Lion’s Mane (Hericium erinaceus) is unique in the mushroom family both in appearance and function. Lion’s Mane Mushroom is extremely effective at stimulating Nerve Growth Factor (NGF) in the brain.
Known for its powerful effects as a “brain tonic”, Lion’s Mane is said to have been used as a tea for thousands of years by Buddhist monks. To enhance brain power, and heighten their ability to focus during meditation.
The primary active compounds in Lion’s Mane are hericenones and erinacines. Hericenones help your brain produce more Nerve Growth Factor. And erinacines easily cross the blood-brain barrier to boost the production of neurons.
Lion’s Mane helps:
Lion’s Mane boosts brain health and function in several ways. But two in particular stand out.
NGF is required by your brain to keep neurons strong and healthy. When various neurological disorders occur, your brain is unable to produce its own internal source of NGF.
In a study done in Kuala Lumpur in 2013, scientists showed that Lion’s Mane extract induced NGF synthesis and promoted neurite outgrowth.
A study by researchers in Japan worked with 30 women. The female subjects had been complaining about menopause, depression, sleep quality and other issues.
The women randomly received Lion’s Mane-laced cookies or a placebo for 4 weeks. The researchers found that Lion’s Mane “has the possibility to reduce depression and anxiety, and these results suggest a different mechanism from NGF-enhancing action of H. erinaceus”
At least a dozen peer-reviewed studies have been published on Lion’s Mane benefits to brain health since 1991. Dr. Kawagishi of Japan was first to identify Nerve Growth Factor properties in Lion’s Mane Mushroom.
In one double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, researchers in Japan worked with 50 – 80 year old men and women. All suffered from mild cognitive impairment.
The trial subjects received four 250 mg tablets containing 96% of Yamabushitake (Lion’s Mane) dry powder three times a day for 16 weeks. The men and women were tested at 4, 8, 12 and 16 weeks.
At each of the testing periods, the subjects who had used Lion’s Mane showed a significant improvement in cognitive scores. And their scores were increasing while on Lion’s Mane supplementation. But 4 weeks after stopping Lion’s mane supplementation, their cognitive scores decreased significantly.
The researchers concluded that Lion’s Mane Mushroom is effective in improving mild cognitive impairment.
Lion’s Mane Mushroom has been used as a food and herbal medicine since ancient times in East Asia. And it has been reported in scientific research that Lion’s Mane promotes Nerve Growth Factor both in the petri dish as well as in animal and human test subjects.
In this study, researchers examined the effects of Lion’s Mane on amyloid β(25-35) peptide-induced learning and memory deficits in mice. Amyloid β(25-35) peptide is implicated in diseases like Alzheimer’s.
Mice were injected with the peptide on days 7 and 14 of the trial. And they were fed a diet containing Lion’s Mane over 23-days of the experiment. The results showed that Lion’s Mane prevented short-term and visual recognition memory reduction normally induced by amyloid β(25-35) peptide.
They concluded that Lion’s Mane Mushroom “may be useful in the prevention of cognitive dysfunction”.
In this trial, mice were fed Lion’s Mane 5% freeze-dried powdered extract for 7 days. Researchers found an increase in the level of Nerve Growth Factor (NGF) in the hippocampus of the mice. Concluding that Lion’s Mane “contains active compounds that stimulate NGF synthesis”.
In this study done with rats, Lion’s Mane extract was able to promote neuron regrowth after injury. Rats with gluteal nerve damage were able to walk again after consuming water containing Lion’s Mane extract.
The researchers concluded that Lion’s Mane regenerates damaged nerve cells. In this case, the reversal was so profound, the rats went from being totally disabled to walking again.