The Illustrious Lion’s Mane Mushroom
Lion’s Mane, (Hericium erinaceus) is a medicinal mushroom belonging to a group of fungi known as the Hydnoid fungi. It rose to mushroom stardom through its use in Chinese traditional medicine as a general tonic and mental performance enhancer. According to ancient Chinese folklore — when consumed, Lion’s Mane Mushroom will give one the, “nerves of steel and the memory of a lion”.
Currently, Lion’s Mane stands as one of the premiere edible mushrooms among the nootropic and supplement community — being touted for its ability to supposedly improve one’s short term memory and increase one’s energy levels. We’ll go through the research and check out the true benefits of Lion’s Mane and whether or not it holds its own within the world of beneficial nootropics.
Health Benefits & Scientific Research:
Ulcer Healing & Protection:
Through the use of an aqueous extract of Lion’s Mane Mushroom, researchers were able to shrink ethanol-induced ulcer areas within rats significantly, with no signs of toxicity shown. The extract also acted as an agent that protected against gastric mucosal injury, through a process that protected the rat’s antioxidant enzymes.
The most abundant antioxidants found in Lion’s Mane are total polyphenols. These organic chemicals are incredibly important to humans for their ability to aid in the prevention of cancer and cardiovascular disease.
Improvement in Cognition:
Lion’s Mane has been shown to improve performance in mildly cognitive impaired men and women aged 50–80. In a double-blind placebo controlled trial, researchers found that individuals who were administered 250 MG tablets of Lion’s Mane Mushroom (3 times a day), scored on average, higher on the HDS-R (Hierarchic Dementia Scale — Revised) than those who were administered a placebo.
Researchers also found that once the administered individuals stopped taking Lion’s Mane, their scores dropped significantly in the four week follow up test — meaning one might need a continuous intake of the mushroom for cognitive improvement. Study & Abstract
Effects on Depression, Irritation and Concentration:
In a small, yet encouraging study, researchers administered both placebo and Lion’s Mane Mushroom cookies to thirty women at random for four weeks.
They measured the participants with a multitude of different tests, including the Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale, the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index, the Indefinite Complaints Index, and the Kupperman Menopausal Index, both before and after the 4 weeks.
Researchers found that after the 4 weeks, participants who were administered the Lion’s Mane Mushroom cookie scored much lower on the Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale, and the Indefinite Complaints Index. The same participants also noted much lower levels of irritation and anxiety. Study abstract
Lowers Cholesterol and triglycerides:
Lion’s Mane was found to lower cholesterol by roughly 32%, LDL cholesterol by 45.4% and triglycerides by 34.3%. Additionally, the mushroom was found to raise HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol) by about 31%. Study abstract
Chemical Compounds and Nutrients:
The isolates from Lion’s Mane’s fruiting body. These salubrious chemicals have been shown to promote nerve growth in vitro studies.
Natural substance that has been isolated from Lion’s Mane. Has an advancing effect on certain nerve growth factors.
Is a Kappa Opioid receptor agonist.
Roughly 20% of Lion’s Main Mushroom is comprised of protein.
How to Grow Lion’s Mane Mushroom:
The Essential Guide to Cultivating Mushrooms, is an absolute masterpiece and NEEDS to be read by anyone with an interest in Fungiculture. Author, Stephen Russell performs a thorough deep dive into every aspect of colonizing a whole assortment of different fungi, including Lion’s Mane.
Directly from the book,
“Begin by colonizing quarts: spawn these jars into supplemented sawdust bags as the fruiting substrate. After bags colonize for roughly 2 weeks, cut 2–4 small slits into side of bag. Cut slits even if sawdust block does not appear to be fully colonized, as mycelium of this species can be wispy and does not fill out as thickly as other species. No need to remove colonized saw dust blog from spawn bag. Place bag under normal fruiting conditions after slits are made”.
If you’re more visually inclined, try out: Mushroom Cultivation: An Illustrated Guide to Growing Your Own Mushrooms at Home.
And of course, the great Paul Stamets, perhaps the most well-known mycologist alive, penned the best overall 101 guide on growing ANY medicinal mushrooms: Growing Gourmet and Medicinal Mushrooms. Consider this book the gold standard on how to cultivate a wide variety of different mushrooms.
Where to Find in Nature:
Lion’s Mane is native to North America, Europe and Asia — but as the map above suggests, your best bet for foraging is in the southern regions of the United States. Pay attention to the dead (or dying) Oak, Walnut, Beech or Maple trees.
Methods of Consumption:
Ok, there are literally a million different ways to consume Lion’s Mane — here are a few.
Because of the high protein content, Lion’s Mane has an unusual, seafood-like quality to its flavor, making it one of the premiere mushrooms for a wide variety of different dishes.
stephencooks.com details a delicious Lion’s Mane and Oyster Mushroom Pasta recipe, right here.
And of course, Healing Mushrooms: A Practical and Culinary Guide to Using Mushrooms for Whole Body Health, is filled to the brim with amazing mushroom recipes. I highly recommend it.
From the same book, Healing Mushrooms: A Practical and Culinary Guide to Using Mushrooms for Whole Body Health, author Tero Isokauppila, gives away a delicious Lion’s Mane whiskey:
Makes 2 Drinks
Total Time: 50 Minutes
1 cup coarsely chopped dried Lion’s Mane Mushrooms
10 fresh mint leaves
10 ice cubes
1 ounce high-quality grain-free whiskey
Bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a medium saucepan.
Remove the saucepan from the heat and let the “mushroom tea” steep for 20 minutes.
Strain the tea into two serving glasses and refrigerate for 20 minutes to cool.
When ready to serve, divide the stevia, ice cubes, and whiskey between the glasses.
and spread the tomato sauce on top. Grate the cheese and sprinkle it evenly over each crust. Top with the marinated veggies and garnish with fresh basil leaves.
As mentioned above, Lion’s Mane has been shown to increase Nerve Growth Factor from its sporing body isolates, both Hericenones and Erinacines. There has been some research that suggests, an increase in Nerve Growth Factor causes itchiness. Study abstract
It’s a mushroom worth trying, folks!
Thanks for reading.