Eating certain foods and limiting others can help people with diabetes manage their blood glucose levels. Well, one of the most diabetes-friendly foods is a fungus—Lion's mane mushroom!
Are you surprised that Lion's mane mushroom and diabetes are interlinked? These mushrooms lower blood sugar levels by several mechanisms.
One of the most vital health benefits of Lion's mane is that it can fight insulin resistance, which results in improved blood sugar levels and the overall health of people with diabetes.
Read below to explore how this fuzzy-looking mushroom helps with diabetes management. Let's dive in!
Lion's Mane Mushroom Diabetes Benefits
Several research studies involving animals have looked into Lion's mane diabetes benefits. These animal studies have determined that when included in a diabetic diet, Hericium Erinaceus may help treat type 1 and type 2 diabetes. In addition, the mushroom may also prevent type 2 diabetes.
Here are some key ways the mushroom can help with diabetes.
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1.Lion's Mane Mushrooms Lower Blood Sugar Levels
Several studies have explored Lion's mane and diabetes, with the results suggesting the blood sugar-lowering potential of the mushroom.
For instance, a 2013 animal study evaluated the anti-hyperglycemic effects(1) of Hericium Erinaceus extracts. To determine the effectiveness of the mushroom lowering blood sugar levels, scientists used diabetic rats. Diabetic rats were given Lion's mane mushroom for 28 days, and its effects on glucose and insulin (the hormone which lowers blood sugar) were assessed.
Results demonstrated that the fungus significantly decreased blood glucose levels and increased insulin levels. This suggests that Lion's mane extract can be used to manage high blood sugar levels in people dealing with diabetes.
One of the ways that Lion's mane supplements lower blood sugar levels and keep blood glucose in check is by blocking the activity of the enzyme alpha-glucosidase(2). One of the main health benefits of Lion's mane, the mushroom blocks the break down of sugars in the small intestine, preventing them from getting absorbed. This, in turn, prevents the sugar spike.
2. Regulates The Immune System
While most people will assume that Lion's mane treat diabetes and that is the end of it all, this is not the case—the mushroom can be used as a preventative measure for type 1 diabetes.
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disorder in which an overactive immune system mistakenly attacks the pancreatic beta cells and destroys them. This leads to a deficiency of insulin, causing diabetes.
Lion's mane mushrooms are known to modulate the immune system, which means they can temper an overactive immune response. The immunomodulatory activity(3) of Hericium Erinaceus has been explored in rodent studies, indicating its possible role in preventing type one diabetes.
Read More: See how putting Lion's mane in coffee can balance your immune system.
3. Decreases Inflammation To Maintain Healthy Blood Glucose Levels
Long-term inflammation in the body causes cellular damage due to oxidative stress. When the cell's DNA gets damaged, they undergo apoptosis or spontaneous death.
The dead cells are not easily replaced, so their functions are lost. For example, the insulin-secreting pancreatic beta cells are one type of cell affected by chronic inflammation. So, you end up with not enough beta cells to make insulin, causing diabetes to develop.
Lion's mane mushrooms are known for their anti-inflammatory effects(4). Studies have shown that Hericium Erinaceus can help reduce chronic low-grade inflammation, which is the underlying driver of several metabolic diseases like diabetes and cancer.
Read More: Learn how Lion's mane prevents cancer with its anti-inflammatory properties.
In addition, it inhibits several factors involved in the inflammatory process, which may help prevent the development of diabetes.
4. Role In Type 2 Diabetes
The insulin-producing beta cells of the pancreas also naturally secrete NGF. The cells also require the chemical for their survival. When these pancreas cells no longer receive NGF, they are less likely to survive and can undergo cell death.
Recent studies have revealed(5) that a deficit of beta cells is essential in developing type 2 diabetes. Now, we already know two bioactive compounds (Hericenones and Erinacines) of the fungus have a stimulatory effect on NGF. This could potentially indicate Lion's mane mushroom type 2 diabetes benefits.
Read More: Learn how Lion's mane neurogenesis promotes the production of NGF.
5. Decreases stress
Stress can raise your blood sugar. When stressed, the body prepares itself by ensuring that enough sugar is readily available as energy. This causes insulin levels to fall, and more glucose is released from the liver resulting in increased blood sugar. Over time, it may lead to the development of diabetes.
Lion's mane mushrooms are adaptogens that help the body adapt to stress. Rodent studies have shown the extracts of Lion's mane may help reverse stress-related changes and the inflammatory markers(6) that increase in response to stress.
