Lion’s mane is a mushroom with a history of both medicinal and culinary uses in Asia and Europe. Medicinal mushroom use dates back to 450 BCE when Greek physician Hippocrates discovered the potential anti-inflammatory properties of fungi as well as its role in wound cauterization, according to a 2017 study in the Journal of Restorative Medicine.
The mushroom is a source of natural bioactive compounds, which are health-promoting chemicals found in certain foods and plants. As a result, it exhibits disease-fighting properties, including anti-cancer, anti-microbial and antioxidant activity.
Research also suggests that lion’s mane may protect nerves from disease or decline, according to a 2015 abstract in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. The same study concludes the mushroom displays additional health-promoting benefits, such as:
- Regulates blood sugar
- Reduces high blood pressure
- Promotes healthy energy levels and combats fatigue
- Helps to prevent excess blood lipid accumulation
- Protects heart health
- Slows biological aging
- Protects liver health
- Protects kidney health
Potential Alternative Treatment for Depression
Lion’s mane mushroom may be a potential alternative treatment for depression, according to a 2020 abstract in the Journal of Molecular Science. The abstract highlights three ways in which lion’s mane may ease depression symptoms:
- Helping ensure the presence of sufficient neurotransmitters
- Reducing the loss of nerve growth brought about by stressful situations
- Minimizing inflammation linked to depression.
Furthermore, research shows that people living with major depressive disorder may have lower nerve growth factor than non-depressed people, according to a 2015 meta-analysis in Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment. Nerve growth factor helps nerve cells specialize, grow and remain healthy, which are important aspects of mood regulation.
A number of studies demonstrate that lion’s mane increases nerve growth factor, according to Lexi Watson, a doctor of pharmacology, functional medicine practitioner and founder of Oakley Wellness, a practice that specializes in brain health and optimal aging.