When seeking natural remedies for pain relief, medicinal mushrooms often stand out as a valuable option. In this article, we'll explore the realm of mushrooms and their potential to alleviate pain.
From centuries-old traditional use to modern research, mushrooms have shown promising results. Here, we'll delve into the top 9 best mushrooms for pain relief and the science behind their effectiveness.
We’ll take it from the top:
Table of Contents
- Medicinal mushrooms are packed full of bioactive compounds that may help regulate pain perception and the inflammation response.
- Many mushrooms can be used simultaneously in order to reap more diverse benefits.
- Choose a high-quality supplements over fresh mushrooms to get the most bioavailable dose.
Pain Relief & More: Understanding Mushroom Medicinal Benefits
Mushrooms, often heralded as medicinal powerhouses, have a rich history in traditional medicine. Their potential medicinal benefits are attributed to compounds like beta glucans, D-fraction, and various bioactive substances. These components have been found to possess anticancer, anti-inflammatory, anti-aging, and pain relief properties.
As research continues to expand, our understanding of how mushrooms can exploit these benefits grows, potentially offering natural alternatives for managing pain and improving overall well-being.
The Science Behind Mushrooms for Pain and Inflammation
Pain, a multifaceted and uncomfortable sensation, can stem from factors like injury, inflammation, or nerve damage. Inflammation, the body's response to injury or infection, often contributes to this discomfort.
Mushrooms contain unique compounds with anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties, effectively reducing pain and inflammation. Below, we'll delve deeper into these mechanisms for a better understanding of how mushrooms can provide relief.
9 Best Mushrooms for Managing Pain
In the realm of pain relief, certain mushrooms have gained prominence for their potential to alleviate discomfort. Let's explore these mushrooms, backed by scientific evidence, and understand how they can be incorporated into a pain management regimen.
The Reishi mushroom, scientifically known as Ganoderma lucidum, boasts a rich history of over 2,000 years in ancient medicinal practices. Revered as the "elixir of immortality" in traditional Chinese Medicine, it's believed to enhance longevity and overall well-being.
Reishi contains a diverse array of bioactive constituents, including triterpenes, polysaccharides, and more, all potentially possessing anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anticancer properties.
2. Lion's Mane
Lion's Mane mushroom, scientifically referred to as Hericium erinaceus, is a distinctively white, furry mushroom indigenous to North America, Europe, and Asia. In traditional Chinese medicine, it has been employed for centuries to address various health concerns, including digestive issues and inflammation.
Lion's Mane is rich in erinacines and hericenones, bioactive compounds recognized for their potential to support nerve health and promote neuroregeneration. By promoting nerve health and healing, it’s believed that lion’s mane may help to relieve certain types of pain, like neuropathic pain.
Chaga, scientifically named Inonotus obliquus, is a healing fungus found on birch trees in cold climates. Historically utilized to enhance immune function and combat inflammation, it is rich in antioxidants, beta-glucans, polysaccharides, and various bioactive elements with significant medicinal potential.
Incorporating Chaga mushrooms into your wellness routine can be a game-changer, benefiting not just your skin and hair but also your overall health by assisting in the management of oxidative stress. These remarkable fungi possess notable anti-inflammatory properties and that may help to significantly alleviate pain–but more research is needed to understand this application.
Cordyceps (Cordyceps sinensis) is a rare medicinal mushroom found in the Himalayan regions, traditionally utilized to boost energy, enhance libido, and improve athletic performance. It contains bioactive compounds like cordycepin, adenosine, and polysaccharides, providing unique medicinal properties.
Cordycepin especially has been linked to potent anti-inflammatory effects that may help to combat pain. In this case, you should seek a cordyceps extract, which contains more cordycepin than fresh mushroom material.
5. Turkey Tail
Turkey Tail (Trametes versicolor) is a medicinal mushroom found on decaying trees globally, recognized for its fan-shaped, colorful appearance resembling a turkey's tail.
Traditionally employed to enhance the immune system, combat cancer, and support digestive health, it contains bioactive compounds like beta-glucans, polysaccharides, and triterpenoids with potent medicinal properties.
Turkey tail is another example of how compounds used to reduce inflammation may be useful for reducing pain and discomfort. In Asia, the mushroom is commonly used as a companion for various cancer therapies to help increase efficacy and reduce pain and discomfort.
6. King Trumpet Mushrooms
King Trumpet mushrooms may provide numerous benefits for individuals dealing with chronic conditions.
