Lion’s Mane Mushroom is a Medical Powerhouse

I’m sure that you can remember your parents telling you to finish your veggies before you get up from the dinner table. If you were anything like me, mushrooms were your arch nemesis. But would you be able to finish your mushrooms if you knew that they could enhance brain function, may protect against cancer, support the heart and circulatory system, might improve digestive health, reduce inflammation, act as a powerful antioxidant, improve mental health and overall well-being, improve immune function and might be useful for managing diabetes?! The Lion’s Mane Mushroom is responsible for this extensive list of medical benefits, and if you can get past eating a mushroom that looks like the scruff of a lion, might be the perfect addition to your health regimen.

Not surprisingly, this mushroom is already a staple in traditional Chinese medicine and other Asian countries. In the last few years there has been a large body of research focusing on this brain-boosting mushroom. One study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry lists the benefits by stating lion’s mane mushroom is “antibiotic, anticarcinogenic, antidiabetic, anti-fatigue, antihypertensive, anti-hyperlipodemic, anti-senescence [anti-aging], cardioprotective, hepatoprotective, nephroprotective, and neuroprotective, and improves anxiety, cognitive function, and depression”.

How can consuming a mushroom enhance brain function?

One method is by enhancing “neurite outgrowth” in the brain and related organs. When this growth occurs, it is believed that it can slow or reverse cell degeneration in the brain. This degeneration is the main characteristic of diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Lion’s mane also has anti-inflammatory properties, which have been shown to shrink ulcers and improve digestive health. The reduction of inflammation in fatty tissue can decrease your risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes. While studies continue to be conducted on this edible fungus, it has proven to be a generally safe food item and non-toxic at different dosages. While you may be able to find this mushroom at a specialty Asian market, it won’t be available at your local grocery store. If you are interested in obtaining this super fungus, other options including growing your own lion’s mane or taking it in supplement form. It is a fleshy item with a seafood flavor, often served over a bed of rice or quinoa with mixed veggies, such as bell pepper and onion.  Bon appetite!