The Natural Nerve Growth Factor: Lion’s Mane
If you are looking for a natural way to boost your brain health and cognitive function, you may want to consider lion’s mane mushroom. Lion’s mane (Hericium erinaceus) is a type of edible fungus that has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries. It is also known as monkey head mushroom, bearded tooth mushroom, or hedgehog mushroom.
One of the most remarkable benefits of lion’s mane mushroom is its ability to stimulate the production of nerve growth factor (NGF) in the body. NGF is a protein that plays a vital role in the growth, maintenance, and survival of neurons. Neurons are the cells that transmit information throughout the nervous system, including the brain and spinal cord.
NGF is essential for the health and function of the brain, as it supports learning, memory, mood, and cognition. It also protects against neurodegeneration, which is the loss of neurons due to aging or disease. Neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s are characterized by low levels of NGF and impaired neuronal function.
Lion’s mane mushroom contains bioactive compounds called hericenones and erinacines that can cross the blood-brain barrier and stimulate NGF synthesis in the brain. This can enhance neurogenesis, which is the formation of new neurons, and neuroplasticity, which is the ability of neurons to adapt and rewire. By doing so, lion’s mane mushroom may help improve cognitive performance, prevent cognitive decline, and promote brain repair and regeneration.
Several studies have shown the positive effects of lion’s mane mushroom on brain health and function. For example, a randomized controlled trial involving 50- to 80-year-old Japanese men and women with mild cognitive impairment found that taking 3 grams of lion’s mane mushroom powder per day for 16 weeks significantly improved their cognitive scores compared to a placebo group. The improvement was maintained for four weeks after stopping the supplementation, but declined thereafter.
Another study involving healthy adults aged 18 to 65 years found that taking 1 gram of lion’s mane mushroom extract per day for four weeks improved their mental performance on a computerized cognitive test. The improvement was correlated with increased levels of NGF in their blood.
Lion’s mane mushroom may also have beneficial effects on mood and mental health. A study involving 30 postmenopausal women found that taking 2 grams of lion’s mane mushroom cookies per day for four weeks improved their subjective well-being, reduced their depression and anxiety scores, and increased their concentration levels compared to a placebo group.
Lion’s mane mushroom is generally considered safe and well-tolerated, with no serious adverse effects reported in human studies. However, some people may experience mild gastrointestinal discomfort or allergic reactions when consuming it. Therefore, it is advisable to consult your doctor before taking lion’s mane mushroom supplements, especially if you have any medical conditions or allergies.
Lion’s mane mushroom is a natural source of NGF that can support your brain health and function in various ways. By stimulating neurogenesis and neuroplasticity, it may help enhance your cognitive performance, prevent cognitive decline, and promote brain repair and regeneration. It may also help improve your mood and mental health by reducing depression and anxiety. If you are interested in trying lion’s mane mushroom, you can find it in various forms such as powder, extract, capsules, or tea. You can also enjoy it as a delicious food by cooking it with butter, garlic, or herbs.