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Which Functional Mushroom Should You Use For What? Your Adaptogenic Guide To Fungi

May 02, 2024
Branded Content Editor
Image by Gaia Herbs / Contributor
May 02, 2024

Functional mushrooms may have gone mainstream, but that doesn't make them any less intimidating. If anything, the recent fungi frenzy has made working with these adaptogens even more confusing. Where do we start? Which mushroom is for what? How do I know my 'shrooms are high quality? You have questions; this guide has answers.

What are functional mushrooms? 

A "functional mushroom" is an edible mushroom that has adaptogenic properties (beyond its nutritional benefits). As a refresher, adaptogens1 are organic compounds that support how our nervous system responds to stress. Functional mushrooms support our stress response, but that's not all.*

Different mushrooms yield different benefits, but all contain beta glucans, complex carbs found in the cell walls of mushrooms. Research2 has connected fungal beta glucans to heart health, gut health, immune function, inflammatory response, and beyond.* No wonder we want more mushrooms in our lives—but not just any mushrooms.

Quality is just as important as knowing which mushroom to choose. That's because many mushroom supplements out there don't actually contain mushrooms. Instead, they utilize the mycelium of the mushroom (the roots). 

But research has demonstrated that beta glucans and other beneficial compounds are highest in the mushroom's fruiting body, aka everything aboveground. That's why we love a brand that uses organic, sustainably sourced fruiting bodies, like Gaia Herbs.

Which mushroom, for what? 

If you've only ever thought of mushrooms in the context of your dinner plate, welcome to the wild world of functional mushrooms. Whether you're looking to support your brainpower, immunity, energy levels, metabolism, or all the above—there's a mushroom for that.* The question is, which one's right for you?

Lion's Mane

Not only does this fungi look like a majestic lion's mane, but its benefits are majestic too. Lion's mane has been studied3 for its effects on cognition and nerve growth and is known to promote overall brain and neurological health.* When you're looking to feel mentally sharp and focused, consider these fungi your friends.*

You can eat lion's mane, but Gaia Herbs' Lion's Mane Mushroom capsules are a lot easier. Through a lengthy extraction process, they're made from 100% mushroom extract. Because Gaia Herbs only harvests fruiting bodies (where the benefits are concentrated), there are no fillers, starches, grains, or mycelium in these capsules—just the good stuff.

Lion's Mane Mushroom


Cordyceps is a fungi best known for its support of healthy stamina and physical energy levels.* It has also been used for millenniums in Traditional Chinese Medicine for supporting the kidneys and lungs.* Due to its energy-boosting properties, this mushroom is often sought after by active individuals looking to maintain peak physical performance.* 

Gaia Herbs sources its cordyceps organically and sustainably. In their Everyday Adaptogen®, you're getting organic cordyceps extract (no fillers). But this powder blend also offers additional powerful adaptogenic herbs—maca, ashwagandha, and rhodiola—which further support healthy stress and energy levels.*

Everyday Adaptogen®

Turkey Tail

Turkey tail mushrooms are mystical-looking fungi often found growing on fallen logs or branches. Of all the mushrooms, turkey tail is the most researched and has been found to support a healthy inflammatory response, cell growth, respiratory health, and liver health.* If you're looking to harness the immune-supporting benefits of mushrooms—forage no further.* 

But as powerful as this mushroom is, some people don't care for the taste. Thankfully, Gaia Herbs' Turkey Tail Mushroom capsules make it far more accessible to regularly consume this liver- and immune-supporting adaptogen.* Plus, Gaia Herbs grows their turkey tail in a "wild-simulated" natural environment—meaning that the mushrooms can be monitored for quality while growing as they would in the wild.

Turkey Tail Mushroom


Different from other mushrooms, chaga's benefits are concentrated in the mycelial mass rather than the fruiting body. Chaga is known for having high antioxidant levels4, supporting both immune health and overall well-being.* Consistent across their entire suite of mushrooms, Gaia Herbs sources their chaga responsibly. Wildcrafted on organically managed land from Siberian birch, it doesn't get closer to nature than that.

Image by Gaia Herbs / Contributor


Maitake mushrooms were once used as currency in Japan, if that says anything about their value. This edible mushroom is known for promoting cellular health and immune support—particularly when combined with other mushrooms.* That's why you'll find both organic maitake and chaga in Gaia Herbs Immune Shine supplement. Formulated with other immune-supporting players—like elderberry and ginger—this powder is a delicious ritual for feeling your best.*

Immune Shine®

But why should you choose Gaia Herbs Mushrooms?

There are thousands of edible mushrooms out there, but we think of functional mushrooms as the elite. And while they deserve the hype, it's important to remember: The way mushrooms are sourced directly impacts their benefits. So, why settle for anything less than pure extraction?

Here's a glimpse at what sustainable sourcing really looks like. Gaia Herbs harvests their mushroom-fruiting bodies at their peak potency. These mushrooms are then dried, powdered, and steeped in hot water for hours to create a 100% organic mushroom extract. From there, each batch goes through stringent testing for integrity, purity, and potency. Because of this process, Gaia Herbs mushrooms are pure, without fillers and unnecessary ingredients. 

The bottom line

Mushrooms are living proof that nature is a powerful agent for our health. Through functional mushrooms, we can connect to nature and our well-being. And in a modern world, where stress is a norm, we might even call these adaptogens invaluable. That's why we want our fungi as close to the source as possible. Whether you're curious about cordyceps for energy, lion's mane for brain health, or the synergy of maitake and chaga for immune health—your new mushroom ritual starts here.*

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

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