Nowadays, there is a lot of discussion about the use of medicinal mushrooms, and for good reason.
Several of the beneficial substances found in mushrooms can be employed to support the best possible health of various organs throughout the body.
Some, like reishi, maitake, or turkey tail, support the immune system, while others are primarily focused on the nervous system, which is what this article will discuss.
The benefits of the following medicinal mushroom species as a nootropic dietary supplement will be discussed.
A Lion's Mane (Hericeum erinaceus)
Chaga (Inotus obliquus) (Inotus obliquus)
Cordyceps (Cordyceps sinenis) (Cordyceps sinenis)
The Neurological System and Mushrooms
Over the past few decades, extensive study has been done to determine whether medicinal mushrooms may be used as nootropics, or drugs that improve brain function. The majority of this research focuses on one particular mushroom, the lion's mane (Hericeum erinaceus), which we'll discuss in more detail later.
There are a few additional mushrooms whose research has recently gained a lot of traction and which have the potential to improve other aspects of brain function as well.
The potential of medicinal mushrooms to work "bidirectionally"—that is, to either stimulate or inhibit physiological processes in the body depending on the situation—is one feature that really sets them apart.
This is much more complicated than it appears to be, and scientists have been baffled by it for many years.
This skill derives from a potent synergy present in the fruiting bodies of mushrooms. These advantages aren't caused by a single chemical; rather, a number of dozens, and occasionally even hundreds, of different compounds combine to have an overall positive impact on the body.
The main ways that mushrooms benefit the brain and nervous system are as follows:
- Encourage the regeneration of new nerve cells
- Combat the neuroinflammation that may cause brain cell aging
- Increase the use of oxygen in the brain and other nerve systems
- In the brain to mimic serotonin to support mood and sleep
Examining a Few Important Species of Nootropic Mushrooms
Lion's Mane is one (Hericeum erinaceus)
The distinctive "shaggy" appearance of the lion's mane mushroom, which resembles a white lion's mane, defines it. It serves as a meal and a dietary supplement. It's by far the most well-known variety of nootropic mushroom we have.
This fungus grows in conifer trees in colder regions like Canada, Northern Europe, and Russia, but it can also be grown on wood shavings anywhere in the world, making it a widely accessible supplement.
Much of the cognitive advantages of lion's mane are due to a class of aromatic chemicals called hericinones. It has been demonstrated that these substances increase brain nerve growth factor (NGF) .
NGF, as its name suggests, promotes the body's neurological system to produce new nerve cells.
This has a significant effect since the spinal cord and brain do not regenerate damaged nerve cells. Even a small increase in NGF levels can have a significant protective effect on the brain, especially when dealing with neuro-degenerative diseases.
Lion's mane is used by people to improve memory and concentration, combat the natural degenerative effects of aging, and protect the brain from the damaging effects of stress.
Lion's mane also has a variety of other health benefits, the most of which are related to its capacity to promote brain function and lower inflammation.
These are some of the lion's mane's advantages:
- Increases mental function
- Eliminates harmful germs
- Combats cancer
- Reduces blood cholesterol levels and controls blood pressure
- Provides cardiovascular system protection
- Promotes liver health
Chaga (Inonotus obliquus)
In chilly regions of the world, birch trees are home to the fungus chaga. Not your usual "mushroom," for example. It looks dark and has a very rough feel.
Although this mushroom isn't frequently mentioned as a nootropic supplement, there are several key reasons why it's excellent for promoting brain health, particularly when taken over an extended period of time as a supplement or in the form of a tea.
Chaga is a strong immunomodulator and is regarded by herbal medicine experts as one of the best in the world for controlling the immune system. It is the ideal illustration of a mushroom that benefits the body in both directions.
It boosts the immune system when it is underperforming. Chaga is instead used to lower immune activity in other situations, such as autoimmune illness, when an overactive immune system is causing inflammation and cell deterioration.
