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The 4 Best Mushrooms For Menopause

The 4 Best Mushrooms For Menopause

Menopause is a natural event and transition women experience, but the timing, experience, and symptoms vary from person to person. 

In the UK, the average menopausal age is 51, but it can begin as early as 45 or as late as 55 years. Your genetics also determine when you usually start menopause. Chances are, it’s not far from when grandma or mom started theirs.

Menopause Symptoms

The following are common symptoms of menopause:

  • Mood swings
  • Brain fog
  • Insomnia
  • Hot flashes
  • Fatigue

There are a lot of ways to mitigate menopause symptoms, and they often include prescription medication. Unfortunately, prescription pills often come with side effects. This is a main reason why many women have turned to natural treatments like medicinal mushrooms.

 

Mushrooms for Menopause

Medicinal mushrooms are mushrooms known to exhibit therapeutic effects. Their potential health benefits range from boosting gut and immune health, to improving sleep, improving physical performance, improving focus and memory and more.


Due to a mushroom’s chemical complexity, they’ve also been studied for their potential menopausal benefits. Specifically, they are categorized as adaptogens or supplements that help you adapt to stressful situations, such as menopause.

 

4 Best Mushrooms for Menopause

There are a lot of species of mushrooms out there, but scientists have kept their eyes on a few that have potential therapeutic benefits for menopause. These are reishi, maitake, shiitake, and Lion’s Mane.

Reishi

Also known as Lingzhi, the reishi mushroom is considered one of the best mushrooms for inflammation. It contains compounds that improve immune sensitivity, lower inflammation, and possess antimicrobial and antiviral effects.

Reishi is also known to exhibit energizing effects and help you cope with stress. It is also a powerful hormone regulator, which is why the Mushroom is also considered a powerful adaptogen.

Many menopause symptoms have to do with inflammation. Taking into account reishi’s potent anti-inflammatory effects, it has gained great interest in helping with common menopausal symptoms. [1]

Reishi also contains adenosine, a molecule with anti-stress effects. It’s been shown to help protect against symptoms of fatigue and depression. It can also mitigate sleeplessness or other symptoms of insomnia. [2]

Maitake

The maitake mushroom grows out of the base of oak trees during the fall and spring seasons and is known to be a rich source of proteins, minerals like zinc, iron, and magnesium, and fibre. Research suggests maitake can help with immunity and inflammation.

Maitake has also shown to be able to help boost insulin sensitivity. [3]

Insulin sensitivity is the body’s ability to scavenge glucose from circulation. Insulin resistance is the exact opposite, where the body has problems removing excess glucose in the blood. This creates a domino effect that can lead to type 2 diabetes and other complications of metabolic syndrome.

When women enter their menopausal stages, they are more likely to have poor insulin sensitivity.

There’s also the case for fibroid growths or simply fibroids. 

Fibroids are non-cancerous and develop in or around the uterus. Some refer to them as uterine myomas. Some symptoms include heavy menstrual bleeding, pelvic pressure/pain, frequent urination, and constipation. Fibroids have various triggers, but one of them is poor insulin sensitivity. [4]

Shiitake

Shiitake is one of the most well known mushrooms. It is often added to various soups and vegetable dishes for its taste and texture but has also become of interest for its medicinal properties. This mushroom is low in calories and a rich source of B vitamins, minerals, and fibre. The fungus is known for its benefits to gut health, digestion, and smoother skin.

This fungus, in particular, is helpful for women with menopause because of its weight management benefits. It’s because the mushroom contains fat-reducing components such as eritadenine and beta-glucans, which have been cited for their appetite-suppressing properties. [5]

Shiitake also helps manage blood sugar levels, which then boosts insulin sensitivity. More than just reducing fibroids, improving insulin sensitivity can also help keep you from having hunger pangs or urges to eat out of nowhere, which can contribute to weight gain, high cholesterol, and other symptoms of metabolic syndrome. 

Lion’s Mane

Lion’s mane is named after its appearance: a large, white, and fuzzy mushroom. It's mainly known for its nootropic effects, particularly on mood, memory, and cognition. It’s also been cited to help reduce the risks of neurological disorders by helping boost the nerve growth factor 

For menopause, lion’s mane might have some mood-enhancing benefits as well as helping reduce brain fog.

