3 fertility adaptogens – Ashwaganda, Reishi and Cordyceps
Yes, these adaptogens are medicinal mushrooms which are powerhouses and magical wonders of the woodlands and fields.
Their balancing and regulating effects help us
adapt to stressful situations
support the nervous system
boost immune cells
create stability in the body
The 3 adaptogens I am discussing this month I often use in clinic – Ashwagandha root and the fungi cordyceps and reishi.
3 fertility (Hormonal) adaptogens
Ashwagandha root (Withania somnifera). Originally used in Ayurvedic medicine the taste of this herb is sweet, bitter and pungent, light and slimy in nature and hot in potency! The composition of this adaptogenic herb includes glycosides, acid, starch, sugars, amino acids and approximately thirteen alkaloids like trophine, anapherine, anahygrine.
It is a wonderful tonic and adaptogen that both strengthens and calms the nervous system and helps us all cope with 21st century living. (more about this below).
Fungi – medicinal mushroom adaptogens: Cordyceps and Reishi
These two medicinal mushrooms support hormonal and endocrine well being. Fungi produce mushrooms in the same way that plants produce flowers as a means of reproduction. They have traditionally been used in both western and traditional Chinese medicine for their adaptogen virtues; anti-tumour activity; viral and bacterial infections.
They are rich in polysaccharides beta glucan 1-3 and beta glucan 1-6
have a strong effect on the gut microbiome.
increasing the growth of bifidobaterium and lactobacillus and the necessary short-chain fatty acids for healthy food breakdown.
Being adatogens they strengthen self-regulating forces.
Cordyceps is also known as Chinese caterpillar fungus. It supports the kidneys and encourages power, stamina and strong will – all solar plexus chakra attributes. According to traditional Chinese medicine the kidneys are believed to store our energy and considered the root of life including physical and mental energy. They believe that renal insufficiency can result in depression, lack of will-power; fear, worry, exhaustion and a feeling of inner void.
Reishi. The “eternal life mushroom” is known mainly for it liver love and associated with the solar plexus chakra. In China, Reishi has been used as medicinal substance for more than 4000 years. Reishi effectively counteracts all kinds of bodily inflammations. This is mainly due to its high content of triterpenes which helps breakdown bacteria and encourages wound healing (I am thinking post surgery here!) Remember 21st century living including stress, alcohol and various medicinal substances increase histamine release but the adatogen Reishi can be used to reduce excessive histamine release and help reduce pro-inflammatory reactions.
How these 3 adaptogens support you
Support adrenal glands to reduce stress and anxiety
Ashwagandha has been shown to support the adrenals via normalising cortisol levels. Ongoing stress can be detrimental to fertility health. Adrenal function is closely linked to hormonal balance including thyroid function so by taking Ashwagandha you can not only support your adrenals but also your thyroid as well and help soothe and calm the brain.
Cordyceps shows regulating effects. It helps regulate cortisol so has calming effects and helps balance the release of stress hormones and support fertility. It is especially useful for psychological or physical stress related health issues – including fatigue, anxiety, insomnia etc.
Cordyceps is considered in Traditional Chinese medicine to support depression and provides power, stamina and a strong will.
Reishi – While being soporific and calming in the evenings this adaptogen is stimulating during the day – helping us respond appropriately to external influences. Did you know that all gastro-intestinal disorders involve the autonomic nervous system and in particular the parasympathetic nervous system?
All 3 adaptogens support the parasympathetic nervous system but Reishi contains adenosine and which soothes and relaxes the gastro-intestinal muscles and its high triterpene concentration help regulate histamine release.
2. Womens health conditions
Ashwagandha can be used to support vaginal itch, inflammation, swelling in the uterus, leucorrhoea, loss of hunger; stress related hormone imbalances, lethargy and can be used as an aphrodisiac.
Cordyceps strengthens the production of sex hormones, reproductive wellbeing, sexual instinct, genitals and the neurological system. This medicinal mushroom can be used to treat all kinds of genital-related problems. It is effective against sleeplessness and night sweats and supportive in the treatment of menstrual irregularities.
Both Cordyceps and Reishi improve wellbeing and have positive effects on not only cholesterol but supports menstrual and menopausal issues such as excessive heat and sweating; joint pain.
Reishi is closely related to the liver. Think detoxification, blood fat value (cholesterol, fat around the middle; oestrogen issues, menstrual irregularities, sub fertility, PCOS, endometriosis, methylation pathways). It eases neurological disorders, particularly those related to weakness, neurasthenia, forgetfulness, uneasiness, and sleeplessness (I am thinking menopausal here!). It can balance cardiac arrhythmias and severe blood pressure fluctuations.
