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March 30, 2021 4 min read
Lion’s mane (scientific name, Hericium Erinaceus) is a unique mushroom, which most commonly grows in woodland areas of North America and Asia. As the name suggests, it’s the likeness to a lion’s mane which has become most notable. With large, shaggy looking white fruiting spines, it’s unlikely you’ll mistake it for any other type of superfood mushroom. It also somewhat resembles the look of a snowball and can be referred to as ‘monkey’s head’, ‘old man’s beard’ or ‘hedgehog mushroom’ when described in traditional Chinese medicine terms.
If you were to find this type of fungus in the wild, it would most likely be growing on a dead oak, walnut, beech, maple or sycamore tree. Usually, lion’s mane is found growing on decaying stumps or logs. The uses for this mushroom are varied, however, most famously, lion’s mane is known to support overall cognitive functioning - including better focus, memory, stress levels and mood, due its NGF (nerve growth factor) on the brain.* Many studies, such as this International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms, claim to have conducted research into lion’s mane and the support it plays in neuropathy.* For a comprehensive list of lion’s mane health benefits, check out this article.
Naturally, there are multiple ways of extracting lion’s mane and it can be produced in a number of forms. Some more costly than others, and some more appropriate for different needs and sensations. With so many lion’s mane products available in supplement, tincture and powder forms, it can be difficult to know what you’re looking for. This article will walk you through some of the main methods of extraction, to help you know what to look for when buying lion’s mane.
Mycelium on grain is an approach to growing lion’s mane mushrooms for the key purpose of creating a type of supplement, without producing an actual mushroom. Mushrooms are usually recognized by their ‘fruiting body’, which is the part we see with the human eye, typically above ground. However, the fascinating part of mushrooms is the mycelium, which acts as the roots of the mushroom, or web of cells which is hidden in the soil or tree bark, connecting the mushroom to a multitude of nutrients in the soil.
This can be grown ‘on grain’ which is similar to the method of creating grain spawn. This is then pulverized and sold as a lion’s mane supplement. This is the most common method for mushrooms to be farmed and created in the United States for the purpose of creating supplements. Not only can it be a cost efficient option, it also provides opportunities for farming this mushroom which would otherwise be difficult.
The traditional process of growing mushrooms is naturally to produce an entire mushroom to completion and harvest the fruit body, which is then used to produce an extract. If produced in this way, the supplement should contain the necessary health benefiting compounds of the mushroom. The reason this means of producing can be more difficult to find is usually to do with cost.
Full-spectrum lion’s mane (or 1:1 extract) is the whole mushroom which has been dissolved using hot water to break down the cells of the mushroom. This method increases bioavailability because the beta-glucans are trapped within the cell walls of the mushroom. By breaking down these cell walls (known as chitin), the beta-glucans are freed. The lion’s mane is then collected, dried and transformed into powder form. With 1:1 extract, expect to get every beneficial part of the mushroom. Best for immune system support, digestive issues, memory, focus and a more positive mood.*
The 8:1 lion’s mane extract is usually a solvent extract. Some compounds of lion’s mane are only soluble in ethanol. These are predominantly the nerve growth factor (NGF) effects which are commonly placed with lion’s mane. Using ethanol in the extraction process allows for a higher amount of these ‘better cognitive functioning’ related compounds.* To make lion’s mane 8:1 extract, 8 kilograms of lion’s mane mushroom needs to be used to produce a single kilogram.
Always read the labels and check to see if your product is certified organic and of the highest quality. The end product should be one which contains high levels of beta-glucans and low levels of starch.
Always ensure both powders and tinctures have been analytically tested, and are guaranteed to contain the beneficial compounds. You should also check to make sure the product has been created sustainably, using non-GMO ingredients, with a commitment to purity. A quick way to be sure you are on the right track when figuring out what to look for when buying lion’s mane is to make sure you are buying from a company you can trust.
With the wide variety of lion’s mane mushroom products out there, t can be hard to choose which one is best for you. We advise you to always do your research on a company or product, and choose organic.
Rritual Superfoods has created a certified organic, gluten-free, vegan and non-GMO product, with no artificial sweeteners, sugars or nasties. Formulated to support your physical and emotional wellbeing, focus and function.* If you’re still wondering what to look for when buying lion’s mane, you can shop our Lion’s Mane Mushroom Powder Mix and Focus Sticks in the comfortable knowledge you will be taking the purest ingredients available. For more information on how to use lion’s mane mushroom powder, you can check out this article for more information.
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