Lion's Mane, a unique mushroom used in traditional Eastern medicine, has been shown to promote neurogenesis, forming new neurons in the brain. This is primarily due to its bioactive compounds, hericenones, and erinacines, which stimulate the production of Nerve Growth Factor (NGF) and Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF).
NGF and BDNF are essential for maintaining cognitive health, memory, and learning abilities. Incorporating Lion's Mane into your diet or taking it as a supplement may support brain health, protect against neurodegenerative diseases, and enhance overall cognitive function.
Neurogenesis slows with age, with most adults needing a boost to avoid dealing with issues like brain fog. Recent research has shown Lion's Mane could be an ideal natural boost.
Here, we will explore the clinical studies focusing on the mechanism behind Lion's mane neurogenesis. In addition, we will explore the connection between Lion's mane mushrooms, their ability to boost neurite outgrowth, and their positive impact on mental health and overall cognition.
Understanding Neurogenesis: Importance and Factors Affecting This Process
What is Neurogenesis?
Neurogenesis is the process by which new neurons are generated within the brain, primarily in the hippocampus. The compounds isolated from Lion's Mane, specifically hericenones and erinacines, have been shown to stimulate cultured brain cells, leading to central hippocampal neurons converging and forming neuron projections.
This process is essential for improved memory formation and overall cognitive function. The molecular mechanism behind these active components has been researched, and studies have found that they target nerve growth factor (NGF), enhancing peripheral nerve regeneration and hippocampal and cerebral neurogenesis. This leads to significantly enhanced hippocampal memory, particularly memory related to recognition and spatial learning.
Factors Affecting Neurogenesis
Various factors can influence the rate of neurogenesis, including age, stress, and lifestyle. As we age, the hippocampal and cerebellar neurogenesis rate declines, which can contribute to neurodegenerative cognitive disorders. Stress can also harm neurogenesis, leading to impaired cognitive performance.
On the other hand, dietary supplementation with Lion's Mane has been shown to boost nerve growth, particularly through its active components. This mushroom may offer a complementary neurotrophic pathway to support adult hippocampal neurogenesis, peripheral nerve regeneration, and improved recognition memory, resulting in improved cognitive performance.
3 Ways Lion's Mane Promotes Neurogenesis
Lion's Mane (Hericium erinaceus) has been used in traditional Chinese medicine to benefit cognitive function and brain health. Moreover, recent research suggests that Lion's Mane may promote neurogenesis, which boosts nerve growth.
Below, we will look at how the health benefits of Lion's Mane encourage nerve and brain cell growth, improving brain function in humans:
1. Lion's Mane Promotes NGF Production
Two primary bioactive compounds in Lion's Mane—erinacines and hericenones—are believed to cross the blood-brain barrier, stimulating the production of nerve growth factors (NGFs) and brain-derived neurotrophic factors (BDNF). NGF and BDNF are essential for the survival and growth of neurons in the brain.
One research study(1) determined that hericenones and erinacines isolated from Lion's mane mushrooms induced NGF synthesis in the nerve cells. This research supports that supplementation with Lion's mane extract (also known as yamabushitake) could promote the production of brain cells and neurons.
Studies in humans and rats suggest that NGF and BDNF are produced in the brain's hippocampus and are essential for improved memory, learning, and neuroprotection following brain injury.
Read More: See how Lion's Mane promotes memory by promoting neurogenesis.
2. Encourages The Proliferation Of Neural Stem Cells
Lion's Mane may stimulate the proliferation of neural stem cells, which differentiate into various types of cells, including neurons. Neural stem cells are found in specific brain areas, such as the hippocampus, which is essential for memory and learning.
A research study conducted in 2020(2) verified that Lion's Mane positively impacts neural stem cells, allowing it to rescue motor deficits through neuroprotective mechanisms.
3. Fights Inflammation And Oxidative Stress
The mane mushroom may also have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that can protect and support the health of neurons, contributing to its potential neurogenic effects. Moreover, the mushroom's ability to fight inflammation and oxidative stress could improve the immune system, positively impacting the nervous system.
A study conducted in 2019(3) showed that Lion's Mane extract had potent antioxidant properties and helped increase neuronal viability while reducing inflammation in microglia. These findings suggest that Lion's Mane extract may have the potential as a natural neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory agent.
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Brain Health Benefits of Lion's Mane Mushroom Neurogenesis
Memory Enhancement and Learning Ability
Hericium Erinaceus' active components largely increase neurogenesis, improving memory formation and learning abilities. In addition, these active compounds stimulate brain cell growth and enhance central hippocampal neurons converging, ultimately resulting in better memory and cognitive performance.
