Mushroom coffee, as popular as it's becoming, is still a bit of an ambiguity right now. Are we putting mushrooms in our regular morning cup? Or is the brew made entirely of coffee-esque mushrooms? Most importantly–why? What are the benefits of mushroom coffee that make it worth giving this shroomy cup a shot?
The answer is basically this–mushrooms are magical. (And no, we don't mean magical like you'll take a trip to Wonderland. But magically beneficial for supporting energy, immunity, cognitive clarity, and more–if "magical" means "scientifically significant.")
Okay, so the answer is a little more complex than "magic"–but intriguing nonetheless. We'll break down everything you need to know about mushroom coffee benefits (and how the quality of a formula impacts its overall benefits) down below:
Table of Contents
Both mushrooms and coffee have benefits for immunity, cognition, and more.
Different mushroom coffee formulas have different benefits, but the quality of a mushroom preparation heavily impacts the potential benefits it may offer.
Mushroom extract formulas made from 100% fruiting bodies may be the most beneficial.
What is Mushroom Coffee?
We'd love to clear the confusion on what mushroom coffee really is, but that's a hard thing to do. Truthfully, "mushroom coffee" can refer to any number of concoctions containing mushrooms, some that do contain actual coffee, and some that don't.
The coffee content of mushroom coffee has everything to do with its caffeine content. Some contain large doses of caffeine, while others balance on a lower dose and offer other energy sources.
Mushroom coffee may contain a wide array of different medicinal mushrooms but usually centers around the most popular and well-researched medicinal and nootropic mushrooms–Lion's Mane, Reishi, Cordyceps, Tremella, Maitake, or Chaga. Different mushrooms have different benefits (and we'll break down some of these individual benefits below), but many medicinal mushrooms have a few things in common, and you can expect those same benefits from any well-made mushroom coffee formula.
Benefits of Mushrooms in Coffee
We mentioned that many mushrooms have been medicinally significant for thousands of years. In fact, one of the oldest accounts of medicinal mushrooms dates back to 450 BCE when the Greek physician Hippocrates, classified the amadou mushroom as a potent anti-inflammatory and for cauterizing wounds.
Modern research has uncovered even more about many of these mushrooms, and we now know that most of the health benefits related to mushrooms come from bioactive compounds called beta-glucans. Beta-glucans are naturally occurring polysaccharides that have been linked to various healing and immunostimulating benefits.
All mushrooms contain a different array of beta-glucans, but many of them overlap, lending many mushrooms a few overlapping benefits. For instance, most beta-glucans increase immune defense by activating natural “killer cells.” Some research suggests that this even includes defense against tumor cells.
One study titled “Edible Mushrooms: Improving Human Health and Promoting Quality Life” published in the International Journal of Microbiology (2015) states:
“Many nutraceutical properties are described in mushrooms, such as prevention or treatment of Parkinson, Alzheimer, hypertension, and high risk of stroke. They are also utilized to reduce the likelihood of cancer invasion and metastasis due to antitumoral attributes. Mushrooms act as antibacterial, immune system enhancer and cholesterol lowering agents; additionally, they are important sources of bioactive compounds. As a result of these properties, some mushroom extracts are used to promote human health and are found as dietary supplements.”
Popular Mushrooms for Mushroom Coffee
There are many types of medicinal mushrooms in the world, some with medicinal uses dating back to the B.C. era. However, there are a handful that are most commonly used in supplemental formulations, both based on the research available and the availability of the mushroom itself.
For now, we are going to focus on the four mushrooms used in our Lucid Mushroom+Nootropic Coffee. (If you noticed the “+Nootropics” part and want to know more, read “Why We Chose Our Ingredients: What’s in a Lucid Stack?”
Here’s a rundown of our mushroom mix and the standout benefits for each one:
Lion’s Mane is known as the “mind mushroom” thanks to its benefits surrounding cognition and neuroprotection.
Improves cognition: Human evidence is limited, but one study concluded that daily consumption of the mushroom improved cognitive performance in older adults.
Increase growth of nerve cells: Research has also confirmed that Lion’s Mane extract may encourage the growth of new nerve cells and may stimulate faster healing within the nervous system. Another study found that daily doses of Lion’s Mane extract resulted in faster nerve regeneration in rats with nerve damage compared to control subjects.
- Mood support: One study suggests that Lion’s Mane was able to reduce the incidence of anxiety of depression in animal models. Another study concluded that Lion’s Mane could potentially be useful for treating depressive disorders.
Tremella, the “beauty mushroom” helps protect tissues and promote hydration inside and out.
Moisturizing effects: Tremella is traditionally described as a “yin tonic,” or a concoction that can help to improve moisture and energy (blood) flow in the body.
