Mushroom coffee has become one of the biggest health trends over the past few years, and for good reason.
You may think it sounds weird but drinking mushroom coffee is a great and convenient way to add medicinal mushrooms into your diet.
The truth is, we don't get enough of the nutritional benefits medicinal mushroom offer. By adding mushroom extracts in small doses whenever we can, it really helps support our health in many ways.
But the trend of mushroom coffee is not new. In fact, medicinal mushrooms have been used as health promoting longevity tonics for centuries.
The Ancient Egyptians, Aztecs, Babylonians, Chinese, Vedics - all consumed nature’s superfoods to infuse life promoting elixirs–tonic beverages–that were consumed daily allowing the individual to receive the numerous benefits of functional mushrooms and plant medicines (1).
In modern times, coffee is the most popular herb and beverage that is consumed in the world. According to a report by the United Nations, 40% of the world's population drinks coffee.
The International Tea Association reported that in 2016 over three billion cups of coffee are consumed every day around the world.
What is mushroom coffee?
Mushroom coffee is the addition of medicinal mushroom extracts into your cup of coffee. Usually, one or more medicinal mushrooms are added to offset some of the downsides of coffee such as jitters, acidity and poor digestion.
Common medicinal mushrooms used to make this trendy coffee include: Chaga mushroom, Cordyceps mushroom, Lion’s Mane mushroom, and Reishi Mushroom.
What does mushroom coffee taste like?
Don’t worry–mushroom coffee won’t taste like the mushrooms you eat on your dinner plate. Due to their inherent earthy and bitter flavour profiles, medicinal mushrooms naturally pair very well with coffee. This makes the medicinal mushrooms essentially undetectable when mixed into your morning cup of coffee.
Why do you add mushrooms to coffee?
Keep reading to learn more about why adding medicinal mushrooms into your coffee is the best for your health, performance and energy levels. Plus, you will learn how to avoid the bad side effects of coffee such as the jitters and those over-stimulated crashing feelings.
Table of Contents
History of Mushroom Coffee
In recent years, mushroom coffee hit the mainstream with the emergence of biohacking, nootropics, podcasting and the marriage of modern day research validating ancient traditions.
But before we were putting mushrooms into our coffee and hash tagging it, medicinal mushrooms were utilised within numerous ancient medicine systems– the Ancient Chinese, Japanese, Tibetin, Greek and Folk medicine all harnessed the incredible longevity benefits of mushrooms (1).
Traditionally, medicinal mushrooms were infused into teas, soups, stocks, tonics - enhancing the absorption of these adaptogens - which is still very much seen today.
During World War II there was a shortage of coffee beans. Countries such as Finland used Chaga mushroom as a coffee replacement. Other European countries adopted Chicory Root–a common coffee substitute still used today (2).
Coffee on its own offers a wide array of health benefits and longevity effects. Today, we know that mushroom coffee;
- Supports the HPA axis and nervous system - this is especially important if you know you’re more sensitive to coffee and caffeine. The adaptogenic properties and kidney adrenal protective benefits of medicinal mushrooms help buffer the negative effects of caffeine such as overstimulation and “getting the jitters”.
- Improves cognition, blood flow, vasodilation, memory and focus.
- Delivers antioxidants that protect cells from DNA damage and oxidative stress.
- Supports autophagy benefits of fasting (if consuming black coffee and mushrooms together).
- Increases energy and sustains energy levels throughout the day.
- Boosts immune system health.
- Supports cholesterol and blood sugar (1, 3).
Why Mushroom Coffee is Famous
There are several reasons that explain why mushroom coffee is famous. The first reason being that mushroom coffee enhances the health benefits of coffee itself, supercharging it.
By adding medicinal mushrooms to our coffee, it creates a super health promoting beverage - as you’re getting the benefits of the mushrooms along with the benefits of coffee;
- Improves blood flow, vasodilation and cognition.
- Improve blood sugar balance and cholesterol metabolism.
- Improves cognition and memory.
- Is anti-inflammatory and antioxidant rich.
