27 July, 2021

Lion's Mane: the Brain and Nervous System Mushroom. Part 2.

Lion's Mane is described as a mushroom for your brain and the nervous system. It can be used to support mood, cognitive functions, and mental clarity. Several types of lion's mane are available, as discussed in part one of the Lion's Mane mushrooms.

The mushrooms can be harvested in the wild or cultivated at home for personal and commercial uses. It is relatively easy to identify the Lion's Mane mushrooms while foraging because they have an identical white colour. As discussed in part one, they can be identified using icicle-like teeth hanging from the central stalk.

Cooking with Lion's Mane mushrooms has also been discussed in that first part. The main idea behind successful lion's mane preparations is to avoid washing them. Mushrooms are known to have a moisture content that needs to be dealt with, so there is no room for adding extra moisture by washing them. Additionally, Lion's Mane is best when prepared in saucy recipes.

Like other mushrooms, the Lion's Mane has look-alikes that may confuse new foragers. Bears Head Tooth and Coral Tooth Fungus are the main types that foragers need to be careful with. As aforementioned, this is covered in part one of the Lion's Mane mushrooms.

In this article, we cover the nutritional qualities of the Lion's Mane, its properties, general medicinal uses, and its available forms. More will be covered in subsequent articles. Let's get started;

Nutritional Qualities of Lion's Mane

Are mushrooms good for your health? You may have wondered why you need to include mushrooms in your diet, more specifically, why you should include Lion's Mane in your diet. Here is a breakdown of the nutritional constituents you can obtain from the Lion's Mane.

Beta-glucan is a form of fibre linked to boosting heart health and related issues and may help deal with cholesterol issues. This fibre can also help with diabetes problems by regulating blood sugar.

Antioxidants can be classified as both properties and nutrients because of how they work in the body. Most antioxidants protect the body from free radicals that may cause cancer and heart failure. They also boost the immune system and prevent ageing agents from manifesting.

B Vitamins - generally, vitamins are common nutrients that you can hear individuals seeking. For example, niacin helps maintain healthy skin and promotes proper digestion. There are several vitamins, but Lion's Mane is rich in B vitamins, including niacin, pantothenic, and riboflavin.

Copper - our bodies require copper to make the red blood cells. It also helps in nerves and maintaining healthy bones.

Potassium - this is another nutrient that you can find in lion's mane mushrooms. It helps with nerve functions, muscle, and dealing with heart-related issues.

Lion's Mane Properties

Lion's Mane has properties that can support brain health. The mushroom contains two main compounds, hericenones and erinacines, that can promote mental functioning. However, we must acknowledge that the brain can form new connections or grow generally. Lion's Mane mushrooms can help improve the condition even at old age.

Many cases of mental functioning getting worse have been reported among older adults. Using Lion's Mane mushrooms from an early age can help prevent or lower the chances of having mental problems later in life. However, this does not mean that older adults cannot use mushrooms to improve mental functioning.

Lion's Mane has properties that can help reduce oxidative stress and inflammations. Most of the modern illnesses are embedded in stress and inflammation. Common illnesses associated with stress and inflammation include autoimmune disorders, cancer, and heart diseases.

Research shows that Lion's Mane mushrooms have powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that may promote recovery from these illnesses.

Lion's Mane General Medicinal Uses

Lion's Mane mushrooms are not classified as a medicine, but they exhibit medicinal properties. In traditional medicine, they are used for promoting liver functions, digestive health, and other functions. As much as they may not cure the conditions but they can support quick healing using their properties.

Lion's Mane is used as a dietary supplement for memory, brain health, and mood in the modern world. It has been proven to promote neurotrophic activities. This explains why they are described as the brain's mushrooms.

These mushrooms can promote heart health. Heart-related problems are caused by high triglycerides, obesity, the tendency to get blood clots, and large amounts of cholesterol. Research shows that Lion's Mane extracts can help with heart-related conditions by dealing with the causes.

According to studies, Lion's Mane can lower triglyceride levels and improve fat metabolism. While high triglycerides and obesity are considered causes of heart-related problems, this is one among the many ways these mushrooms may promote heart health.

