By the appearance of lion’s mane mushrooms, it is easy to believe that they are unique and powerful plants. Their crazy characteristics make them look less like a mushroom and more like a, well, lion’s mane. They have a hairy white appearance as well as plenty of positive health benefits. Lion’s mane is also referred to as Hericium Erinaceus and sometimes has been given other nicknames such as monkey head mushroom, bearded tooth mushroom, bearded hedgehog mushroom, or bearded tooth fungus.
The mushroom has been the subject of many studies recently and has been gaining a lot of recognition for its benefits on the human body. Lion’s mane can be used in a lot of different ways and can help with all types of different issues. Below, we’ve outlined some of the benefits of lion’s mane as well potential side effects and risks.
What is Lion’s Mane?
Lion’s mane is a type of mushroom or fungus that is naturally found growing in part of North America, Europe, and Asia. It can typically be found growing on hardwoods such as American beech during summer and fall. Lion’s mane is often recognized for its medicinal uses but it is also a culinary delicacy as well. It can be eaten raw or cooked, some people even make tea out of it. The flavor of lion’s mane has been compared to that of crab or lobster.
Lion’s mane extracts have long been used as herbal supplements for a number of reasons. They are thought to help with focus, anxiety, and to support the immune system. Lion’s mane contains properties that are particularly beneficial for the brain, heart, and gut.
Where does Lion’s Mane Come From?
Lion’s mane extract comes from the lion’s mane mushroom. Lion’s mane can be found growing in Northern America, Europe, and Asia. There are three different species of lion’s mane mushrooms that can be found growing throughout the world. Lion’s mane mushrooms are fairly common and can be easily found growing naturally on decaying trees.
The mushrooms can also be grown at home if you have the right supplies. Lion’s mane growing kits are available online and it is said that lion’s mane isn’t the most difficult mushroom to grow. Sawdust or hardwood logs can easily be used to grow lion’s mane mushrooms and one successful batch could produce up to three harvests.
Benefits of Lion’s Mane
Lion’s mane mushrooms have a number of benefits for the human body and have been subject to many interesting clinical trials. Below we have discussed some of the benefits of lion’s mane and included some of the most relevant studies.
Potentially protects against dementia
Hericenones and erinacines are two properties found in lion’s mane that can stimulate the growth of the brain. All of the current studies regarding lion’s mane and dementia are animal and test-tube studies. So with no real evidence of lion’s mane helping humans with dementia, further research is necessary.
One study on mice found that lion’s mane was able to improve memory in mice who had previously suffered from memory loss. One study also found that adults with cognitive impairments who took lion’s mane regularly experienced an improvement in symptoms. They were found to have lost these benefits when they stopped taking lion’s mane.
Can help with symptoms of anxiety
A large portion of our population is currently suffering from anxiety and honestly, I can see why. Living a chronically stressed-out life is kind of the standard these days so it isn’t surprising that a lot of people are reaching a point of not being able to handle it anymore. Some people believe that chronic inflammation is a major cause of anxiety. Given the fact that our population’s health has been collectively declining over the years, it wouldn’t be too surprising to hear that a lot of us are suffering from inflammation and in turn even more anxiety.
One animal research study found that lion’s mane was able to reduce inflammation in animals and improve symptoms of anxiety and depression. Additional studies using animals have found that the lion’s mane also can benefit the functioning of the hippocampus which is a part of the brain that is in charge of emotional responses.
Although the current research on lion’s mane is very promising, more human research is needed to draw any concrete conclusions about benefits for humans.
Could improve the recovery time of nervous system injuries
Some research has found that lion’s mane mushroom extracts could stimulate the growth of nerve cells, helping improve recovery time from nervous system injuries. In one study using rats, lion’s mane mushroom extract helped reduce the neurological symptoms that occurred after a stroke. Once again, more human research is needed to make real claims but animal studies are very promising.
