In the health and wellness community, mushrooms have grown in popularity over the last few years. But what are the benefits of taking mushrooms in supplement form?
We're not talking about psychoactive mushrooms, commonly known as magic mushrooms, but medicinal mushrooms like lion's mane or reishi. You may have heard of these before, but you might be unaware of what they actually do.
The truth is, the wellness benefits of taking a daily mushroom supplement are vast. From your immune system to your overall mood, it's no wonder these medicinal mushrooms are taking over wellness circles everywhere.
Why call them "medicinal" mushrooms?
When we refer to mushrooms as "medicinal" it's important to note that this does not mean that they are medicine. They are often called "medicinal mushrooms" because they are often thought of as functional foods. This means that they have a lot more wellness benefits than simply providing nutritional value.
Let's look at two popular examples:
Lion's Mane Mushrooms
Lion’s mane mushrooms are a nootropic food that was popular in Chinese medicine traditions for centuries. These pom-pom-shaped mushrooms are best known for helping to boost focus and promoting brain health.
According to the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry lion’s mane mushrooms may potentially help improve and improvement of anxiety, cognitive function, and depression.
Reishi mushrooms are a nootropic that may be beneficial for supporting feelings of anxiety and promoting more energy. In fact, they are often used to help with ongoing fatigue. As a nootropic, of course, these mushrooms may also aid in supporting brain function and boost learning, memory, and longevity.
What's the difference between nootropic versus adaptogenic?
Nootropics, from Greek, meaning “mind-turning”, are substances that claim to act as ‘brain boosters to aid alertness, intelligence, and creativity. A nootropic food is just that; food that may aid in promoting alertness, intelligence, and creativity. Lion's mane and reishi mushrooms both fall into the nootropic category.
If an ingredient, food, or supplement is referred to as adaptogenic, this means that it may have stress-fighting properties. Mushrooms such as reishi are thought to have a whole host of adaptogenic benefits.
You can see how effective and helpful taking a daily nootropic-based supplement can be. However, let’s dive a little deeper into why mushrooms are so great.
5 Of Our Favorite Benefits of Mushrooms and Mushroom Supplements
1) They come in delicious gummy form
Although portobello or white button mushrooms can make a great side dish or main course, let’s face it, the taste of wild mushrooms isn’t always pleasant. Now you can get your daily nootropic intake in a delicious little treat!
You can get all of the wonders of these nootropic mushrooms by taking the recommended serving daily. All types of mushrooms are rich in properties that specialize in different health areas. That is why taking a blend is the best choice for optimizing all of your health concerns.
As always, before starting a new dietary supplement, it's recommended to speak with a healthcare professional to make sure that it's suitable for you. It may be a good idea to seek medical advice if you have any specific medical questions or if you have prior health conditions.
2) Can help boost mood
As mentioned before, reishi mushrooms may help some people combat feelings of anxiousness and depression by supporting adrenal and nerve health, and promoting better sleep.
One study showed, of 132 people with ongoing sleep deprivation, irritability, and emotional distress, 123 found a significant reduction in fatigue and improvement in overall wellbeing after using a reishi supplement for 8 weeks. Getting better sleep undoubtedly helps manage stress and anxiety and is optimal for overall wellness.
In fact, there are plenty of other health perks of getting sufficient amounts of sleep. Check out our post on 5 reasons you should start getting more sleep.
3) Mushroom gummies for memory, focus, and mental performance
Lion's mane has been used around the world, mainly in Eastern medicine, for centuries. This nootropic has become increasingly popular in Western countries over the past decade or so. Lion's mane has been shown to potentially aid in brainpower, focus, and memory by strengthening nerve endings.
The primary active compounds in Lion’s Mane are called hericenones and erinacines. Hericenones may help your brain produce more of what is known as Nerve Growth Factor. NGF are a group of proteins that are essential for brain health. Erinacines may help to boost the production of neurons because of their ability to easily cross the blood-brain barrier.
One of the leading benefits of taking a mushroom supplement is related to brain function. Studies suggest that the two main compounds found in lion's mane may also help with long-term memory concerns.
At first, you may notice a mild cognitive boost, but some users have said that taking mushrooms over time helps them increase the ability to focus and think more clearly.
4) May boost exercise performance
A key ingredient in many mushroom extract supplements, cordyceps, is a natural fungus, though it is mostly made in laboratories today. According to researchers, cordyceps mushrooms can help support inflammatory responses and may even increase the flow of oxygen to your muscles as you exercise.
Multiple studies have taken place to show that those who consumed cordyceps over a period of time performed better than those who did not when working out. Overall, they suggest that cordyceps may help to deliver more energy and more oxygen to your muscles as you work. If you're finding it hard to get to the gym, but are adamant about healthy weight management, you may want to consider a mushroom supplement.
5) Can help maintain a strong immune system
Keeping your immune system healthy is beneficial to overall health. Mushrooms may help maintain immune health by keeping the immune system in balance. They're also antioxidant-rich which means that they can help to fight free radicals and support against oxidative stress.
Some of the most popular mushrooms that contain properties that help balance your immune system are chaga, cordyceps, lion’s mane, maitake, reishi, turkey tail, and shiitake mushrooms.
Do these names sound a little unfamiliar? Learn more about different mushroom supplements and what their key wellness benefits are on our blog post The 10 Best Mushroom Supplements To Try Right Now.
All medicinal mushrooms contain a remarkable carbohydrate called beta-glucan, which is a key ingredient for promoting a balanced immune system. Beta-glucans also help support inflammatory responses in the body and may have a beneficial effect on blood pressure.
Summary: What are the health benefits of mushrooms?
There are many benefits of adding non-toxic, edible mushrooms such as shiitake, oyster, or white button to your nutrition plan. They're low in fat and are packed full of nutrients, for example, vitamins and minerals like potassium, B-vitamins, and copper. They're also a good source of dietary fiber and antioxidants. But, we often miss out on the many other wellness perks of mushrooms - the nootropic kind.
Taking a daily nootropic supplement may aid in boosting mood, promoting better sleep, enhancing physical and mental performance, and can help optimize overall wellness. Edible mushrooms may have been right in front of us all along, but it wasn't until recent years that these mushrooms growing in popularity have become so available.
If you are used to taking a daily vitamin, it may be beneficial to add a mushroom complex to the mix. There are many more benefits than the 5 listed here, so do yourself a favor and jump on the mushroom bandwagon!