Mushrooms That Will Boost Your Brain
There’s a lot of talk about superfoods. If you can believe what you read on the internet, kale will give you x-ray vision. Some articles overplay the concept of superfoods a bit, but there are things you can eat that really are good for your body. And one of these healthy foods is mushrooms. It might surprise you, but some varieties of mushrooms are reputed to boost your brain function. Some of these health benefits include cognitive boosting properties. There is even research to suggest that certain kinds of mushrooms may protect against Alzheimer’s.
If you think about it, this makes sense. Mushrooms contain powerful chemicals. They can give a person mind-bending hallucinations and can even kill people. So it makes sense that some of these chemicals could have significant health benefits.
We discuss four types of mushrooms below that are reputed to be especially healthy for your brain. Let’s learn a little bit about what medicinal mushrooms can do for your brain and the rest of your body, and which is the best mushroom to boost brain function.
The first of our brain mushrooms is the Lion’s Mane mushroom. These mushrooms are edible and may have some medicinal qualities.
Studies have shown that Lion’s Mane mushrooms may help reduce symptoms of depression. It may increase cognitive function in older patients with dementia.
Outside of the brain, this mushroom may have cancer-fighting abilities, shrinking colon tumors, and reducing the prevalence of leukemia cells. It may act as an anti-inflammatory and seems to have benefits for gut health and digestion. Lion’s Mane has even been shown to lower the risk of heart disease. More research needs to be done, but the early results are promising.
Lion’s Mane mushrooms are edible, but they take a bit of time to cook. Since they retain a lot of water, the best way to cook them is to keep them on low heat for a long time, as this will boil off the excess moisture. The final result will be a slightly crispy mushroom that is quite enjoyable.
Liquid Lion’s Mane Extract
Maui Herbs Lion’s Mane Alcohol-Free Liquid Extract. Maui Herbs makes an organic Lion’s Mane liquid extract that is reasonably priced. Just put a few drops in your smoothie or coffee to get your daily dose.
Life Cykel Lions Mane Mushroom with Kakadu Plum Liquid Extract. A bit more expensive, Lifecykel’s Lion’s Mane liquid extract also contains kakadu plum, an Australian fruit high in antioxidants and Vitamin C. It is also said to have many other health benefits.
Powdered Lion’s Mane Extract
Terrasoul’s Lion’s Mane Organic Mushroom Powder. You can also purchase Lion’s Mane extract powder. Terrasoul’s is one of the better extract powders and is reasonably priced. I like to stir a small spoon of this powdered Lion’s Mane extract into my coffee.
Lion’s Mane Capsules
Dr Emil Nutrition Lion’s Mane Capsules contain 2100 mg of Lion’s Mane extract and are an easy way to take Lion’s Mane daily.
Reishi is another mushroom with an extensive list of benefits, and we write about it at greater length here. To stick with the theme, we’ll start with brain-boosting. Recent research indicates that Reishi mushrooms help improve cognitive abilities in people of different ages and backgrounds. It’s literal brain food.
More specifically, Reishi has shown promise as a part of dementia treatment. It can help cognitive abilities in a variety of different dementia cases, and it has brought about significant quality of life improvements for such patients.
Getting out of your head for a moment, Reishi impacts the rest of the body too. In Chinese medicine, practitioners use Reishis to help to regulate sleep and improve sleep quality. Reishis are also said to have beneficial effects on the liver.
Eating Reishi can prove challenging. While considered safe to consume, it’s very bitter and doesn’t taste good, regardless of how you prepare it.
Liquid Reishi Extract
Northspore Liquid Reishi Extract. The easiest way to take reishi is to put a droplet of the liquid extract under your tongue. Northspore makes an expensive but high-quality extract. You can also mix the extract into tea, coffee, soups, or sauces. Done right, the bitterness won’t be a problem.
Herb Pharm Liquid Reishi Extract. For those on a budget, Herb Pharm makes a cheaper Reishi liquid extract which is quite good.
Powdered Reishi Extract
Terrasoul Superfoods Red Reishi Powder is a quality product for a decent price. It is good in coffee or mixed into a smoothie.
NusaPure’s Veggie Capsules I like NusaPure’s Reishi Veggie Capsules for quality at a good price.
Chaga grows on the bark of birch trees. They are reputed to have beneficial effects on the immune system, reduce inflammation, and are powerful antioxidants.
Like Reishi, research indicates that Chaga is beneficial to the brain, helping to improve cognitive ability and to alleviate symptoms of dementia.
Chaga is hard and fibrous and can’t be eaten raw. And even if it could, simply eating ground Chaga would not be effective. You need to cook the Chaga first, to break down its cell walls and activate its beneficial compounds. Most people do this by boiling fresh chaga chunks and making a tea.
But the best way to consume Chaga is in its powdered extract form. The best extracts are made from mushrooms soaked in hot water for several hours. The extract maker then strains out the fibrous mushrooms, and the remaining liquid is concentrated and evaporated to create a mushroom powder.
For more information about Chaga, including where to find it and how to harvest it, take a look at our article entitled The Amazing Chaga — An Overview.
Liquid Chaga Extract
Naturealm Liquid Chaga Extract. Naturealm harvests its Chaga from birch trees in Alaska. Chaga extract is too bitter to put under your tongue. Best to mix the extract into tea, coffee, soups, or sauces.
Powdered Chaga Extract
Teaveli Premium Chaga Mushroom Powder is best added to coffee or tea, as it is quite bitter.
Sayan Siberian Organic Chaga Mushroom Powder is more expensive, but high quality and very popular.
Activa Naturals Chaga Capsules Activa Natural Chaga Capsules are an easier way to take a daily dose of Chaga.
Cordyceps are quite different from the other mushrooms in this article. For starters, they’re rare and difficult to find. And secondly, unlike Reishi and Lion’s Mane, which grow on trees, Cordyceps is a parasitic fungus that grows on the heads of a type of caterpillar found only in the mountains of the Tibetan Plateau. As you can imagine, this means that these mushrooms are expensive.
Still, if you can acquire Cordyceps, they’re worth the effort and price. They have been central to traditional Chinese medicine for hundreds of years, to help with low sex drive, fatigue, kidney disease, and general well-being.
If traditional Chinese medicine doesn’t interest you, then some western research might be more convincing. Research has shown Cordyceps to help with VO2 max. If you’re not into Crossfit, you might be wondering what VO2 Max is. VO2 max is a fitness indicator that measures how much oxygen your body can process when you exercise. A higher VO2 max lets you do more cardio before anaerobic production begins. So basically, Cordyceps improves your physical endurance.
Research has also shown that Cordyceps can stimulate the immune system. They also perform as an antioxidant and can mimic insulin to help regulate diabetes. That’s an impressive list.
Cordyceps are safe to eat, but they’re not a cooking mushroom. The easiest way to get and consume them is as a supplement. If you’re going all-natural, you’ll have to pay a hefty price for your supply. All of our recommendations below are lab-grown, so are more affordable.
For more information on Cordyceps, see our article entitled A Guide to Cordyceps Mushrooms.
Liquid Cordyceps Extract
Life Cykel Cordyceps Mushroom Extract with Kakadu Plum. This is the Cordyceps extract that I use. I’ll add a few drops to my afternoon coffee. It’s a bit pricy, but very high quality.
Powdered Cordyceps Extract
Real Mushrooms Certified Organic Cordyceps Mushroom Powder is a high-quality option that doesn’t cost too much.
Fresh Nutrition Organic Cordyceps Capsules. These capsules are Amazon’s #1 choice.
Combination Mushroom Extracts
The Genius Brand Mushroom Capsules. These capsules contain powder extract from three different mushrooms; Reishi, Cordyceps and Lion’s Mane. While we recommend the single mushroom powders in the sections above, These multi-mushroom capsules are great for when you are traveling.
Overall, Cordyceps, Lion’s Mane, Chaga, and Reishi are all mushrooms that will boost your brain functions, and they offer a large number of health benefits to anyone who consumes them. Experimenting with these mushrooms is something you can feel good about, and if you can get into a good routine, they will provide lasting benefits that may leave you healthier.
To learn more about medicinal mushrooms, check out our article Medicinal Mushrooms You Can Cook With.
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