Read More: See how Lion's mane depression benefits fight stress.
Benefits Of Using Lion's Mane As A Diabetes Treatment Option
Lion's mane's ability to treat diabetes comes with many benefits. Below, we will look at some of these benefits:
Protects Against Diabetic Neuropathy
In addition to lowering blood sugar levels, Lion's mane diabetic neuropathy benefits have also been reported by people using the mushroom to control their blood sugar levels.
Diabetic neuropathy is nerve damage that can occur in people with diabetes. This damage often results in diabetic nerve pain—nerve pain tends to make the life of a person with diabetes uncomfortable.
Luckily for people with diabetes, Lion's mane is also very effective in treating nerve pain in addition to boosting serum insulin levels.
We already know that Lion's mane has a chemical known as Hericenones. These promote(7) the synthesis of the Nerve Growth Factor (NGF) in the body, which helps the growth and survival of the nerve cells or neurons.
Hericenones are known to promote neurogenesis. Apart from boosting brain function and helping recover from nervous system injuries, NGF also plays a crucial role in diabetes and its related complications.
Persistently high and uncontrolled blood sugar damages the nerves. Lion's mane mushroom helps repair the nerves and aid in their regeneration.
The protective effects of the alcoholic extract of Lion's mane mushroom on diabetic neuropathic pain(8) were evaluated by scientists in a 2015 animal study. After six weeks of treatment with Hericium Erinaceus, the diabetic animals showed significant improvement in pain. Results also revealed a decline in blood and urine glucose levels. The improvement in diabetic symptoms was attributed to Lion's mane mushroom antioxidant activity.
Lion's Mane Diabetes Benefits And Cancer Prevention
Another benefit that is directly related to Lion's mane's ability to control serum glucose levels is the reduced risk of suffering from cancer cells. Research has shown that diabetes is one of the leading risk factors for cancer.
One research study in 2017(9) determined that cancer incidence was higher in people with diabetes than in people without diabetes. In addition, a report published in 2021(10) by the National Library of Medicine indicated that diabetes mellitus is a common condition in people with different types of cancer.
Lion's mane's ability to fight diabetes significantly reduces cancer risk.
Lion's Mane Improves Brain Health By Treating Diabetes
One of the best mushrooms for brain health, Lion's mane appears to be a leading solution to different types of cognitive health issues. The mushroom is known to prevent mild cognitive impairment. The mushroom's hypoglycemic and hypolipidemic effects also help with brain health.
Diabetic patients with uncontrolled blood sugars tend to have issues with memory decline. In addition, a research report published in 2021(11) determined that high blood sugar can lead to faster cognitive decline.
Fortunately, a lion's mane supplement can balance blood sugars, reducing memory decline. Taking Lion's mane to treat diabetes further keeps your brain and memory healthy.
Read More: Learn how Lion's mane prevents memory loss.
Lion's Mane Diabetes Benefits Helps With Weight Loss
Just like slow wound healing is a symptom of diabetes, weight gain is often associated with diabetes and high blood sugar levels. In addition, human studies show that obesity is a precursor to type 2 diabetes.
In addition to helping people repair nerve damage, the Hericium Erinaceus fruiting bodies can help people with diabetes fight weight gain and facilitate weight loss.
Read More: Learn how Lion's mane promotes weight loss.
For starters, the mushroom helps its users become full sooner—this limits the number of calories one consumes. What's more, when diabetic people use Lion's mane pre-workout, the mushroom provides the energy they need to work out more and enjoy better results in terms of weight loss.
Lion's Mane Reduces The Risk Of Depression In People With Diabetes
Diabetes and depression are linked together. It is estimated that about 15% of people with diabetes also suffer from depression. In addition, a research report published in 2016(12) noted that depression was more prevalent in people with diabetes.
This depression is often a result of the stress of diabetes management. However, what's even worse is that depression contributes to even higher blood sugar levels which, in turn, tends to worsen the health of the diabetic patient.
Although Lion's mane can treat anxiety and depression independently, its ability to help control diabetes also helps people with depression. By easing the process of keeping blood sugar levels in check, Lion's mane medicinal mushroom ensures the user does not deal with extreme stress when managing their diabetes.
Lion's Mane Reduces The Risk Of Parkinson's Disease By Treating Diabetes
Parkinson's is yet another condition that is often associated with diabetes. A report published in the National Library of Medicine in 2020(13) showed a significant link between Diabetes and Parkinson's disease. Yet another research study conducted in 2016(14) determined that diabetes increases the risk of Parkinson's disease by 38%.
