Adaptogenic mushrooms are amazing for your brain. However, choosing the best mushroom for your needs can be overwhelming. Read on to learn about the best mushrooms for brain health and how you can benefit from them.
What Are the Best Mushrooms for Brain Health?
The best medicinal mushrooms for brain health are lion’s mane, cordyceps, chaga, and reishi mushrooms. Let’s see how each of these functional fungi affect your brain.
Lion’s Mane Mushrooms for Brain Health
The benefits of lion’s mane (Hericium erinaceus) for brain health are unparalleled among adaptogenic mushrooms. This fungus aids in neuron health maintenance, prevents numerous neurodegenerative disorders, reduces symptoms of depression and anxiety, and even prevents memory loss.
Lion’s Mane and Neurogenesis
The lion’s mane mushroom contains hericenones and erinacines, bioactive compounds that stimulate nerve growth factor proteins and promote neurite outgrowth. These mechanisms are likely the reason lion’s mane is so beneficial for neurogenesis and cognitive impairment prevention.
Although there are only a few human studies on the effects of Hericium erinaceus on neurogenesis, available lion’s mane research suggests the fungus has potent neurotrophic properties.
A 2021 study looked at the effects of four compounds found in Hericium erinaceus on brain health. The results suggest that this mushroom promotes the formation of new brain cells and reduces nerve deterioration due to neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
Lion’s Mane and Memory
Lion’s mane appears to boost many cognitive functions, including learning and memory. The benefits of lion’s mane on improving memory are not widely researched, but an animal study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food explored the mechanisms behind these benefits with some compelling results.
According to this study, Hericium erinaceus promotes neurogenesis within the hippocampus, which, in turn, improves memory. The hippocampus plays a major role in learning and memory, and research shows that the formation of new nerves in this area of the brain can have tremendous benefits on cognitive function, including memory formation and retention.
Lion’s Mane and Alzheimer’s Disease
Lion’s mane was also shown to be protective against Alzheimer’s disease and mild cognitive impairment.
A double-blind, placebo-controlled study examined its effects on Japanese patients with mild cognitive impairment. The people ranged from 50 to 80 in age. Half of the participants in the Japanese study were given supplements made from lion’s mane fruit bodies for 16 weeks, while the other half were given a placebo.
The participants who were taking the mushroom extract showed increased scores in their cognitive functioning. These significant increases suggest that lion's mane supplements have the potential to improve mild cognitive impairment and prevent memory loss related to illnesses such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Cordyceps Mushrooms for Brain Health
The cordyceps mushroom has an abundance of bioactive compounds that aid in brain health. However, the most impressive cordyceps mushroom benefits for brain health lie in its ability to provide an energy boost and alleviate brain fog.
Cordyceps mushrooms’ energy-boosting properties provide similar effects as caffeine and will make you feel more awake and focused. However, unlike caffeine, consuming this fungus won’t make you jittery, anxious, or cause an energy crash in the middle of your work day.
Chaga Mushrooms for Brain Health
The chaga mushroom (Inonotus obliquus) is high in antioxidants and has a high oxygen radical absorbance capacity.
These mechanisms are behind the many benefits of chaga mushrooms, including their beneficial properties for brain health.
A 2019 study examined the protective effects of Inonotus obliquus polysaccharides on the brain. This study shows that chaga mushrooms appear to protect against Alzheimer’s disease by exerting antiapoptotic and antioxidative activities.
In addition to aiding in brain health, chaga also has impressive benefits for skin health and may even prevent diabetes and cancer. So, adding this fungus to your daily routine can be a great way to improve your overall health, inside and out.
Reishi Mushrooms for Brain Health
The reishi mushroom (Ganoderma lucidum) was shown to have positive effects on overall brain health and aid in stress relief. Reishi mushroom benefits stem from this fungus’ neuroprotective effects.
A 2017 study examined the neuroprotective effects of this functional mushroom. The results of this study show that polysaccharides found in Ganoderma lucidum provide neuroprotective properties by regulating your oxidative stress response and therefore inhibiting neuronal apoptosis induced by oxidative stress.
Reishi mushrooms are among the healthiest mushrooms in the world, and appear to have immunity boosting properties in addition to maintaining neuronal health. Adding this fungus to your diet can be particularly beneficial in maintaining a healthy brain if you combine it with other adaptogenic fungi (such as lion’s mane, cordyceps, and chaga).
Which Mushroom Is Good for Mental Health?
Lion’s mane is the best mushroom for mental health. The benefits of lion’s mane mushrooms on mental health can’t be understated. This fungus appears to reduce symptoms of many mental health conditions, including ADHD, depression, and anxiety.
Lion’s Mane and Anxiety
Lion’s mane mushrooms appear to ease symptoms of anxiety and alleviate stress. A Japanese study looked at the effects of lion’s mane dietary supplements on anxiety and depression levels in menopausal women. The women were tested for baseline irritability and anxiety levels and took a lion’s mane extract for 4 weeks.
