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What Are the Best Mushroom for Anxiety and Depression?

Key Takeaways

  • Reishi Mushroom: Contains compounds like Polysaccharides and Triterpenes, promoting endorphin release to reduce anxiety effectively.
  • Lion’s Mane Mushroom: Enhances cognitive function and boosts neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine, aiding in anxiety relief.
  • Cordyceps Mushroom: Modulates the nervous system, improves cardiovascular health, and reduces anxiety by regulating adrenaline production.
  • Incorporate mushrooms into a balanced lifestyle with exercise and a healthy diet for optimal anxiety management.
  • Consult a healthcare professional before adding mushrooms to your regimen, especially if on anti-anxiety medication.
  • Reishi Mushroom: Supports immune system, reduces stress, and may alleviate symptoms of depression.
  • Lion’s Mane Mushroom: Stimulates Nerve Growth Factor, improves mood, and reduces inflammation associated with depression.
  • Chaga Mushroom: Combats oxidative stress, lowers blood sugar, and boosts immune system, potentially aiding in depression management.
  • Integrating mushroom supplements into healthcare regimens underscores the importance of exploring diverse healing modalities for comprehensive mental and physical well-being.

As we go our way through life, we’re often faced with stressful situations that make us anxious. Some people even suffer from extreme anxiety attacks that can be almost debilitating. Medication might be prescribed to help deal with this. But did you know that there is a natural way to help relieve your anxiety?

Medicinal mushrooms have been used in Chinese medicine for centuries. They were even used by the Ancient Egyptians for their physical and mental health benefits. The reason for this is that they are adaptogens. They naturally trigger the production of stress-altering hormones within the body and help us feel less anxious.

Collection of mushrooms in a basket.

But which is the best mushroom for anxiety and depression? Below, we’ll take a look at three of the most effective medicinal mushrooms you can use to help ease anxiety, putting both your mind and your body at rest.

3 Best Mushrooms For Anxiety

Reishi Mushroom

Reishi mushroom

Also known by its longer name of Ganoderma lucidum, Reishi contains a variety of active compounds. These are believed to have antioxidant and neuroprotective effects. This includes Polysaccharides, Beta-glucan, Triterpenes, and Lignin. These release endorphins, helping our bodies respond appropriately to stressful situations. As a result, the level of anxiety we feel can be dramatically reduced.

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Lion’s Mane Mushroom

Lion's mane mushrooms

When eaten, Lion’s Mane is believed to help reduce brain inflammation. This improves blood and oxygen flow through our circulatory systems. In turn, our mood is elevated and we’re able to focus more. But that’s not all! Lion’s Mane may also boost certain neurotransmitters including serotonin and dopamine. These are our body's “feel-good” neurotransmitters which, when we’re feeling anxious or depressed, we have difficulty synthesizing. Lion’s Mane is therefore potentially capable of helping to relieve anxiety by increasing our dopamine and serotonin levels.

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Cordyceps Mushroom

Cordycep mushrooms in the wild

Cordyceps is good for many things, including anxiety. When we’re anxious, our heart rate and blood pressure are raised. The risk of developing heart-related issues is increased. Cordyceps is believed to help modulate the nervous system, stimulate the adrenal glands, and increase the production of Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP). In turn, our cardiovascular system and respiratory functions are improved, and any anxiety you’re feeling could be reduced in the process.

It is worth noting that each of the medicinal mushrooms we’ve listed above should be used in conjunction with a healthy lifestyle. This includes a diet full of fruits, vegetables, and grains as well as plenty of exercise. If you’re suffering from anxiety, studies indicate that they might certainly help, but they won’t be that effective if you rely on them alone. In addition, if you have been prescribed anti-anxiety medication, make sure you speak with your doctor about adding medicinal mushrooms to your diet. Never replace your medications on your own.

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Best Medicinal Mushrooms for Depression

Reishi Mushroom 

Reishi mushroom, with its array of beneficial compounds such as Polysaccharides, Beta-glucan, and Triterpenes, is known for its ability to support the immune system and reduce stress. These compounds also play a role in mood regulation, potentially making Reishi beneficial for individuals experiencing depression. By promoting a balanced immune response and combating oxidative stress, Reishi can help to create a more stable emotional and physical environment conducive to alleviating symptoms of depression. While more research is needed, existing studies suggest Reishi's potential in supporting mental health and emotional well-being. 

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Lion’s Mane Mushroom

Lion’s Mane stands out for its cognitive benefits, particularly in the context of depression. This mushroom is renowned for stimulating the production of Nerve Growth Factor (NGF), which can enhance neural health and potentially alleviate depressive symptoms. Research indicates that Lion’s Mane may improve mood by enhancing cognitive function and reducing inflammation, factors often linked with depression. Its impact on serotonin and dopamine levels further suggests its potential as a natural supplement for improving mood and combating depressive states.  

A clinical trial also highlighted that Lion's Mane may improve mild cognitive impairment, reinforcing its role in supporting mental health.  

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Chaga Mushrooms

Chaga's antioxidant properties make it a strong candidate for combating oxidative stress, a condition often linked with depression. By reducing inflammation and cellular damage, Chaga may help improve neurological function and, consequently, mood. Furthermore, its ability to lower blood sugar and support immune health contributes to overall well-being, which is crucial for individuals battling depression. 

