Holistic medicine has become more mainstream in Western medicine in the last decade or so, but it has been around for thousands of years. Medicinal mushrooms such as chaga and cordyceps have numerous benefits such as improved energy, overall wellbeing, and more. What are these mushrooms, and which are right for you?
What are cordyceps mushrooms?
Cordyceps mushrooms have been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries as a remedy for various ailments. This parasitic fungus grows on the larva of insects, making it incredibly rare in the wild since it loves extreme locales such as the Himalayas.
It can also be cultivated in a controlled environment though, making it much more accessible. They boomed in popularity after the 1993 Beijing Olympics after several Chinese runners credited their success to supplementing with mushrooms.
There are hundreds of identified species of cordyceps, but the most popular are cordyceps sinensis and cordyceps militaris, which we’ve previously covered.
Since sinensis can rack up a hefty price tag of up to $25,000, the homegrown militaris is the go-to for cordyceps enthusiasts.
Cordyceps mushrooms provide a plethora of benefits including:
- Lowers blood pressure
We've compiled a more complete list of benefits in this article.
Cordyceps are commonly consumed with coffee in the morning because of their energy-boosting properties. Try a commercial coffee blend of cordyceps and coffee, or simply add a few drops of tincture to your morning brew!
Cordyceps are generally considered to be safe. But some of the potential side effects include upset stomach, diarrhea, and increased bleeding.
What are chaga mushrooms?
Like cordyceps, chaga mushrooms have risen in popularity in Western medicine after they’ve been used extensively in Eastern medicine for generations. To the untrained eye, they are easy to miss because they don’t look like a traditional mushroom since they technically aren’t one: it grows on birch tree trunks yet looks like burnt charcoal.
This unique growth is called conk, and its inner orange core is what has the benefits chaga is famous for. It can’t be cultivated, and is usually dried and ground into a powder because its texture is much too tough to cook with.
Chaga is popularly consumed as tea or in a capsule or powder.
Chaga tea has been around for centuries, but today it’s more common to mix the powder with your morning coffee, which is a similar process to brewing a chaga tea.
Some of the health benefits include:
- High in various nutrients
- Immune-boosting properties
- May help fight and prevent cancer
- May mitigate side effects from drugs, including chemotherapy
Read more about the potential health benefits of chaga here.
Chaga is commonly taken as a tea. In fact, chaga tea's popularity has skyrocketed over the past several years. Simply steep chaga powder or extract in hot water, add your favorite sweetner, and enjoy. For a complete guide to chaga tea, check out this article.
However, chaga tea does come with some potential downsides. Side effects may include increased bleeding, upset stomach, and low blood pressure. Some studies have linked regular chaga consumption to kidney toxicity as well.
Cordyceps vs. chaga mushrooms?
So, which mushroom is best?
It’s hard to measure, but both offer a great range of benefits.
As with any addition or supplement to your diet, it’s best to speak to your primary care physician before making any changes.
Shouldn’t be taken by people with bleeding disorders
Fights against tumors
Preventing and treating heart disease
Low blood sugar
Shouldn’t be taken by people who had a history of kidney stones, are at risk for kidney stones, or who have kidney disease
Can you take cordyceps and chaga together?
Yes you can! But why choose one? These mushrooms are great alone or together, so it’s probably a good idea to try them out separately before combining them to see how your body reacts.
Everyone’s body is also different, so may need a different dosage in order to observe the effects compared to others.
Of course, it’s always best to speak with your doctor about the best option for your lifestyle and body.
Both cordyceps and chaga offer a wide variety of nutrients and benefits. They can be added to your diet and daily routine to boost your immune system, provide antioxidants, and more. Try combining cordyceps and chaga tincture with your favorite morning beverage. Coffee and tea are both common vessels for these functional mushrooms.
Are you on team or cordyceps, team chaga, or do you consume both?