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Lion’s mane (Hericium erinaceus) is a large, white, shaggy mushroom most commonly found on dead and decaying hardwood logs. They are most often found in the fall in North America.

Studies like this one, show Lion’s mane helps regulation and survival of neurons (nerve cells.) Neurons transmit information throughout the body. When neurons die, they are generally not replaced. However, the formation of new nerve cells do occur in some parts of the brain. Research has shown that new connections between neurons can form throughout life. Unnatural neuronal cell death may result from pathological causes such as traumatic injury, environmental toxins, cardiovascular disorders, infectious agents, or genetic diseases.

Animal and in vitro research constitute the bulk of Hericium exploration to date. But its clinical applications are supported by its extensive history of use in traditional Chinese medicine as a tonic, anti-cancer drug, gastritis medication, and for influencing the central nervous system.

In an animal study with mice that are predisposed to developing AD (Alzheimers disease), lion’s mane has been shown to decrease production of AB (amyloid-beta) protein, which is implicated in the pathophysiology of plaque creation in the brain of AD patients. The treated mice were also shown to have increased production of NGF (nerve growth factor).

A preclinical study (in vitro and animal) show that Hericium has actions which could help slow or reverse the progression of AD. Animal studies show that lion’s mane increases nerve growth factor levels and may enhance short term memory. NGF induces the growth and proliferation of sympathetic and sensory neurons, and is believed to help prevent neurodegenerative disease such as AD.

If you or someone you know is having cognitive issues, Lion’s mane might be something worth trying. I can speak from personal experience that this does help me!