Mushrooms are taking the world by storm, and it’s easy to see why. With their various health benefits, mushrooms are truly super-foods that nourish the entire body. We love ‘shrooms of all kinds around here, especially ones that make us feel incredible and support our health. If you haven’t been introduced yet, you’ve got to get to know a funky mushroom called lion’s mane.
Lion’s mane has quite the reputation, and while it won’t give you an otherworldly (or psychoactive) experience, it can certainly bring your healthy vibrations to new heights and help your mind open up in new ways. Lion’s mane is known for encouraging creativity and a good mood and is used by many to promote better focus and clear thinking and for enhancing an innovative state of mind.
What Are Lion’s Mane Mushrooms
Lion’s mane mushrooms (Hericium spp.) are among the many oddballs in the fungi kingdom. Also known as pom pom mushrooms, coral hedgehogs, and conifer coral mushrooms, they are found in nature with several different kinds of structures and shapes. Some do look like coral, some like spiky little hedgehogs, and some like a white hairy beard cascading down from a tree.
Lion’s mane is sold as a dietary supplement in the form of nourishing herbal drink blends, capsules, coffee replacements, herbal tea, raw or cooked powders, and tinctures, as well as in its whole raw form. Even though they are often prepared and consumed as a supplement, they actually taste really good and are also sold for culinary purposes. With their mild flavor and chewy texture, they are often used as a meat replacement or a nourishing addition to all kinds of recipes. They can be found in soups, stews, and sauces and can also be grilled or sauteed for a savory meal that enhances health and vitality.
Benefits of Lion’s Mane Mushrooms
Supports Cognitive Health
Keep your mind sharp and clear! Lion’s mane mushroom extract has been well studied for its effects on cognitive health and has shown promise to be helpful for reducing mild cognitive impairment associated with aging. The compounds in the lion’s mane seem to help the brain neural networks retain their abilities and have protective effects against common age-related symptoms. One double-blind, placebo-controlled study gave participants 250 mg of dry, powdered lion’s mane tablets 3 x daily for 16 weeks and found significant results that support the use of lion’s mane for this kind of benefit.
Promotes Mental Health
Enjoy every moment! Of course, mental health is extremely complex, so other lifestyle factors such as good sleep and diet are vitally important, but lion’s mane might be a useful tool for retaining a peaceful, easy-going state of mind. This remarkable mushroom may help to support mental health by assisting with the adaptation of the nervous system and by promoting neuroplasticity. The theory is that the compounds found in lion’s mane help people adapt to everyday stressors and may lessen common feelings of overwhelm or gloominess.
There is a supposed link between certain mental health issues and typical oxidative stress in the tissues that regulate neurotransmitters. Another theory why lion’s mane might be helpful in promoting good mental health is that it might reduce this common type of oxidative stress and promote the health of the neural tissues.
May Encourage Nervous System Rejuvenation
Nourish every nerve in your body. Lion’s mane has profound effects on the nervous system, and this is one of the most exciting benefits that has been found by researchers. This precious mushroom has compounds (hericenones and erinacines) that have been found to encourage the production of nerve growth factor (NGF). NGF helps the brain maintain and further support sensory neurons.
These compounds are also being studied for how they affect the growth of myelin proteins which surround and protect neural fibers. Although more research is needed to be conclusive, this is a very promising area of study and has a lot of potential for helping people maintain the health of their central and peripheral nervous systems.
Supports Heart and Cardiovascular Health
Let lion’s mane have a special place in your heart! Mushrooms of all sorts benefit heart health and help maintain wellness in the cardiovascular system. They do this by providing several different actions that provide synergistic benefits. As with almost every edible mushroom, lion’s mane mushrooms are very high in fiber and antioxidants. The fiber found in lion’s mane supports the body in maintaining good cholesterol levels. The antioxidants help reduce the effects that everyday oxidative stress has on the cardiovascular system.
