The Health Benefits of the Lion’s Mane Mushroom
If you’ve ever seen one when walking through the woods, the Lion’s Mane mushroom, a cream-white shaggy mass that looks almost alien-like nestled among the underbrush, is instantly recognisable. In the UK, it is traditionally known as Old Man’s Beard, and it is easy to see why, as it hangs, growing on the decaying hardwood trunks of oak, beech and walnut trees, it’s white tendrils casually drifting towards the floor.
Holistic, Mycelial Protection for Brain and Body
They pop up around the Northern Hemisphere and are found throughout Europe and North America, but they are most commonly used in Japan and China, where they’ve been a regular food for centuries.
In addition to being used in cooking, Lion’s Mane mushrooms are famous for their health benefits in traditional medicine. They are completely edible and regularly delicious as is, but in either powder or capsule form, they are also one of the most potent natural health supplements.
Research on their health benefits is ongoing, but the early indications confirm the traditional medicinal approach that these fungal delights help improve memory, slow ageing and revitalise your brain cells. Here’s a walkthrough of everything you need to know about what we consider among the very best mushrooms for health and wellbeing.
What Is Lion’s Mane Mushroom Used For?
Of course, the health benefits of mushrooms in general are well-known. They are one of nature’s true wonders, able to be everything from a light breakfast to a substance that helps combat the ageing of cells. The full potential of Lion’s Mane mushrooms is still being explored, but even now, they are recognised as something that can benefit the body.
Nature’s Brain Health Supplements
It’s one of the sad truths of life that your brain’s ability to regenerate decreases over time. As it struggles to replace damaged cells and repair neuron links, this manifests in symptoms such as increased memory loss and a struggle to focus.
This is going to be a little technical for a second, but part of why these things happen is the diminishing effect of nerve growth factors (known as NGF). These little proteins maintain your neural connections, busying about the brain and the central nervous system to patch up the damage and keep everything working smoothly.
This is where Lion’s Mane mushrooms excel. Two of their active ingredients (hericenones and erinacines) stimulate the creation of these NGF, turbo charging their production to make sure that they are still small enough and efficient enough to smoothly cross between the brain-blood barriers and carry on working to repair and regenerate new cells and neurons throughout the brain and nervous system.
These effects have been shown extensively in animal studies, and this is just one of the ways in which they help keep brain activity going. NGF also help form myelin, the protective substance that wraps around your brain cells to keep them active. This is how Lion’s Mane is perceived to help combat long-term, serious illnesses such as Dementia and Parkinson’s. Alongside this, other active ingredients help promote overall brain cell connectivity and resilience, maintaining the brain plasticity that is key to a long, healthy mental life.
Lion's Mane Holistic Health
Of course, Lion’s Mane’s benefits are not restricted to the brain. While trials of its effect on people are still being developed, the available evidence indicates a whole series of benefits around the body, from its ability to help regulate serotonin levels, which are key in monitoring depression and anxiety, to its effects on digestive health.
Lion’s Mane also has potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory characteristics and has been shown in animals to help maintain everything from the risk of heart disease to diabetes, and protect against the emergence of cancers. Antioxidants and anti-inflammatories help to take care of free radicals, loose bodies that your immune system reacts against, causing the range of symptoms we interpret as illness. Lion’s Mane’s active ingredients help control these, alongside boosting your immune system to create a more sustainable, resilient wellbeing.
How Do I Get the Health Benefits if I Don’t Like Eating Mushrooms?
Firstly, Lion’s Mane can be quite good to eat and might be worth a try. They are generally in season from late summer to autumn, and you can use the whole mushroom. While you can eat them raw, we prefer them fried up until the outer layer has crisped and the inside is still a delicate white. They have quite a meaty texture and, when cooked, have an almost seafood-like quality that is often compared to lobster. And if you’re looking for something lighter they can be dried and made into tea.
But if you don’t live on the border of a particularly fungal woodland or have a well-stocked market nearby (both options sound nice), the most practical and efficient solution is to have it as a powder or capsule. A Lion’s Mane supplement has all of the health benefits of the whole mushroom in a more convenient, more available form.
Like other natural health products, the best results come from regular, consistent use. This is why daily supplements are encouraged, to give you that foundational health that Lion’s Mane helps build.
What Is the Best Mushroom Supplement?
We don’t like to choose favourites. Different mushrooms help promote and maintain different aspects of the body and different parts of your health. However, while research regarding its effects on people is still being carried out, Lion’s Mane stands out as perhaps the best mushroom supplement for brain activity and regeneration, alongside the holistic body improvements that come along with it.
Building Foundational Health
As with any health aid or supplement, this is not a magic, one-stop cure but works to improve the foundational structures of your health – lowering inflammation, boosting your immune system and helping aid brain cell regeneration. These are the fundamental processes that improve your health’s resilience, making you better prepared to handle any turbulence that comes your way. A regular intake of Lion’s Mane can provide the building blocks of a dynamic, better-functioning body, equipping you with what you need to live a long, healthy life.