3 Medicinal mushrooms that improve brain health and promote cognition.
Mushrooms have been ingested by humans for thousands of years as food and as medicine. A recent report estimated that there are about 27,000 species of mushrooms, and among them, approximately 10% are identified as edible.
Of the edible mushrooms, there about 270 species that are currently considered to have medicinal potential and are hypothesized to play a significant role in human wellness.
Over the past decade, research investigating medicinal mushrooms as treatments to improve brain function has been exploding. Although such research is currently in its infancy, science is unraveling the nootropic (“brain-boosting”) potential of several species of medicinal mushrooms.
It’s never too early to protect brain function: Cognitive skills begin to decline at younger ages than expected.
The latest research tells us that we shouldn’t wait for signs of cognitive issues to occur before we start to focus on brain-healthy behaviours. In fact, although most research on brain health has been carried out on middle-aged and older adults, the latest research shows that even mid-life brain function can be boosted by engaging in brain-healthy practices in your 20s and 30s.
Have no fear, fungi are here!
Eating a healthy balanced diet, exercising daily, maintaining a healthy level of body fat, and minimizing “bad stress” are 3 fundamental ways to protect our brain and body from oxidative and inflammatory insults that diminish our cognitive skills.
If you wstrains-for-your-brainsant to ‘level-up’ your brain health, I suggest adding research backed medicinal mushrooms to your cognitive health strategy!
Based on research, here are 3 functional edible mushrooms that support cognitive health:
1) Lion’s Mane (Hericium erinaceus)
Main bioactive compounds: Hericenones and erinacines. Erinacine A, is a powerful antioxidant that targets brain neurons.
Main effects in the brain:
- Decreases neuroinflammation & brain cell death
- Enhances the effects of nerve growth factor (NGF), which promotes regrowth of brain cells
- Increases brain catecholamine levels, which improves neurotransmitter balance and brain function
- Take a hot bath before bed - bathing can reduce your stress levels. Pour some Epsom salts into the water to soothe your muscles and help you relax.
- Restrict caffeine intake late in the day, avoid drinking alcohol near bedtime and try not to eat large meals right before going to sleep.
- Consider investing in a white noise machine to help block out distracting noises. A white noise machine produces constant sound to help people sleep and block out distracting noises. White noise machines can include many different sounds like ocean waves, rainforest or even a lullaby of some sort.
- Invest in a good mattress - The quality of your sleep may be improved with a new mattress. Consider investing in one with cooling gel, memory foam or other features that can help you achieve the best night’s sleep possible.
- Aging related cognitive decline
- Disease related cognitive decline
- Depressive symptoms
- Neuropathic pain
- Disease related motor (movement) deficits (e.g., Parkinson's disease)
How to use:
Whole mushroom (1:1 extract): 1 g, 3x per day with meals or 3 g in single dose with breakfast. If using a concentrate, adjust dose according to concentration.
Bioactive compounds:alkaloids, polysaccharides (α/β-D-glu- cans), polypeptides, triterpenoids, fatty acids, ergosterols and cholesterols, neucleosides (adenosine, inosine, uridine), nucleotides (guanine, adenine), various ganoderic acids (A, B, C)
Main effects in the brain:
- Proliferation of neural progenitor cells
- Improves synapses (neural communication)
- Increased acetylcholine levels
- Promote relaxation
- Reduce anxiety
- Decrease depressive symptoms
- Improve cognition and brain function
How to use:
Whole mushroom (1:1 extract): 3-6 g/day, taken 1x (morning with breakfast) or split into 3 doses to be taken throughout the day with meals. If using a concentrate, adjust dose according to concentration.
3) Chaga (Inonotus obliquus)
Bioactive compounds: Polysaccharides, polyphenols, triterpenoids, melanin, oxalic, gallic, protocatechuic and p-hydroxybenzoic acids
Main effects in the brain:
- Decreased acetylcholinesterase activity
- Improved acetylcholine levels
- Decreased malondialdehyde and nitrite levels
- Reduce fatigue
- Improve gut microbiome
- Improve learning and memory
- Improve cognitive dysfunction
How to use:
Whole mushroom (1:1 extract): Use 0.5 to 1.5 g daily, taken 1x (morning with breakfast) or split into 3 doses to be taken throughout the day with meals. If using a concentrate, adjust dose according to concentration.
AuthorDwayne N. Jackson, PhD
Co-Founder & Chief Science Officer, Vibe Mushrooms
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