Numerous studies have linked Reishi mushroom to boosting mental health and its well-known physical health benefits. Ganoderma has potent neuroprotective effects on the brain, as well as the ability to reduce stress. The mushroom also helps with depression and anxiety.
According to preliminary studies, these effects result from Reishi's polysaccharide and triterpenoid components. In addition, the spores of Reishi enable better brain performance and functioning, with more oxygen and blood flowing to the brain.
Here, we will take an in-depth look at the use of Reishi for depression and the evidence behind it. We will also talk about the best way to reap Reishi's depression benefits.
Let's dive in!
Reishi Mushroom For Depression: Scientific Evidence
Researchers evaluated the antidepressant and anxiolytic effects of extracts of the mycelia of Ganoderma Lucidum in this 2015 study published in the International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms(1). They subjected mice to a forced swim test and elevated maze test, which evaluated the antidepressant and anxiolytic effects of the mushroom.
The forced swim test is a behavioral test done on a rodent to evaluate the antidepressant efficacy of drugs, medicinal mushrooms, or other compounds. Increased immobility time indicates depression.
Based on the swim test results, researchers suggested that Ganoderma may influence depression. However, further studies are required.
Another similar paper published in the Medical Research And Health Science(2) journal assessed the effects of the acidic extract of Ganoderma Lucidum on mice with depression.
In this study, researchers gave the extract at an oral dose of 20 mg/kg, 75 mg/kg, and 130 mg/kg. Fluoxetine, an antidepressant medication, was used as the standard drug. This study showed that Ganoderma lucidum significantly decreased immobility time in the forced swim and tail suspension tests. Researchers concluded that Reishi mushrooms help treat the symptoms of depression in mice.
A 2021 study(3) explored the antidepressant-like effect of Ganoderma lucidum spore polysaccharide. Researchers isolated the protein 28-kDa polysaccharide-peptide (PGL) from Reishi mushroom spores, which manifested antidepressant-like activities.
One-time treatment with the PGL shortened the duration of immobility of mice in both tail suspension and forced swimming tests. In addition, chronic PGL treatment reversed the declining levels of serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain of the mice. These results indicate the anti-depressant-like effect of Ganoderma lucidum spores.
Ganoderma Lucidum mushroom seems to improve fibromyalgia symptoms, including depression and pain, according to this 2020 study(4). Here, researchers evaluated the effects of the Reishi mushroom on depression, happiness, satisfaction with life, and health-related quality of life.
One group took the mushroom while the other did not. Results showed improved levels of happiness and satisfaction with life and reduced depression in the group receiving Ganoderma mushroom.
A paper published in 2016(5) highlighted the Reishi mushroom's promising role in treating depression. Here, the authors believe that the adaptogenic properties of Reishi help a person adapt to an extensive range of biological, environmental, physical, and psychological stresses, thereby aiding in the treatment of depression.
Reishi has two major bioactive compounds: the polysaccharides (such as gandelan A and B and several glucans), which work primarily on the immune system, and the triterpenes (such as ganodermadiol, ganoderic acids, and ergosterol) which have hormone-like qualities that work on the nervous system. According to the paper, these compounds may contribute to the anti-depressant-like effect of Reishi.
Read More: See how Lion's mane mushroom fights depression.
Reishi Mushrooms Treat Conditions That Cause Depression
While depression can affect a healthy body, this mental health condition tends to be more common in people with other health problems than in healthy humans. Luckily, taking the proper dosage of Reishi aids in treating diseases that often increase the risk of depression.
Below, we will take a deeper look at how lingzhi (reishi mushrooms) fight depression indirectly:
1. Low Testosterone And Depression
Research studies have confirmed the connection between low testosterone levels and depression.
One research article published in 2013(6) analyzed the relationship between increasing depression symptoms in older men and decreasing testosterone levels. The researchers noted that reducing testosterone levels were often associated with various conditions, including depression.
The study noted that when TRT (testosterone replacement therapy) was used for older men with depression, the depression symptoms were reduced, and the men could function normally.
The study concluded that TRT alone might alleviate clinical symptoms of depression in men with TDS (testosterone deficiency symptoms) and depression. Hence testosterone replacement treatment should be tried for at least three months. Additionally, after starting TRT, men who are already using Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) may have their depression symptoms get much better.
