What Are Adaptogenic Mushrooms? Risks, Benefits, and More

What Are Adaptogenic Mushrooms? Risks, Benefits, and More featured image

Products containing adaptogenic mushrooms have grown increasingly popular in the health and wellness sector, ranging from capsules to protein powders.

Adaptogenic mushrooms are not only a fantastic way to improve adaptability to stress, but they also have several health benefits.

This post covers everything you need to know about adaptogenic mushrooms, including the various types, potential advantages, and possible drawbacks.

What are adaptogenic mushrooms?

Adaptogenic mushrooms are a type of mushroom that has been shown to help your body handle stress. Some individuals use them as part of their natural health regimen.

They’re not the same as hallucinogenic or “magical” mushrooms, and they don’t affect the mind or perception.

What Do Adaptogens Do For You?

In general, an adaptogen is a substance that helps to reduce the harmful effects of stress on the body.

Adaptogens help the body resist physical, biological, and chemical stress, assist with stress management, and protect against stress-related damage.

The stress response of the body is a complicated phenomenon that involves many bodily components, such as the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. This is the body’s main stress response mechanism.

The HPA axis’s main purpose is to release glucocorticoids, including cortisol. Stress hormones are steroid chemicals that stimulate the stress response.

The HPA axis, as well as other important stress-response mediators, is influenced by adaptogens. They improve resistance to stress and promote recovery and homeostasis — or stability — in the body by doing so.

Adaptogenic qualities have been found in a variety of plants and fungi, including some mushrooms.

Types of Adaptogenic Mushrooms and Adaptogenic Mushroom Benefits

Some species of mushrooms have been shown in studies to improve the body’s stress response.

It’s crucial to note that the words “medicinal” and “adaptogenic” are not synonymous. Many mushrooms have medicinal properties, including anti-inflammatory and immunostimulating effects.

The term adaptogenic refers to how a substance may affect the body’s reaction to stress. The following mushrooms might have adaptogenic effects.

Cordyceps

People have investigated cordyceps for its potential to reduce the influence of stress on the body. However, human studies are limited.

According to some studies in rats, Cordyceps sinensis may lower stress-causing indicators and improve stress resistance, such as forced swimming.

Researchers also conducted a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of 18 men to assess the impact of combining Cordyceps sinensis and Rhodiola crenulata, an adaptogenic plant, on high-altitude training in 2014.

Rhodiola crenulata and Cordyceps were found to improve stress reaction and tiredness levels in healthy individuals when taken for two weeks, according to a study published this month.

Because the researchers combined Cordyceps sinensis and Rhodiola crenulata in the study, they can’t be sure of the compounds’ effects alone.

A third study, which gave participants Cordyceps with another variety of fungus called Ganoderma lucidum, discovered that the combination might aid athletes avoid the physical stress of overtraining.

However, these findings are encouraging; more high-quality research is required to understand how Cordyceps might aid the body’s response to stress.

Lion’s mane

Lion’s Mane, also known as Hericium erinaceus, is another adaptogenic fungus that is supposed to have beneficial effects. Lion’s mane extract has been found in studies on rodents to aid in the reversal of stress-related changes to neurotransmitters including dopamine and serotonin.

It also lowers levels of the inflammatory chemicals interleukin 6 (IL-6) and tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α), which rise in response to stress.

Furthermore, it has been discovered to restore stress-induced BDNF downregulation in mice.

Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is a protein essential to brain function. Low levels of BDNF have been linked to stress and sadness.

However, lion’s mane research is still in its early stages, and scientists need to conduct further studies on humans.

Reishi

Ganoderma lucidum, or reishi, has been shown to have adaptogenic effects. The adrenal glands are aided by reishi. These secrete cortisol, a stress hormone that aids the body in responding to events such as illness and injury.

A small study in male athletes revealed that combining reishi and Cordyceps helped to protect against stress-related damage caused by overtraining on the bike.

According to a 2020 rodent research, reishi therapy reduced stress-induced brain inflammation in rats exposed to low oxygen levels and protected against nerve damage and memory loss.

