The very concept of a mushroom supplement will be new to most people. Even experienced bio-hackers and regular supplement users will be initially surprised to hear that there is such a thing as a mushroom supplement. But there is, and they are becoming extremely popular. In fact, specialist mushroom supplements enjoy one of the fastest rates of growth among supplement products in the world.
There are lots of reasons why people are getting so excited about mushroom supplements. Much like omega 3s, prebiotics, and nootropics, mushroom supplements claim to benefit almost every aspect of health and performance.
According to the manufacturers of the leading products on the market, mushroom supplements can:
- Boost immune system function
- Promote focus, learning and short-term memory
- Reduce inflammation
- Increase energy and stamina
- Help with blood sugar management
- Protect the brain from oxidative damage
- Support brain cell health
As you can see, mushroom supplements claim to improve pretty much every conceivable aspect of health and performance, from working memory to physical stamina.
This is why mushroom supplements have become so popular so suddenly.
But whenever a new kind of supplement gains such sudden popularity, it’s worth pausing to ask some tough questions. This is especially true when those supplements claim to be a kind of cure-all.
What do mushroom supplements do? How do they work? Do they really work? Are they safe? What are the best mushroom supplements on the market right now?
In the article below, we’ll seek to answer all of the above questions in as much detail as we can. If you get to the end of the article and still have questions, post them in the comments and we’ll get right back to you.
What are mushroom supplements?
Mushroom supplements are, quite simply, nutritional supplements which deliver a single mushroom or a combination of mushrooms – potentially either in extract for or as a whole plant powder – which are known to enhance certain aspects of health and performance. Put another way, they are wellness supplements that contain dried mushroom extract taken from various species of mushroom thought to have beneficial properties.
Now obviously, we’re not talking about regular white button mushrooms here. While some mushroom supplements do contain a broad range of species, high-spec, professional mushroom supplements will typically contain mushrooms not found in the normal human diet (as is the point of all supplements).
So what mushrooms do mushroom supplements provide exactly? Which kinds of mushrooms should the best mushroom supplements contain?
Most effective mushrooms for health & performance
What are the most effective mushrooms for promoting health and performance?
These are the mushrooms which can make the biggest difference to your health, athletic performance, and cognitive function:
- Lion’s Mane
- Turkey Tail
- Royal Sun Agaricus
We’ll now go through these mushrooms in a little more detail, explaining what they do, how they work, and what the scientific evidence has to say.
1. Lion’s Mane Mushroom
Lion’s Mane is unarguably the best mushroom to use if your goal is cognitive enhancement. Studies have shown that Lion’s Mane supplementation can dramatically improve multiple diffrent measures of cognitive performance, including memory retention, recall speed, and information processing speeds.
Lion’s mane mushroom works by stimulating the production of nerve growth factor (NGF). This is the neurotrophic factor which regulates the growth, differentiation, proliferation, and maintenance of neurons in the brain. More nerve growth factor means more neuron growth, which means a better communication network in the brain. We don’t need to tell you that this means better memory function, faster processing speeds, and overall better cognitive performance! We therefore think that Lion’s mane is an essential addition to any good mushroom supplement. It is also used in many of the best nootropics on the market today because of its long-term benefits and deep effects on brain function.
Reishi mushrooms are probably the most popular ingredient used in mushroom supplements at the moment. There is good reason for this; reishi mushrooms have some pretty substantial scientific backing behind them when it comes to their efficacy as a nutritional supplement.
The main reason people use reishi mushrooms is to reduce stress and anxiety. Clinical trials have found that reishi mushrooms are extremely effective for reducing feelings of stress, as well as suppressing the actual symptoms of anxiety. Other independent studies have found that reishi mushroom supplementation improves immune system function, promote sleep, increase energy levels, and even reduce cholesterol levels. While there is evidence for these claims, the anti-anxiety and anti-stress effects of reishi mushroom are the most robustly supported by clinical data.
Cordyceps is a very interesting supplement. While the major supplement brands will tell you that cordyceps can do everything from reducing inflammation to promoting sleep, most of the claims made about it seem to be unfounded.
However, there is one benefit associated with cordyceps supplementation that seems to be 100% true: immune system enhancement. Studies have shown that people who consume cordyceps mushroom have significantly higher immune cell count than baseline. Amazingly, this effect seems to happen acutely. That is, cordyceps seems to immediately trigger the proliferation of immune cells in the human body. This has led some people to claim that cordyceps mushroom can help cure various illnesses, including chronic and severe illnesses relating to immune system deficiency or malfunction. However, this is not what the evidence indicates. All the data tells us is that regular cordyceps consumption promotes immune system function in otherwise healthy people. It’s therefore little wonder that all of the best mushroom supplements will contain some cordyceps; its benefits are substantial and broad.
