Mushrooms have been scavenged in the wild and used for medicinal purposes for centuries in Asian cultures - but in the past 30(ish) years, the Western world has been doing some catching up and is finally on board with mushroom health benefits.
From treating various cancers alongside traditional chemotherapy, to helping soothe anxiety or simply supporting everyday immunity, medicinal mushrooms have earned - and continue to earn - their place in our medicine cabinet with the immense amount of benefits they provide to the human body.
Two of the most well known medicinal mushroom species - chaga and reishi mushrooms - are among the most popular when it comes to supplement searches.
In this blog post, we’re comparing the two mushroom species and sharing the benefits of each for certain wellness needs.
At the end, you should have a better idea if one (or both) is the best purchase for you or your loved one(s).
Before we get to the comparison portion, let’s first establish the benefits that each of these wild mushroom powerhouses provides to humans when consumed regularly.
What to know about reishi mushrooms
Reishi mushrooms are unofficially called the king of the medicinal mushroom world. Why? Because their popularity has skyrocketed in western culture over the last few decades. Reishi mushrooms can be found growing wild in warmer climates - particularly in Southeast Asian countries.
They have a similar look to turkey tail mushrooms in many ways with their flat exterior growing horizontally off a log or tree.
The color of reishi mushrooms is typically a bright brown that shines until it starts to age and rot.
This medicinal mushroom has been a staple in Asian diets for centuries, but we’re just catching up on this side of the world.
Over the past 30 or so years, numerous scientific studies have come out on the health benefits of reishi mushrooms.
It’s important to note that reishi is popularly consumed as a tincture or in powdered extract format. This format helps to get the best nutrient density into the bloodstream and digestive tract for human beings.
If people are looking to benefit from reishi mushrooms, but also want to reap the benefits from other medicinal mushrooms, they’re in luck - reishi is commonly combined with other mushrooms to make a wellness blend.
>>>Check out our blog on the best reishi mushroom powder brands out there!
The health benefits people are looking to get from reishi mushrooms include:
- Strengthened immune system
- Anxiety and depression treatment/relief (no joke, it’s been called “Nature’s Xanax”)
- Lower blood pressure
- Cognitive and neurodegenerative care
- Allergy relief
- Cancer treatment and/or prevention
- Lower cholesterol
- Improved liver function
- Weight management
- Improve sleep
- Energy and fatigue levels
Whew. That’s a lot.
Next up: let's take a look at chaga.
What to know about chaga mushrooms
Chaga has long been used by Eastern cultures to treat health needs ranging from boosting the immune system, to fighting bodily inflammation, preventing and/or fighting cancer, lowering blood sugar, and more.
Chaga resembles burnt charcoal and grows on wood in forests around the world, but particularly in Asian countries. It has earned the nickname “conk” and grows in sizes ranging from 10-15 inches in diameter.
What’s interesting about the dark black, roughly textured exterior of the mushroom, is that the interior is the exact opposite - when opening up chaga mushroom conks, you’ll find a soft, orange core that is chock full of nutrients. It’s giving Halloween vibes, we know.
Chaga is most commonly consumed as a tea, as the bioactive nutrients found inside the mushroom are more available when consumed using hot water extract. Those nutrients include vitamin B, vitamin D, zinc, magnesium, fiber, antioxidants, and more.
Because of the high levels of nutrients available in chaga mushrooms, chaga consumption has been linked to:
- Boosting the immune system
- Fighting inflammation
- Preventing and/or fighting cancer
- Lowering blood sugar
- Addressing high cholesterol
- Preventing or treating heart disease
- Digestive assistance and constipation
- Treating insulin imbalances
- Preventing side effects of Rx drugs
- Slowing the aging process
- Tuberculosis treatment
- Fighting oxidative stress
Chaga isn’t messing around, huh?
Now that you have an overview of both medicinal mushrooms we’re focusing on in this blog post, let’s get to the nitty gritty of why we’re here: comparing these two wildly amazing mushroom species.
Chaga vs reishi mushrooms
The following chart will help you understand some of the benefits, side effects, dosage information, and much more between these two powerful functional mushrooms.
Reishi Mushrooms (Ganoderma lucidum)
Chaga Mushrooms (Inonotus obliquus)
For more info on the side effects of reishi, check out our in-depth blog post.
For more info on the side effects of chaga, check out our in-depth blog post.
It is advised that those who are pregnant or breastfeeding, have low blood pressure, are diabetic, or have an immune disorder should not take reishi.
Chaga is not suggested for those who are allergic to mushrooms or mold, breastfeeding, pregnant, or about to undergo surgery.
Can you take reishi and chaga together?
The long and short of it is…why choose just one? Yes, you can certainly take reishi and chaga together, but before you add a crazy amount of supplements to your online shopping cart, let us be your voice of reason for a quick moment.
- First and foremost, checking with a trusted healthcare professional for dosage, side effects, and concerns as it pertains to your personal health
- After you’ve gotten the go ahead from doc, start with one or the other in small doses to gauge dosage needs and reactions
- From there, increase dosage as necessary to the recommended amounts listed above
- Once you are comfortable with your first mushroom, try a blend of reishi and chaga (and once again, start slow)
Curious to learn more about reishi mushrooms and chaga mushrooms? Visit our site for mush more information. Here’s to a healthier, mushroom-ier tomorrow.