Mushrooms are the latest wellness trend for people looking to enhance their health and resilience.
The enigmatic little organisms might not be new - fungi could be a billion years old and mushrooms have been used therapeutically for thousands of years - but they are only recently gaining mainstream recognition for their unique medical properties.
This is perhaps because personal health is currently a major concern for lots of people, largely due to increasing rates of disease, falling fertility, and the overt threat of global pandemics.
With that in mind, we have spent the last few weeks researching and trying out the best mushroom supplements in the UK.
Benefits of mushroom supplements
While the use of mushrooms has deep cultural roots, modern science is only beginning to explore and explain just how useful they can be for our health.
Here are 6 proven health benefits of consuming mushrooms:
- Reduced depression risk
A study from November 2021 found that people who eat mushrooms have a lower chance of experiencing depression. The antidepressant properties of mushrooms is thought to be down to ergothioneine, an antioxidant that may protect against cell and tissue damage.
Lead researcher Djibril Ba says, “Mushrooms are the highest dietary source of the amino acid ergothioneine — an anti-inflammatory which cannot be synthesized by humans.
“Having high levels of this may lower the risk of oxidative stress, which could also reduce the symptoms of depression.”
While the types of mushrooms consumed was not reported in this study, previous research has shown hericium erinaceus, also known as Lion’s Mane, to stimulate nerve growth factor (NGF), which may help prevent or reduce depression.
- Reduced risk of cancer
According to a meta-analysis published in 2021, mushroom consumption is associated with a lower risk of cancer.
Researchers found that people who regularly ate any type of mushroom had a lower risk of cancer. According to the findings, individuals who ate 18 grams of mushrooms daily had a 45% lower risk of cancer compared to those who did not eat mushrooms.
It was also found that the protective effects of mushrooms were most strongly associated with reduced breast cancer risk.
- Reduced risk of premature death
Another study from 2021 found that adults who ate mushrooms had a lower risk of premature death, regardless of their demographics, lifestyle choices and other dietary factors.
The study analysed the diets of more than 15,000 U.S. adults and found that individuals who consumed mushrooms had lower risk of death by all causes compared with those who did not eat mushrooms.
The researchers also observed a dose-response relationship between higher mushroom consumption and lower risk of all-cause mortality, suggesting the more mushrooms one eats, the less chance they have of dying of anything!
- Protects brain
A number of mushrooms contain compounds that are proven to protect the brain from disease, injury and degeneration.
In one study, people who ate more than two cups of mushrooms (including golden, oyster, shiitake and white button mushrooms) a week had a 50% lower risk of developing mild cognitive impairment.
Lion’s mane in particular has been shown to promote the growth of new brain cells and protect the brain from neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s.
- Improves gut health
The microbiome in your gut is an ecosystem home to billions of organisms and bacteria. And it plays a vital role in keeping you healthy.
Research shows that polysaccharides found in mushrooms can work as potent prebiotics by stimulating the growth of healthy bacteria in your gut.
- Enhance immunity
Mushrooms contain many macronutrients that work to support a healthy immune system. In fact, it is well-established that mushrooms are adept at immune modulation, most notably stimulating cytokine production, which in turn increases our natural killer cells to improve our body’s defence system.
Common types of medicinal mushroom
There are approximately 14,000 mushrooms known to science at this moment in time. And at our current rate of discovery, it will take an additional 4000 years to discover all the mushroom species on this planet - estimated to be more than 5 million.
What an exciting 4000 years it will be!
In the meantime, here is a brief list of some of the most well-known and commonly used medicinal mushrooms:
10 best mushrooms supplements in the UK
1. Organic Mushroom Complex 8 from Time Health
An incredibly popular product among the health conscious, this is an organic blend of 8 beneficial medicinal mushrooms that work together to boost immunity, energy and overall well-being.
Featuring full-spectrum, dual extracted (with alcohol and water to extract both water-soluble and non-water-soluble compounds) mushroom extracts, this is the product if you want a highly effective mushroom supplement that promotes overall health.
2. Create Lion’s Mane Tincture from Mushies
This powerful tincture gives fast effects thanks to its superior absorption rates compared to powders or capsules.
High in active compounds including hericenones and erinacines, this liquid extract allows beneficial compounds to readily pass through the blood-brain barrier and stimulate the production of nerve growth factor (NGF), leading to enhanced neurogenesis and cognitive performance.
