Unlocking the Potential of Adaptogenic Mushrooms: Health Benefits Await, but Research Trails Behind
If, like millions globally, you relish the taste and daily ritual of coffee, you might be grappling with its downside—heightened anxiety, drained energy, and afternoon fatigue. Many face this cycle, prompting the rise of mushroom coffee—a blend of coffee and adaptogenic mushrooms—as an enticing alternative.

Positioned as a potential adaptogen—a substance believed to safely alleviate stress and bring equilibrium to various body systems—mushroom coffee doesn’t just promise energy and prolonged focus. It also pledges relief from stress and anxiety, coupled with the familiar coffee lift minus the dreaded afternoon crash. The promise is indeed alluring! But the question lingers: should we put our faith in it?

Mushroom coffee is marketed as a coffee alternative that combines roughly equal parts ground coffee beans and adaptogenic mushroom powder to create an instant coffee drink (just add hot water) that tastes like coffee but offers additional health benefits due to the mushroom content. Other ingredients like powdered creamer, superfoods like cacao, and sweeteners may be added along with the mushroom extracts for taste. And some blends of instant mushroom coffee contain adaptogenic herbs, like ashwagandha.

Adaptogenic mushrooms may have similar stress relief and energy benefits as adaptogenic herbs (which are plants, not fungi). However, the research on the effects of these mushrooms in humans is still developing, and we have a lot more evidence to support the efficacy of herbal adaptogens.

Medicinal mushrooms often included in mushroom coffee blends include:

Reishi mushrooms
Cordyceps mushrooms
Lion’s mane mushrooms
Chaga mushrooms
Each of these species of mushrooms has different effects, so combining them is supposed to provide a range of benefits.

Some of the brands of mushroom coffee you might have heard of include:

Four Sigmatic

The coffee-mushroom ratio lacks consistency among these brands, with most opting for a blend of different mushrooms, making it challenging to discern the exact composition. One commonly agreed-upon aspect is an approximate equality in coffee and mushroom content per serving.

Is mushroom coffee worth it?
Despite the anecdotal benefits, the high cost of mushroom coffee may deter some. Those looking for cost-effective solutions can explore traditional coffee or try ShroomzUp Mushroom Coffee, which are more affordable. While mushroom coffee is generally safe, the long-term effects remain unknown. Individual reactions vary and cautious consumption is recommended, especially for pregnant or lactating individuals or those with serious health problems. Monitoring personal responses is critical.

Numerous reputable companies claim nearly 2 grams (2,000 milligrams) of mushroom powder per serving in their mushroom coffee products. Considering that even minimal amounts, such as 1 or 2 milligrams, enhanced well-being in a clinical trial, and 2.5 to 100 milligrams demonstrated immune support in a systematic review, the 2,000 milligrams per cup of coffee appears more than sufficient to yield benefits.

The potential benefits of adaptogenic mushrooms, based on current research, include an amplified sense of well-being and immune support. However, this research is still in its early stages and lacks robustness.

The study revealed that beta-glucans, found in shiitake, reishi, and oyster mushrooms, as well as some yeasts, exhibited positive effects on upper respiratory tract infections and potentially on mental health. These benefits likely result from the immune-strengthening properties of beta-glucans.

It’s essential to note that the studied beta-glucans did not originate from mushroom species typically used in mushroom coffee. Therefore, the applicability of these findings to reishi, cordyceps, lion’s mane, or chaga remains uncertain. Mushrooms naturally vary in their beta-glucan content, ranging from 3.1% to 46.5%, influenced by factors like species, environment, and age. For instance, raw cordyceps exhibited 3.79% beta-glucan in a food study, which decreased to 2.03% once incorporated into coffee. More specific data on each species is necessary to establish a robust case for their science-backed benefits.

Currently, the research on the adaptogenic effects of medicinal mushrooms is not highly robust, but it marks a promising starting point. Continuous monitoring for repeated clinical studies and meta-analyses is crucial to confirm the beneficial effects of mushroom coffee.

In the interim, mushrooms in most mushroom coffees seem generally safe. Purchasing from a quality-assured brand ensures a safer exploration. However, individuals who are pregnant or breastfeeding, managing a serious illness, or taking medications should err on the side of caution and consult with their doctor before trying mushroom coffee.

See more on the topic:

TOP 5 Popular Drinks Incorporating Medicinal Mushrooms
Are Functional Mushrooms Safe?
Turkey Tail. Chaga. Lion’s Mane. Do These Mushroom Supplements Genuinely Offer Health Benefits?

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