The lion's mane mushroom has been rising to great popularity among seekers of healthy supplements due to the number of benefits it provides. Lion's mane has been shown to help with even neurological issues, which has led to some investigation about how helpful such a mushroom is for common issues that plague people.
While lion's mane has become a much more common sight in the shopping carts of those seeking a more holistic approach to their needs, there remains some confusion about how exactly it works. Hopefully, today we can enlighten you on the benefits of this fungus for common focus problems.
What is Lion's Mane?
Lion's mane, known scientifically as Hericium Erinaceus, is an unusual mushroom with an equally unusual appearance. Originating in North America, Europe, and Asia, it is easily identified by its spines. Those spines grow between one to five cm or even longer, depending on the size of the overall mushroom. It is these spines that store the spores which allow lion's mane to propagate itself.
Despite its unusual appearance, it is an edible mushroom, though its preferred uses do not lie in its taste but rather in its developing reputation in the holistic medicine world. While lion's mane can produce a wide array of highly beneficial physical remedies, it is more often recognized for its use in brain health as a nootropic.
Currently, lion's mane has seen wide distribution in both its raw and supplement forms that enable anyone to reap the benefits the mushroom has to offer. In addition, there is now evidence that the mushroom can be highly beneficial in combatting one of the oldest known mental conditions in the world. It can also help us to overcome something that makes it very difficult for some of us to function in the same way as others. What are those conditions? Read on to find out more about how lion's mane can benefit your cognition.
Lion's Mane and Focus
One of the first aspects to be investigated was to see how helpful lion's mane mushroom was in helping people focus. Given that lion's mane has a history of producing positive effects on the brain and promoting the production of brain cells, it was a clear step to see what other possible effects it has on bolstering our mental capacity.
To that end, the secret to how lion's mane is beneficial to our capacity to focus on a task lies in its anti-inflammatory properties. The key to a healthy brain is making sure there is enough oxygen flowing to it. In the human body, oxygen flows with the blood. When blood flow is obstructed, the flow of oxygen is diminished, and our brain suffers as a result.
When our brain doesn't receive enough oxygen, the ability to focus does not come easily, as our brain struggles to keep itself going to regulate the body rather than focus on specific tasks. Inflammation is a recognized cause of restricted blood flow throughout the body, so when the inflammation obstructs blood flow to the brain, our ability to focus suffers.
So, by using lion's mane to reduce the inflammation in our bodies, the flow of blood can resume unimpeded to the brain and restore our full capacity for focus. Additionally, lion's mane is chock-full of antioxidants. Antioxidants are known to strengthen brain cells and promote the growth of neurons. Such neurological bolsters go a long way towards improving our ability to focus on any particular task.
Also, while not strictly related to focus, there have been studies using lion's mane to measure how it affects mood. The study consisted of 30 women who, over four weeks, were randomly assigned to either the test or control group. The test group was given cookies with lion's mane extract baked in, while the control group was given placebo cookies with no lion's mane.
By the time the four weeks were up, the women who had been eating the lion's mane mushroom cookies demonstrated improved moods. An improved mood can, to a certain extent, help us focus. A happy mind can make focusing on tasks simpler since you are in a better mood. You are more likely to focus because you will not be distracted by any concerns or issues.
Ultimately, lion's mane does show the potential to improve our ability to focus more by clearing up our blood flow and helping the brain on a physical level. However, this may not be the only use lion's mane has on mental capacity.
Lion's Mane and Concentration
There is a common misconception that focus and concentration are the same thing, but this is not entirely true. On a clinical level, focus refers to the act of getting down to completing a task, while concentration is the act of maintaining that focus. Concentrating on something also allows you to retain information after you have seen it with better clarity. However, concentration can be broken, making finding ways to improve it a beneficial prospect.
Given the correlation between concentration and memory retention and the fact that lion's mane is known for bolstering the parts of the brain that help with both, it is a viable possibility that it will help with concentration. As with focus, the ability of lion's mane to promote neurological growth helps reinforce your brain against memory compromising issues like Alzheimer's. However, it is not a cure or effective primary treatment method. For general memory retention, lion's mane was used in an experiment on mice.
In the study, it was found that the ingestion of lion's mane improved the memory retention of the mice and allowed them to concentrate on their surroundings better. While human tests are still relatively lacking, this shows promise for the mushroom to improve our abilities to retain information and concentrate more effectively on the tasks and information we are absorbing.
With how lion's mane interacts with the brain and helps with both focus and concentration, it remains to be seen just how effective a supplement based on the fungus might prove beneficial as a tool to combat deficit disorders.
Lion's Mane and ADHD
ADHD, or attention deficit hyperactive disorder, is an extremely common condition that makes it extremely difficult to focus or concentrate on tasks at hand. The condition can be categorized into one of three types: inattentive, hyperactive/impulsive, or combined type. Each type of ADHD comes