There is no known cure for Autism or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), but earlier diagnosis and intervention can improve outcomes for individuals with the disorder. Treatment may involve behavioral therapies, medication for co-occurring conditions such as anxiety or ADHD, and support services such as speech and occupational therapy.
Lion's Mane, a mushroom known for its potential neurological health benefits, is currently being studied for its potential effects in managing Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Some research suggests that Lion's Mane could enhance nerve growth factor (NGF) production, which plays a crucial role in brain function and development. Given the neurological aspects of ASD, the mushroom's impact on brain health has sparked interest.
However, as of the current research cut-off in September 2021, comprehensive clinical studies on Lion's Mane's direct impact on Autism are limited and inconclusive. Therefore, it should not be used as a primary treatment for Autism without further evidence and professional medical advice.
Interestingly, however, Lion's Mane mushrooms can manage specific symptoms associated with Autism. For example, Lion's Mane has neuroprotective effects, which can protect brain cells from damage caused by oxidative stress and inflammation common in Autism. In addition, Lion's Mane can improve cognitive function, reduce anxiety, and improve gut health.
This guide will examine how effective Lion's mane mushrooms are in fighting the symptoms associated with Autism. In addition, we will show parents how they can lower the rates of advanced autism symptoms in their kids by using Lion's mane mushrooms earlier.
Autism and Neurological Development
Overview of Brain Development in Individuals with ASD
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a complex neurodevelopmental condition that affects several aspects of brain development. ASD typically manifests early in life, often before the age of three, and it influences how an individual perceives, interacts with, and understands the world. The brain development in individuals with ASD can be distinct from that of neurotypical individuals, presenting unique patterns of structural and functional changes across various brain regions.
Research has shown that(1) brain growth in infants and toddlers with ASD may follow an atypical trajectory. For instance, some studies suggest that(2) the brains of many children with ASD grow faster and larger in the first few years of life compared to their neurotypical peers. However, this pattern is not uniform across all individuals with ASD, indicating the broad diversity within the autism spectrum.
Current Understanding of Neurological Factors in ASD
The neurological factors in ASD are multifaceted and involve genetics, brain structure, connectivity, and function. A key focus in autism research is understanding the differences in brain connectivity. Some individuals with ASD may show patterns of both overconnectivity and underconnectivity in various parts of the brain.
These unique connectivity patterns contribute to the characteristic behaviors and symptoms associated with ASD, such as social interaction difficulties, repetitive behaviors, and unique strengths in areas like memory or pattern recognition.
While the complexities of ASD make it a challenging condition to manage, exploring novel therapeutic options, such as Lion's Mane mushroom, offers potential avenues for intervention. Lion's Mane is a unique fungus used for centuries in traditional medicine, and recent research has highlighted its potential neuroprotective properties.
These properties may interact with the unique neurological characteristics of ASD, potentially providing benefits to those on the autism spectrum. So, let's delve into the possible benefits of Lion's Mane for Autism.
Does Lion's Mane Help People Manage Autism: 5 Benefits Of Hericium Erinaceus For Autism
1. Neuroprotective Properties
Lion's Mane medicinal mushroom has neuroprotective effects, meaning it can protect brain cells from damage caused by oxidative stress and inflammation. Moreover, Lion's Mane promotes neurogenesis, stimulating the production of nerve growth factors (NGF) which aid in the healthy growth and development of nerve cells.
One research study(3) confirmed Lion's Mane's ability to promote neurite outgrowth and stimulate nerve growth factor production. Moreover, according to research in the International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms (4), Hericium erinaceous (Lion's Mane) helped the memory and cognitive performance of mice.
Autism causes brain fog, and this powerful medicinal mushroom improves cognitive functions such as focus, memory, and learning. Moreover, individuals with Autism may have higher levels of oxidative stress and inflammation in the brain, meaning Lion's Mane's ability to fight inflammation and oxidative stress helps manage symptoms of Autism.
2. Alleviates Anxiety Symptoms
Many autistic individuals struggle with anxiety. According to a 2019 study(5), 20% of autistic individuals reported having anxiety symptoms, compared to 9% of the control group. Worries about social interactions and difficulties with daily life may be the cause of this anxiety.
Studies(6) on animals have found that Lion's mane mushroom extract lowers anxiety and depression symptoms. Another human study(7) proved that Hericium Erinaceus might alleviate anxiety symptoms and mild depression. The medicinal mushrooms' effectiveness in fighting anxiety makes it an ideal therapy that may provide improvement for people with Autism.
3. Improves Sleep Quality
Sleep disorder is one of the associated symptoms of Autism. This could be caused by several things, such as anxiety, an abnormal circadian cycle, adverse reactions to autism medicines, or hyperactivity, to mention a few.
Another benefit of Lion's Mane for Autism is that the mushroom improves sleep.One study(8) showed that lion's mane consumption could lower anxiety and insomnia, suggesting that the mushroom can fight the signs and symptoms of sleep disorders in people with Autism.
