As the importance of health and wellness grows, so does the demand for supplements that will benefit overall well-being. One type of supplement known to be beneficial to holistic health is nootropic mushrooms, a group of fungi used for a myriad of health benefits such as cognitive support, boosting the immune system, and managing stress.*
This group of mushrooms includes Reishi, Chaga, Cordyceps, and the topic of this blog post, Lion’s Mane. In this article, we’ll look at the majestic, fascinating-looking mushroom, its known benefits, and how to use them.
What is Lion’s Mane?
Lion’s Mane, also known as Yamabushitake, has the scientific name of Hericium erinaceus and is one of the many medicinal mushrooms widely credited with numerous wellness benefits.
It has a unique appearance that resembles a lion’s mane, a cascading waterfall of white spines that look like icicles. It has long been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine and can be found growing in temperate forests in North America, Europe, and Asia.
It is a saprophytic fungus that grows on decomposing or dead wood, particularly hardwood trees like oak, maple, or beech. It grows from August to November in the northern hemisphere, and the fruiting bodies and mycelium can survive for about 40 years.
While Lion’s Mane is traditionally harvested, they are also cultivated commercially and can be found in fresh, dried, and powder forms as a dietary supplement or Lion’s Mane extract.
Lions Mane is often used in gourmet cooking and is known to taste similar to lobster. Lion’s Mane is a scarce mushroom that is rare to find in the wild. In the UK, they have protected status and cannot be harvested in the wild. However, commercial production is prolific, and most of the mushrooms are produced in Asia.
Lion’s Mane Benefits
Lion’s Mane belongs to a group of nootropic mushrooms with numerous benefits for overall wellness. Here are some of the potential Lion’s Mane benefits currently being researched.
Hericenones and erinacines, two compounds contained in Lion’s Mane mushrooms, were found to stimulate the growth of nerve cells by increasing the production of nerve growth factor (NGF), a protein that develops, repairs, and helps neurons survive.
Research needs to be done to assess Lion’s Mane’s potential to support feelings of alertness, concentration, and improved clarity when using Lion’s Mane supplements.
Researchers are in the early stages of testing whether Lion’s Mane can be used in the treatment of depression. One study done on mice found that the administration of Lion’s Mane resulted in a decrease in cortisol, the stress hormone.
The effectiveness of H. erinaceus extract has been tested in a number of small pre-clinical trials. While more research is needed, early research suggests that certain components of Lion’s Mane may be helpful in the treatment of depressive disorders. It is important to remember that Lion’s Mane should not be used to replace prescribed antidepressants.
Like most nootropic mushrooms, Lion’s Mane contains various antioxidant compounds such as polysaccharides and polyphenols. These beneficial compounds have various benefits, such as boosting the immune system.
In addition, antioxidant activity balances the free radicals in our bodies. If we have excessive levels of free radicals, the body can go into a state of oxidative stress. Prolonged periods of oxidative stress can contribute to the development of illnesses like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease, and cancer. It is important to note that while antioxidants can help maintain homeostasis, they cannot prevent diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease, or cancer.
Like other nootropic mushrooms, Lion’s Mane has been shown to contain bioactive compounds like polysaccharides and proteoglycans that may be useful in the future to slow the growth of tumors and cancer cells.
Cancer fungotherapy is a field that uses mushrooms’ potential antitumor properties to inhibit the disease’s spread.
While there are studies into the effectiveness of certain Lion’s Mane extracts as cancer treatments, Lion’s Mane mushroom supplements are not medicinal products and should never be used to replace appropriate medical treatments.
Mood And Sleep Disorders
A 2019 study found that a particular Lion’s Mane extract helped with mood and sleep disorders, especially in people affected by obesity. Because the exact composition of different Lion’s Mane supplements varies, we cannot assume that all Lion’s Mane supplements can assist with mood and sleep disorders, and supplements should never be used to replace prescribed medicines or regimens recommended by your doctor.
Lion’s Mane has anxiolytic effects. A study on mice found that because of these anxiolytic effects, Lion’s Mane shows potential as a treatment for anxiety in Alzheimer’s Disease. It should be noted that trials on animals are not considered to be sufficient scientific evidence of the efficacy of a product, and much more research is required to find out if these same benefits would apply to humans.
In addition to the many reported wellness benefits of Lion’s Mane mushroom, there’s one last thing to add. The mushroom is absolutely delicious and is commonly used in gourmet cooking. Many people have said the taste can be compared to lobster!
You can filet the mushroom into pieces about ½ inch wide and sauté them with garlic and butter. They cook in about five to ten minutes, depending on how big the chunks are, and will turn golden brown and crispy around the edge.
Because they taste like lobster or crab, you can cook them like crab cakes or add them to stir-fries, risotto, or pasta. However, they are most commonly simply added as a side dish because they taste great on their own.
Lion’s Mane Supplements
As more people become more aware of the importance of health and well-being, the popularity of mushroom supplements grows. Here’s what you need to know if you are considering adding Lion’s Mane to your diet.
If you want to start taking Lion’s Mane, taking more than four grams (4,000 mg) a day isn’t recommended. In general, the recommended dose is 500 to 3,000 mg.
You start with a higher dose during the first three weeks; then, you can gradually lower it to accelerate results.
The exact dosage will depend on the product’s concentration, body weight, age, and metabolism. Read the manufacturer’s instructions carefully and check with your healthcare provider if in doubt.
Lion’s Mane is generally a safe supplement. However, some folks are allergic to mushrooms and should avoid Lion’s Mane. In addition, if you have preexisting health conditions or are currently taking medications, check with your healthcare provider before adding Lion’s Mane to your diet.
Lion’s Mane is generally well-tolerated, but some people might experience mild side effects like a tummy ache, bloating, or diarrhea, especially with high doses. You can reduce the dose or discontinue use entirely to reduce the possibility of these effects.
Lions Mane: Final Thoughts
Although more clinical trials on humans are needed, the existing research done on Lion’s Mane shows its evidence-based potential health benefits. There is evidence that certain components of the mushroom help with various disorders like sleep, mood, and appetite, and ongoing research into preventing serious diseases like cancer and Alzheimer’s and improving overall brain function and mental health.
Do your body and mind a favor and incorporate nootropic mushrooms into your diet! At Blessed Wellness, our Nootropic Mushroom extract products are sourced and produced under the strictest standards in GMP & ISO certified facilities.*
*This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease, and the NHS has not made any guarantees about the efficacy of these products.