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We know that mushrooms offer plenty of health benefits. They’re a rich source of B vitamins, vitamin D and antioxidants like selenium. 

They’re also a tasty and versatile ingredient to add to your diet.

If you pay attention to health food trends, you may have heard about adaptogenic mushrooms

what are adaptogenic mushrooms

But what are adaptogenic mushrooms?

Like CBD oil, these are not intended to be treated as a medicine or a cure for any condition, but they could offer health and wellness benefits for those who add them to their diet.

Read more: What are adaptogens?

This guide will explore what adaptogenic mushrooms are, how they are supposed to work, and how to add them to your diet. 

If you are looking for a simple way to boost your health and wellness, adaptogenic mushrooms could offer some health benefits.

What's in this Guide?

What are Adaptogenic Mushrooms?

Adaptogens are a group of herbs and plants that are thought to help the body adapt. They are often sold as “stress busting” or “immune boosting”, but this isn’t always entirely accurate.

If you’re hoping that a single dose of adaptogenic mushrooms could lead to a superhuman immune system overnight, this sadly isn’t the case. 

But through continued use, you could enjoy some health benefits.

Adaptogens are not a new concept. These ingredients have been used in Ancient Chinese medicine and Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years.

In the 1940s, a Russian scientist coined the name “adaptogen” while exploring how certain herbs and plants might be used to increase the body’s resistance to stress. 

Russian soldiers used adaptogens, including Rhodiola Rosea and Siberian Ginseng, to help boost their physical performance and mental clarity in tough conditions.

There are now around 70 plant extracts that are thought to be adaptogenic, including a range of mushrooms. 

However, it’s worth noting that not everyone is convinced that these plants offer any additional benefits.

Is There Any Evidence That Adaptogenic Mushrooms Work?

Sceptics are quick to point out that large scale studies into adaptogenic have not been carried out. 

And many studies that have been carried out are not particularly robust.

Critics point out that many of these studies do not meet international criteria for proper clinical trials. 

And further to this, there have been no long-term studies into the use of adaptogens.

That said, a clinical review of studies on adaptogens concludes that the clinical application of adaptogens is still in its early stages. 

Nevertheless, this review points to some promising results and appears to indicate that adaptogens could be the subject of further investigation for conditions such as arthritis, sleep problems and stress.

It’s vital to remember that adaptogens are not medicine and should not be treated as such. Instead, they should be explored as a method to enhance wellness and improve your sense of wellbeing. 

Much like CBD, adaptogens are ideal for incorporating into a routine of healthy eating and regular exercise

And instead of relying on them for a quick fix, consistent use is thought to deliver the best results.

evidence adaptogenic mushrooms
As time goes on, we'll likely see more properties and more trust in adaptogenic mushrooms

Do Adaptogenic Mushrooms Get You High?

No, adaptogenic mushrooms are not magic mushrooms. They are not intended to alter your mental state or induce hallucinations.

If adaptogenic mushrooms could get the user high, they would not be sold in health food shops

So when sourcing your adaptogenic mushroom products, it’s important to get them from reputable sources.

If you choose a less reputable source, there could be a chance you are purchasing an illegal product. For the avoidance of doubt, always purchase your adaptogens from legitimate companies.

Do adaptogenic mushrooms get you high
Adaptogenic mushrooms is not another name for 'magic mushrooms' and have no psychoactive effects

Are Adaptogenic Mushrooms Safe?

Most people will not have an adverse reaction to adaptogenic mushrooms, but the risk of an allergic reaction is always possible. 

Therefore, it’s important to pay close attention to the ingredients in adaptogenic mushroom blends as they could contain known allergens.

Adverse reactions to adaptogens have been recorded. This could include fatigue, headaches, nausea, vomiting, dizziness and severe allergic reactions

Therefore, those taking blood pressure medications should steer clear of adaptogenic supplements.

There is also limited evidence to suggest if adaptogens are safe to use when pregnant or breastfeeding, so they would be best avoided when pregnant or nursing.

There have been two documented cases of liver toxicity related to the use of reishi powder. Lion’s mane is also known to cause allergic reactions.

