Medicinal mushrooms offer many benefits for overall health. Each medicinal mushroom has its own unique set of compounds, and many offer support for physical and emotional well-being. In this difficult time we are currently facing, it’s really important to do everything we can to support our own mental health and also look out for family and friends who may be going through a challenging time.
The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that over 450 million people suffer from mental health conditions worldwide, making it the leading cause of illness around the globe. Mental health conditions are extremely common in today’s world, but luckily we have many tools and resources at our disposal that can help. Making simple lifestyle changes can help to balance mental health and reduce stress and anxiety. Practicing a slower pace of life, eating a well-balanced diet, prioritizing sleep, getting regular exercise and using foods and herbs like medicinal mushrooms can be really beneficial for your mind.
Let’s take a look at our favourite mushrooms for mental health support:
The most well-known medicinal mushroom for supporting brain health is Lion’s Mane. It has a long history of use for cognitive support, and was used by Buddhist monks to enhance brain power and heighten focus during meditation.
Lion’s Mane appears to offer support for some of the most common mood disorders and neurological diseases. It is supportive and restorative for the nervous system, and has a natural calming effect that can offer support for symptoms like anxiety. A study in 2010 found that Lion’s Mane mushroom offered benefits for depression, helping to alleviate some of the symptoms of mood disorders, which may be due to its ability to reduce inflammation, particularly in the brain. A growing body of research has linked mental illness with brain inflammation. Some early research also suggests it may spark new cell growth in the hippocampus of the brain, which plays a role in mental health, and increasing neurogenesis has the potential to help with depression and anxiety.
Reishi has a long history of use in ancient China for reducing stress, calming the mind, and combating sleep issues. It is the most anti-inflammatory of the mushrooms and reducing inflammation enables better brain functioning and performance, with more blood and oxygen flowing to the brain. Reishi (and particularly reishi spores) is rich in triterpenes which are a calming compound, its effects can be useful to help us unwind and support deeper restful sleep which can be hard to achieve if your mind is racing.
Reishi is also known as one of the ‘adaptogens’, helping to bring the body and its systems back into balance, it appears to work on the HPA axis, supporting adrenal function, and improving resilience to stress over time. Early research suggests the polysaccharide and triterpenoid compounds in Reishi are responsible for its stress lowering capacity and may help with anxiety and depression as well as have significant neuroprotective effects for the brain.
Cordyceps also shows much promise for brain health, and has been used as a nootropic for centuries in Asia. It has strong anti-inflammatory properties, and can help to reduce stress response. As mentioned previously there is a link between inflammation in the brain and depression, anxiety, and other chronic diseases. Cordyceps like Reishi is an adaptogen, and studies have shown participants were better able to withstand stress when they took cordyceps compared to when they didn’t.
This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your healthcare practitioner, and do not take medicinal mushrooms in place of your medication without consulting with them first.