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Top Herbs & Mushrooms for Men’s Health

Top Herbs & Mushrooms for Men’s Health cover
Written by Lee Carroll, Medical Herbalist - Updated: June 10, 2024

We know men aren’t always the first to read health blogs—most of you were likely “encouraged” to visit by a concerned partner, wife, girlfriend, or even mother. If you’re one of the exceptional guys who found us on your own, high-five! You’re already ahead of the curve. No matter how you got here, we’re excited to help you take a natural, proactive approach to your health. Let’s make this journey informative, empowering, and even a bit entertaining.

Common health issues faced by men

Men, both young and old, can face some common health challenges that may impact their quality of life and healthy aging, these include:

  • Andropause: Sometimes called male menopause, this is characterized by a gradual, but not inevitable, decline in testosterone levels as men age and can be associated with various symptoms including decreased energy, mood changes, and reduced libido.
  • Cardiovascular Health: Supporting heart and vascular health is crucial, as men are often at higher risk for heart-related issues. Cardiovascular health is also linked to healthy erectile function. You are probably familiar with the saying “the canary in the coalmine”. In this case, imagine “the canary in the trousers”.
  • Sexual Health and Performance, and Fertility: This is a no-brainer, yet beyond the obvious, sexual health can be a barometer and indicator of overall health and well-being.
  • Mood and Emotional Well-being: Whether you’re occasionally down or feeling anxious about things, supporting mental health is essential for overall quality of life and healthy aging.
  • Prostate Health: Maintaining prostate health is important for urinary and sexual function, especially as men age.
  • Immune Support: A robust immune system is essential for overall health and the well-being of specific tissues, such as the prostate, lung, and colon.
  • Cognitive Health: Preserving mental sharpness and cognitive function is important, especially as men age.
  • Vitality and Energy: Supporting energy levels can help improve daily life and productivity and supporting a healthy stress response is a key component.

Addressing these concerns proactively through diet, exercise, lifestyle changes, and regular use of functional mushrooms and herbs can significantly enhance overall well-being. Supporting the body with natural ingredients can help maintain balance and holistically promote health.

The role of herbs and mushrooms in promoting men's health

Functional herbs and mushrooms have been revered in traditional medicinal systems across cultures for thousands of years. They have been vital tools in supporting and promoting men's health, helping them adapt to unique and often harsh conditions such as cold winters and long hunts without food and water.

These natural wonders offer a multifaceted approach, bolstering immunity, optimizing energy levels, fostering hormonal equilibrium, and enhancing sexual vitality.

For modern men of all ages, facing modern challenges, an ever-growing body of research underscores the effectiveness of these same herbs and functional mushrooms in the pursuit of optimal health and well-being.

Herbs & Mushrooms for Men's Health

Cordyceps

Cordyceps (Cordyceps militaris) has a long history of use in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) as a tonic for men’s health and healthy sexual functioning. Cordyceps helps invigorate the whole body and can support energy, stamina, immunity, appetite, and libido. It also has protective properties for the liver, lungs, kidneys, and metabolic functioning, including healthy blood sugar balance (1,2).

Cordyceps appears to modulate the production of all reproductive hormones. Specifically relevant to andropause, it can support testicular testosterone production and protect this delicate tissue from challenges associated with aging and oxidative stress (2,3,4). As such, it is also an excellent choice to support fertility in men and help maintain healthy erectile function (5,6). For men with prostate challenges, Cordyceps provides support by modulating the activity of testosterone (7,8).

Caution is advised for men with bleeding disorders or taking blood thinning medication.

Learn more: Read our comprehensive outline of the research-supported effects of cordyceps, how cordyceps helps respiration and lung health, or how it can boost energy and stamina.

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Reishi

Reishi, (Ganoderma lingzhi) a revered tonic mushroom, has long been used to support men's health, vitality, longevity, and general well-being. It is traditionally known for promoting the health and functioning of the immune system, cardiovascular system, liver, lungs, nerves, mental health, and genitourinary health (9,10).

Reishi has been shown to protect the testes from damage, thereby supporting healthy testosterone production (11,12). Human studies indicate that reishi may support lower urinary tract health, particularly in individuals with symptoms associated with prostate challenges. A concentrated ethanolic extract of reishi mushroom taken over three months has been associated with improved urinary tract symptoms (13,14).

real mushrooms reishi capsules
Reishi, (Ganoderma lingzhi) a revered tonic mushroom, has long been used to support men's health, vitality, longevity, and general well-being.