Reishi’s capacity to shield against a variety of stresses, including low oxygen levels and cold exposure, may help people acclimate to high elevations and protect them from mountain sickness caused by low oxygen levels, according to researchers.

In addition, reishi has been found to benefit anxiety and muscle cell damage caused by stress in rats.

Adaptogenic Mushroom Side Effects

Lion’s mane, Cordyceps, and reishi mushrooms have shown to be quite safe and well-tolerated when used in pill form.

Adaptogenic mushroom supplements are available in a range of dosages and forms, including capsules, tinctures, teas, and powders. However, certain mushrooms have been linked to adverse effects, according to some research. Furthermore, certain mushrooms should not be used by various groups of people.

Reishi, for example, might induce side effects such as dizziness and a headache. People who should not use it include those with bleeding disorders, people taking blood pressure lowering medication, and women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.

There have also been two documented cases of liver toxicity linked to reishi powder ingestion, as well as allergic reactions to lion’s mane.

It’s crucial to remember that most adaptogen pills contain more than one chemical. These mushrooms may be found in adaptogenic supplements that include other herbs with adaptogenic effects.

These include holy basil, ginseng, Rhodiola rosea, Withania somnifera, Schisandra chinensis, Andrographis paniculata, Astragalus, and Eleutherococcus senticosus.

It is not harmful to take more than one adaptogenic herb or mushroom at the same time. Some adaptogenic herbs, on the other hand, might produce unwanted side effects and interfere with common drugs.

Astragalus membranaceus, for example, can interact with a variety of prescription medicines, including blood-thinning and blood-pressure lowering medications. Meanwhile, Andrographis paniculata may react with anti-inflammatory drugs and chemotherapy medications.

Furthermore, some of these herbs might produce adverse effects including tiredness, headache, nausea, and severe allergic reactions. If you want to play around with adaptogens like adaptogenic mushrooms, make sure to talk to your doctor first to ensure the supplement is safe and appropriate.

Should you try adaptogenic mushroom products?

If you’re interested in adaptogens, talk to your doctor first. Although certain adaptogenic mushrooms aren’t harmful for healthy individuals, they aren’t a good or safe choice for everyone.

There’s also the possibility of negative effects with taking adaptogenic herbal formulations that contain a lot of components marketed for their adaptogenic properties. If you’re interested in using mushrooms or herbs for their adaptogenic qualities, it’s advisable to work with an expert healthcare professional.

Additionally, although there is some evidence that adaptogenic mushrooms can help with stress management, human research is lacking at this time. Scientists will need to conduct more well-designed studies in order to fully understand the impact of adaptogenic mushrooms on stress response.

Certain vitamins, for example, may assist with the alleviation of stress symptoms and the reduction of its effects on the body, but remember to include other stress-reduction techniques in your approach.

Adaptogenic supplements, on the other hand, have not been demonstrated to be significantly more effective in reducing stress than identifying the source of stress in your life, getting enough sleep, eating a nutritious diet, and utilizing stress-reduction methods like therapy, massage, exercise, and meditation.

Furthermore, adaptogenic supplements containing mushrooms may be quite pricey. They also frequently include proprietary mixtures that don’t disclose the doses of each component. This implies that you could be taking in really tiny amounts of adaptogenic mushrooms, which means they might have little impact on your stress levels.

If you’re feeling a lot of stress and want to learn how to reduce stress in your life, see your doctor.

Conclusion

Some mushrooms, such as reishi, Cordyceps, and lion’s mane, may have adaptogenic effects and help to reduce the adverse effects of stress in the body. However, there is little research in this area, and researchers need to conduct more well-designed studies to fully understand how these mushrooms impact human stress response.

If you’re interested in trying adaptogens, such as adaptogenic mushrooms, first talk to your doctor to ensure they’re safe and optimal for your needs.

About the author

Bruce Wilson

I've studied Mycology and Forest Pathology and love creating content to help other learn more about my passion. Follow along as I continue to explore the amazing world of functional fungi!

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