Functional Mushroom Benefits: What to Expect from Lion's Mane, Cordyceps, and More

Functional Mushroom Benefits: What to Expect from Lion's Mane, Cordyceps, and More - Lucid™

Mushrooms are a fascinating category of living beings, and they are often underestimated for their health benefits. Not only are they rich in fiber, protein, and other essential nutrients, but some varieties also contain compounds with medicinal properties. 

These mushrooms, commonly known as "functional mushrooms," have been used for centuries in traditional medicine and are gaining popularity in modern health and wellness practices, like as mushroom supplements and even mushroom coffee. Let’s explore functional mushroom benefits and how you can apply them to your own wellness routine:

Key Takeaways

Functional mushrooms like Lion's Mane, Cordyceps, and Reishi offer diverse health benefits, from cognitive enhancement to immune modulation and potential cancer-fighting properties.

Each mushroom has specific advantages; for instance, Lion's Mane aids brain health, Cordyceps boosts energy and exercise performance, and Reishi supports the immune system and stress management.

To incorporate functional mushrooms effectively, choose appropriate products, ensure they contain beneficial compounds, and consult your healthcare provider due to possible interactions or allergies.

Top 6 Functional Mushrooms and Their Benefits

There are hundreds of mushrooms in the record books that have been used for medicinal purposes, but a few stand above the rest in terms of research-proven benefits. Let’s take a look at the top six research-backed function mushrooms:

Unlocking Cognitive Potential with Lion's Mane

Lion's Mane (Hericium erinaceus) is a white, shaggy mushroom that looks like a lion's mane, hence its name. This mushroom has been shown to potentially have neuroprotective effects. It may even help to enhance cognitive function, which is why it’s sometimes referred to as the “mushroom for the mind.”

A study published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences found that lion's mane extract improved the function of hippocampal neurons, which play a crucial role in learning and memory. Lion's mane is also rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds, which can protect the brain from damage caused by oxidative stress and inflammation.

This study found Lion’s Mane to be one of three different functional mushroom extracts that may help stimulate the growth of nerve cells within the brain, spinal cord, and retina, which researchers believe could be useful for promoting healing after nervous system injuries. 

Additionally, this study puts this speedy recovery time into perspective, claiming that Lion’s Mane extract may speed nervous system recovery by 23-41% in animal subjects.

Thanks to its purported brain-boosting benefits, lion's mane coffee is becoming a popular alternative to traditional coffee beverages as the ultimate morning pick-me-up. 


The optimal dosage of lion's mane extract is not yet clear. However, most studies have used doses ranging from 500 to 3000 mg per day.

Elevating Energy Levels with Cordyceps

Cordyceps (Cordyceps sinensis) is a fungus that grows on caterpillar larvae in the high-altitude regions of China, Tibet, and Nepal. This mushroom has been traditionally used as an energy booster, and recent research has confirmed its ability to increase energy and reduce fatigue. 

In a study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, participants who consumed cordyceps extract for 12 weeks reported a significant improvement in their exercise performance and endurance compared to the placebo group. Another study published in 2017 echoed these results. Participants experienced an increase in tolerance to high-intensity workouts after supplementing with Cordyceps for only one and three weeks. 

Cordyceps also has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, which can help reduce muscle damage and promote recovery after exercise.


The optimal dosage of cordyceps extract is not yet clear. However, most studies have used doses ranging from 1 to 3 grams per day of cordyceps extract. 

Boosting Immunity and Stress Management with Reishi

Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum) is a woody mushroom that has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years. This mushroom is known for its immune-boosting properties, and recent research has confirmed its ability to modulate the immune system. In fact, some cultures today use Reishi as an immune system stimulant for patients with certain immune-system disorders, like HIV or cancer.


A 2014 study highlighted Reishi as one of four functional mushrooms with prominent immune stimulating effects. This benefit is most often pinned on Reishi's beta-glucan content because the beneficial polysaccharides are known to potentially help prevent infection and stimulate crucial immune functions.


Reishi is also labeled an adaptogen, or a substance that positively impacts the body's stress response. One study found that Resihi supplementation improved the pain and mood changes surrounding a condition caused by chronic exhaustion.


Other evidence suggests that Reishi, as well as other adaptogenic mushrooms, may also help to improve mood. In this survey of nutritional habits, those who regularly consumed mushrooms reported significantly lower rates of depression. Various smaller trials have verified similar results, claiming that consuming more mushrooms in general may help reduce both depression and anxiety.


The optimal dosage of reishi extract is not yet clear. However, most studies have used doses ranging from 1 to 9 grams per day.

