Scientific research demonstrates that medicinal mushrooms, also referred to as functional mushrooms, contain unique properties with great healing potential. Mushrooms have grown in popularity due to new clinical studies and documentaries. Many companies are taking advantage of the rise in demand and releasing inauthentic mushroom supplements. Some of these businesses have good intentions but aren’t educated about the right mushrooms and methods supported by science. NutroMushroom has two in-house Registered Dietitians who specialize in determining whether something is optimal or deleterious for human consumption. Read on for essential information to help you choose the right mushroom supplements. We highlight:
- Mushrooms with unique health benefits
- Best species from each genus
- Healthiest compounds found in mushrooms
- Medicinal mushroom suggested doses
- Ideal extraction methods
- Interpret dietary supplement labels properly
Benefits of Medicinal Mushrooms
Health benefits from medicinal mushrooms are strongly supported by scientific literature. Here we provide a quick snapshot of 9 mushrooms with unique benefits mentioned in clinical studies. Identify your goals and see how they align with each mushroom species.
Mushroom Benefits Overview
Lion’s Mane - Hericium Erinaceus: Potential to support healthy brain function, combat neurodegenerative disorders, decrease anxiety, treat depression, and improve sleep.
Turkey Tail - Trametes Versicolor: Improves digestive health by promoting positive bacteria and decreasing negative bacteria in the gut.
Cordyceps - Militaris: Supports the body’s ability to take in oxygen during exercise (V02 Max) and may increase sex drive.
Tremella - Fuciformis: Extremely hydrating for the skin and may combat oxidative stress to the skin associated with aging.
Shiitake - Edodes: Potential to modulate immune system, decrease brain fog and support a healthy gut microbiome.
Maitake - Grifola Frondosa: May modulate immune system and support weight management.
King Trumpet - Pleurotus eryngii: High in antioxidants, such as ergothionene, that can pass the blood brain barrier (which keeps most healthy compounds from entering the blood in our brains).
Chaga - Inonotus Obliquus: Contains compounds with potential to bolster the body’s defenses against disease and improve skin health.
Reishi - Ganoderma Lucidum: Over 400 bioactive compounds—shows potential to promote better sleep, reduce stress, strengthen immune function, and may facilitate improved resistance against certain diseases.
Mushroom Species Versus Genus
We have an entire article about the difference between medicinal mushroom species versus genus. Here’s a perfect example of why familiarizing yourself with both the species and genus is so important: Reishi is a genus that contains several species. However, only one species of reishi is strongly supported by science, ganoderma lucidum. It’s important to make sure you’re only purchasing optimal Reishi supplements - Ganoderma Lucidum. Lion’s mane, cordyceps and many other mushrooms are also considered genuses that contain several species. Refer back to the above mushroom benefits overview for a quick snapshot of the optimal species from each genus.
Healthy Compounds In Mushrooms
After determining the species, it’s important to check for bioactive compounds. Even if two companies are selling the same type of mushrooms, it doesn’t mean they are equally potent. For example, the most well-researched constituent in mushrooms supported by scientific literature is called beta-glucan. Beta-glucans are polysaccharides responsible for many of the desired health benefits of mushrooms, including improved immune function, gut health and much more. Other healthy compounds from mushrooms include triterpenoids and antioxidants. Make sure your mushroom powder or supplement confirms the beta glucan concentration.
US Pharmacopeia (USP), the company who determines whether a supplement is effective or harmful, did an analysis on reishi products in America. They found that 74% of mushroom supplements were lacking the healthy compounds supported by science.
Medicinal Mushroom Dose
Scientific studies have shown that certain mushrooms, when extracted and formulated properly, provide great healing potential. However, there isn’t a lot of direction about the proper dosage and ideal times to take functional mushroom supplements. Everyone is different, so start with the suggested amount and measure how you feel. It’s also recommended to speak with a health professional or physician before introducing any new supplements into your routine.
Here is a general outline of the recommended dose and consumption times for each mushroom species from Max Lowenstein, Registered Dietitian with a Masters Degree in Clinical Nutrition.
