Lion's Mane Mushroom: The Healthiest Fungus You've Never Heard Of

While mushrooms are widely touted for their numerous health benefits, the lion’s mane mushroom has stayed a secret of ancient Chinese traditional medicine for too long. Luckily, new research has shown the West the many advantages of this fungus.

6 minute read

Last Updated July 9, 2020

Lion's Mane Mushroom: The Healthiest Fungus You’ve Never Heard Of

Some of the healthiest things for you, come from nature. It is also true that some of these things may not always look so appealing. This is all too true for the lion’s mane mushroom.

Don’t feel bad if you’ve never heard of it, as it’s hardly the most popular mushroom. Looking just like its name suggests, the lion’s mane mushroom is fun to see and good for you. Once you learn why you’ll make sure everyone hears about it.

Looks Like a Lion, Strong Like a Lion

Originally used in ancient Chinese medicine, the lion’s mane mushroom has been known to provide health benefits for centuries. Many traditional practices are now gaining attention in the West because science is providing support to back up all the claims.

Mushrooms, in general, have long been used for anti-inflammatory benefits, and the lion’s mane is no different. In ancient Chinese medicine, the lion’s mane mushroom is used to help with an assortment of health problems:

♦ Nourishment of the gut

♦ Fortification of the spleen

♦ Promotion of optimal digestion

♦ Relief from ulcers and gastritis

♦ Anti-cancer treatment

♦ Energy and strength booster

♦ Relief from insomnia

You won’t usually find the lion’s mane mushroom in the produce section of your local store because it looks a little odd. The shaggy appearance looks just like a mane and nothing like edible food, unlike the many other delicious mushrooms available.

The fact that it looks so dissimilar to the mushrooms we know can make it intimidating, and this may be part of the reason why many avoid it. However, as science continues to release evidence of lion’s mane supplements health benefits, you will find yourself looking past its appearance.

Having a Lion on Your Side

A great deal of research on lion’s mane mushrooms has been in the area of brain health. With brain disease and neurodegeneration being common causes for death in the Western world, boosting brain health is a current priority.

Lion’s mane supplements have been known to support memory as well as focus and concentration. Through the stimulation of nerve growth factors, lion’s mane regulates the growth, maintenance, and survival of nerve cells. Studies have even found that mild cognitive impairment can be improved when treated with lion’s mane.

In addition to cognitive function, your mental health improves with this unique fungus. Depression and anxiety are the most commonly diagnosed mental disorders in the country, and both are linked to your sympathetic nervous system.

Depression and anxiety disorders are marked by a hyperactive sympathetic nervous system. Lion’s mane stimulates nerve growth factor which controls the balance of this nervous system and can reduce anxiety and depression.

Lion’s mane mushrooms contain polysaccharides that have the ability to help with neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. The stimulation of nerve growth factor promotes neuron activity and regeneration, which can protect individuals from spreading neurodegeneration.

Outside of promoting brain health, lion’s mane mushrooms help to prevent and control inflammation. Inflammation on a small scale is part of a healthy immune system but chronic and uncontrolled inflammation is the root cause of many diseases.

It is the high antioxidant content of these mushrooms that allows them to fight both inflammation and oxidative damage, both of which can cause serious diseases like heart disease, neurodegenerative diseases, and cancer.

By fighting to reduce inflammation, your overall health, as well as your mental health, can experience a real boost. Inflammation damages cells and tissues throughout your body.

An immune system with hyperactive inflammation is unable to protect you properly, but lion’s mane mushrooms can help get things back to normal. Its benefits include:

Better immunity: When treated with lion’s mane mushrooms, there is a beneficial change to the composition of your gut bacterial community that boosts your immunity. Studies have found that an antibacterial response is triggered that actively fights infections.

Healthier heart: Lion’s mane mushrooms contain nutrients that support healthy cholesterol ratios. Too much cholesterol in the blood causes plaques to form, damages to arteries and elevates blood pressure.

By improving the good-to-bad ratio of cholesterol in your blood as well as reducing triglycerides, you can protect your heart from heart disease.

Happier gut: By beneficially altering your gut bacterial balance, you can relieve gastric symptoms and promote efficient digestion with regular consumption of lion’s mane mushrooms.

Protection from cancer: While more research is still needed, studies have found that lion’s mane possesses certain anti-cancer properties. It seems that they can act against cancer cells in ways that are not toxic or harmful to other cells or human health.

The Bottom Line

A variety of drugs and medications exist to help treat our health problems, and yet nature is filled with cholesterol-lowering herbs and spices. An awkward appearance may not make lion’s mane mushrooms a popular option for the dinner plate, but they are a great option for healthcare.

Lion’s mane mushrooms are an important addition to a healthy lifestyle. The potential cognitive and mental health benefits are huge. Beyond that, these mushrooms can provide natural medicine to a number of your health concerns.

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