3. Increases your energy with these adaptogens
Ashwagandha has been shown to significantly impact athletic performance by improving heart and lung capacity while increasing energy levels. Not only is this useful for the purposes of exercise, it is also helpful for people who struggle with fatigue-related conditions.
Cordyceps improves performance including respiratory organs; heart and physical stamina – whether this is sport, sexual or work related! It is often used to help re-generate after sports as it ensures quick recovery.
Reishi increases the blood’s saturation with oxygen, which helps you feel energised and full of vitality.It is known as “king of the mushrooms”
Energy pick me up – take 3 to 6 grams of ashwagandha root with a glass of warm (plant) milk to give you a pick me up
4. Stabilise blood sugar
Ashwangdha is used to stabilise blood sugar levels – this is an example of the herb’s adaptogenic effect. Considering the impact of blood sugar levels in illnesses such as those seen in my clinic (PCOS, anxiety and depression) this herb can have a profound impact on your fertility health.
Both Reishi and Cordyceps are important in the treatment of type I and type II diabetes and blood sugar dysregulation. These medicinal mushrooms really are useful when blood sugar disorders are seen.
5. Combat ageing
Ashwagandha contains an active ingredient called withanamides. These magical ingredients have shown to contains natural antioxidants that scavenge free radicals so great for anti aging.
Reishi supports better oxygen saturation through the blood. It positively effects heart functionality and cardiac activities and has a blancing effect on the nervous system which helps reduce blood pressure fluctuations and is a great anti-inflammatory.
6. Adaptogens are immune boosting and anti-inflammatories
Ashwagandha has excellent immune-boosting effects on your immune system. As the herb is rich in iron it also contributes to red blood cell count (so great for fertility and nutrient values). It is also good for urinary disorders because its a natural diuretic. The anti-inflammatory properties in this herb can be used to ease joint stiffness and pain – not only useful to ease chronic ailments of joint pains like rheumatoid arthritis but fantastic for menopausal joint pain too.
Cordyceps is used to strengthen the vital energy of the lungs so it’s a “go to” with upper respiratory illnesses. It has antibiotic effects and helps regulate white blood cells, macrophages and natural killer cells. It supports blood’s pH value and can help prevent the growth of Clostridium perfringens and Clostridium paraputrificum which are both believed to enhance cancer. By triggering Peyer plaques – natural killer cells increase and your immune system can be supported.
Reishi – fantastic for the liver this fungi has anti-inflammatory properties. It is fantastic for allergic reactions – helping to decrease histamine release (which soothes itching and inflammations) and ensures the body’s oxygen supply. Put simply, it helps regulate the immune system as well as has relaxing and calming effects so great for auto immune health issues and also digestive support due to its anti-inflammatory and mucosa-protecting features.
Cordyceps range of application (traditional Chinese medicine)
- strengthening lung and kidneys (cough, cold, breathlessness, asthma, bronchitis)
- emotional soothing
- reduces mucus and hemorrhage
- enhances sexual energy
- supportive against joint, rheumatic, fibromyalgic and muscular pain
- used post-illness fatigue and strengthens the immune system (including auto immune )
Reishi’s range of application (again TCM)
has effects on stomach, spleen, lung, liver, kidney and heart
soothes and nourishes the heart
eases the mind; serves as a sedative& is a great tonic
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Disclaimer: Disclaimer: This article has been written for inspiration and education purposes only. It is not intended to treat, diagnose or prevent any disease and it does not replace evaluation, diagnosis, or treatment by your qualified health care professional.
Justine Evans ND – Hormone alchemist. Justine is a registered naturopath, nutritional therapist, body worker and healer. She integrates functional medicine with eastern philosophy to provide a multi dimensional approach to reproductive well being. Contact Justine on 07747 133170 for an online consultation now or see her in her clinic – Stroud in Gloucestershire and Twickenham, London
Sources of Information:
The Ayurvedic Pharmacopoeia of India.
Dravyaguna vijnana by Prof. PV Sharma.
Charaka Samhita of Agnivesh by Vaidya Sri Satya Narayan Shastri.
Evolutionary herbalism by Sajah Popham
Healing with Mushrooms – Mykotroph. Institute for Nutritional and fungal medicine
Entangled Life – Merlin Sheldrake
Wild Apothecary – Amaia Dadachanji
Energetic and Physical Aspects of Plants – Spagyric Medicine
Wild Nutrition by Henrietta Norton
Your Guide to Ayurvedic Herbs – Sebastian Pole