Functional Mushrooms and Mental Health
Feeling Tossed by the Tempest?
May is Mental Health Awareness Month and never has it seemed as essential as it does right now among the settling dust of our lifetime’s biggest global health crisis, a burgeoning and bloody war in Eastern Europe, the entropy that is the ongoing climate crisis and a looming economic collapse. Phew! It’s no wonder mental health issues are on the rise and self-care is therefore absolutely critical.
Adaptogenic Mushrooms Calm Our Nervous System
There are many ways we can support our health through acts of self-care: getting regular exercise, maintaining a healthy diet, spending time with loving friends and family (something many of us were unable to do much of in the last few years), finding a practice that can bring you into a calm and present state (meditation, yoga, breathwork), spending time in nature (what the Japanese so beautifully call ‘forest-bathing’), and getting adequate sleep. Then there’s the issue of supporting ourselves with good quality mushroom supplements containing calmative adaptogens and other natural ingredients that balance our central nervous system, which plays an overall role in sustaining wellness.
“[adaptogens] work with your endocrine system to mitigate the inflammation and imbalances caused by chronic stress.”**
Bust Stress With Reishi Mushrooms
As we explained in our blog post about Reishi mushrooms, adaptogens are any natural substance that helps your body adjust to physical, chemical, or biological stress and return it to the desired state of balance, or homeostasis. They work with your endocrine system to mitigate inflammation and imbalance caused by chronic stress.1
Everyone benefits from adaptogens, especially those struggling with mental wellness. Mood imbalances most often cause stress, which is a very real medical threat to all bodily systems. Adaptogenic plants and mushrooms interact in such a way that they bring about a balance that helps level out stress and reduce the harmful effects of it. So whether you are tightly wound and overstimulated, or lethargic and fatigued, Reishi mushrooms can help find equilibrium with their adaptogenic properties.**
Reishi is revered in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) as one of, if not the foremost adaptogens in the Chinese pharmacopeia.2 Reishi mushroom contains polyphenol antioxidants, polysaccharides, polypeptides, and triterpenes that work together through various physiological processes to provide this adaptogenic response. We put Reishi (Ganoderma lingzhi) mushroom extract in both our Immunity and Sleep gummies.
“whether you are tightly wound and overstimulated or lethargic and fatigued, Reishi mushrooms cOULD help find equilibrium.”**
Cordyceps as a Potential Antidepressant
Another fantastic adaptogenic mushroom is Cordyceps. These also hark back to ancient China6 and were especially prized by emperors. They were not easy to come because at the time they were found only as a parasitic fungus that grows out of caterpillar larvae (ours are not sourced from caterpillars so fear not, vegans!). Yes, it’s amazing anyone would ever think to ingest that, but we’re glad they did because they discovered a seriously powerful and medicinal mushroom. Emperors considered them a longevity tonic and something that would bolster one’s constitution and physical prowess. Modern science backs that up, as many studies have shown.6 Not only does Cordyceps fungi show the potential to enhance physical performance, but a 2015 study with mice shows that cordycepin, the potent compound innate to the cordyceps fungus, ‘led to a rapid and robust antidepressant effect’.9 Because of this, we added a full gram of cordyceps to our mushroom gummies, which is more than most products do.
“A study on mice in 2015 shows that cordycepin ‘led to a rapid and robust antidepressant effect.’”**
Boosting Brain Function and Mood With Lion’s Mane
And then there’s the incredible Lion’s Mane (Hericium erinaceus), which is quickly becoming the darling of the functional mushroom universe. This mushroom is a nootropic (substance purported to enhance memory and cognitive function)10 as well as an adaptogenic mushroom. Studies indicate that Lion’s Mane mushrooms may go beyond merely enhancing cognitive functioning and memory and actually be a boon for anxiety and depression. 12,13, 14,16,**
“Studies indicate that lion’s mane Mushrooms may go beyond merely enhancing cognitive functioning and memory and actually be a boon for anxiety and depression.”**
OMFG Brain Health mushroom gummies contain a full gram of Lion’s Mane. Currently there is no other functional mushroom gummy available that offers a comparable amount of combined Lion’s Mane, Cordyceps and other healthy ingredients.
So as we reflect this month on the personal and collective tempest that we’re currently enduring and how that takes a toll on mental well-being, let’s acknowledge that some remedies come from within (the bits about exercise, diet, friend-time, and sleep), but the mycological superheroes mentioned above are within our reach, and they may just help us to see the lighter side of life.
** This is not to advise that adaptogens alone can restore equilibrium in someone who has a true clinical mental health diagnosis and this article is not meant to be construed as medical advice. Full medical disclaimer is at the bottom of this page.