Lion’s mane mushrooms (aka hou tou gu or yamabushitake) are large, white, ‘pom-pom’ like shaggy mushrooms that look like a lion’s mane as it grows. It is a medicinal mushroom as well as a culinary treat, as its texture resembles crab meat. The Lion’s mane mushroom health benefits are becoming more apparent and respected. In fact, there are several reasons why we choose to use the Lion's mane mushroom in our Mush Love Cafe' and Blue Dream Tea. Researchers have discovered that it contains bioactive substances that have beneficial effects on the body, especially the brain, heart and gut.
Studies have found that lion’s mane mushroom contains two special compounds hericenones and erinacines that can stimulate the growth of brain cells. These compounds contribute to a healthier brain by promoting nerve growth as well as protecting the brain from Alzheimer’s-related damage. Miraculously, lion’s mane can also speed the recovery process of brain trauma, spinal cord injuries, or brain damage caused by a stroke. Studies show that it stimulated the growth and repair of nerve cells, reducing overall recovery time by 23-41%.
Anxiety and depression are unfortunately quite common, and chronic inflammation could be a major contributing factor. Research shows that lion’s mane mushroom contains powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds that can reduce depression symptoms. Other studies have found that lion’s mane can also help regenerate brain cells and improve the functioning of the hippocampus, which is a region of the brain responsible for processing memories and emotional responses. Researchers believe that improved functioning of the hippocampus reduce anxious and depressive behaviors.
Research shows that Lion’s mane mushroom also improves your health by working with your gut. It can improve one’s ability to metabolism fats and lower triglyceride levels which reduce the risk of heart disease. It protects against the development of stomach ulcers by inhibiting the growth of H. pylori and protecting the stomach lining from damage. Lion’s mane mushroom also lowers blood sugar levels by blocking the activity of the enzymes that breaks down carbs in the small intestine. When this enzyme is blocked, the body is unable to digest and absorb carbs as effectively, which results in lower blood sugar levels.
Research is growing on Lion’s mane mushroom's cancer fighting abilities. Cancer occurs when DNA becomes damaged and causes cells to divide and replicate out of control. In fact, when lion’s mane extract is mixed with human cancer cells in a test tube, they cause the cancer cells to die at a faster rate. This has been demonstrated with several types of cancer cells including liver, colon, stomach and blood cancer cells. In addition to killing the cancer cells, lion’s mane extract has also been shown to slow the spreading of cancer. In fact, Lion’s mane extract is more effective at slowing tumor growth than traditional cancer medications.
With all the health benefits being discovered, the beautiful Lion’s mane mushroom deserves respect and should be included as part of a healthy diet.