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LION’S MANE (Hericium erinaceus)

Lion's Mane Mushroom

The Lion’s Mane mushroom has been shown to support cognitive health and the healthy functioning of the nervous system.  Several biologically-active compounds in this mushroom also appear to have neuroprotective effects and have been reported to stimulate the growth and function of the myelin sheath, the protective covering of nerve fibers.  Re-growth of neurons and nerve cells has also been shown to be stimulated by this mushroom indicating that this mushroom may help improve fine motor skills activities and also help with recovery from sports injury.

Research done on mice in forced swimming tests reported that Lion’s Mane possesses significant anti-fatigue activity by decreasing lactic acid, serum urea nitrogen and malondialdehyde content, and additionally by increasing tissue glycogen content and antioxidant enzyme activity.

Lion’s Mane (Hericium erinaceus) Effects on Cognitive Function
The Lion’s Mane mushroom (Hericium erinaceus) has been reported to support the function and health of the nervous system and has been the subject of several studies investigating the use of various compounds contained in the mushroom for the treatment of various neurodegenerative diseases, declines in cognitive function and injuries to the spine and nervous system. This mushroom has been highly valued in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for thousands of years and contains many types of biologically active compounds including hericenone, erinacine, amycenone, heteropolysaccharides, lectins, peptides, proteins, triterpenoids, ergosterol and an array antioxidant compounds including ergothioneine, polyphenols, flavonoids and selenium compounds.  In TCM, Lion’s Mane is prescribed to help with conditions of gastric stress and sleep disorders.

Hericium erinaceus has been reported to contain a number of biologically active compounds that affect the synthesis and activity of neurotrophic factors that impact the function of our brain and nervous system. Neurotrophic factors have potent biological activities, such as preventing neuronal death and promoting neurite outgrowth, and are essential to maintain and organize the functionality of neuron. Glial cells support neurons by releasing neurotrophic factors, such as nerve growth factor (NGF), brain-derived neurotrophic factor(BDNF), neurotrophin 3, and glial-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF). In particular, it is assumed that functional deficiency of NGF is related to Alzheimer’s disease and plays a part in the etiology of the disease process.

Neurotrophic factors are proteins, and are thus unable to cross the blood–brain barrier; they are also easily metabolized by peptidase enzymes in the GI tract. Therefore, their application as a medicine for the treatment of neurodegenerative disorders is assumed to be difficult. Alternatively, research has been carried out on low-molecular weight compounds that promote NGF biosynthesis, such as hericenone, amycenone and erinacine that are contained in Hericium erinaceus. These lowmolecular weight nootropic molecules are small enough to cross the blood-brain barrier.

A nootropic is defined as a substance that enhances cognition and memory and facilitates learning. Lion’s Mane mushroom has been reported by many researchers to exert important nootropic bioactivities including induction of Nerve Growth Factor (NGF) synthesis, inhibition of the cytotoxicity of the beta-amyloid peptide, and protection against neuronal cell death by oxidative stress.  Lion’s Mane has been shown to be effective in reducing the levels of depression and anxiety in control groups as compared to placebo groups of patients.  Lion’s Mane has also been shown to have the potential to reverse age-related cognitive decline and improve the quality of life in elderly populations.

In neurological studies, three types of compounds contained in this mushroom; hericenone compounds (named Hericenones C to H), erinacine compounds (named Erinacines A to I) and amycenone have been shown to have the potential of stimulating Nerve Growth Factor (NGF) within the brain. NGF is the vital protein required for optimal health of neurons that control various feelings like pain, touch or temperature.  Additionally, various antioxidants contained in the mushroom may also influence the function and health of our brain and nervous system.  Alcohol-, water- and fat-soluble compounds contained in this mushroom have all been shown to exert neuroprotective effects.

Hericenones C to H (additional Hericenones may yet to be discovered and named) are benzyl alcohol derivatives. Hericenones are extracted from Lion’s Mane tissue with ethanol, and for purposes of study, the extract is generally concentrated and fractionated by solvent partition between chloroform and water.  Studies have reported that administration of hericenones extracted from Lion’s Mane has a number of neuroprotective effects and stimulates the synthesis of NGF.

Erinacines A to I (additional Erinacines may yet to be discovered and named) are diterpenoid derivatives.  For research purposes, these compounds were, in general, extracted with ethanol and fractionated by solvent partition between acetate and water. In rat studies, Erinacines have been reported to increase the levels of noradrenaline, homovanillic acid and NGF in the rat’s brain tissue. Erinacines have been found in the mycelia of Lion’s Mane but have not yet been isolated from the fruit body of this mushroom.

Amycenone is a fat-soluble compound that is produced in the fruit body of Lion’s Mane.  Amycenone extracts have been reported to raise the level of alertness, improve mood, and to help with rehabilitation from various mental and physical disorders.

Lion’s Mane may be able to reduce the formation of beta amyloid plaque that is seen in the brain tissue of Alzheimer’s patients.  In animal studies, mice were injected with a neurotoxic peptide that induces amyloid plaque formation and than challenged to “Y” maze tests designed to test memory.  Mice that were fed a diet supplemented with Lion’s Mane did not show impairment of spatial shortterm and visual recognition memory that were exhibited in the mice fed a normal diet.   The mice receiving the Lion’s Mane supplement also scored higher in another cognitive capacity test that measured the time spent exploring novel objects as compared to familiar ones; a capacity comparable to curiosity.

Several researchers and many of our customers have reported that after taking Lion’s Mane they experience very vivid dreams, especially when taking Lion’s Mane preparations at higher dosage levels.  Clearly, this mushroom has demonstrable effects on the functioning of our brain and the REM sleep stage in which dreams occur.  Many of our Lion’s Mane customers have also reported significant improvement in neuropathy conditions in their extremities.

The beneficial effects of consuming Lion’s Mane mushroom powder are generally noticed relatively quickly by most consumers but the effects do wear off gradually if dosing is discontinued.  Daily, on-going intake of this mushroom seems to be necessary for the maintenance of the beneficial effects.

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