Have you heard the terms functional mushrooms or functional fungi being thrown around quite a bit lately? How about reading up on functional mushroom benefits and functional mushroom supplements and products?

➢ Are you wondering what functional fungi is all about?

In today’s post on the Qualityspores.store blog we’re going to explore the latest craze for functional mushrooms that seems to be taking a variety of industries by storm – they’re putting functional mushrooms and special fungi in everything from beauty products to beer. But why? And is this a special fungi trend to stay?

You’re going to learn about functional fungi foods, supplements, and benefits of functional mushrooms:

We’ll begin with the basics and describe what exactly a functional mushroom is, and then we’ll start diving into some of the really fascinating and unique products out there:

What is a Functional Mushroom? – And Learn About The Benefits of Mushrooms

Functional mushroom benefits

The term functional mushroom is essentially another way of describing what have traditionally been thought as medicinal mushrooms. There are many medicinal uses of fungi.

Here you can read more about the genuine benefits of mushrooms for health and wellness and about the function of mushroom in fungi research, fungi, otherwise known as medicinal mushrooms.

These kinds of mushrooms and functional mushroom products typically offer some form of benefit to the person consuming them. For example, Lion’s Mane is a well known fungi rich in beta-glucans that can enhance immune response and provide support for a variety of neurological functions.

Psychedelic Fungi and Therapeutic Fungi

Reishi mushrooms are another well known medicinal mushroom (legend has it that ancient Chinese apothecarists referred to it as the mushroom of immortality) which has properties that promote stress relief, improved quality of sleep, and stronger immune response. There are also special fungi and therapeutic fungi presenting therapeutic benefits as an important role of fungi in medicine.

Mushrooms Generated from Mushroom Spores

Then, of course, there’s mushrooms generated from mushroom spores – which isn’t the topic of any of the current functional mushroom products discussions today.

With research indicating that the special compound found in mushrooms could be just as effective as traditional antidepressants for hallucinogenic fungus or for and clinical trials underway testing the efficacy of assisted therapy throughout the western world, we wouldn’t be surprised to see these fungi being classified as perhaps the most functional of all.

In any event, referring to these fungi as functional mushrooms is more than just a simple “rebranding” effort. We find that it’s actually a more accurate term to describe the many fungi in the world that can have a positive effect on the consumer, since many of them aren’t what we would usually consider strictly medicinal.

Many of these fungi are more like mushroom supplements. You don’t typically take supplements for a medical purpose in the traditional sense (although for some people that may be true). Most people look at supplements as helpers intended to provide your body with support, to make you feel better or more clear-headed, to give you more energy, or to generally promote a sense of well being. That’s more like what functional fungi are intended to do.

Why Have Functional Fungi Become So Popular in So Many Different Products?

Chaga medicinal mushroom

There seems to be a general trend, particularly among the younger generations, to seek out healthier, more sustainable alternatives to commonly used products.

Mushroom Grow Kits From Spores

Fungi from spores represents the perfect storm of these characteristics. It can be grown economically, has many benefits, and is widely available. Mushroom cultivation from mushroom grow kits does not require a large factory or farmland—many people successfully grow mushrooms at home.

With the wide availability and well documented benefits of fungi, it’s really no surprise that they’re appearing in many different kinds of products these days (and perhaps the surprise is that it took this long for manufacturers to catch up).

But really, the main reason that functional mushrooms are appearing in products ranging from supplements to beauty products is that they work.

Hallucinogenic Mushroom Strains

Mushrooms have had something of a bad reputation throughout the years – or at least a reputation that lead to them being misunderstood. People tend to think of mushrooms as being generally poisonous, when in fact very few are actually fatal to consume. The other stereotype of mushrooms is, of course, that they can make you hallucinate from hallucinogenic mushroom strains.

And while that’s certainly true for some types of mushroom, it’s hardly the norm. Many mushrooms are greatly beneficial to humans with few or no known side effects. In a world dominated by powerful pharmaceutical companies, seeing this kind of “grassroots”-type growth is rather inspiring.

Let’s take a look at the products that are now starting to implement functional mushrooms, starting with the behemoth that is the wellness industry:

Functional Mushroom Products Explored: The Wellness Industry

Functional mushroom supplements

Functional mushrooms in the wellness space generally take the form of supplements. One doesn’t necessarily have to consume whole Lion’s Mane or Reishi to gain the benefits of these powerful fungi; they can be taken in an extracted powder form, which is likely to be far easier to take than eating them whole (and conferring the same benefits).

However, there are products like Clevr Blends, which is an LA-based wellness and coffee company which has a line of “Super Lattes” that feature added ingredients like probiotics and, you guessed it, functional mushroom extracts. The company claims that in addition to getting your usual caffeine fix, the added mushroom ingredients will pack a little extra punch and provide a more well rounded boost to your energy.

While Chaga isn’t technically a mushroom, it’s often thought of as such. Chaga is in fact a sclerotium, which is a type of growth that can occur on certain kinds of trees in certain kinds of environments. In the case of Chaga, those are cold environments, which makes it somewhat difficult to harvest. Regardless, wellness products often include Chaga because it’s an absurdly rich source of antioxidants. Chaga has also been shown to provide neurological support and can even boost liver health.

