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Medicinal Mushrooms and Other Adaptogenic Plants for Mental Health

Feb 26, 2021 07:50AM ● By Kathleen Gould and Madalyn Johnson

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Navigating through these chaotic times on the planet can be a bit tricky, but as is always the case, Mother Nature is here to help with so many gifts from her bounty. This article focuses on the beautiful adaptogenic plants she shares to help keep us on a steady, calm track.
 
So, what are adaptogens? Simply stated, these plants are very unique in that they can help your body adapt to physical, chemical, emotional and environmental stress. They help balance, restore and protect the body, and are rich in vitamins and minerals.
 
Let’s look at a few of the more commonly known and readily available plants and what they offer.
 

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Reishi Mushroom (Ganoderma Lucidum)

 
One of our all-time favorites is the reishi mushroom. Reishi holds titles like “the mushroom of immortality” and “the shaman’s fungus,” and throughout history has shown itself to be a powerful adaptogenic plant for both the mind and the body. It is rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds, and has been used for millennia as an immune and longevity food.
 
It is said that if there is no hope, look to the reishi mushroom. It has a staggering list of amazing properties: immune boosting; analgesic; sleep enhancing; shown to help lower blood sugar and blood pressure, and relieve stress, anxiety and depression; and the list goes on and on.
 

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Turkey Tail (Coriolus Versicolor)

 
For strengthening, nourishing and feeding the immune system, this seems to be the big one.
Turkey tail is definitely an adaptogenic mushroom, and as such has a big influence on our state of mind. When we feel better emotionally and mentally, our entire outlook is brighter, and that is just one of the many things that this medicinal mushroom helps with. It is a wonderful antioxidant, anti-viral and anti-microbial, and is often used to help prevent or fight infections like colds and flu. Turkey tail contains prebiotics, which can help nourish beneficial bacteria in the microbiome, so it is used for better digestive health.
 
There is a lot of study on using turkey tail to help prevent cancer, as well as using it to help strengthen the immune system of patients who are on chemotherapy. Other benefits being studied are its ability to manage blood sugar and blood pressure, reduce inflammation, aid digestion, improve bone health, and more. Research is going on throughout the world to dig out more treasures this mushroom has to offer.
 
Ashwagandha Root (Withania Somnifera)
 
Ashwagandha is another adaptogenic plant with a wide range of overall health benefits. With regular use, ashwagandha can help to lower blood sugar levels and blood pressure, and reduce stress and anxiety. It is also used to help prevent arthritis, asthma and increase fertility in men. Ashwagandha is also anti-bacterial and an antioxidant used to regulate the immune system.
 
With so many benefits these plants have to offer, it is important that we use them daily. Let’s think a bit out of the box on ways to get these valuable properties in our bodies. Most of us have heard of turmeric milk, or “golden milk,” which is turmeric powder, some cinnamon and a sweetener in a base of almond milk (or whatever milk is your preference). Why not add a bit of ashwagandha powder or mushroom powder for that extra kick of immunity—and deliciousness!? How about adding these powders to your smoothie in the morning? A smoothie of ashwagandha powder, a banana, a heaping spoonful of yogurt, cinnamon powder, and a splash of maple syrup is a sure way to get your day off to a great start. Here is a quick recipe that can utilize all of these (and others you might enjoy) in one delicious treat.
 
Madalyn’s Zoom Balls
 
2 cups nut butter (your choice—we love sunflower seed butter)
1 cup tahini
½ cup dried cranberries (or your preferred dried berry)
½ cup cacao nibs
2 oz ground bee pollen (optional)
1 cup chips of your preference (dark chocolate is awesome!)
½ Tbsp cinnamon powder
½ tsp nutmeg
2 Tbsp chia seeds
½ cup chopped nuts (your choice)
½ cup honey or agave syrup to taste
2 Tbsp each powders of your choice (ashwagandha, mushroom powder, guarana for a kick of energy)
 
Mix all these ingredients together until you get the consistency of a rollable ball. Form into small balls, and roll them in maca, shredded coconut or cocoa powder. Keep in the refrigerator, so they can get solid. Take a few out and enjoy during the day. These also freeze really well.
 
Think about adding these powders to whatever it is you like. Most are quite tasteless and easily incorporated into foods. If you have the mushrooms in bigger form, make yourself up some herb pouches that include dried garlic, onion, reishi and other mushroom pieces, and ginger. Throw these pouches into soups, stews, beans, spaghetti sauce and broths, and let their essences (and medicinal properties) heal you.
 
Bon appétit!
 

Madalyn Johnson (left) and Kathleen Gould (right)

 

Kathleen Gould, registered herbalist, and Madalyn Johnson are proprietors of SW Herb Shop and Gathering Place. Gould has been an herbalist for 30-plus years and has extensive experience in herbal medicine. For more information, call 480-694-9931, or visit SWHerb.com or Store.SWHerb.com.

 
 
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