Incorporating these functional mushrooms into a balanced lifestyle that includes a nutritious diet, regular physical activity, and, when necessary, professional mental health support, can offer additional benefits for managing depression. Always consult a healthcare provider before starting any new supplement regimen, especially if you are currently on medication for depression, to avoid potential interactions.

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Is Reishi Good For Anxiety?

Yes, it is! In fact, it’s believed that Reishi is said to be one of the best mushrooms for helping manage and reduce anxiety. Reishi contains polypeptides that may boost endorphins including serotonin and dopamine.

The polypeptides found in Reishi may possess a peripheral anticholinergic and depressant effect on the central nervous system. The word “depressant” might seem confusing here, especially when we’re talking about managing anxiety. But it really just means “calm” in this instance.

By calming the nervous system, our brains are able to process situations properly. We’re able to manage the way we feel about stressful situations before our “Fight, Flight, or Freeze” instincts kick in. Put simply, we’re able to think in a more logical and adequately emotional way.

It is also believed that Reishi helps to relieve insomnia. One study found that Reishi increased total sleep time and non-rapid eye movement time. The more sleep we get, the less anxiety we feel as our focus, concentration, and mood are improved.

Other Benefits Of Reishi

The health benefits of Reishi extend beyond anxiety relief, though. It has also been shown to boost the activity of cancer-killing cells including T-cells, B-cells, tumour necrosis factor (TNF), and phagocytes.

Studies have also shown that Reishi has anti-inflammatory properties. These can protect the nerves and neurons in our brains from natural, age-related inflammation that leads to memory loss. This makes it a great medicinal mushroom for improving memory functionality in seniors. It could also potentially help anybody that suffers from memory problems. Reishi may be a useful tool for students who are struggling to memorize certain information ahead of an important test.

All of these things mean that while Reishi is one of the best medicinal mushrooms for helping relieve anxiety, it’s also a fantastic all-around health food that provides a ton of benefits.

Is Chaga Good For Anxiety?

Chunks of chaga mushroom

Just like Reishi, Chaga (Inonotus obliquus) is a great medicinal mushroom for helping to relieve stress and manage anxiety more effectively. This is because it is an adaptogen that helps to naturally calm the nervous system, restore balance, and ultimately combat stress and anxiety.

While Chaga is good for anxiety, it could possess other health benefits as well. The first of these is as an immune system booster. This is because it is capable of promoting the formation of beneficial cytokines and stimulating white blood cells that we need to protect our bodies against harmful bacteria and viruses.

Chaga possesses a high antioxidant content which may help to protect our cells from damage caused by free radicals. The most important of these is the antioxidant triterpene which studies show can play a role in killing cancer cells.

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Finally, Chaga is also believed to help lower blood sugar levels which can help to manage diabetes. It may help lower cholesterol while simultaneously increasing antioxidant levels.

Some of the nutrients you’ll find in the Chaga mushroom include B-vitamin complexes, vitamin D, potassium, rubidium, cesium, zinc, magnesium, and loads of other vitamins and minerals.

So, if you’re looking for a medicinal mushroom that can help reduce anxiety and that comes with a host of other health benefits, Chaga is a great option.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. What mushrooms are good for mood support?

Lion's Mane and Reishi mushrooms are exceptional for mood support. Lion's Mane is praised for its potential to enhance cognitive function and neurotransmitter activity, thereby uplifting mood. Reishi is revered for its stress-reducing properties, helping to create a more balanced and positive emotional state.

Q2. What mushrooms help with serotonin?

Lion's Mane mushroom may aid in the production of serotonin, a crucial neurotransmitter for mood regulation. By supporting brain health and reducing inflammation, Lion's Mane may indirectly contribute to increased serotonin levels, promoting feelings of well-being and happiness.

Q3. What is the best mushroom for the nervous system?

Lion's Mane is considered one of the best mushrooms for the nervous system. Its unique ability to stimulate the production of nerve growth factors supports nerve regeneration and brain health, making it highly beneficial for maintaining a healthy nervous system.

Final Thoughts

Exploring the intersection between depression and anxiety, and the natural world reveals that mushrooms may hold a key to unlocking new pathways for mental health treatment. The bioactive compounds found in mushroom supplements, which include a range of polysaccharides, beta-glucans, and triterpenes, hint at a profound connection between nature's pharmacy and our brain's chemistry.

As research continues to evolve, it becomes clear that these natural substances offer more than just temporary relief; they could fundamentally alter the way we approach mental health conditions. 

By integrating mushroom supplements into our health regimen, we're not just addressing symptoms; we're engaging with a holistic approach that considers the full spectrum of mental and physical wellness.

This perspective not only broadens our understanding of treatment options but also emphasizes the importance of exploring and integrating diverse healing modalities in the pursuit of mental health.

Darcy Ogdon-Nolan

Holding a Bachelor Of Science (Hons.) combined with close to a decade now in the health food and wellness industry, I believe I'm uniquely positioned to provide a depth of knowledge and first-hand experience on emerging health products, trends and ideas! From greens powders and medicinal mushrooms through to protein powders and workout nutrition - I'm particularly interested in what modern science can uncover about what human cultures have been using to treat ailments for millennia!

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