7 August, 2021

Lion's Mane: the Brain and Nervous System Mushroom. Part 4.

Lion's Mane mushroom is a hairy mushroom that resembles the king of the jungle. Like most mushrooms, Lion's Mane mushrooms are known to offer several health benefits. It has many active compounds like beta-glucan and other antioxidants that benefit your body.

This is the fourth part of the Lion's Mane series, where we focus on the lion's mane as a nootropic. We dive into the active compounds in the mushrooms that promote cognitive functions. This part also discusses the Lion's Mane for brain fog, memory and how it improves focus.

In part one of this series, we discussed the physical appearance of the mushroom and where it obtained the name from. We also discussed the different types available and how to distinguish them. Foraging for Lion's Mane was also discussed, that is, if you are interested in getting into the field to harvest it.

Like most mushrooms, the Lion's Mane has its look-alikes. This was discussed in part one, and we highlighted what to look for when foraging an actual Lion's Mane mushroom. To avoid confusion, we advised that you get lion's mane from trusted vendors. Finally, we discussed how to cook with a Lion's Mane.

In part two, we discussed the nutritional qualities of a Lion's Mane. These include the nutrients that are in the mushroom and how they benefit your body. We also mentioned the Lion's Mane properties and the general medicinal uses.

Finally, we discussed how to get Lion's Mane mushrooms. After foraging, vendors convert the mushroom into different forms to cater for everyone's needs. We have fresh mushrooms which stay fresh for only a few days. Other forms include Lion's Mane powder, matcha, elixir, capsule, extracts, and derivative products.

In part three, we discussed the Lion's Mane for children. Is it safe for a kid to consume a Lion's Mane? More information on this is in part three of this series. We also discussed Lion's Mane for adults. This includes the benefits that adults get by consuming the mushroom.

When is the right time to consume the lion's mane mushroom? This is a common question that we answered in part three. We discussed consuming Lion's Mane in the morning and late at night.

In part five, which is the final part of this series, we will discuss Lion's Mane for headache, Parkinson's Disease, Alzheimer's Disease, and ADD & ADHD. That said, let's begin with Lion's Mane as a nootropic and how it improves memory and focus.

Lion's Mane as a Nootropic

We have many nootropics, but the Lion's Mane mushroom has proven to be the best. Your brain naturally begins to slow down with age. Symptoms like memory loss and lack of focus associated with ageing begin to crop in. These symptoms are caused by shrinking in the neurons and damaging of the brain cells.

According to studies, Lion's Mane mushroom extracts may support brain health. The mushroom promotes the creation of essential compounds; brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and nerve growth factor (NGF).

BDNF and NGF are proteins that promote new brain cells and strengthen the existing cells. NGF helps in forming myelin sheath, which allows the brain cells to do their job effectively. On the other hand, BDNF improves brain plasticity. This also helps the brain cells to remain resilient in the face of ageing and stress.

Lion's Mane for Brain Fog

Has your brain ever refused to cooperate when you need it the most? Yes, you need your brain all the time, but there are occasions when you need it in good shape the most. For example, when you want to hit the ground running and work through your daily tasks. That is what we call brain fog.

Brain fog is common regardless of age, and it can strike in when you least expect it. It can be frustrating when you cannot think clearly or stay focused on a goal. Fortunately, wild mushrooms like Lion's Mane may help you get through the fog.

When it comes to memory, the lion's mane is among the best mushrooms to consider. Let us focus on brain fog causes, symptoms and how Lion's Mane may help counter it.

Causes of Brain Fog

As aforementioned, it is wrong to associate brain fog with age entirely. Causes of brain fog vary from one individual to another. Tracking what causes brain fog in you can help tackle it effectively. Here we take a look at the common causes of brain fog.

Stress is the leading cause of brain fog and has been named by WHO as a great contributor to disabilities. The leading causes of stress are also not specific. But at least you can easily understand what contributes to the stress you undergo and work on dealing with it.

Too much or little sleep and side effects from medication can also promote brain fog. Pharmaceutical drugs used for healing can have side effects in the end. This explains why it is essential to use natural remedies. Other notable causes include:

  • Anxiety and depression
  • Food allergies and sensitivities
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Inflammatory conditions
  • Hormonal changes like those caused by menopause and pregnancy
  • Vitamin deficiencies
  • Blood sugar imbalances

While brain fog is not classified as a medical condition, its symptoms indicate a severe problem.

Symptoms of Brain Fog

How will you know that you are experiencing brain fog? We have already said that brain fog is not a medical condition, but some signs may indicate brain fog.

One of the most significant signs is failing to recall information or having trouble remembering things. In some cases, you can also lack focus or clarity or what is called "fuzzy" thinking in some cases.

Inability to concentrate and slower reaction times are also signs of brain fog. In such cases, you get unnecessary distractions that you have no control over. You may also find yourself taking long periods for your body to react during situations.

Brain fog can also make you have difficulties in making decisions. Despite having differences in how long we take to make decisions, it is easier to realise when you begin taking long in making simple decisions.

How Lion's Mane Helps Relieve Brain Fog

When your brain takes an unexpected vacation, you realise that the Lion's Mane is here to help. The mushrooms contain more than 70 bioactive metabolites that can help serve your body with several medicinal properties. In the past, the lion's mane mushroom was used to improve brain health and support other cognitive abilities.

