You've probably heard of Lions Mane as "The Smart Mushroom," Lion's Mane not only supports cognitive function and neurological health, but is a powerful antioxidant, supports immune health and promotes healthy gut flora.
Here's everything you need to know about Lion's Mane Mushroom benefits.
TYPES OF LION'S MANE MUSHROOMS
There are several varieties of lion’s mane mushrooms. The fungus is native to Asia, Europe, and North America. In North America, it is common to find at least three distinct species: Hericium erinaceus, Hericium americanum, and Hericium coralloides. All three types have a similar look and nutritional profile. They are also all edible. Here’s what the experts have to say about these shaggy mushrooms’ health benefits.
THE NUTRITIONAL VALUE OF LION'S MANE MUSHROOM AND BENEFITS
Like the oyster mushrooms, Lion's Mane mushroom health benefits come from its awesome nutritional profile.
Mushrooms, in general, are excellent for overall health and weight loss because they’re low in calories and fat with absolutely no cholesterol.
Lion's Mane mushroom is no different, boasting just 15.4 calories per one-cup serving (70 grams) with 0.24g fat, 0.7g dietary fiber, and 2.16g protein.
Beyond the basics, Lion's Mane mushrooms also have decent nutritional value thanks to their wide range of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
Lion’s mane mushrooms have a similar nutritional profile to many other mushroom varieties. In general, fungi are low in calories and fat, with a sizable helping of antioxidants and minerals, such as iron and potassium.
One cup (70 grams) of the average raw mushroom contains the following nutrients:
Protein: 2.16 g (4 percent recommended daily value, or DV)
Fat: .24 g (0 percent DV)
Carbohydrates: 2.28 g (0.8 percent DV)
Fiber: 0.7 g (2.5 percent DV)
Calcium: 2.1 mg (0 percent DV)
Iron: 0.35 mg (2 percent DV)
Potassium: 223 mg (4.7 percent DV)
Magnesium: 6.3 mg (1.5 percent DV)
Phosphorus: 60.2 mg (4.8 percent DV)
HEALTH BENEFITS OF LION'S MANE MUSHROOMS
Lion's Mane has been long consumed as a food, for thousands of years in Japan, China, even Egypt, as well as in North America. But it didn’t get much scientific attention until the early 1990’s with researchers in Japan identifying the presence of two compounds, hericenones and erinacines, which act as Neuron Growth Factors (NGF’s) in the central nervous system, key players in nerve regeneration 3*. This, of course, immediately had exciting implications for brain research – Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia are fast becoming one of the leading causes of chronic health decline after the age of 65 – but you may be surprised to know that Lion’s Mane has proven to be beneficial in many other areas of health as well. So let’s talk about those! Let’s explore 7 of the many health benefits of this wondrous fungus:
We’ll start here, since this is where we will find the largest body of evidence so far, in the research of Lion’s Mane. Many studies have been done in regards to the NGF’s mentioned above, and repeatedly show improvements to cognition and memory. One study in particular in 2011* 3 focused specifically on the cognitive impairments of Beta-amyloid peptides (these have been shown to accumulate in formations called plaques in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s) – these peptides were significantly reduced with daily administration of Lion’s Mane. Now it’s true, most studies so far have been done on animals, mainly mice – but one study in 2009 4* was done on 30 human subjects, men and women between 50 and 80 who ingested daily doses of powdered Lion’s Mane, and, compared to control subjects, all scored significantly higher on cognitive function scales over a 16-week period. This effect diminished 4 weeks after stopping the Lion’s mane, which itself is quite compelling evidence for its daily use.
The other fascinating area of brain research with this mushroom is in depression and anxiety. Both of these can often be thought of as two sides of the same coin: they both involve altered levels of dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine. It also seems that these mood disorders could be connected to degraded neurons in the hippocampus of the brain. Lion’s mane was shown in a 2018 study 5 to not only increase neurotransmitters between neurons, but to also stimulate regeneration of neurons in the hippocampus*. As an interesting side note, a feature that will come up again when we talk about the immune system, the same study also showed that Lion’s Mane decreased secretion of a cytokine called Interleukin 6, part of the immune system that actually contributes to low mood when we get sick!*
Digestive issues are incredibly common. Stress, processed diets, overuse of antibiotics, autoimmune diseases and mental health issues like depression and anxiety, all take a toll on the lining of our digestive tract, often leading to reflux, IBS, gastritis and gastric ulcers.* Medical treatments usually revolve around prescription antacids, more antibiotics, and strong steroid drugs, all of which may reduce symptoms, but can damage the gut even more in the long run, and have other side effects like inhibiting the uptake of calcium and other minerals. Interestingly, Lion’s Mane has long been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for the treatment of chronic gastritis, but the mechanism was unknown. *A study published in 2015 6 was able to show that the polysaccharide components of the fruiting body were responsible for significantly reducing stomach ulcerations. *Another study, in 2013 7 indicated a significant inhibition of a bacteria called Helicobacter pylori, long known to be pathogenic in the formation of stomach ulcers. Add to all of that the fact that Lion’s Mane, like all of our mushroom family, are a great source of soluble fiber – another term for that is ‘prebiotic’, food for the normal flora in our digestive tract. Might as well improve that microbiome for better digestive function.* Two birds – no, three – with one stone! Fascinating. And promising, since Lion’s Mane has no known toxicity or side effects. More studies may show benefit for other digestive issues.*
Cardiovascular health is important to all of us, especially as we start to age – let’s face it, once past 40 and often dealing with the many responsibilities of family, finances, home, and work, we pay less attention to exercise, we get out of good dietary habits, we tend to sleep less, and our stress increases.* Enter cholesterol and blood pressure worries, atherosclerosis, weight gain, and a lot of time sitting down or lying on our couches, reaching for comfort food, which, unfortunately, is usually high in sodium and saturated fat*. All of this leads to oxidation of cholesterol in our arteries. But here’s an idea: if we could add a LOT of antioxidant-rich foods into our diets, especially if those antioxidants also had anti-inflammatory action, we would drastically reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke simply because we’ve reduced the formation of arterial plaque. All mushrooms contain antioxidants, more than you would expect, since they are not brightly colored; Lion’s Mane specifically was shown in a 2014 study to be able to inhibit the oxidation of LDL cholesterol (that’s our ‘bad’ cholesterol), acting on the same enzyme that statin drugs act upon.
FATIGUE & STRESS
Lion's Mane mushrooms are adaptogenic, which means they assist the body in managing stress for optimal performance. Whether you're an athlete, an entrepreneur, or, a parent, we know how stressful it is to achieve high-performance levels. Lion's Mane will give you that extra hand to reduce and manage stress & anxiety so you can perform better at work, on the field, or at home.