by J.C. Thomas
Don’t put magic mushrooms down to just folklore (or, you know, your parent’s hippy past). Humans have used mushrooms as medicine for thousands of years, and many in the wellness community are increasingly exploring the potential of medicinal mushrooms. A range of studies reveal significant benefits offered by certain mushrooms, and they’ve definitely caught our attention. One — Lion’s Mane mushroom, or Hericium erinaceus — stands out as a particularly powerful product. Among a host of benefits, Lion’s Mane mushroom is antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, and it can improve the health of your brain, heart, and digestive system. Yeah, this one funny-looking fungus can really do all that. In the quest for a healthy body and mind, more and more people are finding an all-natural, plant-based Lion’s Mane supplement to be an incredible asset to help them rule their to-do list. Here’s why.
What Is Lion’s Mane Mushroom?
Lion’s Mane mushroom, also known as bearded tooth fungus, monkey head mushroom, and pom pom, gets all of those nicknames for a reason: It’s a large, white, globe-shaped mushroom with long, shaggy spines resembling a lion’s mane (hence the official name). The mushroom is native to Europe, North America, and Asia, where it grows on hardwood trees. It’s one of around 270 mushroom species considered medicinal, and the miles-long list of benefits (which we’ll get into in a minute) have earned it the title of the king of mushrooms.”
Lion’s Mane Mushroom Benefits
In traditional medicine, Lion’s Mane has long been taken to improve memory and mental function. We know you need more than anecdotes, so be assured that contemporary scientific studies on Lion’s Mane backup these traditional uses. It’s important to note that these have mostly been animal and test-tube studies, with human studies limited in number and scope. But, the conclusions all show that Lion’s Mane mushroom has remarkable potential for promoting health and wellness. Something we’re definitely on board with.
Benefits for the Brain
Studies have only scratched the surface of the brain-boosting potential of Lion’s Mane. One, published in the Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine called Lion’s Mane mushroom a “well-established candidate for brain and nerve health.” It detailed a group of elderly men and women in Japan diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment. Participants taking a Lion’s Mane mushroom supplement for 16 weeks showed a significant increase in cognitive function with no adverse side effects. Researchers suggest that hericenones and erinacines, compounds found in Lion’s Mane mushroom, can stimulate the growth of brain cells and thereby boost brain function. Another study showed memory improvements in mice who were fed Lion’s Mane mushroom supplements.
While studies have mostly focused on older adults, Lion’s Mane’s brain-boosting benefits don’t have any age requirement. The potential to help increase focus and decrease stress is something we can use at any age.
Anti-Inflammatory and Antioxidant Benefits
In addition to helping your brain fire on all cylinders, Lion’s Mane mushroom is a powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. Taking it as a supplement can fight inflammation and oxidation in the body, which can ease stomach inflammation and prevent stomach ulcers. Researchers also credit the anti-inflammatory properties of Lion’s Mane for reducing anxiety and depression symptoms in mice. Note that many scientists now believe inflammation contributes to anxiety and depression in humans, meaning that Lion’s Mane could be beneficial and more studies could unlock its full potential for wellness in humans.
Heart Health Benefits
The mushroom also contains a compound called hericenone B, which decreases the rate of blood clotting and could potentially lower the risk of heart attack and stroke. Lion’s Mane has also been shown to improve fat metabolism and lower triglyceride levels (two things that can come from having an unbalanced diet), which may help the benefits of your pre-work run stretch even further.
Other Lion’s Mane Benefits
Here’s where Lion’s Mane’s superfood status really gets cemented: the mushroom has been shown to improve blood sugar control, boost immunity, and increase beneficial gut bacteria. A Lion’s Mane study from Malaysia showed that it can induce the growth of nerve cells, which has promise in treating patients with nerve damage.
How to Take Lion’s Mane
Lion’s Mane mushrooms are edible and can be eaten raw or cooked like your standard cremini or portobello mushrooms. They’re most commonly eaten in Asia and are reportedly delicious when cooked and somewhat bitter when raw.
Taking the mushroom as a supplement is the easiest way to consume it — especially if you choose one that combines Lion’s Mane with other superstar herbs and ingredients in the form of a supplement stack. Doing so offers an increased range of health and wellness benefits. For example, FOCL Day includes Lion’s Mane plus Rhodiola Rosea (an adaptogen that can relieve stress), Vitamin B6 (also excellent for brain health), and premium hemp CBD, giving your brain a serious boost, with this natural plant-based formula.
Joanne Thomas has worked as a writer and editor for print and online publications since 2004. Her writing specialties include wellness, travel, entertainment, and food, and she has written for such names as Disney, Hyundai, Michelob, and USA Today, among others. She resides in California and holds a bachelor’s degree in politics from the University of Bristol, U.K.