As you start to dig into the best mushrooms for energy, you’ll come across one constant recommendation–cordyceps. It’s a great suggestion, too, because cordyceps is well known for its potential ability to boost physical energy and endurance. In fact, it was even credited by the 1993 Chinese women’s Olympic running team for their ability to break several world records and take home numerous wins.
While cordyceps may be the star of the team, it’s not the only player, and many people believe that a variety of mushrooms taken together (called a “mushroom stack”) is the best way to support both cognitive and physical energy.
So, with that in mind, we want to dig a little deeper than the baseline and look at all of the best mushrooms for energy and how they may synergistically combine to give you the brain and body boost you’re after.
Here’s the rundown:
Table of Contents
Mushrooms may boost energy by fighting inflammation, regulating hormone production, and increasing metabolism.
Cordyceps’ claim to fame is increased energy and endurance, but it’s just one of many mushrooms that may help.
Combining functional mushrooms, a method called “stacking,” is the best way to reap their energy-boosting effects.
Best Mushrooms for Energy: Brain, Body, and Beyond
Before we dive deeper into the mushrooms that give you energy, we want to specify our angle:
Mushrooms can give you the physical energy boost you may be after, but they can also boost your energy in other ways. Some mushrooms may help fight fatigue through their nootropic properties, or their positive impact on the brain and cognitive functions.
All in all, it's a combination of energy-boosting mushrooms that may work best. By pairing up cognition-boosting mushrooms with those that improve circulation and heart health and others that stimulate metabolism and energy production, you’ll get a full body energy boost that’s unmatched by the effects of any on mushroom alone.
So, let’s take it from the top:
Cordyceps may not be the only option, but it’s definitely a good one. It’s also one of the most well-researched mushrooms in this regard. There is a small body of evidence to support cordyceps’ energy boosting benefits, though most researchers agree that one particular compound is responsible: Cordycepin.
Cordycepin is a bio-metabolite that’s found only in a few forms of Cordyceps mushroom. It was originally investigated for its antibiotic potential, but that research fell through to a much wider therapeutic potential. A review published in 2020 stated:
“Cordycepin is known for various nutraceutical and therapeutic potential, such as anti-diabetic, anti-hyperlipidemia, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, immunomodulatory, antioxidant, anti-aging, anticancer, antiviral, hepato-protective, hypo-sexuality, cardiovascular diseases, antimalarial, anti-osteoporotic, anti-arthritic, cosmeceutical etc. which makes it a most valuable medicinal mushroom for helping in maintaining good health.”
Cordycepin is a compound that is almost molecularly identical to adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the primary energy source of our cells. Our bodies can use cordycepin just like it would use ATP, but it doesn’t have to expend any energy to make it. That, in effect, means that cordyceps can stimulate energy at the cellular level without making the body work for it.
In the body, cordyceps supplements accomplish several tasks. First, they help to support circulation, allowing the body to more effectively carry blood. It also supports lung function, helping the body to absorb and use more oxygen from the air you breathe. Increased oxygen absorption paired with increased circulation means that your entire body is oxygenated more effectively. With these benefits in mind, it’s no surprise that research has found cordyceps to improve athletic performance and endurance.
Take a look:
A 2004 study, for instance, tested the effects of a strain of Cordyceps called Cs-4, or cordyceps Sinensis, on exercise capacity in 30 healthy older adults. 7% of the Cordyceps group experienced increased fitness levels over just 6 weeks, while the placebo group experienced no change.
Some evidence also suggests that it may increase endurance, though more human trials are needed. 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.
Lion's Mane (Hericium erinaceus) 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.
Another 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. Yet another 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.
All of these cognition-enhancing benefits may support energy in a different way–by reducing mental fatigue. Plus, a 2015 abstract in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found Lion’s Mane to have an array of benefits, including the ability to “promote healthy energy levels and combat fatigue.” 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.
Shiitake mushrooms are a culinary delight, which is wonderful since they are jam-packed with essential nutrients and vitamins that help to balance out a healthy diet. More significantly, they are loaded with B vitamins, the vitamins necessary for the body to turn food into energy.
A dose of B vitamins is essential to natural energy production, and shiitake supplements or fresh shiitake is a great way to get it.
Some studies also show shiitake as an anti-inflammatory compound, potentially capable of helping to improve the immune inflammatory response. This may also contribute to shiitake’s potential ability to help reduce fatigue.
Reishi mushrooms are another adaptogenic mushroom that may help support healthy energy levels. Although it is often associated with calming properties, that’s not exactly the truth about how reishi works. Instead, it works to regulate the body’s cortisol response.
Let us explain:
Cortisol, otherwise known as the “stress hormone,” is produced during times of stress in order to stimulate action. (Think about the urge to run when in a dangerous situation.) Too little cortisol, though, can cause fatigue. So, the ability to regulate cortisol may mean that reishi helps to regulate energy levels.
Reishi may also have antioxidant effects that help to fight free radical damage that causes inflammation and fatigue. Some research even suggests that reishi can help to regulate the body’s testosterone levels in a positive way to encourage healthy energy levels.
