Lion's Mane Mushrooms: What Is It And What Are The Benefits?
What are Lion’s Mane Mushrooms?
Lion’s mane mushrooms, also known as Hericium Erinaceus, are large, white, sagging fungi with long, shaggy spines that can resemble a lion’s mane as they grow to maturity. These mushrooms are used in various Asian countries for both medical and culinary purposes. They can be cooked, eaten raw, dried, steeped into a tea, and extracts from them are regularly found in various over-the-counter health supplements. They can produce several practical effects within the body, including the gut, heart, and brain.
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Lion’s Mane Mushroom Benefits:
Relieves Mild Depression and Anxiety Symptoms
We need more research regarding the effects of lion’s mane on humans, but several animal studies have also helped demonstrate the different impacts these mushrooms can have. For instance, one study found that an extract from the mushroom can possess anti-inflammatory characteristics linked to reduced symptoms of anxiety and depression in lab mice. Additional animal studies have indicated the lion’s mane extract may help with the regeneration of brain cells and improve functioning in different brain areas, such as the hippocampus.
Boosts the Body’s Immune System
Animal research has indicated that lion’s mane can boost immunity through activity stimulation within the intestinal immune system. This stimulation of a person's immune system can help to protect the body from various pathogens entering the intestines through the nose and mouth. One study even found that rats injected with lethal doses of salmonella who were given lion’s mane extract every day had almost quadruple the life expectancy compared to rats who received no lion’s mane extract. While this is extremely promising, more research will be needed going forward.
May Speed Up Nervous System Injury Recovery Time
The nervous system of humans is made up of the spinal cord, brain, and other nerves located throughout the body. Injuries to these areas- especially the brain and spine- are significant and often devastating, leading to the loss of mental function and paralysis. However, animal research has suggested that lion’s mane extract can significantly speed up recovery through the stimulation of nerve cell repair and growth. When rats with nervous system injuries were provided with lion’s mane, the recovery time decreased by between 23-41%. When given to rats immediately after a stroke, inflammation and brain injury size decreased by as much as 44%.
Helps Manage Symptoms of Diabetes
Lion’s mane has shown itself to be potentially beneficial for managing diabetes by enhancing blood sugar control and reducing side effects of high blood sugar levels in animal studies. These side effects include kidney disease and nerve damage in the feet and hands, and even vision loss. Additionally, lion’s mane has shown the potential to reduce the diabetic nerve pain that comes with said nerve damage.
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May Protect Against Dementia
Again, more research is needed for this benefit to be fully understood. Still, current studies have indicated that lion’s mane mushrooms contain two specific compounds (erinacines and hericenones) that stimulate new brain cell growth. Studies conducted on animals have also indicated that lion’s mane may potentially help people guard against the development of Alzheimer’s disease. While human studies showing the effects of lion’s mane on Alzheimer’s have yet to be conducted, it has been shown to at least enhance mental functioning in older adults with cognitive impairments.
Reduce the Risk of Heart Disease
Research in animals has indicated that lion’s mane extract can impact some of the factors that lead to heart diseases, such as triglyceride levels, obesity, and oxidized cholesterol. The extract has been shown to reduce and help prevent the development of these issues. This can reduce the potential for heart disease development. Additionally, compounds within the lion’s mane can decrease the rate of blood clotting, which lowers the overall risk of strokes or heart attacks.
Helps Prevent Digestive Tract Ulcers
Stomach ulcers can develop along the digestive tract and are primarily caused either by excessive levels of particular bacteria (H. pylori) and damage resulting from prolonged use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs known as NSAIDs. Lion’s mane may protect the stomach lining and inhibit the development of this particular bacteria in rodents, though human testing is still strongly needed. Additionally, extracts from this mushroom have been shown to reduce inflammation and help prevent tissue damage from developing in other intestine segments.
May Help Fight Cancer
Some research has indicated that lion’s mane contains several unique compounds that may possess specific cancer-fighting abilities. For example, when lion’s mane was mixed with different types of cancer cells in a test tube, the compounds caused the cancer cells to die off at an accelerated rate. According to animal studies, it has also been shown to slow down the spread of various cancers within the body. Mice with colon cancer that were given lion’s mane extract experienced a reduced cancer spread by as much as 69%. Only animal tests have been conducted, however, so extensive testing in humans is still strongly needed.
The Bottom Line
Lion’s mane mushroom has been repeatedly studied in lab animals and has demonstrated several auspicious effects. However, extensive human testing has yet to be done. It is still strongly needed before we can say that ingestion of lion’s mane can bring about these kinds of beneficial effects in people. We’ll have to wait several years before any definitive conclusions can be reached. In the meantime, if you’re looking for an easy and delicious way to add lion’s mane into your daily diet, consider trying out Magic Mind, the world’s first productivity drink filled with several nootropics and adaptogens.
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