If an apple a day keeps the doctor away, let’s just say a dose of functional mushrooms a day will keep brain fog, low mood, and lethargy at bay.
Functional mushrooms have been used in traditional medicine for centuries, applauded for their health-boosting effects on the brain and body. Within their many bioactive compounds that help support human health, lies a truly auspicious reason to start incorporating functional mushrooms into your routine on a daily basis. Let’s explain how you can become a genuinely happier human being, with the help of medicinal mushrooms.
If a substance has adaptogenic qualities, it helps the body cope with stress and maintain balance. Chronic stress can harm both our physical and mental health, leading to other health problems and disrupting our daily lives by affecting our mood and behavior.
Adaptogens work their magic by regulating the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, a neuroendocrine mechanism that mediates our reactions to stress through regulating various physiological processes, such as metabolism and immune responses. The HPA axis is activated when exposed to stress, where it then releases stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol. When chronic stress persists over time, it can result in HPA dysfunction — causing mental health disorders such as anxiety, depression, and chronic fatigue.
Adaptogens help regulate the HPA axis and support the body’s natural stress response by promoting balance. Functional mushrooms have adaptogenic qualities that aid the body in coping with stress more effectively, thereby reducing its negative effects. In a 2008 study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food, participants who were given Reishi mushrooms showed significant reductions in cortisol levels and notable improvements in fatigue, mood, and general well-being.
In general, the less stress we endure, the easier it is to be happy. Considering there is no sure shot way to rid ourselves of all stress triggers, there is something powerful about finding a way to respond to it in a way that makes it both less overwhelming to handle and easier to let go of.
The most commonly known mushrooms with adaptogenic mushrooms include:
- Lion’s Mane
- Turkey Tail
Just imagine feeling more in control of your day-to-day stressors, without the looming threat of chronic stress weighing you down. Sounds pretty great, right? Well, incorporating adaptogenic mushrooms into your daily routine can do just that. By enhancing your body’s natural response to stress, these magical mushrooms can lower your risk of experiencing the negative effects of stress, such as depression and anxiety. So, if you want to prioritize your happiness and energy levels, without turning to synthetic solutions, look no further than the power of adaptogenic plants.
Psilocybin ain’t the only thing that gets those happy hormones all jazzed up. The compounds found in medicinal mushrooms such as Reishi and Lion’s Mane are thought to regulate serotonin levels in the brain, which is a crucial neurotransmitter controlling mood and happiness.
Nerve Growth Factor (NGF) in specific, has been found to stimulate serotonin synthesis, which would go on to suggest that Lion’s Mane may have the unique ability to indirectly impact serotonin levels in a positive way. It has been recently discovered that Lion’s Mane mushrooms increase NGF in the brain, an exciting discovery seeing as an increase in NGF levels can help protect the brain against cognitive decline while promoting the growth and healthy function of new neurons.
Though more human studies should be conducted in order to validate the effectiveness of functional mushrooms on the serotonergic system, A study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology found that Reishi extract not only raised serotonin levels in rats, but also slowed the levels of enzymes used to break down serotonin. It is thought that Reishi polysaccharides could also have antidepressant effects on the brain, as they increased serotonin and other neurotransmitters in mice.
We’ve done a lot of talking about the anti-inflammatory properties of medicinal mushrooms, which host a whole range of neuroprotective benefits when consumed regularly. The anti-inflammatory effects of functional mushrooms help reduce inflammation in the brain which aids drastically in cognitive well being, mental health included.
Recent evidence suggests a possible link between depression and inflammation. Clinical trials have shown that anti-inflammatory treatments may be effective in treating depression. Functional mushrooms, which are powerful anti-inflammatory substances, may have similar effects. In a study published in Translational Psychiatry, curcumin, an anti-inflammatory compound, was found to increase serotonin levels in individuals with major depressive disorder.
Always leaving the most important for last, we gotta talk about shut-eye. Sleep is one of the most crucial functions regarding mental health, and quite literally everything else too.
Functional mushrooms contain compounds that promote relaxation and improve sleep quality. Turkey Tail and Cordyceps are believed to enhance sleep quality by boosting the immune system, while Lion’s Mane may help regulate the sleep-wake cycle by increasing NGF levels. As a result, consuming these mushrooms can lead to a healthier night’s rest.
Reishi is one of the most popular mushrooms for sleep promotion, with studies showing that Reishi can help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. Reishi extracts have shown promising clinical outcomes in the treatment of insomnia, making Reishi mushroom a great supplement for those wrestling with sleep issues. As a result of falling asleep faster and sleeping more deeply, one can expect to wake up feeling refreshed and ready to take on the day with heightened energy levels, as proper sleep is achieved through the sedative effects of Reishi.
The quality and duration of our sleep at night makes a significant impact on our mental health and physical well being. As we sleep, the brain works the graveyard shift on our emotion processes, so that we can face our stressors more effectively in the morning. When we become sleep deprived, our brain struggles to regulate emotions properly. Anxiety, depression, fatigue, and irritability, are common outcomes we must face when our sleep cycle is impaired.
Here are some ways that functional mushroom supplements may help promote improved sleep quality:
- Reishi: Compounds found in the Reishi mushroom are said to have a calming effect on the body including triterpenes and polysaccharides, which help promote relaxation and reduce restlessness.
- Cordyceps: Cordyceps are known to reduce fatigue, which believe it or not, goes hand in hand with healthier sleep. Heightened levels of fatigue are associated with troubles falling into a deep sleep, waking up throughout the night, and requiring sleeping meds. Cordyceps also have a positive effect on the respiratory system, making it beneficial for the suffering from breathing-related sleep disorders such as sleep apnea.
- Lion’s Mane: The anti-inflammatory properties of Lion’s Mane may help induce a peaceful sleep, seeing as inflammation in the body is associated with poor sleep. Excess inflammation affects the sleep centers of the brain negatively, making it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep. By fending off chronic inflammation with a supplement like Lion’s Mane, you are likely to experience better sleep more often, with less soreness in the morning as well.
- Turkey Tail: The Turkey Tail mushroom is rich in prebiotics, which help support a healthy gut by promoting the growth of beneficial gut bacteria. Gut health is closely associated with melatonin production, a vital hormone involved with sleep. With growing evidence suggesting that bad gut health is tied to sleep disorders, prioritizing prebiotic intake such as the ones found in Turkey Tail can help improve the gut microbiome and provide a better sleep in return.
Regularly achieving high-quality rest can bring about a multitude of mental health benefits, such as improved energy levels, heightened cognitive function, reduced anxiety, and more.
Those experiencing symptoms of poor mental health should speak with a medical professional to ensure all needs are met in a safe and professional manner, before trying alternative methods of healing.
Functional mushrooms are not only believed to be highly effective, but also remarkably safe, as mounting evidence suggests.