The Lion’s Mane grows on hardwoods and conifers across North America, Europe, and Asia. It is typically found on dead or dying trees. The fungus breaks down the wood, leaving a layer of crumbly brown residue behind. The mushrooms are found in mid-autumn to late winter, they have long white tendrils with orange tips hanging from their caps which give them their name. They tend to be about six inches in diameter but can grow up to 24 inches wide if conditions are right for them to fruit . They get their nutrients from the decaying wood and animals often eat them.
Lion’s Mane is a choice edible for both vegans and non-vegans alike. The mushroom has a rich, distinctive flavor; one that tastes like lobster when it is cooked to medium rare . It can be used in soups or sauces or sautéed with vegetables and drizzled with olive oil and lemon juice. The mushrooms also contain 30 essential amino acids and 19 trace elements including calcium, magnesium, phosphorus , selenium, zinc, copper , potassium manganese , iron, niacin B6 , thiamin B1 , riboflavin , pantothenic acid B5 , beta carotene (a form of vitamin A ), and folates . They are also high in fiber , protein , selenium, copper, iron, zinc, riboflavin , B6, niacin , thiamine , calcium, potassium , manganese choline (a nutrient that helps with cognitive function) and phosphorus.Vitamins D3 and K2 are produced by the body when they are exposed to sunlight. Mushrooms are one of the few plant foods containing Vitamin D3 . Vitamin K is necessary for blood clotting and building strong bones. Lion’s Mane contains more than 30% of your daily dietary requirement for these essential nutrients.
There have been studies done regarding the medicinal benefits of Lion’s Mane mushrooms on both animals and humans. Possible benefits of using a supplement containing lion’s mane are that Lion’s mane promotes Nerve Growth Factor (NGF). It improves memory and learning performance, increases the release of nerve growth factor(NGF). Inhibits Beta amyloid production, which is thought to prevent Alzheimer’s disease. Also increases the permeability of the blood brain barrier.
Lion’s Mane reduces depression, anxiety and insomnia through serotonergic mechanisms. Serotonin has been shown to help with sleep disorders as well as have positive antidepressant effects on people suffering from depression and anxiety. Lion’s Mane supplementation leads to an increase in tryptophan uptake and serotonin synthesis and metabolites such as 5HIAA, HVA, Indoleaceticacid in the hippocampus. Serotonin is responsible for many functions including mood, appetite, sleep, memory and learning. It increases brain levels of NGF. A lack of NGF has been shown to cause impairment in long term memory storage and retrieval by neurons. Elevating NGF levels can help prevent neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease or Parkinson’s disease by supporting neuron growth, differentiation, regeneration and protection after injury
Mushroom increases expression of nerve growth factor (NGF) which promotes the survival of existing neurons while simultaneously increasing formation of new neurons by neural stem cells. It increases BDNF, promotes development/neurogenesis in the hippocampus (involved with spatial and episodic memory). It increases IGF-1 levels, it prevents and treats muscle loss/sarcopenia, which is a physiological decrease in muscle mass that occurs with aging. IGF-1 increases the amount of lean body mass, strength and bone density, while decreasing fat mass. IGF-1 also decreases frailty and thus decreases risk of falls in elderly people which can cause death from fractures. It improves sleep quality by increasing tryptophan levels (precursor to serotonin).
Studies using lion’s mane supplements have shown that it improves mental clarity, memory recall & performance of cognitive tasks (such as attention span) by increasing NGF concentrations. It increases erythropoietin (EPO) concentrations, erythropoietin stimulates red blood cell production and increases the amount of oxygen carried to cells. Mushroom reduces beta amyloid plaque buildup by inhibiting formation and inducing breakdown, reduces oxidative stress which is thought to play a role in the development of Alzheimer’s disease and prevents osteoporosis by increasing IGF-1 concentrations and stimulating bone formation. It decreases inflammation and joint pain, decreases inflammatory cytokines such as TNFα & IL6, it increases cartilage growth factor which is involved with cartilage regeneration. There are no reported side effects associated with lion’s mane supplementation.