In our busy, modern lives, maintaining mental health is more important than ever. As we continue to understand the complexities of the brain and mental wellbeing, we're also discovering exciting, natural solutions that can support our mental health. One such natural remedy is medicinal mushrooms.
The Magic of Medicinal Mushrooms
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, prioritising sleep, getting regular exercise and using foods and herbs like medicinal mushrooms can be really beneficial for your mind.
For thousands of years, medicinal mushrooms have been used in traditional medicine for their health-promoting properties. Recently, they've gained significant attention for their potential role in supporting mental health. Here's how these powerful fungi can help:
Promoting Cognitive Function
Certain types of medicinal mushrooms, like lion's mane, contain compounds that stimulate the production of nerve growth factor (NGF), a protein that's crucial for maintaining healthy neurons - the cells responsible for transmitting information throughout our brain.
Reducing Stress and Anxiety
Mushrooms like Reishi are classified as adaptogens, natural substances that help the body adapt to stress and exert a normalising effect upon bodily processes. They can support our body's response to stress, potentially reducing symptoms of stress and anxiety.
Supporting Sleep Quality
Reishi mushrooms, often referred to as 'The Mushroom of Immortality', have been used for centuries to promote calmness and improve sleep quality. They contain triterpenes, a type of compound that may support restful sleep and overall mental wellbeing.
Mushrooms Fo Life: Your Partner in Mental Health
Let’s take a look at our favourite mushrooms for mental health support:
(image of lion’s mane)
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 conditions. 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, which is linked to poor mental health. 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 combatting 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. It 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.
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.