Mushrooms for Stress: Best Mushrooms for Stress & Their Benefits

Mushrooms for Stress: Best Mushrooms for Stress & Their Benefits

Reishi Mushroom for Stress - Reishi acts as a potent adaptogenic agent, aiding in the control of hormones that sway emotional states. It orchestrates the physiological reactions to stress through its impact on adrenal function, thereby harmonising elevated cortisol and adrenaline levels commonly triggered by tension.

In today's fast-paced world, stress has become an inevitable part of our daily lives. Whether it's work-related pressures, personal challenges, or the general hustle and bustle of modern society, stress can take a toll on our mental and physical well-being. Fortunately, nature offers us a multitude of remedies, and one such natural wonder is mushrooms. Beyond their culinary appeal, mushrooms have gained recognition for their potential to combat stress and promote relaxation. This article explores the fascinating benefits of mushrooms for stress relief, shedding light on the science behind their healing properties.

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Adaptogenic Power

Mushrooms, particularly certain species like Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum), Cordyceps (Cordyceps sinensis), and Lion's Mane (Hericium erinaceus), possess adaptogenic properties. Adaptogens are natural substances that help the body adapt to stress and maintain homeostasis. They work by regulating the body's stress response, which includes the release of stress hormones like cortisol.

Reishi mushrooms, for instance, have been used for centuries in traditional Chinese medicine to reduce stress and enhance overall well-being. Research suggests that Reishi extracts may help modulate the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, the body's central stress response system. By doing so, Reishi may help reduce cortisol levels and promote a more balanced stress response.

Cordyceps, another potent adaptogen, is known for its ability to increase energy levels and reduce fatigue. By supporting the body's energy production at a cellular level, Cordyceps may indirectly alleviate the physical and mental fatigue associated with chronic stress.

Immune System Support

Stress can weaken the immune system, making the body more susceptible to illness. Mushrooms offer a unique solution to this problem. Many mushroom species, including Shiitake (Lentinula edodes) and Maitake (Grifola frondosa), are rich in beta-glucans—a type of polysaccharide known for their immune-boosting properties.

Beta-glucans stimulate various components of the immune system, including macrophages and natural killer cells. These immune cells play a crucial role in defending the body against infections and diseases. By enhancing immune function, mushrooms help protect the body from the negative effects of stress-induced immune suppression.

Furthermore, mushrooms like Shiitake and Maitake contain compounds like ergothioneine and selenium, which possess antioxidant properties. These antioxidants can help reduce oxidative stress, a key contributor to chronic inflammation and immune system dysfunction.

Mood Regulation

Stress often goes hand-in-hand with mood disturbances, such as anxiety and depression. Fortunately, mushrooms have been shown to have a positive impact on mood regulation, offering a potential natural remedy for these conditions.

Lion's Mane mushroom, in particular, has garnered attention for its neuroprotective and mood-enhancing properties. Research suggests that Lion's Mane may stimulate the production of nerve growth factor (NGF), a protein that plays a crucial role in the growth, maintenance, and survival of nerve cells. By promoting neural plasticity and regeneration, Lion's Mane may contribute to improved mood and cognitive function.


Gut-Brain Connection

Emerging research highlights the gut-brain connection and its role in stress management. The gut microbiome, composed of trillions of microorganisms, plays a pivotal role in regulating mood and stress responses.

Certain mushrooms, such as Turkey Tail (Trametes versicolor) and Chaga (Inonotus obliquus), contain prebiotic fibers and compounds that support a healthy gut microbiome. These prebiotics serve as food for beneficial gut bacteria, promoting their growth and activity. A balanced gut microbiome is associated with improved mood and resilience to stress.

Moreover, mushrooms' anti-inflammatory properties can help reduce gut inflammation, which has been linked to stress-related gastrointestinal disorders. By soothing the gut, mushrooms may indirectly alleviate stress and anxiety.

Sleep Enhancement

Quality sleep is essential for stress management and overall well-being. Many mushrooms contain compounds that can promote better sleep, making them a valuable ally in the battle against stress-related insomnia.

Reishi mushrooms, for example, have been traditionally used to improve sleep quality and duration. They contain compounds like triterpenes, which have a calming effect on the nervous system. By reducing anxiety and promoting relaxation, Reishi mushrooms may facilitate a more restful night's sleep.

Another sleep-friendly mushroom is the aptly named "Sleeping Tree" mushroom (Xylaria nigripes). Native to tropical regions, this mushroom has been used in traditional medicine to enhance sleep and reduce stress-related sleep disturbances.