Protection Against Neurodegenerative Diseases
Hericium Erinaceus has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries, and recent research has shed light on its potential for protecting against neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.
With the active compounds in Lion's Mane targeting nerve growth factor (NGF), H Erinaceus is crucial in enhancing peripheral nerve regeneration and promoting hippocampal and cerebral neurogenesis. This results in significantly improved hippocampal memory and may help prevent the progression of neurodegenerative cognitive disorders.
Interesting Read: See how Lion's Mane fights Parkinson's.
Mood Regulation And Reduction Of Anxiety And Depression
Another notable benefit of Hericium Erinaceus is its potential impact on mood regulation and reduction of anxiety and depression. The active components in Hericium Erinaceus stimulate cultured brain cells and encourage the formation of neuron projections, which are essential for maintaining emotional balance and overall mental well-being.
The molecular mechanism behind these active components is still being researched. Still, their ability to boost nerve growth and support adult hippocampal neurogenesis suggests that Lion's Mane may offer a natural and effective approach to improving mental health.
Lion's Mane Neurogenesis Video
FAQs About Lion's Mane Neurogenesis
Can Lion's Mane Mushrooms Repair Nerve Damage?
Some evidence suggests that Lion's mane mushrooms may have the potential to repair nerve damage. Nerve damage can occur for various reasons, including injury, disease, or aging.
In animal and human studies, Lion's mane mushroom compounds—erinacines and hericenones—promote nerve growth and regeneration. Each compound is believed to stimulate the production of nerve growth factor (NGF), a protein crucial for nerve cells' growth, repair maintenance, and survival.
What Does Lion's Mane Mushroom Extract Do For The Brain?
From research involving humans and animals, Hericium Erinaceus appears to have several benefits for the brain. Products from this fungus may improve cognitive function, including memory and concentration, in people with mild cognitive impairment and older adults.
When given in the proper doses, these unique fungi that grow in Asia, Europe, and North America reduce inflammation in the brain, protecting against damage caused by oxidative stress, which is linked to several neurological disorders. In addition, the compounds found in Hericium Erinaceus extract stimulate the growth and repair of nerve cells, protecting against neurological damage and promoting recovery from brain injuries.
Hericium Erinaceus extract has neuroprotective effects. It shields against damage caused by toxins, including beta-amyloid and glutamate, which are associated with dementia, Alzheimer's disease, and other neurodegenerative disorders.
Read More: See how Lion's Mane fights Alzheimer's disease.
Does Lion's Mane Grow Brain Cells?
Lion's Mane mushroom stimulates the production of nerve growth factors essential for brain neurons' growth and survival. As a result, some evidence suggests that Hericium Erinaceus extract may help promote the growth and regeneration of brain cells.
Animal studies have demonstrated that Hericium Erinaceus extract can stimulate the growth of new brain cells in the hippocampus. This brain region plays a critical role in preserving memories and learning.
Does Lion's Mane Help With Brain Fog?
Some evidence suggests that Lion's Mane mushroom extract may help alleviate brain fog, a condition characterized by feelings of mental fatigue, confusion, and difficulty concentrating.
Hericium Erinaceus mushroom extract has been shown to reduce inflammation in the brain, which may help to alleviate brain fog. Chronic inflammation has been linked to increased cognitive impairment and other neurological conditions, and reducing inflammation may help to improve cognitive function and clarity.
Read More: See our detailed guide on how Lion's Mane fights brain fog.
Minimal human studies have been done on Lion's Mane and neurogenesis. However, the available information strongly favors the neuron-regenerating actions of Lion's mane mushroom powder.
Studies have found that Lion's mane mushrooms may exert a protective effect against the development of neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson's after traumatic injuries to the head. More research is, however, needed to conclusively determine how Lion's Mane helps human brains grow new cells.
Have you used Lion's Mane to boost your brain health? What were the results? Let us know in the comments.
- Neurotrophic properties of the Lion's mane medicinal mushroom, Hericium erinaceus (Higher Basidiomycetes) from Malaysia, (1)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24266378/
- Hericium erinaceus potentially rescues behavioural motor deficits through ERK-CREB-PSD95 neuroprotective mechanisms in rat model of 3-acetylpyridine-induced cerebellar ataxia, (2)https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-71966-z
- Lion's Mane Mushroom, Hericium erinaceus (Bull.: Fr.) Pers. Suppresses H2O2-Induced Oxidative Damage and LPS-Induced Inflammation in HT22 Hippocampal Neurons and BV2 Microglia, (3)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6720269/