Commonly Found Adaptogenic Mushrooms and Plants

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Commonly Found Adaptogenic Mushrooms and Plants

We’ve previously discussed what adaptogens are in plant-based medicine, why they are omnipresent in wellness conversations, and how people use them to improve immune health. As a quick refresher, adaptogens are herbal ingredients that support balance and reduce the harmful impacts of external stress on the body. Adaptogens are present in many commonly found ingredients you may already consume, particularly if your diet includes mushrooms and plants are well represented. Below, some commonly found adaptogens and their uses.

Adaptogenic Edible Mushrooms

Mushrooms have been used in folk medicine around the world for hundreds of years, and modern medicine, including the development of penicillin, owes much to “medicinal fungi,”  which have been shown to be antifungal, antibiotic, antifibrotic, and more. Also high in antioxidants and vitamins, they are known to support immune health at large. Here are some commonly found adaptogenic mushrooms.

Chaga (Inonotus obliquus)
Rich in antioxidants, chaga can reduce inflammation, stimulate the immune system, and support liver health.

Cordyceps (Cordyceps militaris)
A cornerstone of Chinese medicine for centuries, cordyceps mushrooms are used for vascular and immune health, and energy.

Lion’s Mane (Hericium erinaceus)
Studies have indicated Lion’s Mane to have high levels of antioxidant activity and be used to treat anxiety, depression, and to improve cognitive health.

Maitake (Grifola frondosa)
Rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, maitake are associated with immune function, regulating blood pressure, and lowering cholesterol (vascular health).

Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum)
Once reserved for Chinese royalty, this fungus can help with stress, sleep, and immune functions, and has the nickname “the mushroom of immortality.”

Shiitake (Lentinula edodes)
Common in the grocery store and menus everywhere, shiitake contain all eight essential amino acids, and can boost brain function and energy.

Turkey tail (Coriolus versicolor)
Growing on dead logs worldwide and named for its resemblance to yes, a turkey tail, this mushroom is full of antioxidants and is commonly used for gut health as they contain prebiotics, which nourish good gut bacteria.

Adaptogenic Plants

Many plants and their components have adaptogenic qualities as well, and their use is part of the larger practice of using plants as herbal medicine.

Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera)
Also called winter cherry, the root ashwagandha has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries to protect against stress and inflammation, and to boost energy.

Asian ginseng (Panax ginseng)
Used as a tonic herb (one that is used for restorative, immune-boosting properties), Asian ginseng is used to support adrenal function, improve mood, and promote homeostasis.

Astragalus (Astragalus propinquus)
Used medicinally for centuries, astragalus is used for treating symptoms of the common cold, gastrointestinal issues, and to improve heart function.

Cacao (Theobroma cacao)
Cacao is antioxidant-rich and supports cardiovascular health and circulation. As a natural energy booster, it can also help with mood and symptoms of depression.

Ginger (Zingiber officinale)
Often called a companion adaptogen because of its specific utility in cell health, ginger is used for issues from digestion to cognition, as well as inflammation.

Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba)
One of the most well-known herbal supplements, gingko is commonly used to improve memory, cognitive function, and increase energy levels.

Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra)
Used for energy, stress relief, and calming effects on the gut, anti-oxidative licorice is also studied for treating liver inflammation.

Maca (Lepidium meyenii )
In traditional Andean medicine maca has a 2,000-year history of use for energy, libido, and stamina. Also considered to regulate hormones.

Rhodiola (Rhodiola rosea)
A flowering plant that has historically been used to help with fatigue, and stress-related depression, and is said to help with cognitive functions.

Tulsi (Ocimum tenuiflorum)
Tulsi, or Holy Basil, is an overall or global regulator and terpene-rich stress reducer that may protect organs and tissues from chemical stress. Considered to have anti-aging and antimicrobial properties.

Schisandra (Schisandra chinensis)
One of the 50 fundamental herbs in Chinese herbology, schisandra was used in traditional medicine for sea-sickness and cold symptoms and is associated with helping issues from sleep, stress, and anxiety.

Turmeric (Curcuma longa)
Also part of the ginger family, turmeric supports cell health and has long been used to combat fatigue, breathing problems, and inflammation.


References

Bhardwaj N et al. “Suppression of inflammatory and allergic responses by pharmacologically potent fungus Ganoderma lucidum.” Recent Pat Inflamm Allergy Drug Discov.2014;8(2):104-17. Review.

Cohen, Marc Maurice. “Tulsi - Ocimum sanctum: A herb for all reasons.” Journal of Ayurveda and integrative medicine vol. 5,4 (2014): 251-9. doi:10.4103/0975-9476.146554

Ishaque S, Shamseer L, Bukutu C, et al. Rhodiola rosea for physical and mental fatigue: a systematic review. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2012;12:70.

Kabir Y et al. “Effect of shiitake (Lentinus edodes) and maitake (Grifola frondosa) mushrooms on blood pressure and plasma lipids of spontaneously hypertensive rats.” J Nutr Sci Vitaminol (Tokyo) 1987; 33(5): 341-6.

PDQ Integrative, Alternative, and Complementary Therapies Editorial Board. Medicinal Mushrooms (PDQ®): Patient Version. 2019 Jan 17. In: PDQ Cancer Information Summaries [Internet]. Bethesda (MD): National Cancer Institute (US); 2002-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK424937/

Singh, Narendra et al. “An overview on ashwagandha: a Rasayana (rejuvenator) of Ayurveda.” African journal of traditional, complementary, and alternative medicines : AJTCAM vol. 8,5 Suppl (2011): 208-13. doi:10.4314/ajtcam.v8i5S.9

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