Neurogenesis refers to the growth of new nerves and brain cells. Previously believed impossible in adulthood, research has shown that our brain and nerve cells are adaptable and capable of healing, repairing, and growing new cells throughout our lifetime.
However, 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.
The Lion's mane mushroom is nicknamed "nature's brain juice" for its ability to repair and regenerate nerve cells (neurons). Promoting neurogenesis, Lion's Mane may improve cognitive function, reduce anxiety and depression, improve nerve function, and facilitate brain injury recovery.
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.
Does Lion's Mane Cause 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.
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, essential for memory and learning.
A research study conducted in 2020(2) verified that Lion's Mane has a positive impact on neural stem cells, allowing it to rescue motor deficits through neuroprotective mechanisms.
3. Fights Inflammation and Oxidative Stress
Lion's Mane 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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How Does Lion's Mane Neurogenesis Benefits Impact Brain Health?
Lion's Mane's neurogenesis properties benefit anxiety and depression, memory, and neurodegenerative conditions. In addition, studies indicate that the mushroom may also fight inflammation in the brain, leading to antidepressant effects and amelioration of depression symptoms.
Lion's Mane improves memory by increasing nerve growth factor levels, potentially preventing the development of Alzheimer's disease. Furthermore, researchers indicate that Lion's mane extracts and supplements may prevent the progression of neurodegenerative diseases—such as Parkinson's disease—by preventing neuroinflammation and oxidative stress. Moreover, the components in Lion's mane products have anti-cancer benefits and can help people avoid brain tumor and other forms of tumors.
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, Lion's Mane 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 Lion's Mane mushroom extract stimulate the growth and repair of nerve cells, protecting against neurological damage and promoting recovery from brain injuries.
Lion's Mane mushroom 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 Lion's Mane mushroom extract may help promote the growth and regeneration of brain cells.
Animal studies have demonstrated that Lion's Mane mushroom 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.
Lion's Mane 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/
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