Lion’s Mane is a thick, shaggy mushroom that resembles a lion’s mane and grows on hardwood trees in North America and Asia. You can find it used in exotic cuisines, but usually you’ll hear about it being used as a wellness supplement, like in nootropic blends.
If you’ve heard about this ever-popular functional mushroom and want to know all the fuss, take a look at the Lion’s Mane benefits below.
Research is still limited, but some of the primary benefits of Lion’s Mane may include the following:
Let’s dig into the research available. Here are ten research-backed Lion’s Mane benefits you should know:
One study found that consuming Lion’s Mane daily for four months was associated with a significant increase in cognitive function in older adults with mild cognitive impairments. Lion’s Mane’s impact on cognition is among its most heavily touted potential benefits, and many people take Lion’s Mane alongside other nootropics to support general brain health.
Research suggests that Lion’s Mane may help prevent dementia and related disorders because it stimulates the production of two important brain cells–hericenones and erinacines.
Another study also found that Lion’s Mane extract may prevent memory loss and brain damage caused by the type of plaque accumulating in the brain in Alzheimer’s patients. Most of the evidence available involves animal studies, so more evidence is needed to understand how Lion’s Mane supplementation may work for these neurodegenerative diseases in humans.
Although many different factors affect anxiety and depression, recent research suggests that chronic inflammation can cause or worsen the issue. One study found that an extract of Lion’s Mane could help reduce symptoms of inflammation-related depression, likely due to its potent anti-inflammatory effects.
While there are many causes of anxiety and depression, chronic inflammation could be a significant contributing factor. Another study with similar results suggests that a Lion's Mane extract could be “an attractive agent for the treatment of depressive disorders.”
A study involving a small group of women found that regular Lion’s Mane doses for one month reduced self-reported anxiety levels.
Another animal study found that Lion’s Mane may be able to help regenerate cells in the hippocampus, a brain region responsible for memory and emotional responses. This may mean that Lion’s Mane can help heal physical trauma, but more research is needed.
Injuries to the nervous system can cause paralysis, loss of cognitive function, and more. Some research has found that Lion’s Mane extract may be able to speed the recovery process for nervous system injuries.
Injuries to the brain or spinal cord can be devastating. They often cause paralysis or loss of mental functions and can take a long time to heal. One study found Lion’s Mane to be one of three different functional mushroom extracts that may help stimulate the growth of nerve cells within the brain, spinal cord, and retina.
Another study puts this speedy recovery time into perspective, claiming that Lion’s Mane extract may speed nervous system recovery by 23-41% in animal subjects.
According to one study, Lion’s Mane extract may help prevent stomach ulcers by combating the growth of H. pylori, one of the most common bacteria known to cause stomach ulcers. The same study found that Lion’s Mane may also protect the stomach lining from other damages.
Another study found that Lion’s Mane extract may be more effective than traditional antacid medications at preventing stomach ulcers caused by alcohol consumption.
Some research also suggests that Lion’s Mane extract can prevent or manage certain inflammatory conditions affecting the digestive tract, like Crohn’s disease. One study found that a blend of functional mushrooms, including 14% Lion’s Mane, may significantly improve symptoms in patients with ulcerative colitis.
One animal study found that Lion's Mane may help improve fat metabolism and decrease triglycerides levels, two primary risk factors for developing heart disease.
Another study offers a similar conclusion, citing that triglyceride levels decreased by 27% while weight gain decreased by 42% over a 28-day period when rats were given Lion's Mane extract daily in addition to a high-fat diet.
An in vitro study found that Lion's Mane may also help prevent cholesterol oxidation. Since oxidized cholesterol is more likely to attach to artery walls, this may reduce the risk of stroke and heart attack.
Lion's Mane also contains adequate amounts of hericenone B, significantly reducing the risk of heart attack or stroke.
Lion's Mane may benefit heart health, but more research is needed to understand how it may benefit those at high risk for heart-related disease.
Some evidence suggests that Lion's Mane may help improve the body's ability to control blood sugar naturally. One animal study found that lion’s mane may significantly lower blood sugar levels in mice. The study also found that Lion's Mane may have significant antioxidant benefits that prevent oxidative stress, a fact of importance to diabetic patients.
One study suggests that Lion's Mane regulates blood sugar by blocking aloha-glucosidase, an enzyme that converts carbs to sugar in the gut.
Another study found that Lion's Mane extract may even help reduce pain caused by diabetes-related nerve damage.
Much of this evidence involves animal trials, so more human studies are necessary to fully understand how Lion's Mane may benefit diabetic patients.
Research has found Lion's Mane to potentially have anticancer benefits, although human evidence is lacking. Still, test tube studies have found that Lion's Mane extract may kill the cells of various types of cancer, including liver, colon, stomach, and blood cancer cells.
Another study found that Lion's Mane could reduce the spread of colon cancer to the lungs by nearly 70%. A recent study even found Lion's Mane more effective than traditional cancer treatments at stunting mouse tumor growth. This study also found Lion's Mane to have far fewer side effects.
According to one study, Lion's Mane contains antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds that may help reduce the impact of inflammation and oxidative stress, including many chronic conditions.
In a study comparing the antioxidant effects of different functional mushrooms, Lion's Mane was found to have the fourth highest antioxidant activity.
Lion’s mane may also help reduce inflammation linked to obesity, potentially decreasing the risk of chronic illnesses for obese patients.
More human trials are necessary to determine how these potential benefits may affect humans, but the current evidence looks promising.
An animal trial found that Lion's Mane may boost immune system activity in the gut, which plays an essential role in the body's overall immune system. According to this study, Lion's Mane could protect against bacteria and pathogens that enter the body through the nose or mouth.
In general, though, Lion's Mane could boost immune functioning throughout the entire body. Another animal study found that daily Lion's Mane extract doses extended the lifespan of mice by almost 400% after being injected with a deadly salmonella dose.
More human trials are needed to understand the full impact Lion's Mane may have on the immune system.
Various Lion's Mane benefits have been thoroughly studied in animal models, but human evidence still needs to be explored. Still, researchers know that Lion's Mane contains a handful of unique compounds with potent therapeutic benefits, hence why Lion's Mane has been used in traditional medicine for hundreds of years.
For now, evidence is too limited to suggest that Lion's Mane mushroom can cure or prevent any illness or condition. However, many still use it as a daily supplement to support overall wellness, especially brain health. Just make sure you buy a high-quality form supplement and use the correct Lion's Mane dosage to prevent any possible Lion's Mane side effects that could come from poor-quality formulations.
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