If mushrooms are effective at providing benefits inside your body, what about on the outside? The experts in the beauty industry—including several well-known household names that you’d never guess—seem to think that they most certainly do.

Functional Mushrooms in Beauty Products – Do They Really Work?

Functional mushroom beauty products

Dermatologists have been looking to mushrooms as a skin care product more and more recently. After all, fungi has been used in traditional Chinese and Indian medicine for countless centuries—millennia even—and they’ve been shown to provide not only improvements to one’s general well being, but their complexion as well.

This is again thanks to the many beta-glucans found in some types of mushrooms, which are great for the skin’s general health. Beta-glucans have antioxidant, antiaging, and anti-inflammatory properties. Some studies have shown mushrooms are even capable of helping people with hyper pigmentation, which causes “splotches” to appear on the skin where additional pigment has coalesced.

Furthermore, mushroom-based products are usually quite gentle on the skin, which makes them a viable option for persons with sensitive skin.

So, which mushrooms are the best for skin and hair products? Most experts agree that the “king” of functional mushrooms for this purpose are Reishi mushrooms, although some (while acknowledging that it isn’t technically a mushroom) have seen quite a lot of promise in Chaga “mushrooms” as well, for the many reasons which we discussed in the previous section.

Major producers of beauty products have taken note, and even mega-celebrities like Kourtney Kardashian have both invested and endorsed mushroom-based beauty products. The aforementioned star featured a reishi-infused facial mask during health and beauty events put on by her company.

Milk Makeup, a rather well-known name in the makeup scene—if you’re into that kind of thing—has even started adding reishi mushrooms to makeup products like blush. The idea is that the mushroom extract within the product will not only provide antioxidant benefits to the skin, but will also help to hydrate it. Since makeup products can often cause dryness of skin, this is a welcome addition to the lineup.

Next up in our examination of products using functional fungi is one that you probably never would have guessed: mushroom beers are indeed a thing, and they’re growing in popularity quite rapidly. Let’s learn more about them:

Just What in the Heck are Myco-Adaptogenic Alcohol-Free Beers? Are They Any Good?

Mushroom beer

Craft beers are something of an American pastime—brewing them, drinking them, and coming up with truly “wacky” combinations of flavor profiles and ingredients. Mushroom beers, however, are the new kid on the block, and they’re suprisingly popular (and good).

Mushrooms bring a wide spectrum of flavors and benefits to a brew, ranging in taste from subtle to bold. However, it’s worth noting that mushroom-infused beers don’t usually taste all that strongly of mushroom (in the same way that an oyster stout craft beer has more of a salty taste than that of actual oysters). As much as we all love mushrooms, that’s probably a good thing.

As it turns out, the British like to experiment with their beers just as much as Americans do, and the mushroom beer charge is being lead by a UK-based company called Fungtn.

The unique brewing company is focusing on myco-adaptogenic alcohol-free beers, which are designed to have all the taste of beer without any of the negative drawbacks—in fact, these beers will have purportedly positive benefits for the imbiber, thanks to the added functional mushroom ingredients.

The key benefit of Fungtn’s beers are the adaptogens (or myco-adaptogens, to be more precise), which is a term that describes any ingredient that supports the body in adapting to stressors, such as physical and emotional stresses. Adaptogens are also known to have antiaging and anti-inflammatory properties, which is why they can make you feel restored and rejuvenated.

Adaptogens are typically sourced from herbal or fungal sources and aren’t anything new—the aforementioned Chinese and Indian medicinal practices have been taking advantage of these compounds for time immemorial. So why not put them in a beer?

Will “Mushroom Meat” Be The Next Big Meat Alternative?

Functional fungi meat alternative

The final functional fungi product that we’d like to quickly take a look at is so-called “mushroom meat”, or rather, imitation meat products primarily utilizing mushrooms as a major ingredient in their formulation.

These products are designed to imitate the taste and texture of real meat, but without actually containing any animal products. This, obviously, is a great benefit to vegetarian and vegan persons. There’s already plenty of meat alternative products on the market, but the problem with these products is that they’re typically primarily based on soy products.

Soy, while not all bad, has been shown to cause several health problems when consumed in larger quantities. Furthermore, soy requires a lot more resources to produce. It’s estimated that for the same amount of a soy product to be produced, seven times as much land resources must be used when compared to mushrooms, which can be cultivated in comparatively small areas.

At the time of this writing, one of the most noteworthy mushroom-based meat alternative companies is called Meati for Food You Can Feel Good About. Leaders at the company plan to start showcasing their products officially sometime later this year. In addition to being more environmentally friendly than soy-based meat alternative products, mushroom based meat alternatives can offer a variety of benefits to the consumer, many of which we’ve already discussed throughout this post.

Want to Study The Most Functional Fungi of All? Check Out Our Legal, 100% Authentic Mushroom Spores

Interested in learning more about the most functional fungi of all, mushrooms? You can do so legally in your amateur microscopy lab, as many other at-home scientists have opted to do. Mushroom spores are a wonderful taxonomical challenge—if you’d like to learn more about this mind-expanding hobby, please see our free eBook: