Lion's Mane (Hericium erinaceus) is often referred to as “the smart mushroom” because of its ability to support cognitive and neurological health. Also called the hedgehog mushroom for its highly textured surface, it contains a broad range of naturally occurring active compounds, including erinacines and hericenones known for their cognitive health benefits, and beta glucans, prebiotic fiber and digestive enzymes that support immune health and promote gastro-protective functionalities. Several studies have reported important nootropic bioactives in Lion’s Mane that can stimulate the synthesis of NGF (nerve growth factor) and brain-derived neurotrophic factor. These factors have potent biological activities. They help to inhibit cytotoxicity of the beta-amyloid peptide associated with neuronal death and they promote neurite growth - essential for maintenance and organization of neurons, the nerve cells that are the building blocks of the brain and nervous system. Functional deficiency of NGF is related to memory loss. Whether you’re looking for ways to supercharge your workday, improve your focus on those days you can’t remember where you put your keys (only to find them in your hand), ward off brain fog, promote alertness and positive mood, or spark creativity and mental clarity, here are some of the top benefits of Lion's Mane and how you can incorporate this powerful functional mushroom into your daily routine.
A Brief History of Lion's Mane
Lion's Mane mushrooms have a long history in the Far East and Southeast Asia for treating neurasthenia and general debility. They also can be found in Europe and North America during late summer and into fall. Historically, Lion's Mane mushrooms were the fare of royalty. Today, cultivators, including Om Mushrooms, make it easy to incorporate their benefits into everyday life, with a range of different products including powders, capsules and drink mixes for those days when you’re on-the go and don’t have time to stop — so now we can all enjoy the mental fortitude of kings. Om Superfood Mushrooms is at the forefront of growing the highest-quality, 100-percent organic, functional whole food mushrooms by mycology experts at its state-of-the-art indoor farm in California. Offering 11 single species, including Lion’s Mane which is grown through the full lifecycle of the mushroom to capture all of the bioactive compounds, including hericenones during the mycelial stage, and erinacines during the fruiting body stage.
How Lion's Mane Works
In addition to being full of antioxidants, and immune-supporting beta-glucan polysaccharides, Lion’s Mane contains erinacines and hericenones, adding to the mushroom’s neuroprotective properties. In a study of mice with brain damage, after 14 days of receiving Lion's Mane following surgery, the size of cerebral infarcts (dead tissue) “significantly decreased.” The mushroom also has the unique ability to stimulate the synthesis of nerve growth factor and brain-derived neurotrophic factor, proteins that support the growth and normal function of nerve cells.
Who Should Take Lion's Mane?
Whether you are a college student working on assignments or preparing for finals, a busy professional with a demanding work schedule, or a parent with responsibilities for kids or elderly family members, Lion's Mane can help bring more focus, alertness and clarity to even the most high pressure days. If you’re in retirement and find daily life is not as demanding as it used to be, Lion's Mane can be beneficial by helping you stay sharp, focused and in the moment. In a study of 50- to 80-year-old Japanese men and women diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment, those who took Lion's Mane three times a day for 16 weeks showed signs of cognitive improvement. Lion's Mane can also keep you centered and focused outside work hours, whether you’re painting your next masterpiece, online gaming with your friends, maintaining concentration and agility during workouts, or simply trying to get through the day and maintain a pleasant mood.
How to Take Lion's Mane
If you’re taking Om’s Lion's Mane powder, simply add it to juice, coffee, tea or a smoothie. Alternatively, three Lion's Mane capsules can be taken daily with water. You can also supercharge your dose by opting for the aptly named Brain Fuel, a combination of Lion's Mane and Reishi mushrooms and vitamin B9, which helps to manage occasional stress and support immunity. If you’re just starting out with Lion's Mane, keep in mind it’s recommended that you double your dose for the first three weeks to accelerate results. Learn how you can incorporate your smart mushroom into your favorite recipes here.
Erica Garza is an author and essayist from Los Angeles. Her writing has appeared in TIME, Health, Glamour, Good Housekeeping, Women's Health, and VICE.