Reishi Mushrooms For Depression? Helpful Or Not?
About 280 million people worldwide have been diagnosed with depression so far.1 Isn’t it disappointing? But we shouldn’t lose hope yet. Since it is 2022, we have the advent of advanced science on our side with various research into novel treatment options.
With that said, this article will give you a complete guide to handling depression through possible natural treatment solutions, particularly the Reishi mushroom supplement. While the recent scientific breakthroughs linking the unexpected effects of Ganoderma lucidum (as known as the Reishi mushroom) to fighting depression and improving mental health.
Here’s a summary of the key points of this article:
- Are Reishi mushrooms helpful for depression?
- Signs and symptoms of depression can be tiring and harsh. Can Reishi mushrooms help for depression?
- There are many known risk factors for depression namely: biochemical, genetic, psychological, and environmental.
- Current treatments for depression are antidepressants, psychotherapy, and shock therapy.
- There’s a need to discover new treatments for depression.
- Reishi mushrooms are a potential new candidate for treating depression.
- Studies have shown several links between depression, anxiety, fatigue, and Reishi mushrooms.
- Reishi mushrooms have a psychedelic effect.
- There are some side effects of Reishi mushrooms.
- Reishi mushroom can be taken in several forms.
- It’s always a good idea to consult your doctor before starting to consume Reishi mushrooms.
- Reishi mushrooms play a critical role in the COVID-19 pandemic.
- What Exactly is Depression?
- What are the Signs and Symptoms of Depression?
- What are the Causes of Depression?
- Are Reishi Mushrooms Really Helpful In Depression?
- What’s the Science behind Reishi Mushrooms and Depression?
- What Do The Studies Say?
- What are the Side Effects of Reishi Mushrooms? 11
- Are Reishi Mushrooms Psychedelic? 12
- How Can you Integrate Reishi Mushrooms into your Diet?
- How Can Reishi Mushroom be of Use During the COVID-19 Pandemic?
- The Bottom Line
What Exactly is Depression?
Depression is a mental state that leads to losing interest in things you once enjoyed doing. But it can also be termed as a feeling of sadness and despair. Even though most of us can feel this way at one point in our lives, one needs to feel like this for more than two weeks to be eligible for a diagnosis.2
What are the Signs and Symptoms of Depression?
Signs and symptoms of depression can vary greatly from one person to the other, but there are some common indications to look out for, these are:2,3
- Fatigue and feeling tired most of the time
- Feeling sad and hopeless
- Too much or too little sleep
- Noticeable weight gain or weight loss
- Losing interest in most things
- Feeling of guilt and worthlessness
- Persistent anxiety
- Difficulty concentrating
- Suicidal thoughts
It’s important to note though that not everybody will feel all these symptoms, some may feel them all while others may get just one or two.
What are the Causes of Depression?
The risk factors that cause depression differ among people, but common culprits can be categorized into the following:1–3
- Brain chemistry factors
Depression caused by chemical imbalances in the brain leading to the biological development of depression.
- Genetic factor
Occurs because of depression running in families carried out through generations.
- Environmental factor
Happens when there’s a triggering incident like violence, toxic behavior, death, etc.,
- Personality factor
This is depression that manifests itself through unwanted personality traits like low self-esteem and pessimism.
In fact, the above mentioned risk factors causing depression can only mean that doctors need to approach patients with a customized treatment plan that fits their case. Also, an accurate diagnosis needs to be there in the first place.
Despite current therapies that are available today for treating depression like:
- Medication (i.e., antidepressants)
- Psychotherapy (i.e., ‘talk therapy’)
- Brain stimulation therapy (i.e., shock therapy)
They come with their disadvantages. Not to mention that they take a long time to show effect in treating patients.
Though these treatment options can be very effective, and they are currently in use and recommended by most doctors. But there’s always a need to search for a new option that can surpass the shortcomings of what we have today.
Thus, researchers have done their work and discovered a new promising agent with the potential to treat symptoms of depression and this agent is the Reishi mushroom.
Are Reishi Mushrooms Really Helpful In Depression?
While there have been well-known physical health benefits of the Reishi mushroom (as known as the Lingzhi mushroom), there have been many studies linking it to improving mental health as well. A lot of studies have been conducted to find out Reishi mushrooms are helpful for depression or not.
