Functional mushrooms are known to provide those who eat them with various health benefits, making them a staple in many health and wellness products.
Over the last few decades, the benefits of functional mushrooms have made their way into the West, but Asian countries have been making the most of the benefits of functional mushrooms for thousands of years.
What are functional mushrooms?
When talking about mushrooms, most people usually picture the common mushroom (Agaricus bisporus) found in local groceries. While the common mushroom is delicious and offers its own unique health benefits, functional mushrooms are well-regarded in traditional and folk medicine for their many therapeutic applications.
Functional mushrooms often grow in dense forests, on fallen logs or even on the heads of caterpillars high up in the Tibetan plateau. Traditional healers know that these mushrooms are packed with antioxidants and nutrients, each with their own set of health benefits.
Intensive research conducted over the years has brought many of these benefits to light and contributed to the rise in popularity of functional mushrooms.*
Functional mushrooms and the immune system
The medicinal properties of functional mushrooms differ greatly from one mushroom to the next. However, nearly all have the commonality of supporting your immune system, allowing your body to combat external threats.
The immune-supporting abilities of functional mushrooms can be attributed to their high level of polysaccharides, such as beta-glucans. These compounds are widespread within the mushroom kingdom, and studies have shown that beta-glucans and other polysaccharides can promote the healthy functions of your immune system. (1)
Of course, not all mushrooms provide the body with the immune support it needs – in fact, some are better at it than others. If you are looking to learn which functional mushrooms are great immune system supporters, try having a look at the following six well-known variants.
There are two different types of Cordyceps: Cordyceps Sirensis and Cordyceps Militaris. Both are extremely beneficial to the body.
sinensis has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries. Royal and elite families in China have use it as a tonic for energy, vitality and endurance for thousands of years. In addition, it has been traditionally used to strengthen the body. However, this type of Cordyceps is extremely expensive and hard to come by. (2)(3)
C. Militaris is the more common form of Cordyceps mushrooms that can be commercially grown. It is known to support healthy energy levels, as well as to maintain optimal immune health.
Chaga mushroom (Inonotus obliquus) – also known as black mass, clinker polypore, birch canker polypore, cinder cork and sterile conk trunk rot – has been used as medicine for centuries by people in Russia and other Northern European countries, in particular, to promote healthy immune functions and overall health.
Studies have shown that chaga mushrooms help support the immune system in several ways. Chaga has been demonstrated to support the body’s natural ability to produce white blood cells which the body uses to fight external threats. (4) (5)
Probably the most recognizable mushroom in this list, shiitake mushrooms (Lentinula edodes) are commonly used in various East Asian cuisines and traditional medicines for their health benefits.
As with most of the functional mushrooms on this list, shiitake contains high amounts of polysaccharides. With this in mind, it should come as no surprise that studies show that eating shiitake mushrooms daily can support the immune system in many different ways. (6)
Further studies have also shown that shiitake supplements can maintain healthy immune functions in older adults. (7)
The name maitake translates to “dancing mushroom” in Japanese. This is because the Japanese believe that if you find this mushroom, you will dance with joy, thanks to all its health-promoting properties.
Maitake (Grifola frondosa) gets its reputation from all the healthy benefits it can provide. This, of course, includes benefits for the immune system.
Maitake is rich in immune-supporting polysaccharides such as beta-glucan. What’s more, the beta-glucans in maitake have a unique branching pattern that makes them ideal sources of these molecules. Studies have demonstrated that, thanks to high amount of these polysaccharides, regularly consuming maitake mushrooms can help promote optimal immune health. (8)(9)
The reishi mushroom (Ganoderma lucidum) grows in various hot and humid locations in Asia. For years, this mushroom has been a staple in Eastern medicine. In traditional Chinese medicine, where it is known as lingzhi, reishi mushrooms are regarded as the “herb of spiritual potency,” symbolizing well-being and longevity.
In addition to the polysaccharides present in most mushrooms, reishi is also rich in other bioactive molecules, such as terpenoids, steroids, phenols, nucleotides and their derivatives. (10)
Studies have shown that reishi naturally supports a healthy immune system. (11)
Lion’s mane (Hericium erinaceus) is a large, white, shaggy mushroom that gets its name from how it resembles a lion’s mane as it grows. This mushroom has been used for both culinary and medicinal uses throughout various countries such as China, India, Japan and Korea.
Research has shown that lion’s mane can help support the intestinal immune system. This is the part of the immune system that defends the body from external threats that enter through the mouth or nose. (12)
Further studies seem to show that lion’s mane promotes the immune system by supporting friendly gut bacteria. (13)
Where to get safe, organic functional mushrooms
With the benefits that functional mushrooms can provide, it should be no surprise that many people have started buying more of them. However, this means that a glut of functional mushroom products have also entered the market, not all of which are organic or safe.
Interested in picking some of the best organic functional mushroom products on the market? Look no further than the Health Ranger Store.
The Health Ranger Store sells 100% organic mushroom powder for all of the mushrooms mentioned above. These include Health Ranger Select Organic Cordyceps Mushroom, Organic Chaga Mushroom, Organic Shiitake Mushroom, Organic Maitake Mushroom, Organic Reishi Mushroom and Organic Lion’s Mane Mushroom. All of these use only high quality mushrooms, meticulously sourced for purity and potency that are exclusively grown right here in the United States. The Health Ranger Store tests each batch in the lab using atomic spectroscopy for lead, cadmium, arsenic and mercury – metals that often contaminate lower-grade mushrooms. In addition, all Health Ranger Select mushrooms are certified USDA Organic, glyphosate-tested, vegan, non-GMO and kosher-certified.
For those looking for a quick and easy way to get a combination of the mushrooms listed here, the Health Ranger store also offers Health Ranger Select Organic Seven Treasures Mushroom Powder. This product contains powders from all the functional mushrooms mentioned above, alongside powdered Turkey Tail – another potent immune supporting functional mushroom.
If a cup of hot chocolate is more your thing, you can also try a combination of our Organic Seven Treasures Mushroom Powder with Health Ranger Select Cocoa Love.
How to consume functional mushroom powder
Functional mushroom powder is quite versatile. You can use it in cooking or add it to your coffee, tea or smoothies.
For a nutritious vegan mushroom latte, try the following recipe.
5-Minute Vegan Mushroom Latte
- 1 tsp Health Ranger Select Organic Seven Treasures Mushroom Powder (or any Health Ranger Select Mushroom Powder of your choice)
- 1 tsp organic maple syrup
- 1 tsp organic extra virgin coconut oil
- 2 Tbsp Health Ranger Select Cocoa Love
- 1 pinch ground cinnamon
- 1 pinch Pink Himalayan Salt, Fine Ground
- 1 cup dairy-free milk (such as cashew, coconut or almond milk)
- Add the Health Ranger Select Organic Seven Treasures Mushroom Powder, maple syrup, coconut oil, Health Ranger Select Cocoa Love, cinnamon and sea salt in a small blender.
- Steam or heat the dairy-free milk until hot and add to the blender.
- Blend on high until frothy and well blended.
- Taste and adjust the flavor as needed. Add cinnamon for spice or more Health Ranger Select Cocoa Love for a richer chocolate flavor.
- Serve as is or top with rich coconut whipped cream, cinnamon or cocoa powder.
Functional mushroom powder is a healthy and versatile way to boost your immune system while also gaining a myriad of other benefits.
Check out any of the Health Ranger Store’s many functional mushroom products today.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. This product is not intended to treat, cure or diagnose any diseases.