Are you looking to banish brain fog and boost your brainpower? Well, you're in luck because we're going to be talking about an interesting group of substances today - nootropics.
In case you're not familiar, nootropics are substances that are used to improve cognitive function, memory, creativity, and motivation. Some people also refer to them as "smart drugs" because they're believed to make you smarter and more productive.
One nootropic that has gained a lot of attention recently is lion's mane mushroom. You may have heard of it before, as it's been used in traditional medicine for centuries and Buddhist monks used to drink it as tea to boost their brainpower and improve focus while meditating.
But is lion’s mane really a nootropic? That's what we're going to find out in this post.
What is a nootropic?
A nootropic is a substance or supplement that is used to enhance cognitive function, such as memory, focus, creativity, and motivation.
Essentially, it's something that people take to give their brains a boost. Some examples of nootropics include caffeine, ginkgo biloba, and omega-3 fatty acids.
People often take nootropics to help them study or work more effectively, or to support healthy brain aging.
What is Lion's Mane?
Let's start by getting to know lion's mane mushroom a little better. First off, it's got a really interesting history and has been used in traditional medicine for centuries. Some cultures even believed it had mystical powers.
The scientific name for lion's mane is Hericium erinaceus, and it's a pretty unique-looking mushroom, with long, white spines that give it a shaggy appearance that's reminiscent of a lion's mane (hence the name!).
It's typically found growing on dead or dying trees, particularly beech and oak trees, throughout the northern hemisphere.
So, what's so special about lion's mane mushroom? Well, for one thing, it's packed with nutrients and active compounds that are believed to have a range of health benefits. Some of these include beta-glucans, polysaccharides, and erinacines.
In terms of traditional uses, lion's mane has been used in Chinese and Japanese medicine for centuries to treat a variety of ailments, including digestive issues, ulcers, and inflammation.
It's gained mainstream attention more recently for its ability to improve cognitive function and memory.
How Does Lion's Mane Affect the Brain?
So, let's get into the nitty-gritty of how lion's mane can impact your brain function!
First off, lion's mane has been found to have neuroprotective properties, meaning that it can help protect your brain cells from damage and degeneration. This is great news for those looking to maintain optimal brain health over time.
Additionally, lion's mane is known to stimulate the production of neurotrophic factors in the brain, which are essentially proteins that support the growth and survival of neurons. This can lead to improved cognitive function and overall brain health.
Speaking of cognitive function, lion's mane has also been linked to improvements in memory and concentration. In fact, some studies have suggested that it may even help prevent or alleviate symptoms of cognitive decline in aging populations.
Finally, lion's mane may offer some mood and emotional benefits as well. Some research has suggested that it can help reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, which is pretty impressive for a humble mushroom!
Studies showing cognitive benefits to lions mane
Over a dozen peer-reviewed studies have been published on Lion’s Mane’s brain since 1991, when Dr. Kawagishi of Japan first identified the mushroom’s effect on nerve growth factor (NGF).
In one double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, researchers looked at a number of 50-80 year-olds suffering from mild cognitive impairment.
The trial subjects received three doses of dried lion’s mane dry powder a day for 16 weeks, with the subjects’ cognitive abilities tested over the trial period.
Over the 16 weeks, the subjects who consumed lion’s mane showed significant improvements in cognitive scores. However, four weeks after stopping the lion’s mane supplementation, their cognitive scores returned to baseline.
The researchers concluded that Lion’s Mane Mushroom is effective in improving mild cognitive impairment.
In this study, scientists tested lion's mane on mice with Alzheimer's-like symptoms caused by a certain amyloid peptide.
The mice were fed Lion's Mane for 23 days while being injected with the peptide.
The results showed that Lion's Mane prevented short-term and visual recognition memory loss normally induced by the peptide. The researchers concluded that Lion's Mane could help prevent cognitive dysfunction.
Other health benefits
Lion’s mane is gaining popularity not only for its nootropic effects, but also its ability to enhance gut health, regulate blood sugar levels, and possibly prevent or treat cancer.
Here is a list of science-backed health benefits of lion’s mane mushroom…
- Protection of the brain against neurodegenerative disease
- 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
So is lion’s mane a nootropic?
