Mushrooms grow all over the world and have been eaten for centuries. But they are much more than just food. Various mushrooms can provide significant health benefits and help us maintain our well-being.*
Here, we review four mushroom health benefits and discuss how you can make the most of these powerful fungi. But first, let’s do a quick overview of mushrooms in general.
What Are Mushrooms?
The first thing to clarify is that mushrooms are not plants; they’re fungi. Unlike plants, fungi “do not contain the green pigment chlorophyll and therefore are incapable of photosynthesis.”1 Instead, mushrooms need a food source, such as dead plants.
Additionally, mushrooms reproduce via spores. When a spore germinates, mycelium is produced. In simple terms, mycelia are to mushrooms what roots are to plants.
Finally, fruiting bodies grow, which are the above-ground part of the mushroom you’re most familiar with and the part we eat. And we certainly have eaten—and revered—mushrooms for quite some time.
The “ancient Greeks believed that mushrooms provided strength for warriors in battle, and the Romans perceived them as the ‘Food of the Gods.’ For centuries, the Chinese culture has treasured mushrooms as a health food, an ‘elixir of life.’”*2
Today, we are still enjoying mushrooms for both the delicious delicacy that they are as well as reaping the benefits that they provide for our health.* Let’s look at what these fungi can do for you.
Four Traditional Mushroom Health Benefits
In general, mushrooms are a treat for your palate as well as your body.*
They “contain bioactive polysaccharides and essential amino acids, as well as minerals, such as calcium, potassium, magnesium, iron, and zinc.” Plus, they’re low in calories, high in protein, and cholesterol-free.3
But when it comes to specific mushroom health benefits, we’re going to take a closer look at four key benefits.* Mushrooms can provide immune support, promote a healthy stress response, support stamina and physical energy, and nourish the brain.*
1) Mushrooms Can Provide Immune Support*
In a review on edible mushrooms and gut microbiota, Jayachandran, Xiao, and Xu note:
“Mushrooms rich in polysaccharides, especially beta glucans, can stimulate the immune system and provide the beneficial properties intrinsic to medicinal mushrooms, as compared to other mushrooms.”*3
We’re going to mention a couple of specific mushrooms that contain those immune-stimulating beta glucans and thus provide immune support to your body: Shiitake and Chaga.*
Shiitake mushrooms, scientifically known as Lentinus edodes, have their roots in Asia, where cultivation began in the 12th century.
These mushrooms grow on trees or fallen logs and have been used in the kitchen and within herbalism for centuries. Now, Shiitake is one of the most popular mushrooms worldwide.
As for their immune-supporting properties, the fruiting bodies of shiitake mushrooms naturally contain polysaccharides (a carbohydrate), specifically beta glucans. These mushrooms support immune system health, overall wellness, healthy cell growth and turnover, and cardiovascular health.*
You might know Chaga mushrooms (Inonotus obliquus) as Cinder Conk or Black Mass. Contrary to the popular Shiitake mushroom, Chaga is native to Europe, Russia, and North America and feeds on birch trees.
Humans have been eating this mushroom for quite some time, too, and it was often made into tea.
Just like Shiitake mushrooms, Chaga has beta glucans that support your immune system and general well-being.* They also provide antioxidant support.*
Products with Immune Support Mushrooms
Here at Gaia Herbs, we love eating our mushrooms. But there is also value in taking a high-potency supplement that contains these beneficial fungi.*
For example, you can take the organic Chaga (and other mushrooms) in Gaia Herbs Everyday Immune Mushrooms & Herbs. These powder capsules are designed to be swallowed daily to help sustain overall wellness.*
We’ve also included Shiitake mushrooms in Gaia Herbs Whole Body Support Mushrooms & Herbs to provide you with foundational support that can help you stay active and feeling great.*
2) Mushrooms Can Promote a Healthy Stress Response*
Researchers note that the Reishi mushroom (Ganoderma lucidum) “is an edible medicinal mushroom that has been used for various healing abilities for decades; it possesses an anti-inflammatory function and is tied to longevity, immune function, and mental clarity.”*3
An adaptable mushroom, Reishi is native to Europe, Asia, and North America and tends to grow in tropical, subtropical, and temperate climates.
This mushroom has been lauded in Traditional Chinese Medicine and continues to be used as a tonic for qi. The concept of qi in Traditional Chinese Medicine can be thought of as a force field surrounding the body that maintains overall health and vitality.*
Reishi is also believed to provide cardiovascular support, a healthy stress response, healthy energy, overall wellness, and support for the immune system.*
Just like the two immune-supportive mushrooms we mentioned above, Reishi also contains beta glucans and has been studied and shown to support immune health.*
Products with Stress Support Mushrooms
We use Reishi mushrooms in more than one of our products, including our top-selling Gaia Herbs Adrenal Health® Nightly Restore. This supplement can nourish your adrenal glands while you rest, allowing sleep to help your body restore itself.*
Adrenal Health Nightly Restore provides beneficial adrenal support for those who are feeling tired, stressed, and run down.*
3) Mushrooms Can Support Stamina and Physical Energy*
Maintaining overall well-being, stamina, and physical energy is a complicated equation that involves all the systems of the body working together. However, some herbs and mushrooms can assist by helping you stay active and energized.*
Certain mushrooms, for instance, can help you thrive in your busy life. Cordyceps is one of them.