This is tremendously helpful in terms of cognitive wellness. Many autoimmune-related inflammatory responses of the blood-brain barrier cause neurodegenerative diseases. As this vital barrier breaks down over time as a result of inflammation, the brain becomes more vulnerable to invasion by dangerous blood-borne substances. Memory, focus, and executive functioning may suffer as a result, and vital brain nerve cells may die as a result.
Chaga serves as a "preserver" rather than a "booster" for cognitive performance in this way. It functions as a prophylactic measure to maintain the brain in good condition throughout life.
The fact that chronic inflammation in the brain has been linked to mood problems  makes this anti-inflammatory action extremely important.
Cordyceps (Cordyceps sinensis)
Due to its peculiar life cycle, the cordyceps mushroom is better known as the "zombie fungus". Insects infected by this fungus behave unpredictably and either tunnel underground or ascend to the tallest leaf (depending on the species). The insect then perishes, and the fungus uses the bug's body as sustenance.
This mushroom is a fantastic health supplement for both athletes eager to push their bodies even further and those with cognitive impairment.
Aside from its impact on boosting the immune system and reducing inflammation, cordyceps offers many of the same health advantages as other medicinal mushrooms. But, there is one more benefit that makes cordyceps stand out from the crowd.
The body's capacity to utilize oxygen is enhanced by cordyceps mushrooms, according to recent studies . While the majority of the study on this effect focuses on its use during exercise, there is a lot of potential for it to have a significant positive impact on cognitive function as well. On this particular interaction, more investigation is required.
Using oxygen is a crucial part of brain function. We start to feel dizzy, brain-dull, and exhausted if our brains aren't effectively using the oxygen available to us. Hospitals will administer oxygen to patients who are really stressed out or exhausted in order to improve their attitude and consciousness. Even casinos frequently decide to increase the oxygen flow in the space to make their customers feel happier and more alert.
Conclusions Regarding the Use of Nootropic Mushrooms
We can benefit greatly from mushrooms as food, supplements, and food. The influence of these species on the brain has recently garnered a lot of attention. The largest amount of interest in this type of compound is for immunological function, such as during cancer, autoimmune disease, and for protecting the body from inflammation and infectious disease.
By preventing neuroinflammation, thwarting immune cell infiltration, and preventing toxic substances from peripheral circulation from accessing the brain, mushrooms like chaga may provide a potent protective impact on the brain.
Furthermore supporting neuroinflammation, cordyceps may also enhance our brain's capacity to utilize oxygen to fuel energy-intensive cognitive functions.
Other types of mushrooms, such as lion's mane, are more direct in their stimulation of neurotransmitters like NGF, which encourages the brain to repair damaged or lost nerve cells more quickly and thoroughly. This may have a significant effect on our capacity for executive functions, including higher thought, memory, and other skills.
There is a lot of intriguing promise in the quickly expanding field of using medicinal mushrooms to improve cognitive function. Keep checking back!
- Ma, B. J., Shen, J. W., Yu, H. Y., Ruan, Y., Wu, T. T., & Zhao, X. (2010). Hericenones and erinacines: stimulators of nerve growth factor (NGF) biosynthesis in Hericium erinaceus. Mycology, 1(2), 92-98.
- Friedman, M. (2015). Chemistry, nutrition, and health-promoting properties of Hericium erinaceus (lion’s mane) mushroom fruiting bodies and mycelia and their bioactive compounds. Journal of agricultural and food chemistry, 63(32), 7108-7123.
- Walker, A. K., Kavelaars, A., Heijnen, C. J., & Dantzer, R. (2014). Neuroinflammation and comorbidity of pain and depression. Pharmacological reviews, 66(1), 80-101.
- Nagata, A., Tajima, T., & Uchida, M. (2006). Supplemental anti-fatigue effects of Cordyceps sinensis (Tochu-Kaso) extract powder during three stepwise exercise of human. Japanese Journal of Physical Fitness and Sports Medicine, 55(Supplement), S145-S152.