Lion's Mane mushrooms are a species of fungi that have become popular in both cuisine and supplement circles. Squint and this fungus looks a lot like its namesake, a lion’s mane.
The lion's mane herb is a functional mushroom. This means that it could have benefits for human health, which is why it is now being used in supplements, capsules, and even coffee.
What Is Lion's Mane Good for?
There are numerous potential lion's mane benefits, including both physical and mental effects.
Users report that taking lion's mane as a supplement can improve mood, focus, and more. They claim that it contributes to overall health in this way by providing an uplifting and healthy feeling.
Aside from these brain-focused effects, lion's mane could also provide physical benefits. This includes minimizing inflammation and reducing cholesterol (more on that later).
The wide-ranging effects of lion's mane make it an excellent supplement for use on a daily basis. That said, even though it tastes delicious, lion's mane can be expensive, and it's difficult to reliably consume lion’s mane mushrooms every day. This is why supplement forms of this mushroom have become so common, such as capsules and powders.
What Is Lion's Mane Mushroom Used for?
The below sections cover some of the key potential lion's mane mushroom benefits. Several research studies have investigated lion's mane to date, but there is still a long way to go. Nothing is conclusive, but there are some interesting seminal studies that point to lion's mane as an excellent health supplement.
1. Alzheimer's Disease
Some research has indicated that lion's mane contains hericenones and erinacines, two compounds that could contribute to brain cell growth. As a result, it may have a positive effect on the brain.
A handful of studies have specifically investigated a link between lion's mane and Alzheimer's disease. For example, studies like this one from 2016 showed that lion's mane polysaccharides could prevent cell shrinkage caused by amyloid-beta plaques in mice. These accumulate in the brain during Alzheimer's, and thus lion's mane extract could benefit patients with the disease.
However, all studies thus far have been performed on animal models. It remains unclear whether the same effects would occur in humans.
In fact, a 2009 study found that 250mg of lion's mane powder per day could improve mental function in older adults with cognitive impairment. However, the benefits ceased when the supplementation stopped.
2. Anxiety and Depression
Lion's mane is known to be an anti-inflammatory. Researchers in Taiwan administered lion's mane to stressed and depressed rodents, discovering that lion’s mane helped reduce some of the depressive effects of the stress. This effect was also observed in other similar studies.
Once again, the majority of studies have been performed on animals. It remains to be seen whether lion's mane could have anxiolytic effects in humans.
There was one study that gave menopausal women lion's mane mushrooms or a placebo cookie daily for four weeks. The lion's mane group reported a drop in feelings of anxiety and irritation. It's a promising start for human studies in this area.
3. High Cholesterol
Lion's mane mushrooms could also benefit heart health. Test-tube studies have shown that extract from lion's mane can prevent the oxidation of cholesterol in the bloodstream. This is important because oxidized cholesterol attaches to the arterial walls, increasing the risk of a heart attack.
Alongside this, another study showed that rats given a high-fat diet alongside daily doses of lion's mane had triglyceride levels that were 27% lower than rats not given the mushroom. Furthermore, they put on 42% less weight.
In short, lion's mane has exhibited the potential to benefit heart health. More human studies are needed to support this claim, however.
It has already been mentioned that lion's mane mushrooms have anti-inflammatory properties. Numerous studies have investigated these properties and their potential to affect various ailments. This includes decreasing inflammation in fat tissue seen in obesity.
Alongside possessing anti-inflammatory compounds, lion's mane features numerous antioxidants. These mushrooms contain the fourth-highest antioxidant activity of the fourteen mushroom species in this study.
5. Parkinson's Disease
This mushroom's cognitive function effects may also be beneficial for those with Parkinson's disease. A review noted that preclinical studies had observed improvements in neuro health disorders, including Parkinson's disease when individuals use lion's mane.
The review also pointed out that it's challenging to map the effects of in vivo studies to situations involving human beings. In other words, more human studies are also necessary in this area.
Lion's mane extract could prevent the development of stomach ulcers. It may do this by stopping the growth of a bacteria called H. pylori, therefore protecting the stomach lining.
In one animal study, lion's mane was shown to be more effective than traditional medications at preventing alcohol-induced stomach ulcers.
Notably, it may not benefit all digestive disorders. When tried on patients with Crohn's disease, the benefits of lion's mane were no better than a placebo. That being said, some of the studies have used mushroom blends rather than lion's mane alone, so it's challenging to analyze the actual effects of lion's mane by itself.
What Is Lion's Mane Supplement Good for? How to Take It
Lion's mane supplements are great for numerous reasons. The potential benefits of taking lion's mane have been listed above. For those wanting to try it, the good news is that there are numerous ways to take it.
Potential options include:
- Capsules: Just like regular pills, capsules can be swallowed with a glass of water. They are tasteless and come in a familiar format, offering a pre-measured dose of mushroom powder. This is beneficial for those who want something quick and easy.
- Powder: Powdered mushroom extracts can be used in cooking. It makes them easy to incorporate into the diet without necessarily having to eat mushrooms.
- Cooking: Lion's Mane is one of the few functional mushrooms that taste great. They often feature in haute cuisine on account of their seafood-like taste. It’s worth mentioning that they are pretty expensive.
- Tea: It's common to brew mushrooms in tea, though for some, the taste is prohibitive
- Tinctures: It's possible to find oil drops containing mushroom extracts. Although not the most common product, tinctures are versatile and easy to use.
Since lion's mane could have wide-reaching potential benefits, it's excellent that there are ways to consume it that suit everyone.
It's worth noting that those with a mushroom allergy should not consume any lion's mane products. Furthermore, while no adverse effects have been seen in rats, even at high doses, it's worth being cautious when trying lion's mane for the first time.
What Is Lion's Mane? Final Thoughts
Lion's mane is a mushroom that has numerous potential health benefits. From improving mood to reducing inflammation, this fungus has much potential. Much of the research to date is on animals and in-vitro, but according to anecdotal reports, users of lion's mane supplements have found some success.
For those wondering, 'What is the best form of lion's mane?' there is no right answer. A different product might work for different individuals. The vital thing is to find a reputable company that sells legitimate products.
Start by checking out the lion's mane capsules right here at VidaCap, grown in a high-quality environment and lab tested for safety. We also have a range of other mushrooms with purported benefits – read our blog for more information.
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Audrey has worked as a registered dietitian for 6 years. She graduated from the University of Florida in 2013 with a Bachelor of Science degree. In 2014 she began an internship with the Veterans Affairs Healthcare System, and was hired as an Outpatient Dietitian following graduation. She started her career counseling a variety of patients with different health concerns and disease states. After a few years into practice, she found her passion was working in cancer care, and has spent the last 4 years specializing in oncology nutrition.
In her practice, Audrey has spent a significant amount of time reviewing literature on herbal and dietary supplements in the cancer care setting. Through her work at Vidacap, she hopes to continue to expand her knowledge and understanding of the benefits of supplements in conjunction with promoting a healthy, balanced diet and management of overall health and well being.