- Studies show may reduce the risk of colon cancer (1, 3, 4).
Mushroom coffee is the easiest way to add medicinal mushrooms into your life. It allows the everyday coffee drinker to sustain high energy levels, nervous system function, can reduce anxiety, boost antioxidant levels and enhance cognition and memory.
Mushroom coffee is also famous because we love the assimilation of ancient, secret health practices into our modern day lives.
Most of us drink coffee - we love it. It makes us feel good. Now we have the added benefit of incorporating this ancient, revered, longevity promoting superfood mushrooms into our favourite drink. What’s not to love!
We’ve seen the emergence and inclusion of adding mushrooms into coffee all across coffee chains, coffee shops and pre-made mixes that we can take on the go.
It’s also important to mention that caffeine use isn’t suitable for everyone.
If coffee isn’t your drink of choice, try substituting for an energy boosting mushroom like Cordyceps. Combine with some raw cacao powder or matcha green tea powder to make the perfect coffee replacement without missing out on any antioxidant and energising benefits.
The Teelixir Mushroom Latte powder range was created as the perfect coffee alternatives. They contain zero coffee.
4 Best Medicinal Mushrooms to Add To Your Coffee
The best and most popular medicinal mushrooms to add to your coffee are Cordyceps mushroom, Chaga mushroom, Reishi mushroom and Lion’s Mane Mushroom.
Others may include Turkey Tail mushroom, Maitake mushroom and Shiitake mushroom.
Cordyceps mushroom (Cordyceps sinensis) is well known for it’s fatigue fighting, energy boosting and performance enhancing benefits.
Cordyceps mushroom binds to the same receptors as caffeine, blunting the tired feelings we experience, whilst also nourishing the nervous system and preserving cortisol.
Cordyceps mushroom is known to increase oxygen and cellular energy, boost libido, protect and support the respiratory system, increase Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and Nerve growth factor (NGF) within the brain - improving memory and cognition as well as protecting the liver.
Adding Cordyceps to your mushroom coffee is one way to really boost your energy levels and prevent the crashing side effects that comes with excessive caffeine consumption–since that’s your body washing away adenosine, our sleepy compound.
You can also add Cordyceps to a caffeine free mushroom latte but still enjoy the same energizing and anti-fatigue benefits. Try swapping your coffee for Cordyceps mushroom.
Chaga mushroom (Inonotus obliquus) is the original mushroom coffee. It was historically used as a optimal coffee replacement for centuries.
Chaga mushroom is one of the most potent antioxidants on the planet and when enjoyed together with the coffee bean–another antioxidant superfood– the combination of the two herbs makes a super antioxidant beverage.
Antioxidants are so important for our health and wellbeing for their ability to cancel out free radicals in the body.
Free radicals are unstable atoms that cause oxidative stress, DNA damage and alter gene function and activation. Antioxidants reduce inflammation and are important longevity compounds. The more antioxidants we consume, the more we’re supporting our cells function and replication.
Additionally, coffee is notoriously acid-forming in the body. High acidity in the body can cause a whole range of health issues.
Fortunately, the high mineral content in Chaga mushrooms makes it one of the most alkaline foods ever. Therefore, adding Chaga mushroom to your coffee makes your cup less acidic and elevates the pH to a more balanced acid-alkaline ratio.
Additionally, Chaga mushroom helps balance blood sugar levels. Imbalanced blood sugar is what contributes to that energy rollercoaster as well as internal inflammation.
Chaga is also an amazing mushroom for gut health. Chaga boosts a healthy diverse microbiome as well as supports healthy cholesterol levels.
By adding Chaga mushroom to your Mushroom Coffee or Mushroom Latte you’re boosting your antioxidant levels and nourishing your entire bodily systems and cellular health.
Lion's Mane Mushroom
Lion’s Mane mushroom is literal food the brain.
We already know that coffee can boost mental performance and increase concentration and focus, but Lions Mane coffee takes our mental acuity and brain performance to another level.
Lion’s Mane mushroom (Hericium erinaceus) is a natural nootropic superfood that increases the release of two key neural growth factors within the brand - BDNF and NGF.
