Ranking the best medicinal mushroom supplements of 2020

Ranking the best medicinal mushroom supplements of 2020
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Medicinal mushrooms can be taken as supplements to boost your immune system function, fight oxidative damage, and improve your cognitive function.

In addition, certain species of mushrooms might even be able to boost aerobic endurance. Mushrooms are an ancient and genetically distant form of life, but nutrition and herbal medicine researchers have found combinations of mushrooms that have a wide range of beneficial health effects.

We’ve took stock of the medicinal mushroom supplements available on the market right now and come up with the ten most effective, ranked by their quality.

Rankings

1. Genius Mushrooms

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Genius is known for their innovative and cutting-edge supplement technology. In their medicinal mushroom supplement, they use lion’s mane, cordyceps, and reishi mushrooms to augment cognitive function, boost your immune system, and bolster your overall energy levels.

Aside from these key mushroom ingredients, the only other compounds you’ll find in this supplement are cellulose to make up the capsule and silica to prevent clumping.

These qualities make it our number one choice when it comes to medicinal mushrooms for all-around health and wellness.

2. Onnit Shroom Tech

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Onnit Shroom Tech is popular among nootropic enthusiasts because it is one of the few combination medicinal mushroom supplements that’s been studied rigorously.

It’s been demonstrated to improve both focus and reaction time. The key medicinal mushroom in this supplement is cordyceps, but it’s supported by other supplements such as chromium, ashwagandha, rhodiola, and green tea extract.

It’s a strong choice if ramping up your cognitive firepower or improving your sport performance is your top priority.

3. DailyNutra Mushroom Defense Formula

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DailyNutra Mushroom Defense Formula is a medicinal mushroom supplement specifically formulated to strengthen your immune system.

It uses a combination of five key medicinal mushrooms, plus beta-D-Glucans, to achieve an immune-strengthening effect, and for those wary of powder-based medicinal mushroom supplements, it comes in capsules to make dosing easy.

Among the medicinal mushroom supplements that target immunity specifically, this is our top pick.

4. Naturealm Sacred 7 Mushroom Extract Powder

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Naturealm Sacred 7 is a good balance between variety and dosage: it’s got a broader range of ingredients than more basic medicinal mushroom supplements, but it isn’t so broad that you aren’t getting a high dosage of any one mushroom.

In this supplement, you get the three most popular medicinal mushroom varieties (reishi, lion’s mane, and cordyceps) alongside chaga, turkey tail, maitake, and shiitake. Since it’s powder form, you can adjust your personal dose as needed.

5. Freshcap Mushrooms Thrive 6

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Freshcap Mushrooms Thrive 6 has a combination of the biggest players in medicinal mushrooms: cordyceps, reishi, chaga, lion’s mane, turkey tail, and maitake.

With the active ingredients extracted with hot water and zero extra ingredients, this is a very solid all-around medicinal mushroom ingredient.

6. Host Defense Mushrooms MyCommunity Comprehensive Immune Support

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Host Defense is a multi-ingredient medicinal mushroom supplement that uses 18 different sources of mushroom material to target your body’s immune system function.

While the large number of ingredients means that the doses of the individual mushroom extracts is fairly low, it is a good option if more simple immunity-boosting mushroom supplements haven’t worked for you.

The broader range of ingredients could create a different and better response from your body.

7. Mushroom Harvest 14 Mushroom Blend Powder

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For the hardcore medicinal mushroom enthusiast, there is no better way to employ the power of a broad range of mushrooms than with Mushroom Harvest.

You’ll find the usual medicinal mushrooms in this powder-form blend, like cordyceps, reishi, and lion’s mane , but you’ll also find rare variants like chaga, poria, and maitake.

It’s a bit of a kitchen-sink approach, and the supplement design means you don’t have any control over the relative ratio of the different ingredients, but as far as range and variety of ingredients, this medicinal mushroom supplement is hard to beat.

8. Terrasoul Superfoods Red Reishi Mushroom Powder

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Terrasoul Superfoods is an excellent source for raw materials from herbal plants, and their best medicinal mushroom product is their red reishi mushroom powder.

Treasured for its ability to increase immunity and fight infections, reishi makes a great supplement all on its own if immunity is your goal.

For broader wellness or for cognitive function, you may want to mix reishi with other medicinal mushrooms, which is where other supplements really shine.

