Hericium erinaceus, also known as Lion’s Mane, is an edible mushroom which has been used for centuries in traditional Chinese medicine. It is rich in exceptional compounds such as β-glucans, polysaccharides associated with lowering blood cholesterol, as well as hericenones which support neuron function.
Hericium erinaceus, the champion of neuroprotection
In China, where it originated, it’s called "hóu tóu gū" and in Japan, "yamabushitake". A highly unusual mushroom that resembles a long white beard or lion’s mane, its use in Chinese medicine dates back to the Han dynasty, 200 years BC, a period when it was already considered to have extraordinary medicinal properties.
In recent years, as interest in traditional remedies has grown, a number of scientific studies have confirmed its traditionally-recognised therapeutic benefits and have highlighted a remarkable physiological property: Lion’s Mane protects, optimises and repairs the nervous system.
Which of Hericium’s compounds account for these benefits?
The Hericium erinaceus mushroom is particularly rich in bioactive substances, most of which are believed to contribute to its medicinal properties. However, it is undoubtedly the β-glucan polysaccharides and hericenones which are of most interest. The former are a form of soluble fibre which positively affect lipid metabolism, while the latter are phenolic compounds that support neuron function.
Neurotrophic and nootropic effects of Lion’s Mane
The most exciting potential offered by H. erinaceus relates to neuron activity. Studies show that extracts of Hericium erinaceus mushrooms are able to increase production of nerve growth factor (NGF)(6), a neuropeptide known for its key role in neuron growth and survival (7-9), particularly in the part of the brain responsible for memory-processing called the hippocampus. This effect is due to the properties of hericenones of which Lion’s Mane has a guaranteed content.
NGF is a protein involved in regulating the growth, proliferation and survival of central and peripheral neurons. It plays a role in numerous mechanisms:
- the ability of neurons to bind to each other and form synapses;
- maintaining neuron populations over time;
- axonal growth (a key stage in neural circuit assembly which is important for final neuron size);
- optimum efficacy of mitochondria (the ‘powerhouses’ where energy conversion takes place) in neurons (34-35);
- axonal regeneration or sprouting processes following trauma (recovery of damaged nerve tissue) ;
- increase in specific activity of enzymes involved in synthesis of catecholamines and of substance P in sensory neurons;
- improving myelinisation of nerve fibres (30-32).
NGF is peptide produced by a large number of cells such as those of the immune system, but production declines with age and in the presence of certain disease states. Unfortunately, NGF cannot be used in a treatment or preventative capacity as it is unable to cross the blood-brain barrier. We therefore have to rely on natural compounds with a lower molecular weight (which can cross this barrier) that promote NGF synthesis within the body. That’s exactly what the hericenones in Lion’s Mane do.
Several studies have demonstrated the effects of H. erinaceus on mental efficacy in people with cognitive problems (33) and its use in dementia, cognitive dysfunction and memory problems (10). It seems that it acts primarily as a nootropic and that it’s necessary to take a supplement in order to maintain the effect.
Other properties of Lion’s Mane
1) Anti-cancer and immune-modulating effects. A number of studies have shown that H. erinaceus offers benefits against cancer. Its polysaccharides may increase numbers of immune cells such as macrophages and T lymphocytes (1) as well as nitric oxide (NO) production and cytokine expression (2). Other research has shown extracts of H. erinaceus to increase the cytolytic activity of Natural Killer (NK) cells and to potentially inhibit neoangiogenesis in tumours. One study (4) also showed it was able to combat proliferation of pre-cancerous cells and induce their death (apoptosis).
2) Cardioprotective effects. As indicated by traditional Chinese medicine, H. erinaceus offers benefits for cardiovascular health. Its lipid-lowering effect is due to the action of the polymers it produces. When administered orally, these natural compounds are able to reduce blood levels of LDL-cholesterol and triglycerides, and increase those of HDL-cholesterol. It’s thought that polymers may also play a role in modulating the expression of a gene involved in lipid metabolism (5).
