Profiling: Lion’s Mane Mushroom

Lion’s Mane (Hericium Erinaceus), also referred to as the Hedgehog Mushroom, is a fungus that has a variety of active bio-molecules which are used in clinical therapy and nutrition.  Lion’s Mane is a gift to our nervous system, it is the only mushroom possessing two potent growth factors that have shown potential benefits for Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease, mild cognitive impairments, cramping, anxiety, multiple sclerosis and other alike conditions to the human body. Particularly the fruit bodies and mycelia that makeup the Lion’s Mane are composed of erinacines, glycoprotein, erinaceolactones, polysaccharides and hericerins.  These compounds give the mushroom antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anticancer, immunoregulatory and neuroprotective properties.  The nutritional componeents of the mushroom at a macro level consist of amino acids, protein, fatty acid, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals.

Lion’s Mane has been used in traditional Chinese and Japanese medicine through history and is consumed throughout Asia.  In fact, it is known there to give you “nerves of steel and the memory of the lion” and from what scientific research has proposed this is an apt descriptor.  While much of the research is still in its infancy, there is evidence that already points to unparalleled therapeutic benefits for numerous diseases of the central and peripheral nervous system.

Let’s dive into some of the more specific benefits of this powerful fungus.

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Enhanced Cognitive Function 

Lion’s Mane has been found to regulate the growth and development of neurons and supplemental structures.  Due to its anti-inflammatory properties inflammation and neurodegenerative injury to the brain has been proven to be improved upon when supplementing with Lion’s Mane.  The mushroom can also reduce the effects of anxiety, depression, cognitive impairment through coordinating neuron functions and preventing function loss that causes these ailments.  A study proved that symptoms such as loss of concentration, irritability, palpitations and anxiety were greatly decreased when treated with the fruit bodies from the mushroom.  This alleviation can also help to improve sleep quality.

Improved Digestion Function and Relief

It has shown to support healthy digestion, decrease blood sugar levels to a healthy level, support healthy skin and cholesterol regulation.  Lion’s Mane contains beta-glucane polysaccharides, these types of polysaccharides have been shown to improve stomach mucosa functions that is a key art to our digestive process.

People who struggle from diabetes may also take advantage of the aide in blood sugar levels this mushroom can provide.  Another powerful component particular to this mushroom, cyathan aids in ulcer treatment.  It has also been shown to be particular powerful in support against stomach and esophagus cancer.

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Nerve Regeneration and Increased Nerve Growth Factor (NGF)

It can also serve as a preventative factor for cognitive dysfunctions such as dementia.  This is largely due to the promotion of nerve growth factors (NGF) secretions that maintain and organize neurons in the central nervous system. Among many neurological disorders the brain is is unable to manufacture NGF, which may be one of the primary mechanisms underlying Alzheimer’s disease.  The myelin sheaths and the blood-brain barrier prevent your body from accessing external sourcs of NGF and this can contribute to the progressive deterioration of brain neurons over time.

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Powerful Antioxidant, Anti-Inflammatory and Immunosupportive

The polysaccharides present in this particular mushroom strongly encourage the development of anti-oxidative enzymes that help fight the aging process in the body.  It can help with immunoregulation. It also contains anti-inflammatory properties against lipopolysaccharide-induced inflammation.  It has also been shown to helps with those who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome by fighting of the inflammation in the gut that can occur.

Improved Lipid Profile (Anticoagulant)

The mycelium within Lion’s Mane has been reported to reduce triglycerides and improve LDL and HDL levels.  It can also increase the expression of several genes involved in fat metabolism.

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Where to find it? 

They are mainly found in hardwood forests attached to dead or dying hardwood trees and logs (maple, oak, beech, walnut, birch and sycamore) on continents including Asia, Europe and North American during the summer and fall.  You can find some kits available online to grow your own Lion’s Mane at home.  Since they consist of 20% protein they are simple to incorporate into many dishes, just be sure to cook them through thoroughly to make them more readily digestible.  It is also widely available as a supplement and comes in liquids and powdered extracts.  Take precaution when sourcing!

Enjoy!

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