Promotes Digestive Tract Health
It’s all about the microbiome! Mushrooms have amazing prebiotic compounds called polysaccharides, which are responsible for many of their potent health benefits. These are long-chained sugar molecules that the good bacteria in our digestive systems love to eat. So feeding yourself mushrooms is feeding the beneficial microbes that call you home. Lion’s mane mushrooms are being studied for how they can support the life cycle of bacteria that produce short-chain fatty acids (SCFA), which have been found to be very important compounds in maintaining gut health and integrity.
Lion’s mane also offers another unique benefit for the digestive tract by promoting a healthy lining of the gastric wall. Lion’s mane extracts help maintain the gastric wall mucus by helping the gut to hold onto antioxidant enzymes. Lion’s mane supports the activity of these enzymes, which contribute to reducing everyday oxidative stress in the gastric lining. Pretty amazing stuff!
Helps Regulate Healthy Blood Sugar Levels
We are all about the sweeter things in life — but you’ve got to have (blood sugar) balance. It isn’t really well understood how this works, but particular beta-glucans found in lion’s mane have been shown to affect the way that starch is digested in the small intestine, possibly helping the body to regulate and maintain normal blood sugar levels. There may also be some antioxidant activity from the mushroom that assists in this function and contributes to optimal glycemic levels.
Reduces Common Oxidative Stress
Slow the process! Everyday oxidative stress is something that everyone experiences, whether we realize it or not. It can affect everything from the rate our skin ages to what is happening in our internal organs. Luckily nature has provided us with an abundance of antioxidant-rich foods that are ready and able to fight this natural process, and mushrooms are a prime source of these helpful compounds.
Lion’s mane has abundant antioxidant activity, which can be measured through scientific analysis, and interestingly it seems to be the polysaccharides that are again responsible for this amazing benefit. Although no one can stop the inevitable aging process, lifestyle and dietary choices do make a big difference in how our bodies adapt to daily oxidative stress.
Promotes Healthy Cellular Activity
Healthy cells = healthy life. Even if we don’t think about them much, cells determine our overall health. Having healthy cellular activity is dependent on the proper functioning of cells that are a part of the complex immune system. Lion’s mane has certain proteins and polysaccharides that help the immune cells discover and eliminate unhealthy cells that are commonly present. Extracts of this mushroom encourage the activity of natural killer cells and macrophages and support their functions. These cells are major players in scavenging and filtering through unsound cells, which keeps the remaining cells vibrant and healthy.
Supports the Immune System
Keep your defenses strong! Again we can thank the incredible power of polysaccharides for the way they assist the immune system and keep it going strong. A healthy immune system relies on many factors, so you can’t just take a lot of mushrooms and hope that it counteracts less-than-healthy life choices, but they might help balance aspects of our busy, sometimes hectic lives.
Besides polysaccharides, lion’s mane contains certain enzymes and other compounds that help promote good immune function. Mushrooms, in general, are foods that have incredibly nourishing effects on the immune system and have been used for this purpose for thousands of years.
Potential Side Effects
Lion’s mane mushrooms are a food, so they are generally well tolerated except in those with mushroom allergies. At typical food-like doses, there are few cautions to worry about, but be sure to check with your doctor if you have any kind of medical condition, or are pregnant, before supplementing with lion’s mane mushrooms.
Waking up to Wellness
Knowing all of the ways this multifaceted mushroom can support our lives makes it clear that you’ve got to get lion’s mane into your life! Luckily, with Beyond Greens®, we’ve got a daily supplement that has a potent extract of lion’s mane for ongoing support. No worries if you don’t like the taste of mushrooms, you won’t even know it’s there in this cleansing, nourishing combination that promotes energy and immunity.
We put a collection of some of the most exceptional mushrooms in existence in our Beyond Greens® blend to provide everyday nourishment that feeds your system a well-balanced array of herbs, nutrients, prebiotics, and probiotics. Lion’s mane is matched with other friendly mushrooms to give you all-over support for whatever life may bring. Whether you are seeking greater creativity, focus, and imagination or simply just trying to support your gut health, Beyond Greens® with lion’s mane mushrooms will help you find the path to well-being and vibrant living!