Lion’s Mane Mushroom:
Lions Mane is an ancient Chinese medicinal mushroom that is large, white, and shaggy in appearance, mimicking a lion’s mane.
It has recently became very popular in the US and is used for culinary and medical purposes.
Lion’s mane is a mushroom, so it can be enjoyed raw, cooked, dried or steeped as a tea. Lion’s mane extract is often used in over-the-counter health supplements such as capsules or powder that you can mix with water.
According to Paul Stamets, author and advocate of medicinal mushrooms, Lion’s Mane may be the first “smart” mushroom known to man. The active components of Lion’s Mane can easily cross the blood-brain barrier due to their low-molecular weight.
East Asian legends claim that consuming Lion’s Mane mushroom can bestow “nerves of steel and the memory of a lion.”
Keep reading to learn more..
1. Helps to Relieve Mild Symptoms of Anxiety and Depression
Research has shown that Lion’s Mane mushroom extract has anti-inflammatory effects that can help in reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression in mice.
Studies have also found that lion’s mane can help regenerate brain cells and improve the functioning of the hippocampus, the region of the brain responsible for processing memories and emotions .
Researchers believe that improvement of the functioning of the hippocampus may be correlated with reductions in anxious and depressive behaviors in mice that were given these extracts.
While there are many optimistic studies in animals, there are few studies performed on humans. However, one small study in menopausal women found that eating cookies containing lion’s mane mushrooms every day for a month helped reduce feelings of irritation and anxiety.
2. Protection Against Dementia and Alzheimer’s
Lion’s Mane contains bioactive compounds, known as hericenones and erinacines, that have been shown to activate a protein peptide in our bodies known as the “nerve growth factor,” or NGF. NGF is essential for the growth and survival of nerve cells in our brain and nervous systems.
These organic occurring compounds trigger re-myelination, a process which helps to keep neurons healthy and maintain their ability to conduct electrical signals efficiently.
Lion’s mane has also been shown to reduce symptoms of memory loss in mice and prevent neuronal damage caused by amyloid-beta plaques, which accumulate in the brain during Alzheimer’s disease.
Health experts believe that this ability to protect, heal, and regenerate nerve cells will one day be used for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, muscular dystrophy, Parkinson’s disease, and other neurological conditions.
3. Improve Short-Term Memory and Cognitive Function
In laboratory experiments, Lion’s Mane was seen to prevent damage to short-term and visual recognition memory.
Short-term memory (or “primary” or “active memory”) is the capacity for holding a small amount of information in our minds in an active, readily available state for a short period of time.
Visual recognition memory is our ability to recognize previously encountered events, objects, or people, to “remember” them.
Although there is only one documented study on how Lion’s Mane effects learning and memory in humans, the results suggest that it has real potential as a cognitive enhancer.
In a 2009 Japanese clinical trial, healthy adults with mild cognitive impairment received 3 grams of Lion’s Mane each day for 16 weeks. The participants were tested throughout the trial and their cognitive function scores increased with each test, but dropped again when the treatment with the supplement ended.
Animal studies also support claims for the supplement’s ability to enhance memory and cognition in healthy subjects. Healthy mice that were given Lion’s Mane as a dietary supplement showed a significant improvement in both visual and spatial recognition memory.
4. Boosts the Immune System
Research shows that lion’s mane mushroom can boost immunity by increasing the activity of the intestinal immune system, which protects the body from pathogens that enter the gut through the mouth or nose
One study even found that supplementing with Lion’s Mane extract daily nearly quadrupled the lifespan of mice injected with a lethal dose of salmonella bacteria .
5. Supports Gut Health
The most traditional use of Lion’s Mane in Chinese medicine is to treat stomach problems, and recent studies have supported its gastroprotective effects.
It’s been shown to reduce inflammation in the GI tract, which helps with the digestive symptoms associated with inflammatory bowel syndrome (IBS) and inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), like Crohn’s disease and colitis.
6. May Help to Fight Cancer
Research suggests that Lion’s Mane mushroom has cancer-fighting abilities.
Several of its unique compounds, when mixed with human cancer cells in a test tube, cause the cancer cells to die at a faster rate.
This has been demonstrated with several types of cancer cells, including liver, colon, stomach and blood cancer cells. However, at least one study failed to replicate these results, so more studies are needed before reaching a conclusion.
In addition to killing the cancer cells, Lion’s Mane has also been shown to block the ability of cancer cells to metastasize, or migrate to other areas.
One study in mice with colon cancer found that taking Lion’s Mane extract reduced the spread of cancer to the lungs by 69% . Lion’s Mane extracts were seen attacking the cancerous tumors without causing any toxicity to the mice.
In fact, the study researchers noted that these extracts were more potent and less toxic than 5-flourouracil (5-FU), a standard chemotherapeutic agent that is commonly used to treat many different types of cancers.
Another study found that lion’s mane extract was more effective than traditional cancer medications at slowing tumor growth in mice, in addition to having fewer side effects .
7. Reduces Risk of Heart Disease:
Studies in rats and mice have found that Lion’s Mane mushroom extract improves fat metabolism and lowers triglyceride levels . Obesity and high triglycerides are both considered risk factors for heart disease, this is one way that lion’s mane mushrooms contribute to heart health.
Studies have also found that Lion’s Mane extract can help prevent the oxidation of cholesterol in the bloodstream .
Oxidized cholesterol molecules tend to attach to the walls of arteries, where they then harden and increase the risk of heart attack and stroke. Therefore, reducing this oxidation is very beneficial for heart health.
8. Reduces Inflammation and Oxidative Stress
Research shows that Lion’s Mane mushrooms contain powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds that may help reduce the impact of illnesses including heart disease, cancer and autoimmune disorders.
Chronic inflammation and oxidative stress are believed to be at the root these illnesses and one study examining the antioxidant abilities of 14 different mushroom species found that lion’s mane had the fourth highest antioxidant activity and recommended it be considered a good dietary source of antioxidants.
Several animal studies have found that lion’s mane extract reduced markers of inflammation and oxidative stress in mice and may be particularly useful in the management of inflammatory bowel disease, liver damage and stroke.
Lion’s Mane Mushroom and its extract have been scientifically shown to have a variety of mental health benefits from reducing minor symptoms of anxiety and depression, protecting against dementia, improving short-term memory and improving cognitive function.
It also has strong physical health benefits from antioxidant anti-inflammatory components, immune-boosting abilities, and been shown to lower the risk of heart disease, cancer, and diabetes in animals.
Hopefully there will be more human studies to come. But with the evidence from rodents suggesting the benefit behind Lion’s Mane, the development of practical health applications for lion’s mane mushroom are soon to come.
Typical dosage recommendations range from 500-3000 mg per day for optimal results.
Unlike most Nootropics, Lion’s Mane does not produce immediately noticeable effects and must be taken for extended periods to reap its benefits. Reviews stated people supplemented over a period of at least several weeks before noticing effects.
If you suffer from a mushroom allergy it is recommended to avoid Lion’s Mane. While it is generally safe, allergic reactions have been reported.
Where to find Lion’s Mane:
Aside from scouring dead and decaying hardwood logs, you can now purchase Lion’s Mane through many health food stores. I highly recommend Host Defense, by Paul Stamets—mycologist and author of six books on mushroom cultivation and identification. He knows what he’s talking about and he offers vegetarian and gluten free options.
If you’re like me and don’t want to leave the house, you can get it through Amazon.
They have the option of capsule form
or liquid form, that allows you to add a few drops to your drink.
And if you want the ‘tea’ version I recommend Four Sigmatic’s Lion’s Mane Mushroom Elixir Mix
Until next time ,