While we can’t claim lion’s mane can cure Parkinson’s, it certainly appears to work in opposition to the disease.
It’s been proven that Hericium erinaceus promotes neurogenesis (brain nerve cell growth). Parkinson’s disease does the exact opposite, destroying integral parts of the brain as the illness progresses.
Lion’s mane promotes neuron growth. Parkinson’s destroys neurons. The two seem to be in direct opposition to one another. Draw your own conclusions.
Let’s get into the finer points of the science behind lion’s mane, neurogenesis, and Parkinson’s disease.
What are Lion’s Mane Mushrooms?
Lion's mane (Hericium erinaceus) is an edible mushroom that commonly grows in North America, Asia, and Europe. Due to its many beneficial properties, lion’s mane has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries. These medicinal mushrooms are saprotrophic, meaning that they feed on organic matter found in dead trees.
Lion’s Mane Mushroom Benefits
Research on the health benefits of the lion’s mane mushroom indicates this fungus has the potential to promote the production of nerve growth factor proteins and repair nerve cells. It appears to have antidepressantlike effects, ease the symptoms of dementia, lessen oxidative stress, as well as improve overall mental clarity and neuronal health.
Some of the potential benefits of lion’s mane include:
- reduces symptoms of depression and anxiety
- reduces inflammation and nerve pains
- improves overall brain function, including learning and memory
- has a protective effect on the brain and improves brain health
- reduces the risk of heart disease and blood clots
- prevents memory loss and protects against mild cognitive impairment
- lowers blood sugar levels
- encourages apoptosis (cell death) of cancer cells
- improves digestive health
- boosts the immune system and improves immune functioning
- has neuroprotective properties and reduces brain damage in neurodegenerative diseases, such as multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer’s disease
Lion’s Mane Bioactive Compounds
Hericium erinaceus contains a plethora of bioactive compounds, such as:
- digestive enzymes
- prebiotic fibers
While many of these compounds are only beginning to be understood by science, some are known to have profound effects. For example, hericenones, found in lion’s mane fruiting bodies, and erinacines, present in the mycelium of the fungus, have incredible neurotrophic potential.
What is Parkinson’s Disease?
Parkinson’s disease is a progressive neurodegenerative disease caused by a loss of nerve cells in parts of the brain that produce dopamine (mainly a part called the substantia nigra).
Since dopamine plays an important role in regulating bodily movements, this illness manifests through stiffness and difficulty walking, although other symptoms may be present as well, especially as the illness progresses.
Parkinson’s Disease Prevalence
According to the Parkinson’s Foundation, nearly one in a million people in the US are diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, with men being 1.5 times more likely to get it than women. Worldwide, more than 10 million people are living with this illness.
Parkinson’s Disease Symptoms
The four main symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, found in nearly every case of this illness, are:
- arm, leg, jaw, and head tremors
- slowness of movement
- limb stiffness
- balance and coordination impairment
Less common symptoms include depression and other mental health issues, urinary problems, constipation, sleep issues, skin problems, and difficulty swallowing and speaking. These symptoms are more common in the later stages of the disease.
Can Lion's Mane Alleviate Parkinson's Disease?
Unfortunately, there is a serious lack of human research when it comes to the effects of lion’s mane on Parkinson’s disease.
However, the mushroom’s effectiveness in treating other neurodegenerative illnesses (such as the effects of Hericium erinaceus on Alzheimer’s disease), anecdotal use, and the few available studies all suggest that lion’s mane can be immensely beneficial for Parkinson’s disease, especially due to its ability to repair damaged nerves and to stimulate the growth of new ones.
Despite the lack of clear research on lion’s mane and Parkinson’s disease, here are the facts:
- Lion’s mane is shown to promote neurogenesis (neuronal cell growth)
- Parkinson’s is a disease of neuronal cell death
- Lion’s mane and Parkinson’s are in direct opposition to one another: one promoting growth and the other decay of nerve cells.
You can draw your own assumptions about lion’s mane and its efficacy in treating Parkinson’s disease. We think it’s pretty safe to assume the actions of the mushroom on the disease can only be beneficial, especially as lion’s mane has no known negative side effects.
Lion’s Mane and Nerve Regrowth
When it comes to nerve regrowth, lion’s mane extracts are unparalleled, according to research. A study published in the Journal of Restorative Medicine examined the neurological activity of Hericium erinaceus.
The results suggest that the bioactive compounds found in lion’s mane (especially hericenones and erinacines) appear to have neuro-protective and neuro-regenerative properties.
A 2015 study that examined the effects of medicinal mushrooms such as Lignosus rhinocerotis (higher basidiomycetes), otherwise known as tiger's milk, and Hericium erinaceus on nerve growth.
Results suggest that these medicinal mushrooms stimulate neurite outgrowth in dissociated cells of brain, spinal cord, and retina, and promote the production of nerve growth factor gene expression.
Nerve Growth, Parkinson’s Disease, and Lion’s Mane
An in vitro study examined the effects of medicinal mushrooms, including lion’s mane, on neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Out of 2000 adaptogenic mushrooms tested, only a few were confirmed to promote nerve growth.
Hericium erinaceus, in particular, was shown to be beneficial for neuronal health, as it has the capacity to regenerate peripheral nerves and aids in the production of new neurons (neurogenesis). A 50 µg/mL lion’s mane extract triggered nerve cell growth in the brain, spinal cord, and retinal cells.