Another research study was conducted in 2014(7) to inspect the relationship between low testosterone levels and depression. In the study, 830 senior men were involved, with a mean age of 70.02±7.7 years. Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS) criteria revealed that 237 people exhibited at least one depressive symptom, while 593 had none.
Men without depressive symptoms had a greater mean serum testosterone level than those who did. The number of depressive symptoms and testosterone levels also showed a strong negative connection—as the number of depressive symptoms increased, testosterone levels decreased. The researchers concluded that testosterone levels had the most prominent effects on the onset of depression.
The two research articles mentioned above clearly show the connection between low testosterone levels and depression.
Luckily, Reishi mushrooms aid depression treatment and mental health improvement by boosting testosterone. Reishi's testosterone benefits make the mushroom ideal for men dealing with depression due to low testosterone levels.
2. Obesity And Depression
Obesity is another leading cause of depression. In a country like the US, where diet and food contribute to weight gain, the number of people with depression may increase. Research articles show the relationship between obesity and depression.
One research article(8) published in the National Library of Medicine noted that evidence-based studies have demonstrated that obese teens are more likely than nonobese teens to experience mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem. The article noted that it then follows that obesity should be associated with depression.
Another research study conducted in 2020(9) analyzed the relationship between obesity and depression. The results showed that there is a connection between depression and obesity.
The study noted that obesity risk factors include depression, particularly atypical depression, in male African-American adolescents. The researchers added that obesity increases the likelihood of developing recurrent depressive disorder and depression, particularly in women. Obesity and depression co-occurring are risk factors for disease in the event of a poor prognosis.
Reishi facilitates weight loss in overweight people. While taking reishi powder for its many health benefits, its ability to lower body weight guarantees stress-lowering capacity and reduces your risk of developing depression symptoms.
3. Cancer And Depression
There is no doubt that a cancer diagnosis can cause a variety of unforeseen mental health problems—one of those problems is depression. Research studies have shown that people with cancer experience more depression than healthy people.
A research study conducted in 2019(10) concluded that compared to the general public, the prevalence of anxiety and depression is higher among people with cancer. However, the study noted that estimates vary based on various factors, such as the type of cancer, time since diagnosis, and treatment setting.
A second research study conducted in 2021(11) had similar results. Again, the researchers found increased depressive and anxious symptoms in cancer patients. Additionally, the researchers noted that antidepressant therapy was underutilized.
The researchers advised that mental illnesses must be considered while developing a treatment plan for cancer patients. They noted this is necessary to improve clinical monitoring and treatment of cancer patients' anxiety and depression.
Read More: See how Reishi fights anxiety.
From these research studies, it is easy to see that cancer increases the risk of developing depression symptoms—this is one of the reasons patients suffering from cancer need more support. Luckily, today, people with cancer can find the relief and support they need in their foods—all they have to do is use Reishi as part of their diet.
In addition to helping with the treatment of neurological diseases and boosting immune function, Reishi helps with cancer treatment. For example, consuming reishi mushrooms fights mood disorders associated with depression in cancer patients.
The mushroom makes it much easier for these people to deal with cancer. The Reishi benefits for people with cancer include fighting side effects of other cancer treatment therapies—including chemotherapy and radiotherapy—and inducing cancer cell death, and preventing mutation. This often ensures people with cancer heal faster.
4. Insomnia And Depression
Data obtained from research reviews and studies have confirmed that poor sleep is one of the leading causes of mental health issues and mood disorders. Therefore, working on getting better sleep can improve mental health.
One research study in 2019(12) analyzed the relationship between insomnia and depression. The research study concluded that sleep disruption is the most noticeable sign of depression, considered one of its primary and secondary manifestations.
The researchers noted that several long-term studies have found that sleeplessness is a distinct risk factor for the emergence or recurrence of depression among young, middle-aged, and older persons. The researchers concluded that with the bidirectional relationship between sleep problems and depression, it is now thought that sleep issues constitute a predicted prodromal symptom rather than an epiphenomenon of depression.
Another research study conducted in 2016(13) sought to determine whether insomnia is a risk factor for depression. Again, the researchers concluded that sleeplessness is strongly linked to a higher risk of depression.
