When it comes to preventing and easing symptoms of dementia, lion’s mane mushrooms are unparalleled. Here’s what the newest research has to say about Hericium erinaceus and dementia.
What Are Lion’s Mane Mushrooms?
Lion’s mane mushrooms (Hericium erinaceus) are a type of adaptogenic mushroom with a unique, shaggy appearance that resembles the mane of a lion. These fungi grow in Europe, Asia, and North America. Thanks to the many benefits they provide, lion’s mane mushrooms are considered to be among the healthiest mushrooms you can consume.
Health Benefits of Lion’s Mane
Research on the health benefits of lion’s mane indicates the mushroom has significant potential to promote neurogenesis, prevent nerve damage, as well as alleviate dementia, depression symptoms, and nerve pain—among other brain health properties.
The beneficial effects of Hericium erinaceus include:
- relief from anxiety and depressive disorders
- cognitive function improvement
- protection against Alzheimer’s and dementia
- inflammation reduction
- neuropathic pain relief
- fighting various forms of cancer via apoptosis of cancer cells
- immune health improvement
- nervous system injuries recovery
- lowering blood sugar levels
- reducing symptoms of Parkinson’s disease
Lion’s Mane Spiritual Benefits
Lion’s mane mushrooms have incredible spiritual benefits. Shaolin monks in ancient China used this fungus centuries ago to improve their concentration. New clinical research confirms that lion’s mane is able to improve focus and memory, as well as alleviate symptoms of many mental health issues.
The centuries of lion’s mane use in traditional medicine and recent research suggest that Hericium erinaceus is completely safe to consume. The only adverse effect you may experience is an upset stomach if you’re not used to adaptogenic mushrooms. To avoid this side effect, start with a lower dosage of lion’s mane and work your way up.
Lion’s Mane Addiction
There is no risk of addiction when taking lion’s mane. Even if you take this fungus for a long time and at a high dosage, you won’t experience addiction to or dependence on lion’s mane, since it does not have psychoactive effects.
What Is Dementia?
Dementia is not a specific illness, but rather a collection of symptoms that appear in a few related types of neural degeneration. All types of dementia are defined by an impaired ability to think, remember, or make decisions that interfere with the ability to perform everyday activities.
Types of Dementia
The main types of dementia are:
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Lewy body dementia
- Vascular dementia
- Frontotemporal dementia
- Mixed dementia
Symptoms of Dementia
Symptoms of dementia include:
- memory loss
- confusion and poor judgment
- wandering and getting lost frequently
- difficulty speaking and expressing thoughts
- difficulty reading and writing
- trouble with handling money responsibly
Does Lion’s Mane Help Dementia?
Yes, according to recent clinical studies, lion’s mane appears to protect against dementia and even alleviate symptoms of this degenerative condition.
Lion’s mane is one of the best mushrooms for brain function, thanks to bioactive compounds found in the mycelia of Hericium erinaceus which promote neurogenesis and provide an abundance of neurohealth properties.
Lion’s Mane Neurogenesis
Hericium erinaceus appears to promote neurogenesis (the formation of new nerves). Lion’s mane mushrooms contain hericenones and erinacines, biological compounds that can be beneficial for the brain.
Studies have shown that the mushroom has two important sets of compounds that support brain health: stimulators of nerve growth factor proteins and brain-derived neurotrophic factor stimulants.
Nerve growth factor, or NGF for short, is a protein that aids in neuron regeneration and maintenance. Compounds found in lion's mane, such as erinacine A, were shown to increase NGF synthesis in rats. The mycelia enriched with erinacines seems to have an overall positive effect on the central nervous system, stimulating the growth of new brain cells and preventing cognitive decline in Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia.
Brain-derived neurotrophic proteins also play a major role in cognitive health. They promote nerve cell survival by aiding in the maturation and growth of these cells. A 2021 study looked at the effects of lion's mane compounds on the brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF for short). A western blot analysis showed that H. erinaceus increased the production of BDNF proteins.
