Cordyceps For Anxiety And Depression: How The Fungi Supports Mental Health

Last Updated on January 12, 2024

Globally, there is an increase in mental health issues, which the COVID-19 pandemic has made worse in many communities. Depression stands as one of the leading causes of disability globally, particularly in women, and contributes 4.3% of the global disease burden. Similarly, 4% of people worldwide are thought to suffer from an anxiety disorder at the moment.

It is vital that we learn how to enhance human resilience and well-being in light of the global conditions we find ourselves in.  While antidepressants remain the most widely used treatment for depression, an increasing number of people are turning to natural remedies such as Cordyceps mushrooms.

The health benefits of Cordyceps mushrooms are immense, and they are incredibly versatile. These mushrooms have recently been shown to have advantages for mental health in addition to their physical health benefits.

In Chinese medicine, cordyceps mushrooms have long been used to treat a wide range of illnesses, including mental health issues. Promising findings from recent studies on the antidepressant properties of Cordyceps mushrooms suggest that these mushrooms may provide a safe, natural treatment option for people with anxiety and depression.

Researchers suggest various possible techniques that Cordyceps mushrooms could use to treat depression, even though there is still much to learn about cordyceps and mental wellness.  One mechanism of action is the mutation of the brain’s neurotransmitters that are involved in mood regulation.  Another way Cordyceps may support mental health is by reducing oxidative stress and neuroinflammation.

Of course, taking Cordyceps mushrooms doesn’t solve the social, political, or economic issues that cause a great deal of emotional suffering. However, they might offer us complementary medicine that works alongside traditional therapies for depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues. In some instances, they might even eliminate the need for prescription drugs.

This post dives into the details and science behind Cordyceps for depression and anxiety.

cordyceps for anxiety and depression

Exploring The Science Behind Cordyceps For Anxiety And Depression

Cordyceps have adaptogenic properties.  Adaptogens are compounds that aid the body in preserving or regaining equilibrium during periods of internal or external stress.

An essential part of the stress response system, the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, is one of the pathways that reacts to adaptogenic mushrooms. The compounds in Cordyceps mushrooms interact with the HPA axis to help control mood and stress while enhancing memory.

Additionally, beta-glucan fibers found in Cordyceps mushrooms combat inflammation in the vital gut-brain axis. Researchers have found that the beta-glucan fiber in medicinal mushrooms, in particular, increased the structural integrity of the human brain’s prefrontal cortex. However, other foods, like oats, also contain this type of fiber.

Benefits OF Cordyceps Mushroom

Cordyceps mushrooms affect mood, mental health, and emotional well-being, but they also seem to support physical health. Some of the most well-known advantages of cordyceps mushrooms include the following:

  • Cordyceps can help treat cancer. It can be used to treat lung cancer, breast cancer, testicular cancer, prostate cancer, and other types of carcinomas due to its strong antitumor properties.
  • It might improve heart health and respiratory function.
  • Liver problems may benefit from cordyceps.
  • Cordyceps lower the risk of parasitic and infectious illnesses.
  • Cordyceps mushrooms may help increase testosterone levels and enhance libido.
  • The mushroom can increase your energy levels and help you perform better when working out. Cordyceps can also increase muscle strength.
  • Cordyceps is effective in treating various mood disorders and elevating your mood.
  • When taken regularly, this mushroom acts as a blood thinner and may have antiplatelet effects by preventing blood clots.
  • Cordyceps may assist in restoring the normal physiological effects of stress on the thyroid and other endocrine glands, including the pituitary and adrenal glands.
  • By supporting the adrenal glands, the adaptogenic mushroom aids the body’s ability to produce and maintain a constant energy level.
  • It is believed that cordyceps can help regulate your nervous system, activate your adrenal glands, and increase your body’s synthesis of ATP (adenosine triphosphate).

There are a few more technical aspects of medicinal mushrooms to consider when choosing the best Cordyceps supplement. In particular, it’s critical to comprehend these three aspects of mushroom supplements:

The fruiting body is superior to mycelia because it contains more health-promoting active substances like beta-glucans, cordycepin, cordymin, polysaccharides, ergosterol peroxide, and ergosterol-3.

Mycelium is the mushroom’s underground root system. Some supplements use mycelium that is grown on grain, which is likely less concentrated in active ingredients than the fruiting body.  Because they are grown on grain, the final product typically contains a sizable amount of grain filler.

Boiling the mushroom in either alcohol or water allows the active compounds to be extracted. This process concentrates the beneficial molecules and improves the body’s absorption capacity. Usually used for medicinal purposes, extracts provide a more concentrated dosage of the active ingredients.

