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Adaptogenic Mushrooms for Healthy Aging

Article at a Glance:

  • Chronic stress has been shown to speed up the aging process.
  • Adaptogens help ease stress on the body’s organs, allowing us to slow aging by maintaining overall health.
  • Including adaptogenic mushrooms like Reishi, Cordyceps, and Lion's Mane may help your body stay healthier throughout its lifespan.

When we consider the effects of stress, we often think about the immediate and more apparent consequences it may have, like impaired sleep. But problems from stress can be more inconspicuous, with negative influences over how well we age.[1]

How Does Stress Speed Aging?

The human body's response to stress is intended to have a positive, self-preserving impact. Our sympathetic nervous system kicks in, and hormones accelerate body functions that save us from stressful events, whether meeting a work deadline or running from a bear.[2]

However, research shows that chronic stress has adverse effects on health. It can accelerate aging with subtle but significant changes to your DNA and chromosomes over time. These changes may lead to early damage to your heart, blood vessels, immune system, and more. Problems with these major systems in our bodies speed up the aging process. [1] [3] [4] 

In addition to mental contributors, other types of stressors can impact aging. For example, the body can be exposed to chemical stressors like pollution or toxins like alcohol. Through strenuous exercise, we can also experience biological stress with infection or diseases and physical stress from damaged muscles.[5][6][7]

While we can’t always avoid these issues, including functional mushrooms in our diets may help. Components called adaptogens, found in mushrooms like Lion’s Mane, Reishi, and Cordyceps mushrooms, may help fight premature aging due to stress.[8][9]

What are Adaptogens?

An adaptogen is a substance found in food or supplements that works with the body to help regulate our responses to stress. By definition, adaptogens must:[8][9]

  • Help the human body counteract the effects of stress.
  • Help maintain balance or homeostasis in the body.
  • Be non-toxic and harmless to the body when taken in recommended amounts.

In other words, adaptogens help the body continue to function normally when life's mishaps happen. While the way they work is not completely understood, researchers think they balance the body's main stress-response system, also known as the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA axis).[8][9]

Adaptogenic Mushrooms and Stress

Many mushrooms contain adaptogens.[8][9] The use of adaptogenic mushrooms to fight ailments and aging is not new, as they’ve been valued by Eastern medicine for centuries.[10] Western medicine has recently begun to study its anti-stress benefits, and the research is promising.[10]

For example, in one animal study, Reishi mushrooms helped maintain chemical balances in the brain while exposed to oxidative stress, which may protect memory.[11] Another study showed that a combination of Reishi and Cordyceps supplements had a protective effect against oxidative stress for cyclists.[12] 

Cordyceps may also help maintain normal mood hormones during times of stress. A study in 2021 showed that rats maintained their chemical balances better when given a cordyceps supplement.[13]

Lion's Mane mushrooms may help the body fight low mood, which may otherwise result from stress. In one animal study, when rats under stress were supplemented with Lion's Mane extract, they could maintain their stress hormone balance better than rats without the intervention.[14]

The Bottom Line

Our world is filled with factors that contribute to stress on our bodies. Humans are designed to handle some stress, but chronic problems can contribute to premature aging. We may be able to neutralize the effects of stress by including adaptogenic mushrooms like Lion’s Mane, Cordyceps, and Reishi in our diets.

Finding these mushrooms on the market can be tricky, but fortunately, we have a delicious solution. Our supplemental gummy products offer a fun and easy way to get the same adaptogens found in mushrooms.

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  1. Mariotti, A. (2015). The effects of chronic stress on health: new insights into the molecular mechanisms of brain-body communication. Future Science OA, 1(3), FSO23.
  2. Richter, M., & Wright, R. A. (2013). Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS). In Encyclopedia of Behavioral Medicine (pp. 1943–1944). Springer New York.
  3. Yegorov, Y. E., Poznyak, A. V., Nikiforov, N. G., Sobenin, I. A., & Orekhov, A. N. (2020). The Link between Chronic Stress and Accelerated Aging. Biomedicines, 8(7).
  4. Polsky, L. R., Rentscher, K. E., & Carroll, J. E. (2022). Stress-induced biological aging: A review and guide for research priorities. Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, 104, 97–109.
  5. Ignatowicz, E., Woźniak, A., Kulza, M., Seńczuk-Przybyłowska, M., Cimino, F., Piekoszewski, W., Chuchracki, M., & Florek, E. (2013). Exposure to alcohol and tobacco smoke causes oxidative stress in rats. Pharmacological Reports: PR, 65(4), 906–913.
  6. Schneiderman, N., Ironson, G., & Siegel, S. D. (2005). Stress and health: psychological, behavioral, and biological determinants. Annual Review of Clinical Psychology, 1, 607–628.
  7. Liao, L.-Y., He, Y.-F., Li, L., Meng, H., Dong, Y.-M., Yi, F., & Xiao, P.-G. (2018). A preliminary review of studies on adaptogens: comparison of their bioactivity in TCM with that of ginseng-like herbs used worldwide. Chinese Medicine, 13, 57.
  8. Liao, L.-Y., He, Y.-F., Li, L., Meng, H., Dong, Y.-M., Yi, F., & Xiao, P.-G. (2018). A preliminary review of studies on adaptogens: comparison of their bioactivity in TCM with that of ginseng-like herbs used worldwide. Chinese Medicine, 13, 57.
  9. Panossian, A. (2017). Understanding adaptogenic activity: specificity of the pharmacological action of adaptogens and other phytochemicals. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1401(1), 49–64.
  10. Lee, K.-H., Morris-Natschke, S. L., Yang, X., Huang, R., Zhou, T., Wu, S.-F., Shi, Q., & Itokawa, H. (2012). Recent progress of research on medicinal mushrooms, foods, and other herbal products used in traditional Chinese medicine. African Journal of Traditional, Complementary, and Alternative Medicines: AJTCAM / African Networks on Ethnomedicines, 2(2), 84–95.
  11. Tang, W., Gao, Y., Chen, G., Gao, H., Dai, X., Ye, J., Chan, E., Huang, M., & Zhou, S. (2005). A randomized, double-blind and placebo-controlled study of a Ganoderma lucidum polysaccharide extract in neurasthenia. Journal of Medicinal Food, 8(1), 53–58.
  12. Rossi, P., Buonocore, D., Altobelli, E., Brandalise, F., Cesaroni, V., Iozzi, D., Savino, E., & Marzatico, F. (2014). Improving Training Condition Assessment in Endurance Cyclists: Effects of Ganoderma lucidum and Ophiocordyceps sinensis Dietary Supplementation. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine: eCAM, 2014, 979613.
  13. Lin, Y.-E., Chen, Y.-C., Lu, K.-H., Huang, Y.-J., Panyod, S., Liu, W.-T., Yang, S.-H., Lu, Y.-S., Chen, M.-H., & Sheen, L.-Y. (2021). Antidepressant-like effects of water extract of Cordyceps militaris (Linn.) Link by modulation of ROCK2/PTEN/Akt signaling in an unpredictable chronic mild stress-induced animal model. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 276, 114194.
  14. Chiu, C.-H., Chyau, C.-C., Chen, C.-C., Lee, L.-Y., Chen, W.-P., Liu, J.-L., Lin, W.-H., & Mong, M.-C. (2018). Erinacine A-Enriched Hericium erinaceus Mycelium Produces Antidepressant-Like Effects through Modulating BDNF/PI3K/Akt/GSK-3β Signaling in Mice. International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 19(2).