4. Turkey Tail
Turkey Tail is among the most interesting mushrooms in existence from a health and performance perspective. Yet it is one of the least commonly consumed in mushroom supplements. Some products now offer Turkey Tail-infused coffee, but as it stands this amazing fungus is ignored by most mushroom supplement manufacturers.
Like every other mushroom used as a supplement, Turkey Tail is said to deliver an impressive – albeit vague – range of benefits, from reducing inflammation to boosting immune cell function. But there is good reason to believe that Turkey Tail can really enhance multiple aspects of health in a significant way.
Turkey Tail contains protein-bound polysaccharides (called polysaccharopeptides) which have very interesting interactions with your immune system. Two of these polysaccharopeptides, found in particularly high amounts in Turkey Tail, help regulate immune system function. PSK and PSP – the two main polysaccharopeptides in Turkey Tail – work by selectively activating and inhibiting different kinds of immune cells as and when they are needed. PSP is also known to directly increase monocyte counts. Monocytes are white blood cells which fight infections and boost immunity. So if you want to boost your immune system, Turkey Tail is a great option, and possibly the most scientifically-validated option among mushroom supplements.
Chaga mushrooms have a long history of use in SIberia and throughout northern Asia as general health boosters. Typically drunk as a tea, Chaga mushrooms are said to be excellent for speeding up healing, fighting off infections, and promoting overall vitality.
Recent scientific studies have confirmed that Chaga mushrooms have a meaningful positive effect on health. Specifically, Chaga mushrooms reduce systemic inflammation and provide a potent cocktail of antioxidants. Chaga mushroom is actually a very rich source of triterpene; an extremely powerful antioxidant which has been shown to inhibit cancer cell growth in human cells (in test tubes, never in vivo). While we cannot say that Chaga mushrooms help inhibit cancer growth in humans, the research indicates that Chaga has extremely powerful antioxidant action.
6. Royal Sun Agaricus
Royal sun agaricus does not get the kind of attention that Lion’s Mane, Cordyceps or Reishi get. However, that is not because it isn’t deserving. Royal sun agaricus may not be one of the most popular mushroom supplements around, but it is easily one of the best mushrooms to take for promoting overall health and performance. The benefits associated with royal sun agaricus are broad, and include improved immune system function, reduced cholesterol, reduced digestive problems, and lower physical and mental stress. The final benefit is the reason why royal sun agaricus mushroom is sometimes included in nootropic stacks, and it is why all of the best mushroom supplements should really include a small amount of this fantastic health promoting mushroom.
What is the best mushroom supplement overall?
There are lots of mushroom supplements on sale right now. Many of them are simple, straight-up mushroom supplements containing a single fungus.
Others are mushroom stacks combining various different mushrooms known to produce different benefits.
A small number are more specialist, dedicated products designed to bring about very specific enhancements in health and performance. These are supplements which combine certain mushrooms with other substances that have different effects. The idea is that you can leverage the power of individual mushrooms and amplify them with different substances.
So what is the best mushroom supplement on sale right now?
In our opinion, the best mushroom supplement overall right now is VIIT Mushroom Complex.
VIIT Mushrooms is a comprehensive mushroom supplement complex providing optimal doses of all of mushrooms listed above, and more on top! This mushroom stack delivers over 250mg of Lion’s Mane, Cordyceps, Reishi and Shiitake Mushrooms each. You also get 266mg of a broad spectrum mushroom stack covering all of the other mushrooms regularly used as supplements to promote overall health, performance and brain function. This means each serving of VIIT Mushrooms delivers 1.25g of potent, bioactive mushrooms.
The benefits of taking this mushroom supplement on a daily basis include:
- Improved memory function and focus
- Enhanced nerve growth and maintenance
- Increased immune system activity
- Reduced stress and anxiety
- Better blood sugar control and lower cholesterol
- Increased mental and physical energy
At $38.00 a day, VIIT Mushrooms works out at around $1.22 per day. That is incredible value for a supplement which provides such comprehensive health and performance support. Every important bioactive mushroom is represented in this supplement in as clean and pure a form as you can get.
Side Effects: Are mushroom supplements safe?
Mushroom supplements are indeed very safe by anyone’s standards. None of the mushrooms listed above are thought to pose any health risks whatsoever. None of the clinical trials looking at these mushrooms noted serious side effects affecting participants.
We would stress that we are talking about the mushrooms listed above and not mushrooms generally. Fungi can be very dangerous indeed, and not all of them are suitable for daily supplementation. The mushroom supplements listed above have been tested for regular use by humans and have been deemed safe and side effect-free.
However, you need to bare in mind that every individual is different. It is vital that you do your own research carefully and consider your own unique medical history before using any mushroom supplement stacks.
Brian Johnson is current Editor of Vagarights.com and a long-time writer for VAGA. A former psychologist, Brian is passionate about improving mental health and finding ways to stave off cognitive decline. He is an expert on nootropics, cognitive enhancement and biohacking more broadly. You can see his work on Google scholar.