These compounds act as “growth juice” for the neurons. They work to improve the expansion and health of those neurons fights against Alzheimer's, Dementia and other neurodegenerative diseases. They help support and boost cognition, improve mood, memory and cognitive energy.
Both coffee and Lion’s Mane mushroom have been shown to improve mood and can be a helpful tool for depression and anxiety (5).
By adding Lion’s Mane to your mushroom coffee or mushroom latte - you’re supporting your nervous system and mental health on a biological level.
Reishi mushroom (Ganoderma lucidum) is zen in a cup and an amazing kidney and adrenal tonic.
Reishi works to calm an overactive and depleted nervous system, with key signs being an intolerance to caffeine or getting the coffee jitters or feeling anxious from a cup of coffee - it’s a sign that your nervous system cannot handle that type of stimulus and needs some additional TLC.
Also known as Ganoderma coffee, adding Reishi mushroom to your cup of coffee buffers this, decreasing the coffee jitters, a caffeine crash as well as supporting your kidneys metabolism and excretion of caffeine, decreasing the amount of leftover caffeine circulating, supporting a healthy sleep and decreasing anxiety.
If you know you’re sensitive to coffee but can’t give up your cup of joe, try Ganoderma coffee. It will help protect your adrenals and central nervous system from going into overdrive.
Top Benefits of Medicinal Mushrooms
Historically, the benefits of medicinal mushrooms have provided a wide range of positive health effects for optimizing human performance for the body and mind.
Mushrooms Boost Your Immune System
Medicinal Mushrooms are most famously known within the scientific community for their immune modulating benefits.
Immune modulation refers to the ability to either upregulate and stimulate immune cell activity, or suppress and downregulate immune cell activity. There needs to be a balance of both for a healthy, thriving body.
Medicinal Mushrooms are known to modulate immune cell and cytokine activity through their polysaccharide and B-glucan properties (6,7).
- Natural Killer Cells - Mushrooms enhance NK cell activity - NK cells act like the snipers of the immune system, looking for cells under stress - such as cancer cells and virally infected cells. They then perform what's called cytolytic activity and essentially destroy the infected cell (6, 7,8).
- Lymphocytes - are the immune cells that act like big brothers. These immune cells oversee the lymph fluid and assess the type of immune response required depending on what invading pathogens or bacteria is present. Lymphocytes are either B cells or T cells. They initiate either an antibody mediated response or a cytokine and inflammatory response. Medicinal mushrooms have been shown to activate T and B cell formation, enhancing a strategic immune response (9).
- Macrophages - are the clean up crew of the immune system, coming along and literally engulfing damaged, dead, infected cells - clearing them from the body entirely. Mushrooms have been shown to upregulate macrophage activity and migration, supporting a healthy immune response.
- T cells - there’s numerous types of T-cells such as NK cells, cytotoxic T-cells and Treg cells. T cells focus on attacking cells that are present with foreign materials or antigens - such as a virus, or bacteria. Mushrooms enhance T-cell activity through activating Dendritic Cells.
- Dendritic cells are the samplers of the immune system, living in our mucous membranes, lymph and lymph nodes - grabbing bits of bacteria, viral proteins and presenting it to the immune system like “hey look what I found!” enabling an appropriate immune response.
Overall, medicinal mushrooms are one of the most powerful and potent superfoods for supporting a healthy and robust immune system.
Mushrooms Help Gut Health
Scientific studies has shown that 80% of our immune system lies within our gut - within a mucosal layer which acts to protect our enterocytes (gut cells) from invading pathogens and metabolites.
Medicinal mushrooms not only support a healthy immune response, they also;
- Act as prebiotics - with their B-glucan’s stimulating a healthy diversity of bacteria such as Bifidobacterium spp. and Lactobacillus spp. and support the replication of Bacteridiotes - the class of beneficial bacteria that inhabit our microbiomes.
- Act as modbiotics - with their antibacterial / antifungal properties helping to decrease the growth of dysbiotic bacteria and yeasts like Candida albicans and helping to break down biofilms - protective capsules - built by dysbiotic bacteria to prevent their death.
