When it comes to choosing the best functional mushroom supplement for your needs, you may feel overwhelmed by your options. Though all mushroom species such as Chaga and Reishi are rich in a wide variety of nutrients and bioactive compounds, like beta-glucans and polysaccharides, understanding the unique nutrient profile of each species can help you find the best ones to incorporate into your wellness routine.
Here, we’ll take a closer look at Chaga versus Reishi, known as the king and queen of mushrooms, respectively. These two superfood titans have been revered for thousands of years in traditional Chinese medicine and are now being researched for the numerous ways they reduce stress and support beauty, sleep, immunity and more.
What Are the Benefits of Chaga Mushrooms?
Chaga (Inonotus obliquus) is charcoal-hued mushroom rich in antioxidants that can help scavenge free radicals in the body and combat oxidative stress.
Oxidative stress — which can be caused by poor diet, out-of-balance lifestyles and environmental pollutants — is known to accelerate the aging process and contribute to the formation of fine lines and wrinkles on the skin. Though it was traditionally used as a folk remedy, Chaga has been demonstrated by studies to help “[protect] cells against oxidative stress,” thereby helping your skin stay radiant and youthful. In fact, according to ORAC (oxygen radical absorbance capacity), an NIH-developed methodology that measures the antioxidant levels of different foods, Chaga has a value of 1,104 ORAC units per gram — 6.5 times more than acai berry and the highest ORAC score of any natural food!
That said, Chaga isn’t only a superior beauty supplement. Research indicates that chaga can support immunity by reducing inflammation and stimulating the production of white blood cells, which are critical tools our bodies use to ward off pathogens.
What Are the Benefits of Reishi Mushrooms?
Unlike Chaga, which has traditionally thrived in colder climates, Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum) typically grows in hot, humid locations. Known for its beautiful kidney- or fan-shaped appearance and bold, orange-red colors, Reishi is famous for being rich in several bioactive molecules, including triterpenoids, polysaccharides and peptidoglycans, which can help reduce inflammation and support the immune system. One study found that five different superfood mushroom species, including Reishi, demonstrated immuno-modulating properties by increasing TH1 cytokine production in both in vitro and in vivo models.
Reishi is also celebrated for its potent adaptogenic properties. Adaptogens, which are natural substances that can help your body maintain balance amid biological and environmental stressors, interact directly with your hypothalamic, pituitary and adrenal glands for greater calm and tranquility.
Chaga vs. Reishi: Which Mushroom Is Right for You?
Now that you’ve learned the basics of Chaga and Reishi, how do you pick the right one? Here are some common use scenarios and options to help you address your health goals.
For Immunity: Both!
Chaga and Reishi are both rich in beta-glucans and other compounds that can help stimulate your body’s white blood cells and support a strong immune system. That said, Reishi does contain triterpene, which studies have shown can support a healthier immune response.
For Sleep: Reishi.
Though Chaga is perfectly fine to take in the evening and won’t keep you up, Reishi offers a range of benefits that can help you enjoy a better night’s sleep. In addition to its adaptogenic properties (which can help promote relaxation and a more restful sleep), its hepatoprotective effects work best in the evening, when the body conducts most of its liver detoxification.
For Inflammation: Chaga.
Chaga’s role in regulating cytokine production can help lower inflammation. Plus, its high antioxidant and polysaccharide content has been demonstrated to help reduce chronic inflammation caused by the pancreas.
For Allergies: Reishi.
Studies show that histamines (which the body releases in response to an allergic reaction) have been suppressed by reishi’s powerful triterpenoids.
For Skin and Beauty: Chaga.
With its high level of antioxidants and polyphenols, Chaga can help mitigate the damages of oxidative stress and help you keep your skin’s natural glow well into your senior years.
For Stress Relief: Reishi.
With its adaptogenic properties, Reishi has been shown to lower fatigue, improve well-being and reduce anxiousness in those who consume it regularly.
Why Not Take Them Both?
In today’s fast-paced and high-stress world, it’s not so much a question of taking only Chaga or only Reishi, but when to take which — and why not take both? Consumed regularly in their recommended doses, Chaga and Reishi can work synergistically so you can reap the benefits of both mushroom species.
We love to add a teaspoon of rich, earthy Chaga powder to our morning coffee and a teaspoon of Reishi to our evening tea. Can’t decide? Om Mushroom Superfoods’ rich and perfectly sweet Hot Chocolate Blend and ten-mushroom Master Blend contain both chaga and reishi, along with other superfood mushrooms.
Remember — just as important as which mushrooms you take is where you get them from. Om is proud to offer Chaga and Reishi in a variety of forms, such as capsules and powders, to best support your lifestyle. All of our mushroom species are grown by mycologists in our state-of-the-art, CGMP indoor farm in California so that we can control the quality at every step of the process.