Read More: See how taking Lion's Mane before bed improves sleep quality.
4. Improves Gut Health
The CDC estimates that children with Autism are 3.5 times more likely than their neurotypical counterparts to develop digestive problems. Moreover, some researchers think there is a connection between gut bacteria and the severity of Autism.
In a 2017 study (9), the polysaccharides from Lion's Mane dramatically enhanced intestinal architecture and related markers. In addition, the mushroom significantly increased the release of antibodies and other compounds, indicating improved immunological activities of the intestinal mucosa.
This suggests that Hericium erinaceous may help improve gut health and digestive issues associated with Autism. As an added benefit, the mushroom's benefits for gut health may also boost the immune system in people with Autism.
5. Provides Vitamin D
According to studies, vitamin D may reduce autism symptoms. For example, in a study(10), vitamin D3 supplementation helped improve signs and symptoms of Autism in children. In addition, kids who took vitamin D supplements showed enhanced social awareness, cognitive awareness, and social cognition.
Ergosterol, a form of plant sterol present in cultivated mushrooms and comparable to human cholesterol, is a precursor of vitamin D2. When exposed to ultraviolet light, fresh mushrooms are stimulated to produce vitamin D2.
Sun-grown mushrooms receive UVB exposure, which increases their vitamin D content. Lion's Mane exposed to sunshine or ultraviolet radiation is an excellent source of dietary vitamin D2 because they have high levels of provitamin D2, a precursor to vitamin D. The vitamin D in mushrooms—Hericium erinaceus in this case—can be made part of a balanced diet, fighting mild symptoms of Autism.
Future Research Directions on Lion's Mane Mushroom for Autism
Areas for Future Study
Given the potential neurological benefits of Lion's Mane, such as its ability to improve cognitive functions and stabilize dopamine levels, more targeted research is needed to understand its possible impact on ASD.
For example, future studies could use the novel object recognition test to evaluate how Lion's Mane supplementation might affect spatial memory and recognition skills in individuals with ASD. It would also be interesting to explore whether Lion's Mane, often touted as a nootropic brain booster, could help with memory loss issues common in some ASD individuals.
Understanding Individual Differences in ASD Treatment Responses
A critical area for future research is the importance of individual differences in ASD treatment responses. Even with potential treatments like Lion's Mane, it's unlikely that a one-size-fits-all approach will be effective.
ASD is a spectrum disorder with a wide range of symptoms and severity. Consequently, the impact of potential interventions, like Lion's Mane, may vary significantly from one individual to another. Understanding these individual differences could help tailor more effective, personalized treatments.
The Role of a Multifaceted Treatment Approach in ASD
Moreover, addressing ASD requires a multifaceted treatment approach. This means combining different strategies, such as behavioral therapy, speech and language therapy, and potentially, natural supplements like Lion's Mane.
The mushroom is known for its potential to reduce inflammation due to its anti-inflammatory properties, which some research suggests might be beneficial in ASD. However, it's essential to understand that such supplements should be part of a broader treatment plan, not a standalone solution.
How To Take Lion's Mane For Autism?
Making Hericium Erinaceus and other mushrooms part of your balanced diet is easier than ever. You can take Lion's Mane as a supplement or take some time to cook this functional fungus.
Irrespective of how you use this traditional Chinese medicine, you can be sure you are enjoying maximum nutrients, minerals, and bioactive ingredients that can help someone with autism symptoms.
Lion's Mane Supplements
Lion's Mane mushroom supplements are available in various forms, including capsules, powders, and extracts. Each form has its advantages and disadvantages, and the choice of the form may depend on individual preferences and needs.
Capsules are a convenient and easy way to take Lion's Mane mushroom supplements. They are pre-measured, and there is no need for measuring or mixing.
Capsules also have a longer shelf life than powders or extracts. In addition, they are usually tasteless, which can be helpful for individuals who do not like the taste of Lion's mane mushrooms.
Powders are a versatile form of Lion's Mane mushroom supplements. They can be added to smoothies, soups, or other foods, making them a convenient way to incorporate Lion's Mane into your diet. In addition, powders may be less expensive than capsules or extracts and offer more dosing flexibility.
Extracts are highly concentrated forms of Lion's Mane mushroom supplements. They are usually more expensive than capsules or powders but may offer higher potency and faster absorption. Extracts may be a good option for individuals who need a higher dose of Lion's Mane or who have difficulty swallowing capsules or powders.
Cook Lion's Mane
Individuals with access to fresh Lion's mane mushrooms can use the fruiting bodies in a meal that patients with Autism can enjoy. Our detailed Lion's mane mushroom recipes should help you leverage the properties of Hericium Erinaceus to fight Autism, boost your immune system, reduce your risk of Alzheimer's disease, and even fight high blood pressure.
