From the demands of a busy job, to the responsibility of caring for family, to the challenges that pop up in friendship – our lives can often be physically and mentally stressful. Layer on the holidays and the fact that we are living through a pandemic, and it becomes clear that we are all facing more stress than we’ve ever had to manage before.
There is some good news. Ancient healing wisdom can help you manage the modern scourge of stress by using traditional healing plants and mushrooms known as adaptogens.
What is an adaptogen? What are the best ones to take? When and how should you take them for best results? Here, we explain what you need to know.
What is an Adaptogen?
In simplest terms, an adaptogen is a plant or mushroom that helps your body handle stress. Stress can come in many forms. Physical stressors include...
- Lack of sleep
- Nutritional deficiencies
- Strenuous physical work or exercise.
Mental stressors include...
- Demands of work, school, or family
- Major life changes such as divorce, death of a loved one, financial loss or natural disasters
- Internal struggles such as worry, pessimism, perfectionism
- Conditions such as depression and anxiety
Both physical and mental stressors cause your body to react with changes in heart rate, blood pressure and hormone levels. Depending on how long the stress lasts and how well you cope with it, your body may experience long-lasting negative effects from these physical reactions.
While it’s ideal to reduce stressors in your life when possible, it’s also important to find healthy ways to manage your reaction to those stressors. That’s where adaptogenic plants come in. Research indicates that adaptogens can help regulate hormone levels and can assist in combating fatigue and depression. They can support your physical and mental state under heightened levels of stress and mitigate the long-term effects.
Do you want to get your adaptogens from one of the most time-honored sources? Mushrooms are one of the best sources of adaptogens, and have been used for millennia in many cultures around the world for their tonic effect, combating stress and fatigue and improving stamina and longevity. Two well-known adaptogenic mushrooms are reishi and cordyceps.
- Reishi has been referred to as “ nature’s Xanax” because of its positive effect on mental health. Studies have linked the bioactive components in reishi to lower levels of fatigue, depression and anxiety. Reishi also appears to help improve sleep quality, which can be an important part of stress management.
- Cordyceps is another stress-fighting adaptogen. Stress can cause unhealthy inflammation in the body, potentially leading to chronic disease. Cordyceps counteracts this stress response with its well-documented anti-inflammatory effect, as well as helping your body fight fatigue and use oxygen more effectively for higher energy levels.
How to Take Adaptogenic Mushrooms
Consider upgrading your breakfast routine by adding a scoop of 100% reishi or cordyceps mushroom powder from Om Mushrooms to your morning smoothie, yogurt or cereal. Squeezed for time? Swallow a few 100% mushroom powder capsules instead. Or get the stress-modulating effects of reishi bolstered by other mushrooms and the adaptogenic herb ashwagandha in Om’s delicious, soothing hot chocolate blend. Stir a packet into hot milk (dairy or plant-based) for a perfectly relaxing way to end the day. Om Mushrooms recommends using 2 teaspoons of straight mushroom powder each day for the first three weeks of use to accelerate the beneficial adaptogenic effects. You can then reduce your daily dose to one teaspoon for maintenance.
Amy Smith is a writer, educator, and health-conscious mother of six, living on a small homestead in rural Pennsylvania. She produces informative online content for a variety of clients in the fields of natural living, health and wellness, family and parenting.