The Neuroscience of Lion's Mane 🧠
Is the hype around Lion's mane fact or fiction? (6min read)
What is Lion's mane?
Where does it come from?
What are the benefits?
How does it work?
Best ways to ingest?
Lion’s mane is one of the most powerful, natural brain boosters on the planet.
It has gotten a lot of press recently, with brands like Four Sigmatic promoting its benefits.
So, I figured it would be helpful to dissect the Neuroscience of Lion’s mane to help you guys understand if it’s safe, what it does, how to take it, and much more! Let’s dive in.
What is Lion’s Mane?
The short answer is a mushroom. The fancy answer is “Hericium Erinaceus” that’s Latin and super scientific, so let’s stick with Lion’s mane!
It has been used in Chinese & Eastern medicine for thousands of years to promote brain & gut health, and also to promote longevity.
Buddhist monks have used Lion’s mane powder in tea to increase their brain function & focus while meditating even.
They are native to forests in most of the Northern Hemisphere and can be found throughout North America, Europe, and Asia.
Contrary to popular belief, it will not get you high and it doesn’t have any psychedelic effects, I promise!
What are the Benefits of Lion’s Mane?
There has been more research coming out about Lion’s mane than ever before in the last few years.
This isn’t surprising considering the pandemic we just went through, and Lion’s mane's effect on our immune system!
That being said, here are some of the key benefits of Lion’s mane:
Reduction of inflammation
Improved heart health
Improved brain function
Reduction of the risk of cancer
Increases memory, focus & attention
And here are some of the main conditions it’s been shown to help with:
When applied topically, it has also been shown to heal wounds quicker!
It’s no surprise that this mushroom has been used for thousands of years as a “cure-all” in traditional medicine practices.
How does it work?
The number of benefits and things that Lion’s mane has been shown to help with can be kind of unbelievable at first, but upon closer examination, you’ll understand why.
What makes this food so magical is the two powerful compounds that make it up: Aromatic hericenones & Diterpenoid erinacines.
What’s so special about these two compounds? First of all, they can cross the blood-brain barrier, which is no easy feat, few compounds can do this.
This is why they have such powerful effects on our nervous system.
Once they’re inside our brain they promote the production of Nerve Growth Factor (NGF) and reduce oxidation in our brains by soaking up free radicals (inflammatory agents).
NGF helps our brain heal & repair after injury, it promotes plasticity, and helps us create & strengthen new neural pathways!
The most interesting effect hericenones & erinacines have on our nervous system is by stimulating NGF, they help re-myelinate our nerves!
Myelin cell death is what causes the neurodegeneration seen in tons of diseases like MS, Parkinson's, ALS, and many others.
Lion’s Mane Research
There are too many studies to talk about all of them here, but one of the coolest ones I found while researching for this post was a translational study in mice.
This means that the research findings translate over to humans!
In the study, they trained a group of mice with a maze with a food reward at the end for navigating the maze.
Once the mice learned the maze, they injected their brain with a chemical that simulates dementia in humans.
After the injection the time it took the mice to navigate the maze skyrocketed, they made more mistakes, and it appeared they had forgotten how to navigate the maze.
At this point, they sacrificed half of the mice (this is painless to the mouse, trust me, I promise, I’ve done it myself), and tested their brains.
They found that the mouse brains looked just like human brains that have dementia when scanned.
The group of mice they kept was then fed Lion’s mane for 3 weeks and miraculously, their maze performance improved dramatically, and when scanned, their brain had returned to a healthy state.
Specifically, their myelin sheaths had grown back!
This is a powerful compound that is getting well-deserved attention in the news & research world right now.
I’m sure by now you’re thinking, alright, this is cool, but there have to be side effects of something this powerful.
I’m happy to inform you that the unbelievable nature of these mushrooms continues.
Lion’s mane has no known drug interactions and has little to no side effects.
The most significant side effects are for those allergic to mushrooms which are not many people.
For the average consumer, the chance of experiencing any side effects is minimal.
How Do I Get This Into My Body?!
So, how do you ingest Lion’s mane? However, you’d like it! Raw, powdered, tea, coffee, capsules, or crushed!
My personal favorite is with my coffee in the morning!
I drink Four Sigmatic’s “Think” Lion’s mane blend, and I’ve found that it levels out my energy without the crash that generally comes from just coffee alone!
Lion’s mane is widely available in stores as well, you can go buy them to put into salads to eat, they taste like lobster meat.
A lot of people also use the powdered version inside of capsules, this is what I did until switching over to Four Sigmatics “Think” coffee.
Traditionally Lion’s mane tea is how it’s been ingested in the Eastern tradition by monks!
I hope this post has shed some light on this powerful mushroom and has convinced you to at least try it out for yourself!
If it has, Four Sigmatic has a great subscription program that you can have coffee shipped to you monthly so you never have to skip a beat!
Here’s a link to check it out: Four Sigmatic Program
If you have any questions, please feel free to email me directly at email@example.com, and until next time, live heroically! 🧠