Lion’s Mane Boosting Memory and Nerve Growth
Lion’s Mane mushroom, scientifically known as hericium erinaceus, has been making headlines this month after a new study conducted by researchers from the University of Queensland, confirmed that Lion's Mane could improve memory and boost nerve growth in the brain.
This incredible mushroom has always been famous in our eyes and is our favourite mushie for focus. Dubbed the ‘smart shroom’ Lion’s Mane is considered to be a natural nootropic. Nootropics are substances which substance or compound that is believed to enhance cognitive function, including memory, focus, creativity, and overall mental performance in healthy individuals.
While Lion's Mane gains a great deal of attention for its brain-boosting capabilities it has been used as food and in traditional healing modalities for a millennia. In traditional Chinese Medicine Lion’s Mane has been used to treat digestive issues, and gastrointestinal ailments as well as a general restorative due to its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and immuno-protective properties. Lion’s Mane has also been historically revered as a spiritual aid, used to enhance spiritual awareness, promote mental clarity, and support meditation.
Lion’s Mane Boosting Memory and Nerve Growth
It's incredibly exciting to see scientific studies continue to validate the path laid by traditional wisdom and when the findings from the University of Queensland study were published in the Journal of Neurochemistry we couldn’t wait to dive into the details.
The study uncovered a new active compound (N-de phenylethyl isohericerin) and its ability to boost nerve growth in the brain, promote connections between neurons and enhance memory.
Working with a Lion’s Mane mushroom extract, the study measured the neurotrophic effects of isolated compounds NDPIH and hericene A on cultured brain cells and found that these active compounds promote neuron projections, extending and connecting to other neurons.
In essence, neurons act as carriers of information in the brain. They transmit information by utilising both electrical impulses and chemical signals to relay messages between distinct regions within the brain and from the brain to other parts of the nervous system. This is how strong, healthy neurons have the potential to impact our focus, memory and neuroplasticity so that we have the opportunity to support our brain health and performance in the face of ageing.
Furthermore, using super-resolution microscopy, the researcher's findings established that the Lion’s Mane mushroom extract and its active components largely increase the size of neuronal growth cones, which are particularly important for brain cells to sense their environment and establish new connections with other neurons in the brain.
“Our idea was to identify bioactive compounds from natural sources that could reach the brain and regulate the growth of neurons, resulting in improved memory formation,” Dr Martinez-Marmol said.
Lion's Mane is captivating to behold with its cascading creamy, white strands earning its name for resembling the mane of a lion. However, to us, Lion's Mane somewhat resembles a brain and like to think that nature has left us some not-so-subtle hints here! True or not, it's incredible to see the scientific community placing energy and resources into exploring the power and potential of fungi.
Working with Lion’s Mane
If mental fatigue or lack of focus sounds familiar nature's nutrient for the neurons Lion's Mane might be a mushroom to consider working with. It's a good idea to note that the studies that have examined Lion's Mane's benefits for the brain have been an extract rather than the whole mushroom.
Lion’s Mane extracts versus Whole Lion’s Mane Powders
Medicinal mushroom extract powders are created by extracting the array of beneficial compounds found in medicinal mushrooms which is then dried and turned into powder.
Medicinal mushroom extract powders are formed by extracting a range of beneficial compounds present in the mushroom, which are then dehydrated and converted into fine powder. While on the other hand, whole mushroom extract powders are ground up and dehydrated or freeze-dried. The key point here is that extracted mushroom powders are the only way in which to access the full benefits of the medicinal mushroom as they are bioavailable whereas whole mushroom powders are not. We dive into the science behind this in our post on our Journal Medicinal Mushroom Extracts vs Whole Powders.
How to Incorporate Lion’s Mane into your Daily Routine
Lion's Mane extracts have a mild, umami-like flavour and we recommend working with a ¼ tsp a day on a consistent basis. Lion's Mane can easily be added to tea, coffee, smoothies, breakfast bowls and a variety of sweet and savoury meals. For inspiration, you might want to check out some of the recipes in our Journal.