While you may think of mushrooms as just a tasty food to add to a meal, there’s actually a plethora of mushrooms that provide benefits that may shock you. One of these types of beneficial mushrooms are lion’s mane mushrooms. Also known as hou tou gu or yamabushitake, lion’s mane mushrooms are large, white, mushrooms that get their name from their resemblance of a lion’s mane as they grow. 

From eating them raw to steeping them in tea, there are many ways to consume lion’s mane mushrooms. People tend to eat lion’s mane mushrooms or take them as a supplement, all for very good reasons. This form of mushroom contains bioactive substances that target your body’s brain, heart, and gut. Keep reading to learn the top 10 health benefits of lion’s mane mushrooms that will benefit you greatly!

1. Reduces the Risk of Heart Disease

If you have a family history of heart disease, consuming lion’s mane mushrooms may help reduce your risk. Some of the most common and major risk factors of heart disease include obesity, high triglycerides, an increased tendency to get blood clots, and large amounts of oxidized cholesterol. According to research, the extract of lion’s mane mushrooms can work to reduce the risk of these factors, in turn reducing the risk of heart disease. 

2. May Help Fight Cancer

Some research has shown that because of lion’s mane mushrooms having several unique compounds, it has cancer-fighting abilities. Cancer is commonly brought on when one’s DNA becomes damaged, causing cells to replicate out of control.

When lion’s mane extract is combined with human cancer cells, this causes the cancer cells to die at a faster rate. But not only does this mushroom kill cancer cells, but it’s also been known to reduce the spread of cancer. 

3. Protection Against Dementia

Two special compounds within lion’s mane mushrooms, hericenones and erinacines, help stimulate the brain cells. With the risk of dementia, this can greatly decrease one’s chances of developing this decrease in mental functioning.

Dementia is characterized by a group of social and thinking symptoms that hinder daily functioning. Lion’s mane mushrooms contain compounds that work to stimulate the growth of brain cells, in turn protecting them from damage caused by Alzheimer’s disease. 

4. Relieves Mild Symptoms of Depression and Anxiety

While anything from major life events to genetics can contribute to depression and anxiety, chronic inflammation could be a major contributing factor. Luckily, lion’s mane mushrooms have been proven to have anti-inflammatory effects that help reduce symptoms.

In fact, animal studies have discovered that lion’s mane extract works to regenerate brain cells, increasing the functioning of the hippocampus. But while there have been multiple tests run on animals, very little testing has been done on humans.

5. Boosts Recovery of Nervous System Injuries

Your nervous system is a crucial part of your body that controls almost every bodily functioning. When you suffer any injury to your nervous system, the side effects can be devastating. From paralysis to loss of mental functions, the recovery process is a long, daunting one.

According to recent research, lion’s mane extract has been found to reduce recovery time by 23-41% when given to rats with injuries in their nervous system. This is because the extract stimulates the growth and repair of nerve cells, in turn speeding up the healing process. While this discovery is promising, studies on humans still need to be conducted in order to be absolutely sure.

6. Protection Against Ulcers

Stomach ulcers can be caused by an overgrowth of H. pylori bacteria in your system, as well as damage to the mucous layer of the stomach. This damage is often caused by use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). But while ulcers form in your digestive tract, they also can form in your small and large intestine too.

According to research, lion’s mane extract may help protect against the risk of stomach ulcers by preventing the growth of H. pylori and protecting the stomach lining from any damage that would’ve been caused. While research has leaned toward this extract helping more than hurting, more human research still needs to be conducted. 

7. Manages Symptoms of Diabetes

When you have diabetes, chronically high blood sugar levels can lead to kidney disease, nerve damage in the hands and feet, and vision loss. Diabetes is caused when your body can no longer control your blood sugar levels, in turn causing your levels to consistently elevate.

The use of lion’s mane mushrooms may be beneficial for diabetes management because it helps improve your blood sugar control and reduce some of the side effects. Lion’s mane mushrooms work in this situation by blocking the activity of the enzyme alpha-glucosidase, which is responsible for breaking down carbs within your small intestine. But while lion’s mane mushrooms have shown to be beneficial, more human research is needed to confirm.

8. Boosts the Immune System

When you have a weak immune system, your body becomes at-risk for developing infectious diseases. But with a strong immune system, your body is protected from bacteria and other disease-causing pathogens.

According to animal research, lion’s mane mushrooms can help boost your immune system by increasing its activity, which protects from pathogens entering through the mouth or the nose. While these immune-boosting effects are promising, this area of research is still developing.

9. Boosts Healing of Skin Wounds

When your body suffers from a skin wound, the recovery process isn’t exactly short. Proper care and treatment is required in order for your skin wound to heal properly, making it a daunting process. With lion’s mane mushrooms, the extract has been shown to provide healing benefits for skin wounds that are beneficial.

A study conducted on rats with neck wounds found that the topical applications of lion’s mane extract to the wound helped dramatically boost the healing process. However, more extensive research is required for the medical community to recommend lion’s mane mushrooms for topical use on humans.

Side Effects to Look Out For

While very little human research has been done with lion’s mane mushrooms, they appear to be safe based on the many animal studies that have been conducted. In fact, no harmful side effects have been found in any of the rats that have been tested, even in high doses. But if you are allergic or sensitives to mushrooms in general, it’s best to avoid using lion’s mane mushrooms. Overall, there are no concrete side effects to this mushroom, but people have reported to experience difficulty breathing or skin rashes, likely due to allergies.