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5 ways Lion's Mane can Benefit your Health

Mushrooms have been long celebrated as a superfood source of high levels of nutrients and antioxidants. They’ve been used in ancient medicine for hundreds of years. In Asia, for example, it is believed that not only do mushrooms taste good, but they also possess detoxification effects, cleansing the body from the inside and helping to heal wounds.

We’ve come to know more about fungi and the fantastic things they can do for the human body.

There are many types of mushrooms out there, but today we will focus on a particular kind of mushroom called Lion’s Mane.

What is the Lion's Mane Mushroom?

The Lion's Mane Mushroom, also known as Hericium Erinaceus, is an edible mushroom species native to North America, Europe, and Asia. The species is described as large, white, and fuzzy mushrooms that, in a way, look like a lion’s mane, hence the name.

Research shows how the mushroom can have therapeutic properties, particularly for brain health and function, stronger immunity, and a healthier nervous system. 

Studies have shown that the Lion's Mane Mushroom can improve your health and wellbeing, especially with a focus on cognitive health, and today we will explore 5 of these evidence-backed benefits.   

1. May protect against brain disorders

Numerous studies suggest that Lion’s Mane can have potential as a brain supplement, particularly assisting with improving memory. Because of its potency for cognitive health, the mushroom has been deemed part of a supplements category called Nootropics.


What are Nootropics?

To put it simply, nootropics are supplements known to enhance brain function and brain health. They work primarily through increasing choline levels in the brain.

Choline is an essential nutrient and is the “currency” of the brain, as every neural process starts with choline conversion. Higher choline levels improve the overall efficiency of brain processes, resulting in a better mood, cognition, focus, and memory.

Nootropics also serve as a way to enhance brain health by protecting it from oxidative damage and by increasing blood flow. An increase in blood flow contributes to more oxygen uptake, which results in higher brain efficiency.

Some studies suggest that Lion’s Mane can help protect against neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease by increasing activity in the “memory” parts of the brain. [1]

Because Lion’s Mane helps with memory, many supplements add the mushroom as part of their nootropic blend. This can make Lion’s Mane an ideal supplement for enhancing memory and cognition.

2. Can reduce heart disease risk

Even though Lion’s Mane is predominantly known for its brain health properties, studies suggest it can also provide heart health benefits. 

Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death for men, women, and people of most racial and ethnic groups worldwide. The primary health risks for heart disease include high levels of triglycerides, LDL, VLDL, blood clots, and obesity. 

Research suggests that consumption of Lion’s Mane can help positively influence these factors, with one study suggesting it helps lower triglyceride levels. [2]

Lion’s Mane has also been found to help reduce cholesterol oxidation. Cholesterol oxidation is a process that makes cholesterol molecules “stick” to the walls of our arteries. Over time, these oxidized cholesterol molecules can harden and increase our risk for strokes and heart attacks. 

3. Possesses anti-inflammatory properties

Many health experts agree chronic inflammation is one of, if not the, root cause of all major diseases in humans. 

Inflammation, on its own, is healthy and often vital when it comes to maintaining a healthy sense of balance and wellbeing. When the body is under a state of inflammation, it activates processes and secretes compounds to fight off infections, toxins, and even heal injuries. 

The problem starts when low-grade inflammation (when the body is just under small yet endless amounts of stress) becomes chronic or “never ending.” This puts the body in a constant state of alert. 

The fact that its low-grade inflammation means you won’t really notice something is wrong with your body until a significant time has passed. This is called Chronic Inflammation.

For inflammation, the go-to natural supplement is often turmeric. However, Lion’s Mane might just give it a run for its money.

Research suggests Lion’s Mane can help reduce inflammation and oxidative stress, due to its powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. In fact, Lion’s Mane has one of the highest antioxidant activities across many types of mushrooms. [3] 

4. Can help strengthen the immune system

Nowadays, a strong immune system is crucial. Not only does it help the body fight off foreign pathogens, it also helps fight off infectious diseases.

As it turns out, Lion’s Mane might just help with your immunity.