The benefits of alternative medicine for diabetes (Lion's mane) prevent Parkinson's disease. This traditional Chinese medicine lowers the risk of Parkinson's disease by controlling blood sugar levels.
Read More: See how Lion's mane helps with Parkinson's.
Lion's Mane Prevents Diabetes Complications
Research suggests that diabetes is associated with a wide range of complications. In addition to increasing the risk of human gastrointestinal and other cancers, the mushroom can cause further complications, including compromising the intestinal immune system, which may affect digestive health, cause kidney disease, kidney damage, etc.
High blood sugar levels are also associated with complications like high blood pressure, eye damage, heart disease, stroke, etc.
When people use the proper Lion's mane dosage and the right diabetes medications, they can keep their blood sugars in check, lowering the risk of diabetes complications.
Who Should Avoid Lion's Mane For Diabetes
Lion's mane lowers blood sugar levels, confirmed by numerous studies on diabetic mice and rats. Therefore, if you have a history of hypoglycemia (dangerously low blood sugar levels), you should never use Lion's mane before talking to your doctor.
If you are using other drugs to manage your blood sugar, adding Lion's mane organic mushroom powder into the mix can easily cause the side effects of Lion's mane where you have deficient blood sugar levels. Hypoglycemia can put you in a coma and may even increase the risk of death.
It is also worth noting that Lion's mane may impact the effectiveness of blood clots. Therefore, if you are taking blood thinners, talking to your doctor can help you avoid dangerous Lion's mane drug interactions that could cause bleeding.
Is Lion's Mane Good For Diabetes?
The polysaccharides in Lion's mane mushrooms reduce blood sugar levels. This makes the functional mushroom suitable for people with diabetes.
Is There A Mushroom That Helps With Diabetes?
Several medicinal mushrooms are suitable for people with diabetes. These mushrooms include Lion's mane, Chaga, Reishi, Turkey Tail, and Shiitake.
There are several known Lion's mane diabetes benefits. The mushroom has been known to reduce blood sugar by inhibiting the activity of an enzyme that helps the body absorb glucose from digested foods. It also regulates the immune system; decreases inflammation and stress, which is essential in type 2 diabetes prevention.
Additionally, the mushroom protects against the development of diabetic complications like neuropathies. Lion's mane holds promising benefits for diabetes; however additional human studies are required.
Have you used Lion's mane for diabetes management? What was your experience with the mushroom? Let us know in the comments section.
- Antihyperglycemic and antihyperlipidemic activities of aqueous extract of Hericium erinaceus in experimental diabetic rats, (1)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3852124/
- Antidiabetic and antioxidant activities of eight medicinal mushroom species from China, (2)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25746618/
- Immunomodulatory effects of Hericium erinaceus derived polysaccharides are mediated by intestinal immunology, (3)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28266682/
- The Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Lion's Mane Culinary-Medicinal Mushroom, Hericium erinaceus (Higher Basidiomycetes) in a Coculture System of 3T3-L1 Adipocytes and RAW264 Macrophages, (4)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26559695/
- β-cell dysfunction: Its critical role in prevention and management of type 2 diabetes, (5)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4317303/
- Erinacine A-Enriched Hericium erinaceus Mycelium Produces Antidepressant-Like Effects through Modulating BDNF/PI3K/Akt/GSK-3β Signaling in Mice, (6)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5855563/
- Chemical constituents from Hericium erinaceus and their ability to stimulate NGF-mediated neurite outgrowth on PC12 cells, (7)https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0960894X15301256
- Protective Effect of Ethanol Extracts of Hericium erinaceus on Alloxan-Induced Diabetic Neuropathic Pain in Rats, (8)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4415746/
- Diabetes and risk of cancer incidence: results from a population-based cohort study in northern Italy, (9)https://bmccancer.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12885-017-3696-4
- Diabetes and Cancer: Risk, Challenges, Management and Outcomes, (10)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8616213/
- The impact of diabetes on cognitive impairment and its progression to dementia, (11)https://alz journals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/alz.12482?campaign=woletoc
- Association of Depressive and Anxiety Disorders With Diagnosed Versus Undiagnosed Diabetes: An Epidemiological Study of 90,686 Participants, (12)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26452174/
- Diabetes Mellitus and Parkinson's Disease: Shared Pathophysiological Links and Possible Therapeutic Implications, (13)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7437092/
- Risk of Parkinson Disease in Diabetes Mellitus: An Updated Meta-Analysis of Population-Based Cohort Studies, (14)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4863785/