Lion's Mane in the Wild
Lion's Mane is a mushroom with a very special appearance, unique taste and beneficial effects on body and mind. It can be found in Europe, Asia and North America.
In Europe she is on the red list of endangered species. In the Netherlands between 15 and 40 specimens have been spotted in recent years.
Lion's Mane eats the cellular lignin of dying hardwood deciduous trees. She parasitizes these dying trees, usually oaks or beeches. It can grow to a size of 25 to 50 cm. It does not have the 'typical' shape of a mushroom (a hat and a stem), but rather looks like a spherical, white organism with spines stuck to a tree trunk.
Lion's Mane is a mushroom that occupies an important place within the healing arts in Asia. Here she is called Houtougu (Chinese) and yamabushitake or mountain priest mushroom (Japanese). In Korea she is also called Norugongdengi-beoseot, which means 'deer tail mushroom'.
Lion's Mane, or lion's mane, is the name that comes from North America and is used to refer to this mushroom. In Dutch she is also called wig mushroom or monkey head. Other names are 'bearded tooth fungus' or tree hedgehog fungus. The French name 'pom pom blanc' also occurs, which refers to the pompoms used by cheerleaders.
Her Latin name Hericium erinaceus means 'similar to a hedgehog'. The genus Hericium includes the strange looking mushrooms that just have spines. The French botanist-mycologist Jean Baptiste Francois (Pierre) Bulliard classified the Lion's Mane mushroom for the first time in 1780.
It contains the active ingredients hericenones and erinacins. These substances help to repair the nerves. They have a powerful antibacterial effect and help stimulate NGF (Nerve Growth Factor). The Japanese D. Kawagishi was the first to discover these NGFs in samples in 1991. After this discovery in vivo and in vitro the hericenones and erinacins both stimulate the production of NGF and thus strengthen cognitive functions, among other things.
NGF plays an important role in keeping our brain and homeostasis in our body healthy. NGFs are neuropeptides that cause the production of new myelin sheaths. These are protective layers around the nerves that are essential for the proper transmission of signals. They also provide diversity within the neurons. In people with dementia such as Alzheimer's disease, NGF is greatly reduced. This means that the diversity and survival of cells in the central nervous system is reduced. Because of this, the stimulus conduction in the brain goes a lot slower and connections are made less quickly.
Although the emphasis with NGF is mainly on cognitive functions, it goes much further than that. It has been shown that NGF deficiency can be linked to cardiovascular disease and problems with metabolism, including type 2 diabetes. It has also been shown that NGF plays an important role in wound healing and skin protection. Furthermore, Lion's Mane contains threitol, arabitol and palmitic acid, substances that may have antioxidant properties and regulate lipid levels and lower sugar levels.
Lion's Mane in the kitchen
Lion's Mane is a gourmet mushroom that likes to be used in the kitchen. She has a delicious taste reminiscent of sea creatures, especially crab. In Asian cuisine she is often used as a meat substitute. It has been used medicinally for a long time. Especially in traditional Chinese medicine this mushroom is used because of its anti bacterial and strengthening properties for the immune system. There are many diseases in which Lion's Mane is used.
Treatment with Lion's Mane
Diseases such as Alzheimer's disease cause the degradation of nerve cells and the connections between the different cells. How fast this deterioration occurs depends on each person. Over the age of 90, 40% of the population has some form of dementia. The medical world is preparing for an upward trend in the number of people suffering from dementia, partly due to aging.
There are no drugs yet for these conditions.
Consumption of Lion's Mane both in capsule and powder form can help people with these types of disorders, especially in earlier stages of the disease.
In Japan, a small-scale study was conducted into the effects of Lion's Mane on people with mild dementia. The Hokuto corporation and Isogo Central Hospital published this study in which 30 participants aged between 50 and 80 with mild dementia were divided into two groups, one group being treated with Lion's Mane and the other serving as a control group. The first group received 3 grams of Lion's Mane per day in capsule form for 16 weeks. Subsequently, it was analyzed that there was a significant improvement in the cognitive ability of these participants compared to the placebo group. After four weeks, this effect decreased, from which it can be concluded that supplementation of Lion's Mane should continue to be given in order to maintain the result.
In another study, this time with mice, the restorative capacity of Lion's Mane was demonstrated in a condition that people with Alzheimer's disease often have. A neurotoxic peptide was administered to the mice, affecting their memory. The mice were either fed a normal diet or treated with Lion's Mane. Because of the damage to their brains, the mice were given an accumulation of amyloid plaques, an important characteristic of Alzheimer's disease. This causes the deterioration of cognitive functions. The mice were given a remembrance exercise in which they had to move through a Y maze. As their memory deteriorated more and more, it became increasingly difficult to remember the path of the maze. The mice that were given Lion's Mane appeared to perform their task much better and to be more resistant to the deterioration of the poison. An extra interesting fact is that they also behaved 'curiously' and seemed to have much more energy to carry out their task and take much longer to investigate new objects.
This disease originates in the central nervous system and affects the myelin sheaths. These protective layers around the nerves are important for the proper transmission of information from the nerves. When the nerves are exposed, they are less able to pass on signals. This can cause failure and paralysis symptoms.
Lion's Mane has been shown to strengthen the protective layer of nerves.
There are no drugs yet for these conditions.
Consumption of Lion's Mane in both capsule and powder form can help people with these types of disorders, especially in earlier stages of the disease.
How to take it?
Lion's Mane can be consumed in different ways. Tinctures, capsules and powders are available. When you are very lucky and you are in a region where Lion's Mane is more common, you can harvest it in the wild. This is strongly discouraged in areas where she is rare, to ensure her spread.
Did you enjoy reading this article and do you like to write yourself? We are always looking for people who share our passion for natural products, who can also translate this into great texts. And we have an interesting reward for this. View all information for writers.