These mushrooms are rich in polysaccharides and antioxidants that can help to boost the immune system and manage inflammation. They may also help in controlling blood sugar levels, making them beneficial for managing diabetes, pre-diabetes, obesity, and related pain.
Additionally, Trumpet King mushrooms may help to defend the body against oxidative stress by binding to free radicals. This can help to manage overall inflammation, a precursor to pain.
7. Shiitake Mushrooms
Shiitake mushrooms are one of the most commonly available mushrooms–you can even find them in most grocery stores. Luckily, they also host a range of potential benefits, including potential anti-inflammatory benefits that may help to improve joint pain, muscle pain, and more.
Maitake, scientifically known as Grifola frondosa, stands out as a top choice among mushrooms for combating inflammation.
Research indicates that maitake mushrooms harbor an array of bioactive components, including beta-glucans and ergothioneine. These components may have potential anti-inflammatory properties that work by influencing the immune system and suppressing the generation of proinflammatory molecules within the body. Like other mushrooms, maitake may help reduce pain by inhibiting the inflammatory response.
9. Psilocybin Mushrooms
There are hundreds of types of mushrooms containing psilocybin–a psychotropic chemical that may have numerous health benefits. Ongoing research has found that psilocybin may help to regulate the pain response to reduce pain perception while treating pain-related mood disorders at the same time.
In some cases, macrodoses are most effective, and the effects of a single guided mushroom trip can last for weeks. For others, microdisng is the best avenue to relief.
Unfortunately, psilocybin therapy is still illegal in most states, and is only available through various trials in a few select areas. Still, research is ongoing, which may help to open up the psilocybin therapy market to more people in the future.
Mushrooms for Pain Relief: A Look at Available Research
Rieshi Pain Relief Research
A recent investigation published in The Journal of Natural Medicinal Fungi explored the potential of reishi mushrooms in alleviating pain associated with Herpes zoster. The study revealed that the consumption of reishi mushrooms led to a noticeable reduction in pain within a few days. Remarkably, by the tenth day of the trial, all participants reported a complete absence of pain, and none of them developed chronic post-herpetic neuralgia.
Reishi mushrooms also stand out as a potentially effective natural remedy for inflammation. A 2017 study demonstrated that the polysaccharides found in this particular mushroom species may modulate the production of inflammatory cytokines, as evidenced in mouse models.
Furthermore, reishi mushrooms exhibit an intriguing capacity to influence the gut microbiota composition. This modulation could potentially hold therapeutic benefits for individuals dealing with inflammatory bowel disease and other autoimmune digestive disorders.
Lion’s Mane Pain Relief Research
Lion's mane is a top choice for nerve regeneration, aiding nerve growth by stimulating nerve growth factor (NGF) protein production, essential for nerve growth. In an in vitro study, lion's mane demonstrated its ability to induce neurite outgrowth in PC12 cells, significantly elevating NGF protein levels.
A study in the International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms reveals lion’s mane's potential to regenerate damaged nerves. Mice treated with lion’s mane extract recovered notably faster from peripheral nerve injuries.
Lion's mane may also exhibit promise in treating neuropathic pain. A 2019 study focused on its effect on cisplatin-induced peripheral neuropathy.
Cisplatin, a potent anticancer drug, often causes nerve pain at high doses, limiting its usage. In the study, administering Hericium erinaceus extract alongside cisplatin significantly reduced neuropathy and associated weight loss in rats.
Further research, particularly involving human subjects, is needed to explore lion's mane's potential in alleviating neuropathy. Including this mushroom in your diet could be beneficial for managing nerve-related pain.
Chaga Pain Relief Research
Research conducted in 2005 delved into the potential benefits of chaga in addressing pain and inflammation both in vivo and in vitro. The study examined the effects of Inonotus obliquus extract on pain and inflammation. The findings showcased the extract's ability to alleviate inflammation, swelling, and pain in mice and rats.
This relief was attributed to the extract's capability to block NF-kB proteins, key players in the cascade of pain and inflammation associated with injury or infection. This study not only sheds light on the natural potential of chaga in pain management but also provides a strong foundation for further exploration in this area.
Cordyceps Pain Relief Research
Cordyceps fungi show potential in supporting cancer treatment by inducing cancer cell apoptosis and enhancing energy levels, among various other potential advantages.
While research regarding the impact of Cordyceps on chronic pain is currently limited, anecdotal evidence and its established anti-inflammatory properties offer promising insights. Chronic pain often stems from inflammation, making the anti-inflammatory potential of Cordyceps a valuable avenue for addressing chronic pain.
