All the medicinal mushrooms contain polysaccharides, all in a variety of shapes. These compounds interact with our bodies differently, so you can think of each mushroom as having their own “superpowers”. Which is why chaga and cordyceps are so important to include in your diet.
In addition to polysaccharides, mushrooms also contain phenols, triterpenes, and other compounds, and these all can benefit our health in a variety of ways.
In this article, we are going to focus on two of the best mushrooms available, the cordyceps and the chaga. We can start with the following video that discusses them as well:
Cordyceps and Chaga – The Basics
Cordyceps is known as “energy mushrooms” and is commonly used to maintain energy and stamina. The traditional variety of cordyceps is called cordyceps sinensis, which is actually grown in insects far up on the Tibetan Plateau.
It is incredibly expensive and rare, earning upwards of $20k a pound. Fortunately, there is another species (Cordyceps militaris) that is actually cultivated, and is the one used today for fungi supplements. It has a very similar profile as the traditional species, but one major difference: It is much higher in a compound called “Cordycepin”. This compound is very interesting, as it is structurally similar to the adenosine that makes up ATP (adenosine triphosphate), the molecule responsible for cell energy production.
The fascinating part of Chaga is that, technically, it is not a mushroom. It is a “sterile fungus” made from Birch Wood and the mycelium of Chaga. This is important, as some of the active compounds responsible for the benefits of Chaga are directly the result of the fact that it grows on birch trees. Chaga must be harvested from wild sources, it cannot be farmed at any reasonable extent.
Extracts from chaga are traditionally used for digestive health, but the “mushroom” is also used for skin health. Want to know more about Chaga? Check out our complete guide on the health benefits of this mushroom.
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