- Act as antioxidants - reducing gut inflammation that’s seen in conditions like leaky gut, autoimmune conditions, skin conditions and IBS.
Chaga mushroom, Reishi mushroom, Turkey Tail mushroom and Shiitake mushrooms are particularly high in antioxidants and contain compounds that support a healthy gut.
Mushrooms Reduce Stress and Anxiety
Being classified as adaptogens, medicinal mushrooms reduce stress and anxiety through their modulation of the HPA axis and stress response.
Medicinal mushrooms reduce stress and anxiety by preserving cortisol, and as nervines or nerve tonics, they help nourish the nervous system and thus, help reduce anxiety which is often driven by an overactive nervous system.
Reishi Mushroom (Ganoderma lucidum) is my personal favourite mushroom for stress and anxiety as it is a Shen tonic - working to open the heart, connect the soul and calm the mind - bringing us back to earth.
Lion’s Mane Mushroom is another mushroom that has been shown to be beneficial for anxiety, over thinking and depression that is often catalysed from overstress.
Mushrooms Increase Energy Levels
Cordyceps is the best mushroom for increasing energy, fighting fatigue and supporting performance.
Cordyceps mushroom contains a compound called cordycepin which binds to our adenosine receptors.
Adenosine is our sleepy molecule that accumulates throughout the day and is washed away during deep, restorative sleep.
Cordyceps mushroom buffers this adenosine build up, preventing us from feeling fatigued, as well as being a mushroom and adaptogen supports the nervous system, modulates our immune system, improves oxygenation and blood flow–all of which improves and increases energy.
Reishi is another fantastic mushroom for energy restoration.
Reishi mushroom (Ganoderma lucidum) is so nourishing, it’s great for anyone that is depleted, run down and flat. As a natural nervine and Shen tonic, Reishi offers neuroprotective benefits, boosts antioxidants, and improves circulation - enabling oxygen and nutrients to get to the cells where energy is made.
Mushrooms Support the Adrenals
Medicinal mushrooms support the kidney-adrenal axis. This is the site of cortisol, adrenaline and nordadreine release.
When the body is stressed or the fight or flight response is activated, the adrenals (which sit on top of our kidneys) pump out hormones–cortisol and adrenaline–that depletes our energy and nutrients.
Mushrooms such as Reishi, Cordyceps and Chaga preserve this cortisol, buffer the stress response and support the adrenals. The kidneys are responsible for fluid balance, detoxification and elimination, the breakdown of hormones, metabolites and waste from the body.
Our kidneys in Western medicine and terms are one of the most important organs to support for healthy energy and also the metabolism of coffee.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the Kidneys house what’s known as Jing energy or our life force energy. Taoists masters understood that when our Jing is depleted–we are depleted.
And thus, adding in these Jing nourishing mushrooms, supports and increases this life force energy and the balance of Yin / Yang.
Mushrooms are Anti-Allergenic
Coffee consumption can increase the production of histamines in the body which may lead to allergy symptoms.
Reishi mushroom (Ganoderma lucidum) exhibits anti-allergy compounds that may assist those that experience sinus issues, hayfever and allergies.
This is due to Reishi’s immune modulating properties. When we experience allergies, the immune system is activated - and it’s hyperactivity or more specifically, the Th1 immunity is over stimulated. This creates inflammatory cytokines and histamine causing the flushing, itchiness and runny nose.
Further allergies are heavily linked into leaky gut and gut permeability (10).
As a holistic nutritionist, I’ve witnessed first hand how healing a patient's gut health can completely reverse their allergy symptoms.
Adding in Reishi Mushroom to your diet is a key way to support reducing allergies. Ganoderma coffee may help prevent allergies.
Mushrooms May Provide Potential For Cancer Prevention
For many decades, medicinal mushrooms have been heavily studied for their role as adjuncts in supporting cancer therapies to balance the immune system and decrease the potential side effects of chemotherapy (6,7).