The Best Mushrooms for Stress

 best mushrooms for stress uk

Reishi Mushroom (Ganoderma lucidum)

  • Overview: Reishi, often referred to as the "Mushroom of Immortality" in traditional Chinese medicine, is renowned for its adaptogenic properties. It is a calming mushroom that can help regulate the body's stress response.
  • Benefits: Reishi mushrooms may reduce anxiety and promote relaxation by modulating the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, which is responsible for the body's stress response. They are available in various forms, such as capsules, powders, and tinctures, making them easily accessible to UK consumers.
  • Reishi mushrooms support relaxation by exerting calming effects on the central nervous system. Their compounds, such as ganoderic acids, reduce anxiety and promote relaxation by acting on receptors like GABA (peace) receptors. Reishi also influences neurotransmitters like serotonin (happiness) and dopamine (pleasure), further enhancing relaxation.

Lion's Mane Mushroom (Hericium erinaceus)

  • Overview: Lion's Mane is known for its cognitive-enhancing properties and potential to alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression. It supports brain health and can help with mental clarity.
  • Benefits: Lion's Mane may improve mood and reduce anxiety by stimulating the production of nerve growth factor (NGF), a protein that plays a vital role in the growth and maintenance of nerve cells. UK consumers can find Lion's Mane supplements in health food stores and online retailers.
  • Lion's Mane promotes relaxation by supporting nerve growth factors, protecting the brain and nervous system, reducing inflammation, improving mood, and enhancing cognitive function. These benefits create a foundation for overall mental well-being and a calmer state.


Cordyceps Mushroom (Cordyceps sinensis)

  • Overview: Cordyceps is an energizing mushroom that can help combat fatigue and stress-related exhaustion. It supports overall well-being and vitality.
  • Benefits: Cordyceps may indirectly reduce stress by boosting energy levels and improving physical performance. This mushroom is available in various forms, including capsules and powders, and can be found in UK health stores.
  • Cordyceps militaris, considered an adaptogen, helps the body adapt to stress, regulating cortisol and increasing oxygen utilisation. This leads to improved energy levels, reduced fatigue, and a greater sense of relaxation. Cordyceps also balances neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine, calming the mind.

Chaga Mushroom (Inonotus obliquus)

  • Overview: Chaga is rich in antioxidants and immune-boosting compounds. It can help reduce inflammation and support the body's response to stress.
  • Benefits: Chaga's anti-inflammatory properties may help alleviate stress-related gut inflammation, which is linked to mood disturbances. UK consumers can find Chaga supplements or Chaga-infused teas in health-focused shops.


Turkey Tail Mushroom (Trametes versicolor)

  • Overview: Turkey Tail is well-known for its immune-boosting properties. A healthy immune system is essential for coping with stress, as it can help prevent illness during stressful periods.
  • Benefits: Turkey Tail contains beta-glucans that support the immune system, potentially reducing the impact of stress on overall health. UK consumers can find Turkey Tail supplements in health stores and online retailers. 


In a world where stress has become an omnipresent force, exploring natural remedies like mushrooms offers hope for better stress management and overall well-being. While mushrooms alone cannot eliminate stress, they can serve as valuable allies in the battle against its negative effects.

From adaptogenic powerhouses like Reishi and Cordyceps to mood-regulating Lion's Mane and immune-boosting Shiitake, mushrooms offer a diverse range of benefits for stress relief. Their impact on the gut-brain connection, sleep enhancement properties, and potential in treating mood disorders further solidify their place as a promising natural remedy.

As research in this field continues to evolve, it's essential to consult with healthcare professionals before incorporating mushrooms into your stress management regimen, especially if you have underlying health conditions or are taking medications. When used mindfully and in conjunction with a holistic approach to wellness, mushrooms can be a valuable tool in the quest for a more relaxed, balanced, and stress-resistant life.

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Which mushroom is best for stress?

Reishi mushroom stands out for its adaptogenic qualities, making it particularly effective for stress management. It helps modulate cortisol and adrenaline levels, thereby aiding in emotional balance. Consult a healthcare provider for personalised advice.

What mushroom helps with mental clarity?

Research findings indicate that Lion's Mane, Reishi, and Chaga fungi reign supreme among medicinal mushrooms for cerebral well-being. These mycological marvels act as bulwarks against neural decay, elevate cognitive metrics, ameliorate recall and emotional states, sharpen attentiveness, and lend auxiliary support in conditions like Alzheimer's and dementia.

Bea Lyus

Bea Lyus is an experienced Naturopathic Nutritional Therapist. She is a member of the British Association for Applied Nutrition and Nutritional Therapy (BANT), the regulatory body for Nutritional Therapists and is registered by the Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC).