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Can Reishi Mushroom Help Anxiety, Stress, and Restorative Sleep?

Before modern and conventional medicine, natural remedies were the norm—the use of healing plants, fungi, and other healing approaches. This was the case for handling stress, depression, and anxiety, too.

Past or present, natural remedies have always provided holistic options for stress.

For anyone experiencing stress or insomnia—whether they have a defined condition or not—herbs and mushrooms have provided relief for centuries, often at the foundational, even nutritive level where stress begins in the body. And they don’t have side effects, nor do they require prescriptions.


When it comes to both ancient tradition and science, however, there is one natural remedy that is beginning to be supported by both worlds: and it’s called reishi mushroom.

Reishi (Ganoderma spp.) may be the most studied mushroom in the world.

For health purposes, that is. Reishi was used in traditional practices to fight sicknesses, boost immunity, and protect overall health.

Today, scientific research is confirming these uses through studies. These studies are showing amazing potential for helping fibromyalgia, cancer, aging gracefully, and much, much more.

Apparently, the mushroom may also be an amazing ally for stress, restoring calm, and promoting deep and restorative sleep. It could even be a helpful holistic supplement for anxiety, depression, and other mental health conditions, in addition to doctor recommendations.


Some reading this may be thinking: how can a mushroom help with stress and anxiety? What type of mushroom could possibly do that?

A more common mushroom than most might think, actually.

When walking through the woods, it’s possible reishi could be growing nearby.

This healing mushroom is a shelf fungus, which is a very common category of woodland mushroom. There are many different species (all belonging to the genus Ganoderma) and they can be found all over the world.

The most common types historically used for medicine are found in either Asia or North America. Some of them can grow to enormous sizes and fan-shaped configurations, ranging from colors like red, purple, and burgundy all the way to gold, tan, or brown.


So, how does a forest fungus actually help something like stress or anxiety?

Healers and herbalists of old saw its potential, and it’s quite possible—according to what studies have to say about reishi, too—that the mushroom works in a number of different ways, not just one, to help with stress.

Needless to say, its effects were noticeable enough to healers without science.

No doubt, this may be because reishi works on a holistic level: supporting issues that may cause, contribute to, or worsen stress, rather than just helping symptoms individually.

With that said, the following effects are what we know about reishi so far in regards to stress according to scientific research, and which helps to bring its traditional uses for helping stress, anxiety, and depression into modern focus.


One of the most remarkable discoveries about reishi in the modern era: it could help depression. Better yet, it may even be comparable to an anti-depressant, though more studies are needed to explore this.

A 2013 study helped break ground on this theory with intriguing evidence.

In the study, test subjects were placed in a very stressful swimming test. After it was over, they were given reishi extract, which appeared to help with some major symptoms of the stressful experience and had an antidepressant effect in the end.

It’s not uncommon for stressful experiences to build up enough to cause depression in people. For those seeking calm from a stressful lifestyle or experience, and who are also dealing with depression, studies show that reishi could give one a much-needed lift when used correctly for long periods.


Just like with depression, there have also been some earth-shaking revelations about reishi and anxiety. Whether it’s the passing anxiety of stress, stressful situations, or an anxiety condition in and of itself, the mushroom may have something for anyone who deals with the emotional state.

There are also quite a few studies on reishi and anxiety.

In one study, four different types of reishi were tested. Each was given to test subjects undergoing great stress. Amazingly, the mushroom extracts performed similarly to low dose diazepam, an anti-anxiety medication.

Yet another study showed similar results. Reishi mushroom appeared to improve anxiety, as stressed test subjects began to act more normally with help of the extract—such as going out into the open without hesitation, and not twitching compared to subjects not given reishi.

Feeling anxiety is a big part of experiencing stress. In addition to helping avoid depression, this ancient mushroom may also help restore feelings of calmness, confidence, and tranquility.


Depression and anxiety are both troubling conditions to deal with when stressed. But these can both rob us of our precious sleep, which is of immense importance to good health.

Lack of sleep, no matter the cause, can have harsh health consequences.

Can reishi help here, too? Though in the world of herbalism reishi isn’t commonly considered a “sleep aid” herb, science shows that it just might be, though more research is needed to fully understand why—and to what extent reishi may help with sleep.

One study tested reishi in how it affected the length of sleeping times in test subjects. Compared to those who didn’t receive reishi, there were some noticeable differences: sleep times were longer, and quality of sleep appeared to be deeper, more restorative, and improved, too.

So, instead of turning to that Ativan on the bedstand, it may be time to give reishi a try instead for a restful and relaxing sleep.


How does reishi have all the above effects—helping depression, anxiety, and even sleeping problems? Studies have yet to figure out, fully, why.

On the other hand, there are some obvious theories.

Though it’s not completely understood yet, some scientists think it may have to do with certain compounds found in reishi: specifically, flavonoids and phenols. Both of these happen to be antioxidants—and a study here also demonstrates reishi’s overall antioxidant tendencies.

Antioxidants are nutrients found in foods that help stave off the body’s natural tendency to become inflamed or “oxidize” as it ages. This leads to degeneration, disease, and pain.

Studies show this type of inflammation (chronic inflammation) can actually be the partial cause for certain issues with depression, anxiety, and stress. As such, antioxidants like reishi mushroom could holistically help with symptoms of stress—though it must be said that reishi is of a powerful and unusual class of antioxidants compared to most other foods and botanicals.


Taking reishi’s antioxidants to the next level, there’s another holistic way that reishi works in favor of stress: and that’s through neuroprotection.

“Neuroprotection” means the protection of neurons. Neurons are all a part of our nervous system, including our brains, which govern the way we feel and the stress we experience.

Reishi’s antioxidants are so strong that they protect nerves from inflammation.

That’s right: it might not just be remarkable that reishi is an antioxidant. It’s also an antioxidant that specifically protects the nervous system from harmful inflammation—which can also potentially cause anxiety.

A study showed this to be true about reishi. Extracts were used in test subjects that experienced convulsions, and reishi actually reduced these convulsions and seizures, all of which originated in the nervous system.

Long story short: if reishi can protect the nervous system from convulsions, then it’s more than likely it could help shield against stress, anxiety, and depression, too. In fact, its neuroprotective properties may explain its effects in other studies.

Studies and herbalists together show that reishi could form a strong foundation for fighting stress. It may help depression and anxiety indirectly—though if diagnosed with a mental health condition, think of it as supplemental or additional support for symptoms, not a replacement.



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