High-quality reishi mushrooms are characterized by their bitter taste since they contain powerful bitter triterpenoids. Bitterness is not just a taste; we have receptors for bitter molecules throughout the body. Although we do not taste bitterness with these receptors, they impact health. The cardiovascular system, in particular, is rich in bitter receptors. While more research is needed, reishi's influence on these receptors is thought to play a role in its cardiovascular protective capacity (15,16). Reishi has been shown to support triglycerides and cholesterol levels in people with cardiovascular challenges (17).

With its wide range of benefits, reishi is a valuable addition to any wellness routine aimed at supporting men's health, particularly in areas of immune support, cardiovascular health, and hormone balance.

Learn more: Read our comprehensive outline of the research-supported effects of reishi on the body.

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Shiitake

Shiitake (Lentinula edodes) is a delicious culinary mushroom that also packs a powerful health punch. While all mushrooms support optimal immune function, shiitake is a particularly good choice for men. It has been shown to support immune health in populations with immune system challenges, including the elderly (18,19). Even in healthy people, a serving or two a day as part of a regular diet offers significant immunological advantages (20).

While research on shiitake mushrooms specifically for men’s health is limited, shiitake is well-studied for its immune-supporting properties. One study in Japan examined the effects of a compound found in shiitake, called lentinan, on individuals with prostate health concerns and observed notable health benefits (21).

Shiitake also offers numerous general health benefits beyond immune support, particularly its positive influences on cardiometabolic health. It can support healthy blood sugar levels and liver function and is particularly beneficial for maintaining healthy cholesterol and fat metabolism (22,23).

With its range of health-promoting properties, shiitake is a valuable addition to any diet, supporting immune health, cardiometabolic function, and overall well-being.

Caution is advised for men with bleeding disorders or taking blood thinning medication.

Ergothioneine

Mushrooms contain a unique antioxidant molecule called ergothioneine (ERGO). It’s a mouthful to say and you’ve likely not heard of it before. That’s because ERGOs importance to human health is a relatively recent discovery. ERGO almost fits the definition of a vitamin, so it’s a big deal (24)!

Not all antioxidants are equal in their ability to support health, and few compare to the diverse capacities of ERGO (25). This powerful antioxidant helps protect vital areas, including the gut, liver, kidneys, brain, nervous and cardiovascular systems, and reproductive organs (26).

Research suggests that ERGO may support cardiovascular health and overall longevity (27). It may also support healthy blood flow to reproductive organs and promote prostate, testes, and sperm health, thereby supporting reproductive health (26).

Additionally, ERGO can cross the blood-brain barrier and may help maintain cognitive function and support healthy aging (28-31).

Not all mushrooms contain high amounts of ergothioneine. Good options to include in the diet are oyster mushrooms, particularly yellow oysters, lion’s mane, maitake, and shiitake (32).

ERGO can also be taken as a daily supplement, offering an easy way to boost the benefits of any mushroom-based health regimen.

Learn more: Read our comprehensive outline of the research-supported effects of ergothioneine on the body.

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Korean Ginseng

Korean ginseng (Panax ginseng) is a classic tonic herb in TCM, celebrated for its profound whole-body benefits to men's health across the lifespan. It is particularly useful as men age, and for younger men with health challenges.

When taken regularly, ginseng’s adaptogenic properties enhance the body's resilience to stress. It supports healthy reproductive hormones and provides antioxidant protection for reproductive organs and the cardiovascular system (33).

Ginseng promotes healthy cardiovascular function and supports the appropriate responsiveness of erectile tissue, making it a top choice for supporting erectile health (33,34). An analysis of data from seven clinical trials concluded that ginseng is an effective option for supporting erectile health (35).

Ginseng is also known to promote optimal testosterone levels and enhance fertility by positively impacting various sperm health parameters (36-39).

For men experiencing sexual health concerns, ginseng can serve as a valuable ally, offering support for libido, erectile function, sexual performance, and stamina (39,40).

Ginseng is so good, that it can be over-stimulating in some sensitive people, and caution is advised if using stimulants such as amphetamines or high doses of caffeine.

best herbs & functional mushrooms for men's health
For men of all ages, facing modern-day challenges, an ever-growing body of research underscores the effectiveness of these traditional herbs and functional mushrooms in the pursuit of optimal health and well-being.

Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) is another herbal tonic and adaptogen with a long history of use for rejuvenating the body and providing resistance to physical and mental stressors. For men, this herb offers significant health benefits, especially with long-term use.

Ashwagandha supports reproductive health by promoting healthy semen quality and sperm health (41-43). It has also shown benefits for men experiencing psychological erectile challenges (43). Ashwagandha is known for its calming effects on the nervous system, which can improve sleep quality and reduce feelings of anxiousness, leading to lower cortisol levels (44,45).

