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< class="article__title title"> Lion's Mane Neurogenesis: Can The Mushroom Promote Neurogenesis?>
Lion's Mane Neurogenesis: Can The Mushroom Promote Neurogenesis?
Jul 18, 22
This article has been vetted by the Onnit Advisory Board. Read more about our editorial process.
Author: Sony Sherpa

Lion's Mane Neurogenesis: Can The Mushroom Promote Neurogenesis?

    TABLE OF CONTENTS

Lion’s mane mushroom is popularly and aptly nicknamed “nature’s brain juice”. This shaggy white mushroom is packed with bioactive compounds that can not only boost brain health but can also help in the repair and regeneration of nerve cells (neurons).

Hericium Erinaceus or yamabushitake mushrooms are true brain food. Research information shows that lion's mane mushroom neurogenesis benefits can aid in decreasing the symptoms of dementia, depression, and anxiety as well as ease other neurological health problems.

Here, we are going to explore the clinical studies that have focused on the mechanism behind the lion's mane neurogenesis. Read on to learn more about the research on the neurogenesis benefits of lion's mane that's boosting this medicinal mushroom's popularity around the world. 

By the time you reach the end of this detailed guide, you will know why supplementation with Lion's mane products can help you in the prevention of brain-related health issues

Let’s jump right in!

Lion's Mane Mushroom Neurogenesis Benefits

Neurogenesis refers to the growth of new nerves and brain cells. A few decades back, scientists thought that our brain cells could never grow once we have reached adulthood. Cut to the modern day, research has shown that our brain cells are incredibly adaptable.

Now even natural supplements like lion's mane mushroom extract have taken center stage due to their ability to stimulate neuron regeneration. So, then what are lion's mane nerve growth benefits?

Lion's mane mushroom extract neurogenesis benefits(1) seem to aid in:

  • Recovery from nervous system injuries
  • Improvements in cognitive functions and maintenance of cognitive health
  • Protection against mild cognitive impairment as well as dementia
  • Reduces the symptoms of depression and anxiety
  • A decline in nerve pain and associated inflammation
  • Lessens neurodegenerative symptoms in Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease

Let’s take a closer look at some of these conditions that benefit from Lion’s mane neurogenesis property. 

In the following section, we will take a look at research studies that show how Lion's mane mushroom extract generates results for the conditions mentioned above. This should help you know why taking lion's mane extract is a good idea for anyone trying to leverage the positive effects of lion's mane on brain health. 

1. Depression And Anxiety

Lion’s mane neurogenesis property may have beneficial effects on anxiety and depression. People have successfully used Lion's mane mushrooms for depression and have observed impressive results from the mushroom supplement. 

What's more, research has noted that using lion's mane medicinal mushroom for anxiety will also have beneficial results. Reducing anxiety and depression, the mushroom improves the quality of life for the people suffering from these conditions. 

Recent evidence from some research sources suggests that areas of the brain in people with depression(2) show signs of atrophy and neuronal loss. Several antidepressant medications, like fluoxetine (or Prozac), increase neurogenesis in the brain with continued use under the guidelines of a health practitioner. 

Now, this mechanism has also been studied in a 2021 study(3). Hericium Erinaceus were given to animals with depression for 4 weeks. These animals were screened for symptoms of anxiety and depression. Researchers then carried out genetic testing as well as evaluation of proteins to probe the role of neurogenesis in the therapeutic effects of Lion's mane.

The results showed that 4 weeks of treatment with Lion's mane ameliorated depression in the study animals. There was also an increase in the genes and proteins related to neurogenesis including BDNF. 

Researchers concluded that Hericium Erinaceus exerts antidepressant effects by promoting neurogenesis and reducing inflammation in the brain. While this study was performed on animals, it is easy to see that the use of a Lion's mane product can result in the generation and development of human brain cells. 

Similar results were also obtained in another study from 2018(4). The research article noted that extracts of Hericium Erinaceus were given to mice once a day for 4 weeks. Researchers found that chronic administration of Lion's mane showed anxiolytic and anti-depressant-like effects, possibly by enhancing neurogenesis in the adult brain.

2. Memory

Frailty is an aging-related decline in both locomotor and cognitive functions. However, while this means that mild cognitive impairment is common in elderly people, this brain health condition can affect younger people. 

Animal studies have helped researchers confirm that Lion's mane mushroom improves memory in aging mice—this benefit is thought to be a result of lion's mane neurogenesis.

Increasing the levels of nerve growth factor NGF, the lions mane mushroom extract is capable of preventing memory loss and other symptoms of Alzheimer's disease.  These studies show that Lion's mane can be used as alternative medicine for mild cognitive impairment found in elderly people. 

In this study(5), Hericium Erinaceus oral extracts were given to the aging animals for two months which reversed the age-associated decline of memory. This was attributed to the lions mane neurogenesis property.

From this study, it is easy to see that Lion's mane is one of the best mushrooms for brain health. Improving cognition through neurogenesis, people also enjoy lion's mane brain fog benefits. 

