Is it possible that the elixir of long memory is in an edible mushroom with a bizarre shape that resembles the mane of a lion? Well, it sure looks like it. Other studies will follow to confirm these first, promising and very important results, but in the meantime the Australian researchers at the University of Queensland were able to announce that the active principle isolated in the lion's mane mushroom, well known and appreciated, especially in Asia, is capable of stimulate the growth of nerves and neuronal connections and to strengthen memory. The study is available online and was published in the Journal of Neurochemistry (Martinez Marmol et al, JNC, Jan 2023).
Lion's mane mushroom, properties
The Hericium erinaceus mushroom is also called lion's mane mushroom, due to its shape that recalls this animal, with a cascade of clear filaments. It is an edible mushroom native to North America, Europe and Asia, where it has been used for centuries to treat various ailments ranging from stomach pain to ulcers and cancer. It is easy to find this mushroom in the form of powder or capsules, in pharmacies, herbalist's shops and specialized shops. Recent studies have also focused their attention on other properties of the lion's mane mushroom, such as the neuroprotective action. The research we are talking about today delves into this aspect and verifies the ability of the mushroom to support memory.
The lion's mane mushroom strengthens memory, the study
Australian scientists have carried out research in the laboratory, both in vitro and on mice, in order to test the neuroprotective capacity of the active principle of the lion's mane mushroom. The active ingredient tested is called hericene A. This substance was placed in contact with neurons of the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for storing memory. What emerged was that the substance hericene A was able to stimulate the ability of neurons to extend and create connections with other neurons. In particular, hericene A increased the size of the growth cones, which are particular anatomical structures located in the final part of the nerve ends, called axons. Growth cones are essential for brain cells to perceive their surroundings and make new connections with other neurons. In addition to what was observed, the scientists tested the effects of taking hericin A in mice. Well, the intake of the active ingredient made it possible to strengthen the memory.
Australian scientists are confident that what they discovered on the neuroprotective properties of the lion's mane mushroom could pave the way for future treatments to prevent and counteract neurodegeneration, such as Alzheimer's disease. At the moment, while waiting for science to run its course, the lion's mane mushroom is available in the form of a supplement. The mushroom is generally considered safe, but be careful if you have a mushroom allergy. If you are taking any medications, ask your doctor for advice before starting any treatment. At present there are no studies on the safety of prolonged use of the lion's mane mushroom.