This extract is referred to as 8:1 because you need 8kg of raw lion's mane to produce a single kilo of the extract. Hericenones and erinacines, which are the compounds considered to be responsible for the cognitive benefits of lion's mane mushroom, are only soluble in ethanol.
3. High Strength Lion's Mane Capsules from Mushies
These brand new high-strength capsules have been specifically developed for cognitive, gut and immune support.
The capsules don’t contain dried mushroom powder like many others, but rather a concentrated extract with high levels of beta glucans (30%) - a soluble fibre that boosts the immune system and supports gut health - and hericenones and erinacines, which stimulate nerve growth factor (NGF) in the brain and give lion’s mane its cognitive enhancing properties.
The extract is also made from only the fruiting body of mushrooms (not the mycelium) grown naturally on large hardwood sticks. It has been dual extracted with both water and alcohol to draw out both water-soluble and non-water-soluble compounds from the mushroom, making it ideal for boosting both cognitive and immune function.
4. CBD + Mushrooms Capsules from Woodies
These capsules from Woodies contain various medicinal mushrooms alongside CBD - another powerful tool used for managing pain, anxiety and inflammation. Woodies are cannabis enthusiasts and the extract they use is broad-spectrum with added CBG (also good for anxiety and inflammation).
I’m not aware of any other company in the UK combining mushrooms and CBD, so this range is pretty unique. The full range includes reishi, turkey tale, lion’s mane and cordyceps.
5. Organic MyComplex Mushroom from Mushrooms 4 Life
Combining 3 long-revered mushrooms - reishi, cordyceps and maitake - but what’s unique . about this product is the use of reishi spores, as opposed to the fruiting body (the mushroom).
The company says it used reishi spores that have been carefully cracked at low temperatures and then rolled up to 30 times to extract the active nutrients. With reishi known as the ‘Mushroom of Immortality’, his product is great for boosting the liver health immune function.
6. Mushroom Complex 6 from Time Health
Another entry here from Time Health (we’re big fans), this Mushroom Complex 6 features an equal blend of chaga, cordyceps, shiitake, reishi, lion’s mane and maitake.
Time Health makes sure all their mushroom products are double extracted, made to GMP standards, and undergo third-party testing. We highly recommend this Complex 6 for immunity support, energy, cognition and overall wellbeing.
7. Turkey Tail Tincture from Bristol Fungarium
I love this turkey tail supplement from Bristol Fungarium because it’s made with wild turkey tail mushrooms harvested here in the UK in Somerset. As a tincture, it’s also highly bioavailable, making it very effective.
Turkey tail has shown unique health effects, including potential against cancer. Two compounds, called polysaccharopeptide (PSP) and polysaccharide-K (PSK), derived from the turkey tail mushroom are believed to play a major role in immunity.
8. Cordyceps Mushroom 10:1 Extract Powder from MindNutrition
This certified organic cordyceps supplement from MindNutrition contains over 20% beta-glucans and at least 0.3% cordycepin - two compounds that are thought to be responsible for the health boosting effects of cordyceps.
Cordyceps mushroom is traditionally used for boosting energy, respiratory health and sexual function. In fact, research on cordyceps is some compelling that many high-level athletes use it as part of their supplement regime.
9. Mico Vir Reishi And Cordyceps from Hifas da Terra
Hifas da Terra is a biotech company based in Spain that produces super high-quality supplements from medicinal mushrooms.
Their newly released Mico Vir supplement is one of our favourites, featuring a concentrated 4:1 extract of reishi and cordyceps.
10. Red Reishi 10:1 Extract Powder from Hybrid Herbs
There are six different varieties of reishi mushroom, and duanwood red reishi - the most common - is what this supplement from Hybrid Herbs is made out of.
It has a woody, bitter taste and is good for making tea with. Reishi has been used for thousands of years to promote the healthy functioning of the immune system, fight stress and increase vitality.
Mushrooms are small medicine factories that have immense potential to enhance the health of mankind. While they are starting to get the recognition they deserve, we are sure to learn so much more about them over the coming decades.
But until then, we can take control of our health by introducing high-quality mushroom supplements into our daily wellness routine.
If that makes sense to you, explore the shrooms supps on this list as we believe them to be the best in the country.