The search for the “fountain of youth” is a popular legend around the world because at the end of the day, humans would love to feel young forever. Now, though we may not be able to find ways to truly reverse aging, there are things we can do to help us be the best possible version of ourselves, no matter what age we are. While a balanced lifestyle, exercise, healthy eating, good community, and time outdoors immersed in nature are a solid start, sometimes we just need that little extra boost, and this is where medicinal mushrooms, like lion’s mane, come in.
Medicinal mushrooms, AKA functional mushrooms, refer to a number of fungi that have beneficial properties; often regulating the immune system, helping with sleep, aiding in depression, anxiety, and PTSD, among other benefits. Luckily, the modern world is re-learning how amazing these mushrooms can be, as many cultures have used these mushrooms as medicine for a very long time. Not only are people starting to grow, forage, and even sell functional mushrooms on their own, but modern research is making huge progress in understanding how these different mushrooms can help people. One fungi in particular that is having amazing results so far is the Lion’s Mane mushroom.
Lion’s Mane Mushrooms
Lion’s mane, whose scientific name is Hericium erinaceus, goes by a couple other names. Such as
- Pom pom mushroom
- Bearded tooth fungus
- Bearded hedgehog
It is also colloquially known as the “brain boosting mushroom” because of its positive impacts on cognitive ability, mental health, and even in nerve regeneration! This mushroom is large and “globular.” Its main defining feature are the long, shaggy, hair-like spines that resemble a lion’s mane. At early stages of growth it is white and later turns shades of yellow, brown, or gray. These unique fungi are often found on hardwood trees like oak, beech, and maple. Their range includes North America, Europe, and Asia.
Ancient History to a Modern Marvel
The use of this mushroom goes way back, especially in Asia. It is recorded in Japanese history as Yamabushitake: The Mountain priest mushroom, which was taken to aid in meditation (as just one example). In China it has also been documented for its usefulness in concentration and meditation, as well as in digestion, treating anxiety, aiding in sleep, and even for cancer treatments.
Today, modern research is playing catch up, putting some hard data behind this ancient medicine, and finding some very promising results. Research has consisted of lab tests on cultures, with rats and mice, and now little by little testing with people. So far, a range of benefits are being accepted by the scientific community.
Some Lion’s Mane Benefits are the same ones that you will find in other functional mushrooms rich in Beta Glucans, such as:
- Improving gut health
- Reduced Inflammation
- Regulating the immune system
- Preventing anemia
- Treatment of tumors
Some benefits that are more exclusive to this brain boosting mushrooms are:
- Improved memory and brain health
- Better mental health – reduced anxiety and depression (Ex. here)
- Stimulating cognitive function
- Helping nerve/brain cell growth by stimulating nerve growth factor (Ex. here and here)
- Recovery of nerve injuries (Ex. here)
- And more….
Though there is still a need for more research and human trials, the history of this fungus, along with the results so far, and the accounts from individuals shows that it is an amazing functional mushroom. In fact, lots of people are now using it every day to help in concentration and clarity (essentially helping their brain feel much younger), to help dementia patients, and there are now clinical trials running to treat both Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
How Does Lion’s Mane Work?
So, what is it about Lion’s Mane that can do all of these things?
First off, Beta Glucans are the main compound behind the range of benefits that one gets from functional mushrooms. Beta Glucans are a polysaccharide that interact with multiple body systems providing us with various benefits. As one example, they essentially activate pathways that can regulate the immune system, by increasing macrophages. They also help protect against cancer by protecting against carcinogens, as well as acting as an angiogenic – which prevents tumors from growing by blocking the overproduction of red blood cells. Essentially, they act as regulators, helping boost weak immune systems, and preventing the over-production of problematic cells.
In terms of the benefits that lion’s mane offers for our nervous system, two main compounds seem to be involved. The research done so far shows that erinacenes and hericenoness are chemicals that interact directly with our nerve growth factor (NGF) pathway, stimulating the regeneration of nerve cells! This can both help re-stimulate the growth of brain cells, and has been shown to help in more rapid and efficient recovery of nerve related injuries, which is normally something that is difficult to achieve.
First Hand Accounts of using Lion’s Mane
Though some people need the research-backed facts to believe that something works, which of course is understandable, there is a huge number of people who can personally vouch for the benefits of lion’s mane.
In our video above you can see accounts from multiple people, and our youtube comments section was also full of great stories! Amanita Dreamer, for example, said that she slept better, felt smarter, was better at problem solving, and felt younger overall while taking lion’s mane.
Kara, the mushroom guide, talks about her incredible improvement in focus which led to improved grades while in school. She largely attributed this to the reduction in anxiety that she felt while studying and taking exams.
Ryan, who was a guest in our video about Psilocybin and veterans also said he felt much more clear headed once he started taking the lion’s mane supplement.
Rob also took lion’s mane for 365 days straight, and though he said he felt a subtle (yet positive) difference in his cognitive ability, he definitely noticed that his immune system was working better, as he barely got sick the whole time he took them.
Where to Buy Lion’s Mane
There are a few different ways that you can try lion’s mane for yourself.
If you are a DIY kind of person, you can grow your own lion’s mane which you can actually cook and eat! It is quite tasty in a bunch of different recipes. If you do not want to cook it, or want it to last longer, you can also dry it yourself and make it into powder.
Alternatively, there are places that sell lion’s mane in capsules, which can be preferable because they extract the desirable compounds so it is easier for your body to absorb!
You can also try it in different products, like MagicMind, which is a drink to help with overall brain health, energy and focus, and who was our sponsor for the video.
Overall, lion’s mane is one of the most recommended functional mushrooms. Lion’s mane has so many benefits, including a regulated immune system, improved mental health, a clearer head, improved cognition, and a lot more. Though you should always chat with your doctor about taking natural supplements if you are on other medications, this is a very safe mushroom that you can add into your diet to help you become a younger version of yourself and feel better!
Don’t forget to check out all our other blogs on mushrooms!