8 Types of Mushroom Powder for Brain and Body
Yes, mushrooms make an excellent substitute for adding savory flavor to meatless dishes.
Did you also know that medicinal mushroom powders may also boost mental function, support your immune system, defend against aging, and so much more?
Indigenous cultures around the world have taken advantage of the power of mushrooms for centuries.
Today, science has started to catch up- with plenty of research into the medicinal properties of mushrooms and their extracts.
In fact, pharmaceutical companies extract properties from mushrooms to create powerful medicines. Shiitake mushrooms, for example, are used to make anti-cancer, cholesterol, infection-fighting, and immune system drugs.
Yeah, drugs made from shiitake alone are a $75 million market – each year. (1)
There is good news—you can reap the benefits of medicinal mushrooms at home with powders and extracts.
What is Mushroom Powder?
Mushroom powder is one of the hottest food trends right now.
Culinary mushroom powders are usually made from typical mushrooms you’d buy at the grocery store like white button mushrooms, or even wild gourmet varieties like porcini mushroom. They are used for for the fifth taste- umami, and usually have a strong mushroom flavor.
You can also make your own powder by purchasing dehydrated mushrooms or drying them yourself and tossing them into a food processor.
Medicinal mushroom powders, however, are different. They are more of a functional super-food, and used for the powerful health benefits. (think of them like a different kind of magic mushroom powder :))
These fine powders can easily be added to your diet.
Every medicinal mushroom contains a unique blend of phytonutrients, antioxidants, polysaccharides, and other enzymes that have different effects across the entire body.
However, the real healing power from medicinal mushrooms comes from a specific poly saccharide called beta glucan. (2)
Science and the medical industry have started paying close attention to beta glucans because they have an interesting effect on the immune system. Instead of stimulating or suppressing immune function, beta glucans balance it.
The immune-balancing properties make mushroom powder an excellent alternative to other natural supplements for cholesterol, inflammation, and other conditions that may trigger autoimmune flareups.
6 Incredible Benefits of Mushroom Powder
Before jumping into the health benefits, it’s a good idea to mention that taking medicinal mushrooms in powder or extract form is the best choice.
Fresh mushrooms go bad quickly, and dehydrating mushrooms can be a pain. (when’s the last time you actually used your dehydrator?)
Powders and capsules are easy, and can be incorporated into any type of diet, even keto, paleo, or vegan. To top it off, extracted powders are much for powerful- serving up a concentrated form of nutrients and beneficial compounds.
Of course, the benefits of any specific powder depend entirely on the type of mushroom. In general, here are the top benefits of medicinal mushroom powders.
1. Balances Your Immune System
The polysaccharides and beta glucans in mushrooms are first and foremost some of the best tools for supporting a healthy immune system.
Once your immune system is functioning at an optimal level, other parts of your health start falling into place.
2. Boosts Cognitive Function and Mental Health
Some mushrooms have earned the title of “nature’s Xanax” in western countries due to their anti-anxiety effects. (3) Other mushroom powder varieties are known for improving cognitive function and memory. (4)
3. Improves Energy Levels
Athletes love cordyceps because this fungus improves oxygen uptake and enhance blood flow to stimulate energy and improve physical performance. (5)
4. Supports Healthy Brain and Nerve Cells
Lion’s mane is well known in the medicinal mushroom world as one of the only plant substances to stimulate Nerve Growth Factor and myelin—two crucial components of a healthy brain. (6) Poor NGF and myelin production directly contribute to Alzheimer’s and dementia.
5. May Contain Anti-Cancer Properties
Turkey tail mushroom is under significant research for its powerful cancer-fighting properties.
A compound in this mushroom called polysaccharide-K is marketed as an approved prescription in Japan for treating cancer.
6. Defends Against Free Radical Damage and Oxidative Stress
Medicinal mushrooms have the highest concentration of antioxidants of any food source. Antioxidants are especially important for fighting free radical damage that can cause inflammation across the entire body.
8 Types of Mushroom Powder
While most medicinal mushrooms contain high levels of natural beta glucans, each individual mushroom also provides special properties.
Not to mention, there are different types of beta glucans that act on the immune system and parts of your body in different ways. These are the top medicinal mushrooms you’ll find in powders and extracts.
Reishi, also known as the “mushroom of immortality” helps balance the immune system and defend against the negative effects of aging.
2. Lion’s Mane
Lion’s mane may have earned its name from its flowing mane-like appearance, but you could also say it’s the “king” of the mushrooms, too.
By stimulating NGF, lion’s mane can protect against diseases like multiple sclerosis and dementia while improving cognitive function and fighting anxiety symptoms. (9)
Cordyceps is as powerful as it is funny-looking.
Aside from boosting oxygen uptake, increasing exercise endurance, and supporting muscle recovery, cordyceps is also studied for its tumor-fighting, blood sugar-reducing, anti-inflammation properties and so much more. (10, 11)
Chaga is one of the best medicinal mushrooms for antioxidant support and healthy aging. Studies show chaga can slow cancer growth and reduce oxidative stress.
By promoting the production of healthy cytokines, chaga also defends against inflammation, bacteria, colds, and even serious diseases. (12)
5. Turkey Tail
Combine reishi with turkey tail for a cancer-fighting powerhouse.
Turkey tail mushroom stimulates your body’s natural killer cells.
You’re no doubt familiar with shiitake thanks to Thai curries and tasty stir-fries – but it’s also a potent medicinal mushroom.
While shiitake boasts several benefits, it’s notable benefits include lowering LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, protecting your liver, and preventing plaque build-up in arteries. (13) For a healthy heart, look no further than shiitake powder or extract.
Yes, maitake and shiitake are actually two different mushrooms. Maitake powder is often used for balancing blood sugar levels to manage type-2 diabetes.
8. Mushroom Powder Blends
You’re probably thinking to yourself, “how am I supposed to pick one powder? I can’t afford to buy all of them.”
Good news—you don’t have to!
Mushroom blends are readily available online. THRIVE 6 contains an organic and tested blend of reishi, lion’s mane, turkey tail, maitake, chaga, and cordyceps so you get a wide range of polysaccharides, beta glucans, and other phytonutrients.
You could also purchase your own powdered mushrooms and create your own unique blends.
How to Use Mushroom Powder
Mushroom extracts and powders are easy to incorporate into your diet.
Some mushroom powders will add a kick of savory flavor to your soups and stews. However, many mushroom powders like reishi or cordyceps can be bitter- so test the waters in small batches first.
If your powder does taste bitter, try working it into foods with other stronger flavors like coffee, smoothies, pasta sauces, and baked goods.
You can find many powders available in capsule form. Amazon also sells reasonably priced capsule presses for making your own supplements so you can save some money by buying powders in bulk and making your own.
In terms of dosage, every type of mushroom and every extract is unique. Depending on the potency, most people should take about 1 gram per day, but many people will take more. When in doubt on dosage, or if looking to treat a specific condition, it’s best to talk to your doctor or natural health care practitioner.
What to Look Out For
You have to be careful shopping for mushroom powder.
When you’re dealing with something like fungus, quality matters in several ways.
First of all, you definitely want to find something that’s grown and processed according to the highest standards.
Likewise, you want to make sure your powder doesn’t contain any fillers like grain or starch.
Unlike other herbal supplements, mushroom extracts and powders have another quality-related caveat—they must be made from the whole fruiting body and not myceliated grain.
If you read anything that says “mycelial biomass,” “cultured oats,” or even “freeze-dried myceliated brown rice,” you’re not getting the best bang for your buck because the fruiting body is the part packed with beta glucans and powerful healing enzymes.
That’s the TL;DR version, read more about how myceliated grain and fruiting bodies work here.
The Bottom Line
Mushrooms are much more than meat substitutes and flavor enhancers: they can seriously change your life. Of course, no food or supplement is a miracle solution.
As part of an active lifestyle and healthy diet, however, the right mushroom powder can help defend against cancer, regenerate brain nerve growth, fight inflammation, and so much more. You just need to find the perfect extract and recipes.