Strains for your brain

3 Medicinal Mushrooms That Improve Brain Health and Boost Cognitive Function.

Mushrooms have been ingested by humans for thousands of years as food and medicine. A recent report estimated that there are about 27,000 species of mushrooms, and among them, about 10% are identified as edible.

Of the edible mushrooms, there are about 270 species that are now considered to have medicinal potential and are thought to play an important role in human well-being.

Over the past decade, research investigating medicinal mushrooms as treatments to improve brain function has exploded. Although such research is currently in its infancy, science is revealing the nootropic (“brain enhancing”) potential of many types of medicinal mushrooms.

It’s never too early to protect brain function: Cognitive skills begin to decline at younger ages than expected.

The latest research tells us that we shouldn’t wait for signs of cognitive problems to appear before we start focusing on brain-healthy behaviors. In fact, although most brain health research has been conducted on middle-aged and older adults, the latest research shows that even brain function in middle age can be boosted by engaging in brain-healthy practices in your 20s. and your 30s.

Fear not, the fungi are here!

Eating a healthy balanced diet, exercising daily, maintaining a healthy body fat level, and minimizing “bad stress” are 3 fundamental ways to protect our brain and body from oxidative and inflammatory insults that reduce our cognitive skills.

If you wstrains-for-your-brainsant to “boost” your brain health, I suggest adding research-backed medicinal mushrooms to your cognitive health strategy!

Based on research, here are 3 functional edible mushrooms that support cognitive health:

1) Lion’s mane (Hericium erinaceus)

Main bioactive compounds: Ericenones and erinacins. Erinacin A is a powerful antioxidant that targets brain neurons.

Main effects on the brain:

  • It reduces neuroinflammation and brain cell death
  • Enhances the effects of nerve growth factor (NGF), which promotes the regrowth of brain cells
  • Increases brain catecholamine levels, which improves neurotransmitter balance and brain function
  • Take a warm bath before bed – a bath can reduce your stress levels. Add some Epsom salts to the water to soothe your muscles and help you relax.
  • Limit caffeine intake late in the day, avoid drinking alcohol close to bedtime, and try not to eat large meals right before bed.
  • Consider investing in a white noise machine to prevent distracting noises. A white noise machine produces steady sound to help people sleep and block out distracting noises. White noise machines can include many different sounds such as ocean waves, a rainforest or even a lullaby.
  • Invest in a good mattress – Your sleep quality can be improved with a new mattress. Consider investing in one with cooling gel, memory foam, or other features that can help you get the best night’s sleep possible.


  • Cognitive decline associated with aging
  • Disease-related cognitive decline
  • Symptoms of depression
  • Neuropathic pain
  • Motor deficits associated with disease (eg, Parkinson’s disease)

Way of use:

Whole mushrooms (1:1 extract): 1 g, 3 times a day with meals or 3 g in one dose with breakfast. If using a concentrate, adjust the dose according to the concentration.

2) Reishi

Bioactive compounds: alkaloids, polysaccharides (α/β-D-glucans), polypeptides, triterpenoids, fatty acids, ergosterols and cholesterols, nucleosides (adenosine, inosine, uridine), nucleotides (guanine, adenine), various ganoderic acids (BC)

Main effects on the brain:

  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Neuroprotective
  • Proliferation of neural progenitor cells
  • Improves synapses (neural communication)
  • Increased levels of acetylcholine


  • Promote relaxation
  • Reduce stress
  • Reduce depressive symptoms
  • Improve cognition and brain function

Way of use:

Whole mushrooms (1:1 extract): 3-6 g/day, taken 1 time (morning with breakfast) or divided into 3 doses taken throughout the day with meals. If using a concentrate, adjust the dose according to the concentration.

3) Chaga (Inonotus obliquus)

Bioactive compounds: Polysaccharides, polyphenols, triterpenoids, melanin, oxalic, gallic, protocatechoic and p-hydroxybenzoic acids

Main effects on the brain:

  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Antioxidant
  • Immunomodulatory
  • Immunoprotective
  • Decreased acetylcholinesterase activity
  • Improved acetylcholine levels
  • Reduced levels of malondialdehyde and nitrites


  • Reduce fatigue
  • Improve gut microbiome
  • Improve learning and memory
  • Improve cognitive dysfunction

Way of use:

Whole mushrooms (1:1 extract): Use 0.5 to 1.5 g daily, taken 1 time (morning with breakfast) or divided into 3 doses taken throughout the day with meals. If using a concentrate, adjust the dose according to the concentration.

AuthorDwayne N. Jackson, PhD

Co-Founder & Chief Science Officer, AdaptogenShrooms

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