Try These 2 Mushrooms For Anxiety and How To Use Them

Try These 2 Mushrooms For Anxiety and How To Use Them

Feeling blue? Functional mushrooms to the rescue. 

Medicinal mushrooms have been trusted as natural remedies for all that ails us for thousands of years. If you’re on the hunt for the best mushroom for anxiety and depression, look no further than reishi (Ganoderma lucidum) and lion’s mane (Hericium erinaceus), two mood-boosting power players of the natural world’s fungi pharmacopeia.


Relax with Reishi 

The reishi mushroom was regarded as a powerful adaptogen in ancient texts as early as the year 1400 AD, and has been relied upon to support a tranquil state for at least as long. Modern science supports the longstanding belief that in addition to its many wellness benefits, reishi could prove a powerful source of natural anxiety relief and serve as a novel antidepressant. 


Of reishi’s over 400 bioactive compounds, some of the most beneficial for helping to ease anxiety are triterpenoids, a class of metabolites with a distinct molecular structure. These natural compounds have been widely studied, and have shown the capacity to slow the brain’s aging process and reduce anxiety and depression in mice. 

Triterpenoids, found in high concentration in reishi, are used widely as a sleep aid. A 2016 study of plant-derived triterpenoids demonstrated the ability to increase the length and quality of sleep by triggering a sedative effect on Gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA) neuroreceptors. These same neural pathways play a significant role in managing anxiety responses. As the nervous system’s central point of regulation for anxious feelings, GABA pathways are the target of numerous prescription anti-anxiety medications. These findings could help to explain the stress-relieving and anxiety-reducing benefits reported by countless reishi mushroom evangelists for centuries.     


These carbohydrates are an essential energy source in our diets and carry a long rap sheet of health benefits, one of which is natural mood enhancement. In recent research, they’ve flexed their capacity for alleviating depression by helping to regulate neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin, two of the chemicals in our brains most commonly associated with anxiety and depression. 

Beta-glucans, a particular type of polysaccharides in the reishi mushroom, help make an incredible case for its use as natural therapy for anxiety. Research shows that beta-glucans not only support healthy immunity, but promote emotional well-being and improved mood as well. In a 2019 study, a certain type of beta-glucans in grains was even found to significantly enhance mood and anxiety in Syrian refugees suffering from emotional disturbances during their displacement in metropolitan Detroit.

Additionally, these compounds have been observed as having potential as an alternative antidepressant therapy. A 2023 study exploring the impacts of beta-glucans on chronically stressed animals found a “rapid antidepressant effect”.

Try this: For a daily dose of relaxing reishi to promote natural anxiety relief, a high-quality reishi mushroom supplement could do the trick. Or, mix this peace-promoting reishi tincture into your favorite herbal tea as you wind down for the night. 

A Lift from Lion’s Mane 

Named for its shaggy body’s resemblance to its feline counterpart’s crowning fringe, the visually striking lion’s mane mushroom has emerged as a frontrunner in the realm of natural remedies for anxiety and depression. Like reishi, this fungus offers the mental wellness benefits of both polysaccharides and terpenoids. But its unique terpenoid compounds, hericenones and erinacines, have shown particular therapeutic promise for mood disorders. 

Hericenones & Erinacines

This nootropic mushroom, hailed as the fungal kingdom’s clearest answer to cognitive enhancement and brain health, has been studied extensively for its neuroregenerative and neuroprotective properties. Most notably, researchers have observed the ability of its terpene compounds to stimulate the production of nerve growth factor (NGF), a neurotrophin (proteins responsible for the survival, development, and function of neurons) that promotes nerve regeneration. In laboratory experiments, erinacine A especially has shown an ability to increase NGF in animals.  

Hericenones and erinacines are extracted from both the mycelia and fruiting bodies of the lion’s mane mushroom, and have shown their potential to cross the blood-brain barrier, demonstrating benefits to neural networks such as possible mitigation of degenerative conditions by helping to prevent cell death. 

Another way these bioactives work to benefit the brain’s chemical ecosystem is by helping to regulate certain neurotransmitters associated with mood disorders. In those experiencing depression, common biomarkers of the central nervous system include abnormalities like low levels of dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine. In a 2018 study exploring the effects of terpenes contained in lion’s mane on mice exhibiting depressive symptoms, researchers saw antidepressant-like effects in animals receiving the compounds. Levels of norepinephrine, dopamine, and serotonin were found to be restored by this bioactive therapy. 

Similarly, given that the most commonly deficient neurotransmitters in terms of anxiety are serotonin and norepinephrine, lion’s mane has shown promise as a potential natural remedy for anxious conditions as well. A 2010 study out of Japan found significantly reduced anxiety in participants taking lion’s mane compared to those taking a placebo. This is believed to be due to the effects of lion’s mane on NGF. 

Try this: Stir this lion’s mane mushroom elixir into your morning coffee for an extra daily boost to promote a brighter, more balanced emotional state. Or, indulge in a sweet lion’s mane gummy treat to support mental well-being.   

The Gut-Mood Connection

Happy gut, happy mind? Research, according to Harvard Health, points to a compelling connection between the health of the gut microbiome – a complex ecosystem of digestive flora – and our mental health. The gut and brain are in constant communication; when one experiences stress or upset, a similar response can be triggered in the other. So, maintaining balance in the gut can help to maintain balance in the mind. 

Functional mushrooms have been used not only in medicine since ancient times, but also as a nutrient-packed culinary mainstay. Fungi offer the highest levels of vitamin D of any item in the produce section of your supermarket, a crucial nutrient in supporting a balanced mood. But they are also rich in prebiotics, which help to support emotional health by nourishing gut-friendly bacteria that keep the gut microbiome in check. 

Reishi and lion’s mane provide an excellent source of prebiotics, making them a worthwhile addition to both your medicine cabinet and your mental wellness-supporting diet. 

Try this: If you’re in need of a little tranquility, promote a peaceful state by adding a reishi mushroom recipe into your rotation like these bite-sized energy treats for a great on-the-go snack, or add this mushroom and green olive tapenade to your next charcuterie board. Or for a delicious dinnertime boost, support a lighter mood by whipping up this easy lion’s mane mushroom recipe: balsamic lion’s mane mushroom steaks with polenta

It can take some trial and error to identify the best mushroom supplement for your unique mind and body. But if you’ve been searching for a natural way to support your emotional health, reishi and lion’s mane may be the perfect place to start. 

Visit us to explore the best mushrooms for anxiety and depression, and of course, always check in with your healthcare provider before beginning any new supplement. 

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