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Lion's Mane Mushroom: A Potential Ally in Alzheimer's Disease Awareness Month

lions mane mushroom alzheimers

November is Alzheimer's Disease Awareness Month, a time to shed light on this debilitating condition that affects millions of people worldwide. In recent years, Lion's Mane mushroom (Hericium erinaceus) has garnered attention as a potential natural remedy for cognitive impairment and Alzheimer's disease. In this blog post, we'll explore the evidence surrounding the use of Lion's Mane mushroom, its benefits for cognition, suggested uses, side effects, and safety.

What is Lion's Mane Mushroom?

Lion's Mane mushroom, scientifically known as Hericium erinaceus, has a rich history in traditional Chinese medicine. It is believed to possess therapeutic properties for various ailments, including cognitive impairment. This edible medicinal mushroom is native to North America, Asia, and parts of Europe. Its unique appearance, with a ball-like structure covered in hanging spines resembling a lion's mane, makes it easily recognizable. Both the fruiting body and mycelium of Lion's Mane contain bioactive compounds with potential health benefits [1]

What Does the Data Say?

Traditional Chinese medicine has long considered Lion's Mane mushroom as a powerful remedy for improving brain health. Recent research supports this notion with a growing body of evidence indicating its neuroprotective properties.

Studies in Animals Have Shown:

  • Enhanced recovery from nerve injury with daily Lion's Mane supplementation in rats [5].
  • Reduced oxidative stress and inflammation in mice, both of which play a role in cognitive health and Alzheimer's disease [6].
  • Reduced anxiety in mice bred to have Tau tangles, a fundamental neuropathological hallmark of AD[7,14].
  • Enhanced memory (locomotor, short-term, spatial) in mice [8].

Studies in Humans Have Shown:

  • Improved cognitive performance after 16 weeks of daily supplementation with dried Lion's Mane powder in individuals with mild cognitive impairment [9].
  • Improved short-term memory after 12 weeks of daily supplementation with the Lion's Mane fruiting body [10].
  • Improved cognition and activities of daily living scores in subjects diagnosed with mild Alzheimer's Disease after 49 weeks of daily supplementation with Lion's Mane mycelium extract [11].
  • Enhanced memory (locomotor, short-term, spatial) in mice [8].

How Might Lion's Mane Improve Brain Function?

Lion's Mane extract may enhance cognition through various mechanisms, some of which include:

  • Promotion of nerve growth factor and Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor biosynthesis, crucial for neuroprotection and nerve regeneration [12, 13, 15].
  • Acting as an antioxidant, scavenging free radicals, preventing LDL oxidation, and reducing oxidative stress [16, 17].
  • Reducing Tau tangles [7].
  • Improving beta-amyloid plaque burden [18, 19].

What Does This Mean for Alzheimer's? While Lion's Mane extract shows promise in potentially improving cognitive function and protecting brain health, especially in addressing key factors like Tau tangles, beta-amyloid plaque, inflammation, and oxidative stress associated with Alzheimer's disease, it's vital to recognize that its benefits for Alzheimer's are still being investigated. The evidence suggests potential improvements in cognition, reductions in hallmark Alzheimer's features, and enhanced neuroprotection. Nevertheless, to solidify these findings in human populations, more extensive clinical trials involving larger sample sizes are required [11]. Therefore, if you're considering Lion's Mane supplementation for cognitive health concerns related to Alzheimer's, it's advisable to seek guidance from a licensed healthcare professional.

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References:

  • Gora, 2022: https://www.livescience.com/what-are-medicinal-mushrooms
  • Friedman, 2015: https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/acs.jafc.5b02914
  • Rossi et al., 2018: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29953363/
  • Ma et al., 2010: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/21501201003735556
  • Wong et al., 2015: https://www.scielo.br/j/cta/a/7Lqm37PzpCjxKn6VcQ5WbrF/?lang=en
  • Trovato et al., 2018: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29456585/
  • Rodriguez & Lippi 2022: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35877305/
  • Marmol et al., 2020: https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.08.28.271676v1
  • Mori et al., 2009: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18844328/
  • Saitsu et al., 2019: https://doi.org/10.2220/biomedres.40.125
  • Li et al., 2020: https://doi.org/10.3389%2Ffnagi.2020.00155
  • Ma et al., 2009: https://doi.org/10.1080/21501201003735556
  • Ryu et al., 2021: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bmcl.2020.127714
  • Li et al., 2020: https://doi.org/10.1186/s12906-021-03463-3
  • Samberkar et al., 2015: https://doi.org/10.1615/intjmedmushrooms.v17.i11.40
  • Ghosh et al., 2021: https://doi.org/10.1615/intjmedmushrooms.2021040368
  • Rahman et al., 2014: https://doi.org/10.1155/2014/828149
  • Tsai-Teng et al., 2016: https://doi.org/10.1186/s12929-016-0266-z

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