Roughly 20 million(1) Americans are living with some form of neuropathy, and only those who do, know that the pain can take a toll on your quality of life. Even neuropathic disorders that are straightforward often require some trial and error to find the most effective treatment to manage the symptoms. So, whether you’re newly diagnosed or have failed to achieve relief in the past, you may want to consider Lion's mane mushroom for neuropathy.
Research has suggested the potential benefits of using Lion's mane for nerve pain. The mushroom, also known as Hericium erinaceus, help regenerate nerve cells (or neurons) as well as temper inflammatory and immune responses.
We took a deep dive into the latest research on the relationship between Lion's mane and neuropathy and were impressed with what with found. Along with this, we will also explore Lion's mane nerve damage benefits in the article below.
Let’s get into it!
Benefits Of Lion's Mane For Neuropathy
For the unversed, neuropathy simply means nerve damage. A wide range of conditions can cause neuropathy like trauma, diabetes, inflammation from autoimmune diseases, and infections.
Heals And Regenerates Nerve Fibers
The most important Lion's mane neuropathy benefit is its ability to regenerate nerve fibers. The mushroom is also the most renowned for this.
Lion’s mane mushroom contains two important bioactive compounds: hericenones and erinacines. These compounds stimulate(2) the release of insulin-like protein known as Nerve Growth Factor (NGF) which are essential for the regulation of survival, growth, development, and maintenance of neurons.
The healing effects of Hericium erinaceus were demonstrated in a 2019 study(3), that examined the effect of the mushroom on drug-induced peripheral neuropathy. The drug in context was Cisplatin, one of the most effective anti-cancer medications that cause neuropathic pain when taken in high dosages. In this animal-based study, those that were given the mushroom showed fewer signs of neuropathy as opposed to those who did not.
Studies suggest that Lion's mane mushrooms could also aid in the regeneration of nerve cells. One such research explored(4) the neuro-regenerative potential of extracts of Lion's mane in the treatment of peripheral nerve injuries.
In the study, researchers compared the effects of Hericium erinaceus with one of the most commonly used treatments for peripheral nerve injury: vitamin B12. Results showed that Lion's mane mushroom elicited quicker nerve regeneration.
There is also anecdotal and scientific evidence that Lion's mane mushroom helps repair myelin sheath, the insulating outer layer of the nerve cells. The sheath is integral for the proper functioning of nerve cells. Few animal studies(5) have looked at the potential benefit of Hericium erinaceus on the myelination process and found that the mushroom extract improved the rate and quality of it.
This evidence suggests that Lion’s mane mushroom is beneficial in the healing and regeneration of nerve fibers in neuropathy caused by neuronal injury.
Role in Diabetic Neuropathy
Another most important form of neuropathy is a long-term complication of diabetes. Persistently high and uncontrolled blood sugar damages the nerve and interferes with its ability to send signals. They also weaken the walls of the small blood vessels that supply the nerves with adequate nutrients and oxygen, leading to diabetic nephropathy (DN).
One of the most important ways to prevent DN is by controlling blood sugar. The good news is that several animal studies have shown the anti-hyperglycemic effect of Lion's mane mushrooms.
One such animal experiment(6) investigated the ability of Lion's mane mushroom to reduce blood sugar in diabetic rats with a damaged pancreas. The water extract of Hericium erinaceus was administered for 28 days and the results showed a significant decrease in blood sugar levels and a significant rise in insulin (the hormone that keeps our blood sugar in check).
In another study, it was found that the mushroom helps lower blood sugar by blocking the activity of an enzyme called alpha-glucosidase. This enzyme breaks down carbohydrates in our gut and blocking it disrupts the process. The resultant effect is lower blood sugar levels.
Reduces Inflammation And Regulates Immune Responses
Disorders of the immune system can lead to inflammatory neuropathies(7)causing the breakdown of the myelin sheath.
Lion’s mane mushrooms can help control inflammatory responses in the body as well as temper the immune system.
A 2015 study(8) evaluated the anti-inflammatory effects of Lion's mane and found that the alcohol extracts of the medicinal mushroom inhibited several factors involved in the inflammatory process.
Likewise, studies have also shown that the mushroom can also modulate the immune system(9), uplifting and downregulating it according to the situation. The mushroom also improves the activity of NK cells, a type of white blood cell which plays an active role in strengthening immunity.
Neuropathies are also caused by autoimmune disorders, and Lion’s mane mushrooms may help in reducing the symptoms of an overactive immune system.
Certain viral or bacterial infections also lead to the development of peripheral neuropathies.
Lion’s mane mushrooms are known to combat bacterial infections. The flavonoids, phenol, and ascorbic acid found in Hericium erinaceus have demonstrated antimicrobial activity against both gram-positive and negative bacteria.
Similarly, Lion’s mane mushroom also has anti-viral properties. A lectin(10) found in the mushroom has been found to inhibit an enzyme involved in the replication of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). The virus causes inflammation that can damage the nerves.
Can Lion's Mane Regenerate Nerves?
Hericenones and erinacines isolated from Lion’s mane mushroom stimulates the production of Nerve Growth Factor (NGF) which plays an important role in nerve regeneration along with its survival, growth, and development.
Are There Negative Effects Of Lion's Mane?
Lion’s mane mushroom appears to be quite safe for most people, but limited information is available on its adverse effects.
Lion’s mane mushroom helps in the healing and regeneration of nerve fibers after an injury. It also lowers the risk of diabetes, infection, and inflammation and regulates the immune system, all of which may precipitate neuropathy.
Making positive changes to your lifestyle also greatly reduces the risk of getting neuropathy. Eating a healthy diet (which includes Lion’s mane mushroom), exercising regularly, and avoiding bad habits are major steps in that direction.
Healing effect of Hericium erinaceus in experimental peripheral neuropathy model,(1)https://web.p.ebscohost.com/abstract?direct=true&profile=ehost&scope=site&authtype=crawler&jrnl=13078798&AN=137698148&h=gtdI8Ql50P8cXjVECtD%2f2e32f7wotlBbi1rOyMs1GDUSZcB9MyvowlpmVSx9J3PA8sQ3hJATSpTFVdJW4QrPcg%3d%3d&crl=c&resultNs=AdminWebAuth&resultLocal=ErrCrlNotAuth&crlhashurl=login.aspx%3fdirect%3dtrue%26profile%3dehost%26scope%3dsite%26authtype%3dcrawler%26jrnl%3d13078798%26AN%3d137698148
Chemical constituents from Hericium erinaceus and their ability to stimulate NGF-mediated neurite outgrowth on PC12 cells, (2)https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bmcl.2015.10.016
Healing effect of Hericium erinaceus in experimental peripheral neuropathy model,(3)https://web.p.ebscohost.com/abstract?direct=true&profile=ehost&scope=site&authtype=crawler&jrnl=13078798&AN=137698148&h=gtdI8Ql50P8cXjVECtD%2f2e32f7wotlBbi1rOyMs1GDUSZcB9MyvowlpmVSx9J3PA8sQ3hJATSpTFVdJW4QrPcg%3d%3d&crl=c&resultNs=AdminWebAuth&resultLocal=ErrCrlNotAuth&crlhashurl=login.aspx%3fdirect%3dtrue%26profile%3dehost%26scope%3dsite%26authtype%3dcrawler%26jrnl%3d13078798%26AN%3d137698148
Neuroregenerative Potential of Lion's Mane Mushroom, Hericium erinaceus (Bull.: Fr.) Pers. (Higher Basidiomycetes), in the Treatment of Peripheral Nerve Injury (Review), (4) https://doi.org/10.1615/intjmedmushr.v14.i5.10
The influence of Hericium erinaceus extract on myelination process in vitro, (5)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12675022/
- Antihyperglycemic and antihyperlipidemic activities of aqueous extract of Hericium erinaceus in experimental diabetic rats, (6) https://doi.org/10.1186/1472-6882-13-253
Inflammatory Neuropathies: Pathology, molecular markers and targets for specific therapeutic intervention, (7)https://doi.org/10.1007/s00401-015-1466-4
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, (8) https://doi.org/10.1615/intjmedmushrooms.v17.i7.10
- Immunomodulatory effects of Hericium erinaceus derived polysaccharides are mediated by intestinal immunology, (9) https://doi.org/10.1039/c7fo00071e
- A Novel Lectin with Antiproliferative and HIV-1 Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitory Activities from Dried Fruiting Bodies of the Monkey Head Mushroom Hericium erinaceum, (10) https://doi.org/10.1155/2010/716515