Article at a Glance:
- Menopause can come with symptoms that may hinder the quality of life for some women.
- Several studies indicate that functional mushrooms may help improve symptoms of menopause and perimenopause.
- Reishi, Lion’s Mane, and Cordyceps contain mycochemicals that may help women fight fatigue, mood swings, and memory problems.
For many women, midlife is a time to be at the top of their game: active, confident, and strong. Unfortunately, menopause symptoms, like mood swings, brain fog, fatigue, and sleep disturbances, can act as barriers to that stride.[1,2]
Easing these encumbrances may be as simple as making small changes to the diet. For example, some women have found relief by including functional mushrooms in their daily routine. Functional mushrooms are fungi packed with beneficial "mycochemicals," or chemical compounds naturally found in mushrooms.
Fungi and Brain Function
Perhaps one of the more frustrating things about getting older is dealing with mental health changes. During and after menopause, many women report "brain fog," or memory issues and mood changes. Scientists aren’t certain what causes the problems, but think it may be related to lower hormone levels, including estrogen.[4,5,6]
Lion's Mane mushrooms contain mycochemical phytoestrogen, which acts similarly to estrogen in the body.  Some studies are finding that perimenopausal women consuming Lion's Mane may help them maintain normal moods, likely because of how phytoestrogens bind to estrogen receptors in the brain.
Lion's Mane also contains erinacine A and hericenones C. Researchers think these mycochemicals may support nerve cell growth. In recent animal studies, these extracted compounds helped older mice regain memory skills.[8,10]
More Rest with Reishi
Sleep disturbance is a common problem during menopause. Lack of quality sleep can lead to several health problems, including weight gain, blood sugar regulation, cardiovascular issues, and mood changes.
Several animal studies have linked the mycochemicals in Reishi mushrooms to a better night's sleep.[12,13,14] One study showed that after only three days of taking Reishi, the mice in the study increased their total sleep time significantly.
Another recent study indicated that increased sleep time for animals given Reishi might be related to positive changes in the gut microbiome. By giving mice Reishi extract, researchers found that certain helpful bacteria were increased in the gut. These bacteria were responsible for making new chemicals that promoted longer sleep times.
Mushrooms are also valuable as adaptogens. Adaptogens are foods that help the body regulate stress responses, which may improve sleep quality. However, it’s not well understood exactly what triggers stress relief. In a study in India, researchers determined that flavonoids and phenols in Reishi mushrooms may be what is responsible for their stress-reducing properties.
More Steps with Cordyceps
Exercise continues to be important as we age because it helps with weight maintenance, strengthens bones, and aids in muscle mass retention. While fitness is as important as ever, it may seem more difficult because energy levels may feel lower.
Enter Cordyceps, a mushroom that has been shown to help supply the energy needed for our cells to do all tasks, including exercise. Cordyceps contains mycochemicals that help the body make adenosine triphosphate (ATP). More ability to produce ATP means more energy for exercise.
Research shows that Cordyceps may improve exercise performance. For example, one study showed that supplementing with Cordyceps extract for as little as one week improved high-intensity exercise performance.
The Bottom Line
While menopause symptoms can be disruptive for many women, it may be possible to find some relief with dietary changes, including adding functional mushrooms. Evidence is growing that, in particular, Lion's Mane, Cordyceps, and Reishi may help with sleep, mood, memory, and energy.
Adding functional mushrooms to your diet may help you experience menopause as the graceful right of passage it should be. These mushrooms are not easy to find at your local grocery store. However, you can find supplemental extracts on our website in the form of delicious gummies.
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- Desmawati, D., & Sulastri, D. (2019). Phytoestrogens and Their Health Effect. Open Access Macedonian Journal of Medical Sciences, 7(3), 495–499.
- Kawagishi, H., Ando, M., Sakamoto, H., Yoshida, S., Ojima, F., Ishiguro, Y., Ukai, N., & Furukawa, S. (1991). Hericenones C, D and E, stimulators of nerve growth factor (NGF)-synthesis, from the mushroom Hericium erinaceum. Tetrahedron Letters, 32(35), 4561–4564.
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- Lee, L.-Y., Chou, W., Chen, W.-P., Wang, M.-F., Chen, Y.-J., Chen, C.-C., & Tung, K.-C. (2021). Erinacine A-Enriched Hericium erinaceus Mycelium Delays Progression of Age-Related Cognitive Decline in Senescence Accelerated Mouse Prone 8 (SAMP8) Mice. Nutrients, 13(10). https://doi.org/10.3390/nu13103659
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- Cui, X.-Y., Cui, S.-Y., Zhang, J., Wang, Z.-J., Yu, B., Sheng, Z.-F., Zhang, X.-Q., & Zhang, Y.-H. (2012). Extract of Ganoderma lucidum prolongs sleep time in rats. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 139(3), 796–800.
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