As with any herbal supplement, it’s important to pay close attention to the origins and ingredients. Start with a low dose and slowly increase, if required. 

And stop taking your supplements and speak to a medical professional if you have any adverse reactions.

Are adaptogens safe
You should also ensure that any products containing adaptogens are safe too - such as CBD oils containing maca root

How To Take Adaptogenic Mushrooms

If you’re curious about adaptogenic mushrooms and want to add them to your diet, there are a few ways you can try this. Capsules, tinctures, teas and powders are the most common way to add adaptogens into your diet.

Mushrooms can have quite a strong, earthy flavour. To counter this, many individuals choose to take their adaptogenic mushrooms in capsule form.

Tinctures may contain multiple adaptogens and other plant nutrients. A tincture would be taken as drops in the mouth, similar to taking CBD oil.

Tea made from adaptogenic mushrooms is growing increasingly popular. You may even see adaptogen tea served in your favourite health food shops and cafes.

And finally, powdered adaptogens can be added to a variety of hot and cold foods. Many people enjoy them in smoothies, juices and savoury baked goods.

Before you take any adaptogenic mushrooms, always check with your GP. There is the risk of interactions with other medications.

Allergic reactions and adverse reactions are not uncommon, so it’s important to pay close attention to how you feel and stop taking your adaptogens if you have a reaction.

How to take adaptogenic mushrooms
As time goes on, we'll likely see more inventive ways to add adaptogenic mushrooms to your daily routine

Popular Adaptogenic Mushrooms To Try

There are many different types of adaptogens and adaptogenic mushrooms to try, but these are some of the most popular types.

Shiitake

These light brown fungi have a thin, slender stalk and a wide cap. They are commonly used in cooking as they are rich in B vitamins, vitamin D, zinc and copper

They are also a good source of fibre.

Shiitake mushrooms also contain eritadenine, sterols and beta-glucans, three compounds that are thought to help lower cholesterol. They are also rich in polysaccharides, which may help to boost immune function.

Chaga

This dark fungus grows on the bark of birch trees and looks a lot like a clump of burnt charcoal

Chaga mushrooms are rich in antioxidants and are thought to help reduce inflammation and oxidative stress throughout the body.

There is also limited research suggesting that Chaga mushrooms could help control blood sugar levels, lower blood pressure, and alleviate arthritis.

Lion’s Mane

These large, white shaggy mushrooms get their name from the long spines that hang down and look like a lion’s mane. This adaptogen is throughout to help boost immune function and reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Lion’s mane is also thought to help improve cognitive impairment. This is because it stimulates the production of the Nerve Growth Factor (NGF)

Low NGF levels are linked to conditions such as Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Reishi

Reishi is a large, flat, kidney-shaped mushroom. They have a very distinct fan-shaped cap with shades of deep red, brown and white.

Reishi mushrooms are one of the most common adaptogens available. They are thought to help boost overall wellness. They are also rich in triterpenes and beta-glucans, which may help to reduce cholesterol.

Cordyceps

The name Cordyceps refers to a genus that includes around 600 species of mushrooms. The fruit is cylindrical in shape and contains many small flask-shaped perithecia.

Cordyceps mushrooms increase the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which helps to boost cellular oxygen absorption, making it the ideal supplement to boost oxygen flow during exercise.

Cordyceps have been used in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years and are believed to help reduce fatigue and boost sex drive.

Ashwagandha

Although not technically a fungus, ashwagandha is a herb derived from the roots and berries of an evergreen shrub

It has been used in traditional Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years.

Ashwagandha is commonly sold as a supplement that can tackle many problems, including stress, anxiety, depression, sleep issues and cognitive function. At the moment, the research into the use of ashwagandha for stress shows the most promise.

Turkey Tail

The turkey tail mushroom is a multicoloured fungus with a fan-shaped cap with an impressive display of colours. It is rich in antioxidants and is also thought to help boost the immune system.

Turkey tail mushrooms are also rich in krestin (PSK) and Polysaccharide Peptide (PSP). 

These have been found to activate the immune system and suppress inflammation.

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