Animal research conducted in 2017 said supplementing with Lion’s Mane mushroom can strengthen our immunity by increasing intestinal immune system activity. This system is responsible for shielding us from pathogens that enter the gut via the mouth or nasal passages. [4]

This could be as a result of the Lion’s Mane mushroom having pro-gut health effects, which is essential considering our gut health has been found to be a significant marker of immunity in recent years. 

5. Can relieve mild symptoms of anxiety and depression

It is estimated that about ⅓ of people in developed nations experience anxiety and depression. [7]

There are many potential reasons why a person would exhibit such symptoms, but experts point out that chronic inflammation may be a significant contributing factor.

As we mentioned earlier, Lion’s Mane has been found to possess anti-inflammatory properties, which can help provide long-term health benefits for anxiety and depression. 

More than anti-inflammation, Lion’s Mane nootropic properties can also help with brain cell regeneration and boost hippocampal function. 

The hippocampus is the exact region of our brain that plays a major role in memory and emotional response. Scientists believe that the mushroom’s ability to boost hippocampal function would explain why Lion’s Mane can help with reductions in depressive and anxious behaviours.

How to use Lion's Mane

Lion's mane can be consumed via a capsule or in powdered form. The recommended dosage is 1/2 - 1 tsp daily which equates to 4-6 capsules. There is no difference in terms of health properties between the capsule or the powder. The only difference is the preferred method of use.

If you wanted to give the powdered extract a try, one of the main ways people love incorporating lion's mane into their daily routine, is by adding it into their morning, coffee, tea, and/or matcha and smoothies.

Check out our recipes page for some delicious ideas.


References:

1. Li IC, Lee LY, Tzeng TT, et al. Neurohealth Properties of Hericium erinaceus Mycelia Enriched with Erinacines. Behav Neurol. 2018;2018:5802634. Published 2018 May 21. doi:10.1155/2018/5802634

2. Hiwatashi K, Kosaka Y, Suzuki N, Hata K, Mukaiyama T, Sakamoto K, Shirakawa H, Komai M. Yamabushitake mushroom (Hericium erinaceus) improved lipid metabolism in mice fed a high-fat diet. Biosci Biotechnol Biochem. 2010;74(7):1447-51. doi: 10.1271/bbb.100130. Epub 2010 Jul 7. PMID: 20622452.

3. Abdullah N, Ismail SM, Aminudin N, Shuib AS, Lau BF. Evaluation of Selected Culinary-Medicinal Mushrooms for Antioxidant and ACE Inhibitory Activities. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2012;2012:464238. doi: 10.1155/2012/464238. Epub 2011 Jun 18. PMID: 21716693; PMCID: PMC3118607.

4. Sheng X, Yan J, Meng Y, Kang Y, Han Z, Tai G, Zhou Y, Cheng H. Immunomodulatory effects of Hericium erinaceus derived polysaccharides are mediated by intestinal immunology. Food Funct. 2017 Mar 22;8(3):1020-1027. doi: 10.1039/c7fo00071e. PMID: 28266682.

5. Yao W, Zhang JC, Dong C, Zhuang C, Hirota S, Inanaga K, Hashimoto K. Effects of amycenone on serum levels of tumor necrosis factor-α, interleukin-10, and depression-like behavior in mice after lipopolysaccharide administration. Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2015 Sep;136:7-12. doi: 10.1016/j.pbb.2015.06.012. Epub 2015 Jul 4. PMID: 26150007.

6. Ryu S, Kim HG, Kim JY, Kim SY, Cho KO. Hericium erinaceus Extract Reduces Anxiety and Depressive Behaviors by Promoting Hippocampal Neurogenesis in the Adult Mouse Brain. J Med Food. 2018 Feb;21(2):174-180. doi: 10.1089/jmf.2017.4006. Epub 2017 Nov 1. PMID: 29091526.

7. Rebar AL, Stanton R, Geard D, Short C, Duncan MJ, Vandelanotte C. A meta-meta-analysis of the effect of physical activity on depression and anxiety in non-clinical adult populations. Health Psychol Rev. 2015;9(3):366-78. doi: 10.1080/17437199.2015.1022901. Epub 2015 Jul 3. PMID: 25739893.