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Top Mushroom Coffee Benefits and Types to Try

Here’s what to know before amping up your morning cup with the power of functional mushrooms.

Fact checked by Haley Mades

The benefits of mushroom coffee are sweeping social media. And while there’s nothing quite like a cup of coffee to help you shake off morning fogginess and start your day right, it's unclear if mushroom coffee lives up to the claims.

With over 38 million views on TikTok, we had to dig deeper into this wellness trend. So, what is mushroom coffee? Does it actually contain coffee, will it perk you up, and is it really better for you than regular java? Here's what you need to know.

What Is Mushroom Coffee?

Mushroom coffee is a functional mushroom drink that does not necessarily include actual coffee—though it often does. For a product to be considered mushroom coffee, it must be made with dried, ground, and sometimes extracted (to bring out more of their nutrition) functional mushrooms. Popular functional fungi varieties used for mushroom coffee include lion’s mane, reishi, chaga, cordyceps, turkey tail, and king trumpet.

Some brands include coffee in their blends, and others don’t, citing that the flavor and impact of their beverage mimic that of coffee without the caffeine crash. Some mushroom coffees may also contain other adaptogenic or herbal ingredients like ashwagandha, burdock root, chicory, dandelion, maca, turmeric, cinnamon, pepper, and rhodiola.



What Are Adaptogens?

Adaptogens are natural substances found in certain plant foods, like mushrooms, herbs, and roots. Embraced by traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurveda for thousands of years, adaptogens assist the body in adapting to stress of any kind, whether that be biological, physical, or chemical. This helps the body fight off any illness or disease resulting from these stressors and swiftly return back to homeostasis.



Mushroom Coffee Benefits

Functional mushrooms are not the hallucinogenic kind—they’re mushrooms with additional health benefits outside of the nutrients they contain, as well as adaptogenic properties. Of the over 70 naturally occurring adaptogens known today, functional mushrooms are some of the most frequently utilized nowadays.

The adaptogens in functional mushrooms have been linked to improvement in all sorts of conditions, including bodily inflammation, chronic fatigue syndrome, and cognitive impairment. Each functional mushroom has its own unique health benefits with burgeoning evidence to show for it. Here are the cliff notes on some of the most popular benefits of mushrooms used for mushroom coffee.

Reishi Mushrooms Prevent Diseases

This mushroom is one of the most common ingredients you’ll find in mushroom coffee blends. Research has found it to have therapeutic potential for neurodegenerative disorders, cancer, heart disease, liver disease, mood disorders, and metabolic conditions—though continued research is needed to fully understand these mechanisms.

Lion’s Mane Mushrooms Enhance Brain Health

Another popular addition, lion’s mane is especially appealing to mushroom coffee engineers because it contains neurotrophic factors. These are protein biomolecules that encourage the differentiation and growth of neurons, i.e. nerve cells in the brain that transmit information. This, in addition to lion’s mane’s ability to reduce inflammation in the brain, make it an excellent food to start your day with for increased clarity and mental focus.

Plus, lion's mane has been shown to be supportive of gut, metabolic, heart, and sleep health while also working to alleviate symptoms of other brain-related concerns like Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s, and mood disorders like anxiety and depression.

Cordyceps Mushrooms Improve Respiratory Health

Cordyceps mushrooms are typically added to coffee blends to promote inflammation reduction throughout the body. Beyond this benefit, these unique-looking mushrooms are linked to boosting respiratory health and even protecting against several types of cancer. It’s been found to be effective against viruses and exercise fatigue, which can be handy if you reach for a mushroom coffee with this variety in it after your morning workout.

Chaga Mushrooms Support Metabolic Health

You’ll also be very likely to find chaga in popular mushroom coffee blends. These grow on the sides of trees, looking almost bark-like themselves. They offer an impressive number of health benefits, including the potential to improve heart, gut, brain, and metabolic health. Chaga has also been shown to be effective against viruses and cancer.