Brain fog is often a result of a memory decline—leveraging lion's mane mushroom neurogenesis benefits, large groups of people can fix this issue without having to rely on drugs developed by medical companies. 

3. Neurodegenerative Conditions

The ability of Hericium Erinaceus to prevent neurodegenerative processes(6) has been demonstrated in a 2021 study done on animals with Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).

TBI is a disruption in the normal function of the brain caused by external trauma like a blow, bump or jolt to the head. It has also been shown to be a risk factor for neurodegeneration, leading to diseases like Parkinson's and Alzheimer's.

Hericium Erinaceus mushroom (along with Turkey tail mushroom) restored alterations in the behavior of the study animals. The mushrooms were also able to prevent both neuroinflammation and oxidative process that is typically found in Parkinson's disease. 

Results of this research suggest that TBI may trigger Parkinson’s and that nutritional fungi such as Lion's mane may be important in preventing the progression of such diseases. When using lion's mane for brain fog and to prevent neurodegenerative diseases, large groups of people often enjoy Lion's mane Parkinson's disease treatment as an added benefit.  

In another study to investigate Lion's mane as one of the best neurogenesis mushrooms, Hericium Erinaceus mushroom mycelia were found to potentially reduce amyloid plaque growth(7) (which is found in Alzheimer's disease) in the brain of aged rats. 

In this eight-week study, the researchers found that the bioactive compound of the mushrooms for neurogenesis was able to penetrate the blood-brain barrier and improve brain cell generation and development. This facilitated lion's mane brain repair resulting in a reduced risk for health-related conditions.

How Can Lion’s Mane Help Regenerate Nerve Cells?

How Can Lion’s Mane Help Regenerate Nerves?

While lions mane studies have shown that the fungus fits nicely among lists of the best mushrooms for neurogenesis, you may still question whether lion's mane brain injury prevention abilities can help nerve regeneration. You may also want to know how the mushroom would achieve this goal. 

In this section, we will go beyond the lions mane nerve growth factor capabilities to see if the lions mane mushrooms neurogenesis is useful when it comes to peripheral nerve regeneration—we will also take a look at the mechanisms that make the benefits possible. 

While minimal human clinical trials are confirming the potential health benefits of mushroom Hericium Erinaceus on nerve regeneration, evidence gathered over the years suggests that the mushroom might have the ability to deliver these benefits. 

This means that the mushroom might have the ability to repair damaged nerve cells, the same way its bioactive compounds help users deal with cancer cells and tumor growth, stomach ulcers, heart health issues, blood clotting, intestinal immune system problems, and lower blood sugar levels.

In the early nineties, scientists made a fascinating discovery while studying the Hericium Erinaceus mushroom. The goal of the study was to discover the benefits of the lion's mane supplement. They discovered two unique organic compounds which were named "hericenones" and "erinacines".

Hericenones were typically found in the fruiting bodies while erinacines were isolated from the mycelium of the medicinal mushroom. In addition to hericenones and erinacines, lion’s mane mushrooms contain bioactive compounds. Below, we have listed all the bioactive compounds that provide the benefits of lion's mane:

  • Vitamins and minerals
  • Polypeptides
  • Polysaccharides
  • Beta-glucoxlan
  • Digestive enzymes
  • Prebiotic fibers

When you take a Lion's mane supplement, you put the above extremely vital compounds in your body. Some of the compounds in lion's mane extracts—these are the Hericenones and Erinacines—can cross the blood-brain barrier easily. 

These beneficial bioactive ingredients in Lion’s mane mushrooms then stimulate the creation of two important proteins involved in neurogenesis: nerve growth factor (NGF) and BDNF. These two compounds give lion's mane ability to help with the neurogenesis and nerve repair process. 

Many health supplements cannot cross this barrier. It is due to these effects of Lion's mane that the fungus is considered one of the best mushrooms for boosting the health of the brain. The mushroom extracts are often recommended by mental health practitioners who like leveraging holistic health approaches to improve the life of a patient. 

Nerve Growth Factors (NGF)(8) are special types of proteins that boost positive brain and nerve-health-related activities. They are also known to play a critical protective role in the survival and development of different types of neurons. This helps to promote nerve growth improving the overall health of the mushroom user. 

Research suggests that NGF is produced in the hippocampus of the brain and is essential for memory, learning, and neuroprotection following brain injury. The medicinal mushroom Hericium Erinaceus stimulates the hippocampus to produce this vital component in the human body. 

Brain-derived neurotrophic factors (BDNF)(9) are molecules that play an important role in the survival and growth of neurons. It also tempers the neurotransmitters, the chemical messengers that carry signals from one part of the brain to another. Taking lion's mane generates these results which help boost the body's cognitive function. 