3) Antioxidant effects. Oxidative stress plays a key role in many pathologies including cancer, and cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases (12). Oxidative stress is the result of an imbalance in pro-oxidative and antioxidant agents but can be inhibited, thus helping to prevent irreparable damage to the body, by consuming plenty of antioxidant-rich foods or by taking supplements. Extract of Hericium erinaceus is one such supplement, as it can neutralise free radicals and prevent cell membrane peroxidation (13), a process involved in ageing. These effects are due to its phenolic compounds (14) and polysaccharides (15).
4) Support for stomach health. Several years ago, a study demonstrated the benefits of Hericium erinaceus in relieving stomach ache (16), an effect believed to be related to its saponin content.
Huge advantage of dual extraction
Liquid solvents such as water are normally used to obtain a mushroom extract. This acts a bit like a vegetable soup where the hot water enables chemical compounds to be extracted from solids. Immersing Hericium erinaceus in hot water for a certain period, allows all its water-soluble compounds, including its precious β-glucans, to be extracted. The liquid obtained is then dehydrated, producing a powder that’s highly-concentrated in active principles.
In the case of most Hericium erinaceus extracts, the production process stops there. But Hericium erinaceus also contains compounds non-water-soluble compounds such as hericenones. In order to recover these, a second extraction by alcohol is also required. This is vital step since it’s the hericenones which are primarily responsible for the mushroom’s benefits for neuron function (they stimulate production of NGF). Lion’s Mane is one of the rare supplements to undergo this dual extraction process and thus offers a guaranteed content in both polysaccharides (water extraction) and hericenones (alcohol extraction).
Are there other measures that can be combined with Hericium erinaceus supplementation to support neuron function?
Numerous studies have shown that neuroplasticity and neurogenesis can be improved by at least four factors:
- engaging fully in projects, cognitive and social activities(17-19). Learning and mental exercises encourage the survival phase of neurogenesis by stimulating integration of neurons in existing neural circuits. Repeating these activities (or increasing their difficulty or intensity) leads to improved myelinisation of neuronal extensions, enabling faster circulation of information;
- increasing intake of omega-3 and B vitamins(20-22). Neurons generated in adults are small in size and have very high requirements for essential fatty acids, particularly
omega-3 fatty acids, in order to produce their demanding cell membranes. Omega-3 fatty acids are universally recognised by the scientific community and European health authorities as helping to maintain cognitive function, particularly DHA (a natural-source fatty acid, a high quality form of which is found in
Adult neurons also have high requirements for vitamins B2, B6 and B12, all of which are essential elements but are increasingly scarce in modern diets;
levels of physical activity(23-24).
Physical activity increases the proliferation involved in neurogenesis;
- improving stress management(25-26). Several studies have shown the highly damaging effects of stress – whether physical or psychosocial - on cell proliferation and neurogenesis in general. It’s therefore essential to protect yourself from stress as much as possible, or failing that, to know how to reduce its effects (through exercise,adaptogen plants, breathing techniques, etc.)
Several species of mushrooms such as Cordyceps (27), Pleurotus (28) and Ganoderma (29) are known to offer similar effects to those of Hericium erinaceus. It may therefore be beneficial to combine Lion’s Mane with Reishi Extract to enhance its anti-cancer effects, or even with Huperzine A to maximise the neuroprotective effects of Lion’s Mane.
When and how should Lion's Mane supplement be taken?
Lion’s Mane supplements contain eight times the concentration of active principles as the plant powder. They have a guaranteed content of beta-glucan polysaccharides of 30% (150mg per capsule), and of hericenones, due to the dual extraction technique used.
The recommended dose to take is 1-2 capsules a day, preferably with meals. The risk of side-effects is very low and Lion’s Mane can thus be taken for 1-3 months. Having said that, this mushroom should not be taken by those with disorders where NGF is already elevated such as allergies, fibromyalgia or polycystic ovary syndrome…
This product should not be used as a substitute for a varied, balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle. It’s important to follow the directions for use, the recommended daily dose and the ‘use-by’ date. It is not recommended for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, or for children under 15. Keep out of reach of young children. Store in a cool, dry place.
