Best Mushroom For Anxiety And Depression

Adaptogen mushrooms like reishi mushrooms, lion’s mane mushrooms, and cordyceps mushrooms have all been shown to improve how the body responds to stress. Due to this, recent studies suggest that taking a supplement containing adaptogenic mushrooms may boost your overall well-being and mental health.

Key Takeaways

  • Adaptogenic mushrooms may be a great supplemental treatment for anxiety and depression symptoms.
  • Cordyceps mushrooms, reishi mushrooms, and lion’s mane mushrooms are the three types of adaptogenic mushrooms that have been shown to improve the body’s stress response.
  • The best way to add adaptogenic mushrooms to your diet is by taking them in a powder supplement.

Mental health conditions like anxiety and depression are more prevalent in society than ever.

Statistics show that nearly 20 percent of American adults struggle with an anxiety disorder every day. Likewise, over six percent of American adults report experiencing depression symptoms that interfere with their life on a regular basis. (Source)

Moreover, when faced with anxiety or depression, it is not just the mind that is impacted. Mental health conditions can also physically manifest in the body.

Depression and anxiety have been linked to conditions like high blood pressure, chronic pain, obesity, type 2 diabetes, and more. (Source

That being said, mental health conditions like anxiety and depression are highly treatable. In fact, the key to improved mental health might already be in your kitchen: mushrooms.

It is no secret that medicinal mushrooms have been all the rage in recent years.

They come with a long list of potential health benefits, ranging from improved immune support and cognitive function to even fighting against cancer. (Source

Most importantly, some medicinal mushrooms might serve as a supplemental treatment for anxiety and depression symptoms.

This article covers how functional mushrooms can improve your mental health and lists which types of functional mushrooms are best for anxiety and depression.

Worried young woman

Understanding Anxiety And Depression

Feeling sad or anxious from time to time is a normal and inevitable part of life.

However, if you find yourself feeling this way more days than not, you may be experiencing an anxiety disorder or depression.

What Is Anxiety?

Anxiety is our body’s natural reaction to stress. It occurs when our minds perceive a situation as threatening or dangerous. It helps us stay alert and respond to whatever situation is at hand.

However, if you experience stress on a daily basis and do not give your body enough time to decompress, it can stay in “fight or flight” mode.

Moreover, your mind may be repeatedly perceiving unthreatening situations as “dangerous.” This can lead you to live in a constant state of “fight or flight” and result in high-stress levels.

Over time, excessive or chronic stress levels can develop into an anxiety disorder.

There are different types of anxiety disorders, including social anxiety, generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, separation anxiety, specific phobia, and agoraphobia. (Source)

They can all have the following symptoms: 

  • Nervousness
  • Increased heart rate
  • Rapid breathing or hyperventilation
  • Sweating or trembling
  • Fatigue or weakness
  • Excessive worrying
  • Feeling of impending danger or doom
  • Having trouble concentrating
  • Avoidance

What Is Depression?

Depression is a mental health condition that alters how a person feels, thinks, and acts.

A person suffering from depression may feel sad, empty, or hopeless and lose interest in activities they once enjoyed. It can impair their ability to function, hindering their work and personal life. (Source)

Symptoms of depression include:

  • Feelings of sadness or hopelessness
  • Disinterest in activities once enjoyed
  • Changes in appetite
  • Fatigue or loss of energy
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
  • Slowed movements or speech
  • Having trouble concentrating or making decisions
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Irritability

If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms for longer than two weeks, it is best to consult a healthcare professional.

How Anxiety And Depression Affect the Body

The mind and body are interconnected. When left untreated, anxiety and depression can wreak havoc on the body over time.

Anxiety can cause a wide range of physical symptoms, ranging from dizziness and increased resting heart rate to respiratory issues, reduced immune function, and digestive problems.

It can affect the digestive system in particular, contributing to reports of constipation, cramping, and IBS, short for irritable bowel syndrome. (Source

Research shows that chronic anxiety also puts you at an increased risk of high blood pressure and heart disease. (Source)

While depression is less common than anxiety, it is equally as damaging to the body. Studies show that persistent depression increases a person’s risk of obesity, chronic pain, insomnia, type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure. (Source

That being said, anxiety and depression are highly treatable with therapy (especially cognitive behavioral therapy) and medication.

