Mushroom coffee – an alternative to normal coffee – is being praised for its medicinal health benefits. Yet despite being a popular coffee blend in 2022, this idea is nothing new.
When coffee beans were unavailable during World War II, mushrooms were reportedly used in their place. Additionally, mushrooms have a long history of use in Asian cuisine and traditional Chinese medicine for their nutritional benefits.
Instead of culinary mushrooms like shiitake and portobello, these trendy coffee blends are made and mixed with typical medicinal mushrooms.
Dr. Michele Carelse, clinical psychologist and CEO of the Feelgood Health online health store says, “Any medicinal mushroom can be added, but it depends entirely on the therapeutic effects desired. Chaga mushroom is popular, as it adds to the energy giving properties of the coffee.
“Likewise Reishi, Cordyceps and Shiitake are also popular, each with its own therapeutic benefits. Other popular medicinal mushroom coffee extracts include Lion’s mane and Turkey’s tail.”
According to a number of customer testimonials from Truth Coffee, Cape Town’s only steampunk coffee roastery, the flavour profile of mushroom coffee isn’t all that different from conventional coffee.
But mushroom coffee has a marketing advantage thanks to its alleged health advantages, which include increased immunity and less anxiety.
“Apart from their medicinal value, mushrooms also have nutritional value. They are good probiotics and have many different nutritional and therapeutic benefits, depending on the variety used”, says Carelse
The fruiting bodies of the mushrooms are harvested and converted into an organic powder that is free of fillers, carriers, and other additions to make mushroom coffee.
“This not only makes the mushrooms easier to take, in a more acceptable form, but it often adds to the effect by harnessing the energy-giving properties of the coffee with the therapeutic properties of the mushrooms,” adds Carelse.
The mushrooms are dual extracted, dried, made into a fine powder, and combined with ground coffee beans. Typically, this is carried out on 1:1 ratio.
You can purchase mushroom coffee as coffee pods, instant coffee and ground coffee blends and the same techniques used to create normal coffee can also be used to make great mochas, lattes or black coffee drinks.
Mushroom coffee contains less caffeine than standard coffee. Caffeine has potentially harmful side effects, thus those who are expecting or nursing, young children, and those who have underlying cardiac conditions should limit their intake.
“I always say that the poison is in the dose,” says Carelse.
“Anything can be harmful in excess. However, when used in moderation, mushroom coffee can be extremely beneficial, It should always be remembered though, that mushrooms should be seen as a natural medicine and therefore directions regarding dosage and frequency should always be followed,” she adds.
If you drink too much mushroom coffee, just normal coffee, you may experience anxiety, rapid heart rate, upset stomach, and other side effects.
Known as adaptogens, the substances isolated from medicinal mushrooms may enhance the body’s reaction to stress. The adaptogens found in medicinal mushrooms have piqued researchers’ curiosity since the 1970s because of their possible health advantages.
“We all know that coffee helps to increase energy levels. When selected medicinal mushrooms are added, this adds the therapeutic benefits of the mushrooms to the energy-giving properties of the coffee,” says Carelse.
The biggest drawback is that there are currently insufficient human studies on its effects on health.
Although medicinal coffee and mushrooms have some known health benefits on their own, it’s safe to state that there are many unproven health claims about the advantages of mushroom coffee, not to mention that it is pricey.
Due to the lack of knowledge about safe dosage, who might benefit from this product, who might need to avoid it, and whether medicinal mushrooms mix with pharmaceuticals, there may be some safety issues.
However, scientific evidence does support some of the stated health advantages of medicinal mushrooms, like:
- Heart disease:
- Enhanced immunity:
For the majority of people, it might not be life-threatening to try adaptognic mushroom coffee, but if you’re on medication or have a pre-existing medical condition, you should always talk it over with your doctor.