Prevents GI ulcers
Stomach ulcers are extremely common and when you think about how they happen it makes perfect sense. Stomach ulcers are often the result of overuse of NSAIDs (drugs such as ibuprofen and Tylenol) and/or a combination of overconsumption of alcohol, nicotine, and caffeine. Often, when people continuously consume these items on an empty stomach it can damage the lining of the stomach and form an ulcer.
Stomach ulcers can also be caused by the bacteria h. Pylori. H. pylori is a common bacteria that many people have living in their gut. Some people experience issues from it and some people don’t even know they have it.
Lion’s mane can inhibit the growth of h. Pylori in the GI tract and in turn, prevent stomach ulcers from occurring. Lion’s mane’s anti-inflammatory properties can also help reduce tissue damage in the GI tract relating to issues such as ulcers.
Some early research has shown that the lion’s mane might contain properties that can prevent cancer. Again, more human research is needed. Research has also shown that lion’s mane mushroom extract can help with diabetes management by helping regulate blood sugar levels.
Possible Side Effects
There have not yet been any side effects reported from lion’s mane mushrooms. They are found to be generally very safe. Lion’s mane mushroom extracts can vary depending on how they were produced. Since supplements don’t have the same type of regulation that food has, there is always some level of risk involved.
How to Take Lion’s Mane
Lion’s mane can be consumed in a number of different ways. Some people use lion’s mane mushroom extracts in the form of a powder. These powders are often dose in ¼ – ½ teaspoons but it will definitely vary just make sure to follow the recommendation of your product labels. Lion’s mane is also available in the form of tinctures and gel capsules.
Lion’s mane can also be eaten as whole mushrooms in their natural form and have even been thought of as a culinary delicacy. Lion’s mane mushrooms can be purchased online as well as bought from some gourmet grocery stores and specialty stores. The most convenient place to buy lion’s mane extract would be online because there are tons of different places to buy it. Just make sure you are getting it from a credible source.
Some companies like Four Sigmatic have even made lion’s mane coffee. A blend of coffee grounds and lion’s mane extract to help those who drink it focus for longer and avoid the crash of regular coffee. There are a lot of different companies who produce lion’s mane as well as other adaptogen products, so be sure to buy from credible sources and do some research first.
Lion’s mane extract (like all adaptogens) is best when taken regularly in small doses. Pay attention to how your body reacts when trying lion’s mane, as well as any new supplements because you just never know how you will react. For the majority of people, lion’s man seems to be very safe. However, some rare situations found people to be allergic. If you know you have some type of mushroom allergy, be very cautious.
What are Adaptogens?
Lion’s mane mushrooms are a type of mushrooms categorized as adaptogens. Adaptogens are extracted from plants and help the body adapt to stress. Some other common examples of adaptogens include ashwagandha, reishi, chaga, and cordyceps. Adaptogens are typically consumed as powdered or liquid extracts and contain many different health benefits. They are commonly found in mushrooms but can be extracted from other types of plants as well.
Adaptogens are most beneficial when taken in small amounts on a regular basis. It may take some time after starting to take adaptogens for them to really start to work and for you to feel effects from them. Give them time, be consistent, and have some patience. You’re likely to feel the benefits from adaptogens eventually, it just takes time.
Lion’s mane mushrooms are a powerful and beneficial mushroom that can literally help your brain grow. Although there is no concrete evidence that lion’s mane helps human beings, it shows promising results in animal and test-tube studies. Lion’s mane mushroom may help with all types of different issues from cognitive impairment to inflammation. Lion’s mane can improve heart health, help regulate blood sugar, and might even fight against cancer.
The most important takeaway here is that there is still a lot of research to be done. Lion’s mane seems to be an incredibly powerful plant, but little research has been done. There are still a lot of unknowns. The most important thing to do is pay attention to the way you feel while taking it. If something doesn’t seem right, then stop. Lion’s mane extract isn’t regulated in the same way that other foods are. Therefore, you should make sure you are buying it from a credible source.
Whether you’re someone who is healthy and just wants an extra boost or you have some type of health issue that you’re trying to find a more natural solution for, lion’s mane might be a great product for you to try.