Anti-aging properties: A 2017 study reports that Tremella reduced the incidence of human skin fibroids caused by hydrogen peroxide, likely due to Tremella’s high antioxidant content, which can help to ward off free radicals that damage tissues.
- Neuroprotection: One 2007 study found that Tremella tea helped to promote the growth of nerve cells and to decrease the incidence of cell toxicity related to many neurodegenerative diseases or to age-related cognitive decline.
Cordyceps is known as the “athlete's mushroom,” but it can provide energy and stamina support for everyday life. This mushroom is known for its ability to stimulate oxygen flow throughout the body which may be linked to an array of physical benefits.
Contains cordycepin: Cordycepin is a bioactive compound not found in other mushrooms. A review published in 2020 highlights cordycepin’s potential benefits as an anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, immunomodulatory, antioxidant, and anti-aging compound, among other benefits.
Increases endurance: In a 2016 study, mice were able to continue swimming significantly longer after taking cordyceps. A placebo-controlled study from 2006 confirmed similar results in humans while doing exhaustive running exercises.
Improves athletic performance: Some evidence suggests that Cordyceps may help to increase the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) in the body, which researchers believe may help to improve physical performance by improving oxygen flow in the body during physical activity. A 2004 placebo-controlled study, for instance, found Cordyceps to increase fitness levels in older adults.
Benefits heart health: Improving oxygen flow may significantly benefit cardiovascular health.
- Helps to manage fatigue: Cordyceps can act as a source of energy, which may help to mediate fatigue without reliance on caffeine.
The Maitake mushroom is a powerful adaptogen, meaning it may "adapt" to the body's needs in order to resolve imbalances that cause various mental and physical challenges. It’s most well-known for its immune-regulating benefits.
- Immune boosting effects: Maitake contains D-fraction, a beta-glucan known to have a strong effect on the immune system by boosting the production of lymphokines and interleukins that improve your overall immune response. One study confirms that both Maitake and Shitake stimulate the immune system defense response.
Benefits of Coffee
For mushroom coffees that contain coffee, there are a few other benefits to consider. On fact, coffee is well known for a myriad of potential health benefits (when used in moderation), including:
Increased energy levels: The caffeine found in coffee is a central nervous system stimulant that is known to help fight fatigue and improve focus. Caffeine blocks the production of the neurotransmitter adenosine, which allows energy regulating neurotransmitter levels to increase.
Diabetes support: Some research suggests that coffee consumption may lower your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. This may be linked to coffee’s potential ability to preserve the function of cells responsible for producing insulin, which can help to regulate blood sugar levels.
Neuroprotective properties: Some research suggests that coffee drinkers may have a significantly lower risk of developing certain neurodegenerative disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. In fact, this research suggests that caffeine consumption may even slow the progression of these conditions.
Decreased depression risk: A review of seven individual studies found that every cup of coffee consumed may equate to an 8% decrease in the risk of developing depression.
- Antioxidant boost: Coffee contains powerful antioxidants that may help prevent free-radical tissue damage. This could be associated with improved heart health and brain health and with anti-aging benefits.
Mushroom Coffee Variations & Quality
There are so many types of mushroom coffees on the market that it’s dangerous to assume that they all offer the same benefits. You’ll need to choose between more than just different flavor varieties and caffeine contents–you should also pay close attention to the way that the mushroom portion of the formula is made.
Here are some things to consider:
Whole vs Extracted
When considering any mushroom formula, you should consider whether you’re purchasing a whole mushroom formula or a mushroom extract. Many people may argue that a whole mushroom formula is better or “more natural” because it contains all of the fiber, nutrients, and other beneficial compounds found in the whole mushroom.
However, the beta-glucan content of a mushroom is locked inside chitin–the same polymer that makes up an insect’s exoskeleton. For the human digestive system, that’s a problem. In order to “unlock” these beta-glucans from the chitin layers, you need to “extract” them. This can be done with regular hot water extraction, like when making tea.
A mushroom extract, like the one used in Lucid Coffee, is already biologically active, and the extraction process is superior to what you can do in your own kitchen at home. When mushrooms are properly extracted, they are introduced to hot water at the perfect temperature to melt away chitin while keeping the beta-glucans intact, and the entire process is done in a pressurized atmosphere so that no beneficial compounds are lost to steam.
Mycelium vs Fruiting Bodies
Mushroom supplements can be made from either the mycelium or the mushroom’s fruiting body (or sometimes a combination of both). The fruiting body is the stem and cap portion that most people associate with mushrooms. The mycelium is the underground network of cell-signaling “roots” that help the mushroom sustain life.
There’s some argument surrounding which is best, but the science is clear–fruiting bodies contain a beta-glucan content of around 30 to 40 %, while the beta-glucan content of the mycelium is much lower–around 5-7 %.
