Lion’s mane mushrooms are everywhere and more people are waking up to their potential uses and benefits. But what are those benefits, how are these mushrooms used, and why are so many health and nutrition experts excited about them?
What are Lion’s Mane Mushrooms?
Lion’s mane mushrooms are large white mushrooms named for their resemblance to a lion’s mane. There are three different species that fall under the umbrella of “lion’s mane mushrooms”, but Hericium erinaceus is the most common and the one you’ll find in many mushroom supplements.
Prized for both their culinary and medicinal properties, lion’s mane mushrooms are highly nutritious and have a flavor that many compare to lobster (it's delicious!).
What are the Benefits of Lion’s Mane Mushrooms?
Before we talk about the studies highlighting the benefits of lion’s mane mushrooms, let’s look at their nutritional makeup.
A 100g serving of these mushrooms contains around 35 calories. They are high in protein, amino acids, antioxidants, fatty acids, zinc, manganese, potassium, and B vitamins. They are a fantastic source of plant-based protein, and everyone can benefit from adding some of these mushrooms to their diet.
Just take a look at these lion’s mane benefits:
1. They Can Protect Against Dementia
Some of the most exciting benefits of lion’s mane stem from the mushroom’s effect on the brain, and memory in particular. Studies suggest that these fungi could reduce the build-up of plaques that accumulate during the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.(1)
They contain compounds known as hericenones and erinacines that can stimulate the growth of brain cells and improve cognition and memory, among other things.(2)
In a 2009 study, researchers gave several grams of lion’s mane mushrooms to Japanese men and women aged between 50 and 80, all of whom had mild cognitive impairment. Their results were measured against a placebo group and researchers noted that they experienced significant improvements on the cognitive function scale.(3)
So far, we can only speculate as to what this means for the mushroom’s ability to treat Alzheimer’s disease and its many symptoms, but it certainly seems to have an effect and further research is currently underway.
2. They Can Support Heart Health
Studies suggest that lion’s mane mushrooms can improve some of the risk factors associated with heart disease, the biggest killer in the United States.
For instance, studies conducted on rats noted a significant reduction in triglyceride levels, as well as over 40% less weight gain. These are important, as higher triglycerides can contribute to a hardening of the arteries, and obesity is closely associated with heart disease.(4)
Consuming lion’s mane mushrooms daily in combination with a healthy, balanced diet and regular exercise could significantly improve your cardiovascular health.
3. They Can Boost Immune Health
Lion’s mane mushrooms could help to boost the immune system, thus protecting against pathogens. It’s believed that these benefits are derived from the fungi’s effect on the gut’s microbiome.
These friendly bacteria support overall health and well-being by maintaining optimal digestive balance and eradicating bad bacteria. If you have a healthy gut, you’ll feel better and may be better prepared to fight off infections. Another big reason to consume lions mane mushroom supplements.
4. They May Help Manage the Symptoms of Diabetes
Studies on mice have found that lion’s mane consumption can improve blood sugar levels, and this is true even when very small doses are consumed.(5)
It works by blocking the enzyme alpha-glucosidase, thus limiting the body’s ability to absorb carbohydrates and lowering blood sugar levels. It may also help to combat the symptoms of diabetic nerve damage.
5. They Can Help to Fight Cancer
Lion’s mane mushrooms are packed with antioxidants, which are known to have cancer-fighting properties. Studies have shown that lion’s mane extracts can accelerate the death of cancer cells, including those from colon, stomach, blood, and liver cancer.(6)
However, additional studies are needed before we can say for certain whether they have cancer fighting properties. Furthermore, these tests are conducted in a lab, where cancer cells are mixed with lion’s mane extracts. There have been a few animal studies, but again, just because the effects are positive in rats doesn’t always mean they will translate to humans.
So far the findings are pretty amazing, and those that take lions mane daily report amazing benefits. More and more studies are being conducted and we are excited to see the data as it is being released.
6. They May Relieve the Symptoms of Anxiety and Depression
The anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects of lion’s mane mushrooms could help with the symptoms of anxiety and depression. They may improve cognitive function and support optimal brain health, which in turn will impact the way that people think and feel.
It’s not just a hypothesis, either. A study conducted in 2010 gave lion’s mane mushrooms to menopausal women and recorded a reduction in the symptoms of anxiety and irritation after just four weeks.(7)
Are there any Side Effects to Lion’s Mane Mushrooms?
Lion’s mane mushrooms are considered to be safe and well-tolerated. There are a few potential side effects, but they are mild and include stomach discomfort and nausea which is rarely reported. These side effects may disappear in time and they are also dependent on the dose and the user’s experience.
The relatively limited side effects and tolerance is one of the reasons there is so much excitement surrounding the use of lion’s mane mushrooms. It means they can be considered for use alongside other medications and treatment options.
Summary: Health Benefits of Lion’s Mane Mushrooms
It’s clear from the above lion’s mane benefits that these fungi hold a lot of promise. Further research is needed before we have an exact understanding of how they work and what kind of benefits they provide, but the research we do have is very promising.
If you’re considering using lion’s mane mushrooms, make sure you find a high-quality source, monitor your dose, and speak with your physician first if you take any prescription medications or have a pre-existing illness.
- Choosing a selection results in a full page refresh.
- Opens in a new window.