lion's mane mushroom

Lion's Mane Mushroom : Not Your Average Mushroom!

Lion’s mane mushrooms are white, shaggy-looking fungi that grow in such a way that they resemble an actual lion’s mane. These interesting-looking mushrooms have a surprising taste. The lion’s mane mushroom is said to have a flavor much like shellfish; its taste has been compared to that of crab or lobster [1]

The lion’s mane mushroom has a long history of usage. In China, the mushroom was commonly used in traditional Chinese Medicine for millennia for its said ability to nurture the liver, lung, spleen, heart, and kidney” [2]. Nowadays, this peculiar-looking mushroom is believed to provide even more health benefits.

Three impressive lion’s mane benefits include:

1. Improved Cognitive Function

An aging brain is typically not able to form new neural connections as easily as a youthful brain. Thus, mental functions, such as learning and memory, tend to diminish with age [3]. This makes aging brains vulnerable to cognitive diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s.

However, lion’s mane mushrooms may be able to boost brain health. Studies have shown that these mushrooms contain two compounds capable of stimulating brain cells’ growth: hericenones and erinacines [4].

In numerous animal studies, lion’s mane mushroom has been proven to reduce symptoms of memory loss in mice. These studies have also shown lion’s mane mushrooms’ ability to protect against “neuronal damage caused by amyloid-beta plaques, which accumulate in the brain during Alzheimer’s disease” [1, 5, 6, 7, 8].

More research on the effects of lion’s mane mushrooms on humans with Alzheimer’s disease needs to be conducted. However, the mushroom’s ability to stimulate neuronal growth illustrates an impressive ability to boost brain function. 

2. Helps Relieve Symptoms of Depression and Anxiety

Studies have been conducted that suggest lion’s mane mushrooms may help relieve symptoms of anxiety and depression [9].

Although more research needs to be conducted on the subject, there is believed to be a correlation between depression (as well as anxiety) and chronic inflammation. It just so happens that lion’s mane has powerful anti-inflammatory effects [10]

“It has also been shown to improve the functioning of the hippocampus, the part of the brain that manages the processing of memories and emotional responses” [2, 11].

3. Reduces Inflammation and Oxidative Stress

“Chronic inflammation and oxidative stress are believed to be at the root of many modern illnesses, including heart disease, cancer, and autoimmune disorders” [1, 12]

As previously mentioned, lion’s mane mushrooms contain powerful anti-inflammatory effects. These anti-inflammatory effects, along with the potent antioxidants found in the mushroom, may reduce the impact of these chronic illnesses [13, 10]. Lion’s mane mushrooms are a great source of antioxidants; in fact, it provides more antioxidants than most mushroom species [14].

It is also important to note that lion’s mane mushrooms are believed to:

  • relieve mild symptoms of depression and anxiety
  • speed recovery from nervous system injuries
  • protect against ulcers in the digestive tract
  • reduce heart disease risk
  • help manage diabetes symptoms
  • help fight cancer

However, more research needs to be conducted to in order to fully back these claims.

If you found this article informative, please read our piece on Maitake mushroom benefits!


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