Lee From America's Guide to Mushrooms

Shrooms, everyone's doing them.

And I’m not talking about the hallucinogenic kind (though, a lot of people are doing those, too)

 A piece of real reishi my friend brought me from Detroit.

A piece of real reishi my friend brought me from Detroit.

The type of mushrooms I’m referring to here are the beneficial, healing kinds- the ones used to reduce stress, boost the immune system, and help you fall asleep at night. So no, truffles and shiitakes are not the only incredible need-to-have-now mushroom around.

Though the kinds of mushrooms that we eat in our soups, salads, and pastas are great in their own way, there is a whole world of mushrooms that have specific, research-backed health benefits for all types of ailments.

I was first introduced to these types of mushrooms when I moved to California and set out to heal my body from PCOS the natural way (read more about my journey here).

Adding mushrooms to my diet and experimenting with different mushroom teas has led me to new levels of self-care, and a love for all things natural and from the ground. The world of mushrooms is big, vast, and slightly intimidating, so I created a guide reviewing the top 3 most commonly consumed, powerful, and (generally) easiest-to-purchase mushrooms available on the market today: Chaga, Reishi, and Cordyceps. 

What are beneficial mushrooms?

Mushrooms have been used in history for thousands of years but have more or less escaped the spotlight here in the US until recently (due to the wellness movement)—thankfully, they’re now becoming really popular, and for good reason. Mushrooms are powerful immune supporters and have over 100 uses. There are a lot of excellent beneficial mushrooms, but reishi, chaga, and cordyceps are a few of my favorite; and they happen to be some of the most nutrient-packed ones out there. But since all mushrooms are used to support the immune system and promote general well-being, you really can’t go wrong in choosing the ones that work best for you.*

How do you take them? Pill Vs. Powder?

There are countless ways to take these types of mushrooms. Most commonly, you can find them ground in powdered or pill form at your local health food store or online. Powdered form is great for adding to drinks, coffee, lattes, teas, smoothies, and raw treat recipes. The pills are just the powdered mushrooms inside of pill capsules. Mushroom pills are great for those who travel, have busy schedules, or don’t have a kitchen or the ability to make homemade recipes with mushrooms inside of them. 

I take both, and this blog post will cover information on both the pill form and the powdered form. 

Keep in mind that you might need to take the following mushrooms over a longer period of time (minimum 2 months) to see real results. Some may feel the effects sooner, but be patient. It’s worth the wait.

The Main Mushrooms

Cordyceps

Feeling sluggish? Take some cordyceps! Cordyceps is great for when you need a boost of vitality and endurance without the caffeine.* If you’re a hiker, athlete, or frequent flier, this would be the mushroom for you. And for those info-nuts out there (myself included), check out this article about how cordyceps can effectively beat fatigue and boost stamina. So why not take cordyceps before your next 5K? Or before tackling your holiday shopping to-do list? Or even… on your next night out on the town? Nothing like a little cordyceps to get your blood pumping for a night on the dancefloor.

 Cordyceps pills

Cordyceps pills

Cordyceps is, weirdly enough, actually considered a parasite. But don’t worry, this mushroom only feeds on other fungi and some insects! It’s incredibly beneficial for humans, and includes over 400 species that mostly grow in high mountain regions across Asia. One of the most unique types of cordyceps grows only in Tibet and on the backs of caterpillars hidden underground. Amazing.

How cordyceps helps me

I usually take 2 Nature’s Way Cordyceps capsules in the afternoon right before I feel the afternoon slump coming on, or before my morning run. It gives me a boost that I can definitely feel, and I love feeling clear-headed before I need to rev things up throughout the day.

I’m sometimes prone to insomnia, so I avoid taking cordyceps before bed since it can keep my mind pretty active. So far, I haven’t noticed that it affects my sleep negatively if I take it in the morning. Instead, it boosts my energy but doesn’t leave me feeling wired. Overall, cordyceps makes me feel purified, centered, and I love making it a part of my daily routine.

Reishi

ZZZ’s.

Oh, sorry I fell asleep. That’s me when I take reishi. I like to think of reishi as a little lullaby that drifts me off to dreamland. I like to take it to calm my body and prepare me for sleep.

 Reishi pills

Reishi pills

Like cordyceps, there are also a lot of different reishi species, and they each grow in different parts of the world. All of them, however, are harvested from dead or dying trees. Reishi has been around for thousands of years, but until recently has mostly been used in Asian societies (like a lot of healing mushrooms), and has typically been regarded as one of the oldest symbols of well-being and longevity. Reishi has thankfully made it into the spotlight here in the west after its long stint backstage, so consider this mushroom to be a wellspring of wellness. 