9. Dr. Mercola Fermented Mushroom Complex

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Dr. Mercola Fermented Mushroom Complex is specifically designed for the immune system, and uses a few common mushrooms, like reishi and cordyceps, as well as some rarer mushrooms, like antrodia camphorata and Himematsutake.

While other immunity-focused medicinal mushroom supplements are more popular, Dr. Mercola is a good choice if those medicinal mushroom supplements have failed you.

10. SoTru Fermented Medicinal Mushrooms

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SoTru Fermented Medicinal Mushrooms puts a unique spin on their medicinal mushrooms by using mushroom extract that’s been partially digested by bacteria.

Unfortunately, the range of mushrooms included is not that broad, and the precise ratio of ingredients isn’t disclosed, so it’s hard to compare to other medicinal mushroom supplements.

Who Should Buy Medicinal Mushrooms?

In general, medicinal mushroom supplements are safe for most individuals and can help improve the immune system, lower blood pressure and improve total body blood flow. It is also great for athletes since it can help to improve endurance and focus.

Certain mushroom supplements, like reishi, may not be appropriate for people with a low platelet count as it can increase bleeding. They may also not be appropriate for people on NSAIDs, aspirin warfarin, and heparin.

People who suffer from low blood pressure, diabetes, or immune disorders should consult a physician before starting a medicinal mushroom supplement regimen. Pregnant and breastfeeding women should avoid medicinal mushroom supplements until more conclusive research is released regarding its safety.

How We Ranked

Since there is such vast ocean of medicinal mushrooms available, all with different benefits, we first looked at the types of mushrooms included in each supplement. Products that contained a variety of mushroom strains, like Genius Mushrooms and Naturealm, were rewarded as they showed more promise in terms of benefits when compared to their single strain counterparts. 

For single strain mushrooms products, we required that they contain beta-glucans to supercharge the health benefits. This is why you’ll find Terrasoul on our list. We also looked at the mycelium content of each individual medicinal mushroom supplement. Products that contained mycelium were eliminated since the high presence of mycelium indicated a lowered effectiveness. 

Third, we looked at how the mushroom supplements were processed and extracted. According to various research, hot water extraction is the top choice for processing medicinal mushrooms and retaining their beneficial properties. In a nutshell, hot water extraction allows for better bioavailability by breaking down the mushroom supplements. Companies that used this process, like Thrive6, ranked higher than those that didn’t.

Our favorite products, like Genius Mushrooms, contained no artificial colors, fillers, or sweeteners. Proprietary blends were also heavily frowned upon as we are unable to accurately asses how much of each mushroom extract is in the product. Lastly, we looked at beneficial ingredients. Onnit’s Shroom Tech ranked exceptionally well since it included beneficial herbal ingredients to support the medicinal mushrooms. 

Benefits

Cordyceps works to boost the performance of your immune system. Cordyceps is a mushroom that only grows in conjunction with a particular kind of caterpillar native to China.

As a result, it’s rare, highly prized, and has a long history of use in Chinese herbal practices. Moreover, cordyceps shows particularly strong activity when it comes to activating your immune system and fighting off viral infections.

A study published in 2012 by researchers in China demonstrated the effects of cordyceps mushroom in mice whose immune system had been intentionally suppressed (1).

In their study, they used immunocompromised mice given different doses of cordyceps mushroom extract. The researchers demonstrated that the cordyceps extract allowed the mice to overcome the immune suppressing effects and restore their immune system to proper functionality.

This suggests that any medicinal mushroom supplement that is designed to boost immunity should employ a solid dose of cordyceps.

Cordyceps may also improve endurance performance. Cordyceps mushroom extract has also been studied as a way to augment athletic performance.

One study published in High Altitude Medicine and Biology showed better gains in aerobic endurance during a stint of altitude training among a group of runners at a high-altitude training camp (2).

This indicates that cordyceps might be a good choice for endurance sport athletes who want to naturally boost performance.

Lion’s Mane mushroom can help with mild cognitive impairment and may improve cognitive function. Lion’s Mane is a medicinal mushroom that’s shown potential as a neurologically-active supplement.

As with many supplements that augment brain function, initial research into its uses was conducted in people with mild cognitive impairment.

One such study, published in the journal Phytotherapy Research, used a 1000 mg Lion’s Mane supplement in a group of 30 subjects observed over the course of 16 weeks (3).

