COMMON NAME (Chinese Name)
Lion’s Mane (Hou Tou Gu)
Lion’s mane is a mushroom often used in Japan. The most significant (and empirically supported) benefits of drinking lion’s mane or taking lion’s mane supplements involve its effects on immune system activity. Specifically, it may enhance immune responses by supporting the gut bacteria and intestinal mucus that are essential to immune system function. Given that 70%-80% of the immune system resides in the digestive system, these effects can cause both immediate and long-lasting benefits!
What’s more, people who take lion’s mane report better digestive health (fewer problems with ulcers and acid reflux). Lion’s mane may also act as a potent anti-inflammatory medicine, making it potentially useful for controlling chronic pain and managing health conditions related to chronic inflammation. Lion’s mane also has several less-proven cognitive and mental health benefits related to its anti-inflammatory effects, including potentially improving memory and reducing the symptoms of anxiety and depression (especially when they present as symptoms of menopause).
Lion’s mane It is classified in Chinese medicine as sweet and neutral which means that it is suitable for a wide variety of people. The medicinal mushroom has not classically been used in Chinese medicine and we have no category or meridian information, but based on its actions it most likely affects the Spleen and Stomach channels. The mushroom contains glycoproteins, polysaccharides, amino acids, polypeptides, sterols, ergosterol, potassium, zinc, iron and selenium.
PREPARATION & ADMINISTRATION
Lion’s mane is a type of medicinal mushroom typically (and historically) taken orally either fresh, dried, powdered, or extracted. There is a wide variety of recipes available for cooking with fresh lion’s mane mushrooms (involving both cooking them and eating them raw). Keep in mind that mushrooms are made of chitin (like seashells) and it’ll take around 20 minutes of cooking to unlock the benefits from the chitin. It’s also not uncommon to make medicinal teas by decocting dried lion’s mane. Lion’s mane is also frequently taken as an OTC herbal supplement in powder, capsule, liquid, and tablet form.
There are no reported side effects associated with using lion’s mane supplements or using lion’s mane mushrooms in recipes, even in large quantities. Lion’s mane may have some effect on metabolic disorders involving insulin production and uptake, so those with or at risk for those conditions should talk to their doctor before adding lion’s mane to their supplement regimen.
You should consult with a certified herbalist, physician or other qualified healthcare professional before taking lion’s mane.
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