Known in Latin as Hericium erinaceus, Lion's Mane is native to North America, Europe, and Asia. It is sometimes referred to as Hedgehog Mushroom, Yamabushitake, or Houtou, and it belongs to the tooth fungus, or hydnoid fungi group. It can be identified by its long spines, which are projected outward, giving it that unique look of a lion's mane. These mushrooms grow on both living and dead broadleaf trees (such as oak) and are common in the late summer and fall months.
Lion's Mane is a nootropic mushroom used for thousands of years in traditional Chinese medicine. Nootropic means that it enhances cognition, such as mental and brain function, by affecting the metabolism of neuronal cells in the central nervous system.
How does it work?
The active ingredients in Lion's Mane include polysaccharides, erinacines, hericerins, steroids, alkaloids, and lactones. Free radicals and inflammation cause damage in our body and these ingredients promote the growth and regeneration of nerve cells. The mushroom stimulates a protein known as nerve growth factor (NGF), which is essential for brain health and neuron productivity. Furthermore, polysaccharides are considered to be the beneficial components in supporting cardiovascular and immune health.
Since ancient times, it has been believed that nutrients found in Lion's Mane may stimulate nerve growth, and improve mental focus, clarity, and alertness. Moreover, research shows that Lion's Mane has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and immunostimulating properties.
May Improve Brain Function
The most popular benefit of Lion's Mane is its revolutionary impact on brain cells and neurodegenerative diseases. The mushroom affects "neurite outgrowth" in the brain, which is the growth of axons and dendrites from neurons. This growth may slow or reverse cell degeneration in the brain, which is linked to diseases like Alzheimer's, dementia, and Parkinson's. In recent studies, Lion's Mane's active compounds may help promote neurogenesis and enhance memory formation.
May relieve mild symptoms of depression and anxiety
Recent studies in mice found that Lion's Mane has a positive effect on depression and anxiety. This could be due to a combination of factors, such as the increased neurotransmitters in the hippocampus and the reduction of brain inflammation. Likewise, a 2021 research showed significant anti-anxiety effects, since the mushroom offers "neuroprotective functions, cytotoxicity, anticarcinogenic, antidiabetic, antimicrobial, and herbicidal activities".
May help protect against Cancer
Lion's Mane has been found to potentially show a progression or reverse the spread of Leukemia, gastric, lung, colon, cervical, liver, and breast cancer. A Korean study, found a significant reduction of leukemia cells, thanks to the phytochemicals in the mushroom. Other findings involve positive effects on the metastasis of cancer cells.
May improve Digestive Health
Due to its powerful anti-inflammatory properties, it may improve stomach problems and the digestion system. Many studies have shown that the mushroom may protect from or shrink gastric ulcers, due to its bioactive compounds (polysaccharides). What's more, it may significantly improve symptoms of gastritis and inflammatory bowel disease.
Other benefits of Lion's Mane:
- Improves sleep quality and REM sleep
- Supports heart and circulatory system health
- Reduces inflammation
- Acts as a powerful antioxidant
- Might be useful for managing diabetes
How to Use
Dried mushrooms can easily be reconstituted with water, then added to your favorite dish. Strain the mushrooms, using the remaining liquid in your favorite soup recipe, or consume it as tea. Rinse the re-hydrated mushrooms, slice, and add immediately to your dish, or fry in oil with your favorite herb.
◉ Should be stored in airtight glass containers -in a cool, dark, and dry place- to preserve the flavor, texture, and properties.
◉ Before adding a new herbal remedy or supplement to your daily routine, you should consult with a medical doctor or holistic health practitioner.