One of the biggest problems encountered as we age is a loss of brain cells (neurons). This happens throughout the course of life as a result of oxidative damage, injuries to the head, lack of sleep, alcohol consumption, and toxic compounds we’re exposed to from our environment.
As we lose brain cells our cognitive function may begin to decline. We may experience memory loss, inability to concentrate, confusion. Irritability, mood disorders, and other more serious neurodegenerative disorders.
Lion's mane has the unique ability to increase a compound in the brain known as nerve growth factor (NGF). This compound is used to stimulate the production of new brain cells to replace those that were lost — thus delaying, or preventing the consequences of cognitive decline.
This effect is also useful for promoting faster recovery from other forms of damage as well — including traumatic injuries to the head, oxidative damage, and chronic stress.
Mood & Stress
Low mood and chronic stress are common among people living in the modern world. Many experts agree that stress is one of the main causes of disordered mental states is inflammation.
In the short term, inflammation is a good thing — it helps to deliver blood and nutrients to the damaged area, along with immune cells designed to clean up the mess and remove infectious agents that may take residence in the area.
However, long-term inflammation can damage the integrity of the blood-brain barrier — allowing inflammatory messengers to go from the bloodstream to other areas located deep within the brain. Ultimately this can lead to changes in the neurochemical balance inside the brain which can affect our ability to maintain our moods and manage stress effectively.
Lion’s mane contains a variety of powerful anti-inflammatory compounds and a strong affinity for the brain. This effect helps to reduce the overall inflammation taking place around the blood-brain barrier — giving it a chance to recover and keep unwanted compounds out of the sensitive regions of the inner brain.
The immune system is a complex network of cells all working together to identify, mark, and destroy invading microorganisms and harmful compounds within the body.
Additionally, the immune system is tasked with removing damaged cells in the body — including cells that have become cancerous.
Lion’s mane has been shown to support the human immune system by supporting the production of new immune cells in the bone marrow — making the immune system more efficient at doing its job.
Although there are hundreds of potentially active ingredients in the lion’s mane mushroom, a group of long-chain sugar molecules known as polysaccharides are believed to be the primary active ingredients for this effect.
Similar polysaccharides are abundant in many other medicinal mushroom species with powerful immune-enhancing benefits like reishi, turkey's tail, and chaga.