Being outside your comfy bed on a cold early morning can feel rather unfortunate. Recently work obligations called me out of my cozy cocoon before the sun had come up. I stumbled into a local health food store in search of caffeine. As my sleepy eyes perused the smoothie/drink bar options, I noticed a handful of lattes containing the most interesting ingredients. I couldn’t take my eyes off the “Lion’s Mane Latte”. What was this magic? A hair from Aslan’s head to provide you with bountiful energy on your drowsy day? No indeed, lion’s mane is a white, balloon-like mushroom that frankly looks a bit furry. Apparently somebody thought they appeared like they belonged on a lion. The brief latte description on the menu board boasted stores of energy and mental acuity throughout my day. I couldn’t resist.
As sluggish interest transformed into invigorated curiosity, I started researching and learning more about this feline fungus. What I discovered sold me on the furry mushroom. Let me explain.
Who doesn’t want to sharpen mental focus, clarify thoughts, crystallize memory, and even stimulate growth of brain cells? Listen up: you’ll be amazed at what lion’s mane can do.
Alzheimers and Dementia
It has been shown that when older adults intake the mushroom faithfully, their cognitive functioning shoots up.
Indeed, the mushroom shows promise for curbing both Alzheimer’s and dementia!
We’ve long known that amyloid-beta plaques are our worst enemy when it comes to the development of the dreaded Alzheimer’s disease. These plaques come and block up our neurons, impairing our cognitive abilities. However, miraculously, a study of mice indicates that lion’s mane may actually prevent this amyloid-beta blockage, thus staving off this life-rending disease.
Anxiety and Depression
What about the day-to-day lows we all experience? And what about depression and anxiety that can take us down and make life feel burdensome?
Can you believe that lion’s mane also shows promise for improving our mood? Here’s how: it appears that chronic inflammation may factor into what causes anxiety and depression. Lion’s mane produces anti-inflammatory effects which reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression: in mice. Yes, human studies have yet to be done, but research thus far is promising.
A note: Inflammation appears to cause much disease, as well as progressing aging. Lion’s mane has powerful anti-inflammatory powers through its antioxidants.
But anti-inflammatory effects are not all; lion’s mane also improves functioning of our hippocampus. The hippocampus is lodged deep in our brain in the temporal lobe region. It functions in our memory, learning, and emotion processing. The hippocampus tune-up lion’s mane provides is another reason this mushroom may be effective in reducing anxiety and depression.
A small Japanese study asked female participants who were complaining of various ailments to eat cookies containing lion’s mane for 4 weeks. These women reported lower levels of irritability and anxiety. If eating delicious cookies can also make me healthier and feel better about the world, sign me up.
Finally, lion’s mane performs one more mind-blowing function in the brain. (See what I did there?) But really, when I read this one, my jaw dropped to the floor. Amazingly, research on lion’s mane indicates it may stimulate nerve regeneration after brain and spinal cord injuries! Can you even wrap your head around a food item that could create nerve regeneration? For the same reasons, it is thought that lion’s mane may speed recovery after a stroke!
Lion’s mane mushroom doesn’t just tune-up your brain; it also can bring new life to your heart. Animal studies indicate that the mushroom reduces triglycerides and improves the metabolism of fat. A substance known as hericenone B slows blood clotting. Just like when you take aspirin to thin your blood, your risk of heart attack and stroke goes down when your blood doesn’t clot as quickly.
Your gut is the other major bodily system affected by lion’s mane. In an age when everyone is paying closer attention to the functioning of the gut, a crucial part of our wellness and mood, this mushroom comes to our rescue.
Lion’s mane is said to work against stomach ulcers, ulcerative colitis, and even Crohn’s disease.
Likewise, lion’s mane boosts our intestinal immune system.
Cancer and Diabetes
Particularly exciting is the possible effect on cancer. In a test tube, lion’s mane extract caused human cancer cells to die more quickly! Studies with cancer cells from various parts of the body have replicated these results.
When it comes to diabetes, preliminary animal studies suggest lion’s mane extract has the power to lower blood sugar levels. For diabetes patients, this may potentially greatly aid management of symptoms.
Of course, reducing blood sugar is a useful aid for all of us, not merely diabetes sufferers. High and oscillating blood sugar levels are associated with unhealthy cravings and snacking. So, if you don’t want to nosh in a detrimental way, consider adding a lion’s mane supplement to your routine.
Many of the benefits listed here have only been shown in animal studies up to this point. It’s important to understand that the human body may not always work the same way. While lion’s mane shows tremendous promise and offers a great deal of hope, more research remains to be done before we can conclusively claim all of these benefits for the human population. For example, a study of rats with neck wounds indicated lion’s mane extract may lead to faster healing. Could such a finding possibly be replicated in humans?
As with any new supplement, it’s always recommended to check with your doctor before trying out a new routine.
Nonetheless, studies do indicate a high level of safety with consumption of lion’s mane. As with all things, moderation tends to keep us in the safe zone. But people in Asia are known to consume the mushroom often. Its popularity is newer only in the West.
Finally, if you have mushroom allergies, you should obviously steer clear of lion’s mane.
I love the notion of preventive nutrition. The idea is to load up your body with delicious whole foods that are close to nature, unprocessed, close to the way God created them. These foods are a gift. They infuse health and life into our bodies such that we may never have to deal with many of the health problems prevalent in the West: Type 2 Diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and maybe even cancer.
The philosopher Hippocrates is famously remembered as saying, “Let food be your medicine, and let medicine be your food.”
Lion’s mane is one of those basically miraculous ingredients right there in nature, a present from God for our consumption and enjoyment. Whether you drink it in tea or a latte, take it as a supplement, or consume it in some other fashion, this wonderful mushroom is chock-full of goodness.
Disclaimer: I’m not a nutritionist nor do I have formal training in any medical field. Please consult with your doctor about any significant changes to your diet or lifestyle. I only share from research I have done and personal experience.
The Gorgeous Life is about all the facets of female life in Christ Jesus. You’ll find tips to cultivate glowing health, be more present and alive in your relationships, develop inner and outer beauty, and laser-focus your sense of purpose in the world.
As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.