Medicinal Mushroom Series: Lion's Mane (Hericium erinaceus)
Appropriately named, the Lion's Mane mushroom is the next on our list of disease fighting shrooms. Of all the mushroom on this list, the Lion's Mane mushroom is one that had me most interested. In fact, it is the reason I decided to write about mushroom in the first place. This mushroom seems to have an affinity for the nervous system and is being studied for its benefits in concussion management, an area of medicine I have a special interest in. The Lion's mane mushroom is native to North America, Europe and Asia, is an edible mushroom and can be found sprouting up in the late summer and fall. The flavour of the cooked mushroom is compared to seafood, having a crab or lobster like taste to it. Aside from sounding absolutely delicious, here are the top 5 benefits of Lion's Mane in medicinal form! 1) Decreases Anxiety
This wonderful fungi seems to exhibit most of its benefits on the brain. Supplementing with Lion's Mane has been shown to decrease anxiety in those who suffer from it. Quite impressive!
2) Increases Mood
In addition to reducing anxiety, Lion's Mane has been shown to increase overall mood in participants who supplemented with it regularly. These first 2 points seem to overlap, however they were discovered separate from one another, meaning the increased mood was reported in those who were not already suffering from a condition that would decrease their mood. Taking this mushroom just makes you feel better!
3) Slows Cognitive Decline
This point is quite impressive. In terms of interventions that slow cognitive decline in those who suffer from dementia or Alzheimer's, there are few. Studies support the use of Lion's Mane mushroom supplementation to help slow this decline, and maintain things like memory and overall quality of life in those who are affected. This is incredibly useful in an area of medicine where there are not too many options.
4) Prevents Osteoporosis
The research here is still in its infancy, however some promising data has been released on this mushroom's ability to fight osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a condition in which the bone's density decreases, effectively causing them to be more brittle and fracture easily. It is very prominent in the aging population, even more so in women than in men. It can lead to disability and complications that no one wants to have to go through. If the research holds true, adding some Lion's Mane to your daily diet can go a long way to helping prevent any of that from happening!
5) Regenerates Nerves! This last point is the one that holds most of my interest. It is the reason I became interested in this mushroom in the first place. It turns out that supplementing with Lion's Mane mushroom can actually help regenerate nerves after an injury. Nerve growth factor is increased in those taking this supplement, and recovery seems to happen faster. This is a fascinating property and is also the reason behind the Hericium mushroom being used as a tool in concussion recovery. It is definitely worth considering if you need some brain boosting power!
Dr. Rob Raponi ND, CISSN, B.Kine(Hons) www.msknaturopathic.com
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