Lion’s Mane (Hou Tou Gu)
Botanical Name: Hericium erinaceus
Lion’s mane is a culinary and medicinal mushroom. It can be mistaken for other (also edible) species of Hericium, that can grow in the same areas as lion’s mane. In China, India, Japan, and Korea the mushroom is popularly used raw, cooked, dried, or steeped in teas. Lion’s mane is especially useful for supporting the brain, heart, and gut. It helps protect against dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, depression, and damage to the nervous system, including strokes and physical injuries. It can help protect against ulcers in the digestive tract and help reduce the risk of heart disease. Lion’s mane helps to manage diabetes.
Below is an overview of Lion’s Mane (Hou Tou Gu), combining and interpreting the best of Western Science, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Shamanism, Folklore and more. Gain a balanced and thorough understanding of the healing properties of Lion’s Mane (Hou Tou Gu).
Western Name: Lion’s Mane
Also Known As: Monkey Head Mushroom, Bearded Tooth Mushroom, Satyr’s Beard, Pom Pom Mushroom, Bearded Hedgehog Mushroom, Bearded Tooth Fungus
Organs/Systems: Nervous System, Digestive System, Heart
Key Actions: Neuroprotective, Anti-inflammatory, Antioxidant, Immune Enhancing, Stimulant, Antidepressant, Nootropic, Anxiolytic, Anticancer, Antibiotic, Hepatoprotective, Anti-aging, Cardioprotective, Antidiabetic, Antihypertensive, Nephroprotective
Medicinal Uses: Dementia, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, cancer, depression, anxiety, stomach ulcers, poor memory, improved cognitive skills, diabetes, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), wounds, lower cholesterol, stimulate digestion, multiple sclerosis, H. pylori infection, pancreatitis, gastroesophageal reflux (GERD), weight loss, stroke.
Pin Yin: Hou Tou Gu
Also Known As: Yamabushitake
Meridians: Heart, Liver, Spleen, Lungs, Kidneys
Key Actions: Tonic, Tonifies the Heart, Liver, Spleen, Lungs, and Kidney, Tonifies the Brain, Heals Wounds, Regenerates Flesh
Medicinal Uses: Improves cognitive function, improves memory, supports heart health, promotes digestive function, prevents cancer, stomach ulcers, intestinal ulcers, injuries to the skin and nervous system, improves concentration, wasting and thirsting disorder, indigestion, neurasthenia, improves muscular coordination.
Lion’s mane is a white mushroom belonging to the tooth fungus group. It is easily identified by its long spines that give it the appearance of a lion’s mane. It has a tendency to grow as a single clump of long dangling spines. In the wild, the mushrooms are commonly found during the later summer and fall on hardwoods.
Lion’s mane is native to North America, Europe, and Asia. It likes to grow on hardwoods, particularly American beech.
Parts Most Frequently Used: Mushroom
Flavors/Temps: Sweet, Neutral
Caution: Considered safe, even at high doses. Some individuals may experience allergic reactions causing shortness of breath or skin rashes.
History/Folklore: Lion’s mane increases Nerve Growth Factor (NGF) in the brain, enhancing neuronal growth, regeneration and synaptic plasticity. It improves myelination, enhancing neuronal communication and nerve regeneration and it increases synaptic potentiation improving memory. Lion’s mane also decreases glutamatergic transmissions that decrease neuronal excitability and excitotoxicity. Research published in the International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms confirmed lion’s mane ability for stimulating the growth of axons and dendrites from neurons, which can then slow or reverse cell degeneration in the brain associated with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
Lion’s mane has also been shown to be effective in countering cell death caused by medications and treatments for brain conditions.
Lion’s mane has long been used in Oriental medicine as a tonic for the five internal organs (Heart, Liver, Lung, Spleen, and Kidney). Typical dosing is 10 to 30 g. Lion’s mane is also popularly used in culinary dishes throughout China and Japan. It is recognized for its superior support of brain and nerve function.
Research indicates that lion’s mane can help lower blood sugar levels and improve nerve damage caused by chronic high levels of blood sugar.
Lion’s mane has been shown to be effective for treating mild depression and anxiety. It can help counter the irritability, forgetfulness, and poor concentration associated with stress or menopausal symptoms. It has been shown to improve mental clarity.
Several studies have indicated that lion’s mane powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties may make it especially effective for managing inflammatory bowel diseases, liver damage, and stroke. Lion’s mane may also help reduce the health risks associated with obesity, as the mushroom decreases the amount of inflammation released by fat tissues. Fatty tissue inflammation is a factor in the formation of metabolic syndrome, a cluster of conditions that increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.
Used topically, lion’s mane can be used to help heal wounds and repair the damage caused to nerve endings due to injury.
Lion’s mane has been shown to boost the immune response associated with the intestinal tract helping to protect the body from pathogens entering the gut through the mouth or nose.
Lion’s mane is popularly included in many mushroom coffee substitute and health drinks.
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Polysaccharides (including B-glucans, Heteroglucans, Heteroxylans), Diterpenoids (including Hericenones and Erinacines), Palmitic acid, Threitol, D-arabinitol, Amino acids, Polypeptides, Sterols, Ergosterol, Potassium, Zinc, Iron, Selenium.
Revered by Monks
Lion’s mane has a long history in Oriental medicine and Asia. It is revered by a sect of Buddhist monks, who wear a garment known as suzukake that resembles lion’s mane mushroom.
Lion’s mane is often described as having a “seafood-like” flavor compared to lobster or crab.
Reserved for Royalty
Lion’s mane has been reserved for royalty at certain time in history.
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