Plus, mycelium is grown in grain blocks, and the entire block is ground up with the mycelium during manufacturing. That means that mycelial products contain a large portion of grain and are severely degraded compared to fruiting body supplements. Our Lucid Coffee uses a fruiting body mushroom formula that is much more pure and potent than mycelial supplements.
Coffee vs Coffee Substitute
Finally, consider whether the product you choose actually contains coffee. Some mushroom coffee supplements are designed to be a “coffee substitute,” meaning they only replicate the flavor of coffee, but don’t actually contain any coffee.
If you want the benefits of both coffee and mushrooms, you need a formula that contains real coffee. Lucid Mushroom+Nootropic Coffee is made with 100% organic coffee grown, roasted and imported from Colombia.
Mushrooms + Nootropics + Coffee Benefits
Now that you can see the clear benefits of a high-quality mushroom formula, we implore you to consider a step further–a mushroom coffee that also contains brain-boosting nootropics.
Our Lucid stack contains all of this–four powerful mushrooms plus nootropics like BCAA’s, L-Theanine, L-Tyrosine, Ginkgo Biloba, and more. This functional formula can help boost your performance, improve immunity, support healing, and more–a slew of benefits that most energy drinks and coffee blends just don’t provide.
When it’s all said and done, this nootropic + mushroom super blend adds up to offer these benefits and more:
- Increases endurance
- Improves athletic performance
- Helps to manage fatigue
- Boosts immunity
- Improves neurogenesis
- Enhances focus, learning, and memory
- Supports a healthy stress response
- Promotes relaxation
- Supports a balanced mood
Want to learn more? Read more about our Ingredients and Quality, or check out one of our three delicious formulas:
- “Medicinal Mushrooms: Ancient Remedies Meet Modern Science” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4684114/
- “Effects of beta-glucans on the immune system” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17895634/
- “Edible Mushrooms: Improving Human Health and Promoting Quality Life” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4320875/
- “Improving effects of the mushroom Yamabushitake (Hericium erinaceus) on mild cognitive impairment: a double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18844328/
- “Lion's Mane, Hericium erinaceus and Tiger Milk, Lignosus rhinocerotis (Higher Basidiomycetes) Medicinal Mushrooms Stimulate Neurite Outgrowth in Dissociated Cells of Brain, Spinal Cord, and Retina: An In Vitro Study” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26853959/
- “Peripheral Nerve Regeneration Following Crush Injury to Rat Peroneal Nerve by Aqueous Extract of Medicinal Mushroom Hericium erinaceus (Bull.: Fr) Pers. (Aphyllophoromycetideae)” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3176599/
- “Effects of amycenone on serum levels of tumor necrosis factor-α, interleukin-10, and depression-like behavior in mice after lipopolysaccharide administration” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26150007/
- “Erinacine A-Enriched Hericium erinaceus Mycelium Produces Antidepressant-Like Effects through Modulating BDNF/PI3K/Akt/GSK-3β Signaling in Mice” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5855563/
- “Tremella fuciformis polysaccharide suppresses hydrogen peroxide-triggered injury of human skin fibroblasts via upregulation of SIRT1” https://www.spandidos-publications.com/mmr/16/2/1340
- “The Neuroprotective and Neurotrophic Effects of Tremella fuciformis in PC12h Cells” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3763079/
- “Cordycepin for Health and Wellbeing: A Potent Bioactive Metabolite of an Entomopathogenic Medicinal Fungus Cordyceps with Its Nutraceutical and Therapeutic Potential” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7356751/#__ffn_sectitle
- “Effect of Polysaccharide from Cordyceps militaris (Ascomycetes) on Physical Fatigue Induced by Forced Swimming” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28094746/
- “Randomized double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial and assessment of fermentation product of Cordyceps sinensis (Cs-4) in enhancing aerobic capacity and respiratory function of the healthy elderly volunteers” https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/BF02836405
- “Immune-modulating Effects of Maitake Mushroom Extract” https://www.naturalmedicinejournal.com/journal/immune-modulating-effects-maitake-mushroom-extract
- “Immune-enhancing effects of Maitake (Grifola frondosa) and Shiitake (Lentinula edodes) extracts” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4202470/
- “Caffeine” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30137774/
- “Caffeine induces neurobehavioral effects through modulating neurotransmitters” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7132598/
- “Coffee consumption and reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes: a systematic review with meta-analysis” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29590460/
- “Coffee and Lower Risk of Type 2 Diabetes: Arguments for a Causal Relationship” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33807132/
- “The Effect of Caffeine on the Risk and Progression of Parkinson’s Disease: A Meta-Analysis” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7353179/
- “Coffee and caffeine consumption and depression: A meta-analysis of observational studies” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26339067/