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What Is Lion’s Mane?
“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world. The unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”
–George Bernard Shaw
If you’ve ever walked through a forest and seen a clump of shaggy white hair clumped onto the trunk of a tree, odds are you’ve come across a lion’s mane mushroom. Lion’s Mane (Hericium Erinaceus) is a rare, edible mushroom native to North America, Northern Europe, and Asia.
Its white long dangling spines look is unique and unlike any other type of fungi and resembles the look of a (big surprise here) “lion’s mane,” hence the name.
The Lion’s Mane Mushroom is known to grow high up on various tree types, living or dead, so be sure to look up if you’re ever on the hunt to find this unique mushroom. The use of this mushroom has become increasingly popular in the West for its culinary and medicinal purposes, notably regarding the cognitive benefits of lion’s mane for the latter.
Benefits of Lion’s Mane
“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”
The benefits of lion’s mane have been known for many generations, and the mushroom is mainly used to support cognitive and digestive health and metabolism.
Lion’s mane can be consumed in various ways, such as raw or cooked, as tea, or in the form of a dietary supplement like Maximum Mind. As modern science continues its studies, it is proving ever more how valuable the benefits of lion’s mane can be, notably as a nerve growth factor (NGF) enhancer, as discussed more comprehensively in this post about multiplying neurons in adults.
Here are a few of the proven health benefits of lion’s mane.
Fights Against Alzheimer’s and Dementia
As we get older, our brain’s ability to wire new connections weakens over time. Lion’s mane can be beneficial to preventing neurogenerative diseases like Dementia and Alzheimer’s by two critical compounds found in the mushroom, hericenones, and erinacines.
Both hericenones and erinacines have been shown to protect and boost brain function, as well as stimulate the natural production of nerve growth factors (NGF) and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in the brain and throughout the nervous system. NGF and BDNF are proteins that help grow new cells and maintain existing ones.
Alzheimer’s and Dementia cause brain cells to die off quickly since both interfere with the brain’s ability to repair and heal itself. Most of the damage to brain cells is caused by the beta-amyloid protein, which forms plaques around nerve cells in the brain, causing other proteins to attach to them. This can permanently prevent communication between neurons.
Research on lion’s mane shows that erinacines slow the accumulation of beta-amyloid plaques, which may help slow the progression of memory loss from neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Dementia.
A study published in Drugs of the Future on seven patients diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia studied the effect of lion’s mane. Each patient was given 5 grams of powdered lion’s mane in their soup every day for six months. 6 out of 7 patients could perceive more information simultaneously, while all seven patients showed improvements in functional independence . Unfortunately, the nature of the extract used is not mentioned in the study. Arguably we can assume a middle-of-the-road 20% beta-glucan extract.
Improves Cognitive Health
As mentioned before, lion’s mane contains hericenones and erinacines, which stimulate NGF and help grow new branches and create new connections between cells over time. Since these two components can pass the blood-brain barrier and help promote nerve and growth factors, this makes lion’s mane and other mushroom supplements exceptionally better since no other supplements can do this.
Lion’s mane also improves memory retention and is a focus booster. A double-blind study published in Phytotherapy Research found that the group that consumed 3 grams of lion’s mane extract in pill form every day over 16 weeks performed significantly better on the HDS-R cognitive test (similar to the Maximum Mind free cognitive tests) than the placebo group . The study was conducted on a group of 29 adults, ages ranging from 50-80 that had been diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment
Alleviates Symptom of Depression and Anxiety
One of the ways lion’s mane can help lessen the symptoms of depression and anxiety is by supporting the health and growth of nerves within the hippocampus, which is a part of the brain that controls emotions and memory.
As the hippocampus function is improved, the less often depressive or anxious moments will show up.
Another way lion’s mane has been proven beneficial towards depression and anxiety is by lessening inflammation within the body. Recent studies have demonstrated that when chronic inflammation occurs, it can cause symptoms of depression and anxiety. Lion’s mane has powerful anti-inflammatory properties by helping antioxidant activity. Antioxidants help protect tissues from damage by counteracting oxidative stressors and other free radicals in the body. This, in turn, helps prevent any inflammatory responses
Supports Gut Health
For many years lion’s mane has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine to treat chronic gastritis, but the way it helped was unknown. The Chinese just seemed to know the benefits of lion’s mane were too great to pass.
Studies have been done on rats showing that lion’s mane bioactive compounds may provide gastroprotective activity. Lion’s mane prevents the growth of harmful bacteria and helps protect the stomach lining. Its natural anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties can also help improve symptoms of inflammatory disorders such as gastritis and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
The stomach is often called “the second brain” A.K.A. “the enteric nervous system,” which relies on the same neurons and neurotransmitters found in the central nervous system that communicates with your brain. If your brain and stomach both play a role in specific diseases or mental health status, it’s easier to understand the various benefits of lion’s mane and help improve the health of both.
