Does the thought of mushrooms scare you? Are you a mushroom junky? Did you know that mushrooms can be medicinal? You have probably heard of the famous Lion’s mane mushroom and the myriad of benefits associated with it. If you haven’t, don’t worry, stay put and relax. This article shares everything you need to know about Lion’s mane mushroom, including its origin, the benefits, how to use it, where you can get it, etc. Let’s get started.
What is it, where did it originate from?
Often referred to as the smart mushroom, Lion’s mane mushroom is a unique fungus that looks something like the mane of a lion. The Lion’s mane mushroom is scientifically known as Hericium Erinaceus. It is commonly referred to by other names such as The Japanese Yamanushitake, Bearded tooth, Pom pom mushroom, or the Hedge dog mushroom. Lion’s mane originated from the mountains of Northeast Asia, parts of Europe, and North America. The edible and delicious mushroom grows during late summer and fall on trees like beach and oak.
What does it contain?
The Lion’s mane is not called a smart mushroom for no reason. The white, shaggy mushroom that resembles a lion’s mane contains bioactive compounds that support various body functions. It has secondary metabolites such as erinacines, hericerins, hericenones, resorcinols, steroids, mono- and diterpenes. It also contains pure bioactive compounds, including antibiotic, anticarcinogenic, antidiabetic, anti-fatigue, antihypertensive, antihyperlipidemic, antisenescence, cardioprotective that aid anxiety cognition and depression. Generally speaking, Lion’s mane mushroom contains bioactive substances that have beneficial effects on the body, especially the brain, heart, and gut.
The benefits of the Lions mane mushroom
The white, edible mushroom with thin shaggy hair is widely known as the smart mushroom because of its many benefits. Lion’s mane has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for a long time but has become increasingly popular in the west because of its medicinal and culinary uses. Let’s explore some of Lion’s mane benefits below:
Alleviate depression and anxiety
A study published in the Biomedical research in 2010 showed that the lion mane mushroom might help alleviate depression and anxiety. The study was done among 30 women in their menopause stage.
One group was given a cookie containing Lion’s mane, while the other a placebo every day for four weeks. The findings showed that Lion’s mane group members were less irritable and anxious than the placebo group.
Provide brain and cognitive support
Did you know that adding small amounts of mushrooms into your diet could potentially lower the risks of mild cognitive impairment? According to research, eating more than two standard portions of mushrooms weekly leads to a reduced risk of developing mild cognitive impairment.
The benefits of Lion’s mane on brain function are associated with the great range of bioactive compounds found in the mushroom. Hericium Erinaceus contains Hericenones and Ericanines, which are very instrumental in aiding cognitive support.
The nootropic compounds found in Lion’s mane stimulate the synthesis of the nerve growth factor and brain-derived neurotrophic factor, promoting the growth, repair, and normal functioning of neurons. Neurons are the building block of our brain and nervous system.
Boosts immune health
A strong immune system helps put viruses and bacteria at bay, while a weak one puts your body at risk of developing infectious diseases. A study on animals showed that Lion’s mane mushroom could boost the immune system by increasing the activity of the intestinal immune system protecting your body from pathogens that enter the gut through the mouth or nose. The immune-boosting effects of Lion’s mane are promising, but remain a grey area on humans, hence the need for more research.
May help fight cancer
There have been several studies that have shown Lion’s mane’s role in fighting cancer. In 2010, a study published in Food and Function tests of Lion’s mane in human cells showed that the mushroom might help knock out leukemia cells. This was backed by another test which showed that an extract of Lion’s mane mushroom could reduce the size of cancerous colon tumors and the spread of colon cancer cells to the lungs. While the study was conducted on animals, the possibility of the same effect on humans continues to be established.
Note: Other studies claim that Lion’s mane mushroom can help with other health problems such as high cholesterol, ulcers, Parkinson’s’ disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and manage diabetes symptoms.
How to use Lion’s mane mushroom
Lion’s mane mushroom is commonly found and consumed in many Asian countries for medicinal and culinary purposes. Luckily you don’t need to live there to enjoy the benefits of Lion’s mane mushroom. They are available worldwide and can be purchased as a capsule, powder, or supplement.
Ways to use Lion’s mane mushroom
There are many ways to use and explore the benefits of Lion’s mane mushroom. Here are a few ways:
- You can add a spoonful of Lion’s mane to your juice
- Use the powder to make a mushroom latte
- The Lion’s mane tea of coffee is also an excellent breakfast choice
- You can incorporate Lion’s mane mushroom into your Hummus
- If you have access to the raw mushroom, you can make Lion’s mane mushroom crab cake
Tip: Don’t be afraid to try out recipes and be creative!
Where to find Lion’s Mane Mushroom
Again, if you live where the mushroom is available, your local market or store will stock it. Luckily Lion’s mane mushroom is widely available for purchase online. Yes, you can try online stores that sell dietary supplements.
From our discussion, it is quite evident that the benefits of Lion’s mane are undeniable. The findings from animal-based research, test-tube studies, and other small clinical trials indicate the many benefits the mushroom has to offer. Even so, it is important to note that research on the specific health effects of Lion’s mane mushroom is still fairly limited, given that most of the trials were done on animals. It is always advisable to consult a doctor if you wish to use Lion’s mane mushroom to treat a condition.