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340: Functional Mushrooms - exploring the benefits of Lion's Mane, Reishi, Chaga, and Cordyceps for digestion, immunity, performance and overall wellness

On Air with Ella episode 340

jeff chilton is On Air with Ella - the benefits of functional mushrooms

Nature's fungal miracle? The many benefits of functional mushrooms

Jeff Chilton is owner of Namex, a company that sells wholesale functional mushroom products, and a human encyclopedia on dozens of mushroom species. Jeff has been in the functional mushroom industry since the 1970s, and is sharing the specific benefits of mushrooms like lion's mane, reishi, cordyceps and chaga.

We discuss:

[00:01:55] Grocery mushrooms vs Functional mushrooms vs Psychedelic shrooms

[00:06:53] How to best prepare mushrooms

[00:13:04] Lion's Mane cognitive benefits

[00:18:15] The functional mushroom supplements market

[00:21:14] Reishi "the king of mushrooms"

[00:25:21] Chaga for digestive health

[00:26:42] Cordyceps: the performance mushroom

[00:30:26] Authenticity/purity in mushroom products

[00:31:36] Mushroom coffee blends worth the hype?


I. Uses & Benefits of 4 Key Functional Mushrooms

Lions mane mushroom
  • Lion's Mane mushroom, scientifically known as Hericium erinaceus, is renowned for its potential cognitive benefits. It contains compounds that may stimulate the growth of brain cells and enhance cognitive function. Research suggests that Lion's Mane may support memory, focus, and overall brain health. Additionally, it may have neuroprotective properties, potentially reducing the risk of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. Lion's Mane is also believed to support digestive health and may help regulate blood sugar levels.

  • Benefits: Lion's Mane is renowned for its potential cognitive benefits. It has been traditionally used for stomach issues and cognitive enhancement. Clinical trials have shown that Lion's Mane can improve cognitive function and stimulate nerve growth factor, which is essential for brain health.

  • Usage: It is recommended for individuals looking to enhance their focus, memory, and overall cognitive function. It is potentially beneficial for individuals experiencing cognitive decline or early onset dementia.

reishi functional mushroom
  • Reishi mushroom, also known as Ganoderma lucidum, is often referred to as the "king of mushrooms" for its wide range of potential therapeutic properties. Reishi contains bioactive compounds that may boost the immune system, promoting overall health and vitality. It also has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, which may help reduce inflammation, support heart health, and protect against oxidative stress. Additionally, Reishi may aid in stress reduction, improve sleep quality, and support liver function.

  • Benefits: Reishi is also referred to as the "mushroom of immortality" due to its wide range of benefits. It is known for its immune system support, liver function improvement, and antioxidant properties. Reishi contains high levels of beta-glucans and triterpenoids, which contribute to its health benefits.

  • Usage: Reishi is recommended for individuals looking for overall health and wellness support. It is particularly beneficial for immune system enhancement and liver health.

chaga capsules
  • Chaga mushroom, scientifically known as Inonotus obliquus, contains high levels of antioxidants, such as polysaccharides and phenols, which may help neutralize free radicals and reduce oxidative stress in the body. Chaga is believed to support immune function, potentially enhancing the body's ability to fight off infections and diseases. It may also have anti-inflammatory properties, which could help reduce inflammation and alleviate symptoms of conditions like arthritis. Additionally, Chaga is thought to support skin health and promote overall well-being.

  • Benefits: Chaga is recognized for its anti-inflammatory properties and antioxidant benefits. It is traditionally used for stomach issues and has been considered a folk remedy for conditions like cancer. Chaga may also support respiratory health and improve lung function.

  • Usage: Chaga is recommended for individuals with digestive issues, such as irritable bowel syndrome or Crohn's disease. It is also beneficial for individuals looking to boost their immune system and combat oxidative stress.

cordyceps capsules
  • Cordyceps mushroom, known scientifically as Cordyceps sinensis, is valued for its potential energy-boosting and stamina-enhancing properties. Additionally, it may support respiratory health and help improve lung function, making it beneficial for individuals with respiratory conditions like asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Cordyceps also has adaptogenic properties, meaning it may help the body adapt to stress and promote overall resilience.

  • Benefits: Cordyceps is known for its energy-boosting and stamina-enhancing properties. It may improve oxygen utilization in the body, support respiratory health, and reduce fatigue. Cordyceps has been traditionally used for fatigue and is popular among athletes for enhancing endurance.

  • Usage: Cordyceps is recommended for individuals looking to increase their energy levels, improve stamina, and support respiratory function. It may be beneficial for individuals recovering from illness or experiencing fatigue.

II. Finding a Good Source of Functional Mushrooms

When searching for a reliable source of functional mushrooms, it is essential to be mindful of certain factors to ensure you are getting a high-quality product. Jeff shares what to look for when purchasing these products:

  1. Avoid Mycelium Grown on Grain: Jeff warns against products that are primarily mycelium grown on grain. These products may contain mostly filler starch, and lack the beneficial compounds found in actual mushrooms. It is crucial to read the fine print on the product label to check for any mention of myceliated grains.

  2. Check Beta-Glucan Content: Beta-glucans are the primary compounds in functional mushrooms that provide immunological benefits. When selecting a functional mushroom product, it is advisable to look for information on the amount of beta-glucans present in the product. This can indicate the potency and effectiveness of the supplement.

  3. Ensure Distinct Mushroom Flavor: Authentic functional mushroom products should have a distinct mushroom flavor. Jeff emphasizes that bland-tasting products are likely to be low-quality and may contain more filler ingredients than actual mushroom components. Reishi should be bitter, turkey tail somewhat bitter, and lion's mane should have a sweet taste. Chaga, on the other hand, should have a distinctive flavor. The presence of a mushroomy taste indicates the product's authenticity and quality.

real mushrooms functional mushroom products


Quality is everything. Jeff's retailer is about as pure as it gets.

Get 20% off first order of a product here.


Jeff Chilton studied Ethno-mycology at the University of Washington in the late sixties and in 1973 began a 10-year career as a large scale commercial mushroom grower. In 1983, Jeff co-authored The Mushroom Cultivator: A Practical Guide to Growing Mushrooms at Home. Jeff established Nammex in 1989, the first company to supply medicinal mushroom extracts to the nutritional supplement industry. In 1997 he organized the first organic certification workshop for mushroom production in China.



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