5 Awesome Benefits of Lion's Mane
There's a reason Lion's Mane is known as the "smart mushroom." Not only can it boost your brain power, memory, and cognitive function, it has many other benefits as well. If you're looking for a mushroom to add to dinner, or start supplementing with, this one is it. Keep reading to learn more.
What is lion's mane?
What is Lion’s Mane? This fantastic fungi is great tasting and has lots of health benefits. If you’ve heard about it, this first section may be more of a review, but if you haven’t heard about it, you’re in for a treat.
Lion’s mane mushroom is claimed to have been used by Buddist monks for thousands of years to enhance their focus and practice during meditation. It’s also said to have been a common ingredient in traditional Chinese medicine, added to tonics to increase longevity, overall wellness, and brain power.
Lion’s Mane doesn’t look like your typical mushroom. It doesn’t have a stalk or cap. Instead, Lion’s mane is white with a shaggy texture. It has long hair like tendrils that hang down creating a look similar to, you might have guessed it, a lion’s mane.
It’s also sometimes referred to as the “pom pom mushroom,” the “bearded tooth mushroom,” or the “hedgehog mushroom.”
Its scientific name is “Hericium Erinaceus.” Hericium in Latin translates to hedgehog, which is fitting because this white fungus can also resemble a spiny little white hedgehog.
Lion’s Mane has a mild, sweet taste. Many people say that when it is cooked it has a similar taste to lobster, crab, or other seafood . It can be pan fried, added into roasts or stews, or even made into a tea. You could also sprinkle the lion’s mane powder into smoothies,or use the extract in tinctures.
Where do you find lion’s mane mushrooms?
Lion’s mane is a saprophytic mushroom, meaning that it feeds on dead plants. You can find this mushroom growing on dead logs or trees, typically towards the end of summer and beginning of fall. Their unique look makes them hard to miss, but often people aren’t looking in the right places.
When looking for lion's mane, look up!
Lion’s mane doesn’t grow in the ground like some other mushrooms do. Instead it grows in the middle of tree trunks. It can be found on beech, walnut, birch, maple, or black walnut trees, and usually prefers a hardwood habitat. Lion’s Mane can be a great mushroom to look for since it looks unique and there aren’t any poisonous or toxic look-alikes.
If you are foraging for this mushroom go out late July or August through October or November. Fruiting begins in May but the best time to get lion’s mane is usually closer to fall. Over time the mushrooms lose their white color and turn more yellowish-brown. The flavor isn’t as good as when they are white so if you see a darker colored lion’s mane you may want to just keep looking for a white one.
It’s also easy to grow these mushrooms yourself.
Not only is this mushroom delicious, Lion’s Mane also has many health benefits. Let’s go over five of them.
Benefits of Lion's Mane
1. Brain Benefits
One of the biggest benefits of lion’s mane is its impact on cognitive function.
Two of the compounds in Lion’s Mane, “Aromatic hericenos, and “Diterpenoid Erinacines,” can cross the blood brain barrier, thus increasing mental clarity and focus. Lion’s Mane is an amazing nootropic herb for increased memory, better focus, increased cognitive function, and better brain power overall.
In one study, participants with some cognitive impairment took 3 grams of lion’s mane supplements everyday, and tested higher on cognitive functioning tests than those in the study who took a placebo.
2. Boosts NGF
Another benefit that lion’s mane does for the brain is boost NGF.
NGF, or Nerve Growth Factor, is a protein in the brain that promotes neuron growth. NGF is essential for maintaining brain neurons, and lion’s mane is packed with NGF boosting compounds. Taking lion’s mane is a great way to promote growth and survival of your brain cells.
Other studies are also being done on the positive influence Lion’s Mane has on dementia and Alzhiemer’s disease. With all the amazing things Lion’s Mane can do for the brain, it’s no wonder it’s also been nicknamed the “smart mushroom.” This miracle mushroom helps accelerate brain cell growth, gives you better cognitive function and significantly protects against memory loss.
3. Lessens depression and anxiety
Lion’s mane mushroom is also known for its mood booster and calming abilities.
Compounds in lion’s mane help reduce inflammation and increase blood flow to the brain, thereby giving your brain more oxygen.
While more research is still happening on the subject, lion’s mane has been known to boost mood, relieve stress, and lessen mild symptoms of anxiety and depression. It is anti-inflammatory and antioxidant.
4. Stomach health
The research is still ongoing for this particular benefit, but researchers are learning the effect that Lion’s Mane plays in protecting the stomach.
Lion’s Mane is a great source of soluble fiber, which makes it a great prebiotic for your gut.
5. General immunity overall
Lion’s Mane has benefits for the immune system as well, especially with its prebiotic nature, and help towards the gut and intestines.
Lion’s mane additionally has been claimed to help increase white blood cell efforts to attack harmful bacteria and viruses. It also contains beta-glucan, which can help activate innate immune cells and protect against infection.
Some have claimed it helped bring their sense of smell or taste back after getting covid.
How to add Lion’s mane to your diet
The Lion’s mane mushroom can be used in a meal, or you can take it in a supplement form. Eating Lion’s mane raw isn’t highly advised as the chitin found in it is not easily digestible.
Lion's mane makes a great addition to a pasta sauce, crab cake, curry, pasta, or salad. It also can be a great meat replacer and used for orange chicken, pulled pork, or more. Click here to read more lion's mane recipes.
Possible side effects
While Lion’s mane is considered safe and healthy to consume, it is important to take the recommended dosage and to watch for any negative side effects.
If you have any negative reaction while taking Lion’s mane supplements, stop taking them and talk to a healthcare provider.
The bottom line
Lion’s mane is a magnificent mushroom with many benefits for the brain, the gut, overall immunity and more.
It tastes delicious and provides many nutrients and benefits your body needs.
If you aren’t taking Lion’s mane as part of your daily routine, it might be worth trying.
if you are taking it, let us know what you think about it in the comments below.