Lion's Mane mushrooms can also be used to promote digestive health. The main problem with digestion and diet, in general, is stomach ulcers. These ulcers are caused by damage to the stomach mucous layer or overgrowth of Helicobacter pylori bacteria.

In a study conducted to investigate the relationship between H. pylori and lion's mane mushrooms, it was proven that the mushrooms hinder the growth of the bacteria. They also protect the stomach layers from attacks. People who constantly take lion's mane mushrooms are not likely to experience any stomach problems in general.

Lion's Mane may help promote diabetes management. Diabetes is a condition that was strongly associated with older adults, but that is no longer the case. These days, even the young generations have been diagnosed with diabetes and related conditions.

Diabetes is also linked with severe side effects. Lion's Mane mushrooms have medicinal properties that may help improve blood sugar control. Additionally, Lion's Mane mushrooms can be used to reduce side effects associated with the medical condition.

According to a certain study, lion's mane mushroom lowers blood sugar by blocking the enzyme alpha-glucosidase's activities. This enzyme is used to break carbs in the small intestine, lowering the blood sugar level.

How to Get Lion's Mane

Mushrooms are usually available in several forms and a Lion's Mane is not an exception. You can find them as powders, capsules, fresh, elixirs, extracts, and derivative products. We have clarified that below.

Fresh Lion's Mane

Lion's Mane can stay fresh for some days after being harvested. This is possible if you keep them in the fridge. However, like most species of mushrooms, they won't last long because of their moisture content.

If you want to keep the mushroom fresh for a long period, dry them completely and keep them away from any moisture. It is that simple, water or moisture content is an enemy of mushrooms. There are claims that fresh mushrooms offer more nutritional benefits than the other forms, but that is yet confirmed.

Preparing fresh mushrooms is relatively easy. You only need to cook them like other vegetables. Using a lot of heat kills its potency, so it is better to regulate the amount of heat used. On the other hand, if you use too little heat, they also get soggy.

Lion's Mane Powder

Lion's Mane powder is not any different from the rest of the powders you have come across in terms of appearance. Preparing mushroom powders is relatively simple. The mushrooms are dried and then crushed or ground into a fine powder, after which they can be used in different ways.

The powder can be mixed with hot water or a warm cup of milk, and you enjoy it as a beverage. This does not mean that you can boil the powder because it may lose its potency in the process. You can also stir it in soup, shake, or even smoothie.

Lion's Mane Capsules

Capsules have been used lately to carry several substances like mushrooms, cannabis, and more. They are used to mask the bitter tastes of these substances. Most mushroom species have a bitter taste, and the Lion's Mane is not an exception. However, the Lion's Mane's taste is not so bitter that you cannot consume it.

Lion's Mane capsules are preferred by those who want to avoid the mushroom taste or smell. Capsules are also perfect for tracking the dosage. In simple terms, they can help you to know the amount of mushrooms you will be consuming.

Lion's Mane Extracts

Lion's Mane extracts include all the active compounds found in the mushroom. As aforementioned, the Lion's Mane is made up of active and beneficial compounds like hericenones and erinacines. These compounds help promote body health and wellness.

The extract also includes compounds like vitamins that are useful in the development of our bodies. However, extraction of these compounds should be done in the lab with experts only. The process is so complicated that it cannot be carried at home.

If you want Lion's Mane extracts, there are trusted vendors who can help you. The extracts are available in different forms depending on your preferences. When purchasing Lion's Mane extracts from local vendors, look at the labelling to know what is contained in the extract before consuming it.

Lion's Mane Elixirs

As mentioned earlier, Lion's Mane mushrooms can be used for medicinal reasons. Apart from the general extracts obtained from local stores, you can also find lion's mane elixirs. We call these special extracts.

Certain compounds are extracted from the Lion's Mane mushrooms to help deal with a given medical condition. Elixirs are called special extracts because they are mainly used for pharmaceutical uses. You can find them in dispensaries or supplement stores.

Lion's Mane Derivative Products

Lion's Mane has two main derivative products; matcha and coffee. Matcha has gained immense popularity in recent years, and many people are shifting quickly to tap its health benefits. It is defined as "special" green tea that has been dried and ground into fine powder. By special green tea, we mean tea covered for thirty days to help promote chlorophyll levels.

