The Benefits of Lion’s Mane Mushroom

The Benefits of Lion’s Mane Mushroom

Lion’s Mane Mushroom (Hericium Erinaceus) or Yamabushitake is a shaggy tooth fungus containing bioactive compounds beneficial to the mind and body. Consumed as a food in many parts of the world, Lion’s Mane is a functional mushroom, which can now be taken as an extract to help improve memory, protect against cognitive decline, stimulate neurogenesis, boost your immune system and even support gut health.*

Lion’s Mane Mushroom is a safe superfood and natural extract with health benefits that may:

  1. Improve Memory and Slow Cognitive Decline*

  2. Relieve Anxiety and Depression*

  3. Fight Inflammation and Improve Gut Health to Boost Your Immune System*

  4. Speed the Recovery of Nervous System Injuries*

  5. Support Cardiovascular Health and Optimal Blood Sugar Levels*

1. Improve Memory and Slow Cognitive Decline

Lion’s Mane Mushroom (Hericium Erinaceus) continues to be studied for its neuroprotective and memory enhancing properties. What are those properties that seem to support brain health you might ask? Well, Lion’s Mane contains bioactive compounds called hericenones and erinacines, fungal polysaccharides that promote the formation and release of Nerve Growth Factor (NGF).* Researchers now understand that NGF regulates the growth, health, and longevity of target neurons.1 Studies have shown that as we age, declining NGF levels can often be associated with mood imbalance and neurodegenerative diseases.2 The low molecular weight of hericenones and erinacines found in Lion’s Mane allow them to freely cross the blood-brain barrier, helping to stimulate NGF and potentially slow cognitive decline.*3

In a double-blind placebo-controlled study, researchers administered Lion’s Mane Mushroom to men and women, ages 50 to 80 years old, who represented mild cognitive impairment. After 16 weeks, the group taking dried Lion’s Mane Mushroom powder scored significantly higher on the cognitive function scale compared to that of the control group. Interestingly, researchers found that four weeks after participants stopped taking Lion’s Mane, their scores decreased significantly. 4 This study suggests that Lion's Mane Mushroom may provide a nootropic benefit that is most pronounced with continued use.*

More recently, researchers in one animal study injected mice with a peptide intended to mimic the amyloid plaque buildup associated with dementia. The mice were then fed a diet of Lion’s Mane over a 23-day period. Researchers used pharmacological testing methods to measure changes in memory and learning. Remarkably, Lion’s Mane seemed to prevent degradation of short-term and visual recognition memory often linked to amyloid plaque buildup in the brain. These findings suggest Lion’s Mane could be effective in treating neurodegenerative diseases where amyloid plaque buildup is present.*5

2. Relieve Anxiety and Depression

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that over 300 million people globally suffer from depression and about the same number live with serious anxiety disorders.6 

Mounting evidence suggests that Lion’s Mane Mushroom (Hericium Erinaceus) can make you feel good and may be an effective in boosting mood, regulating stress, and combating depression.*

One human study involving post-menopausal women, reported significant changes in their emotional state after consuming cookies baked with Lion’s Mane. The women in the study experienced improvements in concentration, while scoring lower on tests measuring irritation and anxiousness compared to the control group. Based on this study, the results suggest that Lion’s Mane may be an effective herbal remedy in treating anxiety and depression.*7

Similarly, in an animal study, researchers found that Lion’s Mane Mushroom demonstrated anxiolytic and antidepressant-like effects within a sample of adult mice. Compared to the control group, the Lion’s Mane treated group of mice demonstrated improved function of the hippocampus by way of neurogenesis. The results seemed to suggest that the bioactive compounds in Lion’s Mane may help to reduce anxiety and depression with continued use.*8

Depression can have a debilitating effect on a person's productivity and quality of life. While there can be many contributing factors, evidence suggests that chronic inflammation plays a major role. A study done on Amycenone, a molecule obtained from Lion’s Mane extract, demonstrated anti-inflammatory and antidepressant-like effects in mice of yet another animal study, suggesting potential use as a supplement for treating symptoms of depression.*9

3. Fight Inflammation and Improve Gut Health to Boost Your Immune System 

The immune system consists of cells, organs, and proteins that work together to defend against infection. In fact, some of these cells are located in the gut and spend much of their life excreting large amounts of antibodies. We now know there is a direct correlation between a healthy gut microbiome and a strong immune system.10

Researchers studying Lion’s Mane Mushroom (Hericium Erinaceus) were able to isolate a fungal protein that could significantly improve our immune system. Current data suggests that Lion’s Mane exhibits immunomodulatory activity and could be used for immunotherapy by promoting beneficial changes in the gut microbiome.*11

