You’d be surprised at how easy it is to find therapeutic foods that aid in the treatment of mental disorders. All over the place you’re hearing about plants that can cure anxiety, spices that can relax depressive symptoms, and more.
Well this time, it’s an inexpensive mushroom that may be doing the job of slowing down the progression of neurological disorders – including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. So, what’s it called?
Have you ever heard of lion’s mane?
It’s a beautiful, little mushroom that actually has cascading spines, rather than gills (like most mushrooms). It is high in erinacines that enhance the production of something called nerve growth factor, a secreted protein that is responsible for strong neuron health in your brain.
Lion’s mane also protects your brain from cell death – keep in mind that one of the biggest qualities that characterizes both Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease is neuron degeneration. The brain simply starts to fall apart, and connections are destroyed between dead neurons, making it harder to communicate and send information from place to place. These mushroom slow down that degeneration.
Not surprisingly, the mushroom also appears beneficial in treating clinical depression and anxiety disorders that are often associated with menopausal women. Can you say “Super-shroom”?
One of the other great qualities of the mushroom is its ability to prevent the development of something called beta-amyloid plaque in your brain.
Paul Stamets, one of the leading researchers in the medicinal properties of mushrooms, and author of Lion’s Mane: A Mushroom that Improves Your Memory and Mood? writes:
“The reduction of beta amyloid plaques in the brains of mushroom-fed mice vs. the mice not fed any mushrooms was remarkable. The formation of amyloid plaques is what many researchers believe is a primary morphological biomarker associated with Alzheimer’s. Plaques linked to beta amyloid peptide inflame brain tissue, interfere with healthy neuron transmission, and are indicated in nerve degeneration.”
To summarize, Stamets basically found that plaque development was lessened after ingesting the mushrooms – making neuron transmission easier and less inhibited. This makes it easier for the brain to send information from place to place.
Has it had any success with humans?
Human trials are showing promising results as well, just as Stamets’ were with mice. Scientists have found a positive correlation between eating lion’s mane and improved cognitive impairment.
In a test that involved either the ingestion of lion’s mane or a placebo, patients between the ages of 50-80 years (with mild cognitive impairment) were tested on the consequential effects of the mushroom on cognitive performance.
After 16 weeks, the results reinforced Stamets’ findings – lion’s mane does have a beneficial effect on people suffering from mild cognitive impairment.
As if it wasn’t already healthy enough, the mushroom was also researched in its effects on depression, anxiety, insomnia, and irritability. Researchers found improvements in all of these behaviors, suggesting that lion’s mane could be the key to improved, overall mental health.
How Can I Get More of It?
You can get lion’s mane in supplement form or fresh from most grocery stores. Local mushroom suppliers will probably be able to supply it in plentiful amounts. If that doesn’t float your boat, you can also easily grow these babies at home without any difficulty.