Lion's Mane Mushroom
Lion's Mane is probably one of my favorite medicinal mushrooms. Like all mushrooms, lion's mane is rich in beta-glucans, which are powerhouses for the immune system. Beta glucans stimulate the activity of macrohphages. These important players in immune function gobble up invading pathogens and signal to other immune cells to invade and attack unwanted visitors to the system. As amazing as all of that is though, that isn't even my favorite thing about these mighty mushrooms. Lion's mane's real power lies in their support and nourishment of the nervous system, including the brain.
Long revered as an herb (mushroom) that helps support cognitive function, studies suggest that lion's mane can help with the regeneration of nerve cells and brain cells, and in recovery from traumatic brain injuries and/or strokes as well. Lion's mane has also been shown to potentially support memory and is regarded as a botanical to be used in support of healthy cognitive aging.
Due to these qualities, Lion's mane is often used to help support cognitive function and overall nervous system health and healing. The nervous is a slow healing entity, however, so when herbalists apply lion's mane to this system, we often recommend its use over long periods of time. That being said, added a bit here and there can also be a nutritive and supportive addition to the diet.
Lion's mane is also one of my favorite mushrooms because it is so easy to incorporate into meals. This fleshy mushroom can be sauteed and eaten, steeped into a tea or broth, or powdered and added to drinks, baked goods, and smoothies. The meatiness of lion's mane makes it a popular replacement for meat in dishes and holds up well against hearty sauces like marinara. Try it out in this season's back-to-school recipe for peanut butter lion's mane-reishi cookies.
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Lai PL, Naidu M, Sabaratnam V, Wong KH, David RP, Kuppusamy UR, Abdullah N, Malek SN. Neurotrophic properties of the Lion's mane medicinal mushroom, Hericium erinaceus (Higher Basidiomycetes) from Malaysia. Int J Med Mushrooms. 2013;15(6):539-54. doi: 10.1615/intjmedmushr.v15.i6.30. PMID: 24266378.
Mori K, Obara Y, Moriya T, Inatomi S, Nakahata N. Effects of Hericium erinaceus on amyloid β(25-35) peptide-induced learning and memory deficits in mice. Biomed Res. 2011 Feb;32(1):67-72. doi: 10.2220/biomedres.32.67. PMID: 21383512.
Zhang J, An S, Hu W, Teng M, Wang X, Qu Y, Liu Y, Yuan Y, Wang D. The Neuroprotective Properties of Hericium erinaceus in Glutamate-Damaged Differentiated PC12 Cells and an Alzheimer's Disease Mouse Model. Int J Mol Sci. 2016 Nov 1;17(11):1810. doi: 10.3390/ijms17111810. PMID: 27809277; PMCID: PMC5133811.
Wong KH, Naidu M, David P, Abdulla MA, Abdullah N, Kuppusamy UR, Sabaratnam V. Peripheral Nerve Regeneration Following Crush Injury to Rat Peroneal Nerve by Aqueous Extract of Medicinal Mushroom Hericium erinaceus (Bull.: Fr) Pers. (Aphyllophoromycetideae). Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2011;2011:580752. doi: 10.1093/ecam/neq062. Epub 2011 Aug 11. Erratum in: Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2018 Dec 16;2018:9820769. PMID: 21941586; PMCID: PMC3176599.
Samberkar S, Gandhi S, Naidu M, Wong KH, Raman J, Sabaratnam V. Lion's Mane, Hericium erinaceus and Tiger Milk, Lignosus rhinocerotis (Higher Basidiomycetes) Medicinal Mushrooms Stimulate Neurite Outgrowth in Dissociated Cells of Brain, Spinal Cord, and Retina: An In Vitro Study. Int J Med Mushrooms. 2015;17(11):1047-54. doi: 10.1615/intjmedmushrooms.v17.i11.40. PMID: 26853959.
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