- Liu C, Gao P, Qian J, Yan W. Immunological study on the antitumor effects of fungus polysaccharides compounds. Wei Sheng Yan Jiu 2000; 29:178–80.
- Lee JS, Min KM, Cho JY, Hong EK. Study of macrophage activation and structural characteristics of purified polysaccharides from the fruiting body of Hericium erinaceus. J Microbiol Biotechnol 2009; 19:951–9.
- Kim SP, Kang MY, Kim JH, Nam SH, Friedman M. Composition and mechanism of antitumor effects of Hericium erinaceus mushroom extracts in tumor-bearing mice. J Agric Food Chem 2011; 59:9861–9.
- Kim SP, Kang MY, Choi YH, Kim JH, Nam SH, Friedman M. Mechanism of Hericium erinaceus (Yamabushitake) mushroom-induced apoptosis of U937 human monocytic leukemia cells. Food Funct 2011; 2:348–56.
- Hiwatashi K, Kosaka Y, Suzuki N, Hata K, Mukaiyama T, Sakamoto K, et al. Yamabushitake mushroom (Hericium erinaceus) improved lipid metabolism in mice fed a high-fat diet. Biosci Biotechnol Biochem 2010; 74: 1447–51.
- Mori K, Obara Y, Hirota M, Azumi Y, Kinugasa S, Inatomi S, et al. Nerve growth factor-inducing activity of Hericium erinaceus in 1321N1 human astrocytoma cells. Biol Pharm Bull 2008; 31:1727–32.
- Levi-Montalcini R: The nerve growth factor 35 years later. Science 1987; 237: 1154-62.
- Levi-Montalcini R, Angeletti PU: Second symposium on catecholamines. Modification of sympathetic function. Immunosympathectomy. Pharmacol Rev 1966; 18: 619-28.
- Thoenen H, Brandtlow C, Heumann R: The physiological function of nerve growth factor in the central nervous system: comparison with the periphery. Rev Physiol Biochem 1987; 109: 145-78.
- Mori K, Obara Y, Moriya T, Inatomi S, Nakahata N. Effects of Hericium erinaceus on amyloid β(25–35) peptide-induced learning and memory deficits in mice. Biomed Res 2011; 32: 67–72.
- Nagano M, Shimizu K, Kondo R, Hayashi C, Sato D, Kitagawa K, et al. Reduction of depression and anxiety by 4 weeks Hericium erinaceus intake. Biomed Res 2010; 31:231–7.
- Khan MA, Tania M, Zhang DZ, Chen HC. Antioxidant enzymes and cancer. Chin J Cancer Res 2010; 22:87–92.
- Abdullah N, Ismail SM, Aminudin N, Shuib AS, Lau BF. Evaluation of selected culinary-medicinal mushrooms for antioxidant and ACE inhibitory activities. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med 2012; 2012:464238.
- Wong KH, Sabaratnam V, Abdullah N, Kuppusamy UR, Naidu M. Effects of cultivation techniques and processing on antimicrobial and antioxidant activities of Hericium erinaceus (Bull.: Fr.) Pers. extracts. Food Technol Biotechnol 2009; 47: 47–55.
- Zhang Z, Lv G, Pan H, Pandey A, He W, Fan L. Antioxidant and hepatoprotective potential of endo-polysaccharides from Hericium erinaceus grown on tofu whey. Int J Biol Macromol 2012; 51:1140–6.
- Xu CP, Liu WW, Liu FX, Chen SS, Liao FQ, Xu Z, et al. A double blind study of effectiveness of Hericium erinaceus pers therapy on chronic atrophic gastritis. A preliminary report. Chin Med J 1985; 98:455–6.
- Peretto P, Schellino R, De Marchis S, Fasolo A. The interplay between reproductive social stimuli and adult olfactory bulb neurogenesis. Neural Plast. 2014 ; 2014 :497657. doi : 10.1155/2014/497657. Epub 2014 Jul 22.
