Is Lion’s Mane good for the brain?
Hericium Erinaceus commonly known as Lion’s Mane is a functional mushroom that has the appearance of a white spherical fungi with long shaggy spines, resembling an actual Lion’s Mane. If you are walking the untouched jungles of Asia, Europe and North America, there is a possibility you might find Lion’s Mane growing on hardwood trees such as birch, maple, oak, walnut and sycamore. A lion’s Mane is easy to identify with its white colour and snowball-like shape from which the spines of the Manes grow out.
Lion’s Mane mushroom’s fruiting body is abundant in bioactive compounds including Beta-glucan polysaccharides; hericenones and erinacine terpenoids; isoindolinones; sterols; and micronutrients, which offer neuroprotective and neuroregenerative capacities. Research indicates that these compounds may promote the growth of new brain cells, fight depression and anxiety and improve the health of the gut, heart and immune system. Commonly known as the “Brain Mushroom”, Lion’s Mane is believed to enhance focus, memory and cognition while it helps in reducing anxiety. Moreover, Lion’s Mane is known to stimulate the production of Nerve Growth Factor (NGF) and myelin, which are crucial for maintaining good brain health. Research reveals that two special compounds in Lion’s mane mushrooms can stimulate the growth of brain cells: hericenones and erinacines.
Lion’s Mane has been a traditional supplement used to enhance brain function for a long time. Monks in ancient times used Lion’s Mane powder in their tea, claiming that it helped them concentrate during meditation and improve their overall brain power. In recent times, scientific studies have investigated the validity of these claims and found them to be promising. Tests have indicated that compounds found in Lion’s Mane mushrooms can facilitate nerve impulse transmission and improve short and long-term memory. Interestingly, these same compounds were also found to counteract oxidative stress on the brain. The hippocampus is the region of the brain responsible for processing memories, emotional responses and anxiety. The bioactive compounds in Lion’s Mane help reduce inflammation and help in regenerating cells maintaining the balanced functioning of the brain while controlling response to depression and anxiety. The medicinal properties of Lion’s Mane are not limited to boosting brain function, as they can also have a positive effect on one’s mental health. Many people worldwide experience occasional worry and mood swings, and studies suggest that Lion’s Mane’s mood-lifting properties can be helpful in such cases.
Furthermore, Lion’s Mane can regulate the sleep-wake cycle by reducing wakefulness during the active phase of sleep (REM). As a result, consuming Lion’s Mane before bed can be beneficial for individuals with delayed sleep phase syndrome. Additionally, Lion’s Mane has immune-modulating properties that help combat external stressors, leading to more restful sleep. Like other medicinal mushrooms, Lion’s Mane is an excellent source of antioxidants that boost the immune system. Some of the benefits of Lion’s Mane Mushrooms are as follows:
- Helps prevent Dementia
- Better focus and restful sleep
- Relieves depression and anxiety
- Speeds recovery from nervous system injuries
- Protects from ulcers in the digestive system
- Reduces risks of heart disease
- Helps manage diabetes
Though Lion’s Mane is an edible mushroom it has a mild and slightly sweet flavour similar to that of seafood and its size can range anywhere between a softball to a volleyball. There is no evidence so far to show any possible side effects of Lion’s Mane mushrooms.