Lion’s mane mushrooms are also familiar to the public as hou tou gu or yamabushitake. They have multiple purposes, such as culinary use and usage for medical treatment mostly in Asia. Asian legends claim that Lion’s Mane mushrooms can create nerves of steel. But these are just legends, we will focus more on scientific research. Many of traditional names among the listed above include sheep’s head or bear’s head.
It is possible to prepare Lion’s mane mushrooms in several ways such as raw, cooked, or steeped as tea. The mushroom consists of 20% protein which makes it a good nutritional meal that tastes very similar to shrimp.
This post will mainly focus on nootropic benefits of these mushrooms, not on the culinary use.
The human brain works by creating new connections or the more familiar term – firing neurons. This ability declines with age, and there are diseases that can also affect this process.
Studies and research show that Lion’s mane mushrooms contain critical compounds required for the brain to form new connections. Aside from this, these mushrooms can help improve protection against Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s disease is a degenerative disease that causes people to lose memory progressively.
We will go through the cognitive benefits on Lion’s mane below. The mushrooms can serve as a protection and aid to the brain, or a nootropic to a perfectly healthy brain.
Research and Studies on Lion’s Mane
Medical facilities and institutions have conducted quite a few trials and researches on lion’s mane. However, most of them have been conducted on animals.
Some researches show significant improvement in cognitive functions of taking lion mane’s powder for several months. The exact used dosage was 3 grams of the powder. The effects of the nootropic subsided after stopping to consume the powder. (5)
Depression and Anxiety Benefits
People living in modern and developed countries and having a busy life and career are very likely to expreience Anxiety and Depression. They ofen come together and it is said that one in three of people experience it.
Anxiety and Depression can come from different sources, one of them is chronic inflammation. This is a major contributing factor for causing anxiety.
Animal research on lion’s mane mushrooms shows that the extract has anti-inflammatory effects. This is promising and can reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety. (5)
Increased Energy and Focus
Modern life requires quite the energy and focus and this benefit of Lion’s mane is broadly discussed in today’s society. At some places you can find coffee containing Lion’s mane mushroom extract. Its makers claim that it doesnt have a caffeine crash unlike the traditional coffee and caffeine jitters.
This would be an ideal source of energy, it comes from several different properties of the mushroom extract. It is very rich in antioxidants that ensure overall cellular health. (6)
Energy transportation throughout the body is on a cellular level, therefore the more antioxidants you include in your diet, your body will produce more energy easier.
Lactic acid is also responsible for fatigue after a physical activity. Compounds found in lion’s mane mushrooms reduce the lactic acid presence in your blood. (7)
Reduces Symptoms of Neurodegenerative Diseases
Degeneration is a continuous process which causes healthy cells to degenerate over time. This can affect tissues or organs which deteriorate over time. Neurodegenerative diseases are the ones that affect the cells of the central nervous system (CNS).
A good example of a neurodegenerative disease is Alzheimer’s disease. Neurodegenerative diseases are mainly related to aging. However, eating habits, exercise, and even normal bodily wear can affect degenerative diseases in general.
Some of the degenerative diseases can be cured, while of others symptoms can be alleviated.
Lion’s mane extract contains NGF. This is a powerful and exact neuropeptide that prevents nerve cell damage. (8)
That is, so far Lion’s mane is proven to prevent nerve cell damage. What is more interesting, lion’s mane can also regenerate damaged nerve cells. This can be of great use to people who have advancing neurodegenerative diseases. These diseases include Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease, and dementia. (9)
Improves Overall Cardiovascular Health
The main cause of cardiovascular diseases is inflammation. A healthy lifestyle, diet, and nutritional supplements are very important for a healthy cardiovascular system.
Mental stress and lack of physical exercises are also reputable causes for cardiovascular diseases.
Lion’s mane has anti-inflammatory properties that improve overall cardiovascular health. Studies also show that it can reduce cholesterol and triglycerides which are a common cause for a heart disease.
It May Help Fight Cancer
Cancer is a disease which manifests through uncontrolled cell replication or severe cell damage. This is caused by compromised and damaged DNA.
Research suggest that these mushrooms can help fight cancer because of some very unique compounds. (10)
Still, we need more human studies in order to claim this with certainty. So far, in a test tube, when cancer cells are mixed with lion’s mane extract powder, it causes the cancer cells to die much faster. These tests include server cancer types as liver, stomach, blood, and colon cancer cells. (10.1, 10.2)
Lion’s mane extract powder can reduce spread of lung cancer by 70%. Another study also claims that this powder is much more effective than current medications to slow tumor growth while having fewer side effects. (10.3, 10.4)
Ulcer Protection in the Digestive Tract
Ulcers can form anywhere in the digestive tract. This includes the stomach, small and large intestines. They are often caused by two factors, the first is overgrowth of a bacteria by the name of H.pylori.
This bacteria is present in the stomach, the second important factor is damaged mucous due to long-term usage of NSAIDs or anti-inflammatory drugs. (11)
Test tube studies of lion’s mane show promising results. The powder extract from the mushrooms is able to prevent the growth of H.pylori. No human trials have been conducted yet. (12)
After just three weeks of taking powder extract from lion’s mane mushrooms, the symptoms of ulcerative colitis were significantly improved. The powder contained 15% of lion’s mane extract. (15)
Good Sources of Lion’s Mane and Usage
You can cook and eat the mushrooms themselves. Many people in Asia practice consuming lion’s mane this way. However, if you are unable, you can use supplements that contain the extract from these mushrooms. You can find supplements in several forms including :
The dosages for each supplement vary, always read the label. The usage of a new supplement in your died should also be discussed with professionals, either a doctor or a nutritionist.
You can purchase lion’s mane capsules from Amazon.com