▷ Benefits of Lion’s Mane Mushroom (2018 Update)
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Benefits of Lion’s Mane Mushroom

Written by Sabrina Wilson and updated on April 22, 2018
The Benefits of Lion’s Mane Mushroom

Post Summary

There is some evidence for these benefits of Lion’s Mane mushrooms:

  • Enhanced brain functioning
  • Ability to prevent or slow the growth of cancer
  • Supports heart health
  • Helps with depression and anxiety
  • Potent antioxidant
  • Reduces inflammation
  • Boosts immune system
  • Supports digestive health

Read on to learn how to leverage and maximize these benefits of lion’s mane mushroom.

Thousands of years ago, natural remedies were our only real option when it came to improving health and treating disease and illness. While many of these compounds are somewhat insignificant when compared to modern day medicine, there are still a few that have been shown to act as highly potent health boosters.

With this in mind, a vast number of these compounds have seen a huge increase in popularity within the health industry over the last decade or so, with many people reaping the rewards of taking these unique remedies.

One such natural compound that has some rather interesting research to support its use is the lion’s mane mushroom.

What Is Lion’s Mane Mushroom?

As its name would suggest, the lion’s mane mushroom (also known as the ‘Yamabushitake’, the ‘monkeys head mushroom’, and scientifically as ‘Hericium erinaceum’) is a type of mushroom that has a very long history within traditional Chinese medicine.

Mushrooms are quite unique in that they maintain their own health by secreting specific enzymes that breakdown simple molecules into even smaller nutrients. These nutrients are then absorbed and used for growth and energy.

As a result, many mushrooms not only contain unique bioactive compounds, but also tend to be very dense in essential vitamins and minerals.

Taking all of this into consideration, the lion’s mane mushroom is thought to contain over 70 potent bioactive compounds, with specific emphasis on hericernones, erincines, hericerins, resorcinols, and organic steroids.

And you see, this is where lion’s mane mushroom derives its health benefits.

These compounds have been described as antibiotic, anti-carcinogenic, anti-diabetic, anti-fatigue, anti-hypertensive, anti-aging, cardio protective, and neuroprotective, while also demonstrating a capacity to lower blood cholesterol, improve anxiety, increase cognitive function, and even treat depression [1].

In short, they are thought to boost health in a very big way, and across many facets of health.

What are the health benefits of Lions Mane Mushroom?

Given the lofty claims made in support of the lion’s mane mushroom, we wanted to find out what is true (and what is not). As a result, in the following section we have taken an objective look at the research to determine where lion’s mane mushroom is best used, and where it can be ignored.

Does lion’s mane mushroom enhance brain function?

Two of the specific compounds mentioned above, hericernones and erincines, contain specific neurotrophic factors that have demonstrated the ability induce nerve growth and repair. This process is integral to the maintenance of normal brain function and preserving normal brain health [2].

With this in mind, there is some research to suggest that supplementing with the lions mane mushroom can enhance cognitive function in older adults, improving memory processing and general brain function [3].

Does lion’s mane mushroom help treat dementia, Parkinson’s disease, or Alzheimer’s disease?

Building on the above point, there is further evidence to suggest that through its impact on the nerve cells found within the brain, lion’s mane mushroom also has the ability to stave off age related declines in cognitive health and function [3].

This has also come with some research to suggest that it may be able to protect against the neurodegeneration that causes dementia and neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer disease as Parkinson’s disease [4].

This suggest it may offer an excellent addition to some of those more traditional treatment modalities for these specific diseases.

Does lion’s mane mushroom help treat epilepsy?

Given its rather potent neuroprotective impact on the brain, there has also been suggestions that the lion’s mane mushroom has the ability to help treat epilepsy. Unfortunately, there is currently no research to support this claim.

Does lion’s mane mushroom treat neuropathy?

