The Health Benefits of the Lion's Mane Mushroom

Lion’s mane mushroom has been a key part of traditional Asian medicine and cooking for thousands of years. But recently, there has been a lot of research of the many benefits that this mushroom has. 

lion's mane mushroom"Lion's mane" by Paul Comstock, Flickr is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The lion’s mane mushroom is a fungus that is mostly found growing in North America, Europe, and Asia. They are large, white, globe-shaped, and shaggy, resembling the mane of a lion. At times, they can appear brain-like. Lion’s mane mushrooms usual grow on harder plant fiber surfaces, such as the bark of a tree. People say the have a similar taste to crab or lobster. You can eat them raw or cooked, infuse them into your tea, or take them a supplement. 

Scientific research has shown that lion’s mane mushrooms have a proven effect on physical, cognitive, and psycho-spiritual health. So, rather than taking modern medicines that tend to have a list of side-effects, why not try lion’s mane mushroom so that you can get the benefits without the risks instead! See below for some of the top ways that lion’s mane mushroom benefits your body, mind, and soul. 

Body: The Benefits of the Lion’s Mane Mushroom for Physical Health

Boosts the immune system 

Lion’s mane mushrooms contain well-known immune-boosting compounds called polysaccharides and beta-glucans. Beta-glucans stimulate white blood cells, making them more effective at destroying anything harmful to your body.

Improves gut health 

Lion’s mane mushrooms have a great impact on your gut health. They contain natural antimicrobial properties, which can improve your probiotic gut bacteria. Due to this, research has shown that lion’s mane mushrooms can protect against ulcers in the digestive tract. Ulcers are often caused by an overgrowth of the bacteria H. pylori. Lion's mane mushrooms can prevent this bacteria from growing. Research has also suggested that, lion's mane mushrooms may be a form of treatment for various inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. 

Has anticancer effects

In a recent experiment, lion’s mane mushroom extract was combined with human cancer cells. This resulted in the cancer cells dying at a faster speed and reduced their growth rate. These effects have been tested with cancer cells from the colon, stomach, blood, and liver.

Has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties

Lion’s mane mushrooms have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties which promote overall physical and cognitive health. In fact, out of 14 different mushroom species, lion’s mane mushrooms contain the 4th highest level of antioxidant properties. Antioxidants are very important because they can “disarm” free radicals and prevent them from damaging the cells in your body. Accumulation of too many free radicals leads to something called oxidative stress. Oxidative stress contributes to cancer, autoimmune disorders, arthritis and cardiovascular diseases. 

Reduces the risk of heart disease  

Heart disease is the most common cause of death in the United States. Research on lion’s mane mushroom has shown that it balances cholesterol levels and improves fat metabolism. This combination can reduce your risk of heart disease and improve your overall health.  

Can help treat diabetes 

Diabetes occurs when your body is no longer able to regulate blood sugar levels. Studies have shown that lion’s mane mushroom can effectively lower blood sugar levels in both normal and diabetic mice. Additionally, it can increase your fat metabolism, which can contribute to weight loss. Obesity is a primary contributing factor for type 2 diabetes. So, not only does the lion’s mane mushroom help treat diabetes, but it can help you prevent it too! 

Promotes faster healing of skin wounds

 Lion’s mane mushrooms have been investigated for wound healing properties. When applied to a neck wound in rats, lion’s mane mushroom extract led to quicker healing times.

Mind: The Benefits of the Lion’s Mane Mushroom for Cognitive Health

Promotes neuroplasticity  

Neuroplasticity is the ability of the brain to create new neural connections. One of the main ways that lion’s mane mushrooms benefit cognitive functioning is through stimulating production of nerve growth factors (NGF). Nerve growth factors are directly related to the process of neuroplasticity. As lion’s mane mushrooms stimulate the growth and repair of nerve cells, this can promote the healing process in the brain when an injury occurs. This is especially useful in the case of brain damage after strokes. In one study, rats were given a high dose of lion’s mane mushroom directly after having a stroke. It resulted in a decreased size of the stroke-related brain injury and decreased inflammation in the brain. 

Reduces age-related memory loss 

As you age, your brain often begins to lose neurons and the neural connections reduce, which results in memory loss. However, lion’s mane mushrooms directly combat this process by promoting the compounds in your brain that cause brain cell growth. When tested in mice, lion’s mane mushrooms caused reduced symptoms of memory loss and prevented the buildup of amyloid-beta plaques, which are believed to contribute to Alzheimer’s disease. This shows that the use of lion’s mane mushrooms can potentially treat age-related memory illnesses like dementia and Alzheimer’s.

Supports general cognitive functioning 

Besides the direct cognitive effects of lion’s mane mushrooms for treating illness and injury, you can use it to support your cognitive skills. Research on lion’s mane mushrooms has shown that it can improve focus and concentration, promote a calm and peaceful state of mind, enhance learning, and improve general brain health.  

Soul: The Benefits of the Lion’s Mane Mushroom for Mental and Spiritual Health

Improves mood 

Due to the anti-inflammatory properties of lion’s mane mushrooms, research has shown that they can reduce the symptoms of anxiety and depression in mice. Lion’s mane mushrooms can improve the hippocampus, which is the brain region associated with memory and emotions. This research suggests that lion’s mane mushroom benefits overall mood and memory. The benefits of lion’s mane mushrooms on mood has been further confirmed through studies in Japanese menopausal women as well.

Enhances spiritual practices

Lion’s mane mushroom was traditionally used by Asian cultures for spiritual purposes. They are traditionally believed to enhance and support your meditation practice, generate the Taoist life force “Qi” energy in your body, center your mind, and increase your spiritual potency. 

Safety, Side Effects, and Dosage

Research on lion’s mane mushrooms has primarily been done in animals, but in those studies there were no known negative side effects even when they were consumed in high doses. The only side effects shown are due to allergic reactions, so certainly be cautious if you have any allergies to other mushrooms already. Lion’s mane mushrooms have also been commonly used as a food source, so it is likely quite safe to consume. 

You can take lion’s mane mushrooms as a supplement in the form of a capsule, liquid extract, tablet, or powder. In this form, it is important to ensure you are purchasing it from high quality and reliable sources, are more cautious of dosage, and follow the instructions on the label. Lion’s mane mushrooms can cause benefits with doses as low as 100mg! You can also be combine them with other medicinal mushrooms to increase these beneficial effects. But always consult with your doctor before starting any new supplement to ensure that it is safe for you.   

Summary

Overall, lion’s mane mushroom benefits your body, mind, and soul and has profound beneficial effects for holistic health. As naturally occurring fungi in nature, this mushroom has almost no known side effects. Even though research must be continued in humans to confirm many of these medicinal findings, there is no harm in incorporating lion’s mane mushrooms into your daily health routine. So, try including lion’s mane mushrooms as daily supplement and start gaining some of the many therapeutic benefits of this mushroom in your life today!