Functional Mushrooms: Beginner's Guide

Functional Mushrooms: Beginner's Guide

What are functional mushrooms?

As new sports health trends emerge globally, functional mushrooms have become more widely adopted as superfoods and essential nutritional supplements. Functional mushrooms, also known as medicinal mushrooms or adaptogenic mushrooms, have traditionally been taken to enhance performance, support the body's stress management and protect against illness. Despite functional mushrooms gaining new popularity in health and wellness spaces, there is still a lot of confusion about what they are and their uses. So let's clear up some misconceptions you may have had about functional mushrooms. 

Firstly, functional mushrooms are not the same as white button mushrooms you'd commonly add to your food from your local supermarket. They often also get confused with "hallucinogenic" mushrooms, "magic" mushrooms or "psychedelic" mushrooms that alter your perception. Functional mushrooms do not cause any psychedelic or hallucinogenic effects but instead improve the body’s overall functioning so that you can achieve optimal performance throughout your day.

What's in functional mushrooms?

All functional mushrooms come from mycelium, a fungus formed in a network of threads called hyphae that enables mushrooms to grow. Mycelia are most commonly found in forests, wooded areas and fields. Mycelium is an essential component of our ecosystem for processes such as decomposition and regeneration. Mycelium can grow to over thousands of acres, ultimately having the greatest biomass of any living organism on the planet. The most recognizable part of the mushrooms that we consume are considered the fruiting body. 

Functional mushrooms are full of many bioactive compounds including terpenes, beta-glucans, polysaccharides and polyphenols, which support the immune system. In addition, most functional mushrooms have adaptogenic properties. An adaptogen is a herb or plant, in this case, a mushroom, that allows the body to manage stress and fatigue for optimal performance. The presence of adaptogenic substances in the body has been proven to gradually increase the body's ability to reduce feelings of fatigue, boost mental performance, balance hormones, and support the immune system. Functional mushrooms also contain fibre which helps good gut bacteria maintain healthy digestion.

What are some examples of functional mushrooms and their health benefits?

With over 2000 different edible mushroom and fungi species, only less than 15 are classified as functional. The main health benefits of using functional mushrooms are antioxidative properties, adaptogenic properties, immune support and higher cognitive performance.

Here are some of our favourite functional mushrooms, along with their health benefits.

What are Reishi Mushrooms?

Reishi mushrooms [are considered adaptogenic, and are] used to help the body manage stress and regulate normal bodily function. In many parts of Asia, Reishi mushrooms are known as the "mushroom of immortality" due to the variety of health advantages. 

These are the most common health benefits of Reishi mushrooms.

  • Promote cardiovascular health
  • Anti-inflammatory properties
  • Improve sleep and recharge
  • Support the immune system
  • Manage stress levels
  • Support overall wellness

What are Cordyceps Mushrooms?

Cordyceps are adaptogenic mushrooms that are commonly used to boost energy for ultimate physical and mental performance. Historically, they were used in China for families to gain vitality and support immune health. To date, more and more athletes are using cordyceps to boost their athletic performance, reaching high levels of both endurance and stamina. 

These are the most common health benefits of Cordyceps mushrooms.

  • Strengthen the body with energy and stamina
  • Support health oxygen uptake levels
  • Improve lung health
  • Boost energy and vitality
  • Support the immune system
  • Build up a healthy libido
  • Support healthy liver & kidney function
  • Support overall wellness

What are Lion's Mane Mushrooms?

Lion's Mane is named after its fluffy appearance but don't underestimate the power of this mushroom. Lion's Mane has been present in Asian medical practices for over centuries. It is also known as brain food as it supports cognitive function and memory.

These are the most common health benefits of Lion's Mane mushrooms.

  • Increase mental clarity and concentration
  • Anti-inflammatory properties
  • Boost memory and focus
  • Enhance cognitive function and brain health
  • Boost energy and vitality
  • Support gut health
  • Manage stress levels
  • Support the immune system

What are Chaga Mushrooms?

Chaga is one of the mushrooms most rich in antioxidants. This mushroom is also commonly referred to as "birch fungus" and is known for its medical properties in vitality and immune support, making it a popular alternative to traditional medicine.

These are the most common health benefits of Chaga mushrooms

  • High in antioxidants 
  • Anti-inflammatory properties
  • Enhance cognitive function and brain health
  • Support gut health
  • Boost energy and vitality
  • Rich in beta-glucans
  • Support the immune system

Other functional mushrooms and their benefits include the following.

Maitake Mushroom – antioxidative properties, supports the immune system.

Shiitake Mushroom - antioxidative properties, supports the immune system, supports cardiovascular health, antimicrobial.

Turkey Tail Mushroom – antioxidative properties, supports the immune system.

How to use functional mushrooms?

Ancient and traditional medicine has been using functional mushrooms for centuries. The first use of functional mushrooms dates back to 450 BC. Functional mushrooms have been a common ingredient in Traditional Chinese Medicine, which is traditionally consumed in brewed tea, broths or soups, as a herbal wellness remedy. 

In the present day, there are more ways to easily incorporate functional mushrooms into your daily routine through mushroom capsules, mushroom powders, or liquid drinks. Some of our own favourite ways to consume mushrooms are mixing them in a smoothie, a morning latte, a cup of oat milk, with even a bowl of oatmeal or fruit.

At Hekate, we offer 100% organic adaptogenic mushroom blends of (lion's mane, chaga, reishi, and cordyceps) in Daily Functional Mushroom Capsules and a Daily Functional Mushroom Cocoa that are easy to take, and made to enhance your performance.

Things To Consider Before Use

Before selecting where you should purchase your mushrooms, consider a few things.

You want to make sure that the mushrooms have been third-party lab tested for any bad bacteria, mold, yeasts, and pesticides before they get to you. If you are a professional athlete, you'll want to make sure that any supplements you are using are certified for sports use.

Hekate's functional mushroom products are proudly organic, 3rd party lab-tested, vegan, and gluten-free, and GMO-free. We recommended taking the daily dosage in the mornings and afternoons for the best results.

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