Lion’s Mane mushrooms are quickly becoming a common topic of discussion in the world of health and science in the west. You’re likely to hear about them in any literature about promising new supplements or medicines for their powerful neurogenetic properties. They're touted as a tool to fight dementia and aging. It seems like these mushrooms came from nowhere and have exploded onto the scene of western health supplements. It might seem that these powerful mushrooms and their extracts have been kept a secret all this time though the reality is that western medicine is just late to the party.
Chinese and Japanese medicine has long been an area where the properties and benefits of Lion’s Mane have been described and widely used. In these eastern medical traditions, Lion’s Mane mushroom extracts have been used to promote health. Specifically health of the lungs, spleen, heart, liver and kidneys has been a reported benefit. Lion’s mane extracts have been taken for improved cognition and vitality. They have also long believed it to be a powerful cancer-fighting medicine.
These benefits from an obscure species of fungus might seem to be traditional hearsay but modern studies have shown that these mushrooms do have strong potential to be used to do exactly what the eastern practitioners believed.
There have been possible cognitive health benefits observed in studies on lion’s mane. Lion's mane extract has been described as a nootropic meaning it aids in the process of neurogenesis. This means it helps the brain regenerate neurons.
In one animal study, lion’s mane extracts appeared to give mice better object recognition and memory. Other research has shown that lion’s mane extracts may have the potential to treat or prevent diseases that cause a decline in cognitive health, such as Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease.
One Japanese study took adults between 50 and 80 years with mild cognitive impairment and found that daily consumption of lion’s mane extracts for 4 months led to higher scores on cognitive function scales when compared to a placebo group.
Lion’s mane mushroom liquid extracts may enhance the immune system, partly by reducing inflammation and preventing oxidation. Inflammation contributes to many medical conditions, including diabetes, heart disease, and autoimmune diseases.
Research on mice suggests that lion’s mane extracts may boost the activity of the intestinal immune system.The results of another study on mice indicate that a protein in lion’s mane mushroom extract encourages the growth of beneficial gut bacteria that strengthen immunity.
Anxiety and depression
Lion's Mane liquid extracts may be a useful treatment of anxiety and depression as indicated by a study in mice. In this study, mice that consumed lion’s mane mushroom extract displayed fewer depressive behaviors. Measurements of blood markers in the mice indicated lower anxiety and depression related chemicals. The researchers suggest that this is due to the lion's mane liquid extract’s anti-inflammatory effects.
The findings of a 2018 study on the effects of lion’s mane liquid mushrooms extracts support these claims. This later study showed that these liquid mushroom extracts may contain agents that are useful for treating depressive disorders.
In a study conducted in Japan, women with various health complaints were given cookies containing lion’s mane liquid extract or a placebo. The women who were given the cookies containing lion’s mane liquid extract reported lower levels of irritation and anxiety than the placebo group.
A major factor in heart health is prevalence of triglycerides and oxidation of cholesterol molecules.
Studies have shown reduction in triglycerides in rats who were given doses of lion’s mane liquid extracts. The levels of triglycerides were reduced by up to 27% and weight gain was decreased by nearly 43%.
A compound called hericenone B has been discovered in lion’s mane. This compound helps fight clotting and reduces chances of heart attack and stroke.
The antioxidant properties of lion’s mane mushrooms and lion's mane liquid mushroom extracts may play a role in cancer prevention or treatment. Results of an in vitro study indicate that lion’s mane extracts have therapeutic potential against human leukemia.
A study using animal models found that these mushroom extracts also fight cancer cells of the colon, liver and stomach. Studies like this indicate the exciting future lion’s mane could have in human health in the years to come.
A month long study was conducted using rats in which the use of lion’s mane liquid extract accounted for a large reduction in blood sugar levels. This could indicate usefulness of lion’s mane liquid extracts in treating diabetes from its source.
Another study on rats gave them lion’s mane liquid extract for 6 weeks. Many positive outcomes were observed including lower blood sugar levels, reduced nerve pain, and higher levels of antioxidants.
Lion’s mane liquid extracts have shown to be beneficial to digestive health as they can aid in treating many digestive disorders which are caused by inflammation in the gut. The mushroom may also boost immune function and encourage the growth of good bacteria in the gut.
In vitro studies report that lion’s mane mushrooms can result in antibacterial activity that may improve digestion. Research in mice supports these findings by showing that extracts of lion’s mane may protect against stomach ulcers.
Nervous system health and recovery
Some research suggests that extracts of lion’s mane mushrooms may encourage nerve cells to grow and repair more quickly.
One study showed that rats with nerve damage receiving a daily extract of lion’s mane mushrooms had quicker nerve regeneration than animals who didn’t receive the extracts.
Lion’s mane mushrooms may not have magical health properties as portrayed to be the case by some, though what is clear is that lion's mane liquid extracts have properties which can help our bodies heal in many ways all at once.
The healing powers of lion’s mane extracts aren’t from magic or by some mystical means but come from the powerful nutrients they hold which can be studied and shown to be effective. While no dietary supplement or medicine is perfect, it is clear that many of us stand to benefit from the powerful lion’s mane mushroom.