5 Great Health Benefits Of Lion’s Mane Mushroom Your Brain Wants You To Know
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Lion's Mane mushroom may not be the one of most well known medicinal mushrooms on the planet but this could all be about to change due to it's many amazing health benefits, especially those relating to the brain and mind. Below are five health benefits definitely worth knowing and if you forget them straight away, maybe Lion's Mane is definitely for you!
Lion's Mane An Introduction
Lion's Mane mushroom is a deliciously edible fungus that, when cooked, has a taste similar to shrimp or lobster good news for all you vegan and vegetarians out there! It is know in Japan as Yamabushitake, China as Hou Tou Gu and in Latin as Hericium Erinaceus or if you prefer a funnier name Monkey Head mushroom.
With a long history of use in both Chinese medicine as well as Japanese medicine, Lion's Mane mushroom was used to improve digestion and to treat gastric ulcer as well as improving over all health by tonifying the five internal organs (liver, lungs, heart, spleen, kidneys).
Thanks to modern science we can now really define whats happening when we ingest medicinal mushrooms and see through some of the mystical poetic fog found in ancient texts. New studies show that Lion's Mane mushroom has many interesting components including hericiones, erinacines, polysaccharides and as well as beta d glucans.
Lions Mane Improves Brain Function In Humans
A double-blind, parallel-group, placebo-controlled trial was performed on 50- to 80-year-old Japanese men and women diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment in order to examine the efficacy of oral administration of Lion's Mane (Hericium erinaceus), an edible mushroom, for improving cognitive impairment, using a cognitive function scale based on the Revised Hasegawa Dementia Scale (HDS-R).
After 2 weeks of preliminary examination, 30 subjects were randomized into two 15-person groups, one of which was given Lions' Mane and the other given a placebo. The subjects of the Lions' Mane group took four 250 mg tablets containing 96% of Lions's Mane dry powder three times a day for 16 weeks.
After termination of the intake, the subjects were observed for the next 4 weeks. At weeks 8, 12 and 16 of the trial, the Yamabushitake (Lions' Mane) group showed significantly increased scores on the cognitive function scale compared with the placebo group.
The Yamabushitake group's scores increased with the duration of intake, but at week 4 after the termination of the 16 weeks intake, the scores decreased significantly. Laboratory tests showed no adverse effect from taking the Lion's Mane. The results obtained in this study suggest that Lion's Mane mushroom is effective in improving mild cognitive impairment. (1)
Lions Mane Helps Improve Depression And Decrease Anxiety
A 2010 study in Japan showed that after taking Lion's Mane for four weeks a group of thirty women showed a significant improvement in regards to feelings of both depression and anxiety as well as the ability to sleep.
The researchers investigated the clinical effects of H. erinaceus on menopause, depression, sleep quality and indefinite complaints, using the Kupperman Menopausal Index (KMI), the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CES-D), the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI), and the Indefinite Complaints Index (ICI).
The women all showed a lower score on each of the CES-D and the ICI tests after the Lion's Mane intake which showed that the mushroom was indeed working better than the placebo.
The scientists concluded that Lion's Mane extract and more specifically the hericenones and erinacines isolated from its fruiting body could in the future play a role in treating anxiety as well as depression. (2)
Lion's Mane Reduces Inflammation
Lion's Mane has a anti-inflammatory effect due to it's ability to reduce excessive Nitric oxide. Under normal physiological conditions NO (Nitric Oxide) acts as a anti-inflammatory but when there is a an excess or over production it then becomes a pro-inflammatory mediator.
A study carried out on rats with brain injuries similar to stroke were given a extract made from Lion's Mane containing erinacine A and H.erinaceus mycelium.
The proteins from the stroke animal model (SAM) were evaluated to determine the effect of H. erinaceus mycelium. H. erinaceus mycelium reduced the total infarcted volumes by 22% and 44% at a concentration of 50 and 300 mg/kg, respectively, compared to the SAM group.
The levels of acute inflammatory cytokines, including interleukin-1β, interleukin-6 and tumor necrosis factor á, were all reduced by erinacine A. (3)
Accumulating evidence suggests that inflammation plays a role in the pathophysiology of depression and that anti-inflammatory substances have anti-depressant effects. Which could of been another factor in the reduction of depression among the 30 women in the Japanese Lion's Mane cooking experiment. (4)
Lion's Mane Improves Cardiovascular Health And Reduces Cholesterol
In another study carried out in 2013 rats were fed a high fat diet for a period of 4 weeks after which they were then given extracts made from Lion's Mane once a day for 2 weeks.
Biochemical parameters, including total cholesterol (TC), low-density lipoprotein-cholesterol (LDL-c), and triglyceride (TG) levels dramatically increased in the control group compared to the rats given the Lion's Mane extract. (5)
The researchers concluded that extracts made from Lion's Mane mushrooms could in the future be used to treat humans with hyperlipidemia. Put in simple terms people with high fat levels in there blood which as we all know by now is never a good thing!
Lion's Mane Could Help To Treat Alzheimer's By Reducing Amyloid Plaques
The formation of amyloid plaques is what many researchers believe is a primary morphological biomarker associated with Alzheimer’s. So what are amyloid plaques?
Plaques form when protein pieces called beta-amyloid (BAY-tuh AM-uh-loyd) clump together. Beta-amyloid comes from a larger protein found in the fatty membrane surrounding nerve cells.
Beta-amyloids are chemically "sticky" and gradually build up into plaques. The most damaging form of beta-amyloid may be groups of a few pieces rather than the plaques themselves. These small clumps may block cell-to-cell signaling at synapses.
Plaques linked to beta amyloid peptide inflame brain tissue, interfere with healthy neuron transmission, and are indicated in nerve degeneration.
So what does all this have to do with Lion's Mane you ask?
Well recent research has discovered that when mice were fed a diet containing 5% Lion's Mane mushroom the damaging amyloid plaques were significantly reduced. This Resulted in the mice reversing the memory loss that had developed during the study, due to an injection of neurotoxic peptides, and thus finding their way around a maze designed to test memory! (6)
So if you are looking for a herb or tonic that could maybe give you a little mental edge, keep you more focused, reduce your bad cholesterol and maybe even prevent or slow down memory loss. Not only that but keep your body healthy too with all its beneficial polysaccharides and beta d glucans, then you can't really go wrong with Lion's Mane extract.
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Neal has had long running relationship with Daoism and its health related practices including Chi Gung, Meditation and a interest in its methods of using herbs and food to generate health. He hopes his passion will rub off on you in a positive way.