In a 2020 study, cordycepin, a key bioactive component found in Cordyceps mycelia, was investigated for its anti-inflammatory properties. The study demonstrated that ethanol extracts enriched with cordycepin effectively inhibit mechanisms triggering inflammation, showcasing promise in managing chronic inflammatory disorders like rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn's disease.
Maitake Pain Relief Research
A 2021 study explored the impact of a maitake mushroom extract on inflammatory processes linked to hepatitis in animal subjects. The findings suggest that maitake mushrooms possess anti-inflammatory properties that may reduce hepatitis-related inflammation levels in mice.
Another 2021 study explored the anti-inflammatory properties of o-orsellinaldehyde, a naturally occurring substance present in Maitake. The study results highlighted o-orsellinaldehyde as a highly effective inflammatory mediator with the ability to prevent the activation of inflammatory markers in immune cells located in the brain.
While neither of these studies specifically targeted the pain-relieving effects of maitake, they do shed light on its pain-relieving potential via anti-inflammatory mechanisms.
How to Use Mushrooms to Benefit from their Pain-Relieving Properties
Understanding how to incorporate mushrooms into your routine for pain relief is essential. First and foremost, understand that fresh mushrooms and supplements are the two primary options. However, supplements often provide a more efficient approach to medicinal use.
Because the extraction process used to create high-quality supplements unlocks bioactive compounds from the mushroom’s chitin tissues, making them more bioavailable to the human digestive system.
If you choose to go with fresh mushrooms, cooking them or making tea (or another form of mushroom extract) is the best way to utilize their wellness benefits.
We’ll discuss both options:
How to Cook with Mushrooms
Mushrooms are a versatile ingredient, finding a place in a variety of dishes including soups, stews, stir-fries, and salads. Here are some tips for incorporating mushrooms into your cooking:
- Choose fresh, firm mushrooms that have a uniform color and no visible signs of decay.
- Clean mushrooms with a damp paper towel or soft brush to remove any dirt or debris.
- Cook mushrooms at a low temperature until they are soft to help break down the chitin and unlock the beta-glucans.
- Mushrooms have an umami flavor that works well with all sorts of spices and seasonings, so use what you prefer.
- If you prefer, you can steep mushrooms in hot, but not boiling, water to create a mushroom extract “tea.” This is the way that medicinal mushrooms were most often used in traditional medicine.
How to Choose a High-Quality Mushroom Supplement for Pain Relief
When choosing a mushroom supplement for pain relief, ensure it's from a reputable source. Look for supplements that have undergone rigorous testing for purity, potency, and quality. Check for certifications, and consult with healthcare professionals to determine the best supplement and dosage for your needs.
Here are key factors to weigh:
Whole Mushroom Powder vs. Mushroom Extract
- Whole Mushroom Powder: This form includes the entire mushroom, retaining all its natural nutrients and compounds. While akin to consuming a whole fruit, whole mushroom powder may lack the necessary beta glucans that provide therapeutic benefits.
- Mushroom Extract: Extracts are concentrated and contain specific anxiety-alleviating compounds. The extraction process enhances bioavailability, ensuring consistent and potent results. However, extracts often omit the fiber and other nutritional components found in whole mushroom products.
Fruiting Body Supplements vs. Mycelium Supplements
- Fruiting Body Supplements: Derived from the mature part of the mushroom, fruiting body supplements are richer in the sought-after therapeutic compounds, making them ideal for addressing health concerns.
- Mycelium Supplements: Mycelium, the mushroom's root system, may not offer the same anxiety-relief benefits as fruiting body supplements. Some companies use mycelium to reduce costs, but this may compromise the therapeutic potential.
Labeling and Transparency
When choosing a mushroom supplement for anxiety, prioritize transparency and thorough product information:
- Look for supplements from reputable manufacturers that provide clear details about sourcing, extraction methods, and quality control practices.
- Ensure the label specifies the mushroom species used, whether it's whole mushroom powder or an extract, and the source (fruiting body or mycelium).
- Aim for a beta glucan content of around 20% or more for effective anxiety support.
- Verify third-party testing for purity and potency.
Opting for products with transparent labeling empowers you to make an informed decision and trust the quality of your chosen mushroom supplement.
Conclusion: Which Mushrooms Help With Pain?
Many mushrooms present a natural, holistic approach to pain alleviation–but the jury is still out on how most of these mushrooms can be applied to chronic pain or pain-related conditions. Nonetheless, mushrooms are widely considered to be safe for supplemental use, so you may consider adding a high-quality mushroom supplement to your wellness regimen.
