Which Functional Mushroom is Right for Me?
Functional mushrooms are a class of fungi. They have biologically active compounds that can have a significant effect on our health. They provide us with antioxidants and essential nutrients to bring the body back into balance, naturally. When consumed regularly, these mushrooms have the potential to improve overall wellbeing and increase resilience to stress and illness.
Mushrooms have a robust history of use dating back thousands of years. They’ve been treasured for their therapeutic value in Traditional Chinese Medicine, Indigenous Medicine and other ancient healing systems. In recent years, functional fungi have become a popular staple for many Western herbalists as well. These health-supportive fungi are steeped into strong teas, extracted into tinctures or eaten in the fruiting body phase of their life cycle.
At Harmonic Arts, we work with the world’s top 5 most studied functional mushrooms. Featured in ancient healing modalities and current scientific research, Reishi, Chaga, Lion’s Mane, Cordyceps, and Turkey Tail remain at the forefront of the mushroom revolution. They offer vast healing benefits for whole-body health and immune system intelligence.
So, how do you choose which functional mushroom is right for you? Read on to learn how to support your wellness needs with these incredible fungi.
This blog is for educational purposes only. It is not designed to substitute the advice of your registered health care provider. Please talk to your health care provider before adding any new herbs or mushrooms to your routine.
A Mushroom for Every Wellness Need
Start by identifying a wellness need you want the most support with. All the functional fungi listed below offer multiple benefits, including immune system support. So, choosing one mushroom doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll miss out on the benefits of another. For the purpose of this blog, we’ve split them up into their most researched and well-known benefits below.
Chaga is a nutrient-dense superfood. It’s packed with over 200 phytonutrients, essential vitamins, and minerals that protect our DNA. The polyphenol compounds protect our cells against oxidative damage, helping us age gracefully (1). Chaga fortifies the immune system and suppresses inflammation (2). It stabilizes blood pressure and blood sugar and shows promise as a treatment for metabolic disorders (3).
Turkey Tail is a microbiome-friendly medicinal mushroom. It is used in TCM to treat chronic illnesses, fortify immunity and strengthen the stomach and spleen. Turkey Tail contains a polysaccharide called PSP, which is a prebiotic fiber. This promotes gut healing and bolsters diversity within the gut microbiome (4). PSP is also shown to increase white blood cells, allowing our bodies to fight infection and boost immunity (5).
Lion’s Mane is known for its ability to sharpen memory, boost concentration and inspire creativity. It stimulates the synthesis of Nerve Growth Factor (NGF) (6). This is a protein that helps to maintain healthy neurons. It’s been shown to improve symptoms of dementia (7), as well improve spatial and visual recognition memory (8). Lion's Mane may also inhibit the growth of H. pylori and protect the stomach lining from damage (9).
Reishi is a relaxing and revitalizing mushroom with the longest record of medicinal use, dating back over 2,000 years. This polypore is a potent adaptogen that helps us adapt to stress and combat anxiety (10). It is packed with antioxidants that activate immune health and lower inflammation (11). Reishi can also support the liver by promoting cell regeneration (12).
As a functional mushroom, Cordyceps is mainly prized for support of the respiratory tract. It improves oxygen uptake, helps move oxygen into our cells and increases endurance and stamina as a result (13). It supports energy through the generation of cellular ATP (14). Cordyceps helps to build strength, combat fatigue, and support adrenal health (15).
Looking to stack the benefits of all 5 mushrooms at the same time? There are two ways to experience our synergistic blend of Chaga, Cordyceps, Lion’s Mane, Reishi and Turkey Tail: Our 5 Mushroom Concentrated Powder and 5 Mushroom Tincture. Both products support whole-body harmony and immune system intelligence.
How Can I Take These Functional Mushrooms?
Depending on lifestyle and personal preferences, you may choose to take your mushrooms in the form of a powder or a tincture.
Powders provide a high concentration of beneficial compounds. They are water soluble and can easily be added to drinks or other recipes. Our Concentrated Mushroom Powders feature high extraction ratios to provide you with potent medicine. For example, our Reishi powder has an extraction ratio of 12:1. This means that you get 12 grams of whole mushroom within 1 gram of concentrated powder. Learn more about our extraction process in this video with our Co-Founder, Yarrow Willard.
Tinctures are a quick and effective way to add bioavailable mushroom medicine to your daily routine. They can be taken on their own or added to drinks and other recipes. Our mushroom tinctures are formulated by Clinical Herbalists and handmade on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. They’re extracted from mycelium and fruiting body and made with sugar cane alcohol and local spring water.
Click here to shop our mushroom products.
Can I Take More Than One Mushroom?
You can take one or all of the above mushrooms at the same time. Depending on your wellness needs, you may want to explore a combination to reap the benefits. For example, if someone is looking for support with gut health and stress support, they might want stack the benefits of Turkey Tail and Reishi.
