Despite efforts to de-stigmatize mental health in recent years, anxiety disorders remain the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults aged 18 and older every year. With numbers like these, it's no wonder folks have been turning away from the mental health industry and focusing their attention on plant-based medicines instead.
- Medicinal mushrooms are thought to offer unique therapeutic benefits that regular mushrooms can't provide
- Some functional mushrooms may also function as adaptogens, helping the body adapt to stressors
- While not considered a functional mushroom, Amanita Muscaria has been studied for its anxiolytic properties as well as its role as an agonist of GABA receptors
- Reishi is commonly used in Traditional Chinese medicine; modern-day studies have identified its positive effect on mental health with a particular focus on alleviating fatigue related to chronic illness
- Lion's mane is thought to prevent the decrease of serotonin and dopamine, mediating antidepressant-like effects
- Research into the effects of cordyceps mushrooms has identified their anti-inflammatory and adaptogenic effects
- While Chaga mushrooms are known to target immune function, research suggests that Chaga may indirectly affect anxiety and stress levels while treating the adrenal system
- Psilocybin mushrooms have similarly been researched for their ability to ease anxiety and fear in terminally ill patients
- Recent research into psilocybin has identified how it can significantly and quickly reduce feelings of hopelessness, anxiety, and more while helping individuals with treatment-resistant major depressive disorders
Medicinal mushrooms have drastically changed the conversation around mental health, offering potential beneficial effects to those looking to alleviate their anxiety. But navigating the fungi world can be intimidating, to say the least.
Luckily, we've compiled the 5 best mushrooms for anxiety below to help you navigate this complex terrain. Because at Clean Remedies, we're committed to educating our customers on the value of plant-based medicines, especially when it comes to your mental health and overall well-being.
Keep reading to find out more about how these mushrooms may reduce stress, anxiety, as well as other mental health conditions. We bet you'll be surprised at some of the findings.
#1. Amanita Muscaria Mushroom
Amanita muscaria mushrooms are often mistaken for "magic mushrooms." But rather than psilocybin, these mushrooms contain muscimol and ibotenic acid.
Both compounds can produce psychedelic effects, all of which are thought to possess therapeutic potential. That being said, as a psychedelic mushroom, amanita muscaria is not often categorized alongside other functional mushroom products.
But recent research suggests that amanita muscaria mushrooms may actually reduce anxiety and stress due to their anxiolytic properties.
Amanita Muscaria And The Central Nervous System
Amanita muscaria is a medicinal mushroom that has been used throughout history. In fact, the earliest written record of the amanita mushroom can be found in the Sanskrit hymns contained in Rig Veda.
But only recently have researchers managed to deduce amanita muscaria as a potent agonist of GABA receptors. GABA receptors are considered the chief inhibitory receptors for the central nervous system.
And when activated, muscimol is thought to suppress the activity of the central nervous system, effectively reducing anxiety. Additional research suggests that muscimol may also reduce stress in the body caused by neuropathic pain.
That being said, research remains ongoing into how amanita muscaria mushrooms may truly benefit individuals who experience anxiety, chronic pain, and more. But findings thus far have plenty of folks excited at the prospect of utilizing these medicinal mushrooms for their potential benefits.
#2. Reishi Mushroom
Reishi mushrooms are often dubbed the "mushroom of immortality." Why? Because they have been known to exhibit potent anti-inflammatory, stress-relieving, and immune-supporting properties for centuries.
Still, modern scrutiny has continued to study this famed mushroom for its potential beneficial properties. And, much to the dismay of pessimists, such findings suggest that these initial claims seem to stack up.
Reishi And Chronic Illness-Related Fatigue
Clinical trials involving women with fibromyalgia saw participants trending upwards in improved mood, happiness, and life satisfaction after taking reishi mushrooms daily for six weeks. Additionally, participants reported a significant reduction in depressive behaviors.
Furthermore, another study on these medicinal mushrooms saw significant improvements in cancer patients with regard to their subjective well-being, with reduced anxiety, stress, and cancer-related fatigue.
From these studies, researchers were also able to identify the presence of 5-hydroxy-L-tryptophan (5-HTP) in the reishi mushroom. 5-HTP is directly linked to serotonin, the neurotransmitter that can be somewhat dysregulated among individuals with anxiety, depression, as well as other mood disorders.
#3. Lion's Mane Mushroom
If you know anything about functional mushrooms, then you've definitely heard about Lion's mane mushrooms before. Lion's mane is known to benefit brain function as it contains bioactive compounds called erinacines.
Erinacines support nerve growth factors like BDNF, or brain-derived neurotrophic factor, effectively promoting hippocampal neurogenesis. If that sounds like a lot of heady stuff (pun intended), don't worry.
Let's break it down below.
Lion's Mane And Dopamine Levels
Hormones like serotonin and dopamine play key roles in our overall mood regulation. In fact, researchers believe that it is low levels of serotonin and dopamine that directly affect individuals' anxiety and depression.
But Lion's mane is known to reduce the activity of pro-inflammatory molecules, essentially preventing the decrease of serotonin and dopamine. In fact, animal research suggests that Lion's mane was effective in reducing anxiety while also mediating antidepressant-like effects in stressed-out mice.