The researchers noted that according to their meta-analysis, those who don't already have depression but have symptoms of insomnia might be able to avoid depression if they address the causes of their sleep problems.
Luckily for people without depression but are currently dealing with insomnia, taking reishi mushrooms improves sleep. In addition, the Reishi benefits for sleep can prevent stress and anxiety, which often leads to mental exhaustion and can cause depression.
5. Hair Loss And Depression
While it is easy to assume hair loss is not associated with depression, research studies show the opposite. So in 2014, researchers decided to investigate the relationship between Alopecia Areata (AA) and depression. The abrupt onset of hair loss in certain areas of the scalp and other hair-bearing regions characterizes Alopecia Areata.
According to the study(14), anxiety and depression were prevalent in AA patients. The researchers noted that dermatologists should be mindful of the psychological effects of AA, especially given the limited efficacy of the available therapies.
A well-known medicinal mushroom, Reishi prevents hair loss and improves hair health. The mushroom can prevent Alopecia Areata, which will help reduce stress and anxiety and lower the risk of developing depression.
6. Skin Diseases And Depression
Various research studies have confirmed that skin health issues are some of the leading causes of depression.
A research study conducted in 2020(15) analyzed the psychosocial impact of skin diseases on people. The researchers concluded that the likelihood of participants with skin conditions experiencing depressive symptoms, social isolation, loneliness, and a lower quality of life was higher.
An earlier research study was conducted in 2015(16) to analyze the psychological effect of skin diseases. In this case, the researchers used hospital staff as the control group. There were 4,994 participants in total—1,359 controls and 2,635 patients.
Researchers found clinical depression in 10.1% of patients. In 17.2%, clinical anxiety was evident. 12.7% of the patients reported having suicidal thoughts.
Only people with psoriasis had a substantial connection with suicidal ideation for specific diseases. However, for patients with psoriasis, atopic dermatitis, hand eczema, and leg ulcers, the relationship between depression and anxiety was strongest.
Read More: See how Chaga fights psoriasis.
These findings reveal a significant increase in the burden of skin diseases and have important clinical ramifications which can cause depression and other mental health issues.
Luckily for people dealing with skin problems, the beneficial effects of reishi mushroom extract fight skin problems. The Reishi benefits for the skin are numerous—the mushroom fights aging, acne, and much more. In addition, the mushroom's beta glucans and triterpenoid compounds can fight skin problems, reducing the risk of developing depression.
7. Depression And Diabetes
While it is easy to assume that diabetes only affects blood sugar control, this is not the case. The disease goes beyond affecting blood sugar levels to affect immune function, white blood cells, heart health, and emotional well-being. In addition, various research studies have shown the relationship between diabetes and depression.
One research study analyzed(17) the bidirectional relationship between diabetes and depression. The researchers determined that after adjusting for all variables, those with diabetes had a relatively high risk (95% CI) of experiencing clinical depression compared to non-diabetic subjects.
In 2016, another research study(18) investigated the relationship between diabetes and depression. In the study, the researchers noted that diabetes mellitus patients are two to three times more likely to experience depression, with most cases going undiagnosed.
In 2018, a research article(19) published in the National Library of Medicine took a deeper look at depression and diabetes. The research article noted that the two medical conditions are connected. In addition, the article notes that persons with diabetes have a higher risk of developing depression, while people with depressive illnesses have a higher risk of developing diabetes.
Luckily for people who have diabetes, Reishi can help with diabetes treatment. Different research studies have confirmed the anti-diabetic effects of the active ingredients in Reishi.
One research study(20) analyzed the potential benefits of Reishi on diabetes using obese and diabetic mice. The findings from the research study showed that Ganoderma lucidum consumption could help treat type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) by lowering serum glucose levels. The mushroom inhibits the phosphoenolpyruvate's expression carboxykinase (PEPCK) gene in the liver to lower blood glucose levels.
A different research study conducted in 2015(21) analyzed the diabetes benefits of Reishi. The researchers determined that polysaccharides, proteoglycans, proteins, and triterpenoids are just a few of the many physiologically active components of G. lucidum that have been demonstrated to have hypoglycemic effects. The study noted that Gernodama lucidum polysaccharides exhibit a hypoglycemic effect by raising plasma insulin levels and lowering plasma sugar levels in mice.