One of the common symptoms of menopause is having mood swings, specifically irritation and anxiety. A small study found that eating cookies with lion’s mane mushroom extract daily for a month helped manage feelings of irritation and anxiousness. [6]

Cordyceps

Cordyceps has shown to help balance hormones such as estrogen and progesterone, while also supporting your adrenal glands. This can improve your sleep, regulate your weight, and help maintain a healthy immune system. [7]

 

What to look out for when purchasing mushroom supplements

One of the most important aspects are the lab reports. These don't only show the active ingredient testing (i.e. the mushrooms medicinal components) but also the safety tests the mushroom extracts have undergone, such as heavy metals. 

Look out for mushroom extracts that are Organic. Mushrooms are a product of their environment and absorb from their surrounding environment, which if your extracts aren't organic, could result in the mushrooms containing a high level of unwanted toxins and contaminants.

For a detailed guideline on quality components to consider see here.

 

Side Effects & Safety

Mushrooms are generally well-tolerated by most people and are considered hypoallergenic. However, you should not use mushroom extracts if you have a mushroom allergy. You should also be cautious using mushroom extracts whilst on blood thinning medication, as some mushroom components may innately have blood-thinning effects. 

Lion’s mane should also not be used by people with asthma.

In conclusion, menopause is a normal part of a woman's transition. With it comes a variety of symptoms that, while manageable, can often negatively impact the quality of life. There is a wide range of conventional treatments available for symptoms of menopause, but many have turned to natural supplements like mushrooms. 

The right mushroom supplements can help alleviate many symptoms of menopause as well as impart science-approved health benefits.

References 

1. Bhardwaj N, Katyal P, Sharma AK. Suppression of inflammatory and allergic responses by pharmacologically potent fungus Ganoderma lucidum. Recent Pat Inflamm Allergy Drug Discov. 2014;8(2):104-17. doi: 10.2174/1872213x08666140619110657. PMID: 24948193.

2. Pazzi F, Adsuar JC, Domínguez-Muñoz FJ, García-Gordillo MA, Gusi N, Collado-Mateo D. Ganoderma lucidum Effects on Mood and Health-Related Quality of Life in Women with Fibromyalgia. Healthcare (Basel). 2020 Nov 30;8(4):520. doi: 10.3390/healthcare8040520. PMID: 33265969; PMCID: PMC7712001.

3. Manohar V, Talpur NA, Echard BW, Lieberman S, Preuss HG. Effects of a water-soluble extract of maitake mushroom on circulating glucose/insulin concentrations in KK mice. Diabetes Obes Metab. 2002

Jan;4(1):43-8. doi: 10.1046/j.1463-1326.2002.00180.x. PMID: 11874441.

4. Baird DD, Travlos G, Wilson R, Dunson DB, Hill MC, D'Aloisio AA, London SJ, Schectman JM. Uterine leiomyomata in relation to insulin-like growth factor-I, insulin, and diabetes. Epidemiology. 2009 Jul;20(4):604-10. doi: 10.1097/EDE.0b013e31819d8d3f. PMID: 19305350; PMCID: PMC2856640.

5. Yu S, Wu X, Ferguson M, Simmen RC, Cleves MA, Simmen FA, Fang N. Diets Containing Shiitake Mushroom Reduce Serum Lipids and Serum Lipophilic Antioxidant Capacity in Rats. J Nutr. 2016 Dec;146(12):2491-2496. doi: 10.3945/jn.116.239806. Epub 2016 Oct 19. PMID: 27798348; PMCID: PMC5118771.

6. Nagano M, Shimizu K, Kondo R, Hayashi C, Sato D, Kitagawa K, Ohnuki K. Reduction of depression and anxiety by 4 weeks Hericium erinaceus intake. Biomed Res. 2010 Aug;31(4):231-7. doi: 10.2220/biomedres.31.231. PMID: 20834180.

7. Da-wei Zhang, Zhen-lin Wang, Wei Qi, and Guang-yue Zhao. The effects of Cordyceps sinensis phytoestrogen on estrogen deficiency-induced osteoporosis in Ovariectomized rats. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2014; 14: 484. Published online 2014 Dec 13. doi: 10.1186/1472-6882-14-484.

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