And in human clinical trials, Lion's mane was found to improve mood regulation while simultaneously reducing anxiety. Suffice it to say that all clinical trials associated with these functional mushrooms effectively proved the amazing potential of Lion's mane.
#4. Cordyceps Mushroom
Cordyceps is a fungi genus that contains over 700 species. But its most well-known mushrooms (and most-studied mushrooms) are Cordyceps sinesis and Cordyceps militarist.
While these medicinal mushrooms have often been used to activate energy, stimulate stamina, and prolong endurance, studies still recognize the mushroom's anti-inflammatory and adaptogenic effects which are thought to alleviate anxiety.
In fact, research suggests that cordyceps are able to exhibit such anti-depressive activity by stimulating certain receptor sites within the central nervous system. While these medicinal mushrooms are often considered potentially beneficial for those suffering from mental health conditions, human research remains ongoing to prove that fact.
Cordyceps And Inflammation
What we do know about cordyceps has to do with inflammation. Both human and animal studies suggest that cordyceps may help support a healthy inflammation response, effectively alleviating anxiety and stress.
Furthermore, animal research identified that these types of mushrooms may even keep blood sugar levels steady, seemingly supporting a positive mood in mice.
That being said, further evidence is needed to support these potential benefits for humans. But findings thus far have us optimistic about the role cordyceps mushroom supplements may play in potentially regulating and/or treating a variety of mental health conditions.
#5. Chaga Mushroom
Chaga mushroom supplements typically target the immune system, acting as both an anti-inflammatory as well as an antioxidant. But that hasn't stopped researchers from investigating this mushroom's potential effect on anxiety and other mental health conditions.
Chaga And The Immune System
Chaga mushrooms are particularly high in superoxide dismutase, or SUD, an enzyme that fights oxidative damage. It is believed that such efforts may also improve stress levels by virtue of targeting the adrenal system.
Staving off fatigue, experts believe that Chaga mushrooms may indirectly affect high anxiety levels while ultimately targeting the immune system as well as the adrenal system.
But when it comes to mushrooms for anxiety, cordyceps, reishi, and Lion's mane are still considered the most effective by researchers based on their findings.
A Note On Psilocybin Mushrooms
While we've focused more on functional mushrooms in this blog post, we'd be remiss if we didn't mention the amazing gains research into magic mushrooms has seen in relation to anxiety and mental health.
For those who may be unaware, magic mushrooms refer to psilocybin, a drug that occurs naturally in mushrooms that can produce hallucinogenic effects.
While pioneers at the forefront of psychedelic research clarify that the experience of psychedelics is not necessarily pleasure-inducing, it has also been recorded that low doses of psychedelics like psilocybin may offer potential therapeutic effects.
The use of psilocybin can be traced back to several Indigenous cultures. But only recently has psilocybin entered the conversation as a potential treatment for those experiencing anxiety and other mental health disorders.
Potential Mental Health Benefits of Magic Mushrooms
Traditionally, administering and taking psilocybin was meant to ease anxiety and fear in people with terminal illnesses. But more recently, researchers have identified how psilocybin may positively affect those dealing with generalized anxiety, depression, or emotional trauma.
A 2016 study, in particular, found that psilocybin could significantly reduce feelings of hopelessness, anxiety, and depression in individuals who had been diagnosed with cancer. And a 2020 study identified how psilocybin could help those with a treatment-resistant major depressive disorder.
While research into psilocybin remains ongoing, it is significant to note these major strides that researchers have identified.
FAQs About Functional Mushrooms
What Are The Best Mushrooms For Stress And Anxiety?
While research into Chaga purports that these functional fungi may ease anxiety indirectly, Reishi, Lion's Mane, and Cordyceps remain the most recommended mushrooms for stress and anxiety.
That being said, always consult with your doctor before taking mushroom supplements to ensure that no interactions will occur with your other medications.
Furthermore, these holistic fungi may not produce immediate effects. But with consistency, they may offer potential therapeutic benefits over time.
What Is The Best Psychedelic For Anxiety?
Psilocybin remains the most studied psychedelic drug that may offer anti-anxiety effects. That being said, psilocybin-assisted therapy is only recommended in states where psilocybin has been legalized and remains under the supervision of a medical professional.
Amanita Muscaria, on the other hand, is also a psychedelic mushroom that may contain anxiolytic properties. Amanita Muscaria remains legal across the US, except for in Louisiana.
Are Psychedelic Mushrooms Legal?
Not all psychedelic mushrooms are legal. Psilocybin, which remains the most studied psychedelic drug, has only been legalized in a few US states but remains federally illegal.
If you're looking for psychedelics that may offer anxiolytic effects, Amanita Muscaria may be the type of psychedelic you're looking for. When purchasing, ensure that the product has been third-party lab tested so as to ensure the safety and efficacy of the product.
Are Regular Mushrooms Good For Anxiety?
Regular mushrooms may be able to offer healthy nutrients, but typically lack the bioactive compounds that medicinal mushrooms possess.
That being said, shiitake, morel, chanterelle, portobello, and oyster mushrooms have many positive effects as they contain high levels of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
The Bottom Line
While anxiety and other mental health conditions affect so many individuals, it's hopeful to see the various types of plant medicines available that may ease symptoms.
At Clean Remedies, we're excited to be at the forefront of new plant-based developments that may foster improved mental health for all!
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