What Are Adaptogenic Mushrooms?

Adaptogenic Mushrooms 101

Adaptogenic Mushrooms, commonly referred to as functional mushrooms, are popping up in health and wellness stores and supermarkets across North America. Their popularity is undeniable, but what are adaptogenic mushrooms? And is there science to support the hype?

Guide to Adaptogenic Mushrooms — What Can You Buy?

If you’re only just hearing about adaptogenic mushrooms — you’re not alone. While these unique fungi are popular in the eastern hemisphere and included in traditional medicine practices, the western portion of the globe has long overlooked the health aand wellness properties of mushrooms, viewing them as culinary ingredients rather than a potential health benefit.

The key feature of adaptogenic mushrooms are adaptogens; compounds that help prepare our bodies for stress, both of a physical and psychological nature. In essence, these adaptogens train our bodies’ stress response, making our systems more resilient to the effects of stress, but the benefits can extend well beyond just stress and anxiety.

Eating adaptogenic mushrooms isn’t particularly appealing to everyone. Some adaptogenic mushrooms have a bitter, earthy taste, and others have an off-putting appearance. In light of the recent focus on the potential benefits of adaptogens, companies are taking an innovative approach to these products, infusing them into various foods, many of which are already a staple in the lifestyle of millions of people.

Regardless of whether you’re a coffee drinker, a morning smoothie lover, or a home chef — there’s an adaptogenic mushroom product that will fit seamlessly into your routine.

Mushroom coffees are a popular choice (and here’s a list of the best), in whole beans or ground, as are mushroom powders, mushroom tinctures, capsules and broths.

Before we discuss the merits of each individual mushroom strain, let’s take a closer look at the properties of adaptogenic mushrooms.

What Do Adaptogenic Mushrooms Do?

For the average shopper, the only information needed is that adaptogenic mushrooms help people prepare for stress. But for inquisitive minds more explanation is required. Adaptogenic mushrooms interact with the HPA (hypothalamic-pituitary-adrena) axis in our bodies. The HPA axis is an interconnected system responsible for the release of Glucocorticoids such as cortisol — a stress hormone that’s linked to weight gain among other things.

Adaptogenic mushrooms help to mediate the stress response in your body, preventing your system from becoming overwhelmed. High levels of glucocorticoids have a causal relationship with a variety of memory issues and neurodegenerative conditions, and as such, regulating your body’s stress response has the potential to prevent cognitive decline.

What Are Adaptogenic Mushrooms: The Most Popular Functional Mushrooms

If you’re shopping online for adaptogenic mushrooms in North America, you’ll encounter a number of different strains which are commonly included in mushroom supplements. Though not every company sells each mushroom strain, you can expect to find the following mushrooms included in popular wellness products. Limited studies have shown benefits for the following mushrooms and research is ongoing into the health and wellness potential for a wide variety of different mushrooms.


Chaga mushrooms are lauded for a number of functions; these mushrooms are brimming with antioxidants and they have anti-inflammatory properties and the potential to lower blood pressure. Chaga mushrooms are rich in adaptogens, and this can help train the body’s stress response with regular consumption.


Sought after for their energy inducing effects and endurance support — cordyceps are often included in mushroom supplements marketed for athletes. What is sometimes overlooked is that these mushrooms are also great for stress response.


Reishi mushrooms are marketed for stress management but the mushrooms have whole body benefits; you might sleep better with regular consumption, and Reishi mushrooms are known to enhance immune function. There’s also a link between Reishi mushrooms and lower cholesterol.

Lion’s Mane

Many people take Lion’s Mane to stave off anxiety and depression. Believed to provide various cognitive benefits — consumption of Lion’s mane mushrooms can help with memory retention, concentration, and creativity. Lion’s Mane is also under investigation as a possible tool for the prevention of devastation conditions such as Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia.  

Turkey Tail

Turkey Talk is utilized as an adjunct treatment for cancer in Japan, prized for its immune boosting capabilities. Of course, Turkey Tail mushrooms are also packed with adaptogens and can aid in the regulation of stress and anxiety. There’s some evidence that Turkey Tail mushrooms can help with cellular regeneration, reduce inflammation, and support healthy gut bacteria that are essential to proper digestion.


If you’re familiar with any adaptogenic mushrooms, then it’s likely Shiitake due to their inclusion in a number of Asian culinary dishes. Shiitake are predominantly associated with positive immune function, heart health, and anti-aging, but these mushrooms have plenty of adaptogens too.

Considerations When Shopping for Adaptogenic Mushrooms

With more brands and new products entering the market all the time, adaptogenic mushroom buyers are no longer suffering from a lack of access. But all of these new options can produce indecision, and newcomers might find it intimidating to vet the best brands and most efficacious products for themselves.

When you shop for adaptogenic mushrooms you’ll need to pay attention to the mushrooms content, which is measured in milligrams; servings vary anywhere from 150 mg per serving up to 2000 mg per serving. It’s wise to also shop based on your goals and purchase products containing the right types of adaptogenic mushrooms for your needs.

Lastly, finding a product that fits your lifestyle will help you take the mushrooms regularly and there’s evidence to support the notion that adaptogenic mushrooms only perform properly with regular consumption over long periods of time. If you love coffee, sub in a mushroom coffee for your first cup — you might find it keeps the jitters away and all the while, preparing your body to deal with the daily stresses of life.


  1. Benson, K. F., Stamets, P., Davis, R., Nally, R., Taylor, A., Slater, S., & Jensen, G. S. (2019, December 2). The mycelium of the trametes versicolor (Turkey tail) mushroom and its fermented substrate each show potent and complementary immune activating properties in vitro. BMC complementary and alternative medicine. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6889544/ 
  2. Guggenheim, A. G., Wright, K. M., & Zwickey, H. L. (2014, February). Immune modulation from five major mushrooms: Application to integrative oncology. Integrative medicine (Encinitas, Calif.). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4684115/
  3. Hirsch, K. R., Smith-Ryan, A. E., Roelofs, E. J., Trexler, E. T., & Mock, M. G. (2017, January 2). Cordyceps militaris improves tolerance to high-intensity exercise after acute and chronic supplementation. Journal of dietary supplements. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5236007/ 
  4. Jayachandran, M., Xiao, J., & Xu, B. (2017, September 8). A critical review on health promoting benefits of edible mushrooms through gut microbiota. International journal of molecular sciences. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5618583/
  5. Liao, L.-Y., He, Y.-F., Li, L., Meng, H., Dong, Y.-M., Yi, F., & Xiao, P.-G. (2018, November 16). A preliminary review of studies on adaptogens: Comparison of their bioactivity in TCM with that of ginseng-like herbs used worldwide. Chinese medicine. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6240259/
  6. Vyas, S., Rodrigues, A. J., Silva, J. M., Tronche, F., Almeida, O. F. X., Sousa, N., & Sotiropoulos, I. (2016, March 10). Chronic stress and glucocorticoids: From neuronal plasticity to neurodegeneration. Neural Plasticity. https://www.hindawi.com/journals/np/2016/6391686/ 

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