When we say magic mushroom, we don’t mean a mushroom that’s going to take you on a trip, if you know what we mean. But don’t be confused! This mushroom will definitely get you high – it will get you high on health benefits.
Lion’s mane mushroom is also known as hedgehog mushroom, yamabushitake, and hou tou goh. With its potent properties, this mushroom knows no boundaries as it is native to Europe, Asia, and North America. But, the lion’s mane mushroom is widely cultivated in Asian regions – it is the best-kept secret of China, Japan, Korea, and India.
The research on Lion’s mane mushroom is still new, but this magic mushroom has already caught the eye of a lot of people for its health benefits. It gets its unusual name from its distinct look and grows on both dead and living broadleaf trees around late summer and fall.
Some parts of Asia, as we mentioned above, enjoy lion’s mane mushroom in their cooking, and of course, as traditional medicines. Even though the research is new in the western part of the world, this magic mushroom has been used for thousands of years by Chinese medicine practitioners.
The taste of this mushroom resembles seafood, particularly like crab and lobster. This makes it a good option for vegans and vegetarians. Lion’s mane can be cooked, eaten raw, dried, or steeped as a tea or coffee. Lion’s mane extract is also sold as supplements.
Even though the benefits of this mushroom are in the initial stages of research, it has already shown promising results. This magic mushroom contains bioactive substances that have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and immune-stimulating properties. To say it is only beneficial to the body is an understatement; the possible positive effect it has on the mind can’t also be ignored.
Listed below are some of the probable health benefits of the lion’s mane mushroom.
Boosts Brain Function
The effects of the lion’s mane mushroom on the brain have been researched most thoroughly and intensely. Out of all the possible benefits, this has the most data available to support the evidence.
The lion’s mane mushroom affects the brain by boosting ‘neurite outgrowth’, the growth of axons and dendrites of neurons. By augmenting this growth, this mushroom can potentially slow down or reverse the signs of cell degeneration in the brain. Some diseases that can be prevented by regular intake of this magic mushroom are Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
Apart from slowing down cell degeneration, it can also regenerate damaged cells from nerve injuries, especially peripheral nerve injury that affects the sensitive tissues between the brain and the spinal cord.
Lion’s mane can also majorly affect PC12 cells and prevent damage to cells or delay cell death, and therefore is extremely relevant in averting and treating brain conditions.
Relieve Mild Depression And Anxiety
Depression and anxiety are major ailments for one-third of the population in the developed world. The fast lifestyle, stressful jobs, and overuse of social media are some of the significant factors for the symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Chronic inflammation is one of the main reasons for depression and anxiety. Chronic inflammation is basically a response by your immune system that sticks around even after an injury, infection, etc. Some studies suggest the lion’s mane mushroom has anti-inflammatory properties and reduces the signs of anxiety and depression.
Animal studies on the lion’s mane mushroom show that it can also help regenerate brain cells. It improves the activity of the hippocampus, which is responsible for dealing with memories and emotional responses. True, the research has been carried out only in mice and not humans; researchers still believe the improved functionality of the hippocampus can help fight depression and anxiety.
Another small study on menopausal women, who ate the lion’s mane mushroom every day, showed reduced feelings of exasperation and anxiety.
Lion’s mane mushroom’s cellular structure contains a few unique and rare compounds that give it an extraordinary ability to fight cancer. When does cancer occur? It occurs when DNA becomes damaged and causes cell division and replication to go out of control.
Even though there’s still a long way to go with this study, it has already shown some encouraging results. In the study, the lion’s mane’s concentration was mixed with human cancer cells in a test tube, and it was observed that the cancer cells die out faster when mixed with this magic mushroom extract.
The effect was seen with not one but several types of cancer cells, including liver, stomach, colon, and blood cancer cells. But, the bad news is another study failed to show the same progressive result, and therefore, finding the conclusion is still a far cry.
Protect Against Heart Diseases And Diabetes
The reasons behind heart diseases are obesity, increased level of triglycerides, and a huge amount of oxidized cholesterol attached to arteries and a high tendency to get blood clots. Some of these factors can be influenced by this mushroom.
One study in mice and rats showed improvement in fat metabolism and lowered levels of triglycerides. Another test-tube study showed the lion’s mane mushroom could prevent oxidation of cholesterol. It also contains a compound called hericenones B, which lowers the rate of blood clotting and therefore decreases the risk of heart attacks.
Diabetes is another long-term disease that can cause havoc in your body if unregulated for a period of time. Lion’s mane mushroom can help manage diabetes by improving blood sugar levels. Moreover, when diabetes is under control, it lowers the risk of kidney diseases, vision loss, and nerve damage.
Lion’s mane lowers the blood sugar level by cutting off the actions of the enzyme alpha-glucosidase. This reduces the absorption of carbs in the small intestine and thereby reduces blood sugar levels.
More research needs to be done on humans to conclusively confirm the positive effects of the lion’s mane mushroom on heart diseases and diabetes.
More research and human studies still need to be done to come to a sound conclusion about the health benefits of the lion’s mane mushroom, but so far, no adverse side effects have been observed, and it is considered quite safe unless you are allergic to mushrooms.
In terms of recognition, lion’s mane mushroom still has a long way to go in the western world, but don’t let that deter you from consuming this beneficial mushroom. This healthy and tasty Asian secret mushroom can be your body’s next best friend!