Studies such as managing depression and mood improvements. Luckily, scientists have been working on this for quite some time now.
‘Some preliminary studies have shown that Reishi mushrooms are helpful for depression as well as improve quality of life in those with certain medical conditions’4 – Grant Tinsley
What’s the Science behind Reishi Mushrooms and Depression?
When a study was done on mice to test if Reishi mushrooms were helpful for depression, It was revealed the positive effect that the mushroom had on mice where it increased the levels of serotonin in their bodies.5
Another similar study done on mice that were published in the journal of Medical Research and Health Science tested the effect of acidic extract of Reishi on depression which also showed favorable results to prove that Reishi mushrooms are helpful in treating depression symptoms.6
Just last year, there have been studies on the effect of Reishi mushroom in treating insomnia and regulating sleeping patterns by targeting specific pathways inside the gut. Although, this was evident through a research study done on mice for 28 days which proved the efficacy of the mushroom in increasing the sleeping duration and shortening sleep lag.7
What Do The Studies Say?
Another clinical study done on 48 breast cancer survivors who were given Reishi mushroom for 4 weeks reported back with fewer symptoms. This pilot study showed great potential for treating fatigue, anxiety, and depressive side effects of cancer therapy which in turn showed great potential for the use of Reishi mushroom in treating depression in humans as an extension of previously conducted studies on mice.8
In an another study, there have been contradictions to the previous data. When a study was conducted on patients suffering from pain and depression symptoms, they were given 6g/day of the mushroom for 6 weeks only to find at the end that there were no significant changes in their happiness levels disproving previous results.9
There were also reports of a case dying due to long-term use complications of Reishi mushroom that led to liver toxicity.10
What are the Side Effects of Reishi Mushrooms? 11
There hasn’t been much evidence to reveal the side-effects of long-term use of the Reishi mushroom. To be on the safe side, it’s better to avoid using it for more than a year to avoid any kind of risks.
While other less serious side effects include dizziness, itchiness, dry mouth, nausea, and stomach pain.
Several factors may have contributed to the above findings.
Reishi mushroom selection – There are more than a thousand types of reishi mushrooms, and only a few are beneficial to our health. For instance, reishi mushrooms grown on lacquer trees, maple trees, and willow trees are known to be toxic. Also, reishi grown in toxic environments are known to be poisonous because it absorbs from its surrounding environment. Further, reishi mushrooms that are not properly stored can become toxic because of mold or other fungus growing on or inside of it.
Reishi mushroom processing – How reishi mushrooms are processed can also affect its toxicity. For instance, it is known that different levels of heat treatment for reishi produce different amounts of sugar and probiotic L. casei. If reishi is not processed or extracted properly (or whether any chemical compound was used), toxicity can be the result. Thus, it is likely that the side effects of reishi from these scientific studies are a cause of improper reishi mushroom selection or processing.
Even if these side effects don’t seem noticeable compared to the benefits, it’s recommended to always consult your doctor before deciding to take them as they would know best about your medical history, dosage, and any medical interactions. Also, pregnant women and those breastfeeding should completely avoid consuming them.
Are Reishi Mushrooms Psychedelic? 12
Lately, the Reishi mushroom (also known as the mushroom of immortality) has been investigated for its psychedelic properties. This can further support its capacity for mood improvements and decreasing depression.
Presumably, though, it produces an effect like meditation rather than that of LSD and other drugs.
How Can you Integrate Reishi Mushrooms into your Diet?
As we know, Reishi mushrooms can be integrated into your diet with many recipes to fit every taste, all you have to do is find your favorite one.
‘If you like mushrooms, you can easily add them to various dishes, from pasta to stir fry. And if you don’t like the taste of them, don’t worry. You can still get the benefits from mushroom teas, elixirs (to mix in beverages), coffees, and supplements. Just make sure you consult your doctor before including a new supplement or medicinal ingredient into your routine.’13 – Claire Gillespie
How Can Reishi Mushroom be of Use During the COVID-19 Pandemic?
Trying to harness the potential for Reishi mushroom, there’s no doubt that their time shines in the COVID-19 pandemic. Because, most people started working from home, lots of activities were shut down to try and tune down Infections spread, and feelings of isolation and loneliness crept in on some of us.