How to Use Mushrooms for Energy
Before you can get started with a mushroom energy regimen, you need to consider the types of mushroom products available. Many people incorporate fresh or dried mushrooms into their daily meals, and that’s a great way to add in some of the nutritional benefits of mushrooms. However, if you want to reap the most medicinal benefits of mushrooms, you should consider a medicinal mushroom supplement.
If you take the supplement route, you need to consider the dosing style and quality of the product you choose. Plus, you’ll want to figure out the dosage necessary to reap benefits, and the best time of day to take each specific type of mushroom.
It can seem like a lot to keep up with–which is why multi-mushroom blends are often the way to go. These multifaceted mushroom formulas are formulated to help you reap the synergistic benefits of many medicinal mushrooms without having to work in a handful of supplements.
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.
Choosing a Mushroom Product
There are many different forms of mushroom products available, ranging from raw, fresh mushrooms to double-extracted powders to tinctures. Not all supplements are made equal, however.
Generally, for supplementing, a powder or extract is the best option. Tinctures contain mushroom material that has been exposed to alcohol, which is known to kill the beta-glucan content. Both capsules and powders can contain concentrated versions of the beta-glucans and other bioactive metabolites found in most medicinal mushrooms, though powders may give more control over the dosage.
Mushroom Supplement Quality
Mushroom supplement quality varies greatly from product to product, and mushroom consumers are at risk of falling victim to the industry’s shady tactics. Not all products that claim to be mushroom products are made from actual mushrooms–many are made from mycelium, the web of “roots” that grow beneath the surface and support the mushroom’s life.
Mycelium vs Mushroom
While the mycelium is crucial to the early stages of mushroom growth and the production of the fruiting body (the cap and stem portion, or “mushroom”), it does not contain a high beta-glucan content.
Furthermore, the mycelium is usually grown on a grain substrate and is difficult to separate from the substrate at harvest. That means that many mycelium products contain a lot of grain fillers. In other words, they offer little to no therapeutic benefits, but can still be marketed as mushroom products.
To enjoy the benefits of medicinal mushrooms, you need to find a product made with mushroom extract from fruiting bodies, not mycelium products or whole mushroom products.
Read more about Mushroom Mycelium to learn the difference.
Another trick of the mushroom trade is to market “double extraction” products as though they are superior, but you actually need to stick with single, hot water extracted mushroom formulas.
The second phase in a “double extraction” involves alcohol which kills the beta-glucan content. Although manufacturers will tout this double extraction as better, products made via alcohol extraction are weak and diluted and will not provide the same benefits as single hot water extracted mushroom formulas.
Mushroom Nootropic Dosage
Figuring out the dosage needed for different mushroom nootropics can be tricky–each has their own unique dosing thresholds, and the formula heavily impacts the necessary dosage as well. For instance, some extract powders contain 20% beta-glucans or more, and some contain far less, meaning you need to adjust the dosage to meet your beta-glucan needs.
Plus, when combining mushrooms, you may find that you need a smaller dose of each one. This is because many have overlapping bio metabolites and other compounds that work synergistically with each other. So, you either need to research the dosage for each mushroom individually, or you need to find a high-quality combination product and follow the suggested dosage. You can always slowly increase or decrease your dosage as needed, allowing a few days in between alterations to see the effects.
Lucid instant beverages are perfect for this. Our powerhouse combination of Lion’s Mane, Reishi, Tremella, Cordyceps, and a handful of other nootropic herbs and amino acids is a one-stop shop for total wellness and energy sustenance. Just one scoop a day blended into water (plus all your favorite add-ins for coffee or tea) is all you need to reap the brain and body benefits of mushroom nootropics.
Who Shouldn’t Take Mushroom Supplements for Energy?
Medicinal mushroom supplements side effects are rare and usually mild. However, some people may not be able to safely take medicinal mushrooms due to certain health conditions or taking medications. Talk to your doctor before using mushroom supplements if you:
- Take medications to thin the blood or manage blood pressure and blood sugar
- Take antidepressants or antianxiety medications
- Have a diagnosed lung or heart condition
- Are allergic to mushrooms
- Are pregnant or breastfeeding
Side effects caused by medicinal mushrooms are rare, but may include:
- Bowel changes
- Allergic reaction
If you experience any adverse effects after trying medicinal mushrooms, stop taking them and talk to your doctor.
If you're interested in trying energy boosting mushrooms for yourself, check out our three flavor varieties of our mushroom+nootropic stack instant beverages:
- “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
- “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/
- “Hericium erinaceus Improves Recognition Memory and Induces Hippocampal and Cerebellar Neurogenesis in Frail Mice during Aging” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6521003/
- “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://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21941586/
- “Chemistry, Nutrition, and Health-Promoting Properties of Hericium erinaceus (Lion's Mane) Mushroom Fruiting Bodies and Mycelia and Their Bioactive Compounds” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26244378/
- “A Review on General Nutritional Compounds and Pharmacological Properties of the Lentinula edodes Mushroom” https://file.scirp.org/pdf/FNS_2014062611410421.pdf
- “Antiinflammatory and Immunomodulating Properties of Fungal Metabolites” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1160565/
- “An Update on Plant Derived Anti-Androgens” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3693613/