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February 27, 2021 4 min read
Lion’s mane is a large, white, long-haired mushroom grown most commonly in Northern parts of the United States, Europe and Asia on hardwood surfaces in woodland areas. Used in traditional Eastern medicine for hundreds of years, this captivating, healing fungus also has a stimulating nerve growth factor (NGF) on the brain. The list of lion’s mane mushroom health benefits is bountiful - however, the most commonly known unique benefit is how this plant can be used to support growth and survival of new neurons.
These benefits are also connected to supporting overall brain health, cognitive functioning, and can help to regulate mood and stress levels. Lion’s mane also supports an optimum, high-functioning immune system and stimulates healthy digestion. Though Eastern medicine has long been aware of the wide spectrum of illnesses and health concerns this mushroom can treat, the Western world is only just starting to catch up.
This article will take a deeper dive into some key lion’s mane mushroom health benefits - including improved brain health, multiple sclerosis and neuropathy.
Studies have shown lion’s mane encompasses two special compounds which can provoke the production of brain cells: these are known as ‘hericenones’ and ‘erinacines’.
The most fascinating, and unique aspect of the lion’s mane mushroom is arguably, the fact it contains an element known as Nerve Growth Factor (NGF). NGF is a type of protein which contributes to a healthy functioning nervous system. To group the science into an easily digestible nutshell, it has the ability to move damaged parts of the brain to untainted areas, due to its plasticity and flexible structures.
For this reason, studies have shown lion’s mane may be able to improve symptoms of Alzeighmer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
Other animal studies have shown improved memory, focus and sense of visual recognition in mice. This is a good case for the brain-supporting mushroom showing signs of aiding cognitive functioning, due to this production of nerve growth factor or NGF.
In terms of mood regulation, mental health conditions have a wide spectrum of influences, causes and symptoms - however, science has proven chronic inflammation has a part to play in anxiety and depression. Research has shown lion’s mane to have an anti-inflammatory effect on mice, which can help to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. In another study, 30 women were given cookies over a four week period, some of which contained lion’s mane, some of which were a placebo. The women who had been consuming the lion’s mane cookie over the course of the research reported a lessening of anxiety symptoms.
Multiple Sclerosis (or commonly known as MS) is a Central Nervous System (CNS) disorder - whereby the immune system attacks the ‘myelin sheath’ around neuron cells. It is a progressive disease with little to no available treatment, caused due to damage in the fatty layer surrounding important parts of the nervous system, which confuses electric impulses.
The disease is known for causing extreme fatigue, as the body is constantly trying to keep up with the demands of the CNS. Other symptoms include a faulty vision, muscle spasms, poor coordination and memory loss. In its most extreme cases, partial or total paralysis is possible.
Lion’s mane mushroom health benefits are currently being studied to test its efficiency in treating conditions such as MS. Though these studies are taking place with rats and mice in laboratories, some have shown some promising and potentially exciting results.
One research measures lion’s mane given to rats with serious nerve injury. The results displayed better nerve cell regeneration and immune activity in the rats which received the lion’s mane extract, compared to the control group which didn’t. This is due to the mushroom’s synthesis strength of Nerve Growth Factor (NGF). NGF, as we know, is a protein which promotes maintenance and production of nerve cells in the CNS. However, it also plays a part in stimulating the production of the ‘myelin sheath’ around neuron cells.
The Peripheral Nervous System is the network of nerves which run outside the Central Nervous System, such as sensory nerves, motor nerves and autonomic nerves. These are responsible for transmitting sensations, controlling muscles and regulating automatic functions of the body.
The main symptoms of neuropathy can include loss of balance and coordination, muscle weakness, stabbing pain and numbness in the feet or hands.
Similar to the reasons why lion’s mane is being investigated as a remedy for multiple sclerosis, research also shows lion’s mane mushrooms can encourage nerve cells to grow and repair more quickly, in the case of neuropathy. More studies will need to occur before this can be confirmed, but current tests on animals are being conducted and are showing promising results.
By now, it’s clear to see the assortment of lion’s mane mushroom health benefits appears to be full, even endless. To keep things bite-sized, and digestible, we’ve put together this easy-to-read list:
If you’re interested in experimenting with Lion’s Mane Mushroom Powder to see what it could do for you, we recommend adding one scoop of either the mix or an Elixir Stick into your morning tea or coffee for a two-week period. See if you notice the difference.
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