After such an unpredictable and scary year, we are all just looking for a way to slow down and catch our breath. Some of us have been stuck in quarantine, even during the winter and without the same self-care opportunities we are used to. It can be tricky to find ways to refill our tanks without the usual ways of living. Without the sun during the long winter, the outdoor fresh air, the interactions with others, and the community of friends, many of us have bodies that are, well, stressed out. Adapting to new self-care rituals and habits can be a challenge, especially with these limitations. One tangible way to tap into a grounding self-care practice is to lean on the earth’s natural resources with adaptogenic mushrooms.
An adaptogen is “a nontoxic substance and especially a plant extract that is held to increase the body’s ability to resist the damaging effects of stress and promote or restore normal physiological functioning.” Adaptogenic mushrooms, also known as medicinal mushrooms, can offer the body a remedial experience and physiological way to allow the body to rest with their natural health benefits. They have been consumed and recommended by herbalists for thousands of years and can be known to improve energy levels, cognitive functioning, and balance hormones.
How Adaptogenic Mushrooms are Consumed
Mushrooms are a fungus that have been around for thousands of years and are an active part of our ecosystem. Many of these mushrooms come added to mixed elixirs or even in kombucha. They come in powders, mixes, and teas. You can also find them at your local health food store, online in capsules, or even locally in their full form. Try cooking them and seasoning them in a vegetable skillet or added to homemade tacos.
Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum) grows in humid climates and has been known to exhibit a wide range of positive bioactivities, or effects on other living organisms, that give them their medicinal reputation. These mushrooms are anti-inflammatory, can regulate blood sugar, can stimulate the immune system, and are also antitumorigenic (which means that they can counteract the formation of tumors). Reishi is also known for fighting fatigue and calming you down. As you work to change unhelpful habits, incorporating reishi into your diet can be a beneficial boost.
Chaga (Inonotus obliquus) mushrooms grow on birch trees in the Northern hemisphere. Since adaptogens can lower stress in the body, chaga can slow the aging process, and is chalk full of nutrients like B-complex vitamins, amino acids, and many other vitamins and minerals. Like reishi, chaga also helps to regulate blood sugar, support the immune system, and it can also lower cholesterol. Chaga is rich in antioxidants which can help prevent cancer-causing cell damage.
Lion’s mane (Hericium erinaceus) mushrooms are the ones that look like an overgrown white chia pet. While this mushroom is known for the usual heart health and blood sugar regulating properties like chaga and reishi, lion’s mane is also known for being helpful with the treatment of anxiety and depression. It has also been known to be helpful with improving memory and overall cognitive functioning. As well as topical wound-healing properties, lion’s mane can also encourage nerve cells to grow and repair more efficiently. Wow earth, what a gift!
Cordyceps (C. Sinensis) mushrooms fight inflammation as well as contain heart and blood sugar benefits. They are also anti-aging like chaga mushrooms. These mushrooms have been traditionally used to treat bronchitis, cancer, diabetes, TB, and even to enhance sexual health and desire as well as treat sexual dysfunction.
Turkey Tail (Trametes versicolor) are found on fallen tree trunks and have long been used as a health supplement. These mushrooms have gut health benefits such as helping to balance the gut flora. Turkey tail has also been known to increase levels of cancer fighting cells in the immune system, and there has been research done specifically linking the positive effects of those going through chemotherapy for breast cancer and consuming turkey tail, and the effect of the inhibition of colon cancer growth.
Candy cap (L. camphoratus) mushrooms are strongly aromatic, comparable to maple syrup, and have a slightly sweet taste, hence their name. They have been known to have medicinal properties such as vitamin B, folate, and have been known to help with cognitive functioning. This fun mushroom grows in moss, and has been showing up in sweet concoctions and tasty treats for its health benefits.
A lot of people are turning to adaptogenic mushrooms for additions to their supplements, their diet, and even as coffee and drink alternatives. With the stress of the global pandemic, many are looking to lessen their caffeine and in turn lower stress on the body. Adaptogenic mushrooms recipes are a great way to aid the lowering of stress on the body and avoid caffeine. Here is a simple recipe to incorporate adaptogenic mushrooms into your daily routine. There are many ways to get these medicinal mushrooms into your diet. They may just be the extra boost in rest you’ve been needing.