What Are Adaptogenic Mushrooms? Benefits, Types, and Risks

Several adaptogenic mushrooms can offer stress relief, improved cognition, and overall wellness.

What Are Adaptogenic Mushrooms? Benefits, Types, and Risks

Stress can damage your health. It can contribute to several health issues, including heart disease, diabetes, anxiety, and depression. The worst part is that sometimes stress is unavoidable.

However, adaptogenic mushrooms can help to reduce the negative effects of stress on the body and mind.

Different types of these mushrooms have various effects and benefits.

Before we get to those significant advantages, let’s take a look at how adaptogenic mushrooms work.

Contents

What Are Adaptogenic Mushrooms?

Adaptogenic mushrooms have been consumed as medicine for thousands of years.

These types of fungi with adaptogen properties can be a healthy addition to your diet to benefit the mind, body, and overall wellness and well-being.

These mushrooms can provide your body with homeostasis during times of high stress so that your body can function correctly.

Since the stress response involves different systems throughout the body, these fungi work in different ways.

They primarily work by affecting the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA axis), which influences stress-fighting hormones called glucocorticoids, including cortisol.

The result of the consumption of these mushrooms is a reduction in inflammation and stress response.

Some of them also have nootropic features or other health benefits like a reduction in bad cholesterol, and they are an excellent example of the power of nature.

Types of Adaptogenic Mushrooms and Their Benefits

These mushrooms are a specific type of functional medicine that is beneficial for increasing the body’s resistance to biological, physical, and chemical stress.

Since each mushroom variety has different beneficial purposes, it is essential to look at each of them since it can help you determine which species suits your nootropic and health needs the best.

Some options provide an abundance of nutrients or a high amount of antioxidants. Others offer energetic experiences or improve mood.

We included relevant information about the most beneficial and popular types of mushrooms that have adaptogenic effects.

Lion’s mane

Lion’s mane mushrooms are known for their nootropic and neuroprotective wellness benefits. These Chinese fungi include nerve growth factor (NGF) boosting properties.

NGF is a bioprotein that can help to protect brain tissue from damage caused by stress, aging, and more (1). This contributes to its wide range of beneficial effects of Lion’s Mane that make it a popular adaptogen.

Lion’s mane can boost cognitive function and can help you focus on the task at hand. These nootropic effects can help to boost energy, creativity, focus, memory, and productivity.

In addition, the neuroprotective effects make it a healthy fungus with the ability to prevent cognitive degeneration, Alzheimer’s disease and improve brain function.

Lion’s mane also impacts immune support and the nervous system. This means that the lion’s mane can help to protect you from illnesses caused by bacteria and viruses by building your immunity by increasing the support of your intestinal immune system, which helps protect the body against pathogens.

Finally, the positive effects of Lion’s mane on brain health can help ward off depression and anxiety. This is because of its ability to regulate the emotional response system, help with stress management, and improve sleep.

Some people even like to use them for meditation. Altogether, Lion’s Mane mushrooms are an impressive addition to a nootropic stack or separately as a cognitive health supplement.

Reishi

Reishi mushrooms, also known as Ganoderma lucidum, have various health benefits and have been used as wellness medicine in China for centuries.

They can help to promote good blood sugar levels and reduce your LDL cholesterol levels.

This can help to prevent heart disease and other illnesses. In addition, reishi mushrooms also positively affect mental health, liver health, and the immune system.

Reishi mushrooms are also known as the mushroom of immortality because of their effects on the immune system. For immune support, the reishi mushroom can fight infections and increase white blood cell results.

Research shows that the immune support effects of reishi may be so strong that they can help to prevent cancer (2).

Reishi is a powerful adaptogenic mushroom that can help to reduce fatigue, improve well-being, help to improve mental health and negative issues associated with stress.

They even have the potential to reduce symptoms associated with depression and anxiety.

Finally, reishi mushrooms also contribute to better sleep. They can provide a sense of relaxation that can help both the quality and quantity of your sleep patterns.

These mental health benefits can also contribute to nootropic effects like better concentration which can help you improve your cognitive function and quality of life.

Cordyceps

Cordyceps are adaptogenic mushrooms that provide nootropic effects by boosting and maintaining energy levels. This is because they increase the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP).

Cordyceps mushrooms are a tremendous adaptogenic mushroom for maintaining oxygen levels and energy, especially during exercise (3).

Cordyceps can help to reduce mental and physical fatigue and even boost your strength and energy levels. They can increase your stamina and help you exercise for longer while remaining in a positive mood.

The energy effects of fatigue can keep you productive and improve your performance. In turn, you may even notice that you have lower levels of stress.

Cordyceps mushroom also contains potent antioxidants that fight against oxidative stress contributing to a host of different diseases.

The nutrients found in cordyceps can also help to lower inflammation. Thus, cordyceps mushrooms can be an excellent supplement for reducing the risk of developing heart disease and other health problems.

The anti-inflammatory effects may also help to reduce pain and improve overall health.

Many people use cordyceps mushrooms to boost their exercise performance, but the evidence indicates that they can provide an energy boost necessary for mental performance.

Finally, research finds that cordyceps mushrooms may help to improve sex drive.

Turkey Tail

Turkey tail is one of the most powerful adaptogenic mushrooms for immune support with antioxidant properties.

It has vital antiviral and antimicrobial compounds and can help to protect you against the common cold, the flu, and other illnesses and diseases. These effects are caused by polysaccharides that are great for boosting the immune system.

The polysaccharides in the turkey tail may also help to prevent cancer.

Research studies on cancer patients suggest that it is especially effective when combined with more traditional cancer medicine options like chemotherapy. One study even found that it was effective at fighting highly aggressive cancers (4).