Lion's Mane Dosage For Autism
The optimal dosage of Lion's Mane mushroom for managing autism symptoms is still uncertain, as there is limited research on its use for this specific condition. However, anecdotal evidence suggests that higher doses of Lion's Mane may be more effective in reducing symptoms.
The recommended daily dose of Lion's Mane for Autism typically ranges from 2000 mg to 5000 mg. However, it's crucial to start with a lower dose and gradually increase it to minimize the risk of side effects.
Lions Mane Autism
FAQs About Lion's Mane Autism
Is Lion Mane Good For Kids?
Lion's Mane mushroom supplements are generally considered safe for kids. Still, it's essential to consult with a healthcare professional before giving them to your child, especially if they have any underlying health conditions or are taking medications.
Lion's Mane may offer potential benefits for children's cognitive development, including improving memory and focus and reducing symptoms of ADHD. However, it's essential to choose high-quality supplements from reputable sources and follow the recommended dosage instructions provided by the manufacturer or your healthcare professional.
Read More: Read our detailed guide on Lion's mane dosage for kids.
Does Lions Mane Increase Dopamine?
Lion's Mane mushrooms affect brain health and function positively, and there is some evidence that they may increase dopamine levels. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that regulates mood, motivation, and reward processing.
Animal studies(11) have shown that Lion's Mane mushroom extracts can increase dopamine levels in the brain, which may help to improve cognitive function and reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety. However, human studies are limited, and more research is needed to confirm these findings and determine the optimal dosages and treatment protocols.
Does Lion's Mane Work Immediately?
The effects of Lion's Mane mushroom on the body and brain are not immediate, and it may take some time before you notice any changes. Some people may experience subtle effects within a few days of taking Lion's Mane supplements. Others may need to take it for several weeks or months to see any significant changes.
The time it takes to experience the effects of Lion's Mane can depend on several factors, including your biology, the quality and dosage of the supplement, and the specific benefits you hope to achieve.
For example, suppose you are taking Lion's Mane with the hope of enjoying its potential cognitive health benefits. In that case, it may take longer to notice improvements in memory or focus compared to if you are taking it for anxiety or depression. Moreover, a person with conditions like dementia may take much longer to see the benefits of Lion's Mane than someone looking for relief from fatigue.
Read More: See our detailed guide on how long Lion's Mane takes to work for someone new.
While Lion's mane mushrooms may not cure Autism, these medicinal mushrooms are highly effective in fighting the symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Lion's Mane boosts cognitive functioning, improves gut health, fights anxiety, and improves sleep quality, all affected by Autism. In addition, when families with a person with Autism make Lion's Mane products part of their nutrition, the mushroom provides vitamins—for example, vitamin D—which are remedies for autistic behavior.
There are multiple ways to add Lion's Mane to the diet of someone with Autism—you can cook the fruiting bodies or give them the mushroom supplements. However, it is worth noting that Lion's Mane is not meant to replace medications used to treat ASD. Also, talk to your doctor before using Lion's Mane if you already use other medications to avoid interactions.
Have you used Lion's Mane before? What condition were you treating with the functional fungus? What were the results of using this mushroom? Let us know in the comments.
- Invited Review: Factors associated with atypical brain development in preterm infants: insights from magnetic resonance imaging, (1)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7496638/
- Brain and behavior development in autism from birth through infancy, (2)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5789210/
- Chemical constituents from Hericium erinaceus and their ability to stimulate NGF-mediated neurite outgrowth on PC12 cells, (3)https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0960894X15301256
- Dietary Supplementation of Lion's Mane Medicinal Mushroom, Hericium erinaceus (Agaricomycetes), and Spatial Memory in Wild-Type Mice, (4)https://www.dl.begellhouse.com/journals/708ae68d64b17c52,6de384366c0c5922,5af64f332e1ca306.html
- Anxiety Disorders in Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Population-Based Study, (5)https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10803-019-04234-3
- Hericium erinaceus Extract Reduces Anxiety and Depressive Behaviors by Promoting Hippocampal Neurogenesis in the Adult Mouse Brain, (6)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29091526/
- Reduction of depression and anxiety by 4 weeks Hericium erinaceus intake, (7)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20834180/
- The effects of Hericium erinaceus (Amyloban® 3399) on sleep quality and subjective well-being among female undergraduate students: A pilot study, (8)https://www.researchgate.net/publication/276152143
- Hericium erinaceus polysaccharide facilitates restoration of injured intestinal mucosal immunity in Muscovy duck reovirus-infected Muscovy ducklings, (9)https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0141813017321402
- Randomized controlled trial of vitamin D supplementation in children with autism spectrum disorder, (10)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27868194/
- Erinacine A-Enriched Hericium erinaceus Mycelium Produces Antidepressant-Like Effects through Modulating BDNF/PI3K/Akt/GSK-3β Signaling in Mice, (11)https://www.mdpi.com/1422-0067/19/2/341