In a pre-clinical study, scientists found that compounds in the edible mushroom may have the potential to protect against neurocognitive disorders such as Alzheimer’s Disease.
Mushrooms are rich in nutrients the body needs for optimal health and are a delicious addition to the daily diet. What’s more, some mushroom types may have medicinal uses. For example, turkey tail and Chaga mushrooms may help fight cancer, and lion’s mane mushrooms may boost mental health.
Recently, scientists from the Queensland Brain Institute discovered that lion’s mane mushroom (Hericium erinaceus) enhanced nerve growth in cultured cells and improved memory in mice. Their findings provide more evidence to support the potential brain-enhancing benefits of this edible mushroom.
The pre-clinical study appears in the Journal of Neurochemistry.
In the first part of the investigation, the research team tested the effects of active compounds isolated from lion’s mane mushrooms on cultured brain cells in the lab. After examining the cells, they found that the active compounds significantly increased the size of growth cones, which are structures that determine and guide the growth of neurons.
Then, when the researchers fed mice purified lion’s mane, the rodents showed improved cognitive performance, specifically enhanced recognition and spatial memory. Moreover, these effects occurred with active compound concentrations as low as 5 mg/kg/day.
The scientists say that although further studies are needed, their findings are a first step towards exploring the potential benefits of compounds isolated from lion’s mane mushrooms for cognitive function.
What are lion's mane mushrooms?
Lion’s mane mushrooms are edible fungi with a shaggy appearance that resembles a lion’s mane. They can be eaten raw or cooked but are also available dried in whole or powdered form. Some people add lion’s mane powder to tea, coffee, or smoothies. In addition, lion’s mane is also available in capsules or tinctures.
Although there is no standard or recommended dose for lion’s mane, in one study examining the mushroom’s effectiveness in treating Alzheimer’s disease, participants used three 350 mg capsules per day with no adverse effects.
Still, it’s best to consult a healthcare provider before starting any new supplement to ensure it won’t interact with medications or existing health conditions.
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