Medically Reviewed by: Dr. Caley Scott, ND
It’s not surprising that functional mushrooms — long studied in ancient medicine like Ayurveda — have made a comeback in the mainstream wellness community. Functional mushrooms are known for unique health benefits and adaptogenic nature, meaning they can help the body differently depending on individual imbalances and needs.
There’s still a lot to discover about functional mushrooms, and science is catching up fast, but for now, we’re proud to be at the forefront of fungi by bringing mushrooms to the masses. Let’s check out the real meaning behind the functional mushroom movement and see which ones are most relevant to your health and wellness journey today.
Why is everyone taking functional mushrooms?
Mushrooms have been a part of cooking and medicine for thousands of years — but unlike your typical array of ingredients like fruits and veggies, mushrooms are in a kingdom of their own. As fungi, mushrooms are a key part of our ecosystem, and deliver unique benefits when consumed, whether cooked, raw, or used in extracts for therapeutic applications.
Now, the scientific community is finally coming around to the idea of mushrooms as a genuine form of supplementation, nutrition, and support in key functions of the body and mind. This explains the rapid rise of adaptogenic, functional mushrooms that are now in the spotlight throughout the world of health and wellness.
If you haven’t tapped into the world of mushrooms yet, you might have a lot of questions. First off, the mushrooms we’re talking about here are not psychoactive, hallucinogenic, or used for recreational purposes. That’s exactly why we call them functional — they’re taken to support health, cognition, immunity, and much more.
You also shouldn’t worry about sourcing, preparing, or measuring serving sizes for functional mushrooms to get the benefits you want. Sunmed’s All-in-One Mushroom Gummies help address that exact issue, giving you a consistent serving of the best healthy mushrooms for daily use — all in a convenient delivery format.
Keep in mind, too, that functional mushrooms are just one piece of the puzzle in the big picture of health, self-care, and wellness. Use them strategically and be sure to emphasize healthy habits and lifestyle first — that way, you’ll get the most mileage from functional mushrooms.
What are the top 10 functional mushrooms?
We’ve given you the scoop on functional mushrooms and why they’re suddenly so popular, but you’re probably wondering about specifics. Let’s talk about the top 10 functional mushrooms that make the biggest difference, and what you can expect from taking them.
1. Maitake mushroom
As one of the most popular gourmet mushrooms in the world, maitake mushrooms top our list as a palatable, healthy intro to the world of functional fungi. Maitakes are known for overlapping layers and a rich, earthy flavor. They’re easy to cook and incorporate into a wide range of recipes, making them a great starting point for your functional mushroom journey.
From a health standpoint, maitakes are packed with nutrients and antioxidants, protecting and energizing cells at a molecular level. Maitakes can also help support your immune system and help regulate blood sugar, making them a great accompaniment to noodles or rice.
2. Shiitake mushroom
Shiitake mushrooms are native to East Asia, featuring a distinctive brown cap and delivering tons of smoky flavor. The meaty texture of shiitake mushrooms makes them a favorite among plant-based dieters, but even meat eaters will find something to love about the flavor and toothy texture.
Shiitakes are also known as a big-time immune supporter, earning them a place in your recipe book of winter soups and stews. They’re also rich in vitamins and minerals like magnesium, supporting everything from muscle recovery to cognition, sleep, and more. Shiitakes are another great stepping stone to enter the world of functional mushrooms in a manageable way.
3. Lion's mane mushroom
Lion’s mane mushrooms are a certified superfood. While they may not be as commonly used as an ingredient in cooking, they’ve made a splash in recent years as a natural nootropic. That’s because lion’s mane supports the nervous system and is thought to maintain emotional wellness and concentration.
To reap the adaptogenic boost of lion’s mane, extracts are generally the way to go. They make for a great morning energizer to take along with your favorite caffeinated tea or coffee. You’ll definitely notice an uptick in concentration and energy from lion’s mane, so be sure to include them on your list of must-have functional mushrooms.
4. Reishi mushroom
With reishi mushrooms, we have a powerful ingredient that works best as an extract or dried powder. While you can certainly prepare reishi in standard dishes, we suggest using them more specifically for health benefits like support for a healthy stress response and inner balance.
Specifically, reishi mushrooms can help maintain the body’s immune system, your main line of defense against invaders and illness.