Curious to learn more about how we source our mushrooms? This blog takes you step-by-step through their journey from the farm to your pantry.
- Ju, H. K., Chung, H. W., Hong, S.-S., Park, J. H., Lee, J., & Kwon, S. W. (2010). Effect of steam treatment on soluble phenolic content and antioxidant activity of the Chaga mushroom (Inonotus obliquus). Food Chemistry , 119 (2), 619–625. doi: 10.1016/j.foodchem.2009.07.006
- Kim, Y.-R. (2005). Immunomodulatory Activity of the Water Extract from Medicinal MushroomInonotus obliquus. Mycobiology , 33 (3), 158. doi: 10.4489/myco.2005.33.3.158
- Sun, J.-E., Ao, Z.-H., Lu, Z.-M., Xu, H.-Y., Zhang, X.-M., Dou, W.-F., & Xu, Z.-H. (2008). Antihyperglycemic and antilipidperoxidative effects of dry matter of culture broth of Inonotus obliquus in submerged culture on normal and alloxan-diabetes mice. Journal of Ethnopharmacology , 118 (1), 7–13. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2008.02.030
- Pallav, K., Dowd, S. E., Villafuerte, J., Yang, X., Kabbani, T., Hansen, J., … Kelly, C. P. (2014). Effects of polysaccharopeptide from Trametes Versicolor and amoxicillin on the gut microbiome of healthy volunteers. Gut Microbes , 5 (4), 458–467. doi: 10.4161/gmic.29558
- Sekhon, B. K., Sze, D. M.-Y., Chan, W. K., Fan, K., Li, G. Q., Moore, D. E., & Roubin, R. H. (2013). PSP activates monocytes in resting human peripheral blood mononuclear cells: Immunomodulatory implications for cancer treatment. Food Chemistry , 138 (4), 2201–2209. doi: 10.1016/j.foodchem.2012.11.009
- Thongbai, B., Rapior, S., Hyde, K. D., Wittstein, K., & Stadler, M. (2015). Hericium erinaceus, an amazing medicinal mushroom. Mycological Progress,14 (10). doi:10.1007/s11557-015-1105-4
- Mori K, Inatomi S, Ouchi K, et al. (2009) Improving effects of the mushroom Yamabushitake (Hericium erinaceus) on mild cognitive impairment: a double- blind placebo-controlled clinical trial. Phytother Res ;23:367–72.
- Lai PL, Naidu M, Sabaratnam V, et al. (2013) Neurotrophic properties of the Lion’s mane medicinal mushroom, Hericium erinaceus (Higher Basidiomycetes) from Malaysia. Int J Med Mushrooms . 15(6);539–54.
- Jiang, S., Wang, S., Sun, Y., & Zhang, Q. (2014). Medicinal properties of Hericium erinaceus and its potential to formulate novel mushroom-based pharmaceuticals. Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology,98 (18), 7661-7670. doi:10.1007/s00253-014-5955-5
- Zhao, H., Zhang, Q., Zhao, L., Huang, X., Wang, J., & Kang, X. (2012). Spore Powder of Ganoderma lucidum Improves Cancer-Related Fatigue in Breast Cancer Patients Undergoing Endocrine Therapy: A Pilot Clinical Trial. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine , 2012 , 1–8. doi: 10.1155/2012/809614
- Gao, Y., Zhou, S., Jiang, W., Huang, M., & Dai, X. (2003). Effects of Ganopoly®(A Ganoderma lucidum Polysaccharide Extract) on the Immune Functions in Advanced-Stage Cancer Patients. Immunological Investigations , 32 (3), 201–215. doi: 10.1081/imm-120022979
- Jin, H., Jin, F., Jin, J.-X., Xu, J., Tao, T.-T., Liu, J., & Huang, H.-J. (2013). Protective effects of Ganoderma lucidum spore on cadmium hepatotoxicity in mice. Food and Chemical Toxicology , 52 , 171–175. doi: 10.1016/j.fct.2012.05.040
- Yi, X., Xi-Zhen, H., & Jia-Shi, Z. (2004). Randomized double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial and assessment of fermentation product of Cordyceps sinensis (Cs-4) in enhancing aerobic capacity and respiratory function of the healthy elderly volunteers. Chinese Journal of Integrative Medicine , 10 (3), 187–192. doi: 10.1007/bf02836405
- Holliday, J. C., & Cleaver, M. P. (2008). Medicinal Value of the Caterpillar Fungi Species of the Genus Cordyceps (Fr.) Link (Ascomycetes). A Review. International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms , 10 (3), 219–234. doi: 10.1615/intjmedmushr.v10.i3.30
- Panda, A., & Swain, K. (2011). Traditional uses and medicinal potential of Cordyceps sinensis of Sikkim. Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine,2 (1), 9. doi:10.4103/0975-9476.78183