A yellow reishi mushroom for an ingredient trend article about adaptogens in functional food and beverages


Adaptogens are natural, super-herbs known for their restorative properties often used in herbal medicine and Ayurvedic practices to help the body and mind adapt to stress. Driven by the health and wellness lifestyle, adaptogens such as ashwagandha and medical mushrooms like reishi, chaga, cordyceps and lion’s mane are popping up in a variety of consumer packaged goods such as functional beverages, snacks and chocolate.

Ashwagandha: Ashwagandha means “the smell of a horse,” in Sanskrit and is commonly referred to as Indian ginseng, poison gooseberry and winter cherry. It is said to have stress reducing and rejuvenating properties. According to SPINS scan data, in the 52 weeks between January 2015 and January 2016, overall U.S. sales of products containing ashwagandha jumped 63%, reaching more than US $13 million in sales by the end of 2016.

Magic “Medical” Mushrooms: There are a variety of medical mushrooms such as reishi, chaga, cordyceps and lion’s mane, which are known to boost immunity, help fight cancer and improve liver detox. They have anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and anti-­allergenic properties and also appear as an ingredient in skin care.

Drink To Your Health: From coffee and tea to energy and protein drinks, ashwagandha and medical mushrooms are key ingredients appearing in beverages. NutriCafé™ is 100% certified organic Arabica coffee beans that are infused with a proprietary blend of immune-boosting medicinal mushrooms such as reishi and cordyceps to help promote daily immune support. Finnish brand Four Sigmatic introduced Mushroom Coffees also made with medicinal mushrooms, to offer “the same caffeine kick without the side-effects of the regular coffee.” The process involves liquefying and then drying different types of mushrooms such as maitake mushroom, which is believed to help regulate blood sugar levels and the alkaline chaga mushroom that is said to counteract the acidity of coffee and prevent upset stomach. In addition, the company offers Mushroom Elixirs and Mushroom Hot Cacao Mixes. Mushroom Wellness Teas from Choice Organic Teas offers Reishi Matcha, Shiitake Mate and Shiitake Turmeric varieties. Uncle Matt’s Organic Energy drink is new and boosted with organic coffeeberry and the adaptogen super-herb, ashwagandha. Functional beverage company REBBL® (Roots, Extracts, Berries, Bark and Leaves), added adaptogen-powered Protein Elixirs to its line. Available in two flavors – Dark Chocolate and Vanilla Spice, the products are formulated with Clean Complete Plant Protein™ from sunflower, pea, and pumpkin combined with the brand’s signature adaptogen blend of maca, ashwagandha and reishi. Mocha Organic Herbal Energy by Love Grace combines cold-brewed coffee with chia, hemp and coconut milk with a medicinal mushroom blend of reishi, chaga, cordyceps and lion’s mane. Similarly, Bamboo Juice crafts Coffee Almond Milk made with organic coffee grounds, which have been infused with chaga, reishi and other medicinal mushrooms, almond milk, vanilla extract, sea salt and dates. This summer Amazing Grass will be launching a line of three functional elixirs – Beauty, Brain and Belly, all made with adaptogens and greens including ashwagandha, lion’s mane and chaga mushroom varieties.

Eat Up: Adaptogens are making their way into snacks including crackers, granola bars and chocolate. Foods Alive features reishi mushrooms in the brand’s Coconut Curry Power Crackers and Lemon Chia Crunch Power Snackers. Purely Elizabeth has introduced Functional Granola Bars, which are formulated with 2 grams of an Om Mushroom™ blend that includes cordyceps and reishi varieties. The bars are offered in five functional variants – Energy, Immunity, Mind, Refresh and Shine. Freaky Health Chocolate is new a line of chocolates formulated with adaptogenic herbs such as ashwagandha, maca, reishi and goji berries to help strengthen the nervous system. Available in four variants – Beauty Bar, CAP Beauty Mountain High Bar, Energy Bar and Immunity Bar, all are formulated with raw cacao, raw cacao butter and raw mulberries as the core sweetener.

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