Half the subjects received the Lion’s Mane supplement, while half received a placebo. The researchers noted that the subjects who took the mushroom supplement showed significant improvement on the battery of cognitive skills tests, while the subjects in the placebo group showed no difference.

Research in mice has also found that Lion’s Mane prevents declines in cognitive function in mice injected with the same plaque that causes Alzheimer’s disease (4). Reducing buildup of this beta-amyloid plaque means that a Lion’s Mane supplement could prevent or at least slow the onset of degenerative neurological disease.

Lion’s Mane may also help reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. Research out of Japan showed that, over the course of four weeks, subjects who took a Lion’s Mane supplement reported greater concentration, less irritation, and less anxiety compared to a group of similar subjects given a placebo (5).

This indicates that Lion’s Mane has broad neurological activity, and might be the go-to medicinal mushroom for preserving, repairing, and improving cognitive function and well-being, whether that’s memory and performance or mood and emotional well-being.

Reishi mushroom is a strong antioxidant that might improve your long-term health. Reishi mushroom, also sometimes called lingzhi, is another medicinal mushroom native to China with a long history of traditional use.

According to a review article in the journal Food Reviews International, this mushroom has antioxidant and cardioprotective properties (6).

Reishi contains a number of antioxidants that help capture reactive oxygen species before they can do damage to your body, and it’s been studied for its potential to reduce blood pressure and improve cardiovascular health. It’s even found in the occasional prostate supplement thanks to its cardiovascular benefits.

While other mushrooms are coveted for their short-term benefits, reishi might be the go-to medicinal mushroom when to improving your biomarkers of long-term health.

Side effects

Since medicinal mushroom supplements are derived from mushrooms traditionally eaten or used in herbal preparations, they are largely thought to be safe.

As with any mushroom product, getting the wrong ingredients is a risk, but you can mitigate this by choosing a reputable manufacturer. There are a few case reports of serious liver toxicity linked to mushroom supplements, most notably in reishi mushrooms (7).

However, in these case reports, the authors note that high doses of reishi mushrooms do not produce liver toxicity in healthy people.

They suggest that these liver toxicity cases may have been caused by an interaction between other prescription medications being taken by the patients alongside their medicinal mushroom supplements. To this end, it seems like you shouldn’t mix prescription medications and medicinal mushroom supplements without talking to your doctor.

Recommended dose

With such a wide variety of medicinal mushroom sources, it’s hard to establish definitive dosing guidelines.

Among the most well-studied mushroom varieties, cordyceps and lion’s mane have perhaps the best-characterized dosing profiles: both have been studied at doses ranging from 200 to 2000 mg per day, which seems to be an effective range.

Beyond these common mushroom varieties, many medicinal mushrooms have been studied only in detail in animal studies, or in small pilot studies in humans, so you’ll have to go with the formulations selected by the nutritionists who formulate medicinal mushroom supplements.

As you might guess, choosing a high-quality supplement is critical when it comes to getting something close to an optimal dosage of some of the less-well-studied medicinal mushrooms.

FAQ

What makes medicinal mushrooms so powerful? The complex and arcane biology of mushrooms grants some species some impressive health-boosting and wellness-enhancing properties.

Specific mushroom species have been studied for their effects at boosting immune system function, fighting infections, and even for nootropic, cognition-boosting effects. Since different species of medicinal mushrooms have different strengths, it’s important to understand these when looking at medicinal mushroom supplements.

What are medicinal mushrooms? Belonging to the family of fungi, medicinal mushrooms are organic herbs that are used in medicinal drugs in combination with other compounds to treat illness. Their bio-active compounds are rich sources of antibiotics and immunity boosters that enhance the curative power of certain medicines.

How are medicinal mushrooms different from other mushrooms? Unlike other mushrooms, medicinal mushrooms possess medicinal properties. They are considered to have anti-inflammatory and infection effects.

They are also rich in antioxidants that help in boosting the immune system. Further, while other mushrooms are known for taste or their hallucinating quality, medicinal mushrooms are known for being able to treat ailments and diseases like diabetes and cancer.

How are medicinal mushrooms consumed? These herbs can be consumed either in a powdered format as a health supplement drug or in its liquid mixture form that is formulated after mixing the mushroom extract with other compounds. You can also include certain varieties of mushrooms as a dietary supplement after consulting a dietician.

