Lion's mane - WHAT is it? WHY is it useful?
Originally known as yamabushitak or hou tou gu, the best lion's mane mushroom species derives its iconic name from the shaggy, large, white and imposing exterior that blooms as it grows and resembles a lion's majestic mane. Their revered medical and culinary benefits stretch all the way from the depths of the Amazon to the Far-East territories of Japan, China, Korea and India. And it is quite easy to see why; unlike other mushrooms, lion's manes can be enjoyed perfectly raw, fried, dried or simply brewed together with your tea or coffee. What's more, it's extracts are the chief ingredient of the best lion's mane supplements you can find in the market without a prescription.
WHY is it useful?
A majority of lion's mane mushroom benefits can be traced back to the rich array of bioactive active ingredients that they pack within their fleshy stems. These active compounds are believed to be incredibly useful to the health of the gut, brain, and heart. Here is a collection of a number of top lion's mane mushroom health benefits.
1. Helps Relieve Symptoms of Mild Depression or Anxiety
It is estimated that close to 33% of people in the States are struggling with depression and chronic depression. While there are arguably many and varied reasons for depression, anxiety and panic attacks, doctors attribute it majorly to tissue inflammation and the ensuing blowback effects. It does not help matters that we are living in some of the most stressful and difficult eras of human civilization either.Fortunately, one of the revered benefits of lion's mane mushrooms is that it packs an array of anti-inflammatory armaments that could come in handy in fighting symptoms of anxiety and depression. Besides, it has been shown to be helpful in triggering the regeneration of brain cells that could have been damaged by the injurious effects of long-term stress. This improves and supports the proper functioning of the hippocampus, a region of the brain that is responsible for processing emotional responses and retrieving memories.In short, lion's mane mushroom improves your emotional resilience, mental stoicism and ability to adapt quickly to pressure without letting it boil over. Infact, there are plenty of anecdotal reports of people who admitted feeling less agitated, anxious and unsettled after they started taking the mushrooms on a regular basis. All of this confirms that lion's mane mushroom may be key to forging one's mental strength particularly if you lead an intensive and demanding lifestyle. It's no wonder that experts term it as the top brain benefit of lion's mane in a world full of chaos and pain.
2. Improves the Health of One's Digestive Tract
Your digestive tract is one of the most sensitive organ systems in the body and it is always susceptible to a slew of abnormalities such as ulcers, infections and cancerous tumors. Bear in mind that everything that we consume from birth right up to the grave makes its way through this system, and we're constantly eating or drinking. As such, it is not surprising that the majority of our health problems can be traced back to our gut health.
In this regard, one of the major benefits of lion's mane mushrooms is that regular consumption can lessen the risk of developing stomach ulcers by hampering the proliferation of h.pylori bacteria. And considering that this also effectively stops the damage of the protective mucosal lining by various abrasive elements in our diet, it may also translate to a decreased risk of stomach cancer in our sunset years.
3. Managing Diabetes
Diabetes is one of the most significant lifestyle diseases in a developed country like the United States that is calming plenty of lives every year. Chronically high and uncontrolled blood sugar levels opens a pandora box of serious health complications such as nerve damage, kidney disease, vision loss and arteriosclerosis.
As part of the numerous bioactive ingredients that it packs, lion's mane mushroom is thought to be beneficial in keeping blood sugar levels under control and aiding in modulating the symptoms of runaway blood glucose levels.
4. Reduction of Inflammation and Oxidative Stress
Oxidative stress and chronic inflammation are the genesis of a number of debilitating diseases such as heart disease, cancer and numerous autoimmune disorders. There's convincing research that incorporating lion's mane supplements into your wellness routine can be beneficial in mitigating the risk and impact of developing these diseases. And this is thanks to the potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds that characterize the ingredient profile of lion's mane mushrooms.
What's more, lion's mane mushrooms are also believed to be useful in palliating a few of the many risks that accompany obesity by toning down the full brunt of the inflammation dispensed by fat tissue.
5. Boosts the Efficiency of One's Immune System
Your immune system is the first line of defense against a collection of virulent bacteria, fungi and viruses that are looking to colonise and take over your body. As such, a robust immune system is critical to avoid being overwhelmed by disease-causing pathogens that are always mutating into smarter and more ruthless variants.
Lion's mane's mushroom is believed to be a major boost to one's immunity if consumed regularly. Experts think that this stems from the fact that the medicinal mushroom increases the activity of one's underlying intestinal immune system. In case you didn't know, this is the first line of defense that stops pathogens from accessing the body through either the nose or mouth. The increased immune system activity could be due to the various beneficial changes in the composition of gut bacteria that lion's mane mushroom encourages.
6. Could be Key in the Fight Against Cancer
There's promising research that shows how consumption of lion's mane mushroom supplements could considerably lessen one's likelihood of falling prey to the deadly clutches of cancer. It's unique cancer-fighting properties are mainly attributed to the special active ingredients within its structure that are believed to slow down the rate of progression of cancer cells, especially those of liver, blood, colon and stomach carcinoma. And by slowing down the spread of the cancerous tumor, it gives the body the much-needed respite that it needs to mount a better fight against the disease.
7. Reduced Risk of Developing Heart Disease
There are several known risk factors that increase one's probability of developing heart disease. They include the likes of high cholesterol levels, obesity, increased likelihood of developing blood clots and high triglycerides. Studies conducted over the past couple of years show how lion's mane extract can impact some of these closely-related factors and lessen the risk of suffering from heart disease.
