No one wants to go bald. Moreover, no one wants to lose natural hair color. For these reasons, most of us will look for the best ways to maintain hair health.
A healthy diet, the proper hair-washing technique, and the perfect shampoo are the most common ways of keeping hair healthy. However, what if you could use a fungus to prevent hair loss and keep your hair healthy?
Well, medicinal mushrooms are popping up in hair care products. This detailed guide will confirm that taking advantage of the health benefits of mushrooms can go a long way in helping you maintain a head full of shiny and healthy hair.
However, if you are new to using mushrooms to promote hair growth, you may have questions like: is mushroom good for hair growth? And what are the mushroom hair growth benefits? What mushrooms improve hair health?
Well, stick around to the end. Below, we will look at the benefits of mushrooms for hair loss and find out the best mushrooms for hair growth.
Mushroom Benefits For Hair
Mushrooms contain nutritional and bioactive compounds that help with hair loss and promote growth. Here are the mushrooms' hair growth benefits:
1. Mushrooms Provide Vitamins
Due to its potential impact on the health of red blood cells, which transport oxygen to your tissues, vitamin B12 deficiency frequently results in hair loss. In addition, since B12 is primarily obtained through animal proteins, vegans miss out on this vital nutrient for hair growth.
Mushrooms are a good source of vitamins, including B12. Shiitake mushroom contains the highest amount go this hair-friendly vitamin, while golden chanterelles have a modest amount.
Even the commonly enjoyed white button mushrooms have B12. It has been suggested(1) that microorganisms living on the surface of the mushrooms or the compost on which the mushrooms are grown are the sources of vitamin B12. Regardless, adding mushrooms to your diet can help keep your mane healthy.
Likewise, Chaga is rich in vitamin D(2). This helps nourish and strengthen the hair while also protecting it from the damaging UV rays of the sun.
Read More: Chaga mushrooms do more in addition to improving hair health. See all the health benefits of Chaga mushrooms.
2. Mushrooms Help Balance Stress
Too much stress can cause your hair to fall out. So, what causes this hair loss problem? First, stress might increase androgen levels (male hormone), leading to hair loss. In addition to causing dandruff and other scalp issues, stress can also cause eating disorders and digestive system problems, all of which can negatively affect hair.
Adaptogens are active compounds that alter how your body reacts to stress, anxiety, and fatigue. Mushrooms like Lion's mane, Reishi, and Cordyceps are adaptogen fungi that aid your body's capacity to withstand physical, emotional, and environmental stress.
These mushrooms are thought to help your body adapt to physical, chemical, or biological stress and trigger your body's stress-protective response. As a result, consuming these fungi can help your body regain its normal balance, or "homeostasis."
Read More: See how Reishi mushrooms fight anxiety and stress.
3. Mushrooms Balance Hormones
The effects of hormonal imbalance will be felt throughout the entire body (and, of course, that includes your hair). Hormones are vital in controlling the hair growth cycle.
Estrogens (female hormones) are hair friendly and assist in maintaining hair in its growth phase for the ideal amount of time. On the other hand, androgens (male hormones) can shorten the hair growth cycle and are not very good for hair.
When taken regularly as supplements or added to the diet, the bioactive compounds present in medicinal mushrooms like Cordyceps, Lion's mane, Chaga, Maitake, and Reishi can help balance hormones. More importantly, studies have shown that Ganoderma or Reishi mushroom helps lower the levels of 5 alpha-reductase(3), the enzyme that catalyzes the reaction that converts androgens to their active form.
Read More: See how Reishi mushrooms promote hormonal balance.
4. Mushrooms Reduce Inflammation
Mushrooms have anti-inflammatory properties, which can help strengthen hair follicles, reduce inflammation, and increase blood flow to the scalp. Increased circulation allows the scalp to receive more oxygen and nutrients, encouraging healthy hair growth and lowering the risk of developing dandruff, eczema, and psoriasis.
Several medicinal mushrooms can help fight inflammation. These include Lion's mane(4), Chaga(5), Turkey tail(6), Cordyceps(7), Reishi(8), and Maitake(9).
Read More: Did you know you can cook Lion's mane meals from scratch? You can use our hand-picked Lion's mane mushroom recipes.
5. Mushrooms Have Antioxidants
Mushrooms like Reishi, Chaga, and Lion's mane are high in antioxidants. These compounds help protect the hair and scalp from free radicals and damage by environmental toxins. This, in turn, can promote healthy hair growth.
6. Mushrooms Fight Thyroid Problems
Thyroid conditions occur due to an imbalance in hormone production by the thyroid gland. The thyroid either does not produce enough (hypothyroidism) or produces too much (hyperthyroidism).
Hypothyroidism can cause symptoms such as weight gain and fatigue, which may not appear for months or years. Hyperthyroidism can cause symptoms such as weight loss and nervousness. Both conditions can cause hair loss or thinning on the scalp and body.
Thyroid conditions can lead to hair loss when severe and untreated. To understand this link, it is essential to understand the hair growth process.
Hair grows from the root in the bottom of the hair follicle on the scalp, nourished by blood vessels. The hair then pushes through the skin and passes through oil glands, which keep it soft and shiny.
However, when thyroid hormone production, particularly T3 and T4, is disrupted, it can affect hair growth at the root. This can lead to hair falling out and not being replaced by new growth, resulting in thinning hair on the scalp and other areas, such as the eyebrows. Additionally, autoimmune conditions such as alopecia, polycystic ovary syndrome, and lupus erythematosus, which may be linked to thyroid issues, can also cause hair loss and, in some cases, baldness.
Luckily, people losing their hair due to thyroid problems can use mushrooms as a remedy. Several mushrooms have shown impressive benefits in fighting both hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism.
A research study published in 2023(10) analyzed the impact of consuming edible mushrooms on subclinical thyroid dysfunction (SCTD). This study examined the relationship between edible mushroom consumption and incident subclinical thyroid disease (SCTD) in a cohort of 6631 participants.
The participants' mean age was 45, and 55.1% were men. The participants' consumption of edible mushrooms was assessed at the beginning of the study using a validated food frequency questionnaire. Abnormal thyroid-stimulating hormone levels and normal free thyroxine levels identified SCTD. The association between mushroom consumption and SCTD was analyzed using Cox proportional hazards regression models.
This study found that eating edible mushrooms may lower the risk of developing subclinical thyroid disease (SCTD). This condition is characterized by abnormal levels of thyroid hormones in the blood but no symptoms.
The study followed a group of people for a certain period, during which 262 new cases of SCTD were identified. They found that the more mushrooms the participants ate, the lower their risk of developing SCTD was.
Specifically, those who ate mushrooms at least four times a week had a 70% lower risk of developing SCTD than those who rarely ate mushrooms. The study also found that this association was stronger in obese individuals.
This above study confirms that individuals planning to lower their risk of losing hair may want to add functional mushrooms to their diet. Interestingly, using functional mushrooms as ingredients in your kitchen goes beyond boosting your hair health to support heart health and skin health, making you look healthier and more vibrant.
Read More: See how Chaga mushroom improves skin health.
7. Mushrooms Fight Diabetes
Research has associated lifestyle and autoimmune diseases with hair loss. One disease that seems to fall on both sides is diabetes—type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition, while type 2 diabetes is a lifestyle condition. The two diseases, however, may affect hair health, quickly accelerating hair loss.
One study conducted in 2019(11) involving a large group of African American women found a link between type 2 diabetes and hair loss at the top of the head.
The study used data from the Black Women's Health Study, collecting information on medical and lifestyle factors, including type 2 diabetes, from African American women across the United States since 1995. The analysis was based on responses from 5389 women who completed an online hair loss questionnaire in 2015.
The women were asked to indicate the severity of their hair loss using a validated scale, with the highest levels (3-5) considered severe. The study used unique statistical models to estimate the risk of extreme hair loss with type 2 diabetes, taking into account other factors that could affect the results.
This study found that African American women with type 2 diabetes are more likely to experience severe hair loss at the top of the head. Throughout the study, 850 cases of severe hair loss were reported.
Women with diabetes were 68% more likely to experience severe hair loss than those without diabetes. The risk was even higher for women with diabetes for more than ten years. The study suggests that women with type 2 diabetes should be closely monitored for severe hair loss so that appropriate treatment can be offered.
Hair loss in people with diabetes is often a result of poorly maintained blood glucose levels. Functional mushrooms provide an easy, fast, and inexpensive way to keep safe blood sugar levels.
An excellent example, in this case, would be Reishi mushrooms which carry numerous benefits for people with diabetes. A variety of research studies has confirmed the Reishi diabetes benefits.
One research study analyzed(12) the effects of consuming a type of mushroom called Ganoderma lucidum (G. Lucidum or Reishi) on diabetes in two groups of mice: lean and obese/diabetic. The mice were given different amounts of G. lucidum by mouth for four weeks. After the study, the researchers measured various physiological parameters in the mice, such as blood sugar and insulin levels, cholesterol levels, and the relaxation of blood vessels.
They found that G. lucidum lowered the blood sugar levels in the obese/diabetic mice after one week of treatment and in the lean mice after four weeks. In addition, they also found that G. lucidum reduced the expression of a specific gene related to diabetes in the liver of obese/diabetic mice. This suggests that G. lucidum consumption may be beneficial in treating type 2 diabetes by lowering blood sugar levels by suppressing this specific gene.
Chaga, also known as Inonotus Obliquus, is another functional mushroom that has shown much promise in aiding blood sugar regulation in people with diabetes.
One study conducted in 2017(13) looked at the effects of a type of mushroom called Inonotus obliquus (I. Obliquus or Chaga) on diabetes in mice fed a high-fat diet and chemically induced to have type 2 diabetes. The main active components in the mushroom are polysaccharides.
The study found that giving the mice I. obliquus polysaccharides (IOPS) by mouth significantly improved their diabetes symptoms. In addition, the mice given IOPS had lower blood sugar levels, improved ability to process sugar, increased levels of a sugar called glycogen in their liver, and improved insulin sensitivity.
Additionally, IOPS improved the cholesterol levels in the mice's liver and their antioxidant levels. The study also found that IOPS improved the condition of the mice's liver, kidney, and pancreas. The study suggests that Chaga might be an excellent functional food or drug candidate for diabetes treatment.
8. Mushrooms Act as a Natural Remedy for High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure, or hypertension, is often managed with antihypertensives, but these drugs can have side effects, including hair loss. In addition, some antihypertensive medications, such as beta-blockers and ACE inhibitors, can disrupt the normal hair growth cycle, leading to hair loss.
This is known as drug-induced alopecia. It usually takes 2-4 months of the medication before hair loss becomes noticeable. The drug causes the hair follicles to go into a resting phase where they shed prematurely, losing more hair than usual. Some people may lose 30-70% more than the typical 60-100 hairs daily.
However, high blood pressure patients can reduce the risk of losing hair to beta-blockers and ACE inhibitors by using functional mushrooms to keep their blood pressure within the normal, healthy range. For example, research studies have verified Reishi's blood pressure benefits.
In one research study conducted in 2018(14), researchers analyzed the effectiveness of the Reishi mushroom in regulating blood pressure levels. In this study, the scientists wanted to see if a type of mushroom called Reishi, which grows in the Altai Mountains, could lower high blood pressure.
To do this, they gave Reishi water extract to rats with high blood pressure. After seven weeks, they found that the Reishi therapy could lower the rats' blood pressure just as well as a losartan medication. However, unlike losartan, the Reishi also increased the blood flow to the rats' brains and changed the balance of certain chemicals in their brains that help with communication between nerve cells. This suggests that Reishi may have additional benefits beyond just lowering blood pressure.
Read More: Interested in other mushrooms that can help you lower high blood pressure? Learn about Lion's mane blood pressure benefits.
9. Mushrooms Fight Obesity
Various research studies have proven a link between obesity and premature hair loss. In addition, some studies point out that obese and overweight individuals experience hormonal imbalances that often accelerate hair loss.
A research study conducted in 2021(15) investigated the relationship between obesity and hair loss. This study found that being overweight can cause hair loss by affecting the cells that grow hair.
The researchers looked at mice fed a high-fat diet and found that this diet caused the cells that grow hair to produce too many chemicals called reactive oxygen species, which damaged the cells and caused hair loss. They also found that the diet caused a change in a chemical signaling pathway that regulates the growth of hair cells, leading to further hair loss.
The study suggests that being overweight can cause organ dysfunction in mini-organs, such as hair follicles, and highlights the importance of preventing organ dysfunction through daily prevention.
Another research study conducted in 2014(16) analyzed the relationship between high body mass index and the severity of alopecia in males. In addition, this study looked at the relationship between body weight and hair loss in men with a type of hair loss called androgenetic alopecia (AGA).
The study found that men with a higher body mass index (BMI) were more likely to have severe hair loss than men with a lower BMI. The study also found that the risk of severe hair loss was even higher in men with early-onset AGA and a higher BMI. The study suggests that being overweight may be a risk factor for severe hair loss in men with AGA, especially those with early onset.
Luckily for obese people who want to reduce their hair loss risk, mushrooms can be one of the best treatments for obesity. For example, Chaga tea has the potential to act as a natural appetite suppressant due to its ability to reduce feelings of hunger. In addition, Chaga contains various fibers which can help you feel full faster after consuming Chaga tea or mushroom. This can result in consuming fewer calories overall.
Read More: See how Chaga tea promotes weight loss.
Another mushroom that improves weight loss is Lion's mane mushroom, also known as Hericium Erinaceus. Hericium Erinaceus (H. erinaceus) has been found to help with weight loss in various studies.
In this study conducted in 2017(17), researchers used mice to investigate the effects of H. erinaceus on weight loss during menopause. The mice fed a diet containing H. erinaceus powder showed a significant decrease in fat tissue, total cholesterol levels, and a hormone called leptin.
The study found that H. erinaceus powder increases the amount of lipids excreted in feces and that an extract of the mushroom can inhibit the activity of an enzyme called lipase, which is responsible for breaking down lipids. In addition, four compounds that inhibit lipase activity were isolated from the extract. Therefore, this study suggests that H. erinaceus has an anti-obesity effect during menopause by decreasing the absorption of lipids.
Read More: See all the Lion's Mane weight loss benefits.
What are the Best Mushrooms for Fighting Hair Loss?
Now that you understand how mushrooms can prevent hair loss, you may want to know which ones provide hair growth benefits. Below, we will look at the top 4 mushrooms you can add to your diet to improve your hair health:
Reishi Mushroom For Hair Improvement
Fresh and dried Reishi mushrooms can address various hair concerns, such as male pattern hair loss, alopecia areata, and premature graying. In addition, they are rich in antioxidants that protect the scalp and hair from harmful toxins and free radicals, thus potentially stimulating healthy hair growth.
Moreover, these mushrooms may decrease inflammation that harms hair follicles and hinders blood flow to the scalp. Additionally, they could potentially combat autoimmune disorders like alopecia areata, which cause hair thinning and bald patches due to the body attacking hair follicles.
Read More: See how Reishi mushrooms fight hair loss.
Chaga Mushrooms For Hair Growth
Various research studies have analyzed the effectiveness of the Chaga mushroom in fighting hair loss. One research study conducted in 2019(18) confirmed that Chaga mushrooms, also known as Inonotus obliquus, have been used in Mongolia as a traditional hair shampoo to keep hair healthy.
The study noted that researchers have found that certain compounds found in the extract of Chaga mushrooms, called lanostane-type triterpenes, have a positive effect on hair growth. In addition, these Chaga compounds are more effective than a commonly used hair growth treatment called minoxidil. Therefore, these compounds may be used in new hair care products to promote growth.
Read More: See how Chaga mushroom nourishes the hair.
Shiitake Mushrooms Improve Overall Hair Health
An ancient herb that carries many benefits, the Shiitake mushrooms can improve the appearance of hair, making it look healthier and more youthful. They are rich in beneficial nutrients such as vitamin D, antioxidants, selenium, and copper, essential for healthy hair.
They also have a high iron content which helps prevent hair loss and anemia. In addition, copper in shiitake mushrooms helps the body absorb iron, which can help produce melanin, a pigment that gives color to our hair and skin. This can also prevent grey hair.
Additionally, shiitake mushrooms contain selenium, an antioxidant that helps protect your body from free radicals and is vital for hair health. This is particularly beneficial for vegans as selenium is primarily found in animal protein. As a result, Shiitake mushrooms help promote hair growth, reverse hair loss, and prevent dandruff.
Maitake Mushrooms Promote Healthy Hair Growth
Maitake mushrooms are a great source of beta-glucans and polysaccharides, improving the scalp's health and promoting new hair growth. In addition, they can reduce the adverse effects of free radicals on the scalp (giving you a healthier scalp) and boost the immune system.
By preventing free radical damage, Maitake mushrooms prevent scalp inflammation and improve blood circulation on your scalp, supplying the nutrients that your scalp needs to fight hair issues and pattern baldness. The mushrooms also contain essential amino acids, zinc, and selenium which help provide the nutrients necessary for new hair growth.
Read More: Learn more about Maitake's nutritional content and values.
How To Use Mushroom For Hair Growth?
You can include mushrooms in your diet mushrooms. However, since some mushrooms can be slightly unpalatable, you might try extracting them and putting them in soup or tea or adding mushroom powders in hot water.
If you still don't like the flavor, you can use mushroom supplements. These are available as pills, capsules, tinctures, and tonics. Moreover, some shampoos and hair tonics are mushrooms infused.
FAQs Mushrooms For Hair Growth
Does Mushroom Block DHT?
Research has shown that Rishi or Ganoderma lucidum is a potent blocker of DHT (dihydrotestosterone). Androgenic alopecia, the world's most prevalent hair loss condition, is primarily attributed to DHT.
Is Chaga Or Lion's Mane Better?
Lion's mane mushroom is a potent brain tonic revered for its ability to provide excellent brain support. Chaga is an adaptogen mushroom that maintains the body's balance in response to stress. Use either mushroom or combine them to get the best of both worlds.
Read More:See our detailed guide on Chaga vs. Lion's mane.
How Do You Feel After Taking Reishi?
After taking Reishi, there may be some mild gastrointestinal distress and skin rashes, but these side effects seem to subside. These typically only pose a risk to sensitive individuals with weakened immune systems.
Medicinal mushrooms are not your ordinary edible fungi. Instead, numerous medicinal mushroom species have recently been found to function as tiny pharmaceutical factories, producing hundreds of novel constituents with unique biological properties. These can not only benefit physical health but are also known to keep the hair looking lustrous.
Reishi, Lion's mane, Chaga, Turkey tail, and Maitake are the best mushrooms for hair growth. Pop a pill or use mushroom-infused shampoos; these fungi will make your mane shine!
Have mushrooms helped you improve your physical or hair health? Which mushrooms did you use? Let us know your experience in the comments section.
- Vitamin B12 is the active corrinoid produced in cultivated white button mushrooms (Agaricus bisporus), (1)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19552428/
- Chaga mushroom (Inonotus obliquus) polysaccharides exhibit genoprotective effects in UVB-exposed embryonic zebrafish (Danio rerio) through coordinated expression of DNA repair genes, (2)https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2405844021001080
- An Update on Plant Derived Anti-Androgens, (3)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3693613/
- The Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Lion's Mane Culinary-Medicinal Mushroom, Hericium erinaceus (Higher Basidiomycetes) in a Coculture System of 3T3-L1 Adipocytes and RAW264 Macrophages, (4)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26559695/
- Orally administered aqueous extract of Inonotus obliquus ameliorates acute inflammation in dextran sulfate sodium (DSS)-induced colitis in mice, (5)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22819687/
- Anti-inflammatory activities of the chemical constituents isolated from Trametes versicolor, (6)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29521529/
- Cordycepin inhibits IL-1β-induced MMP-1 and MMP-3 expression in rheumatoid arthritis synovial fibroblasts, (7)https://academic.oup.com/rheumatology/article/48/1/45/1790114
- Useful Treatment of Severe Atopic Dermatitis with Ganoderma lucidum (Reishi): A Multiple - Case study, (8)http://as4qol.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/mn2014001_honjo_jas4qol.pdf
- Influence Of Thick Extract From Maitake Mushrooms On Signs Of Inflammatory Process In Experimental Toxic Hepatitis, (9)https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/4b16/1c4670fe8b5789026706b6f132a45661b83f.pdf
- Edible mushrooms as a potent therapeutics of subclinical thyroid dysfunction among adults, especially in obese individuals: a prospective cohort study, (10)https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2213453022001264
- Association of type 2 diabetes with central-scalp hair loss in a large cohort study of African American women, (11)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6831789/
- Novel hypoglycemic effects of Ganoderma lucidum water-extract in obese/diabetic (+db/+db) mice, (12)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19109000/
- Anti-diabetic effects of Inonotus obliquus polysaccharides in streptozotocin-induced type 2 diabetic mice and potential mechanism via PI3K-Akt signal pathway, (13)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28954386/
- Hypotensive and neurometabolic effects of intragastric Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum) administration in hypertensive ISIAH rat strain, (14)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29519314/
- Obesity accelerates hair thinning by stem cell-centric converging mechanisms, (15)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34163066/
- Higher body mass index is associated with greater severity of alopecia in men with male-pattern androgenetic alopecia in Taiwan: a cross-sectional study, (16)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24184140/
- Anti-obesity activity of Yamabushitake (Hericium erinaceus) powder in ovariectomized mice, and its potentially active compounds, (17)https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11418-017-1075-8
- Lanostane-type triterpenes from the sclerotium of Inonotus obliquus (Chaga mushrooms) as proproliferative agents on human follicle dermal papilla cells, (18)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30706371/
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