Mushrooms have traditionally been used for medicinal purposes for centuries throughout the world. In China & Japan, Lion’s Mane was considered a prized possession and was served exclusively to the emperor. Its name is derived from its long cascading tendrils resembling a lion’s mane. Served as a gourmet delicacy, it tastes like lobster or shrimp and has a meaty texture, which is great for vegetarians.

Modern consumers are becoming more educated thereby demanding more health promoting foods, an industry which definitely has been mushrooming!  Also, as the baby boomers age, there is an increased interest in products aimed at enriching cognitive function and improving mental health especially with Alzheimer’s on the rise, along with other age-related diseases.

Your brain on mushrooms
Lion’s Mane (Hericum Erinaceus) has been receiving a lot of attention lately due to recent studies. This up and coming star not only supports the digestive system but, more promising is its ability to stimulate synthesis of nerve growth factor (NGF), which appears to help inhibit brain dysfunction and age-related loss of cognitive function.

Although most research on mushrooms has been focused on anticancer and immune modulating properties, research on Lion’s Mane confirms its ability to boost brainpower and prevent brain dysfunction. Findings show its role as a potent enhancer of cognitive function by increasing nerve cell and myelin regeneration.

NGF is a protein molecule necessary for the maintenance and regeneration of neurons. Orally administered NGF is basically ineffective as it is too large to pass through the blood brain barrier. In a study by Dr. Hirokazu Kawagishi of the Shizoka University in Japan, he discovered that Lion’s Mane contains two active components, hericones and erinacones, which are able to pass through the blood brain barrier and stimulate NGF production in the nervous system. By helping neurons regrow, the positive effects of increased NGF output may benefit a host of neurological conditions.

Myelin acts like insulation that helps electrical currents move along the nerves and is responsible for the proper functioning of the nervous system. When the myelin sheath starts to break down, less electrical information is able to be sent along the nerve resulting in a break down of the nerve and it’s functioning. Without myelin, nerves do not regenerate. In early studies, Lion’s Mane has been found to increase myelination which is basically the building of the myelin around the nerve.

In Chinese medicine, it has been commonly used for improving indigestion and treating stomach conditions due to the immune-enhancing properties of beta glucans in healing the digestive tract of ulcers, chronic atrophic gastritis and cancer of the esophagus, stomach and duodenum. These polysaccharides enhance the gastric mucin protective barrier and have a powerful healing effect on nerve tissue.

Superfood for the brain
Lion’s Mane provides nutrients for the neurons hence acting as a nerve tonic by relieving nerve damage whereas gingko’s main therapeutic function is to relax the blood vessels and stimulate the circulatory system thereby improving mental function by improving blood flow in the brain. Modern research is starting to discover how therapeutic mushrooms are and is beginning to show just how magical they can be. The research to date shows no signs of toxicity or side effects.

Benefits of Lion’s Mane:
• Improves cognitive function
• Enhances memory
• Supports nerves and blood
• Improves digestion
• Stimulates the body’s production of antioxidants
• Reduces anxiety

Factors to take into consideration when choosing your supplements:
Source; make sure the mushrooms are grown on organic plant material with no irradiation.
Quality control and Potency; grown to full maturation in controlled growth conditions and utilizing the whole mushroom for a full spectrum product.
Micronizing; make the principle ingredients more readily available and better assimilated