Enhancing Skin Health Through Tremella

Tremella (Tremella fuciformis) is a jelly-like mushroom that is known for its anti-aging and skin-supporting properties. According to some sources, the mushroom contains high levels of hyaluronic acid, which is a compound that helps the skin retain moisture and stay hydrated. 


A 2000 study in the International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms also reports that Tremella has strong anti-inflammatory effects and many other potential benefits. A 2018 study showed similar results, stating that Tremella prevented the development and spread of inflammation in the body. According to this study, that may make it a useful treatment option for inflammatory conditions like heart disease, obesity, and more, and some researchers theorize that this could add to its anti-aging benefits. 


The optimal dosage of tremella extract is not yet clear. However, most studies have used doses ranging from 1 to 3 grams per day.

Empowering Immune Function with Maitake

Maitake (Grifola frondosa) is another mushroom, like Reishi, that has been shown to have potent immune-boosting properties. These beta-glucans present in Maitake are thought to stimulate the immune system and increase the production of natural killer cells. Research suggests that these polysaccharides may support cellular immunity to help prevent illness and infections. 


A study published in 2009 confirmed similar results on breast cancer patients. In fact, one study published in 2012 found that there may be a duality to Maitake’s immunity enhancing effects–Maitake extract was found to be effective in killing human cancer cells and also increasing the effectiveness of cancer-fighting proteins taken at the same time.


Maitake has also been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties, which can help reduce the risk of chronic diseases.


The optimal dosage of maitake extract is not yet clear. However, most studies have used doses ranging from 1 to 9 grams of extract per day.

Unraveling the Anti-Cancer Potential of Chaga

Chaga (Inonotus obliquus) is a mushroom that has been traditionally used in Russian and Chinese folk medicine for its anti-cancer properties. This mushroom contains betulinic acid, which is a compound that has been shown to induce apoptosis (programmed cell death) in cancer cells. 


One animal study found that Chaga supplementation reduced tumor size by 60%. Another study found that Chaga tea could prevent and slow the proliferation of human colon cancer cells. In a test-tube study, chaga extract prevented cancer growth in human liver cells. Various other studies have observed Chaga’s potential to kill other types of cancer cells, like lung, skin, colon, and prostate cancer cells.


Chaga research is limited and more evidence is needed to fully understand chaga’s immune-enhancing and cancer-fighting potential, but many people use it in their illness-prevention regimen with positive results. 


The optimal dosage of chaga extract is not yet clear. However, most studies have used doses ranging from 1 to 9 grams per day.

Do Functional Mushrooms Have Side Effects?

While functional mushrooms offer a plethora of health benefits, it's important to consider potential side effects before incorporating them into your wellness routine. Generally regarded as safe, functional mushrooms can still interact with certain individuals and medications. Here's what you need to know:

Digestive Issues and Allergic Reactions

Some individuals may experience mild digestive issues like upset stomach, bloating, or gas when consuming functional mushrooms, especially in larger amounts or in sensitive individuals. Additionally, allergic reactions are possible, though rare. If you have a history of allergies to mushrooms or fungi, exercise caution and monitor your body's response.

Medication Interactions

Certain functional mushrooms, due to their bioactive compounds, might interact with medications. For example, if you're taking blood thinners or medications for blood pressure issues, consult your healthcare provider before adding functional mushroom supplements to your regimen. They can advise you on potential interactions and adjust your medication if necessary.

Dosage Considerations

While functional mushrooms are generally safe, taking excessively high doses could potentially lead to adverse effects. It's recommended to follow the dosage guidelines provided on the product's label or by a healthcare professional. Overconsumption might not necessarily lead to severe side effects, but it's always best to adhere to recommended dosages for optimal results.

Personal Variability

Everyone's body reacts differently to supplements, including functional mushrooms. What works well for one person might not have the same effects for another. Some individuals may experience the benefits of functional mushrooms more quickly, while for others, it might take longer to notice changes. 

Consulting a Healthcare Professional

Before incorporating functional mushroom supplements into your routine, especially if you have existing health conditions or are taking medications, it's advisable to consult a healthcare provider. They can assess your individual health situation and provide personalized guidance on whether these supplements are suitable for you.

Overall, while functional mushrooms offer numerous health benefits, it's essential to be mindful of potential side effects and consult a healthcare professional before making them a regular part of your wellness regimen. By doing so, you can enjoy the advantages of functional mushrooms while minimizing any potential risks. 

