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I’ve previously written about some medicinal mushrooms I use regularly to support joyous health: reishi and chaga. Today I want to focus on another one of these potent fungi called Lion’s Mane. It’s one of the prettiest mushrooms out there and it has health benefits to match!
This fun little fungi can help support everything from brain to gut health and make a great addition to your natural supplement regime. Below I'll outline everything you need to know about Lion’s Mane including what it is, what to look for in a supplement, and its amazing health benefits. Plus I’ll give you the scoop on my all-time favourite brand!
What is Lion’s Mane?
Lion’s Mane mushrooms, also known as Hericium erinaceus, hou tou gu, or yamabushitake, are well-known for their unique, shaggy appearance that resembles, you guessed it, a big lion’s mane! They have long been used in Chinese and Japanese medicine to support cognitive and neurological health and as a delicious culinary mushroom.
Thanks to modern science finally catching up with traditional wisdom, researchers have been exploring the other powerful health benefits of Lion’s Mane mushroom.
How do you extract the benefits from Lion’s Mane?
I’ve discussed the importance of the extraction process for medicinal mushrooms in my post about reishi. However, it’s so important to properly extract the therapeutic compounds from Lion’s Mane properly that it's worth reading my post on reishi where I go into detail.
When shopping for medicinal mushrooms look for extractions made from both hot water and alcohol.
That’s because certain compounds are only able to be extracted via hot water extraction and others are only going to be available via alcohol extraction.
I have tried A LOT of different mushroom supplements over the years and I’ve finally found my all time favourite: Eversio Wellness. They’re based in Canada (I love supporting local entrepreneurs!) and they create their products from the fruiting body of various mushrooms, such as Lion’s Mane, via the dual extraction process mentioned above. If you want to try their amazing products, use code JOYOUS at checkout to save 15%!
Top 8 Health Benefits of Lion’s Mane
Once we understand what a specific supplement is, in this case Lion’s Mane mushroom, we can better understand its incredible health benefits. Remember that in order to get the best results, you’ll want to purchase the best quality mushrooms you can find.
1. Potent anti-inflammatory
Like many natural herbs and fungi, Lion’s Mane is a rich source of anti-inflammatory compounds that can help lower inflammation and oxidative stress in the body. Since inflammation can be the root cause or contributing factor to so many modern chronic diseases, incorporating foods and supplements that can lower levels of oxidative damage in the body can have long term beneficial effects on our health.
In fact, this study found that out of 14 mushrooms, Lion’s Mane had the fourth highest antioxidant activity.
2. Supports a strong immune system
Having an immune system that is neither overactive nor under-active is key for protecting the body from pathogens such as bacteria, viruses, yeasts, and toxins that can make us sick. Like many other medicinal mushrooms, Lion's Mane can help support immune function by boosting the immune activity of the intestinal immune system. Since our gut is one of our first lines of defense against external pathogens entering the body, supporting its function with Lion’s Mane can help improve overall immune function!
3. Supports healthy brain aging
When it comes to supporting brain health, there are two specific bioactive compounds contained in Lion’s Mane that work their magic: hericenones and erinacines. They have both been found to stimulate the growth of brain cells through a process known as neurogenesis. Keeping our brains healthy as we age is key to preventing degenerative diseases such as dementia and Alzheimer’s.
In fact, this study found that when compared with a placebo, patients who supplemented with one gram of Lion’s Mane daily for 49 weeks had improved scores on cognitive tests. While more human research is needed, researchers believe that Lion’s Mane’s ability to protect the brain from Alzehimer’s Disease related damage combined with its promotion of nerve growth may be behind these benefits.
4. Can help alleviate symptoms of mild anxiety & depression
Anxiety and depression are becoming so common in North America due to a variety of causes (check out this great Joyous Health Podcast episode with Dr. Ellen Vora on natural treatments for anxiety). New research is looking at the role of chronic inflammation in the development of these conditions. The anti-inflammatory effects of Lion’s Mane helped decrease the symptoms of anxiety and depression in this animal study.
This study also found that Lion’s Mane helped regenerate brain cells while improving hippocampal function. The hippocampus is responsible for emotional responses and processing memories, so its improved function could be one of the mechanisms of improving depression and anxiety symptoms.
5. May help manage blood sugar balance
You know I’m a huge fan of maintaining stable blood sugar throughout the day by incorporating these amazing hacks into my daily life. However, some people might need a little extra support when it comes to keeping their sugars stable. That’s where Lion’s Mane can be a great addition! This study found it had the ability to maintain lower blood sugar levels, likely by blocking the activity of an enzyme called alpha-glucosidase. This enzyme breaks down carbs in the small intestine and if it’s blocked there are fewer carbs passing into the bloodstream, which means lower sugar levels.
6. Protects the digestive system from ulcers
Ulcers are open sores that can occur anywhere along our digestive tracts, from the mouth to stomach to intestines. Typically they are caused by one of two things: an overgrowth of the bacteria H. pylori or damage to the mucosal lining of the digestive system. Lion’s Mane has demonstrated it can protect against ulcers by inhibiting the growth of H. pylori while also protecting the stomach and intestines from damage.
Since it can also help lower inflammation, researchers found that taking a supplement with Lion’s Mane helped improve the quality of life and reduce symptoms in people with Ulcerative Colitis after just three weeks!
7. Supports a healthy microbiome
You know how much I love the microbiome –I’ll talk about it to anyone who will listen because it’s just so important for overall health! Well this study found that Lion’s Mane can support a robust microbiome by creating and promoting a healthy gut environment and even modulating the microbiota itself!
8. Can help improve heart health
Heart disease is one of the most common chronic illnesses in North America. While there are many causes ranging from chronic inflammation to blood sugar issues, Lion’s Mane has shown promise when it comes to protecting the heart. Animal and test-tube studies have demonstrated Lion’s Mane ability to lower triglycerides, prevent cholesterol oxidation, and decrease the risk of clots and strokes.
My Favourite Lion’s Mane Supplement
I love taking Lion’s Mane to support not only my brain, but also my gut, while also supporting immune function and lowering inflammation. Much like with my reishi supplements, I was taking a different brand for a while, but now that I know all the benefits of Eversio's Lion’s Mane I made the switch! And I’m so glad I did because it’s made with higher quality mushrooms and comes in an 8:1 extract, which means you only need to take one capsule a day to get the benefits. I’ve definitely noticed the difference since incorporating this brain-boosting mushroom from a high quality brand I trust into my routine.
If you want to try out Eversio’s Lion’s Mane or any of their other potent extracts, you can save 15% off with code JOYOUS at checkout.
I hope this post empowers you with knowledge to craft a supplement routine that supports your personalized wellness goals!