Exploring the Wonders of Lion's Mane Mushroom

Exploring the Wonders of Lion's Mane Mushroom

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Feeling a little cowardly? As adaptogenic mushrooms gain popularity in alternative medicine, Lion's Mane has become a top choice due to its unique properties and hair-like appearance. While it may not make you more courageous, Lion’s Mane offers a range of potential benefits, such as minimizing anxious thoughts, improving cognitive function, and healing your gut. 

Read on to find out why this shaggy fungus may have you feeling like your proud self again in no time. 

What is Lion's Mane?

Lion's Mane mushroom on oak tree in the autumn forest.

Lion’s mane (Hericium erinaceus) belongs to the tooth fungi group, named for their tooth-like or spine-like properties. It’s primarily found on dead or dying hardwood trees, such as the American Beech, in temperate forests in the Northern Hemisphere. It’s easy to spot in the Catskills from July to October when it proudly shows off its icicles after heavy rain. 

The fungus is aptly named for looking like a full-grown Lion's Mane in need of a haircut. However, it’s also called by other monikers: Bearded Tooth, Monkey’s Head Mushroom, and Pom-Pom. Forest-goers would find it hard to miss due to its eye-catching appearance. 

Thankfully, it’s a safe bet for novice foragers (and even gourmet chefs) since it’s not only edible but has no toxic doppelgangers. All of its lookalikes are from the same genus (Hericium) and are safe for humans to eat

But it’s not just about appearance or even taste when it comes to this mushroom. Lion’s mane packs quite the punch with its longstanding use in traditional medicinal systems.

The History of Lion's Mane

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practitioner making remedy out of mushrooms.

Lion’s mane has been revered for thousands of years in general Asian culture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). In TCM, it is known as Hou Tou Gu, or Monkey’s Head mushroom, and is believed to improve the gut, strengthen the spleen, and treat certain ailments It’s also been used to combat poor quality of sleep and strengthen weak muscles, which are believed to be symptoms of a low life energy force, or low Qi. 

In Japan, this mushroom was historically referred to as Yamabushitake, after the Yamabushi mountain monks, who reportedly wear long strands of fur around their necks in honor of the mushroom’s hairy appearance. Buddhist monks believe Lion's Mane has a powerful effect on our cognitive function and can improve focus in meditation, a quality now being investigated by the scientific community. 

The historical use of Lion's Mane makes it a safe choice today for those dappling in medicinal mushrooms or looking to strengthen their supplement alternatives. 

Potential health benefits of Lion's Mane

Lion's mane mushrooms

Even in modern medicine, the use of this fungus is promising. It may just get you out of the lion’s den with its long list of potential health benefits, including improving cognitive function, relieving feelings of anxiousness, boosting immunity, and reducing inflammation.

Enhance Cognitive Function

Lion’s mane has neurotrophic factors and bioactive compounds that promote the growth and differentiation of neurons. Neurons are vital nerve cells that receive and send information to the brain. This quality has led to the fungus’s reputation as a possible preventative measure against, and treatment for, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson's disease. 

In a 2020 study of patients with Alzheimer’s disease, the group that took a supplement of Lion's Mane scored significantly better on cognitive tests compared to the group that took a placebo. Although more human studies are needed, this mushroom’s mane benefit of improving memory and focus makes it a stellar choice for cognitive enhancement. 

Ease symptoms of mild depression and anxiety 

One of the other more popular uses of Lion's Mane is its ability to minimize mild symptoms of anxiety and depression. According to a 2020 abstract in the Journal of Molecular Science, the fungi’s positive effects on our brain health may help combat symptoms that contribute to depression and anxiety. 

Those with depression are said to have lower nerve growth or suffer from chronic inflammation. Lion’s mane can help reduce the loss of nerve growth that can be triggered by stress and trauma while also generating more sufficient neurons in the brain. The mushroom may also minimize inflammation in the body, which is commonly linked to various ailments.

Improve gut health 

One of Lion's Mane’s strengths is its ability to boost our gut health. It’s well known that fiber makes our stomach biome healthier, and this fungus has plenty of it to spare. Lion’s mane is especially full of beta-glucan, a soluble fiber that has positive effects on our immune system, heart, and gut health. Plus, it also serves as a healthy gut bacteria to make our stomachs happy. 

A few animal studies suggest that Lion's Mane could successfully treat inflammatory bowel disease and stomach infections and help prevent stomach ulcers

How to Use Lion's Mane

cooking with medicinal mushrooms, lion's mane and other ingredeints

You can enjoy Lion's Mane in a variety of ways. Try tossing in a few pieces into your favorite comfort dishes, like stews, pasta, soups, or gravies. Tear this mushroom into bite-sized pieces and prepare it for deep frying, roasting, or sautéing. Many people recommend dry sautéing it in a hot skillet before adding butter or another fat, along with your favorite seasonings. 

Reportedly, Lion's Mane tastes most like crab or lobster. So, you can feel like you’re at a fancy seafood restaurant while improving your cognitive function. 

You’ll also find Lion's Mane in many brick-and-mortar stores that sell similar dried products and supplements. It’s common to purchase this mushroom in a capsule, oil, edibles, or tea. 

You can enjoy Lion's Mane with other adaptogens in our Magic Amanita Muscaria Gummies. This edible blends Amanita muscaria extract with Lion's Mane, to support the elevation of serotonin levels, improve cognitive function, and sharpen mental clarity. The naturally sweet elderberry flavor melds perfectly with other ingredients like holy basil for a calming effect and broad-spectrum CBD for the ultimate comfort combination. 

So, if you’re looking for a majestic mushroom known to boost your body’s capabilities, consider adding Lion's Mane to your daily wellness routine. Whether you’re hoping to enhance your gut health, strengthen your mental clarity, or ease anxiousness, Lion's Mane may just bring your pride back and a hint of courage too. 

Until next time, happy exploring and mind your mind.

FDA Disclaimer: The statements made regarding these products have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The efficacy of these products has not been confirmed by FDA-approved research. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. All information presented here is not meant as a substitute for or alternative to information from health care practitioners. Please consult your healthcare professional about potential interactions or other possible complications before using any product. The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act requires this notice.

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