The Science Behind Adaptogenic Mushrooms & Their Health Benefits

8 min read

What you'll LEARN:
  • The 5 adaptogenic mushrooms you should consider adding to your  diet/supplement stack.
  • The immunity boosting and stress relieving properties of these mushrooms that are hard to believe.
  • Which mushrooms have scientifc papers backing them up

Curious about adaptogenic mushrooms? Especially whether they work or not? Then read more...

In recent years, adaptogenic mushrooms have gained a lot of attention for their potential health benefits. Especially with people like Paul Stamets, a mushroom researcher, who was invited on the Joe Rogan show to geek out about mushrooms and get into all the details about what makes these fungi so magical.

Although mushrooms have only recently made their way into the mainstream, these fungi have been used in traditional medicine for centuries, and modern research is now starting to validate their remarkable qualities. With a wide range of adaptogenic mushrooms available, understanding their properties and benefits is key to incorporating them into a healthy lifestyle.

But before we dive in, you’re probably wondering, “What the heck is an adaptogen?” — adaptogens are natural compounds that help the body cope with various stressors, be it physical, mental, or environmental. And with chronic stress at an all-time high, we all need to find ways to cope with it. Adaptogens offer a nutritional intervention that helps restore the body’s natural ability to become more resilient to stress…giving us the much needed reprieve we’re all looking for.

To fully appreciate the potential of adaptogenic mushrooms, it's essential to dive deeper into the specific species, their unique compounds, and the scientific studies supporting their unique health benefits. Let’s get started.

What are Adaptogenic Mushrooms?

Origin and History

Adaptogenic mushrooms have been a significant element of traditional medicine for centuries. Initially used in ancient Chinese and Siberian shamanic practices, they have gained global popularity in recent years. The term "adaptogen" was coined in the 1940s to describe substances that help the body adapt to physical and mental stressors. Since then, adaptogenic mushrooms have been valued for their adaptability and resilience.

Scientific Definition

In scientific terms, adaptogenic mushrooms are fungi that contain compounds with adaptogenic properties. These properties can provide various benefits, such as supporting overall wellness and helping the body to cope with stress. In the pursuit of understanding adaptogenic mushrooms and their effects, researchers have identified the following key active compounds:

PolysaccharidesSupport immune function
TriterpenoidsProvide anti-inflammatory properties
Beta-glucansHelp modulate the immune system
ErgosterolA precursor to vitamin D with antioxidant functions

Types of Adaptogenic Mushrooms


Reishi mushroom, also known as Ganoderma lucidum, is an excellent adaptogen to consider. Its benefits include supporting a healthy immune system, reducing stress, and promoting overall balance in the body. They can be consumed as a powder, tea, or supplement.

   ● Common names: Lingzhi, Yeongji
   ● Habitat: Asia, North America, Europe
   ● Use for: Immune support, stress reduction

Reishi helps support the function of the adrenal glands. These secrete cortisol, which is a hormone that helps the body respond to stress.

One small study in male athletes showed that taking a combination of reishi and Cordyceps helped protect against stress-related damage the athletes experienced due to overtraining from cycling.

A 2020 rodent study found that reishi treatment reduced stress-induced brain inflammation in rats exposed to low oxygen levels and helped protect against nerve damage and memory impairment


Cordyceps is another adaptogenic mushroom worth mentioning. Its scientific name is Cordyceps militarum, and it's been used for centuries to improve energy levels, stamina, and endurance. It also boosts the immune system and supports lung health.

   ● Common names: Caterpillar fungus, Dong chong xia cao
   ● Habitat: China, Tibet, Nepal
   ● Use for: Energy, stamina, immune support

Some research in rodents suggests that Cordyceps sinensis may reduce stress-related markers and increase resistance to stress-inducing activity, such as forced swimming.

Additionally, a 2014 study in 18 men examined the effects of taking a combination of Cordyceps sinensis and Rhodiola crenulata, a plant with adaptogenic properties, on high altitude training.

It found that taking 1,400 mg of Rhodiola crenulata and 600 mg of Cordyceps per day for 2 weeks led to improvements in stress response and fatigue levels, compared with a placebo.

CALM: Adaptogenic Mood Support

A unique blend of adaptogenic mushrooms & ancient medicinal herbs shown to help slow down, quiet the mind, and reduce restlessness.


Lion's Mane

Lion's Mane (Hericium erinaceus) is an excellent mushroom for boosting cognitive function. It has been shown to support memory, focus, and nerve health. It's a popular supplement among students and professionals for promoting mental clarity and concentration.

