What is Lion’s Mane?
Other than being a beautiful fur around lion’s neck Lion’s Mane (Latin – Hericium Erinaceus) is also a native North American, European, Asian mushroom used for food and medicine. It can be identified by its long spines that truly resemble a Lion’s Mane which consequently got it it’s name. Due to its intriguing look, it is also called monkey head mushroom, bearded tooth mushroom, and satyr’s beard.
Nutrition and Health
So now you are maybe thinking, is there any benefit to drinking or eating Lion’s Mane, well from a pure nutritive score it is pretty average. In 100grams of Lion’s Mane, there is approx 3.6g of carbohydrates and 2.4 grams of protein, which is nothing out of the ordinary compared to many other healthy products, what makes Lion’s Mane so interesting is the micro-nutrients…………
Lion’s Mane contains two specific compounds hericerins and erinacines which haven’t been found in any other species on the planet. Application of these is quite remarkable. Multiple studies and trials both on animals and humans have came up with the similar conclusions:
- Lion’s Mane Supports Brain Function and Regrows Nerve Cells. Lion’s Mane has been shown to increase ‘Nerve Growth Factor’ (NGF)(1) which literally helps nerves and brain cells to grow and repair,(2-7). You can find more about this fascinating property in the analysis paragraph of this article.
- Lion’s Mane Reduces Depression and Anxiety. In two different human trials groups of women who consumed cookies baked with Lion’s Mane showed less anxiety and depression yet improved their ability to concentrate compared to the placebo groups eating cookies without Lion’s Mane.
Relating to the benefits, Lion’s Mane is used as a strong support to your brain and neural system and a means to make your day a bit happier.
There are a couple of interesting preventive applications for treating neurological disorders as well, but more research has to be done to make the results more conclusive.
Recipes with Lion’s Mane
Lion’s Mane has great properties and can easily be implemented into your diet. It has an incredible taste, close to crab and lobster, which represents a great meat-free alternative. The texture is very soft and will delight the finest palates. It is used as a gourmet dish in some high-end restaurants.
This mushroom can be bought under several forms. It can be raw, or dried or even turned into powder. The best choice will depend on the use you expect. You can also try to grow it yourself on hardwood chips or sawdust.
- Lion’s Mane patties
These patties are seafood-free, and yet, they will taste like if crab were in it, you’ll have to taste it to believe it.
1 pound of Lion’s Mane mushroom
- 2 yellow onions
- 1 yellow sweet pepper
- 5 or 6 cloves garlic depending on their size
1 cup bread crumbs
Basil or parsley, depending on your taste
2 teaspoons butter
Black pepper, depending on your taste
Chop your lion’s mane. Dice the onions, the red pepper and the garlic.
The point of this second step is to remove all water from your ingredients. For this, place onions, the lion’s mane and the red pepper in a pan at low heat, and sweat, stirring regularly. When this is done, add garlic and let sweat for some more minutes. Your ingredients shall be lightly browned. Let cool.
(The duration of the sweating process will depend on the amount of water within your Lion’s Mane, if you use a dried-one, you might add a little bit of water to prevent your ingredients from burning)
Stir all the remaining ingredients in a bowl (bread crumbs, eggs, basil or parsley, salt, butter, black pepper). Then mix all ingredients and mash them until they form a solid paste. If the texture isn’t sticking together, try adding more bread crumbs and egg.
Create small patties (big are harder to cook) and cook both sides in a buttered pan, at low heat.
- Roasted Lion’s Mane with shallots
For 4 people, you can use this recipe as a starter served with salad and bread or as a side-dish with meat. The meaty taste of the Lion’s Mane with the tangy taste of shallots will leave you with a perfect-balanced and versatile meal.
- Lion’s Mane clarity latte
This recipe is the easiest you can possibly find to benefit from the lion’s mane benefit while enjoying a perfect beverage. It takes seconds to make and you could easily put it in your daily routine, for example as breakfast.
- Lion’s Mane with cherry tomato sauce
The recipe with less than 10 ingredients is perfectly balanced. It doesn’t require great cooking skills nor complicated ingredients, as it is pretty straightforward. If you have your lion’s mane, the rest shall probably already be in your kitchen shelves.
Toxicology Studies and Safety
To date, all experimental studies have suggested that Lion’s Mane is safe and devoid of adverse eﬀects. 12
However, anyone who is allergic or sensitive to mushrooms should avoid lion’s mane, since it is a species of mushroom.
In-depth analysis (studies and trials)
In depth analysis of significant scientific discoveries on Lion’s Mane application follows:
1.1 Lion’s Mane has been shown to increase ‘Nerve Growth Factor’ (NGF)(1) which literally helps nerves and brain cells to grow and repair,(2-7) an effect not seen from other ingredients on the planet.
This is important because neurons (brain and nervous system cells) typically don’t repair very well at all…and so, if you’ve lost a few cells, or damaged a few, through playing footy, bumping your head surfing, or falling off your bike… or from a few too many late nights out…you might be able to recover some of that previously lost brain tissue.
Because of this brain-repair effect, Lion’s Mane is being considered as one of the most promising preventative treatments for Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia.(9,
1.2 About a dozen studies have been published on the neuroregenerative properties of lion’s mane mushrooms since 1991, when Dr. Kawagishi first identified NGFs in Japanese samples. Since his original discovery, in vitro and in vivo tests have confirmed that Hericenones and Erinacines stimulate nerve regeneration.
