Are you or someone you know struggling with Alzheimer's disease?
If so, you're not alone. Alzheimer's disease affects millions of people worldwide. While traditional treatment options include medications and therapy, some individuals may be looking for a more natural solution.
One potential alternative is Lion’s Mane mushroom.
In this article, we'll take a closer look at the research surrounding lion’s mane and Alzheimer's disease, as well as the potential benefits and precautions of using it as a treatment.
By the end, you'll have a better understanding of whether or not lion’s mane mushroom could be helpful in treating Alzheimer's disease and its symptoms.
What is lion’s mane?
Lion’s mane is a large, white, shaggy-looking mushroom that resembles a lion's mane as it grows. Its proper name is Hericium erinaceus and it grows natively in North America, Europe and Asia.
Usually found growing on dead hardwoods, lion’s mane has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries and its production is widespread within Asia. Lion’s mane is also common in gourmet cooking, with young specimens offering a great steak-like texture when pan-fried.
What are the effects of lion’s mane?
Lion’s mane has become very popular among people with Alzheimer’s. This is largely thanks to its cognitive benefits including its ability to increase NGF (nerve growth factor) levels and promote neurogenesis (growth of new brain cells).
These properties mean that many people who use lion’s mane experience:
- Clarity of thought
- Enhanced memory
- Enhanced focus
- Enhanced cognition
- Increased energy
The unseen benefits of lion’s mane are even more profound and include:
- Protection of the brain
- Reduction in inflammation, particularly in the gut
- Reduction in depression and anxiety
- Enhance recovery from nervous system injuries
- Lower risk of blood clotting and heart attack and stroke
- Control blood sugar and manage diabetes
- Possible anti-cancer effects
- Boost immune function
You’d be wise not to expect instant results with lion’s mane supplements. Clinical studies done with lion’s mane are typically done over at least two months of use.
What is Alzheimer’s disease?
Alzheimer's disease is a progressive and irreversible brain disorder that affects cognitive functions such as memory, thinking, and behaviour.
It is the most common cause of dementia in older adults and is characterised by the formation of plaques and tangles in the brain, which lead to the death of brain cells and the loss of brain tissue.
As the disease progresses, individuals may experience difficulty with daily activities, communication, and mobility.
What causes Alzheimer’s?
While the exact causes of Alzheimer's disease are not fully understood, there are several factors that are believed to contribute to its development.
One of the most well-known theories is the formation of beta-amyloid plaques and tau tangles in the brain, which can disrupt communication between brain cells and lead to their death.
However, it's important to note that the presence of plaques and tangles in the brain is more accurately thought of as a symptom of Alzheimer’s rather than a cause.
Modern research suggests metabolic factors such as high blood sugar, insulin resistance, inflammation, and poor cardiovascular health are thought to be important contributors to the development of Alzheimer's disease.
These factors can cause damage to blood vessels in the brain and disrupt the delivery of oxygen and nutrients, leading to the death of brain cells.
Other potential risk factors for Alzheimer's disease include age, obesity and head injuries, and lifestyle factors such as lack of exercise, poor diet, and smoking.
How is Alzheimer’s treated?
In the UK, Alzheimer's disease is typically treated with a combination of medications and non-pharmacological interventions.
Medications such as acetylcholinesterase inhibitors (donepezil, rivastigmine, and galantamine) and memantine are commonly prescribed to help manage symptoms such as memory loss and cognitive impairment. These medications work by increasing the availability of certain neurotransmitters in the brain or by regulating glutamate, a chemical messenger involved in learning and memory.
In addition to medications, non-pharmacological interventions such as cognitive stimulation therapy, occupational therapy, and social support are also used to help manage symptoms and improve quality of life.
Limitations of traditional Alzheimer’s treatments
While treatments for Alzheimer's disease can be helpful in managing symptoms and improving quality of life, there are some downsides and limitations to consider.
Firstly, medications for Alzheimer's disease may not be effective for all individuals, and they may only provide a modest improvement in symptoms. Additionally, medications can have side effects such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, and loss of appetite, which may make it difficult for some individuals to tolerate them.
Non-pharmacological interventions such as cognitive stimulation therapy and occupational therapy may also have limitations. For example, these interventions may be expensive or not widely available in some areas, which could limit access for some individuals.
Another limitation of current treatments is that they do not stop the progression of the disease. While they can help manage symptoms and slow down the decline of cognitive function, Alzheimer's disease is a progressive and irreversible condition.
Can lion’s mane mushroom help with Alzheimer’s?
There is some promising research that suggests that lion's mane mushroom may have potential benefits for individuals with Alzheimer's disease.
Compounds present in lion’s mane called hericenones and erinacines have been shown to promote the production of nerve growth factor (NGF), which plays a crucial role in the growth, maintenance, and survival of neurons in the brain.
By promoting the production of NGF and the growth of new brain cells, lion's mane mushroom may help protect against the degeneration of brain cells that occurs in Alzheimer's disease.
In 2020, researchers did a study to see if taking lion's mane mushroom supplements could help people with early Alzheimer's disease. The study lasted for one year and involved two groups of people, both of which had early Alzheimer's symptoms.
The results showed that the people who took the lion's mane supplements had better brain function compared to those who didn't take them. It also seemed like the mushroom supplement was safe and didn't cause any negative side effects for the Alzheimer's patients.
