Lion’s Mane Mushrooms

Introduction

Called by different names such as mountain-priest mushroom, bearded tooth fungus and lion’s mane mushroom, hericium erinaceus is a fungus found in Asia, Europe and North America.

Lion’s mane is common in gourmet cooking and is found naturally and also cultivated for culinary, medicinal and other uses. It’s called lion’s mane because of its appearance, but it’s white.

You can eat this fungus raw, cooked, dried and even make tea. Since it’s considered healthy, you will also find supplements from many brands.

The mushroom has a meaty texture but has the flavor of seafood like crab and lobster. If you don’t have meat or don’t want to eat it, the mushrooms will be a good alternative.

What Does Lion’s Mane Mushrooms Contain?

Lion’s mane mushroom contains carbohydrates, protein, fat, dietary fiber, potassium and iron.(1)

Health Benefits of Lion’s Mane Mushrooms

Not only is the fungus delicious, but it is considered healthy too and may improve health in different ways. Here is a look at some potential health benefits that lion’s mane mushroom can provide.

It may help with Alzheimer’s disease

With advancing age, a lot of brain functions begin to deteriorate. As a result, people sense a memory loss which can get worse.

Lion’s mane mushroom contains two compounds called hericenones and erinacines, which help in the production of new brain cells.

As per the research conducted on some animals, experts determined that the mushroom extract may aid in protecting against Alzheimer’s disease, which causes memory loss in older adults.

The studies showed that the mushroom and its extracts lowered the symptoms of memory loss in mice. Experts also saw that it prevented amyloid-beta plaques from causing neuronal damage, which often happens in Alzheimer’s patients.

While studies have not been conducted on humans, the lion’s mane mushroom supplement seems to offer positive effects in people who took it.

Older adults had better brain functions when consuming 3 grams of lion’s mane mushroom supplements for four months. But the improvements again disappeared when they stopped taking the supplement.

But since not many studies have been done with humans, nothing is conclusive.

Lion’s Mane Mushrooms Health Benefits

It may reduce mild symptoms of anxiety and depression

Many people suffer from depression and anxiety because of different reasons. Often it can lead to a nervous breakdown, ailments and even mental illnesses.

Many reasons cause anxiety and depression, and chronic inflammation is one of the contributing factors.

Experiments on mice determined that lion’s mane extract contains anti-inflammatory properties and lower anxiety and depression symptoms.

More studies on mice also indicated that administering the lion’s supplement enhances hippocampus functions. It’s an area of the brain in charge of emotional responses and memory processes.

The mice seemed less depressed and anxious. Experts are of the opinion that the better hippocampus function is responsible for that.

But the result only indicates animal studies, and there is much research needed to be done in humans.

However, an experiment conducted on menopausal women showed that consuming lion’s mane mushroom cookies regularly for one month lowered anxiety and irritation.

It may accelerate the recovery process of nervous system injuries

A lot of times, people suffer injuries to the nervous system because of accidents, stroke or cancer. Since the nervous system consists of the brain and spinal cord, injuries can lead to paralysis and even fatalities.

Studies have indicated that lion’s mane mushrooms may accelerate the time of recovery by activating cell growth and repairing them.

In experiments conducted on rats, the results showed that the supplementation of lion’s mane mushrooms increased the recovery time by at least 23-41%.

Another experiment on rats also showed that the mushroom might also help with the healing process of the nervous system after a stroke.

But human studies are yet to be conducted, so much cannot be said about it. More will be known only when experts conduct studies on humans.

It may prevent the growth of ulcers in the digestive tract

The digestive tract can become vulnerable to ulcers caused by the overgrowth of the bacteria H. Pylori. Ulcers can also occur due to the destruction of the mucous layer in the stomach, which generally happens due to the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, also called NSAIDs.

Studies conducted in test tubes showed that lion’s mane mushrooms could slow down the growth of H. Pylori and prevent ulcers from forming.

The mushroom extract may also lower the risk of inflammation and prevent tissue damage in other parts of the stomach.

It may also lower the risk of heart disease

Millions of people suffer from heart diseases caused by different conditions. An increase in blood clots, obesity, high quantity of oxidized cholesterol and high triglycerides are some of the reasons that can cause heart issues.

Studies performed on mice and rats have indicated that lion’s mane mushroom extract can lower triglycerides levels and also improve fat metabolism.

Some other researches also showed that lion’s mane mushroom extract could prevent cholesterol oxidation in the bloodstream. When cholesterol is oxidized, the affected molecules get attached to the arteries’ wall. When this happens, it increases the risk of stroke and heart attack.

So, since the mushroom minimizes oxidation, it can prevent heart attacks and stroke. The mushroom also has hericenone B, a compound that may reduce blood clotting and prevent the conditions.

Initial research shows that the extract can help protect and improve heart health, but more human studies need to be conducted.

Lion’s mane mushroom may help with diabetes

Some studies have also indicated that daily intake of lion’s mane mushroom supplement may maintain blood sugar levels.

It may also reduce side effects caused by diabetes, such as nerve pain, kidney disease and vision loss.

The positive effects take place when the substances in the mushroom extract prevent alpha-glucosidase, an enzyme, from breaking down carbs and making them difficult to be absorbed.

It may improve the immune system

Regular intake of lion’s mane mushrooms extract may also boost the immune system and prevent pathogens from entering the gut through the mouth or nose.

It may lower oxidative stress and inflammation

Inflammation and oxidative stress are two conditions that can lead to many ailments. The mushroom has antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties, so supplementation can help prevent the conditions.

It may help fight cancer

Some studies have shown that the compounds and other substances in the mushroom can accelerate the death of cancer cells. It may also reduce the spread of cancer.

But the results are only from a few studies, and more research is needed.

What do you learn from the above?

Lion’s mane shows a lot of promise according to research and experiments conducted on animals. With experts continuing to find out more, it may become part of mainstream medicine and treatment very soon.

Dosage

Like any other supplement or pill, it’s important to keep to the prescribed dosage if you want to use Lion’s mane. Even though it’s safe, consuming excess quantities can be harmful and cause side effects.

Bottom line 

Overall, the lion’s mane mushroom appears to affect users and the animals in experiments positively. But since experts have not done extensive studies, we can’t say much.

However, you can take supplements after consulting with your physician. Many brands are available on the market, so you can choose a top-quality item.

 

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I've been a bodybuilder and fitness enthusiast for over 15 years. I'm also a Karate black belt and personal trainer with a PHD in sports nutrition.