Plants and plant extracts have been used throughout history to facilitate health and treat disease. Many people today are looking for natural options to modern pharmaceuticals, or prefer to complement their existing treatments with natural products. One supplement showing promising results is lions mane.
Lion’s mane is showing its potential as a life-altering supplement for increasing lifespan and cognitive abilities. It is typically eaten as a food source or taken as a powdered extract in the form of a capsule.
What is Lion’s Mane?
Lion’s mane is a mushroom characterized by its unique appearance. It grows in a cluster of tendrils that resemble the mane of a lion. The lion’s mane typically grows on dying or dead oak trees, rubber trees, sycamore, and birch trees. It also grows well on walnut and fruit trees. The flavor and texture if lion’s mane is similar to the meat of a lobster. It is typically found in Chinese and Japanese cuisine and, at one time, was only served to emperors.
Promotes Brain Health
Lion’s mane is anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and anti-tumor. This mushroom is traditionally used in Chinese medicine for ailments of the stomach. Studies show that this mushroom can repair damage to the myelin sheath that protects nerve fibers. This suggests that lion’s mane may be beneficial to those diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. As early as 1991, one of the components of lion’s mane, hericenones, was shown to benefit brain health in several ways.
Promotes Nerve Growth
The aromatic molecules (hericenones) promote the production of Nerve Growth Factor (NGF). This mushroom plays a key role in maintaining the central nervous system. Lions main can boost decision-making skills, memory and cognitive ability as it protects the biochemical pathways of the brain and promotes the production of new brain cells.
In a study of Japanese men and women (50-80 years old) experiencing a mild cognitive decline, the addition of lion’s mane to the diet produced encouraging results. Those participating in the test showed an improvement in their cognitive ability when lion’s mane was added to their diet. Their cognitive ability continued to decline when the treatment was discontinued.
Reduces Brain Plaque
Lions main increased the levels of acetylcholine (ACH) in the blood and the hypothalamus. It also decreases amyloid beta plaque. Amyloid beta plaque seems to be responsible for the brain degradation in people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and some forms of dementia.
This mushroom has been shown to reduce the loss of dopamine in the brain. The loss of dopamine is one of the factors associated with Parkinson’s Disease. Preserving dopamine levels can halt the progression of the impaired motor function for people diagnosed with the disorder.
Multiple Additional Benefits
Besides showing remarkable promise to protect the health of the brain and nervous system, lion’s mane offers a list of additional benefits:
- Anticancer Studies in early 1992 concluded that lion’s mane showed high anti-tumor activity. This activity increased the longevity and reduced the mortality of animals during testing. The immune boosting effects are also beneficial to cancer treatments.
Aids the Digestive System
- Aids the Digestive System Lion’s mane can decrease gastric inflammation and has been used to treat gastric and duodenal ulcers. Lion’s mane also aids liver function.
Supports the Immune System
- Supports the Immune System Lions mane can make the body more resistant to infection. It increases the ability of macrophage cells to surround and destroy harmful invaders. The polysaccharides in lion’s mane increase the natural production of T cells.
- Reduces Cholesterol Lion’s mane mushroom has proven cholesterol-busting properties. This mushroom can decrease cholesterol levels by more than 30 percent. It decreases the bad cholesterol while boosting the good.
30 percentLessens Menopause Symptoms
- Lessens Menopause Symptoms Lion’s mane can reduce some of the symptoms of menopause, including irritability, palpitations and loss of concentrations.
Here’s Paul Stamets talking on Joe Rogan’s Podcast about the benefits of Lion’s Mane
Safe for Most People
Since Lion’s mane is an edible mushroom, it is considered safe for most of the population. There are reports of individuals who have experienced allergic reactions and asthma symptoms when ingesting the fungus. Side effects may also include mild stomach upset.
The typical dosage of lion’s mane is between 500 and 3000 mg. There have been no studies to test the potential of lion’s mane interacting with prescription medications, so it is advised to check with a doctor or pharmacist before using lion’s mane as a health supplement when medications are in use. People with the following conditions should proceed cautiously.
- Those pregnant or breastfeeding, as no studies have been performed on medicinal use during pregnancy;
- Those with bleeding disorders as it may increase the risk of bleeding or increase bruising;
- Those with diabetes because lion’s mane may lower blood sugar levels;
- Anyone having surgery as it may slow blood clotting.
While these findings are encouraging, the benefits of lion’s mane have most often been documented in animal testing and test tube findings. As we usually find with natural alternatives, further testing on humans will need to be done to test the effectiveness of lion’s mane and to determine the recommended dosages for continued use. Lion’s mane may prove to be a valuable resource for treating a variety of health conditions.