Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that occurs for some people who’ve experienced or witnessed a dangerous, intensely shocking, or terrifying event, and it is often associated with symptoms like anxiety, depression, problems concentrating, and insomnia. Usually beginning within a few months of the traumatic event, to meet the criteria for a PTSD diagnosis, symptoms must occur for over a month and be severe enough to interfere with daily life activities, work, or relationships.
While traditional treatments for PTSD often include pharmaceutical medications and counselling, many people also turn to natural remedies, such as reishi mushrooms, to help manage their symptoms. Reishi mushrooms have been used for centuries in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), and because of their numerous health benefits, they were once reserved for royalty.
Reishi mushrooms are recognized in the modern world as adaptogenic herbs, meaning they help the body to adapt to stressors, whether physical, emotional, or mental. For thousands of years, TCM has classified reishi, known as ling zhi, under the heading of Calm the Spirit. In other words, while reishi has a lot of health benefits, its main function is helping to calm the nervous system.
1. Reduced anxiety and stress
One of the most significant benefits of reishi mushrooms for individuals with PTSD is their ability to reduce anxiety and stress. Reishi mushrooms’ adaptogenic compounds help the body adapt to stress and promote a sense of calmness. Regular consumption of these mushrooms can help lower cortisol levels—one of the hormones related to chronic stress—and alleviate symptoms of anxiety commonly associated with PTSD.
2. Improved sleep quality
Many individuals with PTSD experience sleep disturbances, including insomnia and nightmares. Reishi mushrooms have been shown to have a positive impact on sleep quality and duration. The compounds found in reishi mushrooms help regulate the sleep cycle, promoting deeper and more restful sleep. By improving sleep quality, reishi mushrooms can help individuals with PTSD feel more rested and energized during the day. A bonus about reishi’s use for improving sleep is that it is not a sedative, meaning it won’t make you feel drowsy during the daytime.
3. Enhanced mood and emotional well-being
PTSD often leads to mood swings, irritability, and feelings of depression. Reishi mushrooms contain compounds called triterpenoids in their stem and cap—so make sure the supplement you choose is “fruiting body” or “whole mushroom”—that can help regulate neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine. These play a vital role in mood regulation. Using reishi mushrooms can help stabilize mood, reduce irritability, and enhance overall emotional wellbeing.
4. Supported immune system
PTSD can weaken the immune system, making individuals more susceptible to illnesses and infections. Reishi mushrooms are renowned for their immune-supporting properties. They contain polysaccharides and beta-glucans that stimulate the production of white blood cells, which are responsible for fighting off pathogens and boosting overall immunity. By incorporating reishi mushrooms into a regular routine, individuals with PTSD can strengthen their immune system response and improve their overall health.
5. Support for cognitive function
Individuals with PTSD often experience difficulty with memory, concentration, and cognitive function. Reishi mushrooms have been found to have neuroprotective properties. Because of their ability to help calm the nervous system, they can also help with improving higher cognitive functions like focus, planning, and organizing by moving the nervous system out of fight or flight (sympathetic nervous system) into a calm state (parasympathetic nervous system).
Reishi mushrooms offer numerous benefits, including reducing anxiety and stress, improving sleep quality, and promoting emotional wellbeing for individuals living with PTSD. While counselling is likely still key and pharmaceuticals may still be included, incorporating reishi mushrooms into your regime can have a positive impact on your mental and physical health.