Lion’s mane mushrooms go by many names, including yamabushitake and the Latin name Hericium erinaceus. Stick around as we cover what lion’s mane mushrooms are, how to consume them, and why some health experts have been advocating this unique fungus for a variety of applications.
What Are Lion’s Mane Mushrooms?
Lion’s mane mushrooms are a large mushroom species with a hairy, shaggy appearance, making them look like the lion’s mane from which they get their name. Native to Asia, lion’s mane mushrooms are popular in the cuisine of countries like China, Japan, Korea, and India.
These mushrooms have been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries. It has several potential health benefits, which is why it is becoming a popular supplement option. Many also find it enjoyable to eat, thanks to its seafood-like flavor. There are multiple ways to consume lion’s mane mushrooms, some of which we will cover in this article.
Potential Health Benefits of Lion’s Mane Mushrooms
With the recent explosion in the popularity of mushroom supplements, companies are making all kinds of claims about the health effects of lion’s mane and other fungi species.
However, it’s important to distinguish between research-based evidence and unwarranted claims. Below we highlight several potential health benefits of lion’s mane mushrooms, based on research studies published within the last ten years.
Anti-inflammatory, Antioxidative, & Immune Boosting Properties
A 2015 report published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry highlights the “exceptional nutritional and health-promoting aspects” of lion’s mane mushrooms. Based on an overview that surveyed prior publications on the health benefits of H. erinaceus, the report suggests that lion’s mane can act as an:
- Anticarcinogenic (prevents the growth and/or development of cancerous cells)
- Antidiabetic (prevents erratic/unstable blood glucose levels)
- Antihypertensive (hypertension is high blood pressure)
- Antihyperlipidemic (helps to lower LDL cholesterol)
- Anti-senescence (anti-aging)
- Cardioprotective (relating to the protection of the heart)
- Hepatoprotective (relating to the protection of the liver)
- Nephroprotective (relating to the protection of the kidneys)
- Neuroprotective (relating to the protection of neurons)
The publication also suggests that lion’s mane can improve anxiety, brain function (cognition), and symptoms of depression. Furthermore, it states that all of these benefits (including those listed above) are based on the “anti-inflammatory, antioxidative, and immunostimulating properties” of the fungus.
Potential Therapeutic Action on Immunoregulatory Diseases & Cancer
Based on a 2014 academic review published in Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology, lion’s mane has “potential drug efficacy” for Alzheimer’s disease, immunoregulatory diseases, and certain types of cancer. It also boasts therapeutic action on “various diseases of multiple physiological systems, including the nervous system, digestive system, circulatory system, and immune system.”
A separate 2013 publication in the Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine points out that lion’s mane is a “well-established candidate for brain and nerve health.”
Potential Anti-Aging Benefits
Based on data collected from studies on mice, a 2021 report in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences highlights that:
“Oral supplementations” of lion’s mane extract resulted in partial recovery of “age-related decline of locomotor performances” (locomotor performance refers to basic movements such as walking, running, etc.).
The study also highlighted the antioxidative and anti-inflammatory properties of the supplements. It observed their role in improving age-related decline in the cerebellum, a region of the brain associated with coordination and basic movement. Researchers concluded by suggesting lion’s mane extract is a “promising adjuvant therapy [that could be] associated with conventional geriatric treatments.”
Benefits for Depression
A separate 2020 publication in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences notes the “antidepressant-like activities” of lion’s mane. It suggests that the fungus can “significantly ameliorate depressive disorder” via modulation of monoamines (i.e., neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine, and epinephrine), as well as “neurogenic/neurotrophic and anti-inflammatory pathways.” Researchers concluded the study by suggesting the potential for H. erinaceus to function as an “alternative medicine for the treatment of depression.”
However, it is essential to point out again that most available research on lion’s mane mushrooms has taken place on laboratory animals in a controlled setting. Human-based evidence via clinical trials is still lacking. Thus more research will need to be carried out before health professionals can issue clear guidance on the overall therapeutic benefits of lion’s mane and other fungal species.
How to Use a Lion’s Mane Mushroom Supplement
EDITOR’S CHOICE – VIDACAP
VidaCap offers top-quality functional mushrooms and mushroom supplements that are not only organic, grain-free, and gluten-free, but are also supremely affordable. Supplying formulations made from mushrooms expertly grown in enclosed greenhouses, their most popular products include the Lion’s Mane and Reishi selections.
Lion’s Mane Capsules
There are various ways to consume lion’s mane extract, though capsules are probably the most common and are the preferred option for many. Capsules that contain dried lion’s mane extract are affordable, simple to use, and convenient for daily consumption since they are tasteless and include pre-measured doses.
Lion’s Mane Mushroom Tea
Lion’s mane tea is just what it sounds like – a brewed tea containing extract from H. erinaceus. All you need to do is use a tea strainer to steep the mushrooms in hot water to impart the beneficial compounds, then drink it like a regular cup of tea. If you’re opting for a pre-packaged lion’s mane tea, try and find a brand that offers 100% natural ingredients, as this will help to take full advantage of the active compounds that are present. Most sachets come with instructions regarding water temperature and brewing time.
Lion’s Mane Mushroom Powder
Another common way to consume lion’s mane supplements is in powder form. Powders are very simple to use and involve mixing pre-measured amounts of extract into smoothies, coffee, tea, or even hot water. Admittedly, this method tastes unpleasant, but the effects are often potent and fast-acting.
Summary on Lion’s Mane Mushroom
There are several reasons why one would want to take lion’s mane mushrooms. Lion’s mane is an incredibly versatile mushroom species that users can cook and eat on its own or use as a supplement. Research involving the health benefits of lion’s mane mushrooms is also promising, as studies point out a variety of potential uses and applications.
Additionally, most users have found positive reactions – and very few side effects – when consuming lion’s mane mushrooms.
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