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Photo courtesy: The Guardian

Mushroom magic: the latest health fad

February 21, 2022

Mushrooms are having a moment. And the market goes far beyond the portobellos, shiitakes and button mushrooms you find in the produce section. Whole Foods named so-called “functional mushroom”, used for centuries in traditional medicine, as one of the top 10 food trends of 2018. Suddenly, exotic varieties such as reishi, chaga, cordyceps and lion’s mane are turning up in everything from powders and extracts to coffees, teas, smoothies, broths, chocolates, face creams and shower gels.

US sales of mushrooms accounted for nearly $5bn in revenue in 2017, according to the market research firm Grand View Research, and the market is projected to rise to $7.4bn in the next three years.

Heath freely admits that the draw is not so much the earthy flavor, but the idea that consuming mushrooms will make you feel and perform better. According to the Mud\Wtr website, chaga mushrooms “provide energy and mood enhancement”, cordyceps “increase vitality and endurance”, lion’s mane “improve brain function” and reishi “fight off tumor and cancer growth”.

Mud\Wtr joins scores of other companies selling products that tout mushrooms as a magic elixir. Dried mushroom powders from Om Mushrooms, for example, have “anti-aging properties to retain your youthful vibrance” and “harmonize your longevity, energy and spirit”. Moon Juice promotes Brain Dust, featured on Gwyneth Paltrow’s website Goop, as “edible intelligence” that will “help combat the effects of stress to align you with the cosmic flow for great achievement”.

Some won’t be surprised to learn that even Alex Jones has discovered mushrooms. His infamous Infowars website sells Wake Up America: Immune Support Blend coffee infused with mushroom extracts celebrated for “enhancing immune response and physical stamina”.

“It’s possible that some of these compounds have got really remarkable properties,” says Nicholas Money, PhD., biology professor at Miami University in Ohio. But his 2016 review of the evidence published in the journal Fungal Biology found that marketing claims go far beyond what is supported by the science. Read more:

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