Understanding the beneficial components of functional mushrooms, such as beta-glucans, terpenoids, and ergothioneine, is essential. The potential health benefits of the mushroom, including improved immunity, reduced inflammation, and anti-cancer properties, are derived from these compounds.

Look for organic products that have undergone toxin testing in a lab, are composed only of fruiting bodies, disclose their source and growing conditions, and list the beneficial ingredient on the label. To certify the quality, several respectable businesses provide certificates of analysis.

FAQs About Cordyceps For Anxiety And Depression

Is It Safe To Take Cordyceps Mushroom For Depression And Anxiety Every Day?

For most healthy adults, taking Cordyceps mushrooms orally is probably safe and well tolerated. You can take the mushroom every day as long as you are careful not to take too much of it. However, if you encounter any side effects, immediately cease taking the drug and see a doctor.

When Taking Supplements Containing Cordyceps For Anxiety And Depression, Are There Any Side Effects?

Most Cordyceps mushroom users can tolerate the few side effects—primarily gastrointestinal issues—quite well. You should always consult a healthcare provider if you are pregnant, taking medication, or have underlying medical conditions.

How To Use Cordyceps Mushroom For Depression And Anxiety?

Cordyceps mushrooms are available as powders, extracts, pills and capsules.  You can mix the powdered forms into smoothies or coffee or sprinkle them over food. Consult your physician before starting any supplement, and follow the directions on the package if you use Cordyceps products.

Do Cordyceps and Medication Interact?

Cordyceps interacts with medications that slow blood clotting, such as anticoagulant and antiplatelet medications.  The mushroom delays blood clotting. The risk of bleeding and bruises may increase if Cordyceps is taken with drugs that also slow blood clotting.

Is Cordyceps Beneficial for Anxiety?

Animal studies suggest that Cordyceps may have an anxiolytic effect, which lowers anxiety levels. Moreover, Cordyceps is adaptogenic. The mushroom boosts adaptability and resilience to exhaustion, stress, and anxiety by activating the adrenal glands and altering the nervous system.

How Much Cordyceps Is Recommended For Anxiety And Depression?

The usual dosage recommendation for Cordyceps is 1,000–3,000 mg daily. There are no known adverse effects within this range.

Conclusion

Cordyceps has been found to help relieve stress and decrease feelings of anxiety. The mushroom is an adaptogen that can support your body and help it adapt to stress. Additionally, it decreases stress-associated inflammatory response, balances circadian rhythm, influences brain circuits, supports mood stability, and counter oxidative stress.

References

1. WHO.  Comprehensive mental health action plan 2013-2030.

2. WHO. Anxiety disorders: Fact Sheets

3. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. Anti-inflammatory and related pharmacological activities of cultured mycelia and fruiting bodies of Cordyceps militaris.

4. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. Antidepressant-like effects of water extract of Cordyceps militaris (Linn.) Link by modulation of ROCK2/PTEN/Akt signaling in an unpredictable chronic mild stress-induced animal model.

5. Annals of translational medicine. Exploring the mechanisms of action of Cordyceps sinensis for the treatment of depression using network pharmacology and molecular docking.

6. Nutrients. Cordyceps militaris Extract Protects Human Dermal Fibroblasts against Oxidative Stress-Induced Apoptosis and Premature Senescence.

7. Science Translational Medicine. Chemical perturbations reveal that RUVBL2 regulates the circadian phase in mammals.

8. Frontiers in Nutrition. Three Different Types of β-Glucans Enhance Cognition: The Role of the Gut-Brain Axis.

Author

  • Dr. Sony Sherpa has a Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) from the Guangzhou Medical University and has been studying medicinal mushrooms for more than 7 years. Her knowledge of medicinal mushrooms is backed by a master's degree in Holistic Medicine and contributes to many health articles around the health benefits of medicinal mushrooms.

World Mushroom Society is a collective of fungi enthusiasts and health advocates, sharing information, research, studies, and identifying top producers of high quality medicinal mushroom supplements.

DISCLAIMER

DISCLAIMER
The information on this website is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. All information found here is not meant as a substitute for, or alternative to, information from your doctor for ongoing medical treatment you currently receive. If unsure, please consult with your doctor before using medicinal mushrooms. Any content related to cancer should not be considered as prescriptive medical advice and should not be a substitute for any cancer treatment, unless advised by your doctor first. The efficacy of these products has not been confirmed by TGA and FDA-approved research. If you are pregnant or on prescription drugs that thin the blood, consult with your medical professional before using medicinal mushrooms.
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