Why is that important?
Nerve cells - you may also know them as neurons - are small, excitable cells that receive and transmit information with the help of electrical and chemical signals. They are therefore the basic elements of our nervous system and enable us to develop any form of motor and cognitive abilities. So in short, without functioning neurons, you can't move or think.
We know the preliminary stage of “not being able to think anymore”. It shows up, for example, in diseases such as Parkinson's, Alzheimer's and dementia. The cause of these diseases is ALWAYS damage and a lack of regeneration of the neurons or their sheathing myelin sheath, traced back.
The important myelin layer
Myelin envelops the nerve tracts like a protective layer and, to put it simply, ensures an optimal signal path. The extent of myelination of our neurons is a unique aspect in which the human brain differs from that of other species. It is responsible for the high processing speeds that underlie our higher cognitive functions, making us human, so to speak! [1 – 5]
So without this layer, our nerves work much more slowly.
This is also reflected in the symptoms of multiple sclerosis, because in this disease the myelin layer of the nerves is actively destroyed. These include gait or balance disorders, vision and speech disorders or signs of paralysis.
And what does that have to do with this mushroom?
In fact, Lion's Mane is known to reduce the effects of these diseases and in general (ie also in healthy people) to improve cognitive abilities such as learning and memory. (Kawagishi et al. 2008, Mori et al. 2009). investigations of Fujiwara et al. (2006) also allow the conclusion that continuous intake protects against the consequential damage of reduced blood flow and possibly prevents a stroke.
How does the fungus do it?
Our body contains proteins that are responsible for nerve growth, so-called NGFs (from English nerve growth factors). NGFs protect our existing neurons, for example by building the myelin layer. At the same time, however, they also stimulate the growth of new neurons and their plasticity what almost corresponds to the definition of learning.
So when our brains produce enough NGFs, we're doing our best. A problem only arises when these are no longer produced in sufficient quantities. Then a few neurons in our brain remain uncared for, like in a kindergarten that constantly has too few educators. This happens particularly often in older people when the functions of the body as a whole decrease somewhat. Therefore, diseases such as Alzheimer's creep in, especially in older people.
Alzheimer's info card
Here the loss of the myelin layer contributes to a large extent, which leads to the formation of so-called amyloid beta plaques encourages. Amyloid beta is a naturally occurring protein in the body that is normally completely broken down. If this process is disturbed (e.g. due to lack of sleep or genetic defects), the proteins clump together and are deposited as plaque on the defenseless nerve cells. (Gupta A, Goyal R (2016)) So if, simply put, a myelin layer promotes nerve communication, an amyloid-beta layer does the opposite and even causes nerves to die.
Through the unspeakable substance dilinoleoyl phosphatidyl ethanolamine Amazingly, independently of the myelin sheath, the fungus protects nerve cells from death due to accumulations of these plaques and other stressors. (Nagai et al. 2006, Kawagishi et al. 2008)
Lion's Mane also stimulates the synthesis of NGFs in the brain, and these in turn also regulate the construction of the important myelin layer (Kolotushkina et al. 2003). Even taking a few grams of the dried mushroom daily can increase NGF (Spelman et al. 2017).
His Latin name Hericium Erinaceus reveals how: The special ingredients Hericenone and Erinacin are precisely the molecular components that have been shown to promote the synthesis of neurons (Kawagishi et al. 2008, Fujiwara et al. 2006). And so demonstrably that even supplements are sold as "brain boosters" that contain nothing else than "isolated Hericenone and Erinacene" from the fruiting body of the Lion's Mane.
We are actually not a big fan of all these isolated things, because we believe that this often means that the synergetic effect with other ingredients from medicinal mushrooms is lost. In the case of Lion's Mane, however, the hericenones seem to have such a serious effect that they are also used as isolated components in supplements. That's pretty amazing. Lion's Mane not only helps people suffering from neurological disorders, but can also prevent and even reverse cognitive decline by stimulating NGF (Kawagishi et al. 1994, Lee et al. 2000).
These findings, some of which were obtained in animal studies or in the test tube, were confirmed in a small, double-blind, placebo-controlled study in 30 participants with mild cognitive impairment (Mori et al. 2009). Half of the participants received mushroom powder capsules for 16 weeks. Compared to the placebo group, they showed significantly improved mental abilities, which increased with increasing duration of use.
Better still, unlike most drugs prescribed by the pharmaceutical industry for cognitive function, Lion's Mane has no known side effects. It can be taken every day without any risk of adverse consequences.
Lion's Mane can do much more
Aside from the amazing effects on the brain, the mushroom can do a lot more. In traditional Chinese medicine, it is used for all types of nervous and inflammatory stomach and intestinal problems. Good experiences have also been made here with chronic inflammatory bowel diseases such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease. The fungus promotes the regeneration of damaged mucous membranes and regulates acid production.
In China, it is traditionally recommended to cook the dried fruit bodies with chicken soup for general strengthening and to combat senility.
Science reveals why:
As with most other medicinal mushrooms, Lion's Mane also works through its polysaccharides and polypeptides - which we have through special ones extraction conditions are obtained - especially in the case of immune deficiency strengthening on the immune system (Mizuno et al. 1992,1993).
There are also indications that the hericenones and erinacins also stimulate the production of defense cells and thus the immune system.
Especially the erinacins also seem to encourage bacterial growth in the gut Heliobacter pylori and pathogenic yeasts such as Candida albicans to inhibit (Kawagishi 2005, Kim et al. 2000). These microbes are involved in a variety of diseases, including the development of gastric ulcers and gastric cancer.
Lion's Mane in everyday life
Should you try Lion's Mane even if you think you're pretty sane? - Definitely. Mental and physical failures do not always have to be present in order to take action. Lion's Mane also helps in healthy people as prevention, protects against the negative effects of stress and supports many forms of cognitive performance such as information storage, i.e. learning in short.
Of course you can't just buy Lion's Mane in the supermarket in Germany. That annoyed us and so we looked for alternatives:
On the picture you can see our first successful Lion's Mane breeding from a substrate bag. We grew the mushroom at home. In your own bathroom. Of course, visitors were always delighted when they were surprised by the coral-like formations on the edge of the bathtub.
We have extracted the fruiting bodies that we have cultivated ourselves twice. This can be applied to several vital mushrooms and gets the largest proportion of active ingredients out. In contrast to corky tree mushrooms such as chaga and reishi, Lion's Mane is also excellent in the pan. In fact, it's one of our favorite edible mushrooms for us because its flavor and texture are reminiscent of tender chicken.
At Lykaia we have a "Forest Coffee", which contains Lion's Mane extract, among other things. In this case, the extract corresponds to double extraction in its spray-dried form - of course not cultivated in our own bathroom, but from a certified and ecological mushroom farm. Our aim was to produce a coffee powder that contains all the valuable active ingredients It played into our hands that the German scientist Susanne Ehlers was able to show in her doctoral thesis that the active substance content of extracts from dried mushrooms and those from liquid mycelium cultures is almost identical ( Ehlers 1999 ).
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