You may have heard about Lion's Mane in the context of being a nootropic; as in being a substance that provides benefits from a cognitive standpoint. It has been receiving a lot of attention lately because of it being known as a "smart mushroom". For myself, I love Lion's Mane mushrooms! It's actually a star ingredient of both our Formula 1 and Formula 2 Soma Supplements. So let's get to know all about Lion's Mane mushrooms!
What is Lion's Mane Mushroom?
Lion's Mane is also known as Yamabushitake, the monkey head mushroom, or its scientific name Hericium erinaceous. It looks absolutely beautiful with it's fruiting body resembling both a majestic lion's mane and a brain at the same time. Known as an ancient medicinal mushroom, it has been leveraged as a digestive tonic in Chinese medicine for about two thousand years.
How does the Magic of Lion's Mane Mushroom work?
A main mechanism of action as to how the Lion's Mane mushroom is able to provide it's brain boosting and nootropic benefits is that it stimulates NGF, which is otherwise known as Nerve Growth Factor. NGF are proteins that play a major role in the maintenance, regeneration and re-myelination of neurons, keeping the nervous system running at optimal levels. Two nerve growth factors, Hericenones and Erinacines, have been identified in this mushroom and are known to stimulate the biosynthesis of NGF. As a result, this can explain how Lion's Mane is truly the king of Nootropics.
Health Optimization Applications of Lion's Mane Mushrooms
A double-blind, parallel-group, placebo-controlled trial was performed on 50- to 80-year-old Japanese men and women diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment in order to examine the efficacy of oral administration of Lion's Mane Mushroom. At weeks 8, 12 and 16 weeks of the study - the group taking the Lion's Mane mushroom showed significantly increased scores on the cognitive function scale compared with the placebo group. What this research shows is the promise of Lion's Mane to improve cognition over time, even in an older age group. In addition, there is research from a perspective of being able to improve wound healing across all body parts - including one's neurons.
Both the mycelium and the fruiting body contains several bioactive compounds, which are available when the mushroom is heated or prepared as a hot water extract. Lion’s Mane is rich in some physiologically important components, especially β-glucan polysaccharides, “which are responsible for anti-cancer, immuno-modulating, hypolipidemic, antioxidant and neuro-protective activities of this mushroom." A 2014 study published in Journal of Ethnopharmacology found that the mushroom’s extract to be effective against three gastrointestinal cancers; liver, colorectal and gastric cancers. The study also noted that the extracts are more effective and less toxic compared to 5-FU or fluorouracil, common anti-cancer drug.
Our next post will be more about a comparison between Lion's Mane and another common Nootropic - Caffeine, so stay tuned for that. For now, please check out our Soma Supplement Formulations which contain this super hero ingredient: Lion's Mane Mushroom.
Mori K, Inatomi S, Ouchi K, Azumi Y, Tuchida T. Improving effects of the mushroom Yamabushitake (Hericium erinaceus) on mild cognitive impairment: a double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial. Phytother Res. 2009 Mar;23(3):367-72. doi: 10.1002/ptr.2634. PMID: 18844328.
Zhang CC, Yin X, Cao CY, Wei J, Zhang Q, Gao JM. Chemical constituents from Hericium erinaceus and their ability to stimulate NGF-mediated neurite outgrowth on PC12 cells. Bioorg Med Chem Lett. 2015 Nov 15;25(22):5078-82. doi: 10.1016/j.bmcl.2015.10.016. Epub 2015 Oct 16. PMID: 26481911.
Li G, Yu K, Li F, Xu K, Li J, He S, Cao S, Tan G. Anticancer potential of Hericium erinaceus extracts against human gastrointestinal cancers. J Ethnopharmacol. 2014 Apr 28;153(2):521-30. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2014.03.003. Epub 2014 Mar 12. PMID: 24631140.