Neuropathy refers to a diseased state in which the body’s peripheral nerves begin to degenerate and become dysfunctional. The peripheral nerves are those that send messages from the central nervous system (the CNS, which is comprised of the brain and the spinal cord) to the rest of the body, allowing movement and sensation.

With this in mind, neuropathy can result in muscle weakness combined with unexplainable sensations of tingling, pain, and numbness throughout various areas of the body.

Given the neuroprotective, and somewhat regenerative properties, of lion’s mane mushroom, it has been shown to cause significant improvements in the signs and symptoms of neuropathy in animal models [5,6] – although more research is needed in humans.

Does lion’s mane mushroom have anticancer properties?

In conjunction with its potent neuroprotective properties, the lion’s mane mushroom has also been suggested to exhibit potent anti-cancer compounds.

Although there is currently no evidence in human subjects, these specific compounds have been shown to slow the development of cancerous tissue in both animal models [7] and in human cancer cells in a laboratory setting [8].

As a result, it does appear that the lion’s mane mushroom may have the capacity to both prevent the development and slow the onset of cancer, although thorough human research is needed before this can be said with any real certainty.

Does lion’s mane mushroom support heart health?

There is some interesting animal research to support the supplementation of lion’s mane mushroom as means to improve heart health.

In rats, lion’s mane mushroom has been shown to cause significant reductions in blood levels of total cholesterol, LDL (or ‘bad’) cholesterol, and blood triglycerides, while also causing an increase in measures of blood HDL (or ‘good’) cholesterol [9] – all of which are key risk factors for cardiovascular disease and declines in heart health.

Taking this into consideration, lions mane mushroom may in fact have the ability to improve and support heart health in humans, although some quality human research is needed to confirm that this is indeed the case.

Does lion’s mane mushroom treat anxiety or depression?

In conjunction with its impact on nerve regrowth and function, lion’s mane mushroom also appears to have a positive impact on brain cell function, in which it can improve mood and mental state significantly.

While the exact mechanisms are unclear, there is research to suggest that the supplementation of the lion’s mane mushroom can lead to significant reduction in the signs and symptoms of depression, combined with declines in feelings of anxiousness [10].

As a result, lions mane mushroom may offer an excellent addition to more traditional mental health treatments.

Does lion’s mane mushroom improve digestive system health?

There has been some animal-based research looking into the impact of lions mane mushroom supplementation on digestive health, and so far the results have been quite promising.

In rats, the consumption of lion’s mane mushroom has been shown to protect against gastrointestinal disease and inflammation, while also assisting in the promotion of general gut health [11]. Although there is currently no research in humans within this area, it does suggest that the lion’s mane mushroom may indeed offer a way to enhance digestive health.

Does lion’s mane mushroom reduce inflammation?

Some of the key compounds found within the lion’s mane mushroom have been shown to exhibit potent anti-inflammatory effects by reducing excessive nitric oxide production within the body, fighting off the negative effects of reactive oxygen species, and reducing the secretion of proinflammatory cytokines [12]

While this research has only been performed in cellular laboratories, it does suggest that the lion’s mane mushroom may offer a way to reduce the risk of developing inflammatory diseases, while also improving general health and function.

Does lion’s mane mushroom have antioxidant properties?

Similar to much of the research mentioned above, there is currently no research looking into the impact of the anti-oxidant properties of the lion’s mane mushroom in humans specifically, but there are some cell-based studies that show quite a bit of promise.

These studies have shown that the lion’s mane mushroom has one of the most potent antioxidant profiles of all mushroom types, suggesting some capacity to boost health and limit the negative effects of harmful free radicals within the body [13] – although as usual, more human research is needed in this area.

Does lion’s mane mushroom improve the immune system?

Early research performed in the lab has shown that the consumption of lion’s mane mushroom can cause large improvements in immune system function by causing the increased activation of macrophages and NK cells – two of the most powerful immune cells within the human body [14].