In their edible form, can I consume raw medicinal mushrooms? While you can consume these mushrooms in their raw form, the raw consumption of medicinal mushrooms hampers the nutritional benefits you may gain.

To simplify, mushrooms have an outer coating that protects the nutrients inside it. As a result, when these mushrooms are cooked, boiled, or stir-fried, the cell walls around mushrooms disintegrate, and this disintegration unlocks the nutritional contents. 

What are the various types of medicinal mushrooms? There are close to about twenty-two thousand varieties of mushrooms in the fungi kingdom. As such, it is impossible to list out every type. However, some of the most popular species from across the globe include Reishi, Cordyceps Sinensis, Agaricus Blazei, Phellitus Linteus, Shiitake, and Maitake. 

What is the best medicinal mushroom? Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum) has perhaps the longest written record of medicinal use. It is usually found in the hot and humid regions of Asia. In fact, expert naturopaths prefer Reishi species of mushroom for their organic healing of various diseases.

However, to fully understand what medicinal mushroom is best for you, consider discussing your options with a nutritionist, dietitian, or doctor.

Are medicinal mushrooms safe? Medicinal mushrooms are considered quite safe. Yet, more clinical evidence and studies may indicate the side effects or adverse effects potentially associated with a higher dosage. 

Are there side effects with over-consumption of medicinal mushrooms? Anything in excess can have a potential side-effect on your health. Mushrooms are medicinal, but the way your body will react to them is directly proportional to your medical history. 

Do medicinal mushrooms contain natural healing properties? Modern medicine has recently started advocating the benefits of medicinal mushrooms. Medicinal mushrooms are frequently used in the field of naturopathy.

Do medicinal mushrooms boost immunity? Yes, there are mushrooms that help boost your immune system. Some of them are – Chaga, Lion’s Mane, and Shiitake.

What makes medicinal mushrooms so nutritious? Studies have found that mushrooms contain beta-glucans which are well-known in combating inflammation and also help in boosting immunity.

Furthermore, mushrooms are assumed to protect against breast or other hormone-related cancers as they tend to inhibit an estrogen-producing enzyme called aromatase. Mushrooms also involve a type of lectin that identifies cancer cells and further prevents them from multiplying and dividing (8).

What are medicinal mushrooms? Mushrooms are neither fruits nor vegetables. They are fungi, which typically grow above ground.

Do medicinal mushrooms facilitate weight lossFilled with essential nutrients, amino acids, and fibers, mushrooms consist of unsaturated fats. Thus, mushrooms keep your stomach filled for a long duration, which may prevent you from overeating.

Likewise, the additional health benefits like blood sugar control, an increase in metabolic rate, and higher fiber content further contribute to a healthy weight loss without any long term side-effects. However, it is important to note that weight loss comes down to a healthy diet and lifestyle. As such, just eating medicinal mushrooms will not cause weight loss in itself.   

Can medicinal mushrooms help with depression? Some studies indicate that medicinal mushrooms may help alleviate depression and its symptoms. 

Are medicinal mushrooms safe for pets? Yes, they are. In particular, medicinal mushrooms are considered fairly safe for dogs. In fact, medicinal mushrooms help in boosting the immunity of your dogs, thanks to the presence of antioxidants. However, to start with, it is always advisable to first take small doses and check if it upsets their stomach. Further, before giving your pet any new substances, it is best to check with your vet to ensure it is safe.

Can medicinal mushrooms act as anti-aging agents? The presence of antioxidants, like ergothioneine and glutathione, may contribute to anti-aging effects.

As stated above, medicinal mushrooms contain loads of antioxidants. These antioxidants can help lower the stress in your body, as well as prevent free radicals from causing damage in the body leading to age-related changes.

Are medicinal mushrooms good for diabetics? Mushrooms are good for managing blood sugar levels. A common and devastating problem that can occur in diabetes is Diabetic Nephropathy.

Doctors believe that medicinal mushrooms, like Cordyceps, can easily help in the reduction of blood glucose levels and lower kidney breakdown markers.

Are all mushrooms a medicinal plant? No, all mushrooms are not medicinal. Some of the medicinal mushrooms include shiitake (Lentinus edodes), maitake (Grifola frondosa), turkey tail (Trametes Versicolor), and reishi (Ganoderma lucidum). These types of mushrooms are thought to contain powerful anti-inflammatory and immune-enhancing properties. 

