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In 2022, Mushrooms Cured What Ailed Us

This year, one could hardly throw a canister of organic reishi capsules without hitting a bottle of vitamins or fizzy canned beverage touting the health benefits of mushrooms. To be clear, I’m mostly not talking about psilocybin, the “magic” mushroom known for sending people on trippy journeys into their psyche, though it was a big year for that too. I’m also not talking about the maitakes, chicken of the woods, and king oyster mushrooms that dominated restaurant menus as more people across the country considered going vegetarian. Nope, I’m talking about “functional” mushrooms, including reishi, lion’s mane, and cordyceps, all of which are legal for consumption in the United States.

There are now mushroom-infused sparkling teas, fancy chocolate bars, mocktails, coffee mixes, and granolas that claim to boost your brain, improve your mood, or help you live longer. Mud Wtr, a mushroom-based beverage that’s described as an adaptogenic coffee alternative, has dominated my Instagram and TikTok feeds for pretty much all of 2022, while shroom-focused supplements, like those made by vitamin brand Fungies, have exploded across store shelves and Instagram ads.

Mushrooms join an increasingly popular lineup of “functional foods” touting a wide range of health benefits, from improved cognition to less stress. In this category, brands advertise the alleged abilities of mushrooms like reishi and cordyceps alongside other vitamins, antioxidants, and other purportedly functional ingredients like shilajit resin and ashwagandha, a type of shrub that’s been used for thousands of years in Ayurvedic medicine. The scientific establishment hasn’t counted out the potential for the mushrooms in this new generation of supplements to have significant health benefits — some studies do indicate that consuming more mushrooms might reduce your risk of cancer, for example — though the research is nowhere near conclusive. Still, it’s not exactly surprising that, as we are all trying to figure out how to cope in a post-COVID world without losing our minds, we’re clamoring for foods and beverages that promise “healthy mood” and relaxation. Read more:

Anand Vaid

Sempera Organics' staff writer seeks out all the latest mushroom news to keep you informed and up-to-date.