming to a worried mind?
“Stressed out” seems to be an all too common sentiment these days. If you find that you feel dread and apprehension even when there is no apparent stressor, you may have anxiety (1).
Left untreated, anxiety just breeds more of the same. As a result, anxiety may also increase your risk of chronic health conditions, due to its impact on the autonomic nervous system (2).
The good news is you can do something about your anxiety. There are a variety of tools and methods that can help, and research suggests adaptogens, like functional mushrooms, can play a big role. Read on as we dive into how functional mushrooms can help anxiety and the top 3 we recommend.
Let’s take a look at the 3 main ways functional mushrooms help anxiety.
It was once a common assumption that the human brain stops developing once you reach your mid-20s. Essentially, the assumption was that the neurons you had at birth were what you were stuck with for life (3).
Scientists began challenging this dogma in the 1960s. And recent research confirms that a healthy adult brain continues making new neurons (4).
The process of generating new neurons — called neurogenesis — in the adult human brain appears to be limited to your hippocampus. This part of your brain is responsible for learning, memory, and emotions (5).
In fact, about 700 new neurons are added to your hippocampus every day (6).
The birth of new neurons appears to be connected to neuroplasticity. This is also known as your brain’s ability to be reshaped, adapt, and make new neural connections.
One neurobiology concept states that “neurons that fire together, wire together.” Every time you experience anxiety in response to something new, the connection between that trigger and your anxiety gets stronger (7).
If neuroplasticity allows your neurons to create unwanted patterns, it may also be possible to harness its power to improve them.
Unfortunately, several intrinsic and extrinsic factors can affect neurogenesis, including (7,8):
Impaired neurogenesis in adults has been associated with neurological conditions (8).
Laboratory and animal studies are beginning to show that adaptogens can support neurogenesis (8,9,10). A healthy lifestyle supported by adaptogens like healthy mushrooms may help lift your mood and reduce anxiety.
You might have heard that mental health disorders are caused by chemical imbalances in the brain. But what does that mean?
It means that the balance of the chemical messengers in your brain, known as neurotransmitters, has been disrupted.
Your brain is home to hundreds of different types of neurotransmitters. In the past, anxiety research has focused on the neurotransmitter γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA). But we now know several other neurotransmitters play a role, including (11,12):
Anxiety, then, is not a hard-wired defect in your brain. Rather, it may be a deficit or overabundance of the chemical messengers that control your emotional responses.
Mushrooms may increase your resistance to stress by acting in a similar manner to some neurotransmitters. The exact mechanism by which this occurs has not yet been identified. But it is presumed that some adaptogens act via the pathway that mediates your body’s stress response (13).
Adaptogens are also mild stressors. Some researchers believe repeated exposure to mild or low doses of stress can increase your resistance to future stress exposure (13). This concept is also evident in the action of plant-based adaptogens such as green tea and rhodiola.
A key protective mechanism exerted by mushrooms is their ability to regulate your immune system. This is how they help your body maintain an optimal, balanced state.
These properties are also critical for your body’s healthy inflammatory response.
Inflammation is a natural part of your immune system to damaging factors, such as injuries or harmful chemicals. This essential, temporary response leads to many symptoms you’re already familiar with — fever, pain, swelling, etc.
When your body’s inflammatory response goes awry, chronic inflammation can set in. The infiltration of inflammatory cells into the tissue site can lead to further tissue damage (14). Chronic inflammation may also be a mechanism for anxiety disorders (15,16,17,18).
Mushrooms are rich sources of compounds that support a healthy inflammation response, such as (19):
Some experts believe adaptogens like mushrooms could help counteract the “weight” of the stressor. As a result, they make it less likely that the body will fall into a stressed state (20).
Mushroom consumption in general appears to be linked to lower odds of mood disorders (21). Because depression and anxiety often appear together, mushrooms may support an overall positive mood.
So which mushrooms help with anxiety? Here are our top 3 best mushrooms for anxiety.
Reishi’s (genus Ganoderma) great reputation dates back thousands of years in many Asian cultures (22). Today, the most common reishi you’ll find is Ganoderma lucidum a.k.a. lingzhi. Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) practitioners use reishi (also called lingzhi) to (23):
But how well does this king of mushrooms hold its own against modern scrutiny?
It may not be able to grant you immortality, but scientists have confirmed a myriad of benefits that could contribute to a long, healthy life. So far, over 400 different compounds have been identified that may assist the body in various ways. They include (25):
Research suggests that some of these compounds have brain-protecting properties. In one study, scientists investigated the potential of reishi to alleviate anxiety in mice. The mice that were given reishi extracts were able to stay much longer in the elevated plus maze (EPM). EPM is a commonly used measure of rodent anxiety (26).
In another mouse study, reishi extract showed a sedative effect on the central nervous system. Researchers observed that mice given reishi extract exhibited behaviors indicating less anxiety compared to those who weren’t given any (27).
Living with chronic illness can trigger anxiety and depression (28). In some cases, anxiety is a secondary symptom to another, such as fatigue.