This study found that supplementation with lion's mane extract improved attention and cognitive function in individuals with mild cognitive impairment. Another found that consuming lion's mane prevents cognitive dysfunction in healthy adults.
In this study, researchers found that polysaccharides, which are a type of carbohydrate found in lion's mane mushroom, were able to reduce the damage caused to nerve cells by toxic chemicals that can harm the brain.
So while more research is needed to confirm these findings and to determine the optimal dosage, there is enough anecdotal and scientific research suggesting lion’s mane can help treat Alzheimer’s symptoms.
Potential benefits of lion’s mane for Alzheimer’s
Lion's Mane mushrooms have been studied for their potential to improve several symptoms associated with Alzheimer’s. The potential benefits of Lion's Mane mushrooms for individuals with Alzheimer’s include:
- Improved cognitive function: Lion's Mane mushrooms have been found to improve attention, concentration, and working memory in healthy adults. This could be beneficial for individuals with Alzheimer’s, who often have difficulty with attention and concentration.
- Reduced inflammation: Lion's Mane mushrooms have anti-inflammatory properties which may help to reduce oxidative stress in the brain, a condition that has been linked to cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s symptoms.
- Increased nerve growth factor (NGF): Lion's Mane mushrooms contain compounds such as hericenone, hericystin and erinacine, which stimulate the production of NGF, a protein that plays a crucial role in the development and maintenance of neurons in the brain. This increase in NGF may lead to the growth and repair of neurons in the brain, which could improve cognitive function and reduce symptoms of Alzheimer’s.
- Modulation of neurotransmitters: Lion's Mane mushroom extract may have a positive effect on the neurotransmitters and enzymes that are involved in cognitive function, such as acetylcholine, dopamine and phosphodiesterase-4. This can help to improve attention, focus and mood in individuals with Alzheimer’s.
Best ways to take Lion’s Mane
When it comes to consuming lion’s mane, you have a number of options.
Of course, you can pick and eat lion’s mane mushrooms and it’s actually quite nice. Its texture can be quite tough so it’s best to cook - ideally pan fry - beforehand.
Capsules containing dried lion’s mane powder or an extract are very convenient and accurate ways of taking lion’s mane. With each capsule containing a high concentration of 4.8mg of hericenones, our lion’s mane capsules are one of the strongest standardised hericenone-rich extracts on the market.
Dried lion’s mane powder is a versatile way to add the mushroom to smoothies or various dishes.
Alcohol-based extracts offer a way to consume concentrated Lion’s Mane easily and effectively. These tinctures can be quite potent and are great for adding to coffee, tea or other drinks.
Is lion’s mane safe?
Consuming lion's mane mushrooms is considered safe for most people as it has been widely consumed as a food for centuries. However, as with any supplement, there may be some potential side effects or risks, including:
- Allergic reactions: Some people may be allergic to lion's mane, which can cause symptoms such as skin rash, hives, itching, and difficulty breathing.
- Gastrointestinal issues: Consuming large amounts of lion's mane mushrooms may cause stomach upset, diarrhoea, and other gastrointestinal symptoms.
- Interaction with medication: Lion's mane may interact with certain medications, such as blood-thinning medications, and may increase the risk of bleeding. If you are taking any medications, consult with a healthcare professional before consuming lion's mane mushrooms.
It's important to note that consuming lion's mane mushrooms as a food is considered safe. However, more research is needed to understand the safety and efficacy of consuming it as a supplement, particularly in large doses and over a long period of time.
Lion’s mane vs Alzheimer’s medication
There are several potential benefits of using a natural treatment option such as lion's mane mushroom instead of traditional Alzheimer’s medication:
- Fewer side effects: Natural treatment options like lion's mane may have fewer side effects compared to traditional Alzheimer’s medication, which can have a range of side effects such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, and loss of appetite.
- Complementary treatment: Natural treatment options such as Lion's Mane mushrooms may be used in conjunction with other therapies, such as cognitive stimulation therapy, to provide a more comprehensive treatment plan for individuals with Alzheimer’s.
- Cost-effective: Natural treatment options like lion's mane mushrooms may be less expensive compared to traditional Alzheimer’s medication, which can be costly and require long-term use.
Best lion’s mane for Alzheimer’s
We developed our high-strength lion’s mane capsules specifically for brain health by using a potent lion's mane extract.
We use a dual-extraction method with water and alcohol to draw out both water-soluble and non-water-soluble compounds. Each capsule contains 4.8mg of hericenones, making it one of the strongest standardised hericenone-rich extracts on the UK market.
Additionally, this product is 100% vegan and natural, with mushrooms grown in the traditional way without chemicals or pesticides.
It is manufactured in the UK to GMP standards and third-party tested for purity and heavy metals, with no additives, fillers or binders. Suggested use is to take 1-4 capsules daily, or as directed by a healthcare practitioner.
In conclusion, lion’s mane mushroom has shown promising results in improving cognitive function, reducing inflammation, and enhancing immune function.
Its ability to increase the levels of nerve growth factor and promote neurogenesis may help protect against the degeneration of brain cells in Alzheimer's disease.
Traditional treatment options for Alzheimer's include medications and therapy, which can have limitations and may only provide a modest improvement in symptoms. Therefore, Lion's Mane mushroom may provide a more natural alternative for individuals looking for an effective treatment option to manage their Alzheimer's disease symptoms.
Further research is needed to determine its safety and effectiveness in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease, but it looks to be a promising field of research.Buy lion's mane here.