The Brain Benefits of Lion’s Mane

Interested in Longevity and healthy brain aging? Then you need to know about the benefits of Lion’s Mane.

During the writing of my book The Brain Boost Diet I spent time investigating the various properties and benefits of medicinal mushrooms. One of the most well researched when it comes to brain health is Lion’s Mane. Also known as Hericium erinaceus or the Hedgehog mushroom, it has been used for centuries in China, Japan and Korea as a medicine. If you are looking for something to give your brain a little boost – whether its cognition, memory, focus, or productivity then start with adding Lion’s mane daily.

Lion’s Mane contains a range of compounds thought to be beneficial for health including Hericenones A and C-H , Erinacines A-K, Sialic-acid binding lectin and various sterols, such as ergosterol and beta-sitosterol.

Brain Health Benefits

Lion’s Mane contains polysaccharides: hericenones and erinacines which are responsible for the neuroregenerative properties of Lion’s Mane. Lion’s Mane can enhance nerve growth factor (NGF) in the brain (particularly the hippocampus) and the body. Studies suggest is may support regeneration of peripheral and peroneal nerves following peripheral nerve injury. There is also some evidence it can reduce anxiety and boost mood.

One study showed benefits for mild cognitive impairment with lion’s mane although benefits were only seen with continuous supplementation.

A double-blind, placebo-controlled trial showed improved cognitive ability in individuals with mild cognitive impairment using Lion’s Mane. Some of its benefits may also be due to its anti-inflammatory properties – studies have shown it can lower inflammatory markers such as IL-6, and TNF-alpha. It has also been shown to lower NF Kappa B.

Antioxidant Properties

If you are interested in healthy aging then the good news is that Lion’s Mane also has potent antioxidant properties. When it comes to skin health the polysaccharides found in Lion’s mane mushroom have been found in animal studies to enhance antioxidant enzyme activities and increase collagen levels. It may also be useful for wound healing. Some compounds in the mushroom, like threitol, D-arabinitol, and palmitic acid, may also have antioxidant effects that also help with regulation of blood lipid levels and reduce blood glucose levels.

Immune Support

Lion’s Mane contains a number of polysaccharides, such as β-glucans. These are known for stimulating macrophage activity and increasing CD4+cells as well as NK cells. Lion’s mane promotes TH1  response so can be helpful in modulating the immune response.

Using Lion’s Mane

To experience the benefits you need to consume extracts from Lion’s Mane. Lion’s Mane is generally treated with hot water to break down the cell walls of the mushroom (chitin) and this increases bioavailability particularly levels of Beta-glucans. . Some compounds found in Lion’s Mane are only soluble in ethanol such as a majority of the Hericenones, which produce the nerve growth factor (NGF) boosting effects associated with Lion’s Mane. So if you focus is cognition then you may wish to look at tinctures. Often brands will state the beta glucan levels. Lion’s Mane is available as a capsule, tincture, powder and a tea. While there is no recommended daily intake I personally find 1.5-3g daily beneficial. Brands I like include Mushroom Wisdom, Four Sigmatic, Dirtea, and LOOV tincture.