How to Choose the Best Mushroom Supplements for Brain Health And Cognitive Function
The deterioration of cognitive abilities has a devastating impact on quality of life, particularly in older individuals who are possibly contending with a loss of mobility. Declining cognitive function can lead to memory issues, trouble with clear thinking, depression and anxiety, and a diminished ability to focus on tasks. When people begin to have difficulty engaging in the activities they love, this decline in function can become an enormous burden.
Many people turn to supplements to enhance their cognitive function but how can someone reasonably assess the value of a product when it isn’t supported by scientific backing? How can you know it’s safe?
Medicinal mushrooms — also referred to as adaptogenic mushrooms — are one supplement that doesn’t stumble over the usual hurdles. To start, there’s legitimate science supporting the effects of medicinal mushrooms and these non-addictive, non-hallucinatory mushrooms are 100% organic and safe to consume.
If you’re on the fence about the benefits of medicinal mushrooms for brain health — this article is for you.
Medicinal Mushrooms: What Are They and How Do They Help?
Medicinal mushrooms haven’t received much attention in North American supplement circles until recently. Though the “medicinal” tag suggests that you need a prescription — visit any health food store and you’ll likely encounter a medicinal mushroom product, often sold among the vitamins and in the produce section too. You might have already eaten them without even realizing it; Shiitake and maitake are both shown to elicit positive effects on the body but are also common ingredients in culinary dishes.
There are close to a dozen popular medicinal mushrooms that are regularly sold in North America, and they offer unique functions. However, what they all have in common are adaptogens which are found in mushrooms and some herbs too. Adaptogens interact with our central nervous system to help our bodies prepare for stress. By priming the body, medicinal mushrooms help people remain calm in stressful circumstances rather than working as short-term treatment.
Medicinal mushrooms are incredibly versatile delivering whole body benefits:
- Immune support
- Anti stress
- Regulate blood sugar
- Cognitive function
- Nervous system support
- Energy support
The effects experienced by taking medicinal mushrooms are largely dependent on which types of mushrooms you consume. For those who are looking to enhance their cognitive function, there’s 3 key medicinal mushrooms for brain health.
The Best Medicinal Mushrooms for Brain Health
If you stumbled upon chaga mushrooms in a birch forest you’d never want to eat them as they have an appearance similar to burnt tree bark. Fortunately, chaga’s unappealing exterior conceals incredible adaptogens and a host of antioxidants. Chaga is thought to reduce inflammation, boost immune function, and prevent neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s Disease.
The combination of adaptogens and anti-inflammatories is ideal for enhancing your brain’s function. Chaga can also help users relax, allowing people to navigate stressful times and remain focused while dealing with stress and anxiety.
Reishi is lauded as an adaptogenic mushroom that prepares the body for stress response but reishi also has anti-inflammatory properties and is known to offer a number of health benefits; for centuries reishi has featured in traditional medicines as an anti-aging compound, thought to function as immune booster and to help with insomnia. The combination of reduced inflammation and a proper sleep cycle can help people function better in their daily lives.
What’s most desired in Reishi mushrooms for brain health are the potential benefits for people who suffer from anxiety and depression. Studies show long-term reishi consumption is associated with improved mood and this can help those with depression to feel better in their daily lives, reducing the effects of depression.
Lion’s Mane takes the top spot for most people who use medicinal mushrooms for brain health: Lion’s Mane contain erinacine and hericenone compounds which are important to brain cell growth and while many supplements claim that they can improve cognitive function, Lion’s Mane effects are actually supported by medical research: A study on mice found that eating Lion’s mane improved memory retention. Human studies in Japan have supported these studies showing that older adults displayed increased cognitive function after taking Chaga Lion’s mane mushrooms for 16 weeks.
Many people who eat Lion’s Mane mushrooms daily report enhanced clarity and focus. And the benefits of these functional mushrooms are wide-reaching — Lion’s Mane mushrooms have anti-cancer properties, potentially lower blood pressure, regulate blood sugar and help with digestion. Lastly, these adaptogenic mushrooms might help regular users who suffer from anxiety and depression.
The Most Common Mushroom Supplements
The first thing that new customers notice when shopping for medicinal mushrooms is just how many different products are available. You can shop by mushroom type and focus on a specific mushroom for your desired effects or shop for a multi-mushroom blend for a variety of different benefits.
Customers also have the luxury of choosing their method of application. While you can certainly buy raw mushrooms in some areas and cook with them or consume them whole, there are plenty of high-quality mushroom supplements desired for effortless consumption. Such products are typically easier to incorporate into a daily routine and are relatively cost-effective.
Coffee is the go-to morning product for most working people. For many of us, coffee is one of the few joys of waking up in the morning, essential for energy and focus. Naturally, mushroom coffees are ideal for integrating into your morning routine if you’re a regular coffee drinker and the best products are great tasting too. You can purchase mushroom coffees as whole beans, grounds, and in instant coffee packs.
Mushroom powder works well for people who prefer to mix things themselves. You can add mushroom powder to coffee or tea, smoothies, or use it as an ingredient for baked goods. Likewise, you can simply mix mushroom powder with water and drink it.
Mushroom supplements are also available as oils. These oil tinctures combine a carrier oil and mushroom extract for beverage infusion or sublingual application.
Assessing High-Quality Medicinal Mushroom Products
If you’re new to mushroom supplements, then there’s some key traits you should look for to spot the difference between high quality mushroom products and overpriced, underperforming products. When you shop look for these qualities:
- Organic: All-natural ingredients. Avoid mushroom supplements that contain artificial ingredients.
- Mushroom Extract Quantity: Mushroom extract is measured in milligrams. There’s a significant gap in potency between some product types and brands, so always check the milligram content on the packaging before you buy.
- Mushroom Type: All medicinal mushrooms are high in adaptogens and antioxidants but if you’re shopping for a specific purpose then you’ll need the right kind of mushrooms. For brain health, stick with the mushroom types listed above for best results: Lion’s Mane, Reishi, and Chaga.
Medicinal mushrooms are a unique tool for people who desire enhanced cognitive function and for disease prevention. These mushrooms are safe for daily consumption and cost-effective with a range of different potencies and price points for all budgets. Medicinal mushrooms offer an opportunity to augment your brain function without a prescription; there are many pharmaceuticals that provide similar benefits but come with potentially serious side effects.
Whether you’re seeking an edge in a poker game or enhanced focus during long meetings, medicinal mushrooms are the perfect product for a cognitive boost.