Medicinal mushrooms like Lion’s Mane Mushroom contain carbohydrates called polysaccharides, the most important of which are beta-glucans. Extracts high in active b-glucans have been shown to boost the immune system and protect against bacterial infection.* In one study, researchers demonstrated that a standardized extract containing high amounts of beta-glucans activated innate immune cells and helped to protect against necrosis of the liver, an infection associated with salmonella poisoning.12 

Everyday our immune system is on constant alert, defending against free radicals, unstable atoms that can cause chronic inflammation, illness, and disease. Natural compounds called antioxidants work to inhibit oxidative stress, helping to strengthen an immune response. Studies have shown that Lion’s Mane Mushroom extract may be a potent source of powerful antioxidants which could be effective in combating free radical damage in the body.*13 

Inflammation is a natural process key to survival. When under threat, inflammation helps to initiate the healing process by locating and targeting threats. Chronic or long-term inflammation, however, is the most significant cause of death in the world and can lead to diabetes, cancers, and cardiovascular disease. For example, people suffering from obesity tend to have high-triglyceride levels in their fat tissue causing chronic inflammation and further degradation of health.14 There is some evidence that the anti-inflammatory properties in Lion’s Mane could actually help to combat heart disease by lowering triglyceride levels in fat tissues.*15

4. Speed the Recovery of Nervous System Injuries 

The nervous system is a complex network that controls senses such as sight, smell and touch, and voluntary and involuntary functions like movement, balance and coordination. In addition, the nervous system plays a critical role in cognitive processes like your ability to think and reason. 

Nervous system injuries involving the brain or spinal cord can be detrimental, oftentimes resulting in blood supply problems, neurodegenerative disease, paralysis, or even death. 

Though preliminary, there is a growing body of research that suggests Lion’s Mane Mushroom may be effective in speeding up the recovery of nervous system injuries.* Researchers believe this may be due to the mushroom’s neurite outgrowth activity and ability to regenerate the connection between the brain and spinal cord.16

In fact, one animal study compared the recovery time of rats subjected to peripheral nerve damage, a type of nervous system injury commonly found in the lower part of the leg in humans. Compared to the control group, the rats that were fed a diet consisting of Hericium Erinaceus fruiting bodies were able to recover much more quickly and were actually able to regain motor function of their hind limb once again.17

5. Support Cardiovascular Health and Optimal Blood Sugar Levels

Heart disease describes a range of conditions that affect the heart, blood vessels, and arteries. Major risk factors for heart disease include obesity, high triglyceride levels, and increased LDL levels also known as bad cholesterol. Diabetes on the other hand is a metabolic disease that prevents the body from regulating blood sugar levels. Even though heart disease and diabetes are two separate issues, they can be connected when chronically high blood sugar levels begin to harden arteries, constricting oxygenated blood flow to the heart.18

Research shows that Lion’s Mane Mushroom (Hericium Erinaceus) may help prevent the risk of heart disease and diabetes by lowering triglyceride levels and regulating blood sugar levels.*

A study on mice that were fed a high-fat diet containing Hericium Erinaceus extract showed improvements in lipid metabolism, effectively lowering triglyceride levels over a 28-day period. The results also demonstrated a significant decrease in overall body weight and fat weight in mice, suggesting possible benefits to heart health.19

In diabetic mice models, Lion’s Mane Mushroom has been shown to significantly decrease blood sugar levels.20 Researchers believe this could be due to the mushroom’s ability to block an enzyme in the gut from breaking down carbohydrates into sugar.21 Even more surprising, the results of another study suggested that Lion’s Mane could be used to help reduce pain from diabetic nerve damage, while simultaneously stimulating antioxidant activity.*22 

Summary: The Health Benefits of Lion’s Mane Mushroom

Lion’s Mane Mushroom (Hericium Erinaceus) is a functional fungi, favoured by many for its health and brain-boosting benefits. With origins in traditional Chinese medicine, modern research has shown that Lion's Mane could support memory and cognitive function, while helping to protect an aging brain. Unique compounds found in Lion's Mane called hericenones and erinacines have also been shown to promote Nerve Growth Factor (NGF) and may help to regenerate neurons through a process called neurogenesis.* 

In addition to its positive impact on cognitive performance, Lion's Mane may also support the health of the nervous system, cardiovascular and digestive system. In fact, the fungal polysaccharides founds in Lion's Mane seem to benefit gut, reducing inflammation in the body and helping to maintain the normal function of the immune system.*

While we welcome more human trials, Lion’s Mane Mushroom appears to be a safe and widely used supplement that could provide you with a myriad of health and cognitive boosting benefits.

Mind Flora, our natural plant and functional mushroom-based formula designed to support wakefulness contains 500mg of a 2:1 Lion's Mane Mushroom Extract, standardized to > 25% Beta-D-Glucans. Try Mind Flora today.*




 *The statements made in this article have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Any products mentioned are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. The information in this article is intended for educational purposes. The information is not intended to replace medical advice offered by licensed medical physicians. Please consult your doctor or health practitioner for any medical advice.