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Lion's Mane: Mushrooms for Mental Health

Lion’s Mane: Mushrooms for Mental Health

Since the pandemic, this had a monumental effect on the mental health of millions of individuals. Lockdown restrictions have created growing stresses over isolation, job insecurity, bereavement and financial strain which can all result in mental health problems.   

New research has found lockdown and the associated effects of the pandemic had a major impact on the UK’s mental health, including increased rates of suicidal thoughts. The study found suicidal thoughts increased from 8% to 10% and they were highest among young adults aged 18 – 29, rising from 12.5% to 14%. This data suggests that the huge social and economic uncertainty associated with COVID-19 may be causing some people to feel negative emotions. 

According to the study, young peoplewomen and individuals from more socially disadvantaged backgrounds and those with pre-existing mental health problems reported the worse mental health outcomes in the initial phase of the national lockdown. However, there are small changes that can be made to potentially improve mental health, including changes in diet, exercise, seeking help from counsellors/friends/family and taking walks outside.  

The Magic of Mushrooms 

Mushrooms come in lots of different shapes, sizes, and colours. The ones that aren’t toxic happen to be quite healthy, and tasty too. They’re fat-free, low-sodium, low-calorie, and cholesterol-free. They’re also packed with fibre, vitamins, and minerals. Mushroom nutrition is backed by dozens of studies that support their ability to support immune function, reduce inflammation, protect against cancer, and more. 

While all medicinal mushrooms share similar compounds, each variety has its own subtle differences and unique benefits. Hericium, or Lions Mane, may be effective at boosting mental health.

Lovely Lion’s Mane

This large, white fungus has long, shaggy spines that resemble a lion’s mane—hence the name. Also known as Hericium Erinaceus or hedgehog mushroom, lion’s mane grows on hardwood trees in North America, Asia, and Europe, and has been traditionally used to support brain health. 

Hericium mushroom is favoured for its brain-boosting ability and can improve the development and function of nerves, which may help to prevent conditions such as memory loss. It is the bioactive substances in the mushroom that have beneficial effects on the body, especially the brain.  

Lion’s Mane may support cognitive health and memory and protects against cognitive decline by promoting the production of nerve growth factor; a chemical that is critical in the development and survival of neurons, and regulating cells in the nervous system. It is the anti-inflammatory effects found in Hericium that may help to ease anxiety, reduce depression, and improve sleep. 

Lion’s Mane mushrooms can be enjoyed raw, cooked, dried or steeped as a tea. Many describe their flavour as “seafood-like,” often comparing it to crab or lobster, but one of the easiest ways to incorporate it into your lifestyle is in capsule or powder form.