Could Lion’s Mane mushroom be worth the hype it’s getting?
Enhancing the secretion of Nerve growth factor (NGF) is the most beneficial benefits of Lion’s Mane. NGF is the holy grail of nootropics. This and all the other neurotrophins are responsible for easy learning and formation of new memories.
Nobel price winner (for the discovery of Nerve growth factor) centenarian Rita Levi-Montalcini, used NGF daily as an eye drops. She used to tell that her brain was more active as a centenarian, than it was when she was 40 years younger. So it look like the benefits of NGF are nothing to scoff at… Giving a hundred year old better brain than she had at 60. If used as eye drops, NGF is very costly and will cost you about $300 per day. That’s where Lion’s Mane comes in to the picture.
Common saying about Lion’s Mane is that it gives “nerves of steel and memory of a lion“. It’s also known by names Hericium Erinaceus and Yamabushitake.
Quick scientific recap of the Lion’s Mane benefits
– Based on this study seems to decrease anxiety and depression symptoms.
– According to this study seems to halt and reverse (increased score on cognitive function scale) cognitive decline in 50-80 year old Japanese men and women who suffered from mild cognitive impairment. Effect wasn’t permanent and the scores declined after 4 weeks of stopping the ingestion of Lion’s Mane.
– Lion’s Mane stimulates NGF synthesis, according to study made with human astrocytoma cells. This is also proven in vivo, when they fed mices with Lions mane powder there was an increase in the level of NGF mRNA expression in the hippocampus (source).
– Lion’s Mane can promote healing of the peripheral nervous system (according to animal studies 1, 2).
– Pilot study made in Japan concluded that Hericenone and Amyloban components in Lion’s Mane might potentially improve sleep quality and lower anxiety.
– Another rat study concluded that topical Lion’s Mane speed up wound healing (study).
– Mouse study concluded that high doses of Lion’s Mane might prevent ethanol caused liver damage (study).
There is many sites that detail the benefits of Hericium Erinaceus in great detail. Here I’m focusing here on personal benefits that I have experienced and how to improve Lion’s Mane absorption.
Lion’s Mane experiences
My first cup of Lion’s Mane tea (powder of water & alcohol extracts) wasn’t anything special. I didn’t feel really much anything and was very disappointed. Luckily I didn’t give up so easily. Little did I know what was about to follow…
Today Lion’s Mane has a distinct effect for me, especially when I use it with the hacks/tricks down below to improve absorption.
When the Lion’s Manes effect stabilizes it greatly increases my ability to focus and keep attention. Attention span seems to increase massively and word fluency & speed of access are greatly improved. Clarity is the word, I would use to best to describe the effects.
Without a doubt, I can say that Lion’s Mane increases my performance and greatly. Like other nootropics it’s not a magic pill that can overcome bad unhealthy lifestyle but used with healthy lifestyle the effects are nothing short of magical. If you aren’t getting results I would look to the next chapter…
How to increase Lion’s Mane bioavailability
If you aren’t getting any results with Lion’s mane, it might mean that you are consuming it wrong. To get bigger bang for your buck it’s important to know how to use your Lion’s Mane.
The most popular way to ingrease absorption of Lion’s Mane is to take it with flavonoid-rich dark chocolate, which has shown to improve brain blood flow (see study).
I used to get no effects from Lion’s mane, until I started using it with other compounds that increase blood flow in the brain. Now I use Lion’s mane combined with cacao and beetroot extract (beet root is also effective in improving blood circulation study). Both of these increase blood flow to brain massively and results are from “different planet” altogether. I can’t even begin to describe the effects this combo gives me, the clarity and depth of thinking is way over my normal range.
Fat might also help with an absorption, because most beneficial compounds are in the fat soluble fraction of Lion’s Mane extracts (that’s why many Lion’s Mane products recommend to take it with food). This is just speculation, but using fat as a carrier you might be able to bypass liver circulation and get more absorption that way. So using it with MCT-oil or coconut oil might greatly increase the results you get (this is my experience and it seems to work like wonder).
According to a new research, Lion’s Mane and garlic’s allicin can have synergistic effects (study). You could try odorless garlic allicin extract to boost bioavailability.
Other most simple procedure is to just blend your Lion’s Mane product with high-powered blender in hot water (obviously only use a blender that is suitable for the temperature you are going to use).
It’s nearly a no-brainer that empty stomach and fasted state might help with noticing the effects. Like with alcohol, you surely get more effects when taken with empty stomach instead after a session of gorging.
There is also some evidence that vitamin C might be beneficial in potentiating the effects of beta glucans in medicinal mushrooms (or otherwise helping to aid in their efficacy). Haven’t really tested using vitamin C yet, but I’ll be sure to report more Lion’s Mane experiences in the future.
