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The 6 best mushrooms for anxiety and depression

The 6 Best Mushrooms for Anxiety and Depression

In the holistic approach to mental well-being, the realm of natural remedies has witnessed a resurgence in popularity. Among these natural treatments, medicinal mushrooms are increasingly being recognized for their potential benefits, especially in alleviating symptoms of anxiety and depression. In this blog, we will explore six mushrooms that have shown promising effects in this regard: Lion’s Mane, Reishi, Cordyceps, Chaga, Turkey Tail, and Psilocybin.

Lion's mane

1. Lion’s Mane (Hericium erinaceus)

Lion’s Mane mushroom, with its cascading, icicle-like appearance, is a native species found in North America, Europe, and Asia. Historically, it was highly prized in traditional Chinese medicine for its perceived ability to fortify the spleen, nourish the gut, and promote overall strength and vitality. Its common name is derived from its appearance, resembling a lion’s mane. In recent times, scientific exploration into Lion’s Mane has underscored its potential as a nootropic, with studies revealing compounds that promote nerve growth and brain health. The culinary world also values Lion’s Mane for its seafood-like taste, often compared to lobster or crab.


  • Cognitive Enhancement: Contains compounds such as erinacines and hericenones that stimulate nerve growth factor (NGF) production, potentially improving cognitive function, memory, and concentration [1].
  • Mood Enhancement: Studies indicate potential effects on depression and anxiety reduction, with demonstrated capabilities in alleviating symptoms in both animal models and human subjects [2, 3].
  • Nervous System Support: Erinacines are known to promote neurogenesis, supporting nerve repair, and offering potential benefits for neurodegenerative disorders [1].

Reishi mushroom for anxiety and depression

2. Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum)

The Reishi mushroom, known as “Lingzhi” in China, has a history that spans over 4,000 years, symbolizing longevity and health in ancient Eastern cultures. Referred to as the “Mushroom of Immortality,” it was reserved for royalty in ancient China and has been depicted in many works of art and medicinal texts. Native to Asia, North America, and Europe, Reishi has been the focus of extensive scientific research, examining its immune-enhancing and anti-stress properties. Its unique bitter taste is often used to balance traditional herbal formulas and is a staple in various teas and supplements.


  • Immune System Support: Helps in boosting immunity through the actions of triterpenes, polysaccharides, and beta-glucans [4].
  • Stress Reduction: Has been used traditionally for calming the mind and reducing stress. Studies have shown adaptogenic properties, aiding the body in adapting to stress [5].
  • Anti-inflammatory Effect: Suppresses inflammatory pathways, offering potential relief for chronic inflammation-related conditions [6].

Cordyceps mushrooms for anxiety and depression

3. Cordyceps (Cordyceps sinensis)

Cordyceps is a genus of parasitic fungi that grow on insects and arthropods. This unusual life cycle has captured the imagination of cultures across the Himalayan region, where it has been used in traditional Tibetan and Chinese medicine. The most well-known species, Cordyceps sinensis, was traditionally harvested in high-altitude areas of China, Nepal, and Bhutan. In ancient scripts, it was regarded as a tonic for rejuvenation and vitality. Modern science has revealed Cordyceps to be rich in unique compounds like cordycepin, which has energizing and anti-inflammatory effects. The wild harvesting of Cordyceps has raised ecological concerns, leading to widespread cultivation in controlled environments.


  • Energy and Stamina Boost: Rich in cordycepin, often used by athletes for enhancing performance and combating fatigue [7].
  • Potential Anti-Depressive Effects: Some studies point to its use in fighting depression through its adaptogenic and energizing effects [8].
  • Anti-Inflammatory Properties: Documented anti-inflammatory effects provide a foundation for its potential in managing chronic inflammation-related disorders [9].

Chaga mushroom for anxiety and depression

4. Chaga (Inonotus obliquus)

The Chaga mushroom is a dark, irregularly shaped fungi that grows on birch trees in cold climates such as Siberia, Northern Canada, Alaska, and some northern areas in the continental United States. For centuries, it has been brewed into tea by indigenous peoples in Siberia and Northern Europe, regarded as a traditional remedy for various ailments. Chaga’s prominence in folk medicine has sparked scientific interest, particularly in its potent antioxidant properties. These effects are attributed to its high melanin content, providing the characteristic dark color. Today, Chaga supplements and teas are celebrated for their potential health benefits, including immune support and stress reduction.


  • Antioxidant Properties: Helps in combating oxidative stress, offering potential protection against age-related diseases [10].
  • Potential Mood Enhancement: Some evidence of reducing anxiety through its anti-inflammatory and immune-supporting actions [11] .
  • Immune Support: The presence of beta-glucans strengthens the immune system, providing overall well-being [12].

Turkey tail mushroom for anxiety and depression

5. Turkey Tail (Trametes versicolor)

The Turkey Tail mushroom, named for its colorful, fan-like appearance resembling a turkey’s tail, is one of the most ubiquitous fungi in the world. Found across North America, Europe, and Asia, Turkey Tail has been used in various traditional medicine practices for centuries. In Japan, it has been embraced as a supportive treatment for cancer patients, thanks to its immune-boosting properties. The mushroom is rich in polysaccharide-K (PSK), a compound that has been extensively studied for its potential to modulate the immune system. In Western herbalism, Turkey Tail is also appreciated for its potential role in gut health and its vibrant aesthetic appeal in natural landscapes.


  • Immune Support: Rich in beta-glucans, known for immune system support, offering potential protection against infections and diseases [13].
  • Potential Stress Relief: May help in reducing stress and anxiety through its immune-modulating and anti-inflammatory properties [14].
  • Digestive Health Support: Contains prebiotic compounds that promote healthy gut bacteria, contributing to mental well-being through the gut-brain connection [15].