How to Add Functional Mushroom Benefits to Your Wellness Regimen

Functional mushrooms are undoubtedly fascinating creatures with years of anecdotal proof to support their health benefits. Science is starting to catch up, and recent research has confirmed their ability to provide a range of benefits, like boosting brain function, increasing energy, boosting the immune system, improving skin hydration, and potentially even fighting cancer. 

If you want to experience functional mushroom benefits for yourself, you can easily incorporate one or more into your daily wellness routine. Here’s how to get started:

Choose a Mushroom – One or Many

Before you can reap functional mushroom benefits, decide if you’re looking for specific benefits of one mushroom or want to combine a few together for a more full spectrum experience. 

Mushroom blends may be useful for reaping the general health benefits of medicinal mushrooms, and they are often easier to find than pure mushroom formulas. Think of it like a mushroom multi-vitamin–all of the benefits of functional mushrooms are rolled together in one dynamic formula.

Check the Formula

Next, look at the formula you choose and evaluate it for certain quality markers. First, you want a mushroom product made from fruiting body extract and not mushroom mycelium. Mycelial products do not contain a concentrated amount of the beta-glucans responsible for functional mushroom health benefits. 

Next, check that the beta-glucan content is clearly displayed on the label. A good mushroom product will contain 20% beta glucans or more.

Experiment with Dosage

Once you’ve narrowed down a product, test out the dosage recommended on the label. If you’re combining multiple mushroom products, this can get tricky, since you may need less of each when taking them together. A functional mushroom blend, however, should make dosing easy. 

Most importantly, you need to take functional mushrooms daily to reap the full benefits. While some mushrooms have instantaneous benefits, others provide systemic benefits over time, so it may take up to 2 weeks to experience the full effects of functional mushroom supplements. 


In the world of wellness, functional mushrooms reveal their hidden might, from brain-boosting Lion's Mane to immunity-fortifying Reishi and potential cancer-fighting Chaga. Traditionally revered, these fungi now draw modern interest. Consider their benefits, consult your healthcare provider, and embark on a journey to unlock nature's hidden potentials for a redefined wellness journey.

Try Functional Mushrooms in Coffee, Chai, or Matcha Tea

If you want to take full advantage of the "functional" side of functional mushrooms, consider a mushroom super-blend like our Lucid Coffee, Chai, or Matcha powders. It takes full advantage of the benefits of these superfood mushrooms by pairing Cordyceps,  Maitake, Tremella, and Lion's Mane, plus powerful nootropics, like BCAA's, L-Theanine, Alpha-GPC, and more. 


  1. “Hericium erinaceus Improves Recognition Memory and Induces Hippocampal and Cerebellar Neurogenesis in Frail Mice during Aging”
  2. “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” 
  3. “Peripheral Nerve Regeneration Following Crush Injury to Rat Peroneal Nerve by Aqueous Extract of Medicinal Mushroom Hericium erinaceus (Bull.: Fr) Pers. (Aphyllophoromycetideae)” 
  4. “Effect of Cs-4® (Cordyceps sinensis) on Exercise Performance in Healthy Older Subjects: A Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial”
  5. “Cordyceps militaris improves tolerance to high intensity exercise after acute and chronic supplementation”
  6. “Reishi Mushroom”
  7. “Immune Modulation From Five Major Mushrooms: Application to Integrative Oncology”
  8. “A randomized, double-blind and placebo-controlled study of a Ganoderma lucidum polysaccharide extract in neurasthenia”
  9. “Mushroom intake and depression: A population-based study using data from the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), 2005-2016”
  10. “Reduction of depression and anxiety by 4 weeks Hericium erinaceus intake”
  11. “International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms”,580b7b864183d53b,567a96af6caf987e.html 
  12. “Tremella fuciformis polysaccharide suppresses hydrogen peroxide-triggered injury of human skin fibroblasts via upregulation of SIRT1”
  13. “Immune-enhancing effects of Maitake (Grifola frondosa) and Shiitake (Lentinula edodes) extracts”
  14. “A phase I/II trial of a polysaccharide extract from Grifola frondosa (Maitake mushroom) in breast cancer patients: immunological effects”
  15. “Abstract 3515: Maitake D-Fraction, a natural mushroom extract, synergizes with Interleukin-2 for increased lytic activity of peripheral blood mononuclear cells against various human tumor cell histologies”
  16. “Continuous intake of the Chaga mushroom (Inonotus obliquus) aqueous extract suppresses cancer progression and maintains body temperature in mice”
  17. “Antitumor activity of water extract of a mushroom, Inonotus obliquus, against HT-29 human colon cancer cells”

Older post Newer post