Lion’s Mane optimal dose
It’s difficult to determine optimal dosage for Lion’s Mane because there is not enough human research on the subject yet. But in general the minimal effective daily doses begins at 500 mg per day (double extracted mushroom) Most popular recommendation is currently about 1500 mg per day. The recommended upper limit for double extracted Lion’s Mane mushroom is 3000 milligrams per day. Naturally you can consume more powdered whole Lion’s Mane products as it is almost the same thing as eating genuine mushroom. Bear in mind that the Lion’s Mane is not only medical, but also edible mushroom and in Asia it’s often eaten up as meat substitute.
In rats, no adverse effects have been observed even with 5000 mg per kg of body weight / day doses, however in this study they also used panax ginseng and exact amount was not revealed.
Lion’s Mane side effects
Lion’s Mane has no known side effects, but like with all mushrooms allergic reactions are possible. There is at least one case where Lion’s Mane possibly caused an allergic reaction after 4 months of usage (source).
Most prominent and well-known negative side of Lion’s Manes is that its benefits are not permanent. When you finish supplementing Lion’s Mane its benefits will also disappear in about 4 weeks. Most people certainly wont notice or feel any withdraw symptoms, but some may experience “slow down” when the brain activity returns to normal.
Lion’s Mane products
I have spent considerable time for searching and testing good Lion’s Mane products, and will surely test and add more products in the future.
Four Sigmatic Lion’s Mane – Dual extracted lion’s mane with mint, star anise and stevia. This is an excellent product with profound effects and good sweet taste. It also contains mint leaves, star anise and stevia leaf extract. This is the product to choose, if you want the best chance to experience “the Lion’s mane effect”. Instant in this product mean that you can mix it with water easily. It comes with 20 “instant packages”, each package contains 1500mg of double extracted Lion’s Mane mushroom, which is certainly effective dose. This product also makes adding lions mane to your regular beverages easy (for example coffee).
For some this product might also taste very sweet if you’re accustomed to eating sugar free diet. Also I’m not exactly sure should you consume something very sweet everyday although on other times you are restraining the use of sweet things (like other artificial sweeteners it might have some effects to your cut-bacteria which lead to elevating of blood sugar in the long run). Constant usage of sweet things might also strengthen the same brain structures that keep up the addiction to sugary things. Nothing to worry about in occasional use but just a thing to consider if you are using this everyday. There is also another Lion’s Mane coffee version which is has no sweeteners, but it only contains 500mg of mushroom.
(If you are regular reader of this site you might worry about the mint… Really there’s nothing to worry. Because it should be the safe form Mentha arvensis (aka wild mint) (not the one Spearmint one Mentha spicata which has been suspected of being anti-androgenic. See: How To Get More Testosterone Naturally).
For international customers Four Sigmatic Lion’s Mane is now available in iHerb also.
Fungiology Organic Lion’s Mane – When choosing Lion’s Mane powder you should pay attention to whether the product is made of whole fungus (whole mushroom) or for example mycelium grown on wheat or rice. Powders made from whole mushrooms can be good choice, but products made from rice grown mycelium are mainly rubbish (mycelium grown on rice or wheat does not necessarily give the same health benefits as a whole mushroom).
Fungiology Organic Lion’s Mane powder is made from all parts of mushroom. Powder is light brown colored and has a typical Lion’s Mane taste. Cheap (contains about 165 servings) and easy to take powder for example in daily coffee. Contains a scoop which you can use to take the 600 mg daily dose 1-3 times per day.
Plain mushroom powders without extraction aren’t usually very bioactive for humans, so you might want to at least boil it up to a tea or coffee. Effect is not as strong combined to a extracted Lion’s Mane product (for example Four Sigma Foods instant). You can strengthen the effect by making a hot water or alcohol extract from the powder (read more about making mushroom extracts).
Host defence Lion’s Mane – Most people believe that this is definitely one of the top range Lion’s Mane products on the market as the founder of this company is the world-famous visionary mushroom educator and book author Paul Stamets.
Host Defence Lion’s Mane is extracted 3 times (triple extraction method), hot & cold water plus ethanol extraction makes sure that mushrooms polysaccharides, antioxidants and metabolites are bioavailable for human use.
The disadvantage of this product is that it has not been made from whole mushroom, as it’s only mycelium grown in brown rice (and added fruiting body extract). This fungus rice is boiled and then extracted with alcohol in order to obtain all the active ingredients. On the positive side, mycelium and fruiting body products can have more triterpenes (hericenone and erinacine) that stimulate NGF.
It’s also available in capsule form, which is good for maintenance dose 500mg daily (Only freeze-dried mycelium).
Lion’s Mane is really promising according to animal studies. And if the Lion’s Mane provides even 1% of its alleged benefits, it would certainly be foolish not to take it. Personally Lion’s Mane is a no-brainer supplement to use every day, as the cost is only about 1 usd per day. It’s like I’m feeling that I’m wasting time and money if not using it. We experience the world through our nervous system, so it’s good to do everything in our power to enhance it. Nowadays I even bring Lion’s Mane to holiday trips, it’s just too good to pass on it.
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