How Neurogenesis Influences Parkinson’s Disease: an Animal Study
So, it’s apparent that lion’s mane mushroom extract can aid in the production of neurons by increasing the levels of nerve growth factor (NGF) proteins. But can neurogenesis actually improve symptoms of Parkinson’s disease? Research suggests it does.
A comparative study looked at the effects of NGF on the development and the severity of Parkinson’s disease. The results show that a decrease in NGF levels may reflect ongoing neurodegenerative processes in Parkinson’s disease, as patients with this disease showed a significant decrease in the production of this protein in later stages of the illness.
Although more research on the effects of nerve growth factor proteins on Parkinson’s disease is needed, it’s certainly a topic worth looking into, as it’s highly probable that NGF could slow down the progression of this illness.
Neuroprotective Properties of Lion’s Mane
An animal study published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences examined the neuroprotective effects of Hericium erinaceus mycelium extract on PC12 cells.
PC12 cells are derived from rats, and are often used in animal research to learn about the underlying mechanisms of brain disorders on a cellular level.
The results of this study show that the fruiting bodies’ aqueous extract of lion’s mane successfully induced differentiation and formation of PC12 cells.
Due to the neuroprotective properties of this adaptogenic mushroom, the mice that were administered the mushroom extract showed significant improvements in cognitive functions and processes.
The mushroom extract seemed to improve the results of various tests that measure recognition memory in wildtype mice, including the water maze and the rotarod tests.
Lion’s Mane and Parkinson’s-Related Neurotoxicity
Studies on the effects of lion’s mane on Parkinson’s disease are scarce, but some animal studies give promising results. For example, a 2020 animal study looked at the effects of Hericium erinaceus on neurotoxicity related to Parkinson’s disease.
According to the results of this study, the mice that were given a lion’s mane extract showed fewer signs of cytotoxicity of neuronal cells thanks to the protective effects of erinacine A, a compound found in this adaptogenic mushroom.
What We Can Conclusively Say About Lion’s Mane and Parkinson’s Disease
Here’s what we know to date about Hericium erinaceus and Parkinson’s disease:
- The neurotrophic effects of lion’s mane could be immensely beneficial in the treatment and prevention of Parkinson’s disease, according to both animal and cell studies,
- Nerve growth factor (NGF) protein production seems to slow the progression of Parkinson’s disease, at least in animals.
- The neuroprotective effects of Hericium erinaceus could aid in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease and may slow the cognitive decline related to the disease.
- Lion’s mane seems to prevent neurotoxicity related to Parkinson’s disease, at least in animals.
- More human studies are needed to uncover the underlying mechanisms of lion’s mane and its effects on Parkinson’s disease.
- Given that there are no downsides to taking lion’s mane, its low cost, and high availability, it may make sense to include this fungus into one’s diet as a way to slow the progression of Parkinson’s disease.
Interested in Trying Lion’s Mane for Parkinson’s Disease?
If you’re interested in trying lion’s mane mushrooms for Parkinson’s disease, we suggest doing so with Forij Superfood Granola.
Why? Well, for one, it’s tasty granola you’ll be ecstatic to munch on every morning. And more importantly, this granola is gluten-free, vegan, and extremely healthy. It contains a hyperconcentrated extract of lion’s mane, as well as cordyceps and chaga extracts.
Choose from one of our three delicious flavors: sunflower seed cacao, cinnamon, or vanilla almond. Alternatively, go with a bundle of all three flavors if you can’t decide or simply want a variety of flavors to start your mornings with.
Lion’s Mane and Parkinson’s Disease FAQ
What are the side effects of lion’s mane?
There are no known serious side effects of Hericium erinaceus. The most common side effect of lion’s mane people experience is indigestion which disappears after a few days of use. However, if you want to avoid digestion issues, start with a low dosage and work your way up once your body gets used to the mushroom.
How long does it take for lion’s mane to work?
It usually takes about two weeks for you to notice any lion’s mane benefits, and it may take even longer, depending on how much you take and what you’re taking it for. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t notice immediate effects, keep at it and increase the dosage slightly, and the results will come.
How does lion’s mane make you feel?
Lion’s mane supplements can have a stimulating effect and may therefore make you feel more energized and focused, but may also make you restless if you take it late in the day. People who suffer from anxiety also report feeling more relaxed after taking lion’s mane due to its anxiety-relieving properties.
Does lion’s mane regrow nerves?
Yes, according to research, lion’s mane does appear to have neurotrophic properties. Due to its ability to regrow and repair damaged nerves, lion’s mane is a popular dietary supplementation for those with cognitive impairments caused by nerve damage caused by an illness or injury.
Is lion’s mane addictive?
No, lion’s mane is not addictive, even if you use it for a long time and at a high dosage. You can stop taking it at any time without any repercussions, although you will stop experiencing the many benefits this adaptogenic mushroom provides once you do.
Does lion’s mane help with peripheral neuropathy?
Although more research on the effects of lion’s mane on peripheral neuropathy is needed, the results of existing studies are promising. Research on lion’s mane and diabetes seems to confirm that this mushroom can be quite beneficial in treating this common symptom of diabetes, and it may alleviate nerve pain in those with trauma-related nerve damage as well.
This article was written strictly for informational purposes. This website is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. The statements contained herein have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).