- Energy & Coffee Alternative Blends: Take 6 grams (1 tbs) within 4 hours of waking up
- Sleepy Time Mushroom Blends: Take 6 grams (1 tbs) at least two hours before going to bed
- Chaga Powder: 1/4 teaspoon any time
- Cordyceps Powder: 1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon before exercise or any energy-requiring activity
- King Oyster Powder: 1/4 teaspoon any time
- Lion’s Mane Powder: 1/4 teaspoon upon waking and 1/4 teaspoon before going to sleep
- Maitake Powder: 1/4 teaspoon any time
- Reishi Powder: 1/4 teaspoon upon waking and 1/4 teaspoon before going to sleep
- Shiitake Powder: 1/4 teaspoon any time - Recommended when having any stomach discomfort
- Tremella Powder: 1/4 teaspoon any time
- Turkey Tail Powder: 1/4 teaspoon upon waking and 1/4 teaspoon before going to sleep
Every functional mushroom offers its own unique gifts, which is why many people use multi-mushroom blends containing a variety of species and plants.
If you want to put more focus on a specific area of health, there are single-species mushroom supplements, such as lion’s mane powder. This makes it easier to ensure you get the full daily dose of that specific mushroom and its maximum effects.
Mushroom blends typically require require about 6 grams (1 tbs) of powder.
Individual species products, such as cordyceps militaris powder, typically call for 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon per serving.
If you want to hone in on the benefits from a specific mushroom, consider taking more of that type and less of another. For example, if your focus is cognition and productivity, you might want to use a 1/2 teaspoon of lion’s mane and only 1/8 teaspoon of turkey tail.
To capitalize on the healthy compounds mentioned in the last section, your mushrooms have to be extracted properly. Beta glucans contain polar molecules and require a water extraction process to be captured. Triterpenoids and other lipid-based molecules are non-polar and need to be extracted with ethanol. To get both of these super healthy properties in your system, the mushroom supplement must be dual-extracted with both ethanol and water. Dual-extraction is important when producing any kind of medicinal mushroom product, including powders and tinctures.
Understanding Mushroom Labels
Being able to interpret dietary supplement labels is of the utmost importance. You have to be skeptical and knowledgeable before making any mushroom purchasing decisions. Here are some tips from Max Lowenstein, Registered Dietitian with a Masters Degree in Clinical Nutrition, to help you understand mushroom labels.
Ingredients Order: Companies are required to include ingredients in order of volume on the label. This means the most used ingredients are listed first. Make sure the mushrooms and plants you’re seeking are mentioned before fillers or subpar ingredients.
Transparency is key: If the label doesn’t mention beta-glucan percentage or the species of mushroom being utilized, they are most likely lacking in those areas.
Unknown compounds: If you don’t recognize or can’t pronounce an ingredient, it’s usually deleterious or a waste of space. It’s always a good idea to do independent research and consult with an expert healthcare professional before ingesting ingredients that you don’t recognize.
Third-Party Lab Tests
There is a lack of transparency in the functional mushroom industry. Even large companies make it difficult to view their lab results. One of the main issues is that businesses are using their own facilities or manufacturers for testing. This clearly comes with potential bias and inaccurate readings. That’s why NutroMushroom utilizes a third-party lab with no affiliation or connection to us. We are happy to share our lab results. Simply send an email and request them. NutroMushroom supplements pass all heavy metal and pesticide requirements.
Pay attention to the team and make sure there are credible people formulating your mushroom products. Registered Dietitians attend graduate school and work in hospitals for years to become health experts. We discussed that most reishi products are missing key healthy compounds and how to interpret dietary supplement labels. With a Registered Dietitian on the team, optimal decisions and products are made.
Best Medicinal Mushroom Supplements
Before choosing a functional mushroom supplement, make sure to check off all the boxes mentioned in this buyer's guide. NutroMushroom products are formulated by dietians, third-party lab tested and verified for an industry-leading 30% or more beta-glucans.