Parkinson’s disease is an age-related degenerative brain disorder that is caused by the loss of nerve cells in the part of the brain called the substantia nigra. This leads to a decline in the chemical dopamine which regulates the movements of the body.
People with Parkinson’s disease have involuntary shaking of body parts. The muscles become stiff and inflexible and there is a slowing of movement. Depression, anxiety, imbalance, memory problems, and trouble sleeping are some other symptoms associated with Parkinson’s.
Lion’s mane mushroom is an edible mushroom packed with many health-boosting compounds. Few available studies suggest Lion's mane Parkinson's benefits.
In case you are wondering what is the link between Lion's mane and Parkinson's disease or how can the mushroom help, you have come to the right place.
Here we will explore using Lion's mane for Parkinson's disease. Keep reading to know more!
Lion's Mane Mushroom And Parkinson's Disease: What Do We Know?
Lion’s mane mushroom also called Hericium erinaceus, or yamabushitake is a pom-pom-like white mushroom found growing in dead hardwood trees in North America and Canada typically during the late summer and fall.
The mushroom can be cultured and a vast array of natural products can be extracted from it. Supplements containing Lion’s mane mushrooms are highly regarded for their exceptional brain-supporting benefits.
Now let’s take a look at some of the potential Lion's mane mushroom Parkinson's benefits!
One of the most extraordinary properties of Lion’s mane mushroom is its ability to stimulate the growth of nerve cells or neurons. This can be potentially utilized in the treatment of Parkinson’s as the major cause behind its symptoms is neuron degeneration.
Hericium erinaceus increases the production of Nerve Growth Factor (NGF)(1), a protein that regulates the growth, development, proliferation, and survival of neurons. They support memory, learning, and the ability of the nerve cells to rewire.
The mushroom also increases the expression of the Brain-Derived Neurotropic Factor (BDNF)(2), another protein that plays an important role in the growth and survival of neurons.
Erinacine A, a major bioactive compound present in Lion’s mane has an enhancing effect on NGF. According to studies done on animals(3), the mushroom may also increase the catecholamine levels in the locus coeruleus and hippocampus of the brain.
This has been shown to markedly increase the survival of neurons in different brain areas and improve the behavior of the study models.
Combats Oxidative Stress
Oxidative stress(4) plays an important role in the degeneration of dopamine-secreting neurons in Parkinson’s disease. By oxidative stress, we mean the imbalance between the damaging actions of harmful oxygen molecules and the body’s defense against it.
Lion’s mane mushroom has potent anti-oxidant properties due to the presence of beta-glucoxylan. In an animal with Parkinson’s, oral administration of a low dose of Lion’s mane mushroom significantly improved oxidative stress(5). Using the mushroom for 25 days improved lesions in the part of the brain (substantia nigra and striatum) that play a critical role in the modulation of movements.
Improves Cognitive Function and Mental Performance
People with Parkinson’s disease may experience cognitive impairment like slower thinking and information processing. Memory and attention are other domains that are affected.
Lion’s mane mushrooms are known to enhance memory, mental sharpness, and cognitive function. The anti-inflammatory benefits of the fungi also help improve blood supply to the brain, leading to improved focus, memory, and mental performance.
In a 2008 study, Hericium erinaceus was shown to enhance cognition(6) when given in a dose of 250 mg for 16 weeks. After the study period, there were increased scores on the cognitive function scales compared to those who did not receive Lion’s mane.
Lion’s mane mushroom may also be helpful in patients with Parkinson’s who have depressive symptoms. We already know Hericium erinaceus stimulates the production of BDNF, which is a natural antidepressant. While this may not directly benefit patients with Parkinson’s, this anti-depressant-like effect of Lion’s mane mushroom can be potentially beneficial in controlling the symptoms of the disease.
Improves Motor Function
Motor functions are movements carried out by the body to perform certain tasks. The primary manifestation of Parkinson’s disease are abnormalities of movement including slowness, involuntary movements, and difficulties in walking and balancing the body.
Lion’s mane mushroom has been shown to improve motor skills(7) in animal models of Parkinson’s. Researchers have utilized mouse models with Parkinson- like motor disturbance and were given three different dosages of the mushroom. Results suggested that the medicinal fungus was able to decrease the abnormalities in motor functions.
Lion’s mane mushroom can regenerate neurons and preserve them and Parkinson’s is a disease where nerve cells degenerate. While there are limited clinical studies on Lion’s mane Parkinson’s benefits, results have suggested that the mushroom may have the potential to help the disease by improving cognition, motor functions, and mental performance.
- Lai, P. L., Naidu, M., Sabaratnam, V., Wong, K. H., David, R. P., Kuppusamy, U. R., Abdullah, N., & Malek, S. N. (2013). Neurotrophic properties of the Lion's mane medicinal mushroom, Hericium erinaceus (Higher Basidiomycetes) from Malaysia.International journal of medicinal mushrooms,15(6), 539–554. (1) https://doi.org/10.1615/intjmedmushr.v15.i6.30
- Ryu, S. H., Hong, S. M., Khan, Z., Lee, S. K., Vishwanath, M., Turk, A., Yeon, S. W., Jo, Y. H., Lee, D. H., Lee, J. K., Hwang, B. Y., Jung, J. K., Kim, S. Y., & Lee, M. K. (2021). Neurotrophic isoindolinones from the fruiting bodies of Hericium erinaceus.Bioorganic & medicinal chemistry letters,31, 127714. (2) https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bmcl.2020.127714
- Shimbo, M., Kawagishi, H., & Yokogoshi, H. (2005). Erinacine A increases catecholamine and nerve growth factor content in the central nervous system of rats.Nutrition Research,25(6), 617–623. (3) https://doi.org/10.1016/j.nutres.2005.06.001
- Dias, V., Junn, E., & Mouradian, M. M. (2013). The role of oxidative stress in Parkinson's disease.Journal of Parkinson's disease,3(4), 461–491. (4) https://doi.org/10.3233/JPD-130230
- Spelman, K., Sutherland, E., & Bagade, A. (2017). Neurological Activity of Lion’s Mane (Hericium erinaceus).Journal of Restorative Medicine,6(1), 19–26. (5) https://doi.org/10.14200/jrm.2017.6.0108
- Mori, K., Inatomi, S., Ouchi, K., Azumi, Y., & Tuchida, T. (2009). Improving effects of the mushroom Yamabushitake (Hericium erinaceus) on mild cognitive impairment: a double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial.Phytotherapy Research,23(3), 367–372. (6) https://doi.org/10.1002/ptr.2634
- Kuo, H.-C., Lu, C.-C., Shen, C.-H., Tung, S.-Y., Hsieh, M. C., Lee, K.-C., Lee, L.-Y., Chen, C.-C., Teng, C.-C., Huang, W.-S., Chen, T.-C., & Lee, K.-F. (2016). Hericium erinaceus mycelium and its isolated erinacine A protection from MPTP-induced neurotoxicity through the ER stress, triggering an apoptosis cascade. Journal of Translational Medicine,14(1). (7) https://doi.org/10.1186/s12967-016-0831-y