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Adaptogenic Mushrooms: Do They Really Work?

A stressful life is prone to the development of different disorders. Stress, be it mental or physical, can greatly decrease the quality of your life. Therefore, it is emphasized nowadays to manage your stress levels.

Managing stress is easier said than done. There are two ways of combating stress. One way is to reduce the levels of stressors in the body. The other way is to power the body such that it can take on any stressors with ease. An easy and successful way of boosting the body's powers is using adaptogens.


 Adaptogenic Mushrooms

What Are Adaptogens?

Adaptogens is the term given to a special class of herbs and fungi (mushrooms) that can help the body to adapt to stress.

These herbs also help support the normal metabolic function and bring back the lost equilibrium of the body.

With an increase in the body's resistance to environmental, physical, and emotional stressors, the extent of acute and chronic stress is greatly reduced.

How Do Adaptogens Work?

The human body keeps itself protected from negative changes by the process of homeostasis.

Homeostasis is the state of the internal balance of the body. The mechanism keeps the physiological systems of the body in a dynamic equilibrium.

Whenever exposed to stress, the body undergoes the generalized adaptation syndrome (GAS) (before regaining homeostatic state), which comprises a three-stage response:

  1. Alarm
  2. Resistance
  3. Exhaustion

The adaptogens are believed to help reduce the alarm phase's adverse effects and help us stay in the resistance phase for a longer period. This step successfully decreases or even eliminates the onset of the exhaustion phase.

Adaptogens' Role On HPA Axis

The HPA Axis or the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis is a neuroendocrine system that controls the body's response to stress. This means that the same system makes use of a nervous system (brain) and the endocrine system (hormone-secreting glands).

On the entry of any stressor into the body, the hypothalamus (in the brain) signals the pituitary glands and the adrenal glands to start producing the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol quickly. The effects of which are:

  • Increased heart rate
  • Raised blood pressure
  • Elevated oxygen demand and intake
  • Uprisen blood sugar levels
  • Suppression of the immune system

The adaptogens work by affecting the HPA axis. They help your body combat stress by carrying out the following functions:

  • Strengthen the different systems of the body to get a better response against stress
  • Promote recovery (of function)
  • Ensure a steady supply of energy to the body by regulating hormone expression

Adaptogenic Mushrooms: What Are They?

Mushrooms are considered effective vegetarian replacements of meat in many countries. The texture and the taste of these fungi are liked by many. This is why you can find mushrooms in many cuisines.

But did you know that some famous mushrooms have solid adaptogenic properties? In this piece of writing, we will be discussing the best adaptogenic mushrooms that work.


1. Cordyceps

Adaptogenic Mushrooms

The mushroom named cordyceps is a rich source of β-glucans superoxide dismutaseand glutathione peroxidase.

Oxidative stress is a condition where the body is filled with a large number of harmful free radicals. These radicals are extremely dangerous stressors for the body and can lead to an increased risk of diabetes, heart diseases, and neurodegenerative conditions.

The antioxidants in the cordyceps (β-glucanssuperoxide dismutase and glutathione peroxidase) increase the body's antioxidant capability, a study suggests.

The antioxidant powerhouse is an anti-anger substance too. It works in different ways to enhance the stress resistance of the body. Firstly, it supports the adrenal glands so that your body produces and maintains consistent levels of energy throughout.

This beneficial herb can be a wonderful supplementation for those who are in higher demand for oxygen, such as athletes and asthma patients. It is also called an energizer because it increases cellular oxygen absorption. It archives this by increasing the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP).

It also plays the crucial role of helping you fight fatigue. In addition to this, the mushroom boosts strength and stamina too. The result of which is improved exercise performance and delayed aging. This effect is further approved by a study that states that substances from cordyceps are excellent in reducing swimming (exercise) induced stress.

In a controlled trial on humans, the adaptogenic mushroom is a hormone balancer and dramatically reduces fatigue while boosting energy and endurance.


2. Reishi

Adaptogenic Mushrooms

This mushroom is often called the "queen of the mushrooms,"and rightly so. This specific adaptogenic mushroom imparts plenty of useful effects on the human body that advocate its addition to your everyday life.

Reishi is efficacious in calming your mind and your body. The fungus is rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds.

It works by regulating the hormonal system of the body. Once inside the body, it causes a reduction in the levels of cortisol (the stress hormone). This is why the mushroom is frequently used to relieve stress and anxiety. It also helps you sleep better.

The immune-boosting effect of the mushroom is also appreciable. A study identifies the different positive roles of the reishi mushroom that are:

  • Detoxification
  • Stress reduction
  • Enhanced training performance
  • Reduced inflammation
  • Alleviated free radical counts in the body

The herb is also very effective in stopping the progression of neurodegenerative diseases, a study suggests.


3. Lion's Mane

The lion's mane mushroom is widely known and researched for its neuroprotective effects.

A study carried out in 2018 found that lion's mane supplementation in Alzheimer's patients resulted in improvement. This adaptogenic mushroom stimulates the production of bioprotein (Nerve Growth Factor) that plays a pivotal role in maintaining the brain's health.

A detailed study on lion's mane revealed the numerous benefits of this supplement, including neuroprotection, cognitive improvement, and alleviation of symptoms in Alzheimer's and Parkinson's patients.