Here comes Reishi mushroom again, but this time not just with its antidepressant property but also with its ability to boost the immune system.
This dual role of improving both moods and enhancing immune system fighting capacity just proves that with further research into the Reishi mushroom, it can prove to be a promising new candidate in alternative medicine.14
The Bottom Line
Reishi mushrooms have indeed been used since ancient times as medicinal mushrooms for their various beneficial effects both on physical and mental health. Even though many scientists support their use as a therapeutic tool for depression owing to the potential it has shown so far, we should tread very carefully since there hasn’t been a definitive guide so far proving its safety.
Nevertheless, it can be used under the supervision of a healthcare professional to safely reap its benefits without putting yourself at risk.
1. World Health Organization (WHO). Depression [Internet]. Depression. 2021 [cited 2022 Apr 7]. Available from: https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/depression
2. Torres F, American Psychiatric Association. What is Depression? [Internet]. 2020 [cited 2022 Apr 7]. Available from: https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/depression/what-is-depression
3. NIMH » Depression [Internet]. [cited 2022 Apr 7]. Available from: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/depression
4. Tinsley G. 6 Benefits of Reishi Mushroom (Plus Side Effects and Dosage) [Internet]. 2018 [cited 2022 Apr 8]. Available from: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/reishi-mushroom-benefits#TOC_TITLE_HDR_2
5. Zhao S, Rong C, Gao · Yi, Linfeng Wu ·, Luo · Xiaoheng, Song S, et al. Antidepressant-like effect of Ganoderma lucidum spore polysaccharide-peptide mediated by upregulation of prefrontal cortex brain-derived neurotrophic factor. 1:3. Available from: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00253-021-11634-y
6. Muhammad A, Ali N. Antidepressant-Like Activity of Ethanol Extract of Ganoderma lucidum (Reishi) in Mice. www.ijmrhs.com International Journal of Medical Research & Health Sciences [Internet]. 2017 [cited 2022 Apr 8];6(5):55–8. Available from: www.ijmrhs.com
7. Yao C, Wang Z, Jiang H, Yan R, Huang Q, Wang Y, et al. Ganoderma lucidum promotes sleep through a gut microbiota-dependent and serotonin-involved pathway in mice. Scientific Reports 2021 11:1 [Internet]. 2021 Jul 1 [cited 2022 Apr 8];11(1):1–14. Available from: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-021-92913-6
8. Zhao H, Zhang Q, Zhao L, Huang X, Wang J, Kang X. Spore Powder of Ganoderma lucidum Improves Cancer-Related Fatigue in Breast Cancer Patients Undergoing Endocrine Therapy: A Pilot Clinical Trial. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med [Internet]. 2012 [cited 2022 Apr 8];2012. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22203880/
9. Pazzi F, Adsuar JC, Javier Domínguez-Muñoz F, García-Gordillo MA, Gusi N, Collado-Mateo D. Ganoderma lucidum Effects on Mood and Health-Related Quality of Life in Women with Fibromyalgia. Available from: www.mdpi.com/journal/healthcare
10. Yuen MF, Ip P, Ng WK, Lai CL. Hepatotoxicity due to a formulation of Ganoderma lucidum (Reishi). J Hepatol [Internet]. 2004 Oct [cited 2022 Apr 8];41(4):686–7. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15464254/
11. The Benefits and Side Effects of Taking Reishi Mushrooms, a.k.a Ganoderma Lucidum or Reishi – Cannabotech CBD Oils & Products Articles [Internet]. [cited 2022 Apr 8]. Available from: https://cannabotech.com/a/articles/the-benefits-and-side-effects-of-taking-reishi-mushrooms-a-k-a-ganoderma-lucidum-or-Reishi
12. Is Reishi A Psychedelic? [3 More Findings] – WhoSpilled [Internet]. [cited 2022 Apr 8]. Available from: https://whospilled.com/reishi/is-psychedelic
13. Eating Mushrooms Could Provide a Boost to Mental Health [Internet]. [cited 2022 Apr 8]. Available from: https://www.verywellmind.com/mushroom-consumption-may-ease-depression-research-reveals-5205567 14. Lin Z-B. Cellular and Molecular Mechanisms of Immuno-modulation by Ganoderma lucidum. Vol. 99, Journal of Pharmacological Sciences J Pharmacol Sci. 2005.