Last Updated on September 29, 2022 by Jamie
According to World Health Organisation(WHO), around 450 million people are victims of mental health conditions, making it one of the greatest potential threats worldwide.
These mental illnesses are particularly common nowadays, but fortunately, we have many resources and tools in our hands that can help. Medicinal mushrooms certainly take the lead in this list thanks to their unique constituents and multiple benefits.
But exactly how do mushrooms affect the brain? And what are some of the best mushroom supplements for your mental health? Continue reading this post to find out!
Mushrooms are fabulously known for the countless health benefits they possess. From boosting immunity and heart health to maintaining skin and gut flora, they certainly are the ultimate natural remedy. In addition, increasing evidence shows that eating these fungi can also benefit mental health due to certain abundant nutrients in them.
Another study states that people who consume mushrooms are less likely to suffer from mental disorders like depression. The scientists account this to ergothioneine, an antioxidant found in mushrooms which is responsible for protecting brain cells from stress and other damage. Experiments show that these particular compounds can also prevent many mental illnesses, such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and depression.
Other mushrooms contain potassium which is recognised for lowering anxiety, while some gourmet varieties such as Lion’s Mane help certain critical nerves survive through the expression of BDNF, a nerve growth factor. Mushrooms also comprise vital nutrients for the brain, including zinc, selenium, vitamins Bs, C and D, and amino acids which work synergistically for improved mental health.
While mushrooms can be eaten raw or added to teas, most health-conscious individuals take supplements to cater to their mushroom needs.
Mushroom supplements commonly refer to capsules, oils or powders containing dried extracts of medicinal mushrooms. Depending on the blend, we can use these supplements for different brain conditions. These supplements are much safer, easy to take, and fun compared to the traditional means of fulfilling your dietary requirements.
Now that you understand the utter importance of mushrooms for brain, let’s talk about some of the best mushroom supplements for mental health.
Whether you are a student wanting to ace your exams, a parent struggling with a hectic routine, or an elderly hoping to stay sharp and active, these six mushroom supplements can surely help you out!
The immunity-boosting abilities of Lion’s Mane are no secret. But did you know that this mushroom can also lead to a stronger and sharper brain?
Also known as Hericium Erinaceus, this odd-looking mushroom has found a route into our medicinal box as a remedy for several brain and body conditions.
But exactly how does it help with mental health? Let’s find out!
- Reduces Anxiety and Depression
This adaptive fungus is known to have a dual role in relieving anxiety and depression by improving sleep, as shown in this study. In addition, it can produce antidepressant-like effects by regulating specific brain pathways, hence, alleviating the symptoms of these mental conditions.
- Regulates Mood
Studies have proven that a daily dose of Hericium Erinaceus can help smooth out the fluctuations in our emotions and support our mental health. Its mechanism is to stimulate nerve growth and regeneration within the hippocampus, the part of our brain in charge of memory and emotions.
While other accounts show that the inhibition of hippocampal cyclooxygenase two enzymes by Lion’s Mane can be the reason behind its mood regulating effect. This enzyme is responsible for neuronal death and inhibiting it can protect your hippocampus from damage.
- Improves Cognition
Lion’s Mane is a nootropic or a smart pill that is utilised by the masses for its cognition-enhancing effects.
Many studies show that taking this mushroom can result in higher brain activity, improved attention and optimised focus. It does this by increasing the levels of BDNF, a neurotropic factor responsible for regulating cognition and maintaining the brain’s plasticity.
- Aids Digestive System
Yes, we know that this article is about mental health. But have you ever heard of your digestive tract being labelled as “the second brain” of your body? What we are trying to say is that your brain health is linked to the digestive health and gut flora, and Lion’s Mane can indirectly influence mental health by supporting your gastrointestinal tract.
A natural body and mind booster, Cordyceps is a functional mushroom with adaptogenic properties, which renders it beneficial in promoting mental health.
These are the following ways through which Cordyceps can affect our brain:
- Enhances Cognition
Want to keep your mind focused and switched on? If so, it’s time to stock up on some Cordyceps supplements.
This yellow-red fungus can directly stimulate your brain and adrenal glands to facilitate a steady energy supply. This energy empowers your brain by increasing the supply of oxygen and nutrients to the brain cells, helping them fight fatigue.
From memory and learning capacity to productivity and attention, Cordyceps mushrooms can work to improve many aspects of your cognitive performance.
- Prevents Premature Aging of Brain
Not only this, but these fantastic mushrooms can also fasten the recovery period of brain injuries by supplying the damaged brain cells with increased blood flow and nutrition. Even though the research is still in its early days, promising results have been obtained so far.
- Reduces the risk of mood disorders
Like other adaptogenic mushrooms, Cordyceps can also help stabilise emotions and mood by helping the body adapt to stress and regulating the hormones responsible for this adaptation. This leads to lower risks of mood disorders such as anxiety and depression and better mental health. Here is an article to further explain the role of Cordyceps in alleviating mood disorders.
Often labelled as ‘ the King of Mushrooms,” Chaga mushrooms come with a plethora of benefits. From reducing inflammation to lowering cholesterol, they check every box. And mental health? Double check!
Chaga is an adaptogenic herb that helps your body adapt to stress and recalibrate itself after the removal of stressors. Chaga mushroom supplements can help you keep calm in stressful situations and can provide you with an energy surge when you are tired. This results in decreased brain fatigue and more mental clarity.
And let’s not forget about Chaga’s ability to combat the detrimental effects of depression, anxiety, and other stress-related symptoms. It does this by regulating cell functions and other particular elements of the stress system so that our body experiences minimal adverse effects.
Integrating this superfood into your diet, along with other vital nutrients, can keep your brain healthy and free from mental illnesses. While Chaga can be taken raw or in the form of tea or extract, we believe that Nootropic Capsules are an ideal way to fight mental illnesses by stimulating serotonin and promoting good mental health. Aside from Chaga, these capsules also star Lion’s Mane, another potent adaptogen, and several antioxidants such as Ginseng, which scavenges out free radicals from your blood and prevents premature ageing.
Honoured in Eastern medicine as the “Mushroom of Immortality,” Reishi is a major medicinal mushroom that can support the body’s physiological and mental functions.
This functional mushroom also comes under the adaptogen tag. And by virtue of these adaptogenic properties, Reishi can assist your mind in several ways.
Similar to other adaptogens, Reishi can help modulate your body’s reaction to stress through the adrenal gland. The adrenal gland is responsible for secreting adrenaline and cortisol in response to high levels of stress, which can start a cascade that can be harmful to the body. But Reishi prevents this from happening by regulating the level of these stress hormones.
Moreover, Triterpenes, the most powerful compound of Reishi, can also be beneficial in alleviating the symptoms of anxiety. It does this by stimulating the parasympathetic system, commonly referred to as the “rest and digest” system, which works opposite to the stress-inducing “fight or flight” and hence helps relax muscles and slow heart rate.
Studies have shown that this beefy mushroom is also beneficial in fighting fatigue and other negative symptoms of depression.
Getting a good night’s sleep is the primary reason behind good mental health, and Reishi sure understands the importance of it. Containing a high concentration of triterpenes, Reishi supplements encourage your body to enter a healthy sleep cycle and improve the quality of your sleep.
Triterpenes are naturally hypnotic and sedative compounds that work by activating GABA, an inhibitory neurotransmitter, which slows down the signal transmission and induces relaxation, calm and drowsiness.
This influence on the sleep cycle, combined with the positive impact on mood and stress, makes Reishi the ultimate supplement for improving mental health and quality of life.
Packed with flavour and nutrients, Shiitake mushrooms are enjoyed around the world as gourmet cuisine. In addition, they contain antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties that aid your body in fighting infections and inflammation.
But the usefulness of these mushrooms is not only limited to your body. Shiitakes also contain plenty of B vitamins, especially B12, making them an excellent choice for anyone looking to boost their mental health.
Evidence proves the anxiolytic and antidepressant effects of vitamin B complexes. Also known as “energy vitamins,” they promote healthy brain functioning by assisting in neuronal growth and development, which leads to better communication between the nerve cells.
B vitamins also stabilise adrenal function and keep cortisol within limits to minimise its effect on the brain. This results in a calm mind and better mood, the two factors responsible for a better mental condition.
Another important constituent of Shiitakes is tryptophan. This amino acid helps regulate mood, appetite and sleep and is a precursor of the neurotransmitter serotonin, which is correlated with feelings of happiness and well-being.
And while we are at it, let’s not forget about phenylalanine, another amino acid loaded in these shrooms. Phenylalanine is essential for producing dopamine, another vital chemical for learning and pleasure.
In short, Shiitakes mushrooms are best for the mind and body and are a must-have in every diet.
Turkey tail is a strange looking, multicoloured fungus that resembles the feathers of a turkey’s tail, hence the name. Scientifically known as Coriolus Versicolor or Trametes Versicolor, this mushroom has been used for hundreds of years to treat a number of health conditions and concerns. But this article will discuss precisely the mental health benefits this mushroom entails.
Loaded with powerful antioxidants, including flavonoids and phenols, Turkey tail can help reduce oxidative stress by killing harmful radicals in the body and protecting your brain from its damaging effects. This is valuable as oxidative stress can contribute to the development of mental disorders such as anxiety and depression, as shown in this study.
Additionally, this fungus maintains a healthy balance of your gut bacteria which is linked with mental health. A healthy gut sends the signal to your brain through hormones and nerves, which results in strong overall health.
The prebiotics in Turkey tail facilitates the growth of good bacteria while suppressing the growth of bad bacteria, restoring the gut balance. This also positively impacts the brain and mental health.
Broadly speaking, mushroom supplements are remarkably safe compared to eating raw, wild mushrooms. However, just like any other natural product, they can sometimes interact with your food or medicine and can result in some undesirable effects. Similarly, if you are allergic or sensitive to any ingredients, it can also cause serious reactions such as digestive upsets.
Here are a few things you should consider before selecting a mushroom supplement for yourself.
Source of the supplement
To ensure the purity and safety of your mushroom supplement, you should assess the source of the mushrooms. Check the packaging or website to see if the mushrooms are cultivated under controlled conditions and are free from pesticides and dangerous toxins. This will help safeguard you from the adverse effects of these hazardous compounds.
Some of the constituents in the supplement can affect those with allergies or certain medical conditions. If not checked, it can result in itching, redness, or hives. Therefore, it is best to consult your doctor and take your medical history into account before trying mushroom supplements.
Though most mushroom supplements contain natural extracts, it is essential to know the recommended dosage for optimised benefits. Too many of these supplements can cause side effects, while too little can lead to no effect.
The doses can vary depending on the person and the reason for taking the supplements. Therefore, we recommend sitting down with your physician and telling them your needs to work up a suitable dose.
Mushrooms are indeed a magical food that possess great therapeutic value.
Whether you are looking for something to help with stress, relieve depression, or improve cognition, mushroom supplements are a good option!