The mushroom has potent antioxidative and anti-inflammatory properties, a study suggests. Lion's mane has vast reserves of β-glucan polysaccharides, terpenoids, sterols, and different micronutrients that all give it the strength to fight neurodegeneration and promote regeneration of neurons in Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease.

As per a study, the mushroom reduces oxidative stress and inflammation in neuro-glial cells. Lion's mane is also potent in reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety.


4. Chaga

Adaptogenic Mushrooms

The mushroom Chaga works by imparting a strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effect. You will find loads of antioxidant compounds that will circulate in your body to hunt down any free radicals.

According to an analysis, Chaga reduces the levels of pro-inflammatory compounds, including nitric oxide and cyclooxygenase.

It is frequently used for treating gastric issues too. The potent adaptogen stimulates and boosts the immune system. A study carried out in 2020 found that Chaga mushroom has potent anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-tumor properties.

Some people even believe that Chaga is efficacious in fighting off viral entities in the body. The very mushroom is also capable of reducing raised blood sugar levels and blood pressure values.


5. Turkey Tail

Turkey tail mushroom is probably the strongest immune-booster on the list. The advantages of this mushroom are multifold, but the most evident one is immune boosting.

Turkey tail has potent antimicrobial and antiviral properties. Due to combining these two properties, turkey tail mushroom is frequently used to treat the common cold and flu.

Antioxidants are abundant, too (in the mushroom). The antioxidant compounds are a great barrier to the destruction caused by oxidative stress. Prevention of destruction from oxidative stress means reduced inflammation and cell damage. 

It is pretty effective in boosting immunity. It contains two very powerful polysaccharides, i.e., PSP and PSK, that efficaciously boost cancer patients' immune function.

As per a study, it was found that turkey tail supplementation leads to improved immune function in cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy. You might also enjoy some prebiotics in the mushroom that encourage healing the gut and digestive issues.

Another study analyzed the different components of the turkey trail, and it was found that it is an effective antioxidant.


6. Maitake

Adaptogenic Mushrooms

The mushroom maitake has incredible healing properties. It belongs to the adaptogenic mushrooms category. It strengthens the body against all sorts of stress (mental or physical).

This adaptogenic mushroom is a rich source of antioxidants, beta-glucan, and several micronutrients (copper, potassium) and amino acids. Raised levels of cholesterol in the body reduce your capabilities to bear stress. In a study, it was found that maitake supplementation lowered levels of cholesterol in mice.

In another study on mice, it was found that the maitake mushroom also suppresses tumor growth. You can use it for treating cold and flu viruses too. It helps lower the blood pressure values and also helps keep the side of chemotherapy at bay.

7. Himematsutake

Like other members of the list, himematsutake is also found to promote a healthy immune response, confirmed by a study carried out in 2008. The mushroom contains good scores of beta glycans that extend superb antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Beta-glucan is also a healthy dietary fiber that helps ease digestive issues too.

8. Zhu Ling

Zhu Ling is a medically important mushroom that can be used as an adaptogen. It boosts the body's resistance to stress. It is mainly used in the treatment of lung cancers and even other sorts of cancers.

The anticancer and anti-tumor properties are appreciable. It also helps reduce the side-effects of chemotherapy by building the body's strength. It boosts the immune system and enhances the production of antibodies.


9. Shiitake

Adaptogenic Mushrooms

Shiitake mushroom is a common part of household cooking. This mushroom protects against the development of heart diseases. It also lowers cholesterol levels of the body, a study suggests. Shiitake mushrooms have vast amounts of vitamin D and zinc, both of which have shown to be excellent immunity boosters.

You may find some B vitamins in the mushroom too. In addition to immune-boosting, the mushroom also imparts cancer-fighting and tumor-inhibiting properties.

Where To Find The Best Supplements?

To get the best blend of different immune-boosting and stress-combating mushrooms, click here!

The IMMUNE MUSHROOM COMPLEXis a great way to boost your immunity and strengthen your body to fight stress and anxiety.

This mushroom complex is ideal for all. Youngsters can use it to improve cognition and memory, while elders can protect themselves from unwanted stress.

Other Potent Adaptogenic Herbs

Apart from the mushrooms, there are some other herbs too that have sufficient adaptogenic effects. Some of these herbs are mentioned below:

  • Ashwagandha
  • American ginseng
  • Astragalus
  • Goji berry
  • Eleuthero root
  • Licorice root
  • Jiaogulan
  • Turmeric
  • Holy Basil
  • Rhodiola Rosea
  • Magnolia berry

You can use these herbs in combination with adaptogenic mushrooms to get the best adaptogenic effects.


The human body maintains its internal environment via a process called homeostasis. This internal balance is governed by the synchronous working of the HPA axis, i.e., the hypothalamus of the brain, pituitary gland, and the adrenal glands. The adaptogens work by affecting the HPA axis and increase the body's resistance against stress and anxiety.

There are different types of adaptogenic herbs available in the market. Our main focus in this writing was adaptogenic mushrooms. The most evident mushrooms that boost your body's strength include cordyceps, reishi, shiitake, maitake, zhu ling, lion's mane, and turkey tail.

Almost all of the mentioned mushrooms have potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties by which they help you achieve a state of reduced stress and increased peace.