Psilocybin mushrooms for anxiety and depression

6. Psilocybin (Psilocybe species)

Psilocybin, a naturally occurring psychedelic compound, is found in over 100 species of mushrooms in the Psilocybe genus. The use of psilocybin-containing mushrooms, often referred to as “magic mushrooms,” can be traced back to ancient Mesoamerican cultures, where they were used in religious and shamanic rituals. In the 1960s, Psilocybin caught the attention of the Western world, leading to a surge in recreational and scientific interest. Despite legal restrictions in many regions, recent years have seen a renaissance in psilocybin research, with clinical trials exploring its potential therapeutic benefits for mental health disorders like depression and anxiety. Its cultural and scientific significance continues to evolve, painting a complex picture of a substance with profound effects on the human mind and psyche.


  • Depression Treatment: Promising results in treating major depressive disorders, with documented success in clinical trials [16].
  • Anxiety Reduction: Potential in reducing anxiety, especially in terminal illness patients, with studies showing significant improvements in anxiety and depression scores.
  • Neurogenesis Effect: Emerging research suggests psilocybin’s role in stimulating the growth of new nerve cells.

How to Use These Mushrooms: Supplement Capsules, Homemade Mushroom Tea, and Eating Them Cooked, Raw, or Dry

These therapeutic mushrooms can be utilized in various forms, each having its unique advantages. Supplement capsules provide a standardized dosage and have been researched for their benefits in promoting health [17]. Homemade mushroom tea is a traditional method that’s not only therapeutic but also a sensory experience [18]. Cooking or drying mushrooms like Lion’s Mane and Turkey Tail might enhance their flavor and make them more digestible, while consuming them raw may preserve certain nutrients [19]. Psilocybin has specific legal considerations and must be approached with caution and awareness of the legal context [20].

Mushroom’s Compounds

The six mushrooms owe their therapeutic effects to specific compounds. Lion’s Mane contains erinacines and hericenones, stimulating nerve growth factor (NGF) [21]. Reishi’s triterpenes, polysaccharides, and beta-glucans are known for immune support [22]. Cordyceps, rich in cordycepin, is prized for boosting energy [23]. Chaga’s antioxidants like melanin have been studied for their health-promoting effects [24], and Turkey Tail’s polysaccharides have immune-enhancing properties [25]. Psilocybin’s interaction with serotonin receptors has been well-documented in scientific literature [26].

Mushroom’s Effect on Inflammation

Studies have highlighted the anti-inflammatory potential of these mushrooms. Reishi has been found to suppress inflammatory pathways in research [22]. Chaga has shown the ability to reduce inflammation through the inhibition of pro-inflammatory cytokines [24]. Cordyceps’ anti-inflammatory effects have also been documented in various studies [23]. Turkey Tail’s polysaccharides have been associated with modulating the immune system and reducing inflammation [25].

Mushroom’s Effect on Neurotransmitters

The influence of these mushrooms on neurotransmitters has been an area of scientific interest. Lion’s Mane’s stimulation of NGF affects neuron function and health [21]. Reishi might influence neurotransmitters associated with calming effects [22]. Psilocybin’s direct interaction with serotonin receptors and its effects on mood and perception have been extensively studied [26].

Mushroom’s Effect on Neurogenesis

Lion’s Mane and psilocybin have attracted attention for their potential effects on neurogenesis. Lion’s Mane’s compounds, such as erinacines, are known to promote neurogenesis [21]. Emerging research suggests that psilocybin may also stimulate the growth of new nerve cells, offering potential benefits for mental health treatments [27].


The exploration of medicinal mushrooms as a natural approach to mental well-being is a fascinating intersection of ancient wisdom, modern science, and human curiosity. With the ever-growing challenges of mental health in contemporary society, the therapeutic potential of these six mushrooms—Lion’s Mane, Reishi, Cordyceps, Chaga, Turkey Tail, and Psilocybin—opens new vistas of understanding and healing.

Lion’s Mane, renowned for its cognitive enhancement capabilities, illustrates a promising pathway in neuroprotection and cognitive health [1]. Reishi, the “Mushroom of Immortality,” extends its mythical reputation into tangible benefits in immune support, stress reduction, and anti-inflammatory effects [4, 5, 6]. Cordyceps, with its mystical life cycle, embodies the essence of vitality, bringing energy and potentially aiding depression [7, 8, 9].

Chaga, a sentinel of the frozen North, imparts its strength to us in the form of antioxidants and immune support, adding to our resilience [10, 11, 12]. Turkey Tail, a ubiquitous symbol of natural harmony, is a testament to the healing power of nature in immune modulation and gut health [13, 14, 15]. Finally, Psilocybin, the most enigmatic of the group, beckons us to explore the intricate depths of the human psyche, offering a novel perspective in the treatment of depression and anxiety [16, 26, 27].

The array of forms in which these mushrooms can be consumed, from capsules to cooking, allows for individualized approaches that honor personal preferences and needs [17, 18, 19, 20]. The exploration of the underlying compounds, effects on inflammation, neurotransmitters, and neurogenesis, demonstrates the complexity and multi-dimensionality of these natural wonders [21-27].

As our understanding of these therapeutic mushrooms deepens, we are invited to view them not merely as substances but as symbols of interconnectedness, regeneration, and the unexplored potential of the natural world. They challenge us to rethink our approach to mental health and well-being, encouraging us to embrace a more holistic, integrative perspective. It is a journey that requires both scientific rigor and a willingness to learn from the wisdom of the ages, as we navigate the intricate interplay between mind, body, and the natural world. The resurgence of interest in medicinal mushrooms is a testament to the human spirit’s innate desire to connect, heal, and discover meaning in the tapestry of life.


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