What is Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)?
Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is the most common neurobehavioral condition of childhood but is often not diagnosed until adulthood. Common symptoms of ADHD include lack of attention and concentration, disorganization, difficulty completing tasks, forgetfulness, losing things, difficulty with decision making, and emotional dysregulation . Those with ADHD often suffer from comorbidities, such as anxiety and depression, which can further exacerbate their condition . Individuals with ADHD often have difficulties in social interactions, increased risky behaviours, loss of jobs, and difficulty in academic settings .
Even with pharmaceutical interventions, behavioural disorders can be very difficult to treat and often are associated with a multitude of adverse effects. Research into complementary and alternative medicine for the treatment of many mental health conditions continues to rise in popularity. Medicinal mushrooms have often been regarded as nootropics, meaning they are substances that enhance cognition and memory and help to facilitate learning. However, because of their versatility, they can have a pronounced effect on overall health and benefit individuals in ways that other products may not.
The Power of Medicinal Mushrooms
The hyperactivity aspect of ADHD includes activities such as fidgeting, the inability to stay still, talking excessively, and impatience . Ganoderma lucidum, also known as Reishi or Lingzhi in China, is a medicinal mushroom that has been used for thousands of years . Primarily its function lies in its tranquilizing effect and ability to calm individuals, which may be of assistance in those who have difficulty keeping still .
Additionally, ADHD is associated with sleep disturbances, which may then result in daytime sleepiness and/or circadian rhythm abnormalities . There is no known cause of this disturbance, but possible factors include actions that occur because of hyperactivity and inattentiveness, such as the inability to stay still, poor sleep hygiene, and general technology use at night .
Sleep and Mood Disorders in People with ADHD
A mushroom extract of Reishi was studied for its effects on sleep habits, both clinically and physiologically . The results illustrated that Reishi mushroom extract improved sleep time, sleep quality, sleep latency, and acted in benzodiazepine-like fashion . Benzodiazepines are the most common pharmaceuticals used to treat insomnia, but long-term use can lead to tolerance and dependency, not to mention a bounty of adverse effects. With this in mind, you may be asking yourself “is Reishi mushroom safe for sleep?” if it acts in similar fashion to benzodiazepines, and the answer would be that Reishi produces its anti-insomnia action without the adverse effects or dependence seen in pharmaceutical usage .
Sleep problems in those with ADHD have also been found to increase the risk of developing other mood disorders, such as depression . Childhood ADHD was associated with an increased risk of recurrent depression in adulthood overall, although a clear causal relationship has not been found . Polysaccharides extracted from Reishi have expressed anti-depressant effects in many research studies .
One study found that Reishi exhibited antidepressant and anxiolytic effects by antagonism (blocking) of 5HT2A receptors, much like certain antidepressant pharmaceuticals . Research has suggested that activation of this receptor may lead to anxiety, OCD, depression, fatigue, and decreased levels of sleep . Thus, the use of Reishi may combat the comorbidities that tend to develop alongside ADHD.
Lion's Mane as a Memory Supplement
Memory problems are another frequently reported symptom seen in those with ADHD, especially long-term memory . One study found that supplementing the standardized extracts of two constituents from Lion’s Mane, hericenones and erinacine, increased neurogenesis in the hippocampal and cerebellar regions of the brain . While the cerebellar region of the brain is mainly concerned with motor functions, it is the hippocampus that has a major role in learning and memory. Lion’s Mane’s ability to induce the growth of nervous tissue (neurogenesis) in the hippocampus is likely the mechanism underlying its ability to improve memory .
Another interesting finding seen in those with ADHD is decreased levels of BDNF . BDNF is brain-derived neurotrophic factor and is expressed in the brain cortex and hippocampus . It regulates two circuits within the brain that modulate attention, thoughts, emotions, social behaviour, motor control, and are implicated in ADHD symptomology . Constituents extracted from the fruiting body of Lion’s Mane have been shown to increase levels of BDNF in the brain, along with other neurotrophic factors, that may improve the signs and symptoms seen in ADHD .
Finding the right treatment for ADHD can be a lengthy process. In many cases, conventional practices are insufficient, prompting increasing research into natural ADHD supplements. Many individuals search for non-stimulant medications for ADHD, in which case adding medicinal mushrooms into your daily routine may be the perfect choice for you. Nothing like starting your day with a tasty mushroom coffee!
We hope you have found this article informative. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them in the comment section below!
By Silvana Jakupovic — BSc and 4th Year Student of Naturopathic Medicine (CCNM-Boucher)
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