Why Functional Mushrooms are the Latest Wellness Craze
By: Rylee Dahl
The wellness industry can be challenging to navigate for consumers who have varying health needs, respectively. Most people are not aware of what vitamins they may be deficient in or what supplements would be optimal for their body, and the trial and error of finding the right products can quickly become expensive. These challenges have led functional mushrooms to become a lucrative wellness trend—most popularly consumed for their adaptogenic properties.
What are functional mushrooms?
More than just a food source, functional mushrooms refer to varieties that have a health benefit beyond providing nutrition. They are prominent in Eastern medicinal/healing practices and have been leveraged for centuries to aid in gut health, chronic inflammation, stress, and immunity. Mushrooms are comprised of three main parts:
- Mycelium: The network system under the soil
- Fruiting body: The reproductive organ grown out of the mycelium consisting of volva, stem, cap, and gills
- Spores: Genetic material that spreads in order to grow more mushrooms.
Much like spores, functional mushrooms have spread their way into the Western world of wellness—although it took centuries for them to become popularized in the States.
What are adaptogens?
If functional mushrooms are the wellness industry’s latest obsession, then adaptogens are the industry’s latest buzzword. So, what exactly are adaptogens? Adaptogens are a category of herbs and mushrooms that help balance the body’s reaction to stress by modulating its hormonal and physiological functions. Adaptogens can improve adrenal function, boost immune function, and improve overall wellbeing. Dr. Brenda Powell, co-medical director of the Center for Integrative and Lifestyle Medicine at the Cleveland Clinic’s Wellness Institute, says that “adaptogens help your body handle stress. They’re meant to bring us back to the middle.”
Brands we love
For Coffee Lovers: Companies like Mudwtr and Ryze offer mushroom-infused coffee, while brands Four Sigmatic provide varied selections, including protein powders, adaptogen shots, and mushroom blend powders that can mix into any drink.
For Matcha Lovers: Wylde One is an Asian-owned brand with a calming, colorful aesthetic that entices shoppers to buy products based on their packaging alone. One of their best-sellers is Matcha Brain Buzz, a powder mix including functional mushrooms, matcha, and other adaptogens that boost energy and long-term brain health.
Best All-Around: There’s more to these magic mushrooms than just pretty packaging. Peak and Valley is a wellness company that offers plant-based herbal blends formulated by neuroscientists to help balance stress. We spoke to the company’s founder, Nadine Joseph, about the stress-relieving properties of adaptogens, specifically mushrooms and herbs like reishi mushroom and ashwagandha.
“Adaptogens help balance your body’s reaction to stress. They do this by acting on something called your neuroendocrine system—this is where the conversations between your brain and neurohormonal system take place. If you have high cortisol levels, that translates into a fatigued neuroendocrine system, which affects your immune system, mood, energy levels, and sex drive. By incorporating adaptogens into your life, you can balance that response.”
After testing adaptogens out in smoothie blends, Nadine experienced calming effects, healed eczema, and less adrenal fatigue—thus Peak and Valley were born. You can learn more and listen to our full conversation with Nadine here.
With the wellness industry harnessing the power of functional mushrooms, we hope more consumers can attain balanced health and lifestyle. Let us know in the comments if you’re looking to incorporate adaptogens into your daily routine!