Plant and mushroom extracts for psycho-physical wellbeing

Psycho-physical stress is the physiological and physical response to surplus of stimuli, which cause sense of alert at physical, emotional, physiological, cognitive, behavioral levels. We identify two stress types:

  • Eustress or positive stress, it allows the activation of physical and mental energies, needed to cope the difficulties;
  • Distress or bad stress, it is a long-lasting psycho-physical uneasiness, also when stressful stimuli are no longer present.

Stressful conditions have to be adequately treated so they do not evolve in depression.

Here are some natural remedies to find the psycho-physical wellbeing-

Hericium erinaceus 

Hericium erinaceus is an edible and medicine mushrooms aused from centuries in the traditional medicine of many eastern countries. In the last decades, it gained attention in the neurological environment. Hericium can modulate neurotransmitters, neurogenesis and inflammation.

In the research of Chiu and colleagues (2018), it is shown that in depressed mice serotonin (5-HT) decreases significantly, meanwhile they are comparable to the healthy control when Hericium is administered, as shown in the figure. Serotonin, the happiness hormone, is related to mood, sleep, hungry and emotions management, so the increased level of serotonin determines good mood and reduces anxiety and aggressiveness.

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The same research shows the neurotrophic effects of Hericium: the Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) decreases in depressed mice but it is restored when Hericium is administered. BDNF stimulates neuronal and synapses survival and differentiation.

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Hericium exerts anti-inflammatory activity, as shown in the figure, where we can see that pro-inflammatory cytokines IL-6 and TNF-α increases in depressive conditions but when Hericium is administered the levels decrease.

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In general, Hericium is effective in regulation of the mood, anxiety and stress management, in sleep regulation and in reducing impulsiveness and hostility (Vigna et al., 2019).

Scutellaria baicalensis

Scutellaria baicalensis is a plant of known therapeutical properties. It is native from China and some Russian area and used in traditional medicines from centuries. Baicalein and baicalin, the flavonoid of the plant, are the biologically active molecules.

Baicalein and baicalin exert anxiolytic activity, as GABA receptor antagonists (Liao et al., 2003).

As previously shown for Hericium, also baicalin has anti-inflammatory effect. The figure shows that pro-inflammatory cytokines IL-1β, IL-6 and TNF-α increase in depressed animals but when baicalin is administered the levels decrease (Liu et al., 2019).

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Rhodiola rosea

Rhodiola rosea is a shrub used in traditional medicine to relieve the daily stress symptoms, as anxiety, fatigue, depression. Rhodiola is considered the most complete adaptogen, able to prevent and counteract the negative effects of psycho-physical stress, insomnia and help the mood, with anti-depressive and anxiety effects (Anghelescu et al., 2018). These concepts are supported by numerous researches.

Moreover, salidroside administration to depressed mice, one of the active principles of Rhodiola, reduces the levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines and increases the level of serotonin (Zhu et al., 2015).

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In conclusion, we analyzed the properties of several plant extracts and mushrooms, which can represent a strategy to manage anxiety and psycho-physical stresses, thanks to their anti-inflammatory, neurotrophic and adaptogen properties.


Anghelescu, I. G., Edwards, D., Seifritz, E., & Kasper, S. (2018). Stress management and the role of Rhodiola rosea: a review. International journal of psychiatry in clinical practice, 22(4), 242-252.

Chiu, C. H., Chyau, C. C., Chen, C. C., Lee, L. Y., Chen, W. P., Liu, J. L., … & Mong, M. C. (2018). Erinacine A-enriched Hericium erinaceus mycelium produces antidepressant-like effects through modulating BDNF/PI3K/Akt/GSK-3β signaling in mice. International journal of molecular sciences, 19(2), 341.

Liao, J. F., Hung, W. Y., & Chen, C. F. (2003). Anxiolytic-like effects of baicalein and baicalin in the Vogel conflict test in mice. European journal of pharmacology, 464(2-3), 141-146.

Liu, L., Dong, Y., Shan, X., Li, L., Xia, B., & Wang, H. (2019). Anti-depressive effectiveness of baicalin in vitro and in vivo. Molecules, 24(2), 326.

Vigna, L., Morelli, F., Agnelli, G. M., Napolitano, F., Ratto, D., Occhinegro, A., … & Rossi, P. (2019). Hericium erinaceus improves mood and sleep disorders in patients affected by overweight or obesity: could circulating pro-BDNF and BDNF be potential biomarkers? Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2019.

Zhu, L., Wei, T., Gao, J., Chang, X., He, H., Miao, M., & Yan, T. (2015). Salidroside attenuates lipopolysaccharide (LPS) induced serum cytokines and depressive-like behavior in mice. Neuroscience Letters, 606, 1-6.

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