“The subjects of the Lion’s Mane group took four 250 mg tablets containing 96 percent of Lion’s Mane dry powder three times a day for 16 weeks. After termination of the intake, the subjects were observed for the next four weeks. At weeks eight, 12 and 16 of the trial, the Lion’s Mane group showed significantly increased scores on the cognitive function scale compared with the placebo group. (Mori, 2009)11
1.3 Recently, mice were injected with neurotoxic peptides in an experiment to assess the effects of the lion’s mane on the type of amyloid plaque formation seen in Alzheimer’s patients. The mice were then challenged in a standard “Y” maze, designed for testing memory. Mice fed with a normal diet were compared to those supplemented with lion’s mane mushrooms. As the peptide-induced plaque developed, the mice lost the ability to memorize the maze. When these memory-impaired mice were fed a diet containing 5 percent dried lion’s mane mushrooms for 23 days, the mice performed significantly better in the Y maze test. Interestingly, the mice regained another cognitive capacity, something comparable to curiosity, as measured by greater time spent exploring novel objects compared to familiar ones. The reduction of beta-amyloid plaques in the brains of mushroom-fed mice vs. the mice not fed any mushrooms was remarkable.
(The formation of amyloid plaques is what many researchers believe is a primary morphological biomarker associated with Alzheimer’s. Plaques linked to beta-amyloid peptide inflame brain tissue, interfere with healthy neuron transmission and are indicated in nerve degeneration.) 12
2.1 Since Erinacines isolated from Lion’s Mane fruiting body stimulate nerve growth factor (NGF) synthesis, it was expected for Lion’s Mane to have some effects on brain functions and autonomic nervous system.
In vivo human trial was designed to investigate the clinical effects of H. Erinaceus on menopause, depression, sleep quality and indefinite complaints, using the Kupperman Menopausal Index (KMI), the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CES-D), the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI), and the Indefinite Complaints Index (ICI).
Thirty females were randomly assigned to either the H. Erinaceus (HE) group or the placebo group and took HE cookies or placebo cookies for 4 weeks. Each of the CES-D and the ICI score after the HE intake was significantly lower than that before. In two terms of the ICI, “insentive” and “palpitation”, each of the mean scores of the HE group was significantly lower than the placebo group. 3
2.2 In another clinical study (n=30), post-menopausal women who consumed lion’s mane baked into cookies vs. those without showed less anxiety and depression yet improved in their ability to concentrate (Nagano et al., 2010).3
- Lai P-L, Naidu M, Sabaratnam V, Wong K-H, David RP, Kuppusamy UR, et al. Neurotrophic Properties of the Lion’s Mane Medicinal Mushroom, Hericium erinaceus (Higher Basidiomycetes) from Malaysia. 2013;15(6):539-54.
- Park YS, Lee HS, Won MH, Lee JH, Lee SY, Lee HY. Effect of an exo-polysaccharide from the culture broth of Hericium erinaceus on enhancement of growth and differentiation of rat adrenal nerve cells. Cytotechnology. 2002;39(3):155.
- Nagano M, Shimizu K, Kondo R, Hayashi C, Sato D, Kitagawa K, et al. Reduction of depression and anxiety by 4 weeks Hericium erinaceus intake. Biomedical Research. 2010;31(4):231-7.
- Wong K-H, Vikineswary S, Naidu M, Keynes R. Activity of Aqueous Extracts of Lion’s Mane Mushroom Hericium erinaceus (Bull.: Fr.) Pers. (Aphyllophoromycetideae) on the Neural Cell Line NG108-15. 2007;9(1):57-65.
- Wong K-H, Naidu M, David P, Abdulla MA, Abdullah N, Kuppusamy UR, et al. Peripheral Nerve Regeneration Following Crush Injury to Rat Peroneal Nerve by Aqueous Extract of Medicinal Mushroom Hericium erinaceus (Bull.: Fr) Pers. (Aphyllophoromycetideae). Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2011;2011:10.
- Wong K-H, Naidu M, David RP, Abdulla MA, Kuppusamy UR. Functional Recovery Enhancement Following Injury to Rodent Peroneal Nerve by Lion’s Mane Mushroom, Hericium erinaceus (Bull.: Fr.) Pers. (Aphyllophoromycetideae). 2009;11(3):225-36.
- Moldavan M, Grygansky AP, Kolotushkina OV, Kirchhoff B, Skibo GG, Pedarzani P. Neurotropic and Trophic Action of Lion’s Mane Mushroom Hericium erinaceus (Bull.: Fr.) Pers. (Aphyllophoromycetideae) Extracts on Nerve Cells in Vitro. 2007;9(1):15-28.
- Mori K, Obara Y, Hirota M, Azumi Y, Kinugasa S, Inatomi S, et al. Nerve Growth Factor-Inducing Activity of Hericium erinaceus in 1321N1 Human Astrocytoma Cells. Biological and Pharmaceutical Bulletin. 2008;31(9):1727-32.
- Mizuno T. Bioactive Substances in <i>Hericium erinaceus</i> (Bull.: Fr.) Pers. (Yamabushitake), and Its Medicinal Utilization. 1999;1(2):105-19.
- Mori K, Obara Y, Moriya T, Inatomi S, Nakahata N. Effects of <I>Hericium erinaceus</I> on amyloid β(25-35) peptide-induced learning and memory deficits in mice. Biomedical Research. 2011;32(1):67-72.
- Mori K, Inatomi S, Ouchi K, Azumi Y, Tuchida T. Improving effects of the mushroom Yamabushitake (Hericium erinaceus) on mild cognitive impairment: a double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial. Phytotherapy Research. 2009;23(3):367-72.
- Hematological, biochemical and histopathological aspects of Hericium Erinaceus ingestion in a rodent model: A sub-chronic toxicological assessment. Lakshmanan H1, Raman J2, David P3, Wong KH3, Naidu M3, Sabaratnam V4.