Hericium erinaceus, more commonly known as lion’s mane mushrooms, are white globular fungi that feature long shaggy spines reminiscent of a lion’s hair. People in Asia, especially in the Northeast Asian region, enjoy these edible mushrooms with seafood-like flavours. They can be eaten raw, dried, cooked, or steeped in tea.
Recently, more people outside of the region are consuming the mushroom in different forms. Some are content with incorporating the mushroom as an ingredient to their food, while others go to health and wellness centres to buy supplements made from the mushroom’s extract. The sudden uptick in lion’s mane demand and consumption comes from various studies that prove its numerous health benefits.
Here are some science-supported health benefits that you can get from lion’s mane mushrooms.
Promotes Brain Health
As people inevitably age, their brain function gradually slows down over time. Neuron shrinkage and brain cell damage are some factors that cause the brain to impede brain function. In turn, it causes memory and focus loss.
On the other hand, a lion’s mane can curtail the brain function slow down. Studies have shown that the brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and nerve growth factor (NGF) compounds in the mushroom stimulate brain cell production. Additionally, these protein compounds were found to fortify existing brain cells, assist in forming myelin sheaths, and boost brain plasticity. All these processes are essential in making the brain resilient to aging and stress.
Enhances Cognitive Function
A person’s ability to learn, think, reason, problem-solve, decide, retain attention, and remember are part of the brain’s cognitive function. People can utilise their cognition when the neural connections in their brains are healthy. However, the neural pathways are compromised and the neurons degenerate because of different factors, including aging and lifestyle choices.
The NGF and BDNF in lion’s mane mushrooms combat all that. They can boost neuron creation and get rid of amyloid plaque—the culprit for destroying healthy neurons. All these contribute to enhanced cognitive functions.
Fights Free Radicals
Free radicals are unstable atoms that cause cell damage, illness, and aging. These atoms can come from the food people eat, the environment they live in, and even their body processes.
Lion’s mane mushroom was found to be a great source of antioxidants that can neutralise free radicals. Not only does lion’s mane have antioxidants, but it also enhances the body’s antioxidant production.
Inflammation is part of the body’s immune system defence. Once it detects infection and the possible intrusion of viruses, bacteria, and other harmful agents, it sends the white blood cells to protect it. However, this protection comes at a red, swelling, and painful price.
When the antioxidants in lion’s mane mushrooms attack free radicals, it prevents inflammation along the way. The body does not have the opportunity to become inflamed if the antioxidants stop the cause of the problem on their tracks.
Natural health advocates and holistic pharmacists have been championing the lion’s mane mushroom for years. As it grows in popularity, scientists continue to do more studies to discover more health benefits.
The mushroom’s ability to promote brain health, improve cognitive function, fight free radicals, and combat inflammation are some of the benefits that science can explain. Despite this stellar list of advantages, science is still uncovering more benefits, such as improved mood and focus, that it cannot properly explain yet.
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