5. Cordyceps mushroom
Mainly found in the Himalayan mountains, cordyceps are another mushroom that you probably don’t want to cook with. They’re usually packaged in a dehydrated state, and while you can rehydrate them to eat, we suggest taking an extract or powder to get the superfood benefits of cordyceps.
With that in mind, cordyceps are all about energy and stamina. Cordyceps mushrooms were traditionally used by athletes and warriors to gain a physical advantage, and you can get that same support today. Take cordyceps for energy support before you hit the gym, work, or anything else on your daily task list.
6. Chaga mushroom
Chaga mushrooms are native to very cold northern environments, such as Siberia, Northern Europe, and Alaska. As you might have guessed, they are loaded with antioxidants and offer immune support that will help you out during those cold winter months when your body’s defenses are low.
Meanwhile, chaga can reduce tension in muscles and joints, making them a nice supplement to your favorite hemp extract oil or ingestibles.
Traditionally, chaga is broken down and brewed as a tea with a natural vanilla flavor. While you can certainly take chaga tea as part of your winter routine, you can also take chaga extract to get the benefits as well.
7. Turkey Tail Mushroom
You guessed it — this mushroom has colorful fan-shaped caps that look like the tail of a turkey. They are found worldwide, so you might just be able to source some local turkey tail mushrooms from your own backyard or nature preserve.
However, turkey tail mushrooms are tough and require roasting or sauteeing to make them edible. If you just want the immune-supporting benefits of turkey tail, use a powdered or extract form and skip the cooking process.
The good news is that this is one of the most widely researched medicinal mushrooms, and they’re widely available in supplement form. Studies show that turkey tail can help support immune health and also help maintain a healthy gut microbiome — key to overall health and consistent digestion.
8. White button mushroom
You’ve definitely encountered these crowd-favorite mushrooms before. White button mushrooms are also known as the “cultivated mushroom” because they’re so widespread and popular worldwide. They taste great both raw and cooked, and make for a perfect addition to any meat and cheese board as a plant-based option.
In terms of health benefits, white button mushrooms are yet another nutrient-dense superfood. They are loaded with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, helping your cells stay strong and even promoting heart health. Don’t skip white button mushrooms on your next trip to the store — they’re a great place to start your functional mushroom kick.
9. Black fungus mushroom
With a strange ear-like shape and slimy texture, black fungus mushrooms aren’t the most appealing fungi to put on your plate. However, they’re a pillar of traditional Chinese medicine, renowned for supporting gut health and blood circulation. Black fungus mushrooms have high concentrations of pectin as well, maintaining proper stomach motility, digestion, and intestinal regulation.
If you can handle the taste and texture, these mushrooms make a great addition to a stir fry or noodle dish. Of course, you can take a powdered or extract form to strictly get the health benefits and skip the recipes.
10. Royal sun mushroom
Royal sun mushrooms were first discovered in Brazil, but they soon became one of the most popular culinary fungi in East Asia. They are similar to white button mushrooms in shape and color, but generally have longer stems and caps. Flavors and textures are also more palatable, and you can easily use them in your favorite mushroom-focused recipes.
Once again, royal sun mushrooms are a natural form of immune support you can count on, working to keep your immune system healthy and functioning optimally.
How can you incorporate functional mushrooms daily?
With that exhaustive list of functional mushrooms to choose from, we don’t blame you if you can’t add them all to your grocery cart on a weekly basis. If you want to reap all the benefits of the mushrooms we described, the best way to take them is with a balanced, comprehensive supplement like the All-in-One Mushroom Gummies from Sunmed.
While Sunmed is known for high-quality hemp extracts and whole-plant hemp supplements, we’re all in on the latest findings about functional mushrooms. Our All-in-One Mushroom Gummies cover all the bases, including full daily servings of the 10 functional mushrooms discussed in this article.
No need to source or prepare mushrooms from all around the world — All-in-One Mushroom Gummies make it easy to take functional mushrooms in a convenient chewable format. Just start your day with a couple of tasty wild raspberry gummies and see the difference for yourself.
The bottom line
From mental clarity and energy to immune support and stress management, there are countless ways to benefit from functional mushrooms — and we make it easier than ever.
Your functional mushroom journey has only just begun, so go ahead and discover the world of fungi for yourself. All-in-One Mushroom Gummies are the perfect launchpad, but there’s always more to learn in the never-ending process of health and wellness.