While this article highlights mushrooms known for their pain management benefits, consulting a healthcare professional before adding new supplements to your diet is essential. Further research can unveil more advantages of mushrooms and their potential to provide comfort for those in pain.
If you want to take full advantage of the "functional" side of functional mushrooms, consider a mushroom super-blend like our Lucid Coffee, Chai, or Matcha powders. It takes full advantage of the benefits of these superfood mushrooms by pairing Cordyceps, Maitake, Tremella, and Lion's Mane, plus powerful nootropics, like BCAA's, L-Theanine, Alpha-GPC, and more.
Mushrooms for Pain Relief FAQ
Q: Can I use mushrooms in place of pain medicine?
A: Though mushrooms present a natural avenue for alleviating pain and have demonstrated efficacy, it's vital to seek guidance from a medical expert before substituting prescribed drugs with mushrooms or any other supplements.
Q: Are there potential adverse effects linked to using mushrooms for pain relief?
While most mushrooms are generally regarded as safe for consumption as a dietary element or as a supplement, certain people may encounter allergic reactions or unfavorable outcomes. Be sure to adhere to recommended dosages and seek guidance from a healthcare expert before integrating mushrooms into your wellness regimen.
Q: Is it possible to use mushrooms for chronic pain?
Q: How can I effectively include mushrooms in my wellness regimen to alleviate pain?
You can integrate fresh mushrooms into various meals like soups, stir-fries, and salads. However, fresh mushrooms need to be cooked correctly to unlock their therapeutic potential.
Additionally, medicinal mushrooms come in supplement forms such as powders or capsules. This is often the best way to reap the therapeutic benefits of mushrooms.
- “Effect of an Herbal Formula Containing Ganoderma lucidum on Reduction of Herpes Zoster Pain: A Pilot Clinical Trial” https://www.worldscientific.com/doi/abs/10.1142/S0192415X05003120
- “Ganoderma lucidum polysaccharides improve insulin sensitivity by regulating inflammatory cytokines and gut microbiota composition in mice” https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1756464617305534
- “Chemical constituents from Hericium erinaceus and their ability to stimulate NGF-mediated neurite outgrowth on PC12 cells” https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0960894X15301256
- “Neuroregenerative Potential of Lion's Mane Mushroom, Hericium erinaceus (Bull.: Fr.) Pers. (Higher Basidiomycetes), in the Treatment of Peripheral Nerve Injury (Review)” https://www.dl.begellhouse.com/journals/708ae68d64b17c52,03ea8c440cfbb276,23c2fd3840f4e0c9.html
- “Healing effect of Hericium erinaceus in experimental peripheral neuropathy model.” https://web.s.ebscohost.com/abstract?direct=true&profile=ehost&scope=site&authtype=crawler&jrnl=13078798&AN=137698148&h=gtdI8Ql50P8cXjVECtD%2f2e32f7wotlBbi1rOyMs1GDUSZcB9MyvowlpmVSx9J3PA8sQ3hJATSpTFVdJW4QrPcg%3d%3d&crl=c&resultNs=AdminWebAuth&resultLocal=ErrCrlNotAuth&crlhashurl=login.aspx%3fdirect%3dtrue%26profile%3dehost%26scope%3dsite%26authtype%3dcrawler%26jrnl%3d13078798%26AN%3d137698148
- “In vivo and in vitro anti-inflammatory and anti-nociceptive effects of the methanol extract of Inonotus obliquus” https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0378874105002564
- “A direct protein kinase B-targeted anti-inflammatory activity of cordycepin from artificially cultured fruit body of Cordyceps militaris” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4522833/
- “Anti-inflammatory effects of cordycepin: A review” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33090621/#:~:text=The%20results%20from%20our%20review,%2C%20atherosclerosis%2C%20and%20atopic%20dermatitis.
- “INFLUENCE OF THICK EXTRACT FROM MAITAKE MUSHROOMS ON SIGNS OF INFLAMMATORY PROCESS IN EXPERIMENTAL TOXIC HEPATITIS”https://ojs.tdmu.edu.ua/index.php/ijmr/article/view/12100
- “Anti-Inflammatory and Immunomodulatory Effects of the Grifola frondosa Natural Compound o-Orsellinaldehyde on LPS-Challenged Murine Primary Glial Cells. Roles of NF-κβ and MAPK” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8229786/