3 Brain Health Benefits of Lion's Mane Mushroom
Lion’s Mane mushrooms, which can be eaten raw or in powdered form, grow wild throughout the Pacific Northwest and New England. Also known as yamabushitake or hou tou gu, these large, globe-shaped fungi boast shaggy spines that make them resemble, appropriately enough, a lion’s mane. They have long been celebrated in Asian cultures for their diverse culinary and medicinal uses, but only within the past decade or so have they attracted increased attention amongst researchers for their notable brain-boosting benefits.
Brain Benefit #1: Protect against dementia
Lion’s Mane mushroom contains two key compounds which have been found to stimulate the growth of brain cells and protect against age-related cognitive decline: erinacines and hericenones (1). In fact, a recent study found that, when given to mice as a dietary supplement, Lion’s Mane fosters improved recognition memory.
“Until now no investigations have been conducted to assess the impact of this dietary supplementation on brain function in healthy subjects,” cites researchers. “In conclusion, we have produced a series of findings in support of the concept that H. erinaceus [scientific name for Lion’s Mane] induces a boost effect onto neuronal functions.” (2)
Brain Benefit #2: Delay the progression of Parkinson’s / Alzheimer’s disease
Beyond dementia, Lion’s Mane mushrooms have even been found to potentially delay the progression of more severe cognitive diseases due to their ability to enhance “neurite outgrowth”—which refers to the growth of axons and dendrites from neurons. The effect? A deceleration (or possible reversal) of cell degeneration, which is a principal characteristic of both Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
“Studies have shown that out of 2000 different types of edible and/or medicinal mushrooms, only a few countable mushrooms have been selected until now for neurohealth activity,” cite researchers in a 2015 study from the Internal Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms. “Hericium erinaceus is one of the well-established medicinal mushrooms for neuronal health. It has been documented for its regenerative capability in peripheral nerve.” (3)
Brain Benefit #3: Relieve symptoms of mild depression/anxiety
According to findings from a 2015 study published in Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior, inflammation plays a role in the pathophysiology of mental illnesses—and Lion’s Mane extract, which is anti-inflammatory, was found to reduce the symptoms of depression and anxiety in mice (4).
A later study, published in 2018, similarly concluded that the mushroom extract exhibits “antidepressent-like effects” when tested on mice that exhibited “repeated restraint stress.” (5)
Although more human studies are required to confirm these findings, the mushroom’s potential to boost mental functioning is promising. And fortunately, it’s easy as can be to incorporate into your daily routine with our Classic Roast doctored up with Lion’s Mane, Cordyceps, Chaga, Reishi, Turkey Tail, and Shiitake.