Move over, Kale. The latest superfood on the block is the Lion's Mane Mushroom. This little guy is popping up in all sorts of health products and is touted for its mood-boosting and immunity-enhancing properties. So what's the scoop? Should you be adding Lion's Mane to your diet? Let's take a closer look...
What is it?
The Lion's Mane mushroom is a species known by a variety of names. Its scientific name, Hericium Erinaceus, is how mycologists (the scientists who study fungi) officially refer to it. It is also known as the Pom Pom Mushroom, Bearded Tooth Fungus (due to it’s appearance) and Yamabushitake in Japanese. Lion’s Mane mushrooms are native to the mountains of northeast Asia and may also be found in Europe and North America.
An important species in the traditional medicine of China, Korea, and Japan, where it has been used for thousands of years, Lion’s Mane has grown in popularity recently in part due to another nickname. Dubbed a “smart mushroom” because of its support for cognitive function and neurological health, Lion’s Mane is receiving attention all over the world for its exceptional brain supportive potential, as well as possible immune boosting properties.
For Mood and Brain Health
Compounds that have a protective effect on the brain while supporting its natural cognitive functions are called nootropics. Lion’s Mane contains a broad range of naturally occurring bioactive compounds, including erinacines and hericenones, known for their cognitive health benefits. Since erinacines are found in the mycelium and hericenones are limited to the fruiting body, obtaining the benefits of both can only be accomplished by consuming a whole mushroom product that incorporates both parts of the mushroom’s life cycle.
In 2010, researchers examined the effects of Lion’s Mane mushroom on 30 women over a four-week period. The participants were randomly assigned to a test group or a control group, and they were given Lion’s Mane mushroom cookies or placebo cookies (science!). At the end of the four weeks, the Lion’s Mane mushroom group reported an improvement in mood. This was a small study, and clinical research on Lion’s Mane is limited. However, these findings complement a growing body of research that suggests natural treatments can help you feel more balanced.
Lion’s Mane may boost focus, too. Reduced inflammation improves blood flow, which provides your brain with more oxygen. The positive side-effect of more oxygen in your brain is better brain performance. The antioxidants in Lion’s Mane may help promote learning and boost memory, possibly by strengthening your brain cells and stimulating the growth of new neurons.
For Immune Support
Research suggests that Lion’s Mane may boost the activity of the intestinal immune system due to a protein that encourages the growth of beneficial gut bacteria that help defend the body from pathogens entering through the nose and mouth. Taken along with your favorite probiotic, Lion's Mane may boost the effects and get you more bang for your buck! Lion’s Mane further boosts the immune system by reducing inflammation and preventing oxidation, allowing your body to better fight infection.
Stimulates Brain Cells
Supports Mental Health
Supports Gut Health
Have you tried Lion's Mane? How did/does it work for you? Are you interested or do you have more questions? Let us know in the comments below!
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