Opinion by Jake Crossman
Since the dawn of humanity people have been using mushrooms for various different health reasons – the ancient Greeks used them for their powerful anti-inflammatory purposes and to cauterize wounds. The alchemist Tao Hongjing from the 5th century asked what mushrooms are best for the brain, and wrote about how they helped him survive in the alps’ cold climate. This was the first foray into the world of holistic practices using mushrooms.
Only recently have the healing powers of mushrooms been brought back into the spotlight of modern holistic medicine as a serious alternative to some pharmaceuticals.
Let’s explore what mushrooms are best for the brain and how they can help you live a potentially happier, and healthier life!
What Mushrooms Are Best For The Brain: Types Of Mushrooms
The scientific literature on mushrooms is exceptionally vast, as there are about 1,400 different kinds of mushrooms that have been discovered and written about. One of the reasons that mushrooms might have gotten a bad rap for such a long time since the dawn of modern medicine is that they can cause ephemeral experiences. Some mushrooms are hallucinogens, some are deadly to eat, and some just don’t do anything.
In this blog, we will discuss the mushrooms that are best for the brain’s health and increase mental clarity.
Ganoderma Lucidum or Reishi is a type of mushroom that is used for its incredible power and healing properties. It was traditionally used in ancient Asia as an aid to longevity, health, and spiritual growth.
“The name Reishi was first recognized more than 2400 years ago by the herbalist Shen Nong from the Shu Dynasty and it was then classified as a “superior herb”, which means that it can be taken constantly without any side effects . It has been used for the prevention as well as the treatment of various diseases, such as chronic hepatitis, nephritis, high blood pressure, bronchitis, and tumorigenic afflictions (NCBI).”
There are currently over 2,000 different types of reishi mushrooms but only six of them are being researched on a consistent basis for health benefits.
Of those six different types, they are filled with a multitude of healthy compounds such as polysaccharides and triterpenoids for anti-inflammatory effects. The reishi mushroom is also filled with nucleotides, fatty acids, and proteins that are all good for improving overall health.
Currently, the reishi mushroom is being used in modern medicine as a treatment for cancer patients recovering from chemotherapy as well as those suffering from weakened immune systems. This is also partly because of the powerful antioxidant effects these mushrooms have when consumed.
One of the most widely known mushrooms in the health world is Hericium Erinaceus or lion’s mane. Lion’s mane mushroom has been shown to have powerful antioxidant effects as well as help those struggling with depression and anxiety.
Since the 1950’s depression and anxiety have been treated with over-the-counter medicine that is pushed out by large pharmaceutical companies. While these kinds of antidepressant medications do help they don’t fix the issues at the core. Lion’s mane aids in changing the composition of the body and brain to fight depression at its core.
There was a study done over the course of 8 weeks in which participants who were all clinically depressed and suffering from falling asleep were given lion’s mane mushrooms every day to be taken orally. At the end of the study, the researchers concluded that taking the lion’s mane significantly reduced anxiety and depression as well as drastically improved sleep (NCBI).
These kinds of studies will only continue, and the results will improve with time as the mushroom is tweaked to be the most effective it can be in treating these kinds of diseases.
Inonotus obliquus otherwise known as Chaga is technically more of a fungus that falls under the category of mushroom. It is hard and brittle and is found in parts of the US, Ukraine, and Canada.
This fungus dates back to the early 20th century when farmers in Ukraine and Russia would crush the Chaga up and put it in their coffee for flavor since they could not afford tea leaves. It wasn’t long after that the benefits of taking Chaga were discovered by doctors and scientists who noticed the effects that it had.
Chaga has been shown to help with a variety of different things such as inflammation, stress, and anxiety, but the primary research being done on the effects of Chaga now is oncological. Several studies have shown that Chaga has incredible healing properties that can fight cancer cells and aid in recovery.
Chaga is touted as one of the best fungi to consume regularly just because of how incredible the properties it has actually are, as well as how well it fights off illness and bacteria.
What Mushrooms Are Best For Your Brain: Final Thoughts
I think that the future of holistic medicine looks incredibly bright. Things like CBG, and CBD, are being taken a lot more seriously by the general population as people are realizing how much more healthy and powerful these holistic practices are for you than traditional medicine.
Mushrooms are no stranger to this either – the holistic world has embraced the power of taking mushrooms for years and now they are finally entering the mainstream as an incredible solution to a lot of everyday problems.
Taking any combination of the mushrooms above as well as any other safe medicinal mushrooms could drastically improve your everyday life. As more and more different kinds of mushrooms are discovered and researched the more they will become mainstream. Soon, the entire world will understand the powerful benefits of using mushrooms to improve your health.
In closing, to answer the question of what mushrooms are best for you brain – the answer is almost all of them will benefit your brain strength in one way or another. Whether that is through helping with depression and anxiety, or being able to fight of certain diseases that can attack the body. Your brain will take nutrients from all of these mushrooms and utilize them to their full capacity.
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Stamets, Paul, and Heather Zwickey. “Medicinal Mushrooms: Ancient Remedies Meet Modern Science.” Integrative Medicine (Encinitas, Calif.), InnoVision Professional Media, Feb. 2014, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4684114/#:~:text=Our%20ancestors%20have%20used%20mushrooms,inflammatory%20and%20for%20cauterizing%20wounds.
Chong, Pit Shan, et al. “Therapeutic Potential of Hericium Erinaceus for Depressive Disorder.” International Journal of Molecular Sciences, MDPI, 25 Dec. 2019, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6982118/.
Cör, Darija, et al. “Antitumour, Antimicrobial, Antioxidant and Antiacetylcholinesterase Effect of Ganoderma Lucidum Terpenoids and Polysaccharides: A Review.” Molecules (Basel, Switzerland), MDPI, 13 Mar. 2018, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6017764/.