It is also a key molecule(10) involved in brain changes related to learning and memory. Changes in BDNF expression are associated with neurodegenerative and neuropsychiatric diseases. While Lion's mane mushrooms can act as an alternative medicine for these conditions, Lion's mane medicinal mushrooms are also known for bolstering the immune system and keeping the brain's ability to perform well from reducing.

Lion's Mane And Neurogenesis: What The Research Says?

There are only a few human studies that directly look at the impact of Lion's mane neurogenesis. Very few studies look at the relationship between different types of mushrooms and neurogenesis. 

However, the available research data suggests that when Lion's mane is taken at the right time, the lion's mane products have potent neurotrophic properties. This means that using a high-quality Lion's mane product—our detailed guide shows you what to look for when buying Lion's mane—will result in better overall brain health with time. 

For instance, a 2021 study(11) isolated 4 major compounds from Lion's mane medicinal mushroom: hericerin, isohericerinol A, N-de-phenylethyl isohericerin, and corallocin A. These were derived from the fruiting body of the fungus. Among them, isohericerinol A is a newly reported molecule. 

When these compounds—which are very common in mushroom powder—were further investigated, isohericerinol A was found to increase the production of NGF significantly. This was followed by corallocin A and hericerin. Increased NGF production by these compounds promoted the outgrowth of neurons and the production of BDNF.

The results of this study support those bioactive compounds of the mushroom aqueous extract show great potential for memory improvement and overall brain health.

It is easy to assume that you only get the neurogenesis benefits only when you take Lion's mane supplements. However, using Lion's mane recipes to prepare a nice meal for your family will give you the same results. 

It does not matter whether you have decided to use Lion's mane before bed or you take Lion's mane pre-workout—you will still enjoy the benefits mentioned in this section. 

FAQs

Can Lion's Mane Mushrooms Repair Nerve Damage?

Research has found that Lion's mane may help repair nerve damage. The Lion's mane nerve damage benefits can be attributed to the stimulation of Nerve Growth Factors (NGF). 

These are proteins that promote neurogenesis which helps repair damaged nerves. However, the exact mechanism by which it does so remains unclear.

Keep in mind that when using the mushroom for nerve repair you have to ensure that you are using the right Lion's mane dosage. Irrespective of whether you are using Lion's mane while pregnant or you are a man and are using Lion's mane for its testosterone benefits, talking to a professional healthcare expert should help you use the mushroom at an ideal dosage that guarantees these benefits—together with neurogenesis advantages—without causing side effects. 

What Does Lion's Mane Mushroom Extract Do For The Brain?

If you know how to use Lion's mane, you will enjoy a large number of advantages from the fungus. The health benefits of Lion's mane—especially when it comes to brain health—are numerous. 

The bioactive compounds in Lion’s mane mushrooms help protect the brain and aid in the regeneration of neurons. They are also known to play a beneficial role in reducing the symptoms of many neuronal diseases like stroke, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, depression, anxiety, and dementia.

Final Thoughts

Currently, there are very limited human studies done on Lion's mane and neurogenesis. However, the available study on animals is strongly in favor of the brain regenerating actions of Lion’s mane mushroom

Hericium Erinaceus has been found to improve symptoms of depression and anxiety as well as improve memory. Today, the mushroom is recommended by wellness professionals who want their patients to adopt the holistic health approach when improving their mental functions. 

Studies have also 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.

References

  1. Neurohealth Properties of Hericium erinaceus Mycelia Enriched with Erinacines, (1) https://doi.org/10.1155/2018/5802634 
  2. Neurogenesis and The Effect of Antidepressants, (2) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3155214/ 
  3. Neurogenesis-dependent antidepressant-like activity of Hericium erinaceus in an animal model of depression, (3) https://doi.org/10.1186/s13020-021-00546-8
  4. Hericium erinaceus Extract Reduces Anxiety and Depressive Behaviors by Promoting Hippocampal Neurogenesis in the Adult Mouse Brain, (4) https://doi.org/10.1089/jmf.2017.4006
  5. Hericium erinaceus Improves Recognition Memory and Induces Hippocampal and Cerebellar Neurogenesis in Frail Mice during Aging, (5) https://doi.org/10.3390/nu11040715 
  6. Hericium erinaceus and Coriolus versicolor Modulate Molecular and Biochemical Changes after Traumatic Brain Injury, (6) https://doi.org/10.3390/antiox10060898 
  7. Absolute Bioavailability, Tissue Distribution, and Excretion of Erinacine S in Hericium erinaceus Mycelia, (7) https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules24081624 
  8. Nerve Growth Factor: A Focus on Neuroscience and Therapy, (8) https://doi.org/10.2174/1570159x13666150403231920 
  9. Brain-derived neurotrophic factor and its clinical implications, (9) https://doi.org/10.5114/aoms.2015.56342 
  10. Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor: A Key Molecule for Memory in the Healthy and the Pathological Brain, (10) https://doi.org/10.3389/fncel.2019.00363 
  11. Neurotrophic isoindolinones from the fruiting bodies of Hericium erinaceus, (11) https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bmcl.2020.127714

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