In modern times, Lion's Mane has become famed for its nootropic effects, aiding the brain’s plasticity and capacity to function, as well as supporting nervous system regulation.
The Latin name “Hericium erinaceus” literally translates to Hedgehog mushroom and as the Western name suggests bears a striking resemblance to the mane of a lion. It grows on trees, particularly hardwoods such as oak and maple, in North America, Europe, and Asia. Lion's Mane mushroom has been used for centuries in Chinese medicine to treat a variety of health conditions, including digestive disorders, inflammation, and cognitive impairment.
Lion's Mane mushroom contains several bioactive compounds, including polysaccharides, beta-glucans, and erinacines. These compounds have been shown to have a variety of health benefits, particularly for neurological health.
So how does Lion's Mane mushroom support neurological health?
1# Promotes Nerve Growth Factor (NGF) Production
One of the most significant benefits of Lion's Mane mushroom for neurological health is its ability to promote nerve growth factor (NGF) production. NGF is a protein that plays a critical role in the growth, maintenance, and survival of neurons. Low levels of NGF have been linked to cognitive decline and neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease.
Research has shown that Lion's Mane mushroom contains erinacines, a class of compounds that can stimulate NGF production. Animal based research studies have found that Lion's Mane mushroom extract increased NGF production in rats and improved cognitive function in mice by increasing NGF production.
2# Improves Cognitive Function
Lion's Mane mushroom may also improve cognitive function, particularly in individuals with age-related cognitive decline.
In 2009, a double-blind-placebo-controlled study was carried out on 30 men aged 50 to 80 in Japan whom were suffering from dementia. Compared to placebo, the Lion's Mane group at 8, 12 and 16 week intervals all showed dramatically improved cognition scores as measured by the HDS-R dementia scale
Another study published in the International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms found that Lion's Mane mushroom extract improved cognitive function in rats with age-related cognitive decline.
In addition to stimulating NGF production, Lion's Mane has also been found to promote the formation of new neural connections in the brain. This is important because the formation of new neural connections is essential for learning and memory. Studies have shown that Lion's Mane can promote the growth of dendrites, which are the branch-like structures that extend from neurons and receive signals from other neurons. By increasing the growth of dendrites, Lion's Mane may enhance the ability of neurons to communicate with each other and form new neural connections.
The exact mechanism by which Lion's Mane mushroom improves cognitive function is not fully understood. However, it is believed to be related to its ability to promote NGF production and protect against oxidative stress and inflammation, both of which can contribute to cognitive decline.
3# Protects Against Neurodegenerative Diseases
Neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease, are characterised by the progressive degeneration of neurons in the brain. These diseases can cause a range of symptoms, including cognitive impairment, movement disorders, and mood disturbances.
As mentioned above, research has shown that Lion's Mane may help protect against neurodegenerative diseases by promoting NGF production, but by also reducing oxidative stress and inflammation. A study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology found that Lion's Mane mushroom extract reduced oxidative stress and improved cognitive function in mice with Alzheimer's disease. Another study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food found that Lion's Mane mushroom extract protected against the toxic effects of alpha-synuclein, a protein that accumulates in the brains of individuals with Parkinson's disease.
4# Mood Regulation
Lion's Mane mushroom may also have beneficial effects on mood and mental health.
A clinical trial conducted in Japan in 2010 studied the clinical effects of Lion's Mane on menopause, depression, sleep quality and 'indefinite complaints' on 30 menopausal women. The authors hypothesised that due to Lion’s Mane known NGF stimulatory effect, that it may be able to support the autonomic nervous system, boost overall brain function and lift symptoms experienced by these menopausal subjects. At the conclusion of the four-week trial, scores of depression, sleep quality and indefinite complaints were all significantly reduced compared to controls. It was concluded that these improvements may be initiated through a different mechanism than the NGF-enhancing action they hypothesised, which may highlight a hormonal modulatory action of Lion’s Mane
Animal studies have also shown that Lion's Mane reduced anxiety and depression in mice. The exact mechanism by which Lion's Mane mushroom reduces anxiety and depression is not fully understood. However, it is believed to be related to its ability to modulate the levels of neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine in the brain.
5# Protects Against Peripheral Nerve Damage
In addition to its benefits for the central nervous system, Lion's Mane mushroom may also have protective effects on the peripheral nervous system. The peripheral nervous system consists of the nerves that connect the brain and spinal cord to the rest of the body.
Research has shown that Lion's Mane may protect against peripheral nerve damage by promoting nerve regeneration and reducing oxidative stress. Research has found that Lion's Mane mushroom improved nerve regeneration and functional recovery in rats with sciatic nerve injuries.
SuperFeast Lion's Mane
SuperFeast Lion's Mane is carefully water-extracted and sourced Dì Dào (地道) from China's Zhejiang and Heilongjiang regions. Our Lion's Mane is grown in the shade, on mature oak tree chips, and sun-dried before being extracted, it is 100% fruiting body, no mycelium or grain.
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