If you like mushrooms and are looking to expand your diet with an exciting new type, then we have some good news. Lion’s mane mushrooms are full of nutrition and healthy properties that can satisfy your appetite while working to keep your mind and body in the best possible shape.
What are Lion’s Main Mushrooms?
Lion’s mane mushrooms may not be overly familiar in the West but like many herbs and plants, they have been popular in Asia for a very long time. They are especially popular in traditional Chinese medicine and have been used for centuries for their health benefits. Over recent years, a growing body of scientific research has taken an interest in these mushrooms. Many of the studies have focused on their brain boosting abilities but that is not all they can do for you.
If you would like to know more about this amazing mushroom and find out exactly what it can do for your health, read on.
Therapeutic Properties of Lion’s Main Mushrooms
I have no doubt you are aware know how good certain mushrooms are for you but will be amazed at the number of ways in which these mushrooms can benefit your health.
According to a study published in 2015, lion’s main mushrooms known scientifically as Hericium erinaceus have antibiotic, atidiabetic, antihypertensive, anticarinogenic and antioxidant properties to name just a few. They are also cardioprotective, liver protective and kidney protective.
Not only that but they are neuroprotective and can protect the brain and boost its abilities. They can help to ease anxiety and depression and improve a person’s cognitive abilities. (1)
That is some list and if you were not interested before, then that list must have piqued your interest a little bit at least.
The Health Benefits of Lion’s Mane Mushrooms
1) For Brain Health
While they have many health benefits, lion’s much of the research into lion’s mane mushrooms has focused on their brain benefits. According to studies, this amazing fungus has great potential when it comes to their impact on degenerative brain disorders like Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s.
According to research, these mushrooms are so effective because they enhance neurite outgrowth or the way in which dendrites and axons grow from neurons. (2) By increasing nerve growth, it may help to slow down or even to reverse the brain’s cellular degeneration which is characteristic of dementia and illnesses like Parkinson’s disease.
One study published in 2012 found that consuming these mushrooms could even help to regenerate cells damaged by peripheral nerve injuries. (3)
A number of laboratory tests have found that extracts of lion’s mane mushrooms can protect PC12 cells from damage. The health of the cells is especially important when it comes to brain disease. Scientists believe that by protecting PC12 cells, lion’s mane mushrooms may have a role to play in preventing brain disease and damage. (4) (5)
Studies done on animals have also proved positive. According to research, lion’s mane mushroom can stimulate brain function helping to improve the memory of rats. (6) Multiple experiments have also found that consuming lion’s mane extract improved the symptoms of rats with Alzheimer’s. (7)
Up to now, very few experiments have been done on humans. One study looking at the effects of lion’s mane mushroom on cognitive impairment did note some improvements in the subjects after 8 to 16 weeks of supplementation. (8)
While the research is in its early stages, the results indicate definite promise that lion’s mane mushrooms represent a potential treatment for some of those dreadful age related brain diseases.
2) Protection Against Cancer
A great deal of research has already been conducted into the impact of lion’s mane mushroom on various types of cancer. The results so far have been extremely promising and research indicates that an extract made from lion’s mane might slow down the progression and potentially even treat the following types of cancer :
- stomach cancer (9)
- leukemia (10)
- lung cancer (11)
- breast cancer
- colon cancer (12)
- liver cancer (12)
The studies so far have largely been conducted in vitro and on animal models but the ongoing research into the anticancer properties of natural herbs is extremely encouraging. With any luck, a breakthrough is not so far away.
3) Heart Health
Studies indicate that lion’s mane mushrooms may help reduce the risk of heart disease for several reasons.
First of all, they can help keep LDL cholesterol levels in check while increasing HDL cholesterol. High cholesterol levels are a major risk factor in heart disease. (13) There is also evidence from a Japanese study that lion’s mane extracts can help prevent the blood clots that cause stroke. (14)
4) Digestive Health
These healthy mushrooms may also improve digestive function due partly to their excellent anti-inflammatory properties.
Multiple studies have revealed that lion’s mane mushrooms can help protect against and treat gastric ulcers. (15) Other studies have revealed that lion’s mane mushrooms can significantly improve the symptoms suffered by people with inflammatory bowel disease and gastritis. (16)
5) Immune System Health
According to research done on mice, these incredible mushrooms can also boost your immune health and protect you from infection and illness. Research indicates that their ability to boost immune health is related to their polysaccharide content. (17)
6) A Powerful Antioxidant
Lion’s mane mushroom also contain excellent antioxidant compounds that can prevent oxidative damage which is at the root of most major diseases.
Research shows that as well as their general health boosting abilities and ability to fight free radical damage, these antioxidants can also help speed up the healing of wounds in rats. (18)
7) Mental Health
Supplementing with lion’s mane mushrooms can also have a powerful effect on your emotional wellbeing.
There is evidence that polysaccharides extracts form these mushrooms can fight fatigue and even aid sleep by helping to control your cicadian rhythms. (19)
Lion’s mane may also help treat other emotional issues like anxiety and depression, In one study 30 female subjects were wither treated with lion’s mane extract or a placebo for a month. The results indicated that lion’s mane could relieve anxiety and ease depression. (20)
Lion’s mane may also be useful for people with diabetes or those at risk of the disease. According to research published in 2013, animals treated with a lion’s mane extract had a significant improvement in their blood glucose levels and insulin sensitivity. (21) There is also evidence that the mushrooms can reduce pain resulting from diabetic neuropathy. (22)
How to Use Them
If you are living in the West, you are unlikely to come across lion’s mane mushrooms too frequently in the stores. You may be lucky enough to find them in Asian specialty markets if you live in a large city but they are more elusive for most of us.
That leaves you with two options. You could grow your own from seeds with kits that are can be found online. The mushroom is not to everybody’s taste and the flavor is often compared to a fleshy seafood. However it goes well with quinoa and brown rice combined with some sweet peppers, and onions or garlic.
Of course, not everybody will be able to grow their own personal crop but lion’s mane is also available in supplement form. Make sure you buy your supplements from a reputable source and follow the dosage recommendations closely.