Functional Mushrooms: What Are They and How Do They Work

Functional Mushrooms: What Are They and How Do They Work

In the vast realm of natural health and wellness, functional mushrooms have emerged as a potent superfood, capturing the attention of health enthusiasts and researchers alike. These aren't your typical culinary mushrooms. In fact, functional mushrooms are a select group of fungi that are popular for their medicinal properties and health benefits. They have been used in traditional medicine for centuries. Specifically in Asian cultures, and are now gaining popularity in Western societies.

The term "functional" refers to the health-promoting properties of these mushrooms, which go beyond basic nutrition. They are rich in compounds that can enhance our health and well-being in numerous ways. This article will delve into the world of functional mushrooms, exploring their types, benefits, potential side effects, and how to use them, particularly in the form of supplements like mushroom gummies.

What are Functional Mushrooms?

Functional mushrooms are a subset of mushrooms that possess health-enhancing properties. They contain bioactive compounds, such as polysaccharides, beta-glucans, triterpenoids, and antioxidants, which can support various aspects of human health. These mushrooms are not typically used for their flavor or texture in cooking but are consumed for their medicinal properties.

Types Of Functional Mushrooms

Lion's Mane

Lion's Mane, scientifically known as Hericium erinaceus, is a unique mushroom most notable for its neuroprotective properties. It is particularly renowned for supporting brain health and cognitive function. The compounds found in Lion's Mane stimulate the production of nerve growth factor, which is essential for maintaining the neurons responsible for our cognitive processes. This makes Lion's Mane a popular choice for those seeking to enhance memory, focus, and overall cognitive function.

lions mane mushroom


Cordyceps is a type of fungus with a long history in traditional medicine, particularly known for its energy-boosting properties. It aids in the increase of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) production, a molecule that delivers energy to our cells. This results in increased energy levels and improved stamina, making Cordyceps an excellent ally in fighting fatigue and enhancing physical performance.

Cordyceps mushrooms


Reishi, or Ganoderma lucidum, is also known as the "mushroom of immortality" due to its impressive health benefits. It is popular for its ability to provide stress relief and support the immune system. The bioactive compounds in Reishi help modulate the immune system, enhancing its ability to fight off infections and diseases. Additionally, its adaptogenic properties help the body better manage and respond to stress.

Reishi Mushrooms


Chaga, scientifically known as Inonotus obliquus, is a potent medicinal mushroom known for its sleep-promoting and anti-inflammatory properties. The antioxidants and phytonutrients in Chaga help reduce inflammation in the body, contributing to overall health and well-being. Additionally, it has been associated with improved sleep patterns. In turn, making it a beneficial supplement for those seeking better sleep quality.

Chaga Mushrooms

Turkey Tail

Turkey Tail, or Trametes versicolor, is a mushroom rich in polysaccharides and beta-glucans, known for supporting gut health. It helps maintain a healthy balance of gut flora, which is essential for digestion and overall health. Its prebiotic properties support the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut, contributing to a healthy and well-functioning digestive system.

Turkey Tail Mushrooms


Shiitake, or Lentinula edodes, is a popular culinary mushroom that also offers numerous health benefits. It is known for supporting circulation and promoting healthy cells. Shiitake mushrooms contain compounds that help maintain healthy blood vessels and improve circulation. Additionally, they are rich in nutrients and antioxidants that support cellular health and function.

shiitake mushrooms

White Button

White Button mushrooms, also known as Agaricus bisporus, are the most commonly consumed mushrooms worldwide. Beyond their culinary use, they offer significant health benefits. They contain compounds that help regulate blood pressure levels, contributing to cardiovascular health. Additionally, they have been associated with supporting liver health, thanks to their content of antioxidants and other beneficial compounds.

white button mushrooms

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Functional Mushroom Benefits

Next, functional mushrooms offer a plethora of health benefits including:

  • Immune Support: Functional mushrooms are rich in beta-glucans, which stimulate the immune system and help fight off infections and diseases.
  • Cognitive Health: Certain mushrooms like Lion's Mane support brain health and cognitive function. They stimulate the production of nerve growth factor (NGF), which helps maintain the neurons responsible for our cognitive processes.
  • Energy and Stamina: Mushrooms like Cordyceps increase the body's production of ATP, the primary source of energy for our cells. This can result in increased energy levels and improved athletic performance.
  • Stress and Anxiety Relief: Some mushrooms, like Reishi, have adaptogenic properties, helping the body adapt to stress and exert a normalizing effect on bodily processes.

Functional Mushrooms Side Effects

While functional mushrooms are generally safe for most people, they can cause side effects in some cases. These may include digestive upset, dry mouth, and changes in bowel movements. Some people may also have allergic reactions to certain mushrooms. It's always best to start with a small dose to see how your body reacts and consult with a healthcare provider before starting any new supplement regimen.

How To Use Functional Mushrooms

Functional mushrooms can be eaten in various forms. This includes teas, powders, capsules, and tinctures. Recently, mushroom gummies have gained popularity as a tasty and convenient way to incorporate these superfoods into your daily routine. These gummies use infused functional mushroom extracts into a gummy base, providing a simple and enjoyable way to reap the benefits of these potent fungi. Generally, people will take them daily, just like any other dietary supplement.

When choosing a functional mushroom supplement, look for products that are made from whole mushroom fruiting bodies rather than mycelium. This is because they contain a higher concentration of beneficial compounds. Also, ensure the product has third-party lab tests for contaminants to guarantee its safety and quality.

[Read More] 5 Things To Consider Before Buying Mushroom Gummies

Bottom Line

Functional mushrooms are a powerful addition to a health-conscious lifestyle. Their wide range of benefits, from immune support to cognitive enhancement, makes them a valuable dietary supplement. While they are generally safe for consumption, it's always wise to consult with a healthcare provider before starting any new supplement regimen. Whether you choose to consume them as tea, powder, or in the form of delicious gummies, functional mushrooms are a natural way to boost your health and well-being.


What Mushrooms help with brain function?

Lion's Mane is the go-to functional mushroom for brain health. It's known to support cognitive function, enhance memory and concentration, and may even aid in the prevention of neurodegenerative diseases.

What is a Functional Mushroom?

Functional mushrooms are a group of mushrooms known for their health-promoting properties. They contain bioactive compounds that can support various aspects of human health, including immune function, brain health, and energy levels.

Are Functional Mushrooms Legal?

Yes, functional mushrooms are legal. They are different from psychedelic mushrooms, which contain the psychoactive compound psilocybin and are illegal in many places. Functional mushrooms like Reishi, Lion's Mane, and Cordyceps are legal to buy, sell, and consume in most countries.

Are Functional Mushrooms Safe?

Functional mushrooms are generally safe for most people. However, some individuals may experience side effects such as digestive upset or allergic reactions. It's always best to consult with a healthcare provider before starting any new supplement regimen.

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