In today’s world, we often focus on foods that promise physical wellbeing. Foods that boost our energy, strength, stamina and athletic performance. But what about our mental wellbeing?
It’s no secret that what’s going on upstairs is key to a healthy, happy life.
And if you’ve done any research into ‘brain food’, chances are that the nootropic Lion’s Mane came up time and time again.
But Hold Up, What is Lion’s Mane?
Lion’s Mane mushroom is commonly found on dead or decaying hardwood throughout Asia. It’s been used in Chinese culture for thousands of years - revered for its brain-boosting powers. And have you ever noticed how some of the world’s healthiest foods are a little, well… strange-looking?
Lion’s Mane is no exception.
This unearthly mushroom bursts out of Conifer trees as a series of drooping, icicle-like spines. It’s been likened to a pom-pom, a hedgehog and an old man’s beard. Need we say why?
But beyond its bizarre (and somewhat eerie) appearance - it’s got some cool nootropic tricks…
But What is a Nootropic, Anyway?
Nootropics (aka “smart drugs”) are the talk of the health-food town. They’re believed to enhance the cognitive power of the brain. Nootropics can be both natural (plants, herbs and fungi) or synthetically manufactured. Put simply, they work by increasing factors like memory, creativity, mood, attention and focus.
And guess what - if you’ve had a cup of coffee this morning, you’ve already had a nootropic!
But unfortunately, the brain-boosting powers of caffeine also has some unwanted side effects (are we all familiar with the jitters and afternoon slump?)
Ahem, welcome to the stage, Lion’s Mane.
The Lion’s Mane Nootropic – How Does It Work?
Research shows that Lion’s Mane can boost Nerve Growth Factor (NGF). Nerve Growth Factor is what stimulates the growth of new neurons, while also giving strength and support to existing neurons. And as it turns out, having a deficiency in NGF can lead to cognitive disorders such as Dementia and Alzheimer’s.
So, how does Lion’s Mane do it? The secret lies in two powerful compounds: Hericenones and Erinacines. These compounds have the ability to pass through the blood-brain-barrier and stimulate nerve growth.
So, it’s beginning to become clear why they call Lion’s Mane “neuron food.”
Now let’s take a look at some of our favourite Lion’s Mane studies…
Lion’s Mane and Cognition
Cognitive impairment refers to when a person has trouble remembering, concentrating and learning new things. Cognitive impairment is a noticeable symptom in patients with Dementia and Alzheimer’s. In 2009, a double-blind and placebo-controlled experiment took place on 30 Japanese men and women. The subjects were aged between 50 and 80 years and were all diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment.
The subjects were split into 2 equal groups. One group was given Lion’s Mane powder, and the other group was given a placebo. The group that was given Lion’s Mane powder received four 250g tablets per day, three times a day, for 16 weeks.
Remarkably, at 8, 12 and 16 weeks, the subjects that were receiving Lion’s Mane tablets showed dramatically improved scores on a cognition test compared with the placebo group.
Lion’s Mane and Memory
Memory plays a significant role in our day-to-day life. Reflecting on the past and present gives us purpose and meaning. So what if there were a way to improve our memory, naturally?
One particular study examined the use of Lion’s Mane on mice with induced Alzheimer’s disease.
A group of mice were injected with amyloid β(25-35) - a protein that’s responsible for Alzheimer’s. They were injected with this protein on day 7 and 14, while also being fed a diet of Lion’s Mane. The mice then completed activities to measure the results (think: mazes and toys). Incredibly, the results found that the memory impairment caused by amyloid β(25-35) was suppressed when consuming a diet of Lion’s Mane.
So, what does this gobbledegook mean? If we apply it these findings to humans, Lion’s Mane may boost memory and help to prevent cognitive decline. Although a lot more human studies need to happen before we can know for sure.
Lion’s Mane and Mood
When we talk about brain health and Lion’s Mane, we’re not just talking about cognition and memory.
What about one of the most important factors, mental wellbeing and mood? Turns out, the mighty Lion’s Mane has some tricks for this, too.
You know how we said before that Lion’s Mane could stimulate the growth of new neurons and support existing ones? Well, this also applies neurons in the hippocampus – an area of the brain that’s responsible for emotional responses.
There have been several animal studies on this. But one we find particularly fascinating was on humans: 30 menopausal women who were suffering from depression and anxiety. The 30 females were split into 2 groups, and they were either given Lion’s Mane cookies or placebo cookies.
Yep, just when you thought cookies couldn’t get any better – these were laced with brain-boosting powers.
After 4 weeks, scores for depression, sleep quality and indefinite complaints were recorded in each group. The results found that the women receiving Lion’s Mane had lower scores for symptoms of depression and anxiety – highlighting the potential for Lion’s Mane to support the hippocampus.
Hand us a cookie, please.
Taking Lion’s Mane Nootropic To Boost Brain Power
Whether you want to nail a test, perform better at work or boost your mood – Lion’s Mane is one of nature’s most powerful nootropics. But that’s not all Lion’s Mane is good for. Studies show it can play a role in immunity, digestion and overall wellbeing. If you want to learn more, we explore the Lion’s Mane benefits and side effects here.
However, it’s important to note that research into Lion’s Mane mushroom is still in its infancy. But what better way to put this shaggy ‘shroom to the test than to try it out for yourself?
At Natura Mushrooms, we have Lion’s Mane Mushroom Powder and Lion’s Mane Liquid Extract. Add them to your smoothie, coffee or main meal. We recommend taking:
- ½ teaspoon of Lion’s Mane Powder daily, or
- 2 ml of Lion’s Mane Liquid Extract daily
And did you know that we grow our own Lion’s Mane on our 100% off-grid farm in Gippsland, Victoria? We only use organic waste materials, fresh air and water – just as nature intended.
Experience the difference today.