Lion’s Mane and Memory
Research shows great potential when it comes to using lion's mane for memory boosting.
A study published in the International Journal of Medicinal Mushroom investigated the effects of lion's mane on spatial memory in transgenic mice. The animals were fed a lion's mane supplement for two months. Although there were no significant changes to the spatial memory in the mice, their recognition memory did improve.
Another animal study examined the effects of lion's mane mushrooms on memory and cognitive deficits in mice. The mushroom prevented impairments of short-term spatial and visual recognition memory.
Although more research is needed, these findings indicate that lion's mane mushrooms may be useful in cognitive function improvement.
Neuroprotective Properties of Lion’s Mane
A 2016 study looked at the effects of lion's mane extracts on neurological health. The ethanol extraction showed promising neuroprotective properties in mice.
More specifically, the polysaccharides found in the mushroom fruit bodies reduced the damage of nerve cells caused by neurotoxic chemicals.
Even though more research is needed, this study suggests lion's mane has great neuroprotective potential.
Lion’s Mane and Mild Cognitive Impairment
Hericium erinaceus seems to be quite beneficial in repairing cognitive issues, and may even improve mild cognitive impairment.
A double-blind, parallel-group, placebo-controlled study examined its effects on mild cognitive impairment in Japanese adults. The people ranged from 50 to 80 in age. Half of the participants in the Japanese study were given lion's mane supplements for 16 weeks, while the other half were given a placebo.
The participants who were taking the mushroom extract showed increased scores in their cognitive functioning. These significant increases suggest that lion's mane supplements have the potential to prevent neuronal damage and aid in brain functioning.
Lion’s Mane Dementia Study
A small human study published in 2008 examined the effects of Hericium erinaceus on cardiovascular dementia. This study included seven patients that were given 5 grams of lion’s mane mushroom powder per day for six months.
After six months, six out of the seven participants had significant improvements in their perceptual capacity, and all seven showed significant improvements in functional independence (being able to do daily tasks on their own).
These results are promising, and more human research is certainly needed to further examine the anti-dementia potential of lion’s mane.
Lion’s Mane and Alzheimer’s
Lion’s mane appears to reverse symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, according to animal and human studies. This fungus appears to reduce inflammation and biological markers of Alzheimer’s (such as amyloid plaques).
A 2020 study looked at the effects of lion's mane supplements on early Alzheimer's disease symptoms. The double-blind, placebo-controlled study lasted 52 weeks, and it consisted of two parallel groups. Both groups exhibited symptoms of early Alzheimer's.
Results suggest that lion’s mane mushroom extract significantly improved cognitive function in the participants that were taking the Hericium erinaceus supplement. The participants didn't exhibit any side effects, suggesting that the mushroom is safe and well-tolerated for Alzheimer's patients.
Another recent study came to a similar conclusion. The 2021 animal study examined the effects of polysaccharides found in the lion's mane mycelium on oxidative stress, nerve regeneration, and neuronal health. The compounds significantly improved cognitive behavior in mice. The mushroom alleviated oxidative stress in the brains of mice with Alzheimer's disease by regulating calcium levels in the brain.
What We Can Conclusively Say About Lion’s Mane and Dementia
Here’s what we know to date about the effects of lion’s mane on dementia:
- Lion’s mane is among the best adaptogenic mushrooms to consume for brain health.
- Hericenones and erinacines, compounds found in Hericium erinaceus, appear to promote neurogenesis.
- Lion’s mane was shown to improve spatial and visual recognition memory, at least in animals.
- Clinical application of Hericium erinaceus appears to prevent mild cognitive impairment and provide neuroprotective properties.
- Animal and human studies suggest that lion’s mane mushrooms can reverse symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.
- A small human study suggests that 5 mg of Hericium erinaceus per day can significantly improve symptoms of cardiovascular dementia.
- More human research is needed to fully understand the underlying mechanisms of lion’s mane and its effects on dementia.
