In the Dutch language, Lion's Mane is known under the jolly name 'wig mushroom', and indeed: it kind of looks like there are little Donald Trump wigs growing on trees in America, Europe and Asia. This mushroom is a much-loved ingredient in Chinese cuisine, because of its pleasant sweet taste. Of course, a tasty fungus is nice every now and then, but it’s not its culinary application that makes the lion's mane so special. The mushroom is mostly known as an ancient Chinese traditional medicine, which still has different applications today. In Asia, they say the lion's mane gives you 'nerve of steel and the memory of a lion'. Research has now revealed that this is indeed the case.
The mushroom that makes you smart
A special feature of the lion's mane is that it supports your cognitive ability. Your memory, your focus, as well as your creativity get a big boost from a cup of wiggy tea. Reportedly, Buddhist monks like to have some before dedicating themselves to some serious meditating. This way, they can concentrate optimally. The mushroom has this effect by forming the substance myelin around nerve fibers called axons. Axons play an important role in transmitting signals. The layer of myelin around the axons makes the signal transfer faster.
The mushroom also causes beta-amyloid plaques to decrease. These plaques inhibit signal transmission and appear to play a role in diseases that affect the brain nerves, such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. With more myelin and fewer plaques, your brain signals go faster, making you go faster! This has been shown by several studies in which elderly people with mild cognitive impairment were supplemented with lion's mane. After a few months, this group scored significantly higher on a cognitive test than the group who had been given a placebo the entire time.
This is not the only gift that lion's mane has in store for your nervous system. It is –as far as known- the only mushroom that can restore nerves. Lion's mane does this by stimulating the production of the hormone Nerve Growth Factor (NGF). NGF plays an important role in maintaining and repairing different populations of nerve cells in the peripheral and central nervous system. Until recently, it was generally assumed that people don’t create new nerve cells after the first two years of their life, but there are now several studies that show that NGF can restart this process. As a result, previously damaged or extinct nerve tracts can grow back. In Japan, there is still a lot of research on this. The hope is that this unique feature will cause diseases such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, dementia and other neurological problems to disappear in the future.
Other health benefits
The most common application of lion's mane in traditional Chinese medicine is a medicine for gastrointestinal complaints. And rightly so, because there is sufficient evidence that the mushroom is indeed beneficial to the stomach. This is because this furry fungus has a large portion of polysaccharides: these are molecules that are proven to be significantly active ingredients against gastric ulcers. In addition, these polysaccharides are the superheroes of the immune system: they beat up a variety of bacteria, viruses and parasites. To make the party complete, this mushroom also seems to give you a good mood: a small study (among women over forty, so you may have to wait a while or change gender) shows that a dose of lion's mane results in less feelings of depression and anxiety.
Grab it by the manes
Ready to try this sharpening, smartening, stomach-soothing, salvaging, smile-inducing shroom? Rightly so. Order a handy elixir in our webshop.
Author: Sara de Waal