Article by Cliff Harvey PhD
Lion’s Mane (Hericium spp.) are mushrooms native to North America, Europe, Asia and Australasia. As well as looking freaky-cool, these 'shrooms are also being studied extensively and show a range of health and performance benefits.
Brain Health and Cognition
Most interestingly, Lion’s Mane has been shown to increase ‘Nerve Growth Factor’ (NGF) (1) which literally helps nerves and brain cells to grow and repair, (2-7) an effect not seen from other medicinal ‘shrooms like Eringi, Maitake, and Himematsutake. (8)
This is important because neurons (brain and nervous system cells) typically don’t repair very well at all…and so, if you’ve lost a few cells, or damaged a few, through playing footy, bumping your head surfing, or falling off your bike… or from a few too many late nights out…you might be able to recover some of that previously lost brain tissue.
Because of this brain-repair effect, Lion’s Mane is being considered as one of the most promising preventative treatments for Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia. (9, 10) It’s also being shown to be effective for treating depression and anxiety, both being significantly reduced after 4 weeks of Lion’s Mane treatment,(3) and for boosting brain power with subjects taking Lion’s Mane significantly improving cognitive function (the ability to think and focus well). (11)
Immunity and cancer
Lion’s Mane also reduces oxidation and inflammation, (12, 13) two of the major affecters of overall health and performance. Animal studies have demonstrated that Lion’s Mane can improve immunity,(14) and is effective as a treatment against drug-resistant bacteria. (15) Preliminary evidence also suggests that it may even be able to help treat stomach ulcers by combating Helicobacter pylori, the bacteria associated with ulcers (16) and that it reduces alcohol-related ulcer formation. (17)
There have also been a lot of preliminary studies, both in vitro (test-tube) and in animals, for its anti-cancer and anti-leukemic properties. (18, 19) It has already been demonstrated to have potent anti-cancer activity and can reduce tumour size (20) in liver, gastric, skin, and oesophageal and colon cancer cells, in vitro and in vivo, (9, 21) and can inhibit metastasis (the spread of cancer) in mice. (22)
Lion’s Mane improves fat metabolism (in mice fed a high-fat diet) (23) and reduces total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, blood glucose, and triglycerides while increasing HDL (‘good’ cholesterol). (24, 25)
Lion’s Mane also appears to be a strong liver-protector (26) even protecting against Salmonella and alcohol-induced liver damage. (27, 28)
Lion’s Mane can improve your physical performance by reducing fatigue, as well as increasing tissue glycogen content (stored carbohydrate fuel in the muscle and liver) and improved antioxidant activity. (29)
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- Park YS, Lee HS, Won MH, Lee JH, Lee SY, Lee HY. Effect of an exo-polysaccharide from the culture broth of Hericium erinaceus on enhancement of growth and differentiation of rat adrenal nerve cells. Cytotechnology. 2002;39(3):155.
- Nagano M, Shimizu K, Kondo R, Hayashi C, Sato D, Kitagawa K, et al. Reduction of depression and anxiety by 4 weeks <I>Hericium erinaceus</I> intake. Biomedical Research. 2010;31(4):231-7.
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- Wong K-H, Naidu M, David P, Abdulla MA, Abdullah N, Kuppusamy UR, et al. 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. 2011;2011:10.
- Wong K-H, Naidu M, David RP, Abdulla MA, Kuppusamy UR. Functional Recovery Enhancement Following Injury to Rodent Peroneal Nerve by Lion's Mane Mushroom, <i>Hericium erinaceus</i> (Bull.: Fr.) Pers. (Aphyllophoromycetideae). 2009;11(3):225-36.
- Moldavan M, Grygansky AP, Kolotushkina OV, Kirchhoff B, Skibo GG, Pedarzani P. Neurotropic and Trophic Action of Lion's Mane Mushroom <i>Hericium erinaceus</i> (Bull.: Fr.) Pers. (Aphyllophoromycetideae) Extracts on Nerve Cells <i>in Vitro</i>. 2007;9(1):15-28.
- Mori K, Obara Y, Hirota M, Azumi Y, Kinugasa S, Inatomi S, et al. Nerve Growth Factor-Inducing Activity of <i>Hericium erinaceus</i> in 1321N1 Human Astrocytoma Cells. Biological and Pharmaceutical Bulletin. 2008;31(9):1727-32.
- Mizuno T. Bioactive Substances in <i>Hericium erinaceus</i> (Bull.: Fr.) Pers. (Yamabushitake), and Its Medicinal Utilization. 1999;1(2):105-19.
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- Wong J-Y, Abdulla MA, Raman J, Phan C-W, Kuppusamy UR, Golbabapour S, et al. Gastroprotective Effects of Lion’s Mane Mushroom Hericium erinaceus (Bull.:Fr.) Pers. (Aphyllophoromycetideae) Extract against Ethanol-Induced Ulcer in Rats. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2013;2013:9.
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