By Reishi Strauss, B. Sc. in Herbal Sciences
This blog post will be a deep dive into one of the most well-known mushrooms for health -- Lion’s Mane! This amazing mushroom is a nootropic, which means it enhances brain function. It is gaining in popularity due to its incredible effects on cognitive function, mental health, and gut health. With its icicle-like appearance and sweet, crab-like flavor, this is a mushroom you definitely want to know about! Let’s dive into its properties and scientific research below.
Potential Increase of Cognitive Functions
Do you sometimes feel that you can be forgetful? Can’t remember the items you jotted down on your grocery list, or notice your brain struggling to find the word you’re looking for? Luckily, Lion’s Mane Mushroom can help!
Lion’s Mane mushroom contains a constituent called hericenones which has been shown to increase the synthesis of NGF, or Nerve Growth Factor (1). NGF promotes the growth and differentiation of neurons in your brain. Through promoting NGF, the brain may exhibit increased cognitive function, memory formation and recall, and could even help to recover from neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and dementia (2).
In one study, Lion’s Mane supplementation showed beneficial effects in patients with mild dementia. Six out of seven patients showed improvement in their functional capacity to understand, communicate, and remember after consuming 5g of Lion’s Mane Mushrooms daily for six months (3).
By bolstering our neural pathways, Lion’s Mane Mushroom can help our mind and body operate more cohesively as one integrated unit. Wouldn’t that make you feel better?
Lion’s Mane for Gut Health
Before being known for its effects on the brain, Lion’s Mane mushroom was used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) as a digestive tonic and to support gastrointestinal health.
One of the proposed theories for how this works was the idea that Lion’s Mane contains prebiotics, which are food for the beneficial bacteria of our digestive tract, called probiotics. Prebiotics feed probiotics. In one study with rats, scientists found that the probiotic Lactobacillus was found to rapidly increase its population within 6 hours of Lion’s Mane administration (4). By feeding the beneficial bacteria in our digestive systems and increasing their population, Lion’s Mane could help support our overall gut health!
Decrease Feelings of Stress, Anxiety, and Depression
Have you been feeling stressed out lately? Maybe you have a lot of things on your plate that you’re trying to juggle, and feeling like you could be doing a better job? Well, supplementing with Lion’s Mane Mushroom may help you manage these feelings over time. While clinical anxiety and depression should be handled by your doctor, Lion’s Mane Mushroom may offer some relief from non-clinical conditions.
Research has shown that Lion’s Mane can help tremendously with both brain and gut health. Since 90% of our serotonin (the happy chemical!) is produced in our gut, improving our gut health can also improve our mental health (5). Scientists call this our “gut-brain connection.”
In one study, patients with anxiety and depression were given 2 grams of Lion's Mane mushroom per day. The study concluded that Lion’s Mane has the possibility to increase feelings of well-being and decrease feelings of anxiety and depression (6).
While everybody is different and this is still a new area of research, many of the studies certainly provide compelling evidence that Lion’s Mane is capable of supporting our brains and bodies in a multitude of ways! Head on over to our Mushroom Superfood Protein Powder to get your daily dose of Lion’s Mane Mushroom into your daily health regimen.
Development of a non-invasive NGF-based therapy for Alzheimer’s disease. Covaceuszach S, Capsoni S, Ugolini G, Spirito F, Vignone D, Cattaneo A. Curr Alzheimer Res. 2009; 6 (2):158–170.
The anti-Dementia effect of Lion’s Mane mushroom (Hericium erinaceus) and its clinical application. Kawagishi H, Zhuang C, Shnidman E. Townsend Letter for Doctors and Patients 249, 2004.
Yang Y, Zhao C, Diao M, et al. The Prebiotic Activity of Simulated Gastric and Intestinal Digesta of Polysaccharides from the Hericium erinaceus. Molecules. 2018;23(12):1-14. doi:10.3390/molecules23123158
Reduction of depression and anxiety by 4 weeks Hericium erinaceus intake. Nagano M, Shimizu K, Kondo R, Hayashi C, Sato D, Kitagawa K, Ohnuki K. Biomed Res. 2010;31(4):231–237.