For centuries mushrooms have been used for medicinal purposes to boost cognitive function. They also help to actively fight against and protect people from many types of diseases, to include:
- Aiding in more high quality sleep
- and many more…
When it comes to improving brain function specifically, there are 3 medicinal mushrooms that standout among the rest:
- Lion’s Mane
Let’s take a closer look at each one of these mushrooms and their health benefits:
Lion’s Mane – Neuron Stimulating, Brain Genius Enhancer
Lion’s Mane (Hericium Erinaceus) get’s it’s name because it looks like the actual mane of a lion. It’s actually a snow white, round shaped fungus with long hair like tentacles flowing off of it. It also has a nickname of “pom-pom mushroom” in which it definitely looks like. It can grow up to about a foot in diameter.
Lion’s Mane stands out from the rest of the medicinal mushrooms when looking at it’s effects on brain health. It does this by aiding in repairing damaged neurons. It stimulates the synthesis of Nerve Growth Factor (NGF) which are proteins that support neuron growth.
What makes the Lion’s Mane mushroom so powerful is when it stimulates the synthesis of NGF it not only helps people that have a neurological disorder but actually reverses the damage. This means that the Lion’s Mane mushroom could essentially cure people who suffer from Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s’, Dementia and many other disorders.
In Japan, 30 patients who had Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) participated in a double blind clinical trial for 4 weeks. Half the group was given Lion’s Mane mushroom while the other half was given a placebo. After 4 weeks the patients who took the Lion’s Mane mushroom showed “significantly increased scores on the cognitive function scale compared with the placebo group”.
6 Health Benefits of Lion’s Mane Mushroom
In traditional Chinese medicine, Lion’s Mane mushroom was originally used for many other things, to include:
- Stomach and Digestive Problems – By protecting against the development of stomach ulcers.
- Cancer Treatment – Slows the spread and kills the cancer cells.
- Anti-Inflammatory – Decreases inflammation released by fat cells.
Lion’s Mane mushroom has also been show to:
- Reduce Anxiety and Depression – Through reducing chronic inflammation which is a major contributing factor.
- Improve Memory and Concentration – By supporting nerve and brain cell growth.
- Antioxidant – It is the 4th highest eliminator of free radicals found among 14 mushroom species.
To eat a Lion’s Mane mushroom you would cut it up and saute it over low heat until the desired level of tenderness is achieved. They contain a lot of water so the longer you cook them the more of the water that will evaporate off making for a better and less chewy texture. It seems to have a taste and texture similar to that of chicken or fish and tends to have a ‘seafoody’ taste.
In case you don’t want to spend the time locating the hard to find mushroom in the grocery store and cooking it, you can order this mushroom as a supplement. It is available in capsules, tea or powdered form. Dietary Supplements are an easy way to get all the benefit with out all the work.
Reishi – Master Mood Controlling Mushroom
The Reishi mushroom (Ganoderma Lucidum) has been used in Chinese and Japanese medicine for over 4,000 years. It is well known for its ability to balance your hormones and boost your mood. It has nicknames such as, “Natures Xanax”, “Spirit Plant” or when mixed with tea or coffee, “Liquid Yoga”.
The way the Reishi mushroom improves brain function is through the way is balances the endocrine system. By having balanced hormones you will keep feeling good even during very stressful or depressing times. It will improve your concentration when you need it the most and also help you to sleep better which basically compounds the effects of supporting your hormonal system.
In addition to supporting your mood it also has the following health benefits:
8 Health Benefits of Reishi Mushroom (AKA – The Mushroom of Immortality)
- Stress Relief – Through the balancing of hormones.
- Immune System Booster – By affecting the genes in the white blood cells.
- Cancer Prevention – Boosts immune system and reduced the size and number of tumors.
- Lung Support – “60-90% of 3,000 patients with chronic bronchitis showed clinical improvement, especially older patients with bronchial asthma”
- Anti-Inflammatory – By altering white blood cell pathways in the blood stream.
- Insomnia – Through balancing and supporting the endocrine system.
- Weight Loss – By changing the composition of the intestinal microbia.
- Anti-Aging – By reducing dermal oxidation and protecting cellular DNA.
Clinical trials have been conducted in Japan and China with the Reishi mushroom to treat lung cancer patients and Colorectal cancer patients. They found an increase in cancer fighting immune cells as well as a decrease in the number and size of tumor cells.
The Reishi mushroom can be eaten however it’s texture is similar to that of be ‘woody’ like. Therefore, it is typically consumed through supplement powder mixed with a cup of tea or in your favorite deserts. You could dry them out (or buy them already dried out) and put them in soups as well.
Cordyceps – Athletic Energizing Medicinal Mushroom
The Cordyceps mushroom use in Chinese medicine dates all the way back to the Tang Dynasty in A.D. 620 which was over 1,300 years ago. It grows out of the mummified body of a dead caterpillar and is almost impossible to find.
Cordycpes improve brain function through it’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits. While Cordyceps do boost your brain they are much more popular for their energizing effects from their beta-glutans (which delivers oxygen to the blood).
In addition to the brain benefits, there are stimulatory effects of Cordyceps as well as these health benefits:
8 Health Benefits of Cordyceps Mushroom
- Adensosine Triphosphate (ATP) Booster – The energy source used at a cellular level which provides you more energy.
- Improved Athletic Performance – By boosting blood flow and oxygen flow as well as increased ATP.
- Libido (Sexual Drive) – Increased energy, blood flow and a study in 2004 by Medical Journal Life Science shows increased testosterone.
- Increased Sperm Count – Founded through clinical trials.
- Neutralizes Free Radicals – It’s potent antioxidant and anti-lipid activities lower oxidation and cholesterol.
- Blood Sugar Levels – Clinical trial showed a “potent hypoglycemic (blood sugar lowering) activity in genetic diabetic mice”
- Improved Heart Function – Dilates your Aorta and improves blood flow by 40% drastically enhancing endurance.
- Long Distance Running – A Japanese study showed improvement in 70% of long distance runners who supplemented with Cordyceps.
Cordyceps are to be taken by adding them dry to soups or putting the dietary supplements extract into smoothies, sports drinks or energy bars.
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Many people ask about the health benefits of the Morel mushroom since it is one of the most popular mushrooms to forage for. Check them out here.
None of these medicinal mushrooms have shown any significant side effects. Some show minor side effects that would include stomach ache or diarrhea if taken in excessive amounts. Additionally, nothing on the page should be considered medical advice because I am not a doctor.
These medicinal mushrooms all boost your brain function but also provide numerous other health benefits. There is no doubt that if you take Lion’s Mane, Reishi and Cordyceps together you would have the perfect synergistic mixture to enhance you cognitive ability as well as your overall health and well being.