Upon being tested on these metrics a second time, the women who took the lion’s mane mushroom supplement scored much lower than their control group counterparts, meaning they exhibited fewer symptoms of stress and anxiety.
Lion’s Mane and Depression
The beneficial effects of lion’s mane for depression are a result of this fungus’ ability to stabilize dopamine levels in your brain.
A 2018 study looked at the underlying mechanisms of antidepressant effects of Hericium erinaceus in mice. The results suggest that when the mice were under stress, their dopamine levels decreased.
However, upon taking lion's mane, their dopamine levels stabilized, even though there were no changes in their levels of stress. This suggests that lion's mane could be responsible for the rise in dopamine levels, although further human research is needed.
Mushrooms for Brain Fog
Brain fog reduction is a common medicinal mushroom benefit, and lion’s mane, turkey tail, reishi, and cordyceps are the best mushrooms for this condition. These fungi have energizing properties that are particularly beneficial for people who suffer from fatigue, brain fog, or any other ailments that lead to poor focus and memory.
Are You Interested in Taking Medicinal Mushrooms for Brain Health?
If you’re interested in trying medicinal mushrooms to improve cognition, memory, and overall brain health, it’s best to combine the benefits of a few fungi. And, what better way to do so than with a bowl of cereal?
Our functional mushroom granola contains hyperconcentrated extracts of lion’s mane, chaga, and cordyceps mushrooms.
The granola is vegan, gluten-free, and delicious. You can choose from one of our three unique flavors, or go with a bundle if you can’t decide on a favorite.
FAQ on Best Mushrooms for Brain Health
How much medicinal mushroom extract is in Forij granola?
Forij granola uses a high-quality extract made from whole medicinal mushrooms. Our dual extraction method extracts both water-soluble beta-glucans as well as alcohol-soluble triterpenes. Our decoction process breaks down indigestible chitin cell walls of the mushroom to get much more of these compounds out than ordinary processes do.
One serving of our granola provides 250 mg of hyperconcentrated mushroom extract, which is eight times more concentrated than a regular supplement. Therefore, you get as much lion's mane, cordyceps, and chaga as you would if you were taking a 2000 mg mushroom powder supplement, all in one bowl of granola.
Are all mushrooms good for the brain?
Yes, all mushrooms are good for the brain, as they have plenty of B vitamins, which are important for proper cognitive function. Eating mushrooms is a great way to get your daily dose of B vitamins, especially if you are vegan or vegetarian.
Plus, adaptogenic mushrooms—such as lion’s mane, cordyceps, and chaga—can provide an array of benefits for your brain, as they aid in the regeneration of neuronal cells, relieve mental health issues, and boost focus and memory.
What is the most powerful medicinal mushroom?
There is no single most powerful medicinal mushroom. To get the most benefits from medicinal mushrooms, it’s best to take more than one. When it comes to adaptogenic mushrooms, the whole is better than the sum of its parts, so you’ll reap more benefits from each mushroom if you take them together.
What is lion’s mane good for?
Lion’s mane has many benefits but is best known for supporting brain health. This functional mushroom is a staple in many supplements for brain health, and many people often use lion’s mane as a substitute for Adderall, as well as to preserve their brain functions (especially focus and memory).
In addition to helping your mental health and maintaining a healthy brain, lion’s mane is incredibly beneficial for sleep issues, weight loss, and diabetes prevention. However, the most impressive benefit of this fungus is likely the lion's mane’s ability to cause cancer cell death and aid in cancer prevention.
What is the best mushroom for gut health?
The best mushroom for gut health is chaga. The antioxidant activity of this mushroom helps combat free radicals in the gut. Chaga can also reduce inflammation in your gut, which reduces the chances of stomach ulcers and other common gut health issues.
When taking an Inonotus obliquus mushroom supplement, you should not exceed the recommended chaga dosage. That’s because chaga is high in oxalates, which can cause kidney issues in immuno-compromised people.
A daily dose of Forij granola contains just enough chaga to get the many benefits this mushroom provides without consuming a high amount of oxalates.
What is the best mushroom for inflammation?
Reducing inflammation is among the many health benefits of medicinal mushrooms. Several medicinal fungi—such as turkey tail, the oyster mushroom, and chaga mushrooms—were shown to aid in your immune system’s ability to fight acute inflammation while reducing symptoms of chronic inflammation.
But, the best mushroom for inflammation appears to be cordyceps. A 2020 study examined the effects of cordycepin, one of the bioactive compounds found in cordyceps cultured mycelia, on inflammation.
Results show that the ethanol extracts that contain cordycepin inhibit processes that cause inflammation in chronic illnesses, such as rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn's disease, and asthma.
This article was written strictly for informational purposes and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. The statements contained herein have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). For additional information on mushrooms and their medicinal properties, talk to your doctor.