Boosting Brain Health: How Mushrooms Enhance Cognitive Function
Don’t you wish there was a magic elixir that could improve your mood, help you focus, and keep your brain healthy? While a secret potion may not exist, there are powerful ingredients that may be able to offer these health benefits in our lifetime (and maybe even in your kitchen pantry).
So, what’s the secret to boosting your brain power? Medicinal mushrooms.
If you keep up with the latest wellness trends, you may have already noticed ingredients like reishi and lion’s mane in your favorite health foods and supplements. But, what really are the best mushrooms for cognitive function (and how can you add them to your diet)?
In this article, we’ll outline the science behind these fantastic fungi and explore their memory-enhancing capabilities and cognitive benefits so you feel confident integrating them into your daily wellness routine.
The Science Behind Mushrooms and Memory Enhancement
Cultures around the world have consumed mushrooms for centuries for their medicinal purposes. For example, you’ll find them in traditional Chinese medicine practices because of their healing properties. However, they’ve recently gained attention in wellness spaces across the United States because of their ability to potentially boost cognitive performance and enhance memory. But what are functional mushrooms, exactly?
From studying whether they can replace traditional anti-depressants to researching their ability to fight diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s, scientists and medicine experts have begun to tap into the power of these functional mushrooms.
So, can mushrooms like Hericium erinaceus (lion’s mane) or Ganoderma lucidum (reishi mushroom) really support your brain health and cognitive function? Recent findings indicate yes. However, the overall properties among mushrooms, such as lion’s mane vs. reishi, differ, so it’s important to research each to determine which is best for you.
Some functional mushroom varieties contain adaptogenic bioactive compounds, meaning they can help the body adapt to stress, promote overall balance, and increase mental clarity. Studies using super-resolution microscopy have found that lion’s mane, in particular, can stimulate nerve growth factor (NGF) production, which is particularly vital for cells to grow and regenerate in the brain. By boosting nerve growth and improving brain function, this “smart mushroom” may have the ability to improve memory, focus, and cognition.
Medicinal Mushrooms: Types and Cognitive Benefits
While we still need more research to uncover the true potential of medicinal mushrooms, studies indicate that they can do everything from lowering inflammation and oxidative stress in the brain to improving neurotransmitter function. But what makes medicinal, adaptogenic mushrooms different from other types of fungi?
Medicinal mushrooms contain a higher level of secondary metabolites (things like polysaccharide β-glucans) which research indicates have healing and therapeutic properties, especially for the brain. While there’s a significant amount of research about the lion’s mane mushroom, other common types of medicinal fungi include:
- Turkey tail
- Wood ear
As delicious as these varieties may be, unless you plan on eating mushrooms in large quantities daily, there are easier ways to reap the impressive benefits of these mighty foods. Items like supplement capsules, tonics, and powders make it easy to add medicinal mushrooms to your diet and have longer shelf lives than standard raw mushrooms.
Potential in Treating Neurodegenerative Diseases
Aside from aiding in memory and focus, scientists are now investigating medicinal mushrooms’ ability to treat and prevent common neurodegenerative diseases, like Alzheimer’s and dementia. For example, recent research indicates that lion’s mane mushroom contains hericenones and erinacines, two special compounds that can boost brain cell growth.
In studies of mice, scientists have found that lion’s mane was able to reduce symptoms of memory loss and even prevent a particular type of neuronal damage caused by amyloid-beta plaques, which is seen in the brains of individuals with Alzheimer’s disease.
While more research is required to understand the impact and efficacy of using medicinal mushrooms to aid in treatment and prevention of cognitive decline, it’s no secret that these ingredients could be key to boosting brain function and health.
Incorporating Medicinal Mushrooms into Daily Wellness Routines
If you already have a gym membership or pilates punch card, you may already have caught on that mental and physical health begins from the inside out. That’s why the vitamins and nutrients you use to nourish your body are just as important for your self-care routine as exercise and adequate sleep.
When you’re ready to take your wellness to the next level, consider adding a medicinal mushroom supplement to your regimen. Not only are functional mushrooms rich in brain-boosting compounds and mood-stabilizing properties, but when they come in the form of capsules, tinctures, and tonics, they’re easy to integrate into your day-to-day life.
Discover the Magic of Botanic Tonics
Medicinal mushrooms have a variety of positive benefits, especially when it comes to cognitive function. But how can you incorporate these supplements into your daily routine?
Luckily, our plant-based energy drink contains key ingredients, including lion’s mane mushroom extract, to help enhance your cognitive function and productivity*. Check out our complete collection of kava capsules and tinctures to find out how you can easily integrate herbal supplements into your lifestyle.
- Frontiers. Mushrooms as Potential Sources of Active Metabolites and Medicines. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fmicb.2022.837266/full
- National Library of Medicine. Improving effects of the mushroom Yamabushitake (Hericium erinaceus) on mild cognitive impairment: a double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18844328/
- National Library of Medicine. Lion’s Mane Mushroom, Hericium erinaceus (Bull.: Fr.) Pers. Suppresses H2O2-Induced Oxidative Damage and LPS-Induced Inflammation in HT22 Hippocampal Neurons and BV2 Microglia. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6720269/
- National Library of Medicine. The Neuroprotective Properties of Hericium erinaceus in Glutamate-Damaged Differentiated PC12 Cells and an Alzheimer’s Disease Mouse Model. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5133811/
- Taylor and Francis Online. Hericenones and erinacines: stimulators of nerve growth factor (NGF) biosynthesis in Hericium erinaceus. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/21501201003735556