   ● Common names: Yamabushitake, Houtou
   ● Habitat: Asia, North America, Europe
  ● Use for: Cognitive support, nerve health

Rodent studies have shown that lion’s mane extract may help reverse stress-related changes to neurotransmitters, including dopamine and serotonin.It may also reduce levels of the inflammatory markers interleukin 6 (IL-6) and tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α), which increase in response to stress.Additionally, it has been shown to reverse stress-induced downregulation of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in mice.


Chaga (Inonotus obliquus) is another remarkable adaptogenic mushroom. It's known for its antioxidant properties, helping protect cells from damage. Additionally, Chaga provides support for the immune system and contributes to overall vitality.

   ● Common names: Birch fungus, Clinker polypore
   ● Habitat: Northern Hemisphere - Europe, Asia, North America
   ● Use for: Antioxidant, immune support

Turkey Tail

Finally, let's not forget the Turkey Tail mushroom (Trametes versicolor). It's highly valued for its immune system support and antibacterial properties. Additionally, it's been researched for its potential in cancer treatment.
   ● Common names: Coriolus, Kawaratake
   ● Habitat: Worldwide, except Antarctica
   ● Use for: Immune support, antibacterial properties

Health Benefits of Adaptogenic Mushrooms

Immunity Boosting Properties

When it comes to our health, one of the primary concerns is always boosting our immune system. Adaptogenic mushrooms, like Reishi, Cordyceps, and Turkey Tail have been found to have immunity-enhancing properties. These mushrooms contain beta-glucans, a class of polysaccharides that help to support our immune systems by activating our immune cells. By consuming these mushrooms, I have noticed an increase in my overall health and resistance to illness. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I was sick. Of course, it’s not only the mushrooms but also the other lifestyle and dietary factors that contribute to helping me stay on top of my game.

Stress and Fatigue Reduction

In today's busy world, stress and fatigue often go hand in hand. One of the key benefits of adaptogenic mushrooms is their ability to help our bodies adapt to stress and consequently, reduce fatigue. And that’s important because there’s a big difference between being well rested and re-energized versus having slept yet still feeling like you’re running on empty. A big part of this is the challenge many of us face to simply unwind at the end of the day. Excessive screen time, constant blue light exposure, and just the general anxiety and pressure that can build up from all the demands of modern life can make it difficult to put down the phone, turn off our brain and get some quality rest.

One way to combat this is to create an evening wind-down routine in which you avoid blue-light exposure and electronic devices during the 2 hours prior to bedtime. But, every busy entrepreneur out there knows that this is easier said than done. Adaptogenic mushrooms & herbs, can be used as an additional measure to combat some of the stress that builds up throughout the day and help your brain and body unwind before bed.

I've personally started using Ashwagandha and Cordyceps as part of my morning routine, and I've noticed a significant improvement in my ability to handle the demands of daily life. They have natural properties that help in regulating our adrenal glands, responsible for producing stress hormones, thus promoting a healthy response to stress.

When I feel stress building up or when I travel, I’m sure to take adaptogens in the evening to support adjusting to a new environment and help me sleep better.

Cognitive Enhancements

Another notable benefit of adaptogenic mushrooms is their potential to improve our cognitive function. Lion's Mane is a mushroom that stands out in this category. It contains compounds that stimulate nerve growth factor, which is essential for maintaining the integrity of our brain cells.

As a long-time football player and former NFL athlete, anything I can do to give my brain a boost is important. There is promising research being done that shows the impact of medicinal mushrooms (a.k.a. magic mushrooms) and the chemical component psilocybin have on improving neuroplasticity and help neurons in the brain sprout new dendrites, essentially rewiring and repairing your brain. It’s a fascinating field with some very compelling emerging science that I’ll continue to watch. For now, I plan to continue to use non-psychoactive mushrooms as part of my daily routine for both their cognitive and all-around health benefits.

Cardiovascular Health

It’s no secret that a healthy cardiovascular system is fundamental to our overall well-being. In fact, with cardiovascular disease being the number one preventable illness in the Unitied States, it’s something we all should be paying more attention to. Adaptogenic mushrooms like Reishi and Cordyceps have shown potential in supporting cardiovascular health. These mushrooms increase the level of nitric oxide in our bodies, which in turn helps to dilate our blood vessels, ensuring better blood circulation. Anyone with a family history of cardiovascular issues, may find this aspect of adaptogenic mushrooms especially important and may want to take a closer look at some of the research around the health benefits of adaptogens for heart health.

