Lion’s Mane, taxonomically known as Hericium erinaceus, is a magnificent gourmet mushroom that also possesses potent medicinal qualities.
Known by some as the “smart mushroom” and often regarded as a natural nootropic, the demand for Lion’s Mane in the health supplement and nootropic markets is ever increasing. Yet as the accompanying list shows, its medicinal qualities aren’t limited to the human brain and cognitive performance.
Here are ten health benefits you can access by consuming Lion’s Mane mushrooms.
1. Prevent Dementia, Parkinson’s disease, and Alzheimer’s disease
As the human brain gets older, it slowly loses the ability to grow and form new neural connections. But two compounds within Lion’s Mane, hericenones and erinacines, may stimulate new growth of these connections, helping to prevent degenerative brain diseases like Dementia, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s disease.
2. Improve gut health and combat ulcers
An extract of Lion’s Mane mushrooms may help prevent stomach ulcers by inhibiting the growth of a bacterium known to cause ulcers and by protecting the mucous layer coating the inner stomach. In one animal study, Lion’s Mane extract was found to be more effective at preventing alcohol-induced stomach ulcers than traditional acid-lowering drugs. And for those suffering from ulcerative colitis, Lion’s Mane extracts can help reduce symptoms.
3. Reduce the risk of heart disease
Lion’s Mane extracts have been found to improve fat metabolism and lower triglyceride levels in rats, thereby combating obesity and high triglyceride levels, both of which are risk factors for heart disease.
Extracts have also been found to prevent the oxidation of cholesterol. Oxidized cholesterol molecules stick and harden on the inside of arteries and veins, increasing the risk of clotting, heart attack, and stroke.
4. Combat cancer
In some studies, cancer cells died at a faster rate when combined in a test tube with Lion’s Mane extract. This result has been demonstrated a number of times with several different types of cancer including colon, stomach, blood, and liver cancer. Lion’s Mane extracts have also shown the ability to slow cancer’s spread, albeit in mice.
One study in mice with colon cancer found that taking Lion’s Mane extract reduced the spread of cancer to the lungs by 69%.
5. Recover from nervous system injuries
Lion’s Mane mushroom extracts may help speed the recovery from nervous system injuries by stimulating the growth and repair of nerve cells. In one study on rats, a Lion’s Mane extract reduced the recovery time of rats with nervous system injuries by 23 to 41 percent.
In another study, Lion’s Mane extract was given to rats immediately following a stroke and helped to decrease inflammation and reduce the magnitude of stroke-related brain injuries by 44 percent.
6. Boost the immune system
Mushrooms like Lion’s Mane contain polysaccharides — complex, long-chain sugars — in their cell walls. The most medicinally potent of these polysaccharides are Beta-D-Glucans, which enhance the body’s defense against many forms of disease such as autoimmune disorders, viruses, and various types of cancer.
Beta-D-glucans provide these miraculous benefits by activating the various cells — T-cells, NK-cells, B-cells, and Phagocytes — that comprise the immune system.
7. Fight oxidative stress and inflammation
One study analyzed the antioxidant abilities of 14 different mushroom species and found that Lion’s Mane mushrooms possessed the fourth highest antioxidant activity. Animal studies have demonstrated that Lion’s Mane extracts reduce inflammation and oxidative stress and may be effective in treating inflammatory bowel disease, liver damage, and stroke.
8. Reduce Anxiety
Though it is a small sample size, one study of menopausal women found that eating cookies infused with Lion’s Mane everyday for one month helped reduce self-reported feelings of anxiety and irritation. The reasons for this effect are unclear but may be related to the anti-inflammatory ability of Lion’s Mane mushroom, as chronic inflammation is considered a potential cause of chronic anxiety.
Further, studies on mice found that Lion’s Mane mushroom extract reduced inflammation and symptoms of anxiety and depression. Lion’s Mane’s ability to improve cognitive performance — including the hippocampus, which is responsible for memory and emotional processes — may also help explain its anti-anxiety and anti-depression effects.
9. Deal with Diabetes symptoms
A number of animal studies have found that Lion’s Mane mushrooms can help lower blood sugar levels in normal and diabetic mice by blocking the activity of an enzyme, alpha-glucosidase, that’s responsible for breaking down carbohydrates in the small intestine.
Lion’s Mane extract may also help ameliorate diabetic nerve pain. In a study on mice with diabetic nerve damage, six weeks of daily Lion’s Mane extract ingestion reduced pain, lowered blood sugar levels, and increased antioxidant levels in the mice.
10. Heal wounds
One study found that dressing the neck wounds of rats with an aqueous extract of Lion’s Mane mushroom accelerated healing, decreased scarring, decreased macrophages at the site of the wound, and increased the development of blood vessels at the site of the wound, a key component of tissue regeneration.
The next time someone mentions how great Lion’s Mane mushrooms are for cognitive health, make sure you chime in and point out all the other amazing medicinal qualities this magnificent mushroom possesses! Chances are you’ll surprise, educate, and enlighten everyone in the room.