Therefore, mushroom matcha is a mushroom extract that has been mixed with matcha to form a uniform mixture. Matcha, on its own, can offer several health benefits that many have decided to make a daily regimen. On the other hand, mushrooms are also used for health benefits like the ones mentioned above. Therefore, the Lion's Mane Matcha is a mixture of the Lion's Mane powder and matcha.

Lion's mane can also be found as Lion's Mane coffee. As mentioned above, one of the easiest ways to consume the mushroom is by mixing it in hot water or warm milk. This explains why you can find coffee blended with lion's mane. Lion's mane mushroom is dried, ground, and then mixed with coffee.

Consequently, you can find the Lion's Mane mushroom tea. This is for those people who prefer tea over coffee. However, you need to note a difference between lion's mane matcha and lion's mane tea. You can find a local store around you, but to be sure you are taking the right products, purchase your lion's mane products from trusted and renowned sellers.

Conclusion

Lion's Mane mushroom is unique and should be part of your daily health and wellness regimen because of its beneficial compounds. More research is required to confirm most of the health benefits associated with Lion's Mane, but those who have consumed it have reported positive benefits.

Lion's Mane should be obtained from trusted vendors if you cannot get it yourself from the wild. This will help you to avoid confusing it with its look-alikes. Lion's Mane is a broad topic, so keep in touch for subsequent articles.

Further Reading

  1. Artem Blagodatski, Margarita Yatsunskaya, Valeriia Mikhailova, Vladlena Tiasto, Alexander Kagansky, Vladimir L. Katanaev. Medicinal mushrooms as an attractive new source of natural compounds for future cancer therapy. Oncotarget 2018, 9 (49), 29259-29274.
  2. Bowen Ma, Tao Feng, Sanfeng Zhang, Haining Zhuang, Da Chen, Lingyun Yao, Jingsong Zhang. The Inhibitory Effects of Hericium Erinaceus β-glucan on in vitro Starch Digestion. Frontiers in Nutrition 2021.
  3. Carolina Elena Girometta, Annarosa Bernicchia, Rebecca Michela Baiguera, Francesco Bracco, Simone Buratti, Marco Cartabia, Anna Maria Picco, Elena Savino. An Italian Research Culture Collection of Wood Decay Fungi. Diversity 2020, 12 (2), 58.
  4. Feng Zhang, Hui Lv, Xuhua Zhang. Erinacerins, Novel Glioma Inhibitors from Hericium Erinaceus, Induce Apoptosis of U87 Cells through Bax/Caspase-2 Pathway. Anti-Cancer Agents in Medicinal Chemistry 2020, 20 (17), 2082-2088.
  5. Guozhong Zhao, Chong Liu, Hadiatullah Hadiatullah, Yunping Yao, Fuping Lu. Effect of Hericium Erinaceus on bacterial diversity and volatile flavour changes of soy sauce. LWT 2021, 139 , 110543.
  6. Kumar Ganesan, Baojun Xu. Anti-Obesity Effects of Medicinal and Edible Mushrooms. Molecules 2018, 23 (11), 2880.
  7. Lei Wang, Yingpeng Tian, Zhaoqing Chen, Jie Chen. Effects of Hericium Erinaceus powder on the digestion, gelatinization of starch, and quality characteristics of Chinese noodles. Cereal Chemistry 2021, 98 (3), 482-491.
  8. Mateusz Winder, Weronika Bulska-Będkowska, Jerzy Chudek. The use of Hericium Erinaceus and Trametes Versicolor extracts in supportive treatment in oncology. Acta Pharmaceutica 2021, 71 (1), 1-16.
  9. Ramazan Üstün, Peray Ayhan. Regenerative activity of Hericium Erinaceus on axonal injury model using in vitro laser microdissection technique. Neurological Research 2019, 41 (3), 265-274.
  10. Wenbing Gong, Xiaoya Song, Chunliang Xie, Yingjun Zhou, Zuohua Zhu, Chao Xu, Yuande Peng. Landscape of meiotic crossovers in Hericium Erinaceus. Microbiological Research 2021, 245, 126692.
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As lovers of mushrooms, we began as a small grower of oyster mushrooms in the Canberra and have now grown to producing a whole range of different mushroom products. 
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