One note on chaga, though: Be cautious with it, as it contains high amounts of oxalate—a plant-defense chemical that can negatively impact kidney health if consumed in high amounts over long periods of time. Because of this, it’s important to find reputable mushroom coffee brands that understand the full impacts of chaga, including this variety in modest amounts in their product.



Warning

Ideally, you want to limit consumption of these ground mushrooms to no more than 2 grams (or one tablespoon) per day to avoid oxalate-related risks.



Turkey Tail Mushrooms Are Anti-Inflammatory

Finally, we have turkey tail mushrooms, a broad-spectrum anti-inflammatory agent, boosting our immune systems from every angle. Research has also shown that it may even be powerful against cancers like melanoma, though more is needed to confirm such claims.

All Mushroom Coffees Types Boost Energy

All of these functional fungi will add to your morning cup healthy doses of fiber that will boost gut health, plant compounds that will support the immune system, and B vitamins that will help you maintain healthy energy levels throughout the day.

Beyond offering energy, clarity, and mental focus, drinking mushroom coffee drinks can help reduce your caffeine load a bit in the morning, since some of the coffee grounds are replaced by these adaptogens. If you’re looking for a way to perk up without jitters, sleep troubles, or a midday energy dip, this may be the answer to your prayers and offer more even, calm, and prolonged energy.



How Solid Are These Claims of Functional Benefits?

It’s important to note that the evidence on these mushrooms—and therefore any products they’re used in, including mushroom coffee—is still developing. A large portion of the available research is also animal-based.

That said, these mushrooms are generally considered to be safe and are full of vitamins, minerals, and healthy macronutrients like fiber, so they do provide nutritional value regardless of whether or not claims of all their additional, adaptogenic super benefits have yet to be proven as bulletproof.



Mushroom Coffee Types and Brands

If you want to give mushroom coffee a try, you have quite a few options. You can DIY mushroom coffee by buying your own dried mushrooms, grinding them up, and adding them to your morning brew. But the most common option is to purchase pre-ground and mixed mushroom blends, like Naturealm’s Sacred 7 Mushroom Extract Powder and stir that into your coffee.

You can also spring for a pre-blended mushroom and coffee mix, from which there are many to choose. There are mushroom coffees containing actual coffee, including Rasa, Four Sigmatic, Ryze, Om Mushroom Superfood, and Laird Superfood.

You can also find mushroom coffee alternatives containing no coffee at all. Some of these will contain caffeine in the way of tea, while others are caffeine-free, though all are intended to provide you with a comparable energy boost to coffee. Brands of this kind include MUD/WTR, as well as some varieties of Rasa, Wooden Spoon Herbs, and Velty (which does technically contain decaf coffee).

All of these brands offer loads of transparency surrounding their sourcing processes and ingredient quality on their websites. While they will likely be more expensive than your go-to dark roast grounds due to the addition of adaptogens, it’s hard to beat the convenience they offer through ready-to-brew grounds, individualized serving packets, or even pods.

<p>Edalin/Getty Images</p>

Edalin/Getty Images

Risks and Possible Side Effects

Mushrooms can aggravate preexisting digestive issues, especially in people with kidney problems. Chaga mushrooms, in particular, have high levels of oxalates, acids naturally found in foods that can inhibit nutritional absorption. Oxalates can cause kidney stones, and people with kidney issues are at a particularly high risk.

Regular coffee can wreak havoc on the digestive system, and mushroom coffee can have the same effects. If you're prone to digestive problems or have a diagnosed illness like irritable bowel syndrome, it's best to steer clear of mushroom coffee. Mushrooms pull water into the gut, which can aggravate IBS and other intestinal disorders.

Also, the FDA hasn't approved adaptogens for pregnant or breastfeeding women, so if you're pregnant or breastfeeding, steer clear just to be safe. As you should with any new nutritional supplements, have a chat with your doctor before jumping on the mushroom coffee train. It's also a good idea to incorporate mushroom coffee in small amounts to ensure you don't have a negative reaction to it.

Related: What's the Deal With Functional Mushrooms? Here Are 6 Types Worth Knowing About

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