The intestinal tract is the most significant component in your immune system health since it gets exposed to so many different types of bacteria. Having a healthy immune system helps your body fight off harmful bacteria and viruses. Research is still developing in this area. One study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry showed that lion’s mane almost quadrupled the lifespan of mice under heavy bacteriological load. The mice were injected with a lethal dose of salmonella bacteria.
The scientists could show that the lifespan of the mice that were given lion’s mane was almost quadrupled compared to the other group of mice without lion’s mane supplementation .
Supports Heart Health
Lion’s mane and other various types of mushrooms are antioxidant-rich foods. Since lion’s mane has been proven to have anti-inflammatory effects, this can help reduce heart attack and stroke significantly by lowering the amounts of arterial plaque within the body. Obesity and high triglycerides are attributed to heart disease.
A study done on rats that were given a daily dose of lion’s mane and were fed a high-fat diet found that after 28 days, triglyceride levels were lowered by 27%, and there was 42% less weight gain  on the group with lion’s mane supplementation. The study was published in Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Biochemistry.
Not only can lion’s mane improve your overall heart health, but it also has been proven to improve your metabolism.
As we get older, our energy levels tend to drop quite a bit. It can be quite challenging to think while you’re tired. Luckily lion’s mane contains anti-fatigue properties, helps improve physical energy, and it doesn’t even come with the jitters or crashes that caffeinated beverages can come with.
Another of the benefits of lion’s mane is that it’s rich in antioxidants that help your body produce energy.
Using supplements that contain antioxidants can reduce muscle fatigue, especially when working out, reduce muscle recovery time, and reduce the number of reactive oxygen species (ROS) within the body.
Ideal Dosage of Lion’s Mane
“Smart people learn from everything and everyone, average people from their experiences, stupid people already have all the answers.”
Although there isn’t enough information about lion’s mane exact dosage in humans, studies have shown that some dosage amounts depend on the area of focus.
When it comes to supplementing with the capsule form, daily dosages of 250mg to 750mg have been shown to be effective. When it comes to improving cognitive function and immunity, the daily dosage would be about 1000mg (with a 20% purity extract).
This can be taken up to three times in one day for a maximum daily intake of 3000mg, and it isn’t recommended to exceed this limit. The literature seems to point to optimal doses of 1000mg to 1500mg for cognitive health.
It is best to take the supplement with food and water to help prevent any feelings of nausea. When taking this supplement, it is also best to be consistent and take it daily, as the effects of lion’s mane may not show up for at least a couple of weeks.
Lion’s mane can also be taken in powder form and can be added to a mug mixed with hot water or in your morning tea or coffee. It can also be added to a breakfast smoothie or soup in powdered form. It is recommended not to exceed 2-4 grams of lion’s mane into whatever it is being added to.
Another way to supplement lion’s mane would be by adding lion’s mane mushroom to your meals. One hundred grams (3.5 ounces) of lion’s mane contains 35 calories, 7 grams of carbohydrates, and 2.4 grams of protein. As for the recommended dosage, it all depends on what you feel is right. It is always best to start at a lower dosage when trying out a new supplement in case of any side effects such as stomach upset.
No adverse effects have been found in studies on lion’s mane. Yet, some people might be allergic to the mushroom. There have been some reports of people experiencing difficulty breathing or skin rashes after exposure to the mushroom, likely related to allergies. If you have any other questions or are unsure about the benefits of lion’s mane or have any other health implications such as stomach sensitivity or taking any medication, it is always best to consult your doctor before supplementing.
Why not experience the benefits of Lion’s Mane in their purest form along with other clinically studied compounds for increasing brain performance and health with Maximum Mind?
Note: there’s an effective dose of organic lion’s mane full-spectrum fruiting body at 40% minimum beta-glucans, in each dose of Maximum Mind.
Read more about lion’s mane on the Marco’s Grounds Deep Dive or find more about the benefits of lion’s mane here.
- Kawagishi, H., Zhuang, C. (2008). A preliminary clinical trial showed that the mushroom was effective in patients with dementia in improving the Functional Independence Measure. Drugs of the Future 33(2):149.
- Mori, K., Inatomi, S., Ouchi, K., Azumi, Y., Tuchida, T. (2009). Improving effects of the mushroom Yamabushitake (Hericium erinaceus) on mild cognitive impairment: A double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial. Phytotherapy Research 23(3):367-72.
- Kim, S., Moon, E., Nam, S., Friedman, M. (2012). Hericium erinaceus mushroom extracts protect infected mice against Salmonella Typhimurium-Induced liver damage and mortality by stimulation of innate immune cells. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 60(22):5590-6.
- Hiwatashi, K., Kosaka, Y., Suzuki, N., Hata, K., Mukaiyama, T., Sakamoto, K., Shirakawa, H., Komai, M. (2010). Yamabushitake mushroom (Hericium erinaceus) improved lipid metabolism in mice fed a high-fat diet. Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Biochemistry 74(7):1447-51.