While this research is by no means definitive (and certainly doesn’t really give an indication of its effectiveness in real live humans), it does suggest that some of compounds within the lion’s mane mushroom can boost immune cell activity, which may cause a subsequent increase in adult immune health.

Product Reviews

Given the rather impressive health effects of lion’s mane mushroom, we wanted to give you some options that you could integrate into your lifestyle immediately. Each of these offer us with a great product in their own right, providing what we believe to be the best three lion’s mane supplements on the market at the moment.

Host Defence Lions Mane Capsules

This particular lion’s mane supplement by Host Defence is one of the most popular on the market. Targeted towards those individuals who want to boost immune system function and prevent age related declines in cognition, this an excellent option.

Host Defense - Lion's Mane Mushroom Capsules, Natural Support for Mental Clarity, Focus, Memory, Cerebral and Nervous System Health, Non-GMO, Vegan, Organic, 60 Count

We should also note that by providing 1,000 mg of lion’s mane mushroom per serving, this is one of the more potent options on the market.

Wild Foods Lion’s Mane Mushroom Extract

Wild foods are fast becoming one of the premier natural supplement companies on the market, where they have built a very solid reputation for producing top quality products with no frills or fillers at excellent price points – and their lions mane extract is the perfect example of this.

Lion's Mane Mushroom Extract 10:1 Superfood Powder by Wild Foods | Fruiting Bodies Only | Adaptogenic Nootropic Herb for Focus, Memory and Health (2 Ounce)

Providing you with nothing but pure lion’s mane mushroom extract in powdered form, you really cannot go wrong. As an added bonus, this is also one of the more cost-effective options on the market, making it perfect for those on a budget.

Swanson Lion’s Mane Capsules

Swanson’s have been producing good quality supplements are very affordable price points for a long time. With this in mind, their lion’s mane supplement is the perfect example of this, in which it provides you with 500 mg of lion’s bane mushroom per capsule at a fairly low cost.

Swanson Lion's Mane Mushroom Memory Support, Mental Focus, Brain Booster, Herbal Supplement Hericium Erinaceus (mycelium biomass) 500 mg 60 Capsules

This is arguably the most affordable capsule based lion’s bane supplement ion the market, making it a highly effective and efficient option.

Does lion’s mane mushroom have any side effects?

While lions mane mushroom is a natural product, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it is completely free of side effects – many organic compounds still interact with the body’s neural and hormonal systems, which can subsequently result in some rather unwanted effects.

With this in mind, some individuals have reported experiencing itchy skin after taking lions mane mushroom for prolonged periods of time, which is likely to be an associated side effect of the increases in nerve growth factor (key compounds that increases nerve cell growth and regeneration) secretion that occurs in response to its neuroprotective effects.

We should note that this is not detrimental to health, merely uncomfortable.

Outside of this, there appears to be no unwanted side effects associated with consumption, even in dosages up to 3000mg/kg of bodyweight – which is well beyond what is needed to elicit a positive response.

It is also important to note that we would also be inclined to avoid consumption of lion’s mane mushroom if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. While very few side effects have been reported in general, there is a significant lack of research in this area specifically.

Conclusion

Lions bane mushroom has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years. Amazingly, recent research has supported its use in a big way, making it one of the few supplements that truly have stood the test of time.

Demonstrated to have a positive effect on the nervous system, mental health, dementia, the cardiovascular system, immune cell function, and digestive health, it truly is one incredibly potent natural remedy.

The three supplements listed in this article are what we believe to be the best on the market at the moment. As always, if you have had any experience using lion’s bane mushroom, then we would love to hear about it, so drop us a comment and we will get back to you ASAP.

References

About the author

Sabrina Wilson

Sabrina Wilson is an author and homemaker who is passionate about a holistic approach to health. When she is not writing she can be found tooling around in her garden with the help of her appropriately named dog Digby, bicycling in the park, and occasionally rock climbing…badly. Sabrina is a staff writer for the Organic Daily Post.

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