Lion’s Mane Mushroom: The Elixir of Life

Benefits of lions mane mushrooms

Lion’s Mane Mushroom

What is lion’s mane? With a name like that, there’s got to be something majestic about it right? As mentioned in the conversation with Joe Rogan and “the mushroom guy”, Paul Stamets, Lion’s mane may be the elixir of life.

Lion’s mane is actually a mushroom known as yamabushitake or Hericium erinaceus. Other names for it are bearded tooth mushroom, pom pom mushroom, hedgehodge mushroom and monkey head mushroom. The most popular name, Lions mane, comes from the appearance of the mushroom – it looks like a head of pale-yellow silky spines, hence the name lion’s mane.

Lions mane is native to North America, Europe and Asia. The pom pom mushroom can be found on hardwoods like American beech trees and tend to grow during late summer and fall.

Mushrooms, a macrofungi, has particularly attracted attention for medicinal use as it is perceived as a natural resource harmonious to the human body. Mushrooms are usually regarded as gourmet food packed with nutritious vitamins, healthy fats and proteins. Additionally, it is used as medicine across many cultures throughout the world, most particularly in China and other oriental countries.

In the last three decades, compounds extracted from mushrooms have been examined and found to be therapeutic. Polysaccharides are the major bioactive compound in this pom pom mushroom. The unique chemistry of mushrooms holds vast potential in the medicinal area.

Lion’s mane benefits

Lion’s mane works on the nervous system. The brain mushroom is used to fight against dementia and to induce nerve growth by promoting Nerve Growth Factor. Lions mane mechanism of action appears to promote neuron growth and formation of myelin. Myelin is the outer covering of nerve cells that are important in the function of the nerve’s conduction of electrical activity.

Researchers in Japan discovered lions mane benefits after conducting a clinical trial. Lion’s mane improves cognitive ability in the elderly population. The studied group took 1000mg of lions mane 3x a day. They found that lions mane was effective in improving mild cognition impairment in this group. This effect lasted a short period until they stopped the treatment.

The pom pom mushroom has not been researched in younger healthy adults and studies are fairly limited to animal models and elderly adults.  However, the anecdotal impression of the erinaceus mushroom is it improves brain fog and poor memory problems.

The brain mushroom has also been reported to help with anxiety, depression, high cholesterol, antioxidant, immune system stimulation, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and even to protect against or fight off colon cancer. 

Mushroom Cultivation

Mushroom cultivation and extraction are important steps that have a significant influence on the yield, structure, and action of the polysaccharides that contribute to the aforementioned benefits. Common mushroom extraction techniques include hot water, alkali, pressure, ultrasonic wave, supercritical fluid extraction, enzyme, and microwave. Lion’s mane is most commonly extracted using the hot water technique which typically produces higher yields.

Synergy with Garlic Extract

Neuroprotective effects of Hericium Erinaceus may be enhanced with garlic extract. In mice studies, a synergistic effect was observed with Lion’s mane enriched with garlic extract. 

How to take Lion’s Mane

Dosage: 1,000mg x3 a day for total of 3,000mg a day

Side Effects: itchiness (may be caused by the  increase in Nerve Growth Factor)

Caution: In all animal studies, lions mane appears to be safe and devoid of all adverse effects.  However, one case study reports: A 63-year-old man went into acute respiratory failure from reactivity with Yamabushitake after taking it for 4 months.

There are limited long term studies on the safety of Lion’s Mane in humans. Although, there have been reports that lions mane may provoke symptoms in those with allergies and asthma. Use with caution especially if you have a mushroom allergy.

Other: Water soluble extract may be less potent. It is best to take Lion’s Mane with meals if taken as a supplement.

It may take up to 3-6 months to notice any discernible effects, sometimes sooner.

Here are the best lion’s mane mushroom supplements

Lions Mane Benefits, aka pom pom mushroom

Lions Mane Mushroom capsules

  1. RealMushrooms Organic Lions Mane Mushroom 500mg Capsules 120 capsules
  2. Fresh Nutrition Lions Mane Mushroom 500mg Capsules 90 Capsules
  3. Brain Forza Organic Lion’s Mane Mushroom 500mg Capsules 90 Capsules

Lions Mane Mushroom Powder

  1. Terrasoul Superfoods Organic Lion’s Mane Mushroom Powder 11 Ounces
  2. RealMushrooms Lions Mane Mushroom 2.12 Ounces
  3. Wild Shroom Lion’s Mane Mushroom 2 Ounces

Read about health benefits of L-theanine

Sources

  1. https://examine.com/supplements/yamabushitake/#ref43
  2. Kothari, D., Patel, S., and Kim, S. Anticancer and other therapeutic relevance of mushroom polysaccharides: A holistic appraisal. 2018; 105: 377-394
  3. Mori K., Inatomi S., Ouchi K., et al: Improving effects of the mushroom Yamabushitake (Hericium erinaceus) on mild cognitive impairment: a double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial. Phytother Res 2009; 23: pp. 367-372
  4. Willard, Terry. Medicinal Mushrooms. Textbook of Natural Medicine. 2013; 101: 844-851

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