By helping treat diabetes, reishi mushrooms lower the risk of depression.
Read More: Learn about the full Reishi diabetes benefits.
Best Ways To Take Reishi For Depression
You can use flesh reishi or mushroom supplements to fight depression. The flesh Reishi mushroom taste is not always welcome by many people. Therefore, you can opt for powders, capsules, or tinctures, which are much easier on the taste. You can mix the powders in your smoothies or prepare Reishi tea—to mask the mushroom’s taste in your Reishi tea; you can add your favorite sweetener.
Like many superfood mushrooms, the results are not immediately noticeable. That is why taking the mushroom consistently over time is essential to experience optimal results.
As with any dietary supplement, it is best to speak with a healthcare professional to ensure that the powerful mushroom is right for you. Your healthcare provider can advise the optimal dosage for you.
What Is Reishi Extract Good For?
Reishi extracts boost immunity, fight cancer cells, protect the heart, and combat oxidant injury. Additionally, the mushroom can also alleviate stress and promote mental well-being.
Read More: Learn about all thehealth benefits of Reishi.
Numerous animal studies have supported the benefits of Reishi for depression. In addition, the polysaccharides and mushroom triterpenes combat depressive moods and promote mental and physical wellness.
Reishi has been used since ancient times for uplifting mood, and even today, the world is slowly picking up on its excellent benefits on mental health. So if you plan to enjoy the mushroom, let us know how you feel after taking Reishi!
- Evaluation of Anticonvulsant, Antidepressant-, and Anxiolytic-like Effects of an Aqueous Extract from Cultured Mycelia of the Lingzhi or Reishi Medicinal Mushroom Ganoderma lucidum (Higher Basidiomycetes) in Mice, (1)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25954905/
- Antidepressant-Like Activity of Ethanol Extract of Ganoderma lucidum (Reishi) in Mice, (2)https://www.ijmrhs.com/abstract/antidepressantlike-activity-of-ethanol-extract-of-ganoderma-lucidum-reishi-in-mice-12351.html
- Antidepressant-like effect of Ganoderma lucidum spore polysaccharide-peptide mediated by upregulation of prefrontal cortex brain-derived neurotrophic factor, (3)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34716786/
- Ganoderma lucidum Effects on Mood and Health-Related Quality of Life in Women with Fibromyalgia, (4)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7712001/
- Reishi Mushroom - Promising in treatment of depression, (5)https://journals.indexcopernicus.com/api/file/viewByFileId/1020631.pdf
- Patients with testosterone deficit syndrome and depression, (6)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24047633/
- Relationship between testosterone levels and depressive symptoms in older men in Amirkola, Iran, (7)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3992230/
- The Relationship Between Obesity and Depression Among Adolescents, (8)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3749079/
- Obesity and Depression: Its Prevalence and Influence as a Prognostic Factor: A Systematic Review, (9)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7449839/
- Depression and anxiety among people living with and beyond cancer: a growing clinical and research priority, (10)https://bmccancer.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12885-019-6181-4
- Depression and Anxiety in Patients With Cancer: A Cross-Sectional Study. (11)https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.585534/full
- Depression in sleep disturbance: A review on a bidirectional relationship, mechanisms and treatment, (12)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6433686/
- Insomnia and the risk of depression: a meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies, (13)https://bmcpsychiatry.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12888-016-1075-3
- The Relationship Between Alopecia Areata and Alexithymia, Anxiety and Depression: A Case-Control Study, (14)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4103292/
- Psychosocial impact of skin diseases: A population-based study, (15)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7775076/
- The Psychological Burden of Skin Diseases: A Cross-Sectional Multicenter Study among Dermatological Out-Patients in 13 European Countries, (16)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4378256/
- Bidirectional association between depression and type 2 diabetes mellitus in women, (17)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21098346/
- The association between Diabetes mellitus and depression, (18)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4863499/
- Depression and diabetes, (19)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6016052/
- Novel hypoglycemic effects of Ganoderma lucidum water-extract in obese/diabetic (+db/+db) mice, (20)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19109000/
- Anti-diabetic effects of Ganoderma lucidum, (21)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25790910/
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