LION'S MANE

Georgina Roberts Updated by Georgina Roberts

What is Lions Mane?

Lions Mane (Hericium erinaceus) is an adaptogenic medicinal mushroom. It grows on old or decaying trees in a spectacular manner with beautiful cascading fine limbs of creamy white when the mushroom’s fruiting body is fresh, much like a lion’s bushy mane. It had been traditionally used in ancient herbal practices in Japan and China, with many celebrated healthful affects.

Like most medicinal mushrooms, lion’s mane has been shown to contain many bio-active compounds with applications for health. Its benefits are also attributed to its adaptogenic properties.

How to use Lion’s Mane

We have included functional doses of lion’s mane in our MAGIC Mushroom Coffee. Our coffee contains a functional dose of .5g of lions mane extract 30% polysaccharides per serving.

As we will discover, lion’s mane has particularly strong potential as a nootropic. A nootropic is a plant, herb or in this case fungi that supports optimal brain functioning and health. For this reason we paired it with our coffee to create a stimulating drink that provides energy and focus, if you are a coffee lover this is a real game changer.

We also include lion's mane in our multi-nutrient greens powder, Supergreens. This is a lovely way to get a nootropic brain boost in your smoothies. Supergreens contains .25g per serving.

Are medicinal mushrooms safe?

Medicinal mushrooms are 100% legal and do not have psychoactive effects as they do not contain psychotropic compounds, you will not be “high” after drinking Magic. Those are very different mushrooms! The health benefits you may experience however in our opinion are truly Magic. They are of course safe to consume, but as with anything you can have too much of a good thing so, please stick to the recommended amounts on the packaging.

What is an adaptogen?

Adaptogens are a group of plants and herbs that can help us to manage and balance mood, energy levels, stress hormones within the body, and even enhance cognitive function. Modern nutritional science has been exploring this in more recent years and re-discovering the bio-active benefits that our ancestors celebrated. Adaptogens have been shown by modern research to improve the resistance of the human body to a wide range of stressors, from external (environmental) to internal (bodily systems). They do this by working with the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA) and the immune-neuro-endocrine system, both of which comprise of multiple bodily systems and their interaction with each other.

Stress comes in many forms and on occasions acute stress can actually be very beneficial to the body and encourage adaptions, for instance in the case of exercise our bodies undergo short term stress and provided the exercise stimulus and recovery are appropriate, our bodies will adapt to better handle that stressor. It is when stressors become chronic, or there is not sufficient recovery from acute stress that we can run into problems. Stress of course comes in many other forms, environmental, psychological, sociological, and then we must consider the stressful implications of a poor diet, lack of exercise, lack of sunlight, fatigue, depression, to name a few.

For such a broad potential of stressors on the human body, an adaptogen must meet the following criteria to be classified as such: firstly, an adaptogen must be non-specific and must assist the human body in resisting a wide range of adverse conditions and secondly adaptogens must balance and maintain homeostasis in humans by offsetting or resisting physical disorders caused by external stress. These definitions were first established in 1940 by scientist N. Lazerev, and later elaborated on by scientist I. Brekhman to say that an adaptogen must reduce harm caused by stressed states, have positive excitatory effects on the human body, must not cause side effects from these excitatory effects (like common stimulants) and lastly, they must not harm the human body. This impressive checklist is met by a range of different plants and herbs, of which medicinal mushrooms are included. These benefits were considered sacred by our forebearers, and modern research continues to discover more about these wonderful plants.

Potential health benefits of Lion's Mane.

Lion’s mane, like most medicinal mushrooms contains many bio-active organic compounds with the potential to support health. Most of the healthful properties are attributed to the polysaccharide content of the mushroom and are believed to offer neuroprotective effects, anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory benefits.

Lion’s Mane, brain, and nervous system health.

Lion’s mane has been shown to promote neurogenesis, that is the strengthening of existing neural pathways and the creation of new ones. It does this by increasing mRNA expression of Nerve Growth Factor (NGF) by around 5 times than usual. NGF facilitates the regulation of growth, maintenance, proliferation and longevity of specific neurons, an essential component of brain and nervous system health. Lion’s mane has also been shown to enhance myelination, which is the production of the protective myelin sheath that surrounds our neurons (brain/nerve cells).

Lion’s mane has also astonishingly been shown to slow the rate of cognitive decline in Alzheimer patients. Patients were supplemented with 750mg of lion’s mane a day for a 16-week period and their cognition monitored during and afterwards. Cognition was significantly improved (compared to control) during the intervention and in the following 4 weeks, however benefits seemed to drop off afterwards. This would suggest that potential benefits to cognition for Alzheimer’s patients would need continued supplementation. There were no adverse effects observed by the study, so lion’s mane could be a safe natural intervention to support those experiencing cognitive decline.

Some animal studies have shown lion’s mane to be able to support regrowth of neural tissue after injury impact. More human studies are needed however this could be promising for lion’s mane as a supplement to assist nervous system injury rehabilitation.

Lion’s Mane in summary.

The bio-active polysaccharides found in lion’s mane means it shares many of the same potential benefits as its other medicinal mushroom cousins. The rich polysaccharide content of lion’s mane has been shown to scavenge for and mediate inflammation across the body. Inflammation is a precursor to many health imbalances and lion's mane has potential as a useful anti-inflammatory agent.

Oxidative stress is disturbance caused by free radicals in the body, free radicals are a by product of cellular metabolism, and the body has pathways by which it mediates them. The polysaccharide content of lion’s mane contributes to this free radical buffering.

This powerful mushroom is a wonderful addition to our wellness toolbox. If you would like to try our MAGIC Mushroom Coffee with lion’s mane, head to our product pages!

References

E V Kolotushkina, M G Moldavan, K Yu Voronin, G G Skibo. (2003). The influence of Hericium erinaceus extract on myelination process in vitro. Fiziologichnyi Zhurnal. 49 (1), 38-45.

Kah-Hui Wong, Murali Naidu, Pamela David, Mahmood Ameen Abdulla, Noorlidah Abdullah, Umah Rani Kuppusamy, Vikineswary Sabaratnam. (2011). Peripheral Nerve Regeneration Following Crush Injury to Rat Peroneal Nerve by Aqueous Extract of Medicinal Mushroom Hericium erinaceus (Bull.: Fr) Pers. (Aphyllophoromycetideae). Evidence based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM. 10 (3), 1093-99.

Kah-Hui Wong, Murali Naidu, Rosie Pamela David, Robiah Bakar, Vikineswary Sabaratnam. (2012). Neuroregenerative potential of lion's mane mushroom, Hericium erinaceus (Bull.: Fr.) Pers. (higher Basidiomycetes), in the treatment of peripheral nerve injury (review). International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms. 14 (5), 427-46.

Koichiro Mori, Satoshi Inatomi, Kenzi Ouchi, Yoshihito Azumi, Takashi Tuchida. (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.

Koichiro Mori, Yutaro Obara, Mitsuru Hirota, Yoshihito Azumi, Satomi Kinugasa, Satoshi Inatomi, Norimichi Nakahata. (2008). Nerve growth factor-inducing activity of Hericium erinaceus in 1321N1 human astrocytoma cells. Biological & Pharmaceutical Bulletin. 31 (9), 1727-32.

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