Health Benefits of Lion's Mane Mushroom
What are the benefits of lion's mane mushrooms?
This delicious mushroom has been referred to as 'Nature's Nutrient for the Neurons because of its ability to stimulate the production of nerve growth factor (NGF).
Lion's mane mushroom or Hericium erinaceus is white, globe-shaped fungi that have long, shaggy spines that resemble a lion’s mane as they grow. They can be eaten or taken in the form of supplements. Lion’s mane mushrooms can be cooked, dried or used in tea.
It goes by many names, the Japanese name is Yamabushitake, the chinese name is Hou You Gu or Monkey Head Mushroom an the alternative english name is Hedgehog Mushroom.
Mushrooms are famous for their nutritional and medicinal values and also for the diversity of bioactive compounds they contain ( 1 ). Lion’s mane mushrooms contain bioactive substances that have beneficial effects on the body and may offer a number of health benefits.Research suggests that they may offer a range of health benefits, including reduced inflammation and improved cognitive and heart health.
Potential benefits of lion’s mane mushrooms and their extract
Inflammation and oxidation
Antixidants may fight both inflammation and oxidation in the body. Where inflammation contributes to many medical conditions, including diabetes, heart disease and autoimmune diseases. Research shows that lion’s mane mushrooms contain powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds that may help reduce the impact of these illnesses ( 2 ).
Gut Health and improved immunity
Lion's mane mushrooms may enhance the immune system, partly by reducing inflammation and preventing oxidation (3 ). Research on mice suggests that lion's mane mushrooms may boost the activity of the intestinal immune system (4) .
There is research that a protein in lion's mane mushrooms encourages the growth of beneficial gut bacteria that strengthen immunity. ( 5 )
Moreover, HEP3 could improve the immune system by regulating the composition and metabolism of gut microbiota to activate the proliferation and differentiation of T cells, stimulate the intestinal antigen-presenting cells, and hence play a prebiotic role. ( 6 )
Lion’s mane extract can also reduce inflammation and prevent tissue damage in other areas of the intestines. In fact, they may help treat inflammatory bowel diseases like ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease (10 ) ( 11)
Anxiety and depression
Accumulating evidence suggests that inflammation plays a role in the pathophysiology of depression and that anti-inflammatory substances have antidepressant effects. ( 12 )
Lion’s mane has been shown to have neuronal health benefit ( 16 )
It might boost cognitive function, and even improve mild cognitive impairment. A 2009 study on adults aged 50-80 with mild cognitive impairement had improved scores on cognitive function while they were consuming lion’s mane ( 17 ).
Phytochemicals in some foods are a potential source of bioactive safe compounds for cancer chemoprevention and suppression of tumor initiation, promotion, and metastasis. The antioxidant properties of lion's mane mushrooms may play a role in cancer prevention or treatment. ( 19 ) ( 20 ) ( 21 )
Controlling blood sugar levels is key to managing diabetes. In a study in animal models blood sugar levels were lower after they received lion's mane mushroom extract for 4 weeks ( 22). Another study ( 23 ) showed improvement of diabetic neuropathy with reduced feelings of nerve pain, including lower blood sugar levels, and improved antioxidant activity.
Extracts from lion's mane mushrooms may provide healing benefits for skin wounds as shown in an animal study ( 24 ).
Nervous system recovery
Damage to the nervous system can have significant effects on health. However, research has found that lion’s mane mushroom extract may help speed recovery from these types of injuries by stimulating the growth and repair of nerve cells. Studies in rats have found that lion’s mane extract can speed up recovery time from nervous system injuries, but human research is lacking. ( 25 ) ( 26 ) ( 27 )