Scientists believe that many of the properties of the turkey tail are related to the powerful antioxidants that it contains.

Turkey tail contains high amounts of flavonoids and phenols that can help to reduce the risk of diabetes and other diseases by keeping your cells healthy.

It also contains prebiotic compounds that help with gut health and digestion. Good digestion can also help with overall wellness.

Research indicates that these antioxidant properties may also help to reduce inflammation. This makes turkey tail an excellent adaptogen for combating pain, heart attack, and other ailments that can impact your well-being.

Chaga

Chaga is an adaptogenic mushroom that has several uses in medicine because it contains triterpenes. First, it is high in antioxidants and can help to fight free radicals.

In addition, it can help to regulate immune function. This is because Chaga helps to inhibit cytokines which can fight infection and inflammation (5).

According to one study, Chaga may even slow the growth of some cancers and may prevent cancer (6).

Chaga is one of the more common adaptogenic mushrooms because it lowers blood sugar and reduces blood pressure.

Because of this, it can be a healthy way to manage diabetes or protect against fatigue caused by sugar spikes and crashes. Chaga may even lower levels of bad LDL cholesterol.

One of the other ways that it can combat symptoms of stress is through its effect on inflammation. High stress can contribute to higher blood pressure.

Chaga can be beneficial for alleviating these symptoms associated with higher than normal anxiety or stress.

People also use Chaga extract for its beneficial effects on arthritis. The cytokines within this adaptogenic mushroom fight against inflammation and may help to ease the pain associated with arthritis.

It is a healthy alternative to addictive pain medicines that can cause drowsiness and mental fog while simultaneously reducing cortisol levels caused by high stress.

Maitake

Maitake mushrooms are high in nutrients like B vitamins, making them a healthy addition to your diet to improve wellness.

In addition, it can regulate lipid peroxidation activity, responsible for the health benefits of these fungi.

Maitake is a popular functional medicine because it can address the underlying cause of many illnesses.

These mushrooms may also aid in the treatment of diabetes. This is because it can help to regulate blood sugar by enhancing insulin sensitivity.

It is best to be careful when combining maitake with other diabetes medicine because it can lower blood sugar a lot.

Maitake mushrooms are also suitable for hypertension (7). This property is especially true if your high blood pressure is related to natural aging.

Another property of these medicinal mushrooms is their ability to fight against the stress of an aging body that can contribute to several health conditions.

Finally, there is some evidence that these mushrooms can be used as a functional medicine to aid in treating severe illnesses like cancer and HIV (8).

This makes it one of the best adaptogenic mushroom varieties for protecting the immune system and body from breaking down quickly as your age.

Shiitake

You have probably seen these natural adaptogens at your local grocery store. Shiitake mushrooms are a tasty variety of adaptogenic mushroom that provides people with some incredible health benefits.

They are rich in B vitamins, vitamin D, and zinc. They are easy to add to food to boost your health and to increase your nutrient consumption from natural sources.

They contain beta-glucans, eritadenine, and sterols which can help to lower cholesterol.

These compounds, particularly beta-glucans and high levels of antioxidant components, make shiitake mushrooms a superfood that can help to reverse the adverse effects of a poor diet.

Shiitake mushrooms can also provide anti-aging benefits related to declines immunity.

One study found that the addition of these adaptogens to food daily could reduce inflammation and boost immune function (9). This property is likely caused by the polysaccharides found in these adaptogenic mushrooms.

Finally, they can support good heart and liver health. Scientists recently found that shiitake mushrooms increased the production of compounds known to help with fatty liver disease.

They found shiitake mushrooms helped with liver problems more than button mushrooms used in functional medicine for that purpose.

This may be because of their ability to reduce fat storage and support maintaining a healthy weight.

How To Take Adaptogenic Mushrooms

There are a few different products that you can consume adaptogenic mushrooms to get the best health benefits. You can try to eat them added to your food. Some mushrooms taste better than others and are good with salads, sauces, and soups.

There are also supplements available that offer extract of one mushroom or a combination of adaptogens. These can be in multiple forms. They can be in capsules, powder, or liquid extracts.

Capsules are the most straightforward supplement form because you can swallow them to get the recommended dose.

Instead, powder form extract can be added to smoothies, coffee, juices, and more. The powder extract will have an earthy flavor that many find offers delicious drinking experiences.

The liquid form extracts can also be added to beverages or taken by mouth and chased with a beverage. With powders or liquid, make sure that you make the dose correctly every time.

Remember that different supplements offer different doses and blend more than one form or type. Choosing the best supplements, method of use, and form depends on your taste and desire.

Are Adaptogenic Mushrooms Safe To Use?

Research shows that adaptogenic mushroom health supplements are generally safe to use for most people.

However, some may cause side effects. Reishi, for example, can cause headaches and dizziness and should not be taken by anyone with a bleeding disorder or taking blood pressure medicine.

Since several effects and products often contain more than one type of mushroom, it is crucial to find more information.

Suppose you are taking prescription medicine or other chemicals, undergoing professional treatments, suffer from health conditions, or are pregnant or breastfeeding.

In that case, you must speak with your healthcare professional before consuming mushroom blends in any form. This will help you avoid side effects or adverse reactions.

The Takeaway

There are several forms and varieties of adaptogenic mushrooms. The best mushroom for sleep support will not be the same variety used for overall wellness.

However, all the types help fight against the damage that stressors can cause to the brain and body.

For example, Lion’s Mane also offers nootropic and brain health benefits and boosts cognition, memory, and has a calming effect.

Others, like turkey tail, can fight free radicals and help to reduce the risk of cancer.

If you feel like stress is causing your body and mental health harm or just want to improve your overall health, then adaptogenic mushrooms may be an excellent choice for wellness.