Yes, Lion's Mane is considered a nootropic due to its cognitive enhancing effects. It's been shown to stimulate neurotrophic factors, which are involved in promoting brain cell growth and function.
Plus, it has neuroprotective properties that can help prevent age-related cognitive decline and diseases like Alzheimer's. Put simply, Lion's Mane is a popular natural nootropic that has potential to improve brain function and enhance cognitive performance.
What are the side effects of Lion's Mane
When it comes to consuming any supplement, it's always a good idea to be aware of potential side effects and risks. The same goes for lion's mane.
So while lion’s mane is a commonly eaten mushroom for thousands of years, some people may be allergic or sensitive to it. Symptoms can include itching, rash, swelling, or difficulty breathing. It's best to start with a small dose to see how your body reacts.
As with any supplement, lion's mane may interact with certain medications or supplements. Specifically, lion's mane may interact with blood thinners like aspirin and warfarin, as well as diabetes medications like insulin and metformin.
While lion's mane is generally considered safe, taking very high doses may lead to adverse effects. These can include digestive issues, headaches, or dizziness - however, these side effects are uncommon.
It's important to follow dosage recommendations and not exceed them. Additionally, some sources of lion's mane may be contaminated with heavy metals or other toxins, so it's important to choose a high-quality source.
Does lion's mane make you feel high?
No, lion's mane does not make you feel high. It does not contain any psychoactive compounds that can alter your state of consciousness.
Rather, it is known for its potential cognitive and neurological benefits, such as improving memory, focus, and mood.
Can you take lion's mane everyday?
Yes, you can take Lion's Mane every day. Many people take it as a daily supplement to experience the long-term benefits of this medicinal mushroom.
Lion's Mane is generally considered safe for daily use and has been shown to have a low risk of side effects.
In fact, 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 daily use.
Is lion's mane good for brain fog?
Lion's Mane has become a popular supplement for brain fog as a number of studies have shown it to have cognitive enhancement effects - including improve mental clarity, memory, and focus - which may help with brain fog.
Lion's mane VS other nootropics
When it comes to comparing Lion's Mane to other nootropics, you must remember that there are both similarities and differences. For example, Lion's Mane is a natural nootropic derived from a mushroom.
On the other hand, synthetic nootropics like Modafinil and Adderall are made in a laboratory and have more potent effects, but also carry more potential risks and side effects.
The pros of using lion's mane as a nootropic include its natural origin, its potential to enhance cognitive function, and its lack of known serious side effects. However, it may not be as potent as synthetic nootropics and its effects may take longer to manifest.
On the flip side, the cons of using lion's mane include the fact that it may not work for everyone, and that its effects may not be as strong as synthetic nootropics.
It's also important to note that the quality of Lion's Mane supplements can vary, and not all products may contain effective doses of the active compounds.
What is the best nootropic mushroom?
While there are a lot of different mushrooms out there that are marketed as nootropics, but lion's mane stands out for a few reasons.
First of all, it has a long history of traditional use as a brain tonic and has been shown in both animal and human studies to have a range of cognitive benefits.
Additionally, it's a natural, whole food source of nootropic compounds, rather than a synthetic chemical like many other nootropics on the market.
But what really sets Lion's Mane apart is its unique ability to stimulate the production of nerve growth factors, which are essential for the growth and maintenance of brain cells. This means that lion's mane doesn't just enhance existing brain function, but actually promotes the growth of new brain cells and neural connections.
Of course, as with any supplement, there are pros and cons to using lion's mane as a nootropic. It may not be as potent or fast-acting as some synthetic nootropics, and individual results may vary depending on factors like dosage and frequency of use.
However, for those looking for a natural, safe, and effective way to support cognitive function, Lion's Mane is definitely worth considering.
We’ve taken a deep look at the potential cognitive benefits of lion's mane mushroom, a traditional medicinal fungus used in Chinese and Japanese medicine for centuries, that is believed to improve cognitive function, memory, concentration, and motivation, among other benefits.
We discussed how lion's mane can protect brain cells from damage and degeneration, stimulate the production of neurotrophic factors in the brain, and reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression.
All this points to lion's mane being a powerful natural that has the potential to help you think better and feel better.