According to modern science and the pieces of research that have been conducted, there are reasons why you can use Lion's Mane. This mushroom can relieve blood-brain barriers and promote positive brain changes.

Lion's Mane supports nerve health through increasing nerve growth factor (NGF) production. It may also improve the growth of the myelin sheath, a protective layer that surrounds the nerves.

The mushroom stimulates neuronal development and growth through Erinaceus and hericenones. These two compounds are only sourced from the Lion's Mane mushroom.

Lion's Mane for Memory

Mushrooms, especially wild mushrooms, are widely known for their medicinal properties. However, the Lion's Mane mushroom has drawn the attention of researchers because of its nerve regenerative properties. This explains why it can be used to improve memory.

Through increasing nerve growth factor production, as mentioned above, the Lion's Mane improves memory. Consequently, the mushroom suppresses some pro-inflammatory cytokines that may lead to neurological diseases.

Excessive inflammation promotes specific disease processes. This includes common brain diseases like depression and Alzheimer's disease. Alzheimer's disease and how Lion's Mane mushroom may help relieve it will be discussed in part five of this series.

Another way that Lion's Mane improves memory is by increasing acetylene levels. Acetylene is a chemical compound that determines your level of memory. This is why it is called a memory molecule.

Depression and anxiety can affect your memory. According to WHO, the two conditions are more common these days than before. The way of life is believed to promote stress which later leads to depression.

Fortunately, Lion's Mane has been proven to reduce symptoms associated with anxiety and depression.

Unlike other psychoactive drugs or antidepressants, Lion's Mane mushroom has no risk of tolerance withdrawal, addiction, or receptor down-regulation. The side effects linked to the use of the mushroom are also limited unless you have allergies.

Lion's Mane for Focus

Things or activities usually tend to go your way when you are focused. Your focus, on the other hand, depends on your mood. The mood can change quickly, either from good to bad or vice versa, depending on what happens.

The brain can focus well when there is enough blood flow into the brain. Anything that hinders blood flow into the brain then affects your focus. For example, inflammations block the veins used to transport blood into the brain cells.

Reduced inflammation may improve blood flow. This will allow more blood to flow into and from your brain. The side effect of having more blood, oxygen in your brain is improved brain performance.

Researchers, in 2010, used 30 women to examine the effects of lion's mane mushroom for about four weeks. The women were randomly divided into two groups; one as a control group and the other as a test group. The test group was given lion's mane mushrooms for four weeks. After the experiment, the test group reported experiencing an improved mood and focus. Many such pieces of research have confirmed the information.

Conclusion

Lion's Mane mushroom is more than other wild mushrooms when it comes to nutrients. As aforementioned, it is the best nootropic that you can find in supplement selling stores. Unlike other nootropics associated with side effects like addiction and other withdrawal-related symptoms, Lion's Mane mushroom works without any side effects.

Generally, the antioxidants in Lion's Mane mushrooms help promote memory and learning. It may also stimulate the growth of new neurons and strengthen your brain cells.

Further Reading

  1. Benjarong Thongbai, Sylvie Rapior, Kevin D. Hyde, Kathrin Wittstein, Marc Stadler. Hericium erinaceus, an amazing medicinal mushroom. Mycological Progress 2015, 14 (10)
  2. Li-Wei Zhou, Masoomeh Ghobad-Nejhad, Xue-Mei Tian, Yi-Fei Wang, Fang Wu. Current Status of ‘Sanghuang’ as a Group of Medicinal Mushrooms and Their Perspective in Industry Development. Food Reviews International 2020, 16 , 1-19.
  3. Mingxing Wang, Yang Gao, Duoduo Xu, Tetsuya Konishi, Qian Gao. Hericium erinaceus (Yamabushitake): a unique resource for developing functional foods and medicines. Food Funct. 2014, 5 (12) , 3055-3064.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Kumar Ganesan, Baojun Xu. Anti-Obesity Effects of Medicinal and Edible Mushrooms. Molecules 2018, 23 (11) , 2880.
  7. Marina Soković, Ana Ćirić, Jasmina Glamočlija, Dejan Stojković. The Bioactive Properties of Mushrooms. 2016,,, 83-122.
  8. Suzanne M. de la Monte, M.D., M.P.H. and Jack R. Wands. Alzheimer's Disease Is Type 3 Diabetes–Evidence Reviewed. J Diabetes Sci Technol. 2008 Nov; 2(6): 1101–1113.
  9. Federico Brandalise, Valentina Cesaroni, Andrej Gregori, Margherita Repetti, Chiara Romano, Germano Orrù, Laura Botta, Carolina Girometta, Maria Lidia Guglielminetti, Elena Savino, and Paola Rossi. Dietary Supplementation of Hericium erinaceus Increases Mossy Fiber-CA3 Hippocampal Neurotransmission and Recognition Memory in Wild-Type Mice. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2017; 2017: 3864340.
  10. Puei-Lene Lai, Murali Naidu, Vikineswary Sabaratnam, Kah-Hui Wong, Rosie Pamela David, Umah Rani Kuppusamy, Noorlidah Abdullah, Sri Nurestri A Malek. Neurotrophic properties of the Lion's mane medicinal mushroom, Hericium erinaceus (Higher Basidiomycetes) from Malaysia. Int J Med Mushrooms . 2013;15(6):539-54.
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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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