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Top Medicinal Mushrooms for Anxiety & Stress

Stress is such a common word in the collective vocabulary. Perhaps even more so at the moment while many of us here in Australia face the challenges, uncertainty and isolation of another lockdown – we’re right there with you.

Stress flicks the switch to survival mode channelling energy toward our sympathetic nervous system which is useful if we find ourselves in a dangerous situation but becomes damaging if we're responding to ongoing work, social or day-to-day life stressors. In stressful situations, our body responds by releasing stress hormones such as cortisol and epinephrine (adrenalin) which impacts the regulation of our cells and can instigate a chain of events such as the acceleration of cellular ageing, the depression of our digestive system, and the disruption of our sleep cycle to name a few.

When feelings of stress and anxiety linger and sometimes become chronic, it can feel like we’re stuck in a loop, just soldiering on, where stress breeds more stress, and it can be hard to pull away. Sound familiar? We’ve been there too.

With so many more demands on our lives these days than decades past, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. But we have one advantage; generally speaking, we’re more aware of the impact that anxiety and stress have on our short and long-term health, giving us the opportunity to do something about it. 

There are a variety of tools to help us out when it feels like stress and anxiety have plunged themselves deep within our bodies, but for us, adaptogens and more specifically medicinal mushrooms, have a big role to play.

Adaptogens can support the body and its general resistance to stress whether that be physical, emotional, environmental, or chemical by helping to balance the functions of vital systems such as the nervous and immune systems. By bringing our body closer to a state of homeostasis we’re better able to move through stressful situations as they arise and before they accumulate.

Read on as we dive into the top 3 medicinal mushrooms we reach for when stress and anxiety take hold.

Reishi, Stress and Anxiety

We can’t talk about stress and not mention Reishi first. The 'mushroom of immortality' and nourisher of the spirit, Reishi mushroom is revered for its ability to support a sense of calm while at the same time strengthen immunity and support the body's innate ability to handle stress. 

Reishi mushroom for stress and anxiety has the capacity to help manage stress levels by calming and supporting the nervous system which in turn promotes feelings of relaxation.

A calm nervous system is not only essential for tackling the demands of our waking life with ease, but also for preparing for deep, good quality sleep. Often heightened states of stress and anxiety go hand in hand with insomnia. Studies have demonstrated the triterpenes in Reishi have the potential to soothe the nerves, promoting a sedative quality that can help to ease insomnia. The accumulative effect of taking Reishi mushroom across a long-term basis was also shown to increase states of deep sleep[1].

It's Reishi’s ability to guide the body to a peaceful state of balance, that gives us our great love for this shroom. Most Taoists and monks refer to Reishi as a Shen tonic, which loosely translates to a herb that nourishes the spirit. From a Taoist perspective, when we are in a state of balance and harmony, our Shen is amplified allowing us to achieve heightened states of awareness allowing life to flow and opportunity to manifest.

Lion’s Mane, Mood and Anxiety

Lion’s Mane mushroom has been referred to as ‘nature’s nutrient for the neurons,’ and it’s Lion’s Mane’s potential effects on the brain that make it a truly fascinating shroom. Buddhist Shaolin monks are said to have used Lion’s Mane mushroom in meditation practice to enhance focus and allow them to better cultivate life-force energy Qi.

More recently Lion’s Mane mushroom has been studied to be able to support healthy brain states by stimulating nerve growth factor (NGF)[2] and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). BDNF in particular helps increase brain plasticity, which supports your brain cells in staying resilient in the face of stress or ageing.

One of the most visible indications of our level of stress is our mood. A balanced mood better allows us to meet life’s challenges with greater ease and action, without getting weighed down by worry and stress. There have been some promising studies on Lion’s Mane mushroom in relation to mood and states of anxiety which open the door to greater research in this area.

A 2010 study of Lion's Mane mushroom on a group of 30 women experiencing depression and anxiety was carried out over a 4-week period. At the end of the study, the participants in the test group reported an overall improvement in mood, depression and sleep quality, scoring lower on several measures including palpitations, frustration, irritability and anxiety[3].

Lion’s Mane has also been noted to reduce inflammation, promoting better blood flow, which provides your brain with more oxygen. More oxygen in your brain results in better brain performance which is essential for focus, mood and managing states of anxiety and stress.

Cordyceps, Energy, Stress and Anxiety

After periods of intense stress, we can often find ourselves with that almost debilitating sense of fatigue. Anxiety and stress drive our nervous system into overdrive. This not only raises our heart rate and blood pressure, but also increases muscle tension, and releases toxins into our system that can cause inflammation. This is where Cordyceps rises to the occasion.

Cordyceps is a deep energy awakener, coveted for its ability to restore foundational energy after times of exertion and fatigue and increase our resilience to stress. It does this by supporting the production of the molecule adenosine triphosphate (ATP). [4] ATP is our body’s main energy supply source and required to fuel our muscles and keep us moving. But that’s not all, recent studies have linked healthy ATP levels and cellular energy as key to managing stress and anxiety and keeping these states at bay. [5]

Managing Stress and Anxiety

In addition to using medicinal mushrooms as tools to support stress and anxiety, it's always a good idea to take a holistic approach. Additional ways to support our stress levels include exercise, quality sleep, avoiding inflammatory foods and alcohol where possible, meditation, staying socially engaged and talking to a friend, family member or professional if you’re in need of support.

If you’re looking to try medicinal mushrooms for balance and stress support, look no further than Reishi, Lion’s Mane, and Cordyceps.

Our Inner Atlas Reishi, Lion’s Mane and Cordyceps are:

  • Highly potent, containing greater than 30% beta-D-glucans.
  • Certified USDA & EU Organic.
  • Fruiting body only – 100% real mushrooms with no added fillers or mycelium.
  • Semi-wild cultivated and wood-grown.
  • Sourced from pristine di tao locations.
  • Lab-tested for purity.
References:

[1] Sleep Reishi Mushroom 

[2] Lion’s Mane Stimulates Nerve Growth Factor 

[3] Lion’s Mane, Mood & Anxiety 

[4] Cordyceps and ATP 

[5] ATP Anxiety and Depression 

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