Medicinal mushrooms can be taken as supplements to boost your immune system function, fight oxidative damage, and improve your cognitive function.
In addition, certain species of mushrooms might even be able to boost aerobic endurance. Mushrooms are an ancient and genetically distant form of life, but nutrition and herbal medicine researchers have found combinations of mushrooms that have a wide range of beneficial health effects.
We’ve took stock of the medicinal mushroom supplements available on the market right now and come up with the ten most effective, ranked by their quality.
1. Genius Mushrooms
Genius is known for their innovative and cutting-edge supplement technology. In their medicinal mushroom supplement, they use lion's mane, cordyceps, and reishi mushrooms to augment cognitive function, boost your immune system, and bolster your overall energy levels.
Aside from these key mushroom ingredients, the only other compounds you’ll find in this supplement are cellulose to make up the capsule and silica to prevent clumping.
These qualities make it our number one choice when it comes to medicinal mushrooms for all-around health and wellness.
2. Onnit Shroom Tech
Onnit Shroom Tech is popular among nootropic enthusiasts because it is one of the few combination medicinal mushroom supplements that’s been studied rigorously.
It’s been demonstrated to improve both focus and reaction time. The key medicinal mushroom in this supplement is cordyceps, but it’s supported by other supplements such as chromium, ashwagandha, rhodiola, and green tea extract.
It’s a strong choice if ramping up your cognitive firepower or improving your sport performance is your top priority.
3. DailyNutra Mushroom Defense Formula
DailyNutra Mushroom Defense Formula is a medicinal mushroom supplement specifically formulated to strengthen your immune system.
It uses a combination of five key medicinal mushrooms, plus beta-D-Glucans, to achieve an immune-strengthening effect, and for those wary of powder-based medicinal mushroom supplements, it comes in capsules to make dosing easy.
Among the medicinal mushroom supplements that target immunity specifically, this is our top pick.
4. Naturealm Sacred 7 Mushroom Extract Powder
Naturealm Sacred 7 is a good balance between variety and dosage: it’s got a broader range of ingredients than more basic medicinal mushroom supplements, but it isn’t so broad that you aren’t getting a high dosage of any one mushroom.
In this supplement, you get the three most popular medicinal mushroom varieties (reishi, lion’s mane, and cordyceps) alongside chaga, turkey tail, maitake, and shiitake. Since it’s powder form, you can adjust your personal dose as needed.
5. Freshcap Mushrooms Thrive 6
Freshcap Mushrooms Thrive 6 has a combination of the biggest players in medicinal mushrooms: cordyceps, reishi, chaga, lion's mane, turkey tail, and maitake.
With the active ingredients extracted with hot water and zero extra ingredients, this is a very solid all-around medicinal mushroom ingredient.
6. Host Defense Mushrooms MyCommunity Comprehensive Immune Support
Host Defense is a multi-ingredient medicinal mushroom supplement that uses 18 different sources of mushroom material to target your body’s immune system function.
While the large number of ingredients means that the doses of the individual mushroom extracts is fairly low, it is a good option if more simple immunity-boosting mushroom supplements haven’t worked for you.
The broader range of ingredients could create a different and better response from your body.
7. Mushroom Harvest 14 Mushroom Blend Powder
For the hardcore medicinal mushroom enthusiast, there is no better way to employ the power of a broad range of mushrooms than with Mushroom Harvest.
You’ll find the usual medicinal mushrooms in this powder-form blend, like cordyceps, reishi, and lion's mane , but you'll also find rare variants like chaga, poria, and maitake.
It’s a bit of a kitchen-sink approach, and the supplement design means you don’t have any control over the relative ratio of the different ingredients, but as far as range and variety of ingredients, this medicinal mushroom supplement is hard to beat.
8. Terrasoul Superfoods Red Reishi Mushroom Powder
Terrasoul Superfoods is an excellent source for raw materials from herbal plants, and their best medicinal mushroom product is their red reishi mushroom powder.
Treasured for its ability to increase immunity and fight infections, reishi makes a great supplement all on its own if immunity is your goal.
For broader wellness or for cognitive function, you may want to mix reishi with other medicinal mushrooms, which is where other supplements really shine.
9. Dr. Mercola Fermented Mushroom Complex
Dr. Mercola Fermented Mushroom Complex is specifically designed for the immune system, and uses a few common mushrooms, like reishi and cordyceps, as well as some rarer mushrooms, like antrodia camphorata and Himematsutake.
While other immunity-focused medicinal mushroom supplements are more popular, Dr. Mercola is a good choice if those medicinal mushroom supplements have failed you.
10. SoTru Fermented Medicinal Mushrooms
SoTru Fermented Medicinal Mushrooms puts a unique spin on their medicinal mushrooms by using mushroom extract that’s been partially digested by bacteria.
Unfortunately, the range of mushrooms included is not that broad, and the precise ratio of ingredients isn’t disclosed, so it’s hard to compare to other medicinal mushroom supplements.
Medicinal mushroom benefits and side effects
The complex and arcane biology of mushrooms grants some species some impressive health-boosting and wellness-enhancing properties.
Specific mushroom species have been studied for their effects at boosting immune system function, fighting infections, and even for nootropic, cognition-boosting effects.
Different species of medicinal mushrooms have different strengths, so it’s important to understand these when looking at medicinal mushroom supplements.
Cordyceps works to boost the performance of your immune system. Cordyceps is a mushroom that only grows in conjunction with a particular kind of caterpillar native to China.
As a result, it’s rare, highly prized, and has a long history of use in Chinese herbal practices. Moreover, cordyceps shows particularly strong activity when it comes to activating your immune system and fighting off viral infections.
A study published in 2012 by researchers in China demonstrated the effects of cordyceps mushroom in mice whose immune system had been intentionally suppressed (1).
In their study, they used immunocompromised mice given different doses of cordyceps mushroom extract. The researchers demonstrated that the cordyceps extract allowed the mice to overcome the immune suppressing effects and restore their immune system to proper functionality.
This suggests that any medicinal mushroom supplement that is designed to boost immunity should employ a solid dose of cordyceps.
Cordyceps may also improve endurance performance. Cordyceps mushroom extract has also been studied as a way to augment athletic performance.
One study published in High Altitude Medicine and Biology showed better gains in aerobic endurance during a stint of altitude training among a group of runners at a high-altitude training camp (2).
This indicates that cordyceps might be a good choice for endurance sport athletes who want to naturally boost performance.
Lion’s Mane mushroom can help with mild cognitive impairment and may improve cognitive function. Lion’s Mane is a medicinal mushroom that’s shown potential as a neurologically-active supplement.
As with many supplements that augment brain function, initial research into its uses was conducted in people with mild cognitive impairment.
One such study, published in the journal Phytotherapy Research, used a 1000 mg Lion’s Mane supplement in a group of 30 subjects observed over the course of 16 weeks (3).
Half the subjects received the Lion’s Mane supplement, while half received a placebo. The researchers noted that the subjects who took the mushroom supplement showed significant improvement on the battery of cognitive skills tests, while the subjects in the placebo group showed no difference.
Research in mice has also found that Lion’s Mane prevents declines in cognitive function in mice injected with the same plaque that causes Alzheimer’s disease (4). Reducing buildup of this beta-amyloid plaque means that a Lion's Mane supplement could prevent or at least slow the onset of degenerative neurological disease.
Lion’s Mane may also help reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. Research out of Japan showed that, over the course of four weeks, subjects who took a Lion’s Mane supplement reported greater concentration, less irritation, and less anxiety compared to a group of similar subjects given a placebo (5).
This indicates that Lion’s Mane has broad neurological activity, and might be the go-to medicinal mushroom for preserving, repairing, and improving cognitive function and well-being, whether that’s memory and performance or mood and emotional well-being.
Reishi mushroom is a strong antioxidant that might improve your long-term health. Reishi mushroom, also sometimes called lingzhi, is another medicinal mushroom native to China with a long history of traditional use.
According to a review article in the journal Food Reviews International, this mushroom has antioxidant and cardioprotective properties (6).
Reishi contains a number of antioxidants that help capture reactive oxygen species before they can do damage to your body, and it’s been studied for its potential to reduce blood pressure and improve cardiovascular health. It's even found in the occasional prostate supplement thanks to its cardiovascular benefits.
While other mushrooms are coveted for their short-term benefits, reishi might be the go-to medicinal mushroom when to improving your biomarkers of long-term health.
Since medicinal mushroom supplements are derived from mushrooms traditionally eaten or used in herbal preparations, they are largely thought to be safe.
As with any mushroom product, getting the wrong ingredients is a risk, but you can mitigate this by choosing a reputable manufacturer. There are a few case reports of serious liver toxicity linked to mushroom supplements, most notably in reishi mushrooms (7).
However, in these case reports, the authors note that high doses of reishi mushrooms do not produce liver toxicity in healthy people.
They suggest that these liver toxicity cases may have been caused by an interaction between other prescription medications being taken by the patients alongside their medicinal mushroom supplements. To this end, it seems like you shouldn’t mix prescription medications and medicinal mushroom supplements without talking to your doctor.
With such a wide variety of medicinal mushroom sources, it’s hard to establish definitive dosing guidelines.
Among the most well-studied mushroom varieties, cordyceps and lion’s mane have perhaps the best-characterized dosing profiles: both have been studied at doses ranging from 200 to 2000 mg per day, which seems to be an effective range.
Beyond these common mushroom varieties, many medicinal mushrooms have been studied only in detail in animal studies, or in small pilot studies in humans, so you’ll have to go with the formulations selected by the nutritionists who formulate medicinal mushroom supplements.
As you might guess, choosing a high-quality supplement is critical when it comes to getting something close to an optimal dosage of some of the less-well-studied medicinal mushrooms.
Mushrooms offer a huge range of medicinal properties, and these can be harvested using a medicinal mushroom supplement.
When looking for one of these supplements, you should choose your key ingredients based on your primary supplementation goals.
For improving immune function and sports performance, cordyceps should definitely be included. When it comes to cognitive performance, you definitely want a medicinal mushroom supplement that includes lion’s mane.
For improving biomarkers of long-term health, reishi mushroom seems to perform best, but beyond these basic guidelines there are many additional mushrooms with medicinal properties that you may find in a good mushroom supplement, and no doubt some mushrooms have properties that have not yet been discovered.
Proper dosing is difficult to determine, but at least for lion’s mane and cordyceps, 200-2000 mg is the dosage range per day that’s been studied.
When it comes to side effects, medicinal mushrooms appear safe, as long as you aren’t taking them in conjunction with prescription medications. In this case, you should consult your doctor first.
The medicinal properties of mushrooms are far from being fully understood, but they appear to be helpful for boosting immunity, sports performance, cognitive function, and long term health.