There are also natural ways to manage your anxiety and depression symptoms. 

Lifestyle changes like getting enough rest, getting natural light, exercising, and eating right can all benefit your mental health.

This includes consuming foods like functional mushrooms that counteract the effects that depression and anxiety have on the body.

Basket of Mushrooms

How Functional Mushrooms Can Help Anxiety And Depression

Functional or medicinal mushrooms have a surplus of potential health benefits.

Studies show that consuming medicinal mushrooms can balance your cholesterol levels, lower your sodium intake, support your digestive health, strengthen your immune function, and even help fight against cancer. (Source

Functional mushrooms are also a rich source of fiber and vitamin D, both of which benefit health and support your overall well-being.

And if you are wondering – do mushrooms have protein? – the answer is yes!

Mushrooms are not only a rich source of vitamins, nutrients, and antioxidants, but they also contain about one to two grams of protein per serving.

However, when it comes to mental health, the benefits that functional mushrooms provide are largely contributed to their adaptogenic properties.

What Are Adaptogenic Mushrooms?

First, let’s talk about adaptogens.

Adaptogens are herbs or other plant-based substances that help our bodies cope with stress.

They keep stress levels low during rest and help the body return to its normal levels after a stressful situation. (Source

In other words, adaptogens can help you bounce back from stress and make you more resistant to minor adversity. This can lead to reduced feelings of overwhelm and exhaustion and increased resilience, promoting an overall better quality of life.

Not all herbs are adaptogens, however. Herbs must be considered non-toxic, support stress management, and help the body regain stability after a stressful event to be considered to have adaptogenic qualities. (Source).

Adaptogenic mushrooms, then, are mushrooms that meet these qualifications. They are safe to consume and contain adaptogenic properties that may reduce the negative effects of stress on the body.

Adaptogenic mushrooms protect the body from stress-induced damage by increasing the body’s resistance to various forms of stress. This includes biological, physical, and chemical stress. (Source

Still, you might be wondering exactly how adaptogenic mushrooms increase the body’s resistance to stress. It is not by magically altering a person’s perception or causing them to have happy hallucinations.

Rather, adaptogenic mushrooms directly target the body’s multifaceted stress response system. This includes the HPA axis, or hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal system, which is the body’s main stress responder. (Source

When consumed, the adaptogenic properties in mushrooms can influence the HPA axis and other stress mediators. This enhances the body’s resistance to stress, promoting recovery and homeostasis after a stressful situation. (Source

An increased resistance to stress can help make someone less susceptible to mental health conditions like anxiety and depression.

People with high-stress resistance may be able to handle stress more efficiently and put more stressors onto their plates without feeling negative consequences.

In addition, the antioxidants in adaptogenic mushrooms may provide additional health benefits and promote overall well-being.

Benefits Of Adaptogenic Mushrooms For Anxiety And Depression

The adaptogens and antioxidants in adaptogenic mushrooms may offer the following benefits for anxiety and depression: 

  • Improved mood
  • Enhanced mental clarity and reduced brain fog
  • Improved memory
  • Balanced cortisol levels at resting rate
  • Lowered stress levels during mentally and physically demanding tasks
  • Improved cardiovascular health
  • Reduced fatigue and improved energy levels
  • Improved feelings of overall well-being
  • Reduced inflammation, which may be linked to depression (Source)

The three most popular types of adaptogenic mushrooms are reishi mushrooms, lion’s mane mushrooms, and cordyceps mushrooms. We’ll get into the specific benefits of each type in the next section. 

Mushrooming

Best Mushrooms For Anxiety And Depression

Studies suggest that mushrooms can improve how the body responds to stress.

However, not all mushrooms are created equal. Some mushrooms are more effective than others at reducing stress.

For example, medicinal mushrooms have anti-inflammatory properties that can improve immune function in addition to other health benefits.

However, they can not influence the body’s stress response the way adaptogenic mushrooms can. (Source)

This is why adaptogenic mushrooms, like lion’s mane, reishi, and cordyceps, are the best mushrooms to take for anxiety and depression.

