The Best Mushrooms for Anxiety and Depression

Life can sometimes feel overwhelming, like you’re constantly running a difficult race. This may lead to feelings of anxiety and depression. You may find some relief in a surprising place – mushrooms. As we discuss the best mushrooms for anxiety and depression, remember that this is still just one tool in your tool belt for better mental health. Read this blog post about taking a holistic approach to your mental wellness and this blog post about the pillars of a good mental health diet.

This post was written by Lindsay Delk, RDN. It is for informational purposes and is not intended to replace medical advice or instructions given by your healthcare provider. 

This post may contain affiliate links. If you purchase through these links, I will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.

"Depression" written in mushrooms with a hands holding mushrooms to represent the best mushrooms for anxiety and depression

Benefits of Mushrooms

For centuries, some people have turned to mushrooms to feel better, both in body and mind. Nowadays, mushrooms are popping up everywhere as more people learn about their benefits. The mushrooms celebrated in this post offer comfort for depression and anxiety and help you become more resilient.

Mushrooms are full of nutrients including vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. In addition to the nutrients they provide, mushrooms are a great addition to any diet due to their many health benefits.

  • Decrease Inflammation

The antioxidants and beta-glucan polysaccharides in mushrooms fight against oxidative stress and have anti-inflammatory properties. Oxidative stress and chronic inflammation can lead to many chronic diseases, such as heart disease, cancer, depression, and anxiety.

  • Improve Gut Health

The fiber content in mushrooms helps to improve digestion, promote regularity, and help you feel full longer. And mushrooms contain prebiotic fiber. Prebiotics “feed” and help support the good bacteria (probiotics) that live in the digestive tract. The good bacteria can crowd out the bad bacteria, resulting in a healthier gut. Having a healthy gut is essential for your overall health and mental health.

  • Boost Immunity

Mushrooms are rich in polysaccharides, such as beta-glucans, that can boost your immune system and are being studied in the treatment of cancer. Beta-glucans activate the production of white blood cells that help fight off infection. Eating mushrooms on a regular basis is an easy way to give your immune system a boost.

  • Improve Anxiety and Depression

Mushrooms contain compounds that can reduce inflammation in the brain and body. This can impact mental health by reducing stress levels and improving moods. Including more mushrooms in your diet may lower your risk of depression and anxiety.

The Best Mushrooms for Anxiety and Depression

Reishi mushroom next to a cup of reishi tea
Reishi Mushroom

1. Reishi Mushroom

Reishi mushrooms (Ganoderma lucidum) have been used in Eastern medicine for over two millennia to help boost the immune system, reduce stress, and decrease inflammation. The polysaccharides and glycopeptides in reishi have antioxidant, anti-tumor, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial properties.

Reishi mushrooms have adaptogens that help your body adapt to stress. This can lead to reduced feelings of stress and anxiety, making it easier to achieve a state of calm and relaxation.

While you can eat fresh reishi mushrooms, their earthy, bitter flavor and hard, woody texture make them less appealing. The best way to get the benefits of reishi mushrooms is to use them in powder form. You can add the powder to tea, coffee, smoothies, soups, stew, stir-fries, or other recipes. If you prefer a supplement, here is the reishi capsule I recommend.

You can make reishi mushroom coffee or tea by placing 1 tablespoon of reishi mushroom pieces or powder into a mug then adding 8 ounces of boiling coffee or water. Allow it to steep for 15 minutes, and strain out any solid pieces of mushroom.

Lion's mane nootropic mushrooms growing on a tree with leaves around it
Lion’s Mane Mushroom

2. Lion’s Mane Mushroom

Lion’s mane mushroom (Hericium erinaceus) has been used as a medicine for centuries in Asia. It contains antioxidants, anti-inflammatory agents, nerve growth factors, and other active ingredients that can help protect the body from damage caused by free radicals and inflammation. Lion’s mane decreases inflammation in your body that can lead to depression and anxiety.

Several studies suggest that lion’s mane mushrooms could be beneficial in treating symptoms of depression and anxiety. An animal-based study found that lion’s mane extract had antidepressant and anti-anxiety effects. Another study showed that lion’s mane reduced depression and anxiety symptoms in 30 women. In another study, researchers gave overweight or obese patients with mood disorders a lion’s mane supplement for 8 weeks. The participants reported lower levels of depression and anxiety along with better sleep.

Unlike reishi mushrooms, fresh lion’s mane is a great addition to many dishes. Lion’s mane has a flavor and texture reminiscent of seafood, particularly crab or lobster. This makes it an excellent choice for vegetarian or vegan dishes. You can saute lion’s mane in olive oil with a pinch of salt and pepper, use it in stir-fries, or add it to soups and stews. Lion’s mane absorbs the flavors it is cooked in.

You can sometimes find lion’s mane mushroom at local farmers’ markets, specialty grocery stores, or health food stores. And many online retailers deliver dried lion’s mane, lion’s mane powder, or lion’s mane capsules directly to your door. Starter kits like this one are also available if you’d like to try growing lion’s mane at home.

Cordyceps mushroom in 2 wooden containers on a table
Cordyceps Mushroom

3. Cordyceps Mushroom

Traditional Chinese medicine uses cordyceps mushrooms (Cordyceps sinensis) for their ability to boost the immune system and fight fatigue. They are believed to enhance energy levels and your body’s resilience to stress.

The findings of one study suggested that the key compounds in cordyceps produced antidepressant effects by fighting oxidative stress as an antioxidant and altering the CREB binding protein.

Fresh cordyceps mushrooms are rare and very expensive. So most people use cordyceps in dried or powdered form. Like reishi, you can use the powder in coffee, tea, soups, and stir-fries, or you can take a cordyceps supplement.

Chaga mushrooms on a dish, ground chaga in a spoon, and chaga tea being poured from a kettle to a cup for anxiety and depression
Chaga Mushroom

4. Chaga Mushroom

Chaga mushrooms (Inonotus obliquus) has historically been used in Russia, China, and Japan. They are known for being an antioxidant powerhouse with anti-inflammatory and anticancer properties. They may also be able to decrease physical and mental fatigue.

The antioxidants in chaga combat oxidative stress in your body, which is associated with anxiety and depression. By lowering inflammation and regulating the body’s stress response, chaga mushrooms offer a natural approach to easing anxiety and depression symptoms.

Due to their tough, woody texture, chaga mushrooms are most commonly eaten as a powder or extract. Mix it into your tea, coffee, smoothies, soups, or homemade energy bars. Or take a chaga supplement.

Bottom Line

Reishi, lion’s mane, cordyceps, and chaga are the 4 best mushrooms for anxiety and depression. They can be a wonderful resource if you are feeling anxious or down. Keep in mind that each person is unique, and what works for one may not work for another. If you have any concerns about adding mushrooms to your diet, consult with a healthcare professional first.

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