What Does Lion's Mane Do To The Brain?

What Does Lion's Mane Do To The Brain?

If you have caught any of our recent content on the Health Insiders Blog, you may have noticed our fair share of medicinal mushroom-related blog posts! We’ve covered everything from benefits, side effects, and the serving suggestions for several types of medical mushrooms; Reishi, Maitake, Ashwagandha, Shitake and many more. Today's post will be similar to those previous posts although this time focusing on lion’s mane mushrooms. The name comes from the similarities it's shared with an actual lion’s mane (fluffy, long locks) appearance hence the name. Although, do not let the name distract you from just how powerful this type of mushroom is said to be; especially when it comes to your brain health! Before we do explore further what exactly lion’s mane mushrooms are believed to be able to do for your brain health and cognitive functions, let's first recap the history behind the mushrooms and how they become known for their brain-related ‘powers’.

What is Lion's mane?

Lion’s mane is an edible mushroom species, largely used in Asian countries as they are believed to have cutlery and medicinal benefits! It’s said that lion’s mane mushrooms contain a compound that can stimulate brain cell growth and even support it against damage caused by progressive neurodegenerative conditions like Alzheimer's. Their believed brain ‘boosting’ and supportive capabilities have labelled the species of mushroom as one of the ‘ultimate mushrooms for the brain.’ Scientific studies are limited and therefore research findings are minimal, meaning lion’s mane would not be considered a medical-grade ‘supplement’ but could still be very beneficial for your overall brain health. Here’s how…

Is lion’s mane good for the brain?

One of the most popular questions, relating to lion’s mane mushrooms, is whether or not the mushroom species is good for the brain. In many cases, it is believed to be very effective, especially when it comes to improving brain function which is one of the believed health benefits of taking lion’s mane mushrooms. The reason why lion’s mane mushrooms are believed to be able to improve brain function comes down to the compounds found inside the mushroom. Hericenones and Erinacines are two compounds that can stimulate the growth of brain cells; determine during lab tests and past research. Therefore the same theory stands that lion’s mane mushrooms should also be beneficial in improving the brain's functionality as they contain the same essential compounds. 

Below we have included a list of additional benefits that lion’s mane mushrooms are said to have regarding improving our brain healthy and functionality: 

  • Improve cognition
  • Help protect against degenerative brain disease
  • Reduce symptoms of memory loss
  • Promote nerve growth

It’s important to remember that the majority of testing and research findings have not been conducted extensively yet (on humans) therefore these are believed to be health benefits related to consuming loin’s mane. However, they are not yet medically or scientifically recognised and therefore unlikely to be recommended by doctors in favour of medication that has been tested extensively! So please keep that in mind, and always speak to your doctor first before you consider taking any medical mushrooms. This is so they can help advise you on the best course of action based on your needs!  

Do lion's mane mushrooms affect your memory?

Lion’s mane mushrooms are said to be packed with a wide array of potent (bioactive) compounds that are linked to stimulating nerve growth - as previously mentioned. A recent study that was conducted found that lion’s mane was believed to improve memory and cognitive function although only when taken consistently. That same principle is similar for the majority of any supplement or medication; positive side effects can (and will) only occur with consistent consumption. The majority of brain health supplements out there like omega-3 as well as the various medicinal mushrooms are all believed to be helpful so long as they are taken regularly in a safe and balanced dosage. If lion’s mane mushrooms are going to be effective at improving your memory or cognitive functions then consuming them sporadically would cause little to no difference in your brain health. 

Can lion’s mane mushrooms change your mood?

Just like lion’s mane mushrooms are said to improve our cognitive functions, they are also believed to be beneficial in treating mood-related disorders. Specifically, lion’s mane mushrooms are said to be very beneficial in the treatment of anxiety as well as depression; when studies were conducted and tested in the lab. It was said that the subject who took the mushroom had few depressive behaviours as well as lower blood markers that indicated depression. Other (animal-related) studies also found that lion's mane extracts could be helpful in regenerating brain cells to support the functioning of the hippocampus. This refers to a part of the brain that is responsible for processing memories and emotional responses. So, to clarify there has been some testing and research to support this claim although human trials and widespread research are still pending therefore again means this is a theory of how lion’s mane could be beneficial and not a guarantee as of yet. 

Can lion’s mane increase dopamine?

The link that remains to be developed- that lion’s mane can improve our mood and mood-related discarded- could also be responsible for increasing dopamine. After all, increased levels of dopamine are linked to improving your mood. What's more, studies have also been able to support the theory that the lion’s mane can work (in the brain) to modulate neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin. Both are known as ‘feel good’ chemicals which get released when we feel happy and therefore are believed to improve our mood.

We hope you find today's post about Lions Mane helpful; should you need further assistance you can check out our Health Insider Blog where we have covered the subject previously here on our blog. Alternatively, you can also send us a DM on Instagram and we will help with any questions you may need further clarity on.