Functional mushrooms are a huge health trend these days. And there are a couple of very good reasons why people have begun to incorporate organic mushroom supplements into their diet.
Moreover, you'd also be surprised to know that the mushroom market surpassed that $50 billion mark in 2021. And according to one report by Grand View Research, experts speculate that it has been growing by up to 10% every year and will continue to dominate the nootropics sector till 2030.
While there are different types of functional mushrooms with unique medicinal properties, there is one mushroom that has quickly made its way to the top of the pile – and that's lion's mane. These fungi are aptly named lion's mane for their distinct appearance.
The body is covered with a shaggy hair-like substance that almost resembles an actual lion's mane! Sure, you could say that it doesn't exactly look appealing, but you'd be astounded to learn the various medicinal benefits that functional mushroom offers.
A Brief Look into the History of this Shaggy Mushroom
The scientific name for the lion's mane mushroom is Hericium erinaceus. The mushroom is edible and has been used to produce herbal medicine in eastern Asian countries for thousands of years. In Chinese and Japanese medicine, lion's mane has been consistently and frequently used to produce medications that may potentially help strengthen the spleen, have a detoxifying effect on the stomach, and potentially combat cancer cells.
In addition, medical research also hints at the fact this functional mushroom may also have positive effects on improving the central nervous system. In fact, lion's mane has also been used in Chinese medications as a powerful source to help minimize the symptoms associated with insomnia and muscle fatigue.
How Does the Functional Mushroom Work?
Lion's mane contains plenty of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds, which can be harvested from the main fruiting body of the functional mushroom. The mushroom is also made up of mycelium (which is basically the mushroom's root structure).
Lion's mane comprises a variety of nutritional enzymes that can potentially have powerful medicinal properties and effects on the human body. Some of the most active enzymes and compounds in the mushroom include:
As you can see, lion's mane mushrooms pack a pretty powerful nutritional punch that can potentially help the human body detoxify and combat/repair free radical damage caused by oxidative stress. Specifically, the functional mushroom has been associated with improving the performance of the protein we know as NFG (nerve growth factor). The nerve growth factor is important for maintaining and enhancing brain health and may even help generate new brain cells or neurons.
Lion's mane is also said to have immunity-boosting properties and may even help enhance your cardiovascular system. You see, polysaccharides are powerful enzymes that act as bioactive substances that may help reduce total cholesterol in the bloodstream.
Where is Lion's Mane Found?
Lion's mane mushrooms grow on dead deciduous tree barks such as oak, maple, and beech. The mushrooms can also be found growing in forested areas in Asia, Europe, and North America.
There are two central sources of lion's mane mushroom. You can either consume them in the form of functional mushroom supplements or as a whole. However, lion's mane mushroom also comes in powder and liquid forms.
Many people resort to consuming lion's mane mushrooms in capsule form as it is easier to incorporate into your diet. Plus, you can take the supplement before or after any meal. But if you wish to prepare meals and add these supplements to further enrich the nutritional value of your food such as soups, smoothies, teas, and coffees, go for the powder form.
Health Benefits Associated with Lion's Mane Supplements
May Potentially Enhance your Cognitive Function
One of the best health benefits associated with lion's mane, as per research, is that it may help boost your cognitive function, mainly increasing your focus level. That's because the functional mushroom contains compounds such as hericenones and erinacines, both enzymes that may help generate new brain cells; and have produced new cells in a laboratory setting.
The positive effects of the mushroom on the brain may very well position lion's mane as a possible treatment for serious cognitive disabilities and complications such as Alzheimer's disease and dementia.
According to one study posted by the Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience in 2020, it was seen that individuals that displayed early symptoms of Alzheimer's disease saw promising improvements in their cognition after being asked to consume 350 mg of lion's mane extract for more than 11 months.
While on the other hand, another group of individuals was asked to take placebos, and they naturally did not see any signs of improvement.
May Possibly Help Minimize Symptoms of Depression and Anxiety
According to medical scientists, lion's mane mushrooms may also help combat inflammation, which in turn, may help minimize the effects of the symptoms that cause depression. According to a medical report posted in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences in 2019, laboratory results highlighted the positive effects of the mushroom on the human brain. The study comprised a small number of volunteers, all of whom reported feeling a regression in their symptoms.
In addition, lion's mane mushrooms may possibly help lower anxiety. According to the same study, mentioned above, a group of women that came in with different symptoms of anxiety were given 0.5 grams of lion's mane extract in cookies, some of which also included placebos. The group of women who ate the cookies with the mushroom in them reported feeling less irritable and had more clarity than the group that consumed the placebos.
Some Lion's Mane Fun Facts
- If you're foody, then this one is for you. Lion's mane mushrooms are reported to have a texture similar to that of white bread. And get this, the mushrooms taste like shellfish!
- Lion's mane mushrooms are also known by another, cooler name, which is "Bearded Tooth".
- Lion's mane mushrooms are known as saprotrophs. This means they thrive by feeding off dead wood and other deceased organic materials.
So there you go! An in-depth look into the potential benefits of this powerful functional mushroom and some reasons you should start incorporating lion's mane mushroom supplement ASAP!