Written By Contributor Lauren Woodbridge
Have you been hearing all about the supplements called adaptogens that can cure everything? Well, they may be on to something. Along with a healthy diet, exercise routine and stress management, adding adaptogens to your day could be the final touch your body needs to reach nearly perfect harmony. This would mean a balanced mood, great energy level, healthy metabolism and immune system.
Adaptogens are herbal substances, often mushrooms, with high doses of antioxidants used to help the body reach complete balance. This form of medicine positively impacts something called the hypothalamic-pituitary-endocrine axis, basically the relationship between your brain and hormones. No matter where we live, what we eat or how we protect our minds, everyone is faced with stressors on a daily basis. According to Dr Brenda Powell, co-medical director of the Center for Integrative and Lifestyle Medicine at the Cleveland Clinics Wellness Institute, when you take adaptogens, you are training your body to handle the effects of stress.
There are a wide variety of products available and every person reacts differently, so trial and error can be beneficial. Be sure to keep track of how you feel along the way. Acupuncturist and owner of Vie Healing in LA states that “The specialty of Chinese herbal formulas is that they are carefully formulated with precise doses to cause specific reactions for proper responses. It is very important to practice moderation, even with things that are good for you!”
Today, I am going to talk more specifically about Reishi, Cordyceps, Chaga, Ashwaganda and Lions Mane. Check out brands like Om Mushrooms, Four Sigmatic, Sun Potion, Moon Juice and Real Mushrooms who make packets, jars and tonics with a variety of these herbs. You can take them in capsule form or sprinkle them into your coffee, smoothies, oatmeal, pancake mix, power bites and even chocolate! Below, I have shared some of the most common adaptogenic mushrooms along with their powerful properties as well as their common uses. Be sure to stick to the dosage recommended on the label, to avoid possible side effects.
Reishi “Queen of Mushrooms”: is found on trees such as Maple, Oak and Plum. The nutrients come from the tree on which the mushroom is growing. These mushrooms were extremely rare and expensive until the 20th century when the Japanese began to cultivate the variety consumed around the world today known as Red Reishi. It is great for various psychiatric and neurological disorders, like insomnia, anxiety and muscular diseases – helping to relax the body. It can promote nutrient absorption, increase energy and support the liver and immune system. In Asia, Reishi has been used to treat bronchitis and dizziness by assisting the blood in carrying oxygen throughout the body. Excessive use of Reishi could cause skin irritation, stomach upset and dizziness.
Chaga “King of the medicinal mushroom”: Chaga grows on birch trees throughout the Northern Hemisphere and provides a number of vitamins and minerals. The antioxidants of this mushroom may lower bad cholesterol and fight cancer. Due to it’s ability to lower blood sugar, it is important to check with your doctor before trying this mushroom in addition to insulin.
Cordyceps: This mushroom is used for it’s notable ability to fight inflammation and enhance immune function. Studies show that when cordyceps are added to the diet of a person suffering from depression and mild stress, levels of serotonin and dopamine (the happy chemicals) stabilize.
Ashwaganda: This supplement has the power to regulate cortisol, your body’s stress hormone, and support your thyroid. It has also been proven to reduce anxiety and depression by up to 40%. In very high doses, you may experience stomach upset.
Lions Mane: This mushroom found in eastern Asia is known for it’s remarkable ability to regenerate and protect brain tissue. It is commonly used to assist in degeneration of the brain in diseases like Alzheimer’s and Dementia. Like the other mushrooms, Lions Mane has a strong ability to remove harmful materials from the body and boost the immune system.
Next time you aren’t feeling like yourself, you may want to turn to mushrooms. The non-hallucinogenic ones, of course!