Incorporating plants, herbs, and spices into your healthcare regimen is a good way to achieve balanced wellness. Lion’s mane mushrooms have been used in East Asian diets for centuries, and have recently become popular in North America. The large, white mushrooms resemble the mane of a lion and can be eaten raw, dry, cooked, or even used in tea. Though it is always best to talk to a doctor before taking a new supplement, the various health benefits of lion's mane mushrooms could make them a great addition to your diet.
Dementia is one of the most common side effects of aging. As people get older, it becomes more difficult for the brain’s nerves to make new connections. As a result, cognition starts to decline. Research indicates that lion’s mane mushrooms contain two compounds — hericenones and erinacines — that can stimulate the growth of brain cells, which may help prevent the onset of dementia.
Lion’s mane mushrooms may help preserve memory in other ways, as well. Studies show that lion’s mane mushrooms can reduce or prevent the formation of amyloid plaques, which can build up in the brain and cause memory loss. It is important to note that these studies were carried out in animals, however, and more studies are needed in human subjects to see if the results hold true.
One of the most common mental health conditions is depression. Though many factors can lead to this diagnosis, one more physical possibility is inflammation in the brain. Studies show that lion’s mane mushrooms have anti-inflammatory properties, which could address symptoms of depression. Researchers believe the mushrooms' compounds go to work in the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for our emotional responses.
Anxiety is another mental health disorder that can make it difficult to work, school, and maintain relationships. Studies conducted in animals suggest that lion’s mane mushrooms may be able to treat anxiety. In these studies, the fungi helped regenerate brain cells in the hippocampus, which reduced symptoms of anxiety. If these benefits are duplicated in people, lion's mane mushrooms could help change the treatment of this common mental health issue.
When parts of the nervous system, such as the brain or spinal cord, are injured, the effects can be devastating. Often, the complications are permanent; however, lion’s mane mushrooms may play a future role in alternative treatments for nervous system damage. Studies show that the mushroom can stimulate nerve cells, speeding their recovery. As a result, they could serve as a natural option for preventing some of the motor and sensory deficits often caused by these injuries.
Another possible application of lion’s mane mushroom is in the treatment of strokes. A stroke develops when there is a blockage in the brain that prevents the flow of oxygen and nutrients. A study investigating the mushroom's effect on animals showed they helped reduce the damage from strokes by almost 50 percent. If these applications can be extended to people, it might change how doctors treat strokes.
Ulcers are a common medical condition that can lead to stomach pain, cramps, acid reflux, and even bleeding in the GI tract. Most are caused by the bacteria H. pylori or an overuse of NSAIDs. Lion’s mane mushrooms may be able to prevent the development of stomach ulcers by guarding the stomach’s lining.
Heart disease is one of the most common causes of death in the U.S. Some of the risk factors include obesity, cholesterol, and high blood pressure. Lion’s mane mushrooms may be able to reduce the changes of developing heart disease by improving fat metabolism. Lion’s mane mushrooms may also be able to lower the body’s triglyceride levels, offering various benefits for the cardiovascular system.
Type 2 diabetes is one of the most common chronic conditions and can lead to complications such as nerve damage, kidney damage, and vision loss. Lion’s mane mushrooms can help treat diabetes by improving glucose levels; they target an enzyme that digests carbs, blocking it from breaking down carbohydrates in the small intestine. This way, fewer carbs — and therefore sugars — are absorbed into the bloodstream.
DNA damage to the cells can lead to cancer when the cells start to replicate in an uncontrolled manner. Researchers have mixed lion’s mane mushrooms with human cancer cells in test tubes. The results show that cancer cells die at a faster rate when exposed to the mushroom compounds. These studies have been replicated with cells from liver, colon, and stomach cancer. While this is an exciting result, more information is needed before this treatment moves to the clinical arena.
This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.