This appears to be the case in many women with breast cancer. Patients with breast cancer often report cancer-related fatigue (CRF). In some cases, CRF can lead to emotional distress and anxiety. One study of 48 patients found that Reishi promoted a better overall quality of life, including lower anxiety (29).
Sleep and anxiety have a two-way relationship. When you’re constantly feeling anxious, falling asleep can be a challenge. But lack of sleep can also impact your emotions, including anxiety. Reishi mushroom may be able to reduce the time it takes for you to fall asleep, thereby increasing your sleep time.
A mouse study suggests that reishi mushroom may impact a pathway associated with serotonin and gut bacteria (30). It also appears that reishi has GABAergic activity, the system responsible for regulating sleep (31). By promoting higher quality sleep, reishi may be able to soothe occasional anxiety and stress.
It may not be surprising to think that there’s a connection between nutrition and mental health. Several studies suggest improving your diet may help support a positive mood (32,33).
There is a possible link between blood sugar levels and mental health outcomes. Consumption of foods with a higher glycemic index is correlated with increased odds of anxiety and other mental disorders (34,35). Maintaining balanced blood sugar levels could help relieve occasional anxiety and stress. Decreasing the odds of high and low blood sugar is an important strategy when addressing potential triggers of anxiety.
Research suggests beta-glucans, like those from healthy mushrooms, may help keep your blood sugar levels steady (36).
A study with mice showed Reishi mushroom polysaccharides can regulate expressions of certain proteins associated with uncontrolled blood sugar levels. The polysaccharides also showed protective properties toward pancreatic beta-cells (37).
It’s important to note that most of the blood sugar research performed on functional mushrooms are animal or laboratory (cell) studies. So while many of the findings are promising, clinical trials will need to be conducted to confirm their benefits in humans.
Find out more about reishi in Reishi Mushroom Benefits & Usage: A Comprehensive Guide.
When talking about functional mushrooms and neurological health, we can’t leave out Lion’s Mane.
The scientific name of Lion’s Mane mushroom, Hericium erinaceus, alludes to the two most well-studied compounds found in this species: hericenones and erinacines. Research studies suggest that these compounds in Lion’s Mane may improve brain function and protect against normal cognitive decline related to aging (38).
Let’s examine why some clinicians call Lion’s Mane the brain and nervous system mushroom (39).
Serotonin and dopamine, known as “happy hormones,” play key roles in your mood and appetite, among other things. In general, researchers believe that low levels of serotonin and dopamine are connected to anxiety and other mood disorders.
A 2018 study examined the effects of Lion’s Mane on stressed-out mice. The mice that weren’t given Lion’s Mane showed significant decreases in dopamine and serotonin after repeated exposures to stress. The reverse was seen in those that were given Lion’s Mane mushrooms (40).
The research team of the study also noted that the mice given Lion’s Mane had a healthier inflammatory response. The mice not given Lion’s Mane showed elevated levels of inflammation after stress exposure (40).
Scientists are still learning how Lion’s Mane impacts serotonin and dopamine levels. It’s possible that they are a result of the mushroom’s effects on your gut microbiome. The trillions of bacteria in your digestive tract produce a wide range of neurotransmitters, including dopamine and serotonin (41). Some research suggests they may have a role in anxiety and depression (42).
In 2017, Sheng and colleagues reported that the polysaccharides found in Lion’s Mane act in the intestines (43). Another study showed that a protein from Lion’s Mane could help regulate the gut microbiome composition (44). Traditionally, Lion’s Mane is used for digestive disorders and complaints, being a tonic for the organs responsible for digestion.
Nerve growth factors (NGFs) and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) play important roles in neurogenesis. In animals, changes in their levels are associated with neurodegeneration and psychiatric disorders (45,46,47,48). They also take part in brain plasticity (the ability to form new neural connections), particularly during development (49).
We don’t precisely know yet how NGF relates to health and disease. But studies on NGF deficiency have shown them to be correlated with anxiety-like behaviors in humans and animals. NGF-deficient mice exhibit increased anxiety, impaired spatial learning and memory, and decreased neurogenesis (50). In humans, reduced NGF levels have been observed in subjects with major depression, which is often linked to anxiety (51).
However, NGFs are unable to penetrate the blood-brain barrier without help (52).
This is where Lion’s Mane comes in. Both hericenones and erinacines easily cross the blood-brain barrier. Laboratory and animal studies also show they have qualities that protect your neurons and nerves. They are also able to enhance NGF activity (38,53).
Isoindolinones are unique, lesser-known neurotrophic compounds found in Lion’s Mane mushrooms.The isoindolinone derivative isohericerinol A found in Lion’s mane has been shown to increase neurite outgrowth via NGF synthesis and BDNF upregulation. Isohericerinol A joins the existing compounds known to induce NGF and modulate BDNF at an in-vitro level. These other existing compounds include: corallocin A, hericerin, hericenones and erinacines (67).
A 2018 mouse study suggested encouraging hippocampal neurogenesis could have mood-enhancing effects. The mice given Lion’s Mane mushroom extracts showed less anxiety and improved mood during their assessments (54).