It’s been shown in the research for over the past 40 years the antineoplastic benefits, slowing tumour growth, regulating tumour genes, and increasing the immune systems ability to locate and destroy cancer cells (6,7).
Mushrooms have also been shown to potentially help cancer prevention through modulating the immune response - upregulating the immune cells involved in cancer cell detection and supporting their elimination (1,6,7).
Mushrooms and Heart Disease
Heart disease branches numerous cardiovascular conditions such as coronary heart disease and stroke. Heart disease is a state that accumulates over time and we know is heavily linked into lifestyle choices and factors.
Medicinal mushrooms have been shown to prevent plaque buildup within the arteries - which is what causes atherosclerosis and is the driving aspect of heart disease (1, 11).
In particular, Reishi mushroom (Ganoderma. lucidum) has been shown in studies to improve peripheral and cardiac blood flow, reduce hypercholesterolemia, reduce oxidative stress, support liver metabolism of cholesterol and improve LDL / HDL markers as well as stabilising blood sugar and through its antioxidant compounds and polysaccharides (1, 12).
Maitake is also another widely studied mushroom that has shown to improve cholesterol levels as well as Chaga Mushroom with its triterpenoid compounds and high antioxidants that help support cardiovascular health (13).
Top Benefits of Mushroom Coffee
Mushroom coffee benefits are broad and profound. in your diet everyday can provide a wide range of health and performance benefits.
Drinking mushroom coffee can help support your energy and maintain sustainable energy levels throughout the day.
Adding medicinal mushrooms into your coffee prevents the caffeine crash or reliance on coffee which can lead to adrenal exhaustion. Since medicinal mushrooms are classified as adaptogens, they can buffer the effects of stress.
Caffeine activates our sympathetic nervous system and fight or flight response. This is why the body increases its heart rate, respiration, can get sweaty, hot and focused.
The medicinal mushrooms in coffee comes in and act as a buffer, preventing that jittery impact and not railing your nervous system as some high strength coffee can.
Extra Brain Power
Mushroom coffee activates extra brain power and works to improves cognition, memory and focus.
As we discussed, by acting in a symbiotic way alongside coffee - mushrooms like Lion’s Mane increase blood flow to the brain, improving neural connections and health, This also allows our memory, mood, focus and concentration to improve.
Lions Mane coffee is incredible for extra brain power and improving mental performance.
Mushroom coffee improves cardiovascular and metabolic health by stimulating liver detoxification and the metabolism of cholesterol.
Mushroom coffee can also support healthy blood sugar levels, being useful in women with PCOS, insulin resistance, Type 2 Diabetes, metabolic syndrome and other blood sugar imbalances.
Increase Physical Performance
Mushroom coffee benefits can improve physical performance and recovery through it’s vasodilating effects and liberation of glucose from muscles. This improves stamina, respiration, VO2 max and recovery.
Medicinal mushrooms are nature’s pre-workout.
Support the Immune System
Mushroom coffee benefits can improve immune system function since the original use of medicinal mushrooms was to support immunity.
Each medicinal mushroom has its own benefits on the immune system.
Depending on the current state of health in a persone, immune modulating capabilities of medicinal mushrooms will either stimulate a weakened immune system or calm an overactive or “hot” immune system in such cases as allergies, hay fever and autoimmune conditions.
The coffee bean itself is a potent antioxidant–rich in polyphenols and flavonoids–that help reduce oxidative stress and protect DNA (14).
When we add medicinal mushrooms to our coffee, we’re getting extra antioxidant benefits. Particularly with Chaga and / or Reishi mushroom.
As we’ve explored, Chaga is one of the highest antioxidant rich foods on the planet.
Adding Chaga mushroom to your mushroom coffee creates enormous benefits around fighting free radicals, decreasing oxidative stress, increasing glutathione production and protecting DNA.
Add to that, the blood sugar balancing, immune modulating and gut supporting benefits, Chaga mushroom and coffee is an amazing dynamic duo.
When we add Reishi to our coffee, we receive additional antioxidant benefits as well as a more balanced, supported cup of coffee for the central nervous system.
