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What is an Adaptogen?

Neutralize Stress

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, an adaptogen is defined as a plant-derived substance that is nontoxic and is known for increasing the body's capacity to combat the negative influences caused by stress while helping to reinstate regular bodily activity (1).

What is an Adaptogen Mushroom?

Mushrooms with adaptogen features are known to reduce the damaging effects caused by stress. As a result, these mushrooms are notoriously used as health products.

Some common examples of adaptogens are Agaricus Blazei and Lion's Mane mushrooms.

Lion's Mane mushrooms can be described as oddly shaped, white in color, relatively large, and closely resemble a lion's mane. They are well-known for incredible health benefits such as increased brain function, sound mood reinforcement, advanced immune system function, and improved memory.

What are foods and herbs for adaptogen?

Common examples of foods and herbs that contain adaptogen properties are Moringa, Reishi, Ashwagandha, Chaga, Maca root, Lion's mane mushroom, Cordyceps, Valerian root, Triphala, Gotu koal, Astragalus, Rhodiola, Mugwort, and Agaricus blazei mushroom (2).

Two key adaptogens that are going to be discussed are Agaricus blazei and Lion's mane mushroom.

Health Benefits of Lion's Mane

This type of mushroom mainly grows on expired organic material and is often found in the woods (5). Yet, it is not as unappealing as you might think because it is often used as an ingredient for meals and utilized for medicinal purposes, too.

Better mood, increased memory, and improved immune system health are significant benefits of using the extracts from lion's mane mushrooms.

Health Benefits of Agaricus Blazei

Agaricus blazei mushrooms are known for its ability to strengthens natural killer cell activity. Natural killer cells are lymphocytes that are known for destroying unhealthy cells or virus-infected cells(12)(13)(14).

Who needs Adaptogens?

There are three key benefits of incorporating adaptogens into your supplement regimen or diet; improved memory, strengthened immune system, and emotional health.

  1. Want to Improve memory?

Adaptogens are most known for their memory improvement benefits. It accomplishes this by stimulating nerve growth in the brain and can repair nerves. Culminating to better memory capacity and faster brain function (7).

A common side-effect of aging is a decrease in creating new neural. Resulting in poorer cognitive function as we progress in age.

Fortunately, hericenones and erinacines are two critical compounds found in Lion's Mane that help with brain cell regeneration (4). These active compounds in Lion’s Mane mushroom assist nerve cells synthesis and are even linked to repairing brain cells.

A double-blind placebo-controlled clinical study suggests that older adults with mild cognitive impairment may even benefit from the adaptogens such as Lion’s mane mushroom. Thanks to the mushroom’s unique ability to repair brain cells(16).

     2. Want Better Emotional Wellbeing?

The benefits of adaptogens are not limited to physical features. It also helps with emotional wellbeing (7).

33% of Americans suffer from anxiety and depression. It is a global trend amongst developed nations. Many scientists argue that these conditions can be attributed to inflammation (9). 

The National Institute of Health published a study linking inflammation to depression and anxiety (10).

Luckily, a great example of an adaptogen is the Lion's Mane mushroom, which contains a vital ingredient that helps with combatting inflammation. As results, Lion’s Mane may help improving your mood(4).

     3. Want a Healthy Immune System?

The immune system function is a critical aspect of one's overall health due to its innate ability to fight off viruses and other harmful pathogens.

Studies suggest that the polysaccharides in Herialso benefit the productivity of the immune system due to their ability to stimulate gut bacteria (15).

The study took mice provided with lion's mane mushrooms and compared them to mice without this supplement after injecting them with a deadly bacterium. The supplemented mice had a higher survival rate than those without the supplement (11).

Although more research is required to make definite correlations between the benefits of lion's mane mushrooms and the immune system, thus far, the research has been promising.

When to take an Adaptogen?

If you are looking to help with your brain function, emotional health, immune health, choosing from various adaptogens to add to your diet is a great idea.

Reports suggest that taking adaptogens, such as Lions' mane, before bed is optimal. This is due to its innate ability to reduce stress. Thus, many find it beneficial to take before bed due to its soothing effect and ability to help one wind down before sleeping (17).

Reducing stress is a key element to falling asleep, and a good night's sleep it's crucial to living a healthy lifestyle. Therefore, utilizing adaptogens such as lion's mane Is beneficial to getting a good night's sleep due to its anxiety suppressing qualities.

Taking a Lion’s Mane mushroom supplement with breakfast may be beneficial to your memory and focus for your work and school(18), and improve your mood when you feel down(19).

References

  1.  Adaptogen Definition & Meaning - Merriam-Webster
  2. 14 Best Adaptogens Your Body Will Love — Eat This Not That
  3. The Power & Science Of Adaptogens From A Functional Medicine Expert - Dr. Will Cole (drwillcole.com)
  4. 9 Health Benefits of Lion's Mane Mushroom (Plus Side Effects) (healthline.com)
  5. Lion's Mane: A new candidate for profitable forest mushroom cultivation - Cornell Small Farms
  6. The Medicinal Values of Culinary-Medicinal Royal Sun Mushroom (Agaricus blazei Murrill) (hindawi.com)
  7. What Are Adaptogenic Mushrooms? Benefits, Risks, and Types (healthline.com)
  8. A meta-meta-analysis of the effect of physical activity on depression and anxiety in non-clinical adult populations - PubMed (nih.gov)
  9. Anxiety in relation to inflammation and coagulation markers, among healthy adults: the ATTICA study - PubMed (nih.gov)
  10. Inflammation in anxiety - PubMed (nih.gov)
  11. Hericium erinaceus mushroom extracts protect infected mice against Salmonella Typhimurium-Induced liver damage and mortality by stimulation of innate immune cells - PubMed (nih.gov)
  12. Natural killer cell activity and quality of life were improved by consumption of a mushroom extract, Agaricus blazei Murill Kyowa, in gynecological cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy - PubMed (nih.gov)
  13. Natural Killer Cells | British Society for Immunology
  14. Interleukin-12- and interferon-γ-mediated natural killer cell activation by Agaricus blazei Murill (nih.gov)
  15. Immunomodulatory effects of Hericium erinaceus derived polysaccharides are mediated by intestinal immunology - PubMed (nih.gov)
  16. Improving effects of the mushroom Yamabushitake (Hericium erinaceus) on mild cognitive impairment: a double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial - PubMed (nih.gov)
  17. Hericium erinaceus Improves Mood and Sleep Disorders in Patients Affected by Overweight or Obesity: Could Circulating Pro-BDNF and BDNF Be Potential Biomarkers? (nih.gov)
  18. Neuronal Health – Can Culinary and Medicinal Mushrooms Help? (nih.gov)
  19. Therapeutic Potential of Hericium erinaceus for Depressive Disorder - PubMed (nih.gov)