Supporting Health & Wellness

Functional mushrooms offer health-supporting properties that extend beyond nutritional value. The benefits are related to the all-natural polysaccharides, prebiotic fibres, and bioactive compounds found in the functional mushrooms. Functional mushrooms are best used to support health and wellness, including preparing the body for the stresses of life and adapting to change. 

How to Use Functional Mushrooms . . .
Amidst the Hype

Functional mushrooms offer the potential to bring a body back to homeostasis. 

Believed to contain potent adaptogens, these mushrooms have been promoted to support stress management, enhance sport and sexual performance, and protect against inflammation and illness.

Despite increasing popularity in the health and wellness markets, confusion around how to use functional mushrooms is rampant. The properties, contents, and benefits are widely touted – but mixed messaging slows uptake and obscurs understanding.

Yet, consumers are still curious about the potential benefits and applications of mushrooms. 

Functional mushroom for energy and stamina

Take the team at Myzel as an example. Our Account Executive, Christine, loves to add cooked functional mushrooms to many of her meals, and drinks turkey tail tea to support digestion. I am a recent convert to cosmetics containing functional mushrooms. I’m using a product containing Tremella, which is thought to boost collagen production, and at the very least, increase skin-based moisture retention. 

We’re both basing our usage on anecdotal evidence, rather than specific claims made by one company or another. 

Assessing the Risks Associated with Functional Mushroom Use

That’s the interesting thing about deciding how to use functional mushrooms: it is a relatively risk-free proposition. 

One thing I learned about seeking out evidence on risks associated with functional mushroom consumption is this: little evidence exists. 

Many articles discuss digestive distress associated with consuming too much of any one functional mushroom product, but no evidence was provided. I turned to a traditional pharmacology resource, the Merck Manual, looking for some well-researched advice. Instead, I found this:

“There appears to be no compelling reason to take reishi for most people. The claimed health benefits of reishi have not been confirmed in high-quality studies in people.” 

The resource implies that no evidence means no reason for consumption.

Yet, this advice exists in opposition to studies emerging in some markets, where the possible benefits presented by functional mushroom consumption comes with few risks and lots of potential benefits.

Until really specific evidence is available, how you use functional mushrooms appears to be discretionary. If you are taking medications, we recommend you speak with your healthcare provider before consuming a functional mushroom product.

It’s important to note that neither the FDA in the United States nor the CFIA in Canada have approved the use of mushrooms as a treatment for any medical condition. To be clear: both bodies acknowledge functional mushrooms as components of natural health products and in some cases edible foods. But neither body explores the particular qualities of functional mushrooms. 

betaglucans in seaweed differ from those in functional mushrooms

Beta-Glucans Power Up Functional Mushrooms

According to The Ultimate Guide to Mushrooms, over 2,000 species of mushrooms are known to humans.  However, only a portion of these are edible, and even fewer are revered for their adaptogenic properties. 

Functional mushrooms are a unique subset of fungi containing health-boosting compounds. The best known compound, beta-glucans, are a fibrous polysaccharide found in fungi, bacteria, yeast, as well as algae, lichens, seaweed, and many grains.

The molecular structure of the beta-glucans in grains and those found in fungi are slightly different. In grains, beta-glucans tend to have a linear structure. In fungi, beta-glucans tend to have a branched structure. Their structure gives them slightly different, perhaps even more complex, adaptogenic properties. 

That’s where the value of knowing what you’re consuming comes in: the source of beta-glucans is just as important as the presence of the compound itself.

3rd Party Testing Confirms Presence of Beta-Glucans

At Myzel, we use third-party testing and certificates of analysis (COAs) to understand the contents of our mushrooms. We want to be sure that our full-spectrum functional mushroom powders deliver the expected value and contents.

This third-party COA is produced by a Canadian contract laboratory that specializes in commercial product testing. We work with a commercial partner in order to guarantee a clear, unbiased report on the contents of our mushroom products. 

We’re testing our mushroom powders for active ingredients (ie polysaccharides, sterols, etc), toxins (moulds, bacteria, etc), contaminants (lead, heavy metals, etc), and moisture levels. Results will range from pass/verified to complies to non-detected. This third party report validates that a product is safe for consumption and ready for integration into a product.

Table comparing beta-glucans and polysaccharides

How to Use Functional Mushrooms: Applications

The use of functional mushrooms is not new. They have been used to treat and prevent ailments, as well as to enhance general wellbeing, for thousands of years in traditional medicine (including but not limited to Ayurvedic medicine, First Nations medicine, Sowa Rigpa, Traditional Chinese Medicine, Unani, and many other traditions). 

More recently, functional fungi use took off in health and wellness industries, appearing in coffees, teas, smoothie mixes, supplements, and skincare products.

These powerful fungi are packed with antioxidants, polysaccharides, and other unique compounds that may provide cognition-enhancing, mood-boosting, immune-strengthening, stress-relieving, and anti-aging benefits. 

What’s most remarkable is that each mushroom we’ve assessed offers its own unique set of benefits. That’s why we offer many varieties of mushrooms at Myzel, including:

  • Almond Mushroom
  • Beech Mushroom
  • Chaga
  • Cordyceps
  • Lion’s Mane
  • Maitake
  • Oyster
  • Poria
  • Reishi
  • Shiitake
  • Snow Fungus
  • Turkey Tail

The Science of Using Functional Mushrooms

Scientific studies have only begun to reveal the specific compounds in these mushrooms that can explain their purported health benefits.

From applications as muscle foods to prebiotics, functional mushrooms have prompted over 17,000 studies (listed in Google Scholar) on applications in human populations alone. 

It’s a growing field of interest and study, with a great deal of promise for future applications.

Using Functional Mushroom Powder

It bears repeating: there are so many ways to incorporate functional mushrooms into a daily routine. Supplements, topical powders, smoothie mixes, teas, and tinctures are all growing in popularity. These applications have one thing in common: preparation. 

For the most part, we believe myceliated full-spectrum powder is best consumed as a functional food, as a tea or coffee, as a topical powder, or as a supplement.

Benefitting from the Use Functional Mushrooms

Benefitting from the use of functional mushrooms requires patience. Adaptogens take time to make change, especially in bodies under stress. 

The best results always come from using the highest-possible quality mushroom products

These products are best when produced under strict manufacturing conditions, following GMP, Organic, and Non-GMO guidelines. A highly-regulated growing process limits sources of potential contamination, including pesticides frequently used in outdoor cultivation.

We can also control for heavy metals that are sometimes found in soil by growing our mushrooms on sorghum in an indoor, nutraceutical-grade facility. Conditions vary widely when mushrooms are grown outdoors – even in a greenhouse – on soil, compost, or wood chips.  

When chosen wisely, functional mushrooms offer an all-natural range of benefits that science is still discovering!

Summary: Using Functional Mushroom

Functional mushrooms may:

  • Boost immunity
  • Reduce stress and anxiety
  • Offer anti-aging properties
  • Decrease inflammation
  • Enhance memory
  • Improve mood
  • Improve endurance
  • Decrease fatigue
How to use functional mushrooms to experience emotional and physical changes