Balance pH in the Body
Coffee on its own creates acidity in the body. Our body keeps a very tight regulation of the pH of blood. The lungs and kidneys play a key role in maintaining this specific pH.
With coffee being naturally acidic, it really presents problems in individuals with additional acidity in their body e.g acid reflux, IBS or those with kidney diseases.
Chaga mushroom is particularly rich in alkaline minerals, such as potassium and being the unique conk it is and growing from Birch tree’s it’s alkaline properties are further contributed through it’s growing cycle.
If your a coffee drinker, it may be important to include more alkaline foods in your diet like Chaga and other mushrooms to help balance the body’s pH.
Tips to Add Medicinal Mushrooms to Your Diet
How to add medicinal mushrooms to your diet?
Adding medicinal mushrooms in your coffee or tea to create a mushroom coffee or mushroom latte is one of the easiest ways to get medicinal mushrooms in your diet.
Not to mention all the mushroom coffee benefits we discussed.
If you’re new to medicinal mushrooms, start by adding ¼ -½ a teaspoon of a high quality organic medicinal mushroom extract powder into your coffee.
We recommend including Cordyceps, Chaga, Reishi or Lion’s Mane mushroom into your morning cup of coffee or a mix of all of them together to enjoy all the incredible health benefits they offer.
Mushroom coffee is the latest coffee trend and famous for many reasons - the main one being that it amplifies our health.
Adding in mushroom coffee to your everyday life lets you receive all the mushroom coffee benefits–cognitive, metabolic, antioxidant benefits that medicinal mushrooms deliver.
Try Cordyceps, Chaga, Reishi and Lion’s Mane Mushroom into you coffee. These are the best mushrooms for your mushroom coffee or mushroom latte and once you add them in - you’ll never look back.
- Adaptogens: Herbs for Strength, Stamina and Stress Relief by David Winston & Steven Maimes - https://www.amazon.com/Adaptogens-Strength-Stamina-Stress-Relief/dp/1594771588
- All About Mushroom Coffee: Benefits + 7 Best Brands to Buy - https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/mushroom-coffee
- Functional Cordyceps Coffee Containing Cordycepin and β-Glucan - https://www.researchgate.net/publication/342922453_Functional_Cordyceps_Coffee_Containing_Cordycepin_and_b-Glucan
- Coffee consumption, health benefits and side effects: a narrative review and update for dietitians and nutritionists - https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34455881/
- Coffee, Caffeine, and Risk of Depression Among Women - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3296361/
- Significance of Medicinal Mushrooms in Integrative Oncology: A Narrative Review - https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33424591/
- Immune Modulation From Five Major Mushrooms: Application to Integrative Oncology - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4684115/
- The Molecular Mechanism of Natural Killer Cells Function and Its Importance in Cancer Immunotherapy - https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fimmu.2017.01124/full
- Antiinflammatory and Immunomodulating Properties of Fungal Metabolites - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1160565/
- Allergy and the gastrointestinal system - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2515351/
- Medicinal Values of Selected Mushrooms with Special Reference to Anti-Hypercholesterolemia - https://www.intechopen.com/chapters/47774
- Evaluation of the Antioxidative and Hypo-cholesterolemic Effects of Lingzhi or Reishi Medicinal Mushroom, Ganoderma lucidum (Agaricomycetes), in Ameliorating Cardiovascular Disease - https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30806268/
- Maitake extracts and their therapeutic potential - https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11207456/
- Coffee Consumption and Oxidative Stress: A Review of Human Intervention Studies - https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27483219/
Written by Eliza Hedley
Eliza Hedley is a health, mindset and abundance enthusiast obsessed with helping millennial's experience living at a higher level.
Eliza's relaxed new age approach and understanding of nutrition and wellness sees her empowering and coaching individuals to understand that their health is the ultimate asset. Upon experiencing first hand the power and place of tonic herbalism and medicinal mushrooms in everyday life, Eliza’s become an adaptogen fangirl and feels their utilisation in today’s world is essential for abundance and wellbeing.