Lion’s mane mushrooms can do so many great things for the brain. With all their positive effects, people may wonder if they can help with memory disorders like Alzheimer’s and dementia. The answer is yes, it seems like they can! Read on for a look at the way Alzheimer’s impacts the brain, the way lion’s mane impacts the brain, and how lion’s mane could help in the fight against this debilitating disease.
What is Alzheimer’s?
Alzheimer’s disease is a disorder of the brain that effects memory and cognition. It is a type of dementia that progressively worsens over time. Symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease include severe memory loss, confusion, and disorientation. Over time, these symptoms can get so bad that they can interfere with daily life.
Alzheimer’s Disease and the Brain
So what is happening in the brain that causes these changes and symptoms? In normal aging, the brain decreases in size only slightly, and does not lose many neurons. But with Alzheimer’s, many neurons are destroyed, and connections between neurons are lost. This happens in multiple regions of the brain and can interrupt everything from memory to reasoning to social behavior.
Lion’s Mane and the Brain
In stark contrast to the ways Alzheimer’s disease can impact the brain, lion’s mane mushrooms have a number of very positive impacts on the brain! Regular consumption of lion’s mane can boost cognition and improve cognitive function. Lion’s mane mushrooms also have neuroregenerative properties. There is evidence to suggest lion’s mane can ease symptoms of anxiety and depression as well.
How does lion’s mane have these effects on the brain? First, it is able to cross the blood-brain barrier that protects the brain and keeps harmful toxins out. It then seems that lion’s mane helps to stimulate nerve growth factor proteins, which aid in the growth and development of nerve cells in the brain. This impact on nerves in the brain leads to some of the other impacts we see lion’s mane having, like boosting cognitive function and easing symptoms of mental illness.
Lion’s Mane and Alzheimer’s
Putting all of the above together, we can see that lion’s mane and Alzheimer’s impact the brain in opposite ways. And there is research to suggest that the cognition-boosting effects of lion’s mane can help in the treatment and management of diseases like Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.
A recent 2021 animal study on mice found that lion's mane alleviated oxidative stress in the brains of mice with Alzheimer's disease by regulating calcium levels in the brain. And an even more compelling research study was conducted on humans experiencing mild cognitive impairment. This double-blind, placebo-controlled study looked at individuals 50 to 80 years of age with mild cognitive impairment. It found that those who consumed lion’s mane supplements for 16 weeks scored higher on tests of cognitive function than those in the placebo group. This suggests that lion’s mane may help aid in neuronal health and functioning, particularly in those with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia.
With the research that has been conducted so far and what we know about the biological properties of lion’s mane, it seems that this adaptogenic mushroom has the potential to help immensely when it comes to memory impairment.Sources: https://www.alz.org/alzheimers-dementia/what-is-alzheimers https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/what-happens-brain-alzheimers-disease#:~:text=At%20first%2C%20Alzheimer's%20disease%20typically,%2C%20reasoning%2C%20and%20social%20behavior. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18844328/ https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0141813021022753