The medicinal mushroom, for instance, has been shown to improve the efficiency of fat metabolism thereby resulting in lower triglyceride levels which could imply lesser strain on one's cardiovascular infrastructure. Besides, regular consumption of lion's mane mushrooms has been associated with better weight control and less chances of becoming obese, both of which are quite significant as far one's heart health goes. This is then complemented with the improved rate of oxidation of cholesterol molecules in the bloodstream.
Besides, considering that oxidized molecules of cholesterol tend to attach themselves to the arterial walls thereby precipitating a characteristic hardening that is associated with increased risk of suffering a stroke, one can begin appreciating the role that lion's mane mushroom plays in keeping myopathy infarction at bay.
In addition to this, the hericenone B compound that is found in these mushrooms are observed to reduce the rate/probability of fatal blood clotting which consequently lowers one's risk of suffering a stroke or heart attack. As you can see, there's no shortage of ways in which yamabushitake mushrooms can support the health and function of your cardiovascular system.
8. Helps in the Recovery from Injuries Sustained to Nervous System
Injuries to the nervous system are some of the most devastating and life-altering accidents that one can be unfortunate enough to endure. Recovery is usually hard, expensive and drawn-out considering this is the same system that is responsible for the control of almost all bodily functions. It's not surprising that most of them are characterised by either paralysis or partial/complete loss of all mental capabilities.
Fortunately, there's empirical evidence that shows that lion's mane mushroom can help speed up the recovery stint of a patient who has suffered a nervous system injury. Neural experts believe that this is possible due to the ability of the mushroom to trigger the repair and growth of new nerve cells in place of the damaged ones. If anything, it is estimated that taking special recovery supplements based on lion's mane mushroom could reduce one's recovery time by as much as 41% if there is a chance of making a full recuperation.
Still on this, experts say that extracts of lion's mane mushroom can also be useful in reducing the severity of brain injuries left behind in the wake of a stroke. While this can happen in different ways, it is the lessening of inflammation and reduction in the size of the brain injury in the aftermath of the stroke that plays a crucial role in the improved rehabilitation courtesy of this medicinal mushroom.
What Form is Best to Take?
Lion's mane mushroom is one of the few medicinal mushrooms that is versatile enough to be consumed in various varied forms. And this includes;
1. Lion's Mane Tincture
Lion's mane tincture is typically formulated from the fruiting body extracts of the mushroom to guarantee maximum medicinal benefits. The tincture is commonly used in the treatment and prevention of various mental disorders such as Alzheimer's and age-related dementia. This tincture is designed to be taken thrice a day (or as directed by a healthcare provider) as a dietary supplement. The highest quality mushroom tinctures are those that are sourced through the famous double extraction technique which makes use of a month-long soak in alcohol followed immediately by a hot-water decoction.
Just like any other herbal tincture, you can take the lion's mane tincture directly or add it to your juice, coffee, tea or water. A perfect example of lion's mane mushroom tincture that is incredibly easy to take is Wellabs Lion's Mane Mushroom Extracts that have been gaining a lot of traction of late. The unique advantage that this form of mushroom has over others is that it is extremely absorbable through the gut, particularly when taken plain.
2. Lion's Mane Mushroom Elixir
Just like the tincture above, lion's mane mushroom elixir is extracted from the main fruiting body instead of the mycelium to ensure maximum potency. The only difference is that manufacturers of these elixirs tend to mix the extract with signature blends of sources of vitamin C such as rose hip or rhodiola to give it a unique flavor. What's more, this also makes the lion's mane mushroom elixir easier to take by masking its characteristic 'seafood' aftertaste.
3. Lion's Mane Mushroom Capsules
Lion's mane capsules are by far the most common and easily available form of this medicinal fungus. They were developed as a way of easily estimating intake of this potent medication and preventing accidental over or under dosage which is quite common when taking it in other forms. Not to mention that taking it in capsule form is also a bit more convenient and easier to compare your intake vis-a-vis the improvement of symptoms. The good thing here is that lion's mane mushroom capsules are often mild enough to be taken with or without food and even first thing in the morning on an empty stomach.
4. Lion's Mane Mushroom Powder
Lion's mane powder is yet another popular form of the fungus that is easily available on most supermarket shelves. While most Lion's Mane Mushroom Powders can be relatively cheaper compared to tincture, they are considered to be less potent as manufacturers tend to use mycelium (the root system) instead of the fruiting body during processing. And like elixirs, mushroom powders tend to be accompanied by additives and fillers that lower the medicinal value further.
On the upside, however, lion's mane powder is more versatile in that you can mix them with your tea in the morning, sprinkle it over your food at lunch time and finally take a spoonful just before bed at night.
So, what form of lion mushroom is best to take? If you are after pure medicinal gains, then a high-quality extract like Wellabs' Lion's Mane Mushroom will be your best bet. Otherwise, mushroom powders seem like the most popular variant given their versatility and adaptability to different forms of consumption.
While there are a few possible side effects of taking lion's mane mushrooms, most of them fade away in light of the numerous health benefits that you stand to gain from this medicinal fungus. Still, it is still advisable to consult with your healthcare provider prior to starting using this supplement if you have a history of mushroom allergies, asthma or on another long term medication. In addition to this, pregnant women should refrain from using this supplement (as it also applies to all unapproved food additives) since there is still insufficient evidence at the time of writing whether or not lion mane's mushrooms are safe enough for expectant women.