Medicinal mushroom AKA functional mushroom products should take your health, mental clarity and immune system to the next level but alas the vast majority out there are too weak and cheaply made to impart the results you’re looking for.
By the end of this article you will know how to look at the label of a functional mushroom product and decide whether it is a truly life-enhancing formulation worth your time and hard earned money or whether it is – as in most cases - a worthless rip-off.
Why Source and Take Functional Mushrooms?
The main reason I created Longevity Power 10 years ago was because I had fallen in love with the health-enhancing, stress-reducing, and brain-boosting benefits of the category of plants and mushrooms called adaptogens but was disappointed with the selection of adaptogens (especially functional mushrooms which are the most popular category of adaptogens these days) on the market and I wanted to offer something truly special for people (and for myself too!) with the most comprehensive benefits possible.
There is a tendency for a nutritional supplement to actually be a cheaper and less effective version than the material used in studies yet the product still claims the full benefits the studies demonstrated. The functional mushroom market – especially in the USA – is no exception to this tendency.
In the USA, the most popular functional mushroom products both online and on store shelves are impotent, worthless formulas made mostly of grain. (Yep, shots fired!) However, there are high quality, full-mushroom-benefits-included products out there too. You just need to know what to look for.
The full-blown mushroom benefits (based on hundreds of studies using high potency mushroom preparations) include:
🤩 Build resiliency to stress
🧠 Boost mood, focus & cognitive function
🦠 Strengthen immune health and cool inflammation
🏋️ Increase endurance & athletic performance
📈 Upgrade cellular longevity
🛏️ Calm nerves & promote deeper sleep
The 3 Classes of Functional Mushroom Products
Having sourced functional mushrooms products for over 16 years seeking only the most potent, pure, highest quality and comprehensive in benefits, I now like to put each functional mushroom product out there into 1 of 3 classes.
Class 1: The Cheapest Mushroom Filler Possible
Whole (unextracted) Milled Fruiting Bodies
Ingredient wording examples:
“Reishi mushroom” (nothing else stated about the ingredient)
“Reishi mycelial biomass and primordia”
“Reishi mushroom fruiting body” (no exaction mentioned)
"Grown in the USA"
The cost of producing functional mushroom products is over 10X higher in the USA than in other countries like China and Russia, so to keep the cost of a daily serving lower, the incentive for USA sourced functional mushrooms is to not grow mushroom fruiting bodies at all but to ferment grain (usually brown rice, sometimes other grains) with mushroom mycelium, then dehydrate and powder this mycelienated grain.
Most name-brand functinoal mushroom products in in the West are this grain, which is about 80% starch and has very low amount of active mushroom compounds like beta-glucans (excellent for your immune system and gut) or triterpenes (mushroom lipids that are excellent for your immune system and nervous system) that functinoal mushrooms studies tend to use and that are mostly found in the fruiting bodies and not the mycelium of all major species of medicinal mushrooms.
There are also products which are simply milled whole mushroom fruiting bodies. The active compounds in these products are present in higher amounts than the mycelium but are locked up in the fibers of the mushroom which we can’t digest. Some mushroom fruiting bodies like that of reishi are so woody and hard to digest in their raw unextracted form that you not only guarantee getting ripped off by such a product but you risk hours of intestinal upset.
The fact that a few respected mushroom experts continue to recommend these products is perplexing to me. If these USA functional mushrooms were to be fully extracted thus concentrating active compounds then they would become effective products, but at this time that is cost prohibitive in the USA and is rarely done.
For functional mushroom supplements - and I hope this changes after enough time and innovation - "Made/grown in the USA" is usually a red flag. (Gourmet edible mushrooms and wildfracted functional mushroom extracts made in the USA can be great and are not part of Class 1 functional mushrooms supplements.)
