Lion’s Mane Mushroom:
The Benefits and Possibilities
Our natural world contains many things which may benefit our health, and Lion’s Mane Mushroom is one of those substances. It has been found that Lion’s Mane Mushroom has significant potential health benefits, and offers a great deal of hope with regard to neurodegenerative disorders, as well as other disorders related to the brain and nervous system.
What is Lion’s Mane Mushroom?
We know what you're thinking, but no, Lion's Mane Mushroom does not have anything to do with Lions! Lion’s Mane mushroom is actually a relatively rare mushroom species, which is found in China, North America, Japan, and Europe.
In addition to being quite rare, it also has a very unique appearance. Rather than having just the simple cap and stem form of most other mushrooms, Lion’s Mane mushroom seems rather formless, and has spines that are teeth-like and cascading. These spines are the places from which the mushroom’s white spores emerge.
The Lion Mane mushroom’s Latin name is Hericium Erinaceus. Other names include “sheep’s head”, “bear’s head”, “Japanese yamahushitake”, and “Pom Pom Blanc”. Lion’s Mane mushrooms are generally found in late summer and fall, growing on dying or dead trees of the hardwood variety. including beech and oak. They are primarily white in colour but as they age they can transform to being yellow or brown.
It has a solid place in Chinese medicine, and has long been used for problems of the stomach and digestive system. Different strains of Lion’s Mane mushroom offer different levels of all of the mushroom’s beneficial substances.
Lion’s Mane mushroom is considered delicious, and can be found in some gourmet food stores. This mushroom is increasing in popularity. It is also very nutritious, with 20% protein, making it a good meat substitute.
It takes practice to master the ability of bringing out desired flavour profiles from the mushroom.A skilled cook can usually use this versatile mushroom in a number of different ways.
Why is Lion’s Mane Mushroom Attracting Interest?
The Lion’s Mane mushroom is valued for its likely anti-inflammatory and antibacterial capabilities. However, it is even more greatly valued for its possible neurological effects and regenerative properties. There is evidence that the Lion’s Mane mushroom has neuroprotective effects, and this finding has encouraged the further growth and development of studies.
Lion’s Mane mushroom has been found to contain two new types of Nerve Growth Factors. Nerve Growth Factors are molecules which encourage neuron differentiation and re-myelination. The Nerve Growth Factors found are called “hericenones” and “erinacines”. Nerve Growth Factors are proteins. They are needed for the transmission of information to the brain, which is vital to the organ’s proper functioning.
These effects of Lion’s Mane mushroom mean that it may have the potential to have a positive effect on the maintenance and restoration of memory capacity, cognitive function and in the fight against neurodegenerative disease. It is even hoped that Lion’s Mane mushroom may one day be proven to be an effective natural treatment for conditions such as dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and muscular dystrophy.
Lion’s Mane neurological effects may be broader than aiding generation of neurons, as it may also help in mood stability and regulation, and thus helping alleviate anxiety and depression. While there has not yet been absolute scientific proof of lion’s mane’s brain benefits, the data that has so far been collected provides a lot of reason for hope.
The presence of Nerve Growth Factors in Lion’s Mane mushroom was first discovered in 1991, by a researcher called Dr. Kawagishi. They were found in Japanese samples of the mushroom. Since then, it has been proven scientifically that the Nerve Growth Factors found in Lion’s Mane mushroom, erinacines and hericenones, encourage the regeneration of neurons. In 2009, there was a study carried out in Japan that demonstrated Lion’s Mane mushroom’s benefit for people with mild impairments of cognitive function.
Another Japanese study of Lion’s Mane mushroom has found that eating Lion’s Mane may ease anxiety and depression.
Unfortunately, Lion’s Mane mushroom is not yet available in many regular grocery stores. However, there are special kits available for purchase, which allow you to grow Lion’s Mane mushrooms at home. Also, a number of health food stores sell Lion’s Mane supplements.