Lion’s mane mushroom, scientific name Hericium erinaceus, is a medicinal and edible nootropic mushroom belonging to the tooth fungus group. This species has many names including the bearded tooth mushroom, Yamabushitake, Satyr’s Beard, and the pom pom mushroom.
It has been used for centuries as a health treatment and general tonic by traditional Chinese (the mushroom was considered a prized possession by the Chinese and was served only to emperors) and Japanese medicine, and in the present day, it is consumed in many other Asian countries like India and Korea. Moreover, it was usually eaten in Chinese cooking as a meat replacement due to its high protein content.
Lion’s mane mushroom is a nootropic food very popular in traditional Chinese medicine. A large body of research has focused around this brain-boosting mushroom in the last few years, and the results are nothing short of astounding.
According to world renown fungi expert Paul Stamets, lion’s mane may be the first “smart mushroom,” providing support specifically for cognitive function, including memory, attention and creativity. It is reported that Buddhist monks have consumed Lion’s mane tea for centuries before meditation in order to enhance their powers of concentration.
Sounds all well and good but what are the specific benefits and what does science say?
01. Enhances brain function, memory and concentration
It’s said that lion’s mane mushroom is one of nature’s most powerful brain foods because it helps stimulate nerve growth factor (NGF) production. (1) NGF is a neuropeptide that helps maintain neurons, which are the cells responsible for helping your brain process and transmit information. So, whether you need to study for an exam, write a paper, or focus better at work, the neurotrophic benefits of lion’s mane mushroom can help. There are many studies that demonstrate improvements in cognitive stimulation and memory improvement (2, 3, 4).
02. Increase Energy
Lion’s mane is rich in antioxidants that support overall cellular health (5). Since energy transport takes place between your cells, the more antioxidants you have in your diet, the easier it is for your body to produce energy. It has been shown to reduce lactic acid in the blood, which causes fatigue after intense physical activity. It also increases tissue glycogen content so that your body can produce energy quicker (6).
03. Reduce inflammation and oxidative stress
Research shows that lion’s mane mushrooms contain powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds that may help reduce the impact of these illnesses (7). In fact, one study examining the antioxidant abilities of 14 different mushroom species found that lion’s mane had the fourth highest antioxidant activity and recommended it be considered a good dietary source of antioxidants (8).
04. Improves digestive health
Due to its powerful anti-inflammatory properties Lions mane mushroom can improve stomach and digestive function. In multiple studies, lion’s mane mushroom has been shown to protect from or shrink gastric ulcers. (9) Lion’s mane may also significantly improve symptoms of two major inflammatory disorders of the digestive system, gastritis and inflammatory bowel disease (10, 11).
05. Boost the immune system
A strong immune system protects the body from bacteria, viruses and other disease-causing pathogens. Research shows that lion’s mane mushroom can boost immunity by increasing the activity of the intestinal immune system, which protects the body from pathogens that enter the gut through the mouth or nose (12). These effects may partly be due to beneficial changes in gut bacteria that stimulate the immune system (13).
06. Relieve symptoms of depression and anxiety
Consuming lion’s mane mushroom may also be a natural remedy for depression and anxiety. Thirty women were given either a placebo or lion’s mane for four weeks. Researchers concluded, “Our results show that intake has the possibility to reduce depression and anxiety and these results suggest a different mechanism from NGF-enhancing action” (14). Moreover, animal studies have found that lion’s mane extract can also help regenerate brain cells and improve the functioning of the hippocampus, a region of the brain responsible for processing memories and emotional responses (15). Researchers believe that improved functioning of the hippocampus may explain the reductions in anxious and depressive behaviours in mice given these extracts.
07. Supports cardiovascular health
The underlying cause of cardiovascular disease is chronic inflammation, which is why reducing inflammation through your diet, nutritional supplements, and lifestyle is crucial for a healthy cardiovascular system. The anti-inflammatory properties of lion’s mane support overall cardiovascular health, but studies have also found that it can reduce LDL cholesterol levels and elevated triglycerides, which are two risk factors for heart disease (16).
08. May protect against cancer
Lion’s mane may also be significant in treating cancer, according to a host of research (15). In varying degrees, compounds from or supplementation with lion’s mane mushroom has been found to potentially slow the progression of several cancers. In regard to leukemia, lion’s mane was shown to significantly reduce leukemia cells in a Korean study (17). Further Korean research conducted by the Department of Molecular Science and Technology at Ajou University found that thanks to the phytochemicals in lion’s mane mushroom, it has “therapeutic potential against human leukemia.” (18)
Lions Mane Mushroom through history of traditional Chinese medicine has shown to be a powerful natural superfood. Science has now caught up demonstrating several potential benefits to general well-being and performance. Initially research focussed on its ability to increase brain function and cognitive performance. Due to its potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties interest and research has grown into the benefits lion’s mane mushroom can offer to the immune system and fighting certain cancers and cardiovascular diseases. Lions mane mushroom is most commonly used as an extract in cooking, supplements or even in coffee.
At Organic Sports Nutrition when formulating a powerful natural nootropic blend (Organic Boost) including Lion’s Mane Mushroom was a no brainer (no pun intended) due to its potent effect increasing brain function and energy. We only use Organic Lion’s Mane Mushroom, meaning it is only the raw ingredient in its purest form with no additives, fillers, chemicals or GMO’s and farmed sustainably. Good for you, good for the environment. As with all our products it is certified by Organic Growers and Farmers and registered with the vegan society.
Purity and performance…… the way mother nature intended
Fuelled by Nature