- Given that there are no downsides to taking lion’s mane, its relatively low cost, and its high availability, it may make sense for dementia patients and those who want to prevent dementia to include this fungus into their diet.
Are You Interested in Taking Lion’s Mane?
If you want to take lion's mane mushrooms to prevent or ease symptoms of dementia, you can do so with our delicious medicinal mushroom granola.
In addition to a hyperconcentrated lion’s mane extract, our granola contains extracts of cordyceps mushrooms and chaga mushrooms.
The granola is vegan, gluten-free, packed with nutrients, and delicious. What more could you want in a morning bowl of cereal?
Lion’s Mane Dosage for Dementia
If you’re taking lion's mane mushroom supplements for dementia prevention, 1000-2000 mg per day should be enough. For dementia patients, a higher lion’s mane dosage of up to 5000 mg per day is suggested to slow down the progression of this illness.
How Much Lion’s Mane Is in Forij Granola?
Forij granola uses a high-quality lion's mane extract made from whole medicinal mushrooms. Our dual extraction method extracts both water-soluble beta-glucans as well as alcohol-soluble triterpenes. Our decoction process breaks down indigestible chitin cell walls of the mushroom to get much more of these compounds out than ordinary processes do.
One serving of our granola provides 250 mg of hyperconcentrated lion's mane extract, which is eight times more concentrated than regular lion’s mane tinctures and supplements. Therefore, you get as much lion's mane potency as you would if you were taking a 2000 mg mushroom powder supplement, all in one bowl of granola.
FAQ on Lion’s Mane and Dementia
Does lion’s mane cross the blood-brain barrier?
The blood-brain barrier protects your brain from certain toxins found in the blood. Sometimes, however, this barrier doesn't let through compounds that may be beneficial to your brain.
However, hericenones and erinacines, bioactive compounds in many mushrooms, including lion’s mane, can cross the blood-brain barrier quite easily. These beneficial compounds include nerve growth factors (NGF) that can provide many benefits, including brain injury protection, nerve regeneration (neurogenesis), and myelination.
How do you test for dementia and Alzheimer’s disease?
Amyloid plaques are the most common pathological hallmark of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. These proteins accumulate in the brain and kill neurons, causing the various symptoms of the illness.
The Revised Hasegawa dementia scale is a cognitive function scale used to determine whether a person has dementia. This nine-question scale can also determine the stages of dementia and its severity. Those with dementia have significantly lower scores on the cognitive function scale compared to those without signs of dementia.
Can lion’s mane cause brain fog?
No, lion’s mane does not cause brain fog. Actually, this fungus is among the best fungi you can take to alleviate brain fog. Lion’s mane provides a natural energy boost and aids in many illnesses that have brain fog as a symptom (such as depression, anxiety, and ADHD).
Can lion’s mane be taken long term?
Yes, lion’s mane can be taken long term. The beneficial effects of this fungus become more pronounced the longer you take it, so it’s advisable to take Hericium erinaceus for at least a month or two to reap its full benefits.
Does lion’s mane work immediately?
You’ll feel certain effects of lion’s mane, such as its energy-boosting properties, within the first few days of taking Hericium erinaceus. However, it takes about a month or more for lion’s mane to fully work. Of course, the longer you take this fungus, the more benefits of it you’ll reap.
Can you take too much lion’s mane mushroom?
No, you can’t take too much lion’s mane. Still, that doesn’t mean you should take a bunch of supplements every day. Instead, opt for a high-quality way to get this fungus into your diet (such as Forij granola) and, if you like the taste of lion’s mane, try cooking with it.
How does lion’s mane make you feel?
Lion's mane may make you feel calmer and more focused. The mushroom will likely improve your mental clarity, meaning you'll be able to focus on cognitive tasks for longer. It will not make you feel high, but it will alleviate mild symptoms of anxiety and depression, making you feel happier overall.
The information provided in this article is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any disease or illness. The statements contained herein have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).