The use of functional mushrooms has drawn a lot of attention recently and for good reason. Functional mushrooms are specific mushrooms that are used for their medicinal benefits.

These mushrooms (listed below) have been studied and used in Traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic Medicine for thousands of years.

There is deep scientific research that indicates the healing properties of mushrooms including immune system support and prevention of cancer. Several mushrooms are considered adaptogens, meaning they help us cope with stress.

Fun fact: the mushrooms are also low in calories, high in protein and are great sources of B vitamins, minerals and fibre.


Functional mushrooms contain antioxidants, amino acids, proteins, digestive enzymes, prebiotics and beta-glucans (an enzyme that helps balance blood sugar, cholesterol, boost immune system).

A few benefits include:

  • Increased Energy
  • Anti-ageing
  • Cognitive function
  • Immune support
  • Reduce blood sugar levels
  • Gut health
  • Boosting nutrient absorption
  • Aid digestion
  • Reduce inflammation

Some mushrooms such as Reishi have over 150 proven health benefits.


  • Reishi:
    • Used in TCM for over 2000 years.
    • An adaptogen – great for stress and improved sleep. Great to have at night (add to hot chocolate).
    • Digestive issues- Great for leaky gut (intestinal permeability), helps modulate inflammation in the colon.
  • Cordyceps:
    • Used to support stamina and endurance.
    • Beneficial effects on the adrenal glands, helps to adapt to physical and environmental stressors.
    • Fights flu symptoms, protects liver, improve kidney function.
  • Lions mane:
    • Brain booster! Used for focus, creativity, productivity.
  • Chaga:
    • Antioxidant properties and beta-glucans, used for immune system.
  • Turkey tail:
    • Prebiotics and antioxidant properties, therefore fantastic for supporting the gut.
    • Powerful effects on the immune system.
  • Enokitake:
    • Excellent source of niacin  Lowers LDL cholesterol, brain booster, improves skin function
  • Maitake:
    • Antioxidant, beta-glucan, great for fasting
  • Shiitake:
    • Vitamin D, B and many minerals.
    • Great for skin.
    • Improved bone formation.
    • Anti-inflammatory, digestive, immune function, overall immunity.
    • Antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral.

Incorporating into our diet

There are various forms that these mushrooms can be obtained. I like to use the powders as I like to add them into my food and drinks.

By understanding some of the actions of the mushrooms, you can incorporate these in your daily routine to receive optimal benefits. For example, including Lions mane in the morning will boost brain function and energy, and adding Reishi at night can help relax and improve sleep.

Other options: coffee, any hot beverage, smoothies, bone broth, gravy.  I’m sure there are endless ways to add these treat into your meals.

Recommended companies that offer functional mushrooms:

Further reading:

This is an interesting review highlights the findings on pharmaceutical potential of mushrooms and anti-cancer compounds.

Image: Pinterest

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