Let’s get into the three types of adaptogenic mushrooms and the unique benefits they each provide.

Lion’s Mane Mushrooms

Of all adaptogens, lion’s mane is one of the best mushrooms for depression

Known for their hairy, lioness appearance, lion’s mane mushrooms might reduce inflammation and enhance brain function.

For example, an animal study showed that lion’s mane mushrooms reversed the damage of BDNF, a vital protein for cognitive function, in mice.

Studies suggest that preserving these BDNF levels can decrease one’s susceptibility to depression and stress. (Source

In other words, a daily dose of lion’s mane mushrooms might help prevent depression.

Reishi Mushrooms

Known for its calming effects, reishi is one of the best mushrooms for stress.

It is believed to contain anti-anxiety and anti-inflammatory properties that provide an array of health benefits.

However, taking a supplement containing reishi mushroom for anxiety specifically has shown to be effective in multiple cases.

Research shows that reishi mushrooms may help support adrenal gland function, the glands that release cortisol in response to stress. By supporting the adrenal glands, researchers believe that reishi mushrooms may help balance cortisol levels in the body. (Source)

However, more research is needed to confirm this claim.

In addition, a 2020 study discovered that reishi mushrooms lowered inflammation caused by stress in mice. Doing so protected the mice from memory impairment and cognitive damage. (Source

These studies suggest that reishi mushrooms can help with anxiety by supporting healthy cortisol levels and lowering stress-induced inflammation levels.

Cordyceps Mushrooms

Cordyceps is one of the best mushrooms for anxiety and overall well-being.

It has been shown to lower stress levels, enhance mental clarity, and improve cardiovascular health.

For example, a 2014 study found that participants who consumed 600 mg of cordyceps mushrooms during high-altitude training experienced lower stress levels and less fatigue than the placebo group. (Source

In addition, an animal study suggested that consuming cordyceps mushrooms before stress-inducing activities could reduce stress levels and improve performance. (Source

These studies suggest that cordyceps mushrooms can potentially build one’s resistance to stress and help maintain engagement during mentally or physically demanding activities.

These cordyceps benefits could be especially useful for people with anxiety and depression, as they may be more prone to fatigue and burnout.

Safety Of Functional Mushrooms

Generally speaking, all functional mushrooms are well-tolerated when consumed as food and in supplement form.

They are also low in oxalates, an antinutrient that triggers inflammation and decreases the body’s nutrient absorption. Cordyceps mushrooms are considered particularly safe, with very few known side effects.

That being said, functional mushrooms can sometimes cause mild side effects. Reishi mushrooms may cause dizziness and headaches, while others may cause fatigue and nausea.

Functional mushrooms can also interact with certain medications. They have anti-inflammatory properties that may influence blood pressure.

Due to this, people who take medication for blood pressure or bleeding disorders should consult their doctor before trying a mushroom supplement. (Source)  

There is also the chance of an allergic reaction, so it is best to be aware of your dietary limitations and check in with a health professional before trying medicinal mushrooms.

Various Mushrooms

How To Use Functional Mushrooms For Anxiety And Depression

Now that we have covered the benefits of adaptogenic mushrooms for anxiety and depression let’s discuss how to incorporate them into your diet.

When it comes to using a functional mushroom for anxiety, you may need to take them daily for a longer period to see its effects.

Ideally, you should give any new supplement regime at least three months to work. This provides a large enough time window to gauge if a product is right for you.

It is also important to note that the supplement industry is not FDA (Food and Drug Administration) regulated. This can make finding a reputable functional mushroom supplement challenging.

For example, some poorly made mushroom supplements can cause allergic reactions, interact with medications, and contain harmful substances.

Moreover, some supplement brands use proprietary blends, which allows them to hide what is actually in their product.

For instance, a company can say its proprietary blend contains buzzword ingredients like superfoods, adaptogens, and amino acids, but it will not state how much of each ingredient is in the blend.

Therefore, you could be paying for an expensive product that only has 1% active ingredients. Or, you could be taking a mushroom supplement that is not actually sourced from the mushroom’s fruiting body. It may also contain harmful ingredients that the company is not required to tell you about.

Since the FDA does not regulate supplements, it is on the consumer to choose their products wisely.

