Lion’s mane (Hericium erinaceus) are large white mushrooms resembling a lion’s mane (hence the name). While they are often considered one type of fungus, there are actually three distinct species, of which Hericium erinaceus is the most widely available.
Lion’s mane mushrooms usually look like white pom-poms and are used for culinary and medicinal purposes. They are widely used in Asian countries such as Korea, Japan, India and China. The demand for these mushrooms is growing rapidly due to their various uses in the food, pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries.
Lion’s mane can now be found in grocery stores, your favorite restaurants, supplement stores, and even some of the most popular coffees. You can get the lion’s mane remedy as a powder that you add to your morning coffee, or in capsules.
Lion’s mane mushrooms are described by many as having a seafood flavor and can be eaten raw, dried, or cooked.
Lion’s mane is also very nutritious, rich in thiamine, riboflavin, nicotinic acid and other vitamins. It is also a good source of essential minerals such as manganese, zinc and potassium.
Studies have shown that lion’s mane contains many health-promoting ingredients with a range of benefits.
Many health conditions, such as heart disease and autoimmune diseases such as arthritis, are caused by chronic inflammation. Lion’s mane is rich in a special type of carbohydrate called oligosaccharides, which have many important biological functions, including antioxidant and anticancer activity.
They also exhibit immunostimulatory functions that collectively reduce the inflammatory effects of such diseases. Studies conducted to understand the antioxidant properties of several types of mushrooms have shown that lion’s mane showed the fourth strongest antioxidant activity. Some studies have also shown that lion’s mane fights obesity by reducing the effects of inflammation in adipose tissue.
As we age, the brain’s ability to form connections and form new brain cells called neurons declines, which can lead to mental decline in older adults. However, research has shown that lion’s mane mushrooms are a good source of erinacein and erinacein, two chemicals that boost brain cell growth.
A chemical called nerve growth factor (NGF) is also required for the proper functioning of the part of the brain that produces acetylcholine, called the basal forebrain. Acetylcholine is one of the most common neurotransmitters used by neurons (brain cells) to communicate and is the chemical responsible for the wakefulness state. Stimulation of the basal forebrain results in the release of this chemical in the brain, which wakes you up.
Studies have shown that NGF prolongs the release of acetylcholine, and chemicals such as erinacin and erinacins help induce NGF production in nerve cells. The presence of NGF is directly proportional to the activity of acetylcholine.
Meanwhile, other studies have shown that when elderly people with cognitive impairments ate three grams of lion’s mane a day for four months, it significantly improved mental performance. Also, when they stopped taking the supplements, their function declined.
Lion’s mane is also an excellent source of neurotrophic compounds, a family of biomolecules (most of which are protein-based) that promote the growth, survival, and various physiological functions of new and mature neurons. These neurotrophic compounds have a positive effect on human nerve cells and can help overcome many neurodegenerative diseases such as:
Lion’s mane extract may be helpful in treating depression and anxiety. To test this possibility, a study was conducted among Japanese women who, among other health problems, suffered from menopausal symptoms and poor sleep. Some women took lion’s mane extract, while others took placebo cookies for four weeks.
Women who received lion’s mane extract reported lower levels of stress and anxiety compared to the placebo group.
Of course, further research is needed to determine the effects of lion’s mane on anxiety and depression. Also, since there aren’t many studies outlining the benefits of lion’s mane, there isn’t much information on recommended dosages.
There are not many studies that can evaluate whether lion’s mane is safe to consume or its side effects in the long term. However, since it’s a mushroom, it’s best to be careful. If you have a history of allergies, asthma, or any other medical condition, it is best to check with your doctor regarding whether it is safe to consume lion’s mane mushrooms in any form as a food or supplement.
There have also been reports of people experiencing breathing difficulties and rashes from eating lion’s mane mushrooms.
Although lion’s mane mushrooms have some benefits, you should keep in mind that there is still a lot of research being done to find evidence for their exact benefits. This is one of the main reasons why it is too early to draw conclusions about its specific benefits.
You should also keep this in mind when you come across products that mention health benefits, as studies on the effectiveness of lion’s mane have not been done on humans. While some products claim these benefits, these products may not be FDA compliant.
In 2019, for example, the FDA asked a company that advertised its lion’s mane supplement as helpful for “brain injury recovery” to stop making such claims.
Biomedical Study: “Depression and Anxiety Reduction with 4 Weeks of Hericium.”
Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine: “Evaluation of the Antioxidant and ACE-Inhibiting Activity of Selected Culinary Medicinal Mushrooms”.
Fungal Biotec: “Herinium erinaceus: a review of cultivation, health applications, economic importance, industrial and pharmaceutical applications.”
Therapy (Tokyo, Japan): “Monitoring of Hericium erinaceus (Yamabushitake) extract-induced acute respiratory distress syndrome using serum surfactant proteins.”
International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms: “Neurotrophic properties of the medicinal mushroom Lion’s mane Hericium erinaceus (higher basidiomycetes) from Malaysia”, 3T3-L1 adipocyte and RAW264 macrophage co-culture system.
Molecular Medicine Reports: “Constituent Elements and Antioxidant Activity of Hericium erinaceus Water-Soluble Oligosaccharides”.
Phytotherapeutic studies: “Improving the effects of yamabusitake mushroom (Hericium erinaceus) on mild cognitive impairment: a double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial.”
Journal of Neurology: “Nerve growth factor rapidly induces sustained release of acetylcholine from cultured basal forebrain neurons: differences between neuromodulatory and neurotrophic effects.”
Post time: Dec-19-2022