A Beginner’s Guide to Functional Mushrooms and CBD

A stronger immune system, more energy, better sex—everything to know about combining adaptogenic herbs with cannabis.

Design by Maitane Romagosa for Thrillist
Design by Maitane Romagosa for Thrillist

Mushrooms are having a moment. Well, perhaps much more than a moment. Foraging for fungi is an ever-popular pastime. As more folks go meat-less, they’re turning to the little forest sprouts for sustenance. We’re even seeing them in cocktails. And as states and cities decriminalized psilocybin, the psychedelic compound naturally produced by hundreds of fungi, more people are learning how they might benefit from hallucinogenic therapy.

In the wellness world, functional mushrooms are showing up everywhere.​ This group of 15 ’shrooms within the estimated 2,000 edible species are recognized to have health benefits beyond nutrition and are non-psychedelic, akin to how CBD is to weed. Instead of replacing CBD as the wellness ingredient of the moment, though, functional mushrooms are joining them in the latest products made to help us feel better, naturally.

The way CBD interacts with the receptors in our bodies’ endocannabinoid systems supports every kind of body function. The endocannabinoid system communicates to our circadian rhythms, appetite, nervous systems, and immune system.

Functional mushrooms work in a similar way and have been used for thousands of years throughout Traditional Chinese Medicine for a variety of targeted uses and general support of immune, respiratory, and cardiovascular health.

As with all supplements or vitamins, it’s recommended to talk to your doctor and do your own research before incorporating these herbs with your usual health regimens. Once you have, here’s a guide to what functional mushrooms can do for you and the best products to try.

Shrooms for an all-around boost

Terra Vita Shrooms CBD Capsules with Cordyceps Mushrooms
An important mushroom in Traditional Chinese Medicine, cordyceps has long been associated with energizing, restorative effects. One study indicates that this fungi interacts with the body’s production of the adenosine triphosphate molecule (ATP), which is essential for delivering energy to the muscles.

Terra Vita cites that Tibetan herdsman consumed cordyceps for maintaining energy in high altitudes. As former competitive athletes themselves, Terra Vita co-founders encountered cordyceps in their journeys to support energy, stamina, and physical performance. Shrooms CBD Capsules also contain reishi and lion’s mane mushrooms, which are mutually supportive.

Reishi Mushrooms for a better sleep

Prismatic Plants Good Night Tincture with Reishi Mushrooms
Reishi mushrooms have been used in Chinese medicine for over 2,000 years. In Chinese, it goes by lingzhi and represents a combination of spiritual potency and immortality, symbolizing success, well-being, divine power, and longevity. In Western wellness circles, it’s also considered the “king of mushrooms” for its high concentration of immunity boosting and blood sugar-moderating polysaccharides and beta-glucans.

Alone, reishi isn’t associated with a better sleep. The Prismatic Plants Good Night Tincture includes it as a supportive part of their herbal blend made to get you back in tune with your circadian rhythm. A super blend of pretty much every known sleepytime herb, CBN and CBG cannabinoids, valerian root, California poppy, ashwagandha, and skullcap join reishi and CBD to quiet the mind and body.

Mushrooms as a coffee substitute

Haygood Farms Stay Good Focus Capsules Chaga and Maitake Mushrooms
Chaga and maitake mushrooms are more highly valued in Eastern medicine packed with antioxidants and health benefits. A study shows that chaga mushrooms—rich in B-complex vitamins—not only help reduce inflammation, but lower blood sugar and kill cancer cells. Meanwhile, maitake (also known as hen-of-the-wood mushrooms) amplify immunity and lower cholesterol with beta-glucans, vitamins B and C, copper, and amino acids.

Haygood Farms’ Stay Good Focus Capsules are designed to enhance focus by energizing the body throughout the day and supporting a healthy a nervous system overall through a combination of reishi, chaga and maitake mushroom extracts, plus an extra dose of zinc, vitamin C, ginger root, quercetin—a flavonoid found in green tea leaves and red wine—and CBD.

Fungi for sexual health

RUNI Play Primer with Shiitake Mushrooms
While shiitake mushrooms are commonly eaten for their delicious flavor, heart healthiness, and dose of vitamin D, they’re just as popular in skincare. Sheet masks, moisturizers, potent serums—shiitake seems to have an anti-inflammatory effect that supports healthy skin barriers.

Unlike the oil-based CBD lubricants available across the hemp market, this Play Primer serum is more of a pre-sex moisturizer to get the skin supple and the blood flowing. The simple, short ingredient list contains only hydrators—aloe vera gel, CBD isolate, hyaluronic acid, vitamin E—and cordyceps and shiitake mushroom extracts as adaptogenic aphrodisiacs.

Mushrooms are for pets, too

Healthy Hemp Pet CannaDrops Immune Supporter with Turkey Tail Mushrooms
Turkey tail mushrooms were used to support respiratory health in Traditional Chinese Medicine, and in at least one study since, have demonstrated cancer-inhibiting effects. Humans and dogs are two very different body systems, of course, but a University of Pennsylvania veterinary study conducted on dogs demonstrated impressive cancer-inhibiting effects of turkey tail regimens in some cases. These CannaDrops for pets contain nothing but coconut oil, turkey tail mushroom and organic full-spectrum hemp oil.

For your own immune support—and potentially feeling better in general—The Raw Botanics Co. makes a tincture and capsules that contain turkey tail mushroom, ashwagandha, cordyceps, turmeric, CBD, and CBG. Activist adds mānuka honey, elderberry and sovereign silver to its immune-focused turkey tail tincture.

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Lauren Yoshiko is a freelance writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. She writes The Broccoli Report, a bi-weekly newsletter for creative cannabis entrepreneurs.