Are medicinal mushrooms safe during pregnancy? Yes, all kinds of medicinal mushrooms can be taken during pregnancy, as they consist of numerous health benefits. However, if you are unsure about the consumption of any food item when pregnant, it is best to consult with your doctor.

Are medicinal mushrooms anti-cancer? Yes, but not all the mushrooms are anti-cancerous. Six main medicinal mushrooms consist of anti-cancerous properties, including Ganoderma Reishi Mushroom, Shitake (Lentinula edodes), Coriolus Versicolor, and Maitake Mushroom (Grifola Frondosa).

Do medicinal mushrooms make you high? No. Yet, there are several medicinal mushrooms that are capable of doing so. Many of these types of mushrooms are, however, legal in many countries and states.

Where can I find good quality medicinal mushrooms? The markets are flooded with companies offering various types of edible mushrooms. However, before purchasing mushrooms, make sure you have a background knowledge of the type of mushroom that you are planning to buy.

Next, it is important to check reviews and purchase these herbs from trusted and credible sources. Also, remember to check the expiry date of products to avoid any unfortunate incidents.

Can medicinal mushrooms cause diarrhea? Yes, some types of medicinal mushrooms may cause stomach upset and diarrhea. In particular, the reishi mushroom has side effects, which include an upset stomach and diarrhea.

Do medicinal mushrooms lower blood pressure? There is some evidence indicating that Shiitake mushrooms may help lower blood pressure. It’s thought that they do this by preventing compounds from sticking to arterial walls. In turn, this prevents plaque buildup and the narrowing of arterial passageways.

Do medicinal mushrooms cause constipation? Yes, some types of medicinal mushrooms may lead to constipation in some individuals. It often depends on your body’s reaction to it.

This is why it may be important to discuss your options with your doctor before beginning to use any natural substance or fungi as a remedy for any health problems.

Can you take medicinal mushrooms with chemotherapy? In this context, medicinal mushrooms are also considered safe to consume. In fact, some experts claim that it may reduce the negative effects of chemotherapy. However, more research is needed in this area.

What is the best way to take medicinal mushrooms? Many medicinal mushrooms can easily be consumed by cooking them, such as Shiitake, Lions Mane, and Maitake. However, some types of medicinal mushrooms are quite bitter and may be better to consume via tea or soup.

Where can you buy medicinal mushrooms? Many medicinal mushrooms can be purchased at pharmacies, natural health food stores, grocery stores, and online. Do your research before buying any product and ensure it is right for you and your health first.

Are medicinal mushrooms good for your lungs? Interestingly, some medicinal mushrooms, like Reishi mushrooms, may help with pulmonary conditions or diseases. In Asia, some of these mushrooms have been used as such for hundreds of years.

Are medicinal mushrooms good for your skin? Medicinal mushrooms have anti-inflammatory properties, which may help with skin conditions like eczema, acne, and rosacea. Since they are rich in antioxidants, they may also help prevent age-related wrinkles. 

Can you consume medicinal mushrooms when breastfeeding? Some medicinal mushrooms are safe to consume when breastfeeding. However, Reishi, in particular, should not be consumed at this time. Check with your doctor to determine whether or not certain herbs, foods, or substances are right for you when you are pregnant or breastfeeding. 

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Recap

Mushrooms offer a huge range of medicinal properties, and these can be harvested using a medicinal mushroom supplement. When looking for one of these supplements, you should choose your key ingredients based on your primary supplementation goals.

For improving immune function and sports performance, cordyceps should definitely be included. When it comes to cognitive performance, you definitely want a medicinal mushroom supplement that includes lion’s mane.

For improving biomarkers of long-term health, reishi mushroom seems to perform best, but beyond these basic guidelines there are many additional mushrooms with medicinal properties that you may find in a good mushroom supplement, and no doubt some mushrooms have properties that have not yet been discovered.

Proper dosing is difficult to determine, but at least for lion’s mane and cordyceps, 200-2000 mg is the dosage range per day that’s been studied.

When it comes to side effects, medicinal mushrooms appear safe, as long as you aren’t taking them in conjunction with prescription medications. In this case, you should consult your doctor first.

The medicinal properties of mushrooms are far from being fully understood, but they appear to be helpful for boosting immunity, sports performance, cognitive function, and long term health.

For Bodynutrition’s #1 recommended medicinal mushroom supplement, click here.





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