Part of our series ‘Fungi Friends’ exploring the intriguing world of medicinal mushrooms.
By Geyan Surendran, Developmental Scientist at Three Spirit
What is a Lion's Mane mushroom?
The beautiful cascading white icicles of this mushroom aren't just a pretty sight. Lion's Mane - also known as the 'pom-pom' mushroom due to their fluffy, cute appearance - have been seen in multiple scientific trials to enhance cognitive function. Who doesn't want to think sharper, remember more, be less stressed, and generally be more focused? This mushroom contains potent compounds that have been seen to protect your nervous system and have even been shown to reverse the effects of brain ageing and brain damage.
Lion's Mane has been seen in trials to reduce the effect of irritation and anxiety. It's a potent anti-inflammatory, and it's even got compounds within it that are brilliant for gut health.
Please remember that wild Lion's Mane is very rare in the UK, so please don't harvest it from the wild. You can however grow your own, or buy cultivated Lion's Mane at many good farmer's markets.
What does it taste like?
It’s absolutely delicious! When fresh, Lion's Mane mushrooms smacks of fresh marine notes similar to lobster or crab when cooked. Due to its fragility, it does not keep for long periods of time- so if you come across some at your local market you should snap some up. It’s a real delicacy!
When it's dried, it is rich, earthy and almost chocolatey and rather a different flavour to its fresh counterpart. We use Lion's Mane in Three Spirit Social Elixir in its dried form; to bring lush jungle notes - and deep umami complexity.
You can also find Lion's Mane in a variety of other forms, in many good health food shops or your reputable chinese medicine centre. We like tinctures for their ease of use, but you can find Lion's Mane in teas, tablets and even chocolate bars!
How do we grow it?
At Three Spirit, the Lion's Mane for our Social Elixir is grown on natural bedding and then it’s dried for a deeper, earthier flavour. It’s a slow growing mushroom so it is rather expensive - however we think it’s worth it for its potent mood, brain and body boosting abilities, as well as it’s great flavour.
What do the scientists say about it?
Lion's Mane could reduce your risk of getting heart disease and stroke.
Lion’s mane is good for your heart and circulatory system. It raises your metabolism and reduces the amount of triglycerides in the body. Lion's Mane mushroom has also been seen to prevent cholesterol from sticking to, and narrowing your arteries - a key factor in many cardiovascular diseases. Herecinone B - a compound within Lion's Mane - has also been seen to reduce the risk of stroke in many scientific studies.
It’s a powerful antioxidant, protecting you from free radicals.
Lion's Mane has one of the most powerful antioxidant properties of any edible mushroom, protecting the body from the damaging effects of everyday life. It contains potent compounds that mop up the damaging substances known as free radicals, that can contribute to premature aging and cellular damage. In lab experiments on human cancer cells, Lion's Mane has even been seen to effectively kill or slow the spread of several different cancer cells.
It’s good for your guts and boosts your immunity overall.
Lion's Mane contains several compounds that have been shown to improve the immune system. It can also seriously improve gut health, and contains a class of compounds called beta-glucans that are great for your microbiome. One way this helps with immunity is by modifying the gut microbiome with a protein called HEP-3, which makes the gut much more resistant to infection.
Even better, Lion's Mane mushroom is immunomodulatory so it increases your immune system’s activity when you need it, and helps to reel it back if your body goes overboard - such as in the case of IBS.
It’s great for your brain.
Lion's Mane is probably most famous as being a nootropic mushroom. This means that it contains compounds such as heracinines and eracinones that work as brain boosters! Lion's Mane mushroom has been seen in studies to speed up nervous system repair, decrease brain inflammation after brain injuries and to protect the brain from Alzheimer's disease, MS and dementia. In many studies, it has even been seen to reverse the effects of these conditions as well as reverse brain-aging.
Lion's Mane has even been observed to improve cognition, focus and memory in healthy test subjects - due to its capacity to produce a protein known as Nerve Growth Factor that allows the connections in the brain to grow and be repaired.
What’s more, as well as aiding cognition, Lion's Mane has been seen in several studies to be mood-boosting, reducing feelings of depression, anxiety and even reducing people's capacity for getting irritated. This mushroom really does have it all!
It’s great in our Social Elixir!
Lion's Mane - if you can get hold of it - is a delicious culinary delight! It’s been used for thousands of years in various Asian cuisines and is hugely versatile.
We use it in the Social Elixir, and we’d recommend you give it a try in one of our cocktails!
How to try it…
Three Spirit Social Elixir - Drink your Lion's Mane in some awesome cocktails made with curious bittersweet elixir - great mixed with tonic, ginger or soda https://threespiritdrinks.com/blogs/recipes/tagged/social-elixir
Grown Neural Tonic - Add to to tea or smoothies for a brain boost alongside other mushies, cacao and ashwagandha
Indigo Herbs Lion's Mane Powder - Pure finest quality Lion's Mane
Four Sigmatic Mushroom Chocolate - Because everyone loves chocolate right?
*These statements have not been evaluated by the EFSA, MHRA or Food and Drug Administration however every care has been taken to use robust, peer reviewed academic papers. Our products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.