Class 2: Low to Medium-Potency Extracted Mushrooms
Mushroom fruiting body water extract powders
Mushroom fruiting body tinctures
Mushroom extracts with NO tested % content of active compounds of beta-glucans, polysaccharides, or triterpenes
Ingredient wording examples:
“Reishi mushroom extract” (nothing else stated about the ingredient or extraction method)
“Reishi mushroom 4:1 water extract” (4:1 is fairly low potency, I prefer something closer to a 12:1)
“Lion’s Mane water extract” (no mention of active compound content like triterpenes, hericenones or erinacines)
Recommended: Only if you’re in a pinch
Class 2 are functional mushroom products that are prepared legitimately but leave so many benefits on the table. Nothing wrong with these products, but they tend to be low in the compounds that studies show to be the most important fractions of mushrooms.
The best example of a Class 2 product would be a lion’s mane mushroom water extract. On one hand this is way better than Class 1 grain mycelienated with lion’s mane. But the main benefits of lion’s mane are from its triterpenes which have been shown to boost nerve growth factor – they are great for your brain, nerves and cognitive function.
Triterpenes are fat and ethanol soluble and the water extraction concentrates very little of them. To optimize, a Class 3 product would extract these triterpenes with ethanol and test to make sure they are present in a sufficient dose of the final product.
Class 3: Standardized High-Potency Extracted Mushrooms
Organic mushroom fruiting body dual extract powders standardized to high beta-glucans or triterpenes content
Organic mushroom ethanol extract powders standardized to high triterpenes content
Organic cracked-cell-wall Reishi spores standardized to high triterpenes content
Ingredient wording examples:
“Organic Duanwood Reishi mushroom dual extract (30% beta-glucans)”
“Organic Duanwood Reishi mushroom ethanol extract (10% triterpenes)”
“Organic Duanwood Reishi mushroom cracked cell wall spores (4% triterpenes)”
“Organic Lion’s Mane ethanol extract (3% erinacines/hericenones)”
Recommended: Yes, these are the best!
Class 3 are the funcional mushroom products you FEEL!
These not only avoid raw mycelium but maximize the value of the extraction method and standardize (make active compounds always present at a certain percentage) to a very high level so that in one small dose you will experience everything that functional mushroom has to offer.
To me, these are very fun to take with a several hour long mood and energy boost. With consistent use these can cumulatively impart serious upgrades in your wellness over weeks, months and years.
Class 3 means no mycelium and nothing unextracted or weakly extracted. These are usually organically grown on very nutritious substrates or wood instead of cheap grain. Standardized to have at least 2-5% triterpenes and/or 10-40% beta-glucans.
Where to find Class 3 Functional Mushroom Products
My top 2 highest-potency-possible, standardized high-beta-glucan and high-triterpene, organic, meticulous-quality functional mushroom products that comprehensively provide the benefits shown in studies are Epic Reishi and Epic Mushrooms:
You won’t find one spec of mycelienated grain in these formulas. (Although for those looking closely, you will notice that we use both lion’s mane mushroom fruiting body AND liquified mycelium (because the mycelium has different types of triterpenes than those in the fruiting body and some studies indicate that using both may be best for boosting nerve growth factor) using an ethanol extraction method to maximize the types of brain-boosting triterpenes. But we don’t use raw mycelium.)
You also won’t find an untested extract in our mushroom products. Each ingredient is tested to make sure it has the hefty percent of active compounds we want in each dose. These formulations are even loaded with organic reishi spores which have had their cell walls properly broken to unlock and make bioavailable the mental clarity boosting reishi triterpenes contained within them. Click on the jars above and get yourself an authentic functional mushroom experience.
I am so grateful we have access to the most pristine and potent functinoal mushroom extracts available at the click of a mouse that in days of past would have required each of us to spend a lifetime traveling to the edges of the Earth to find.
Cheers to you going forth as a connoisseur of Class 3 health-transforming fantastic fungi!
P.S. Now that you're a mushroom ingredient reading pro, scope out what makes Longevity Power functional mushroom products epically Class 3+ and order yourself your favorites!💪