How Reishi helped me

I noticed that taking 1-2 capsules of Nature’s Way Reishi during travel days or right before bed has helped me feel better, sleep easier, and handle the day with a calmer mind. I also make sure to up my reishi intake after I get home from a long trip since it seems to make adjusting to new time zones, routines, etc. a whole lot easier on my body and mind.

I love taking reishi ON flights when I’m feeling run-down or my body is working too hard because of stress, or even if my self-care routine falls to the wayside because of work or other commitments. It also helps me fight jet lag and transition home after traveling. After using reishi consistently for a month, I noticed that my body felt more equipped to handle everyday challenges and stressors.

If you are trying to wean yourself off caffeine, try supplementing herbal tea with reishi pills and see how it helps. You just might be surprised by its powerful potency. 

Chaga

 Chaga pills

Chaga pills

Chaga is one of the slowest-growing mushrooms, and found only on birch trees in the northern hemisphere. This is a great mushroom to infuse into a cup of tea after a long day of work. It helps me de-stress big time, and grounds the body and mind. I often turn to a cup of chaga tea over chamomile because it feels even more calming for me at the end of a day. But chaga is also a really versatile mushroom, and I love taking it in the morning, too. It makes me feel serene, focused, and ready to tackle the day. I also love the flavor, which is slightly bitter but also kind of sweet.

Chaga contains vitamins and minerals including vitamin B, phenols, copper, calcium, potassium, manganese, zinc, and iron, and because of all this, my mushroom routine has gotten a serious surge of wellness. Take that, sickness!

How Chaga helped me

I’ve loved incorporating chaga into my daily routine as a way to support my body. I like to take it first thing in the morning on an empty stomach, usually as part of a tea.

Like reishi, chaga also gives me a bit of a boost in the morning without the I’m going-to-die feeling I’ve experienced with coffee. It’s got a clear, sharp energy, and I especially love that it’s been blended with reishi in the immune powder.

Blended mushroom goodness

It can get a bit confusing (and pricey) to try and figure out which mushrooms to add to your diet. That’s why I’m excited to share with you an amazing Immune Powder by Nature’s Way that blends 6 of the best mushrooms. The powder includes cordyceps, reishi, chaga, and also has some lesser-known mushrooms in it like himematsutake, enokitake, and maitake. You can easily blend the powder into your matcha latte or tea—I’ve been adding it to mine for the past three weeks as I’ve been traveling and it definitely ups the froth level, plus adds a mild nutty flavor. In terms of benefits, I love that it contains no caffeine but still gives me an energy boost, and hey- I was on 8 planes and 3 countries over the past month and didn’t get sick. Hoo-rah!

Nature’s Way products are cost-friendly and available at most health food stores. In addition to their immune powder, Nature’s Way also has individual mushroom capsules for reishi, cordyceps, chaga and more that more highly concentrated for on-the-go.

What are the best ways to add mushrooms to your diet?

There are a lot of ways to use mushrooms, but the traditional way has been to make them into a tea. This is a great way to take them, of course, but can be somewhat time-consuming and expensive. That’s exactly why the immune powder by Nature’s Way is exciting; now we can quickly and easily get mushrooms into our diet without the added hassle of buying individual mushrooms, infusing them into tea, etc. 

I like to add the Immune Powder to a latte (see recipe below), or stir a scoopful into an afternoon cup of tea to get me through the rest of the day. I’ve also tried experimenting with adding a few scoops of the powder to my coconut fat balls and really love what it does for them! It makes them stickier, more condensed, and adds a nutty flavor boost. MMMM.

 
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Immune Boosting Mushroom Latte Recipe:

  • 2 Tbsp coconut butter

  • 1 serving collagen peptides

  • 1 tsp Nature’s Way Immune Powder

  • 1/2 tsp ceylon cinnamon

  • Vanilla bean powder to taste

  • 14 oz. hot water

  1. Blend on high for 1 minute or until frothy, pour and enjoy immediately. 

What are your favorite mushrooms? What benefits have you noticed after taking them?


* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

These are the opinions and anecdotes of Lee From America.

Sponsored Blog Post Disclosure: This post is lovingly sponsored by Nature’s Way. I’m grateful for sponsorship collaborations like the one I have with this amazing company because they help me keep LFA content free,  and my job possible. Thank you, Nature’s Way.