Incorporating ashwagandha into a daily regimen can help enhance overall vitality, support hormone balance, and improve mental well-being. However, it is important to note that ashwagandha is not suitable for individuals with hyperthyroid conditions.

For men looking to manage stress and support their reproductive and mental health, ashwagandha offers a natural and effective solution. Its adaptogenic properties make it a valuable addition to any wellness routine, promoting overall health and resilience.

Rhodiola

Rhodiola (Rhodiola rosea) is a resilient plant that thrives in the extreme environmental conditions of the far northern latitudes. Humans long ago discovered that its roots could pass on these resilient attributes when ingested, making it a valuable herbal tonic and stimulant in Scandinavian and Russian traditional medicine. It was used extensively to increase physical endurance and mental acuity on long hunting trips and sea voyages (46).

Today, we understand rhodiola as an adaptogen and an ideal male tonic. It supports the body under physical stress and also improves mental performance when under stress. It therefore positively impacts attention span, memory, and work productivity. Essentially, adaptogens like Rhodiola, when taken regularly, ‘train’ our bodies to endure more before the negative consequences of stress begin to affect our health (46).

Rhodiola also offers specific benefits for sexual health. It can enhance libido and sexual performance by increasing energy, reducing the negative impacts of stress, and supporting a healthy mood and relaxed mental state, which are often underlying causes of sexual dysfunction (47).

Chronic stress, which men are often taught to disregard or to “toughen up!” has enormous negative impacts on overall health, including cardiovascular challenges. Emerging research suggests that rhodiola has significant effects on cardiovascular system health (48).

With its wide range of benefits, rhodiola is a powerful herb that can help men achieve optimal health and well-being. Whether you're looking to enhance physical performance, support mental health, or improve sexual function, rhodiola offers a natural and effective solution.

Saw Palmetto

Saw palmetto (Serenoa repens), native to the southeastern United States, particularly Florida, is a well-known herb for supporting men's health. It is traditionally used to support prostate health and urinary function. Saw palmetto is known for its ability to reduce occasional inflammation and support a healthy inflammation response (49).

Research suggests that saw palmetto may help maintain healthy urinary function and flow (50,51). It has been studied for its potential to support healthy prostate size and function. Saw Palmetto is also thought to support the body's natural balance of hormones.

A systematic review of 14 clinical trials found that saw palmetto may support healthy urinary patterns, including reducing occasional nighttime urination and promoting a healthy urine flow rate (52). Long-term intake of saw palmetto extract (320 mg daily) has been associated with maintaining healthy prostate function over time (53).

Importantly, saw palmetto is thought to support prostate health without significantly affecting prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels, a marker used to screen for prostate health concerns. This makes saw palmetto a gentle option for long-term prostate support (52).

With its rich history and ongoing research, saw palmetto is a valuable herb for supporting men's health, particularly for those looking to maintain healthy prostate and urinary function.

Incorporating Herbs and Mushrooms into Your Diet

Incorporating these functional herbs into a healthy diet can be challenging since they taste terrible. Supplementation is much easier. See the dosage recommendations section below for specifics.

If you like to cook, mushrooms are a simple and easy addition to your diet. They can be sautéed, roasted, grilled, steamed or boiled. Eating a decent serving of cooked mushrooms such as shiitake 2 to 3 times a week across your lifespan can truly impact your health. You can also use supplements for the mushrooms that are not commonly eaten: reishi and cordyceps.

Lee Carroll, medical herbalist, with mushrooms
According to Lee Carroll, BHSc, eating a decent serving of cooked mushrooms such as shiitake 2 to 3 times a week across your lifespan can truly impact your health.

The importance of quality and sourcing

Quality is always key. When it comes to herbs and supplements, it is crucial to purchase from a trusted source. Look for brands that guarantee third-party testing to verify the purity, potency, and safety of their products. Quality mushroom products will contain guaranteed levels of beta-glucans.

Different forms of herbs and mushrooms (capsules, powders, tinctures)

Herbs and mushrooms are available in various forms, including capsules, tablets, powders, and tinctures. Capsules and tablets offer convenience and precise dosing, powder extracts can be easily mixed into foods and drinks, and tinctures provide customizable dosages and may be easier for some people to take. Each form has its unique benefits, catering to different preferences and needs.

Simple Recipe for Men's Hormone Health

We suggest buying some Real Mushrooms extract pouches starting with cordyceps and 5 Defenders (a blend of reishi, shiitake, and 3 other immune-supporting mushrooms) and trying some smoothie recipes using functional foods that support men’s health. Here is a suggestion to try. Please adapt this to your tastes.

