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Top 5 Functional Mushrooms

There are an estimated 2.2 to 3.8 million species of fungi on the planet. So far, only about 120,000 have been classified and named. But within that 120,000 lie a few special mushrooms that can benefit our health in incredible ways. They have passed the insanely high bar to be recognized as "medicinal" or "functional" mushrooms. Here are the top 5 medicinal mushrooms that you need to know.

1. Lion’s Mane

Scientific Name: Hericium erinaceus Used mainly for cognition, mood, focus and nerve health. The secret power of Lion’s Mane are two compounds known as herecenones and erinacenes, which can cross the blood brain barrier and promote the production of “Nerve Growth Factor” (NGF). NGF protects neurons, and may help with the growth of new ones. Lion’s Mane is also a delicious gourmet edible mushroom, so don’t pass up the chance to fry this one up!

2. Reishi

Scientific Name: Ganoderma lucidum Known as the “spirit mushroom” Reishi is used for relaxation and sleep, but also immune health and allergies. It is the medicinal mushroom with the longest history of use, appearing in Classics of the Materia Medica over two thousand years ago! You can enjoy Reishi as a tea, but it’s best if dual extracted. It can be bitter because of a high concentration of triterpenes, but that is what gives it the unique benefits.

3. Cordyceps

Scientific Name: Cordyceps militaris Known as the “athletes mushroom” Cordyceps is used for energy, endurance, and athletic performance. It works by improving the way that we deliver oxygen from our lungs to the rest of the cells in our body. Runners love Cordyceps, but the biggest benefits are actually seen by those who are NOT yet at peak performance. In nature, this mushroom grows on insects. Creepily, it takes over their brain, turning them into a zombie before fruiting out of their heads. But luckily it can be cultivated on natural substrates now, without using bugs!

4. Turkey Tail

Scientific Name: Trametes versicolor Known as the “defender” Turkey Tail is packed with immune supporting compounds called “beta-glucans”. All medicinal mushrooms have fungal beta glucans, but Turkey Tail is really in a league of it’s own. Our bodies are hard wired to interact with beta-glucans. Taking Turkey Tail is like taking your immune system to the gym- training it and turning it into a killing machine! Turkey Tail grows on dead logs, and there is no doubt that you have seen it before (or a close cousin) whilst walking around in the woods.

5. Chaga

Scientific Name: Inonotus obliquus This “mushroom” is actually a sterile conk, made up of Chaga mycelium and birch wood. It looks like a lump of coal, but is packed with immune supporting compounds and beneficial triterpenes. Mainly, it is used for immunity, digestive health, and skin health. Chaga is also a really powerful antioxidant. It can be enjoyed as a tea, but better if dual extracted with water and alcohol. Since Chaga has such a complex growth cycle, it needs to be wild harvested from birch trees. If you want to learn more about functional mushrooms, feel free to download FreshCap’s FREE eBook!
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