Evidence from human clinical trials lends support to this hypothesis as well. In a 2010 study, 26 patients were asked to eat 4 cookies per day containing either Lion’s Mane mushroom or placebo. Those taking Lion’s Mane scored lower on several measures, including an anxiety score (55).
Another trial assessed whether a mixture of Lion's Mane mushroom and mycelium could improve mood in patients with obesity or who are overweight. At the end of the 8-week trial, the overweight participants in this study who received Lion’s Mane reported significant improvements in their mood. They also had higher circulating pro-BDNF, a BDNF precursor. These findings suggest that BDNF could be a biomarker for mood disorders (56).
Interested in learning more about Lion’s Mane? Check out Lion’s Mane Mushroom Benefits: A Complete Supplement Guide.
Cordyceps are a group of mushrooms that include over 400 different species. The two most well-known species are Cordyceps sinensis and Cordyceps militaris.
In TCM, Cordyceps mushrooms were used to strengthen the lungs and kidneys. It was also used to enhance sexual function and libido.
Cordyceps may also have potential for boosting your mood. Preliminary human and animal studies suggest Cordyceps help support a healthy inflammation response (57,58,59,60). In theory, a healthy inflammation response may help alleviate occasional anxiety and stress.
Animal research suggests cordyceps mushrooms can help keep blood sugar levels steady (61). This effect appears to support a positive mood in mice (62). Further evidence will be needed to confirm the benefits in humans.
Other animal research suggests Cordyceps may act on stress-related pathways in the brain. A 2021 publication reported that rats given Cordyceps didn’t show abnormal behavior from stress exposure (63). Another report presented evidence that Cordyceps might act on important protein targets and their signaling pathways. The research team suggested the regulation of these targets and their pathways could support mood stability (64).
Cordyceps may help counter oxidative stress caused by anxiety and stress. Cell studies showed increased survival under stress when a Cordyceps treatment was applied (65). Cordyceps may also help balance circadian rhythms due to a unique compound called cordycepin. A mouse study showed a 60% improvement in jet lag recovery when using cordycepin. Therefore, using cordyceps extracts may help address the impact of social jet lag (lack of sleep) on anxiety and overall well-being (68).
Ready to learn more about Cordyceps mushrooms? Read our comprehensive guide, Cordyceps Mushrooms: Supplement Types & Health Benefits.
It’s a good idea to take functional mushrooms long-term to experience the benefits they have to offer for anxiety. Three months is the minimum recommended amount of time to give a new supplement regime a chance to work.
But it’s also important to ensure that you’re only consuming those supplements that are of the highest quality. What does this mean?
When buying a mushroom supplement, make sure that it is actually made from the mushroom (fruiting body). The mushroom is where you can find an abundance of beneficial compounds like beta-glucans.
Avoid products made of mycelium since this fungal “root system” is commonly grown on a grain substrate and this grain is not fully consumed by the mycelium and ends up in the final product. Therefore, the end product has diluted medicinal value and undesirable grain fillers. To learn more, check out our article Medicinal Mushroom Benefits: Mycelium vs. Fruiting Body.
Ensuring high quality is especially important when it comes to Reishi. A 2017 article published in the journal Nature raised alarm about Reishi mushrooms. In this study, only 5 out of the 19 reishi mushroom samples, 26%, actually contained what was on their labels (66). That means a whopping 74% of the “reishi” supplements didn’t contain authentic Reishi.
At Real Mushrooms, we take pride in our sourcing and extraction methods for our functional mushroom products. Our products are guaranteed to contain no fillers, starch, or grains. This is all so that you can experience the most benefits from functional mushrooms.
Here are some convenient and creative recipes for our Reishi 415, Lion’s Mane, and Cordyceps powdered extracts. You can add the mushroom powder to your coffee, tea, or one of the following healthful recipes. Alternatively, you can simply take your mushroom supplement in capsule form.
Help kickstart your immune system into gear and support a healthy inflammation response. This mushroom elixir features our Reishi, Lion’s Mane, and Cordyceps extracts.
“Healthy” doesn’t exactly come to mind when we think of donuts. But what if they could be? Our keto baked donuts with Lion's Mane extract are a great way to excite your taste buds and reduce stress and anxiety.
Skip the coffee and prepare your brain for the day with our morning golden milk instead. The combination of lion’s mane, ashwagandha, and others will keep you coming back for more.
Honestly, what’s better than sipping a warm, soothing golden milk while you sit back and relax after a long day? Reishi can help your body adapt to stress and improve your sleep. Try it in our evening golden milk recipe.
Yes, you read that right. Healthy shouldn’t mean tasteless and we’re big fans of tasty foods. When your anxiety makes you want to stay in, try some self-care with this goodie. This ice cream shake features our Lion’s Mane and Cordyceps extracts.
Anxiety can make you feel like you’re losing control of yourself. A healthy lifestyle that incorporates functional mushrooms may be able to help reduce occasional anxiety. If you experience severe anxiety, it’s important to seek professional help.
If you’re looking for the best mushrooms for anxiety, we recommend Reishi, Lion’s Mane, and Cordyceps.
Real Mushrooms is confident in the safety and efficacy of our products. We recommend that you consult your physician before starting any new supplement.