This prized mushroom can be found growing on the caterpillars of ghost moths in Tibet and Bhutan and is used in Traditional Chinese Medicine. But a cultivated variety, grown on a barley substrate, has also been developed. By using a barley substrate, the cultivated Cordyceps mushrooms are inherently vegan.
Cordyceps is an adaptogen and is primarily used to support stamina and energy levels.* But, of course, the benefits don’t stop there. It also contains antioxidants and is used to support immune health, endocrine health, male fertility, and liver and kidney health.*
Products with Energy Support Mushrooms
With Gaia Herbs Everyday Adaptogen™ Mushrooms & Herbs powder, it’s easy to get your daily dose of Cordyceps. Simply mix a spoonful of this powder into a beverage of your choice or your morning smoothie.*
Adding Everyday Adaptogen to your daily routine is a simple way to help you maintain peak performance.* This combination of mushrooms and an energizing blend of herbs can help you keep up with your physically active life.*
We’ve also included Cordyceps (as well as Ginger and Ashwagandha) in Adaptogen Performance Mushrooms & Herbs. The herbs contained in these powder capsules are designed to help you maintain healthy energy levels in a non-stop world.*
4) Mushrooms Can Nourish and Support the Brain*
We all need a bit of help staying focused and maintaining mental clarity from time to time. Certain mushrooms may be one solution, specifically, Lion’s Mane.*
An interesting-looking mushroom, Lion’s Mane has been found to help nourish and support the brain.* This mushroom is white, stringy, and looks a bit like the mane of a lion, as you might have guessed. It’s also sometimes referred to as the hedgehog mushroom.
Lion’s Mane can be found wild on hardwoods and is native to Europe, America, and Asia, where it has been popular in Traditional Chinese Medicine to support brain and neurological health.*
In addition to containing beta glucans that support immune health and overall wellness, Lion’s Mane contains compounds that “have been shown to induce Nerve Growth Factors (NGFs) biosynthesis in nerve cells.”*4
These compounds are also capable of crossing the blood-brain barrier and “thus support the growth of neurons in the brain.”*4
Products with Brain Support Mushrooms
Lion’s Mane, as well as previously mentioned Reishi and Cordyceps, is included in Gaia Herbs Mental Clarity Mushrooms & Herbs. This supplement can be taken on a daily basis to support mental alertness, memory, and cognitive function.*
You can also easily incorporate Lion’s Mane into your daily wellness routine by using Gaia Herbs Mind Spring™ Mushrooms & Herbs powder.
Mind Spring contains a synergistic blend of mushrooms and herbs traditionally taken for brain health and recall.* Add it to your smoothie, a glass of milk, or any other beverage you love.
Experience Mushroom Health Benefits with Gaia Herbs*
Mushrooms are delicious, but they also provide benefits that you don’t want to miss out on.* To experience these mushroom health benefits, add the mushrooms and/or products that we’ve mentioned in this article to your daily wellness routine.
Try Gaia Herbs Everyday Immune Mushrooms & Herbs, Whole Body Support Mushrooms & Herbs, Adrenal Health Nightly Restore, Adaptogen Performance Mushrooms & Herbs, Everyday Adaptogen™, Mental Clarity Mushrooms & Herbs, or Mind Spring™.
Also be sure to check out our brand-new line of six mushroom capsule formulas that contain many of the powerful mushrooms mentioned above plus others: Reishi Mushroom, Cordyceps Mushroom, Lion's Mane Mushroom, Turkey Tail Mushroom, Immune Mushroom Blend, and Respiratory Mushroom Blend.
And if you’re ever curious about how we make any of our products, we’ve got you covered. Here at Gaia Herbs, we are committed to transparency and want you to know exactly what’s in the supplements you’re taking. This way, you can feel good about the choices you’re making to help support your health.
That’s why we created Meet Your Herbs®, the world’s first herb traceability platform. There, you’ll discover the origin of your herbs (or mushrooms!); learn how they were grown, harvested, and extracted; and see validation of your product’s purity, integrity, and potency.
We verify at every stage of the Gaia Herbs soil-to-shelf journey, going above and beyond good manufacturing practices (GMPs), as we are committed to producing the highest quality health and wellness products.
With Gaia Herbs mushroom supplements, it’s easy to care for your body, all the way from supporting a thriving immune system to helping to maintain a sharp brain.*
1 Facts About the Fungus Among Us.
2 Edible Mushrooms: Improving Human Health and Promoting Quality Life.
3 A Critical Review on Health Promoting Benefits of Edible Mushrooms through Gut Microbiota.
4 Lion’s mane lets neurons grow.