Overall, adaptogenic mushrooms offer a variety of health benefits that have certainly improved my personal well-being. By incorporating them into my daily routine, I've been able to boost my immune system, better manage stress and fatigue, enhance cognitive function, and support my overall brain and body health.

How To Use Adaptogenic Mushrooms

Adaptogenic mushrooms have gained popularity for their numerous health benefits. In this section, I will discuss how to use them in various forms like capsules, powders, tinctures, and gummies.


I find capsules to be the most convenient way to incorporate adaptogenic mushrooms into my daily routine. It's essential to follow the manufacturer's recommended dosage for optimal benefits. You can take 1-2 capsules of Calm or Clarity with water, preferably on an empty stomach to maximize absorption.


Using mushroom powders can be versatile, as I can easily mix them into my favorite recipes or beverages. For example, you can add a teaspoon of adaptogenic mushroom powder to your morning smoothie, coffee, or oatmeal for an extra health boost.


Adaptogenic mushroom tinctures are a potent and concentrated form of these beneficial fungi. To use a tincture, you can add a few drops (as directed on the label) to a glass of water, tea, or juice, and consume it 1-3 times daily. The taste can be tough to swallow but they do provide a lot of bang for your buck.


Adaptogenic mushroom gummies can be a fun and tasty way to enjoy the benefits of these powerful ingredients but it’s not something I personally recommend. Gummies seem like an easy and delightful way to get your adaptogens and nutrients but they come with some important tradeoffs. The high-heat processing of gummies will likely render most of the nutrients as completely useless. Plus, the highly processed nature and problematic ingredients of gummies means there are better ways to get the benefits of adaptogens without all the downsides of what gummies offer. Two grams of sugar for a few milligrams of mushrooms? It seems harmless but in reality it’s just a total waste of money.As you can see, adopting adaptogenic mushrooms in one's lifestyle can be both simple and enjoyable (apologies to all the adult children out there who swear by their gummy vitamins). Whether you prefer capsules, powders, or tinctures, these powerful fungi can certainly provide numerous health benefits.

Integration into Daily Life

Adaptogenic mushrooms have long been used for their health benefits, and they're becoming an increasingly popular ingredient in wellness routines. Integrating adaptogenic mushrooms into your daily life may prove beneficial for your overall well-being. Here are a few ways to achieve this.

Diet Incorporation

One of the most effective ways to incorporate adaptogenic mushrooms into your daily routine is simply by including them in your meals. You can start by adding popular varieties like Reishi, Cordyceps, Chaga, and Lion's Mane to your diet.

Here are some ideas on how to use these mushrooms:

   ● Add them to soups and stews for a hearty, flavorful meal
   ● Stir-fry with vegetables for a quick, nutrient-packed dish
   ● Mix into your morning smoothie for an energy boost

By regularly including these mushrooms in your meals, you can reap the benefits of their adaptogenic properties.

Adaptogenic Mushroom Supplements

Another way to incorporate adaptogenic mushrooms into your daily life is by taking supplements. These supplements are available in various forms like capsules, powders, tinctures, and teas.

When choosing a supplement, consider the following:

1. Look for a reputable brand to ensure high-quality products
2. Choose the appropriate form based on your preferences and lifestyle
3. Start with the recommended dosage and adjust as needed
4. Be sure the source includes mycelia - the more bioactive part of the mushroom.
5. Look for targeted formulations geared towards a specific health benefit

Remember, always consult a healthcare professional before starting any new supplement regimen and have a good reason for taking it in the first place. The tricky thing about supplements is that it can be difficult to know if it’s actually working, which is why I always recommend starting with a specific problem that you're trying to solve or an outcome that you’re trying to achieve.

And if you want something that’s already been clinically designed by expert mycologists and vetted by me personally, then you can check out our adaptogenic mushrooms here.


Researchers have found that these adaptogenic mushrooms may help increase resilience, decrease fatigue, and provide immune system support.

It's important to note that adaptogenic mushrooms should not replace medical treatments or therapies, but rather, they may serve as a complementary approach to maintain overall wellbeing.

While more scientific research should continue to investigate the detailed mechanisms and potential long-term effects of adaptogenic mushrooms, I believe they offer a natural and promising approach for those looking to maintain and strengthen their body's stress response system. Utilizing these fungi as a dietary supplement may lead to increased overall vitality and wellness.

Frequently Asked Questions

Disclaimer: The LYFE Fuel blog is for informational purposes only. The information does not serve as a replacement for professional medical advice or treatment. We kindly ask you not to ignore professional medical advice because of any information you’ve read on If you have any concerns about your health, please consult a physician or appropriate health care expert.