Men’s Health Smoothie Recipe

Ingredients:

  • ½ teaspoon Real Mushrooms Cordyceps
  • ½ teaspoon Real Mushrooms 5 Defenders
  • 1 – 2 teaspoons raw cacao powder
  • 1 – 2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds
  • 1 – 2 tablespoons flaxseed
  • 1 – 2 tablespoons almonds or walnuts
  • 2 – 3 Brazil nuts
  • 1 – 2 teaspoons tahini (sesame seed paste)
  • 2 oz frozen blueberries
  • A couple of spoons of unsweetened milk or coconut yogurt
  • 8 to 10 oz water

Blend to your desired consistency, add more water for a smoother texture.

Use some ice instead of water to keep your smoothie cold.

Optional Ingredients:

  • 1 banana
  • Replace the water with pomegranate juice
  • Add protein powder
Real Mushrooms 5 Defender's powder
When it comes to men's health, Real Mushrooms 5 Defenders (a blend of reishi, shiitake, and 3 other immune-supporting mushrooms) is an easy addition to your morning smoothie.

Precautions and Considerations

Consultation with healthcare professionals

Before starting any new supplement regimen, we recommend you consult a healthcare professional. They can provide personalized advice, ensure safety, and help avoid interactions with medications or pre-existing conditions.

Potential side effects or allergic reactions

Be aware of potential side effects or allergic reactions when using herbs and mushrooms. Symptoms may include digestive issues, skin rashes, or respiratory problems. Start with small doses and consult a healthcare professional if you experience any adverse reactions to ensure safe and effective use.

RealBoost and RealClarity capsules
Real Mushrooms offers Real Clarity capsules for mental acuity and Real Boost capsules for energy. These herb and mushroom blends are a convenient way to support your health.

Dosage recommendations

Real Mushrooms offers Real Clarity capsules for mental acuity. They contain rhodiola and ashwagandha, as well as lion’s mane mushroom and bacopa. The suggested use is 2 capsules daily.

Real Boost capsules contain Korean ginseng, cordyceps, and guayasa for energy. The suggested use is 2 capsules daily.

Real Mushrooms offers cordyceps extract and reishi extract as both powders and capsules, and Real Mushrooms 5 Defenders is a blend of 5 mushrooms including shiitake and reishi along with turkey tail, chaga, and maitake. The suggested use of Real Mushrooms products is 2 capsules daily or ½ teaspoon daily for powders.

Conclusion and SummaryTable

As we've explored, the traditional wisdom surrounding the use of herbs and functional mushrooms in promoting men's health is more than just anecdotal. The scientific backing these natural remedies receive continues to grow, highlighting their potential to support various aspects of male well-being—from hormonal balance and sexual health to cognitive function and cardiovascular care.

Summary table of best herbs & functional mushrooms for men’s health:

  • Cordyceps: sexual health & fertility, energy & stamina, immune support
  • Reishi: immune support, cardiovascular health, hormone balance
  • Shiitake: immune support, maintaining healthy cholesterol, fat metabolism
  • Ergothioneine: maintaining healthy cognition, antioxidant protection, longevity
  • Korean Ginseng: antioxidant, cardiovascular health, erectile function, libido & stamina
  • Ashwagandha: stress management, reproductive health, enhancing vitality
  • Rhodiola: enhancing physical and mental performance, supporting mood
  • Saw Palmetto: hormone balance, urinary health, prostate health

Embracing a regimen that includes these powerful natural tools can be a proactive step towards achieving a balanced, healthier lifestyle. Whether through dietary inclusion or supplementation, the integration of herbs like Korean ginseng, ashwagandha, and saw palmetto, alongside mushrooms such as cordyceps, reishi, and shiitake, can offer significant health benefits. These ingredients not only cater to specific male health concerns but also enhance overall vitality and longevity.

Remember, while the journey to better health can be deeply personal, it doesn't have to be walked alone. Consulting with healthcare professionals can ensure that you tailor these natural solutions to your specific needs, optimizing the benefits while minimizing potential risks. Ultimately, the goal is clear: to empower you with knowledge and choices that foster a healthier, more vibrant life. So, why wait? Start exploring the potent benefits of these traditional remedies and take a decisive step towards enhancing your health today.

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Lee Carroll, a medical herbalist with over 30 years in the industry, holds a Bachelor of Health Science in Western Herbal Medicine and a Bachelor of Science in Botany. His career spans teaching herbal medicine for 23 years, running a private practice, and leading research and development for herbal medicine companies. A full member of the Naturopaths and Herbalists Association of Australia, Lee is an expert in combining traditional and contemporary herbal practices. Renowned for his expertise in plant medicine, Lee educates on the use of herbs and mushrooms for health. Learn more about Lee.

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