- Oboti L, Savalli G, Giachino C, De Marchis S, Panzica GC, Fasolo A, Peretto P. Integration and sensory experience-dependent survival of newly-generated neurons in the accessory olfactory bulb of female mice. Eur J Neurosci. 2009 Feb; 29(4):679-92. doi: 10.1111/j.1460-9568.2009.06614.x. Epub 2009 Feb 6.
- Opendak M, Briones BA, Gould E. Social behavior, hormones and adult neurogenesis. Front Neuroendocrinol. 2016 Apr; 41:71-86. doi: 10.1016/j.yfrne.2016.02.002. Epub 2016 Mar 17.
- Hu X, Zhang F, Leak RK, Zhang W, Iwai M, Stetler RA, Dai Y, Zhao A, Gao Y, Chen J. Transgenic overproduction of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids provides neuroprotection and enhances endogenous neurogenesis after stroke. Curr Mol Med. 2013 Nov; 13(9):1465-73.
- Kang JX, Gleason ED. Omega-3 Fatty acids and hippocampal neurogenesis in depression. CNS Neurol Disord Drug Targets. 2013 Jun; 12(4):460-5.
- Pu H, Jiang X, Wei Z, Hong D, Hassan S, Zhang W, Liu J, Meng H, Shi Y, Chen L, Chen J. Repetitive and Prolonged Omega-3 Fatty Acid Treatment After Traumatic Brain Injury Enhances Long-Term Tissue Restoration and Cognitive Recovery. Cell Transplant. 2017 Apr 13; 26(4):555-569. doi: 10.3727/096368916X693842. Epub 2016 Nov 24.
- Yau SY, Gil-Mohapel J, Christie BR, So KF. Physical exercise-induced adult neurogenesis: a good strategy to prevent cognitive decline in neurodegenerative diseases? Biomed Res Int. 2014; 2014:403120. doi: 10.1155/2014/403120. Epub 2014 Apr 9.
- Maass, A., Duzel, S., Goerke, M., Becke, A., Sobieray, U., Neumann, et al. (2015). Vascular hippocampal plasticity after aerobic exercise in older adults. Mol. Psychiatry 20, 585–593.
- Egeland M, Zunszain PA, Pariante CM. Molecular mechanisms in the regulation of adult neurogenesis during stress. Nat Rev Neurosci. 2015 Apr; 16(4) :189-200. doi: 10.1038/nrn3855.
- Lucassen PJ, Oomen CA, Naninck EF, Fitzsimons CP, van Dam AM, Czeh B, Korosi A. Regulation of Adult Neurogenesis and Plasticity by (Early) Stress, Glucocorticoids, and Inflammation. Cold Spring Harb Perspect Biol. 2015 Sep 1; 7(9): a021303. doi: 10.1101/cshperspect.a021303.
- Khan MA, Tania M, Zhang DZ, Chen HC. Cordyceps mushroom: a potent anticancer nutraceutical. Open Nutra J 2010; 3:179–83.
- Khan MA, Tania M. Nutritional and medicinal importance of Pleurotus mushrooms : an overview. Food Rev Int 2012; 28:313–29.
- Sanodiya BS, Thakur GS, Baghel RK, Prasad GB, Bisen PS. Ganoderma lucidum: a potent pharmacological macrofungus. Curr Pharm Biotechnol 2009; 10:717–42.
- Kawagishi H, Zhuang C, Yunoki R. Compounds for dementia from Hericium erinaceum. Drugs Future 2008; 33:149-155.
- Moldavan MG, Grygansky A, Kolotushkina OV, Kirchhoff B, Skibo GG, Pedarzani P. Neurotropic and trophic action of lion's mane mushroom Hericium erinaceus (Bull.: Fr) Pers. (Aphyllophoromycetideae) extracts on nerve cells in vitro. Int J Med Mush 2007; 9:15-28.
