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lion's mane mushrooms

Lion’s Mane (Hericium erinaceus)

Primary benefits: Supports brain and nerve health.

Also nicknamed the smart mushroom, lion’s mane is chock-full of brain-supportive compounds. Among them are hericenones and erinacines, which may be useful in the treatment of mood disorders. And erinacines appear beneficial in slowing the impact of aging on the brain.

This Dr. Seussian–shaped shroom also has a growing reputation as a nerve tonic. Studies suggest it has neuroprotective effects, and some of its compounds can cross the blood–brain barrier and jump-start nerve growth.

Lion’s mane is also believed to be an adaptogen, meaning it can buffer the physiological impact of stress on the body (for more on adaptogens, see “7 Adaptogens for Health.”) Mason Bresett, ND, whose research focuses on functional mushrooms, uses lion’s mane to treat age-related declines in memory and executive functioning and as an overall tonic for the digestive system.

lion's main

How to use lion’s mane:

Mycologist Christopher Hobbs, PhD, author of Medicinal Mushrooms: The Essential Guide, likes to prepare fresh lion’s mane by slicing it into ½-inch slabs and sautéing it for three to four minutes with olive oil, butter, and tamari — akin to a mushroom steak.

If using dried, take 1 gram (roughly ½ teaspoon) two or three times daily. For a therapeutic dose, take up to 5 grams a day (about 1 level teaspoon twice daily).

More on Mushrooms

Fungi have been used as medicine for thousands of years. Discover five more varieties and their many health benefits at “The Health Benefits of Medicinal Mushrooms,” from which this article was excerpted.

Catherine Guthrie

Catherine Guthrie is an Experience Life contributing editor.

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