Looking for mushroom supplements that are third-party tested can wean out poorly-made options and ensure you are getting the highest quality product.

It is also important to read the fine print on medicinal mushroom supplement labels. You want to look for brands that use only high-quality ingredients.

This includes making sure that the supplement ingredients are sourced from the mushroom’s fruiting body, which is where its benefits come from.

In addition, you want to be mindful of the doses included in mushroom supplements. Clinical research suggests that the following doses of lion’s mane mushrooms, reishi mushrooms, and cordyceps mushrooms are safe for everyday use:

  • Lion’s mane mushrooms can be safely taken in doses ranging from 250 mg to 750 mg
  • Reishi mushrooms can safely be taken in doses ranging from one to three grams
  • Cordyceps mushrooms can safely be taken in doses up to 1400 mg

You want to look for a supplement that provides its mushroom ingredients within these dosages.

Taking too high of a mushroom dose might cause side effects, while taking too low of a dose might not provide benefit. 

Overall, the various health benefits that mushroom supplements offer make them an excellent addition to your mental health toolbox. They contain properties that can reduce stress levels, improve mental clarity, and boost your energy levels.

That being said, functional mushrooms should be used as a supplementary tool, not as a treatment for anxiety and depression.

The best way to treat anxiety and depression is through therapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy and medication when needed.

Lifestyle choices such as getting enough sleep, identifying and decreasing stressors in life, exercising, and eating well are also all effective ways of improving anxiety and depression symptoms.

To get the most benefit, functional mushrooms should be taken alongside a mental health regimen. Combining it with other brain and mood-boosting ingredients, like superfoods and antioxidants, can help you maximize their effects.

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Final Thoughts: Benefits Of Functional Mushrooms For Anxiety And Depression

It is normal to feel sad or anxious every now and again. But if you find yourself feeling stressed out or down more often than not, it might be a sign that your mental health needs some serious TLC.

Medicinal mushrooms can be a great way to tend to both the mind and body.

Research suggests that adaptogenic mushrooms, including reishi mushrooms, lion’s mane mushrooms, and cordyceps mushrooms, are particularly beneficial for your mental health.

Their ability to influence the body’s stress response makes them an effective tool for managing mental health and reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Their benefits for the brain may include: 

  • Reduced inflammation
  • Enhanced mental clarity
  • Balanced cortisol levels
  • Lowered stress levels during mentally and physically demanding tasks

Adaptogenic mushrooms also contain anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that can heal the physical body. These properties can help counteract the negative effects that prolonged anxiety and depression has on the body, such as high blood pressure.

Overall, adaptogenic mushrooms like reishi mushrooms, lion’s mane mushrooms, and cordyceps mushrooms are the perfect addition to your wellness routine. The easiest, most convenient way to get them into your diet is by taking a mushroom-based supplement powder.

However, some mushroom supplements are better than others.

For your daily dose of cordyceps mushrooms, we recommend finding a supplement that offers at least one gram of cordyceps mushroom extract.

You should also look for a cordyceps supplement that is third-party tested, offers ingredient transparency, and has great reviews. Supplements with additional ingredients that enhance or complement the effects of cordyceps mushrooms are a plus.

This is why we recommend our Red Tonik supplement as your go-to source of cordyceps mushrooms.

Red Tonik is an adaptogen powder that combines 13 evidence-backed superfoods clinically shown to support mental health, enhance energy levels, reduce inflammation, and improve cardiovascular health.

Every serving of Red Tonik contains one gram of cordyceps mushrooms and a blend of beneficial ingredients like turmeric, ginger root, berries, cherries, and grape seed extract.

Red tonik label March 2023
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This unique combination provides a range of hard-to-get nutrients that you likely won’t find in a multivitamin or get through your everyday diet.

In addition, our Red Tonik is third-party tested and made in the USA. It is also vegan-friendly and soy-free, making it suitable for any diet. In other words, it checks off all boxes of what you should look for in an adaptogenic mushroom powder supplement.

Between its adaptogenic cordyceps mushrooms, antioxidants, and superfoods containing anti-inflammatory properties, Red Tonik promotes healing from the inside out, helping you feel your best both mentally and physically.

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