- Kolotushkina EV, Moldavan MG, Voronin KY, Skibo GG. The influence of Hericium erinaceus extract on myelination process in vitro. Fiziologicheskii Zhur 2003; 49:38-45.
- Mori K, Inatomi et al. Improving Effects of the Mushroom Yamabushitake (Hericium erinaceus) on Mild Cognitive Impairment: A Double-blind Placebo-controlled Clinical Trial, PHYTOTHERAPY RESEARCH Phytother. Res. 23, 367–372 (2009).
- Verburg, J. & Hollenbeck, P. J. Mitochondrial membrane potential in axons increases with local nerve growth factor or semaphorin signaling. J. Neurosci. 28, 8306–8315 (2008).
Our dietary supplement Super DHA has been specifically formulated to provide docosahexaenoic acid, commonly known as DHA. Numerous scientific studies have been published on this substance – indeed, DHA is one of the most established of the omega-3 fatty acids. The body needs omega-3 fatty acids, often referred to as ‘good fats', in order to function properly. They are also considered essential – in other words, they must be ingested from the diet as the body is unable to produce them.
In the case of DHA, this means eating foods rich in omega-3s such as oily fish. However, dietary sources may not provide sufficient levels, hence the development of a number of omega-3-rich supplements. In order to offer the best possible omega-3 supplement, our teams have been working to develop an innovative formulation that combines DHA with another form of omega-3: eicosapentaenoic acid or EPA. Following extensive testing, the result is this new Super DHA supplement, offering a complete omega-3 solution.
What are the benefits associated with Super DHA?
Deciding to supplement with DHA is not an insignificant choice. This omega-3 has been studied since the 1970s for its many benefits to human health. Scientists believe it plays numerous roles within the body. It is particularly involved in several key functions in the brain, nervous system, cardiovascular system and retina. Omega-3 contributes to:
- The development and activity of the retina, brain and nervous system;
- Brain development in the fetus, baby and child;
- Fluidity of cell membranes, thus promoting the ion exchanges and electron transfers needed for several bioenergy reactions;
- Lipid functions, by improving the lipid profile.
In addition to supporting normal body function, DHA has aroused scientific interest for its health-promoting properties. A number of studies have been conducted on the benefits of omega-3s in preventing and treating certain disorders. Supplementation with DHA and has demonstrated promising results for:
- Lowering the heart rate and blood pressure, thus identifying these omega-3 fatty acids as beneficial for those suffering from hypertension;
- Reducing blood triglycerides, excess levels of which are involved in the development of hyperlipidaemia which is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease;
- Maintaining normal cholesterol levels, so preventing a rise in the bad cholesterol responsible for cardiovascular problems.
As a result of these effects, it seems is particularly important for preventing certain forms of cardiovascular disease, including coronary diseases. Other studies have shown that omega-3 supplementation may offer benefits in lowering the risk of recurrent heart attacks, improving depression and reducing symptoms associated with the menopause and psoriasis.
How is Super DHA produced?
In order to offer the best possible omega-3 product, our Super DHA supplement is produced from a high quality fish oil obtained from several different fish species (sardines, mackerel and anchovies) selected for their naturally high content in omega-3 fatty acids. These premium fish also have Friend of the Sea certification, meaning they come from sustainable fisheries that conform to strict criteria with guaranteed management of fishing quotas. Located along the coasts of Peru and Chile, these clean fishing zones are free from industrial contamination.
A molecular distillation process further enhances the quality of our omega-3 supplement. This innovative technique not only removes all traces of contaminants (mercury, lead, arsenic) but also provides an optimal DHA concentration. This produces a fish oil standardised to 50% DHA and 10% EPA. To ensure maximum benefit from these omega-3s, the DHA and EPA are delivered in softgels, with a recommended dose of one to two capsules per meal. This dose can be adapted according to your needs and the advice of your therapist. You can buy this complete DHA formulation today, with our easy, on-line ordering system and extensive worldwide delivery options.