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Continued: Our Top 4 Supplements To Support Mental Health and Complement Ketamine Therapy – Functional Mushrooms

Many patients come to Innerbloom Ketamine Therapy to seek relief from mental health and chronic pain conditions like treatment resistant depression or TRD, post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD, anxiety, complex regional pain syndrome or CRPS, and fibromyalgia. Last month, I posted about four supplements such as omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium, and vitamin D that may be good complements to ketamine therapy. Today, I am adding a fifth to the list: functional mushrooms.

I am always on the lookout for natural remedies which can complement conventional treatments. One area of research that has gained significant attention in recent years is the use of functional mushrooms for promoting overall well-being.

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What Are Functional Mushrooms?

I don't know about you, but I have increasingly noticed that we are in the middle of a mushroom renaissance. From plush toys to popular books and TV series, mushrooms and more broadly, fungi, are resurging in our collective consciousness. Functional mushrooms are a group of mushrooms that are often used in traditional medicine and have gained popularity as dietary supplements. These mushrooms are not commonly found in foods but are widely available in dietary supplements as ways to support immune function, reduce inflammation, and provide antioxidant properties.

Important: Always consult with your primary care physician and/or licensed nutritionist before starting a supplement regimen.

In this post, I will describe some claimed health benefits of some of the most popular functional mushrooms: cordyceps, reishi, chaga, turkey tail, and lion's mane and their potential role in alleviating mental health and chronic pain conditions.

Cordyceps: An Energy Booster

Cordyceps is a unique mushroom known for its potential health benefits. This fungus, with over 700 species, stands out for its energetic and medicinal properties, notably Cordyceps militaris. Cordyceps gets its name from its fascinating ability to infect insects, leading to the growth of fungal structures from their bodies. While this might seem like a plot from a zombie movie, Cordyceps doesn't affect humans this way.

Research has unveiled numerous health benefits, including immune support, improved endurance, anti-inflammatory properties, heart health, lung support, and more. Cordyceps may also have a calming effect, reduce viral replication, and improve various health markers.

Reishi: A Stress Reliever

Reishi is a remarkable mushroom celebrated for its medicinal properties. With nicknames like "the divine mushroom" and "the mushroom of immortality," it has a history of use in traditional medicine for boosting vitality, strengthening the immune system, and promoting overall well-being. Other health benefits which are impressive and well researched include positive impact on blood lipid levels, sedative effects that improve sleep quality, potential to reduce anxiety and protection against cognitive decline and aging. Reishi may assist in controlling blood sugar and research also indicates its potential to restore gut balance, which can be particularly beneficial for those dealing with obesity and insulin resistance.

Lingzhi or reishi mushroom with capsules, organic natural healthy food.
Reishi or lingzhi mushrooms may help calm your mind

Chaga: An Inflammation Reducer

Chaga mushrooms have gained popularity for their many potential health benefits. They have a rich history of use in various cultures, particularly in Eastern Europe, Russia, and among indigenous communities in northern Canada. Chaga's unique growth pattern, which occurs on trees like birch, adds to its mystique.

Chaga is believed to offer several health benefits, including high antioxidant levels, potential anticancer properties, immune system support, and anti-inflammatory effects. Its antioxidants can help combat oxidative stress, while its modulating effects on the immune system make it intriguing for research. Additionally, Chaga has found its way into skincare products due to its potential anti-aging properties.

Turkey Tail: An Immunity Booster

Turkey tail mushrooms, with their striking fan-shaped appearance, are more than just a beautiful sight during your hikes. These mushrooms house unique compounds that can strengthen your immune system, combat fatigue, supports beneficial gut bacteria, may improve exercise performance, and bolster your overall health. This mushroom is also being studied for its potential in cancer treatment.

turkey tail mushrooms growing on bark of tree
Turkey tail supports the immune system with antioxidants and anti-aging properties

Lion's Mane: A Brain Fungus

Lion's mane, nature’s brain boost, offers remarkable health benefits. This mushroom is a powerhouse for cognitive enhancement, mood improvement, and overall wellness.

This functional mushroom has a long history of utilization in Asian cultures, notably in traditional Chinese medicine, where it was employed to combat digestive issues and recognized for its potential to enhance brain health. Key benefits of this functional fungi include its nootropic properties that help sharpen focus and reduce brain fog, increasing productivity. Lion’s mane has potential to regenerate cells in the hippocampus, associated with emotional response and memory, makes it a contender for mood disorders. Antioxidants in lion's mane may slow the aging process by protecting against oxidative stress.

Lion's mane comes in various forms like capsules, powders, and tinctures. While mushroom coffee with lion's mane is popular, its effectiveness is not conclusively proven.

a hand holding up a lion's mane mushroom in a forest
Lion's mane known for its benefits for brain health, gut health, and nerve regeneration

Functional Mushrooms as a Substitute to Ketamine Therapy

Despite the fact that ketamine has been on the World Health Organization's Essential Drugs List for decades, for some people, ketamine therapy may not be an appropriate treatment. For example, for those with uncontrolled hypertension or high blood pressure, ketamine may increase the risk of hypertensive crisis.

One thing that I remind anyone considering ketamine therapy with us or elsewhere is that ketamine therapy is only one among many treatment options. Some treatments must be administered by licensed professionals such as the following:

  • Traditional antidepressants such as SSRIs and MAOIs,
  • Electroconvulsive shock therapy or ECT,
  • Transcranial magnetic stimulation or TMS, and
  • Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing or EMDR.

In Conclusion

Functional mushrooms, such as cordyceps, reishi, chaga, turkey tail, and lion's mane, offer a wide range of health benefits that can be particularly valuable for individuals seeking relief from mental health and chronic pain conditions. While these mushrooms may not be readily available in everyday foods, they can be consumed in supplement or extract form, making it easier to incorporate their potential benefits into your diet.

As a physician, I encourage you to consult with your primary care physician or licensed nutritionist before incorporating functional mushroom supplements into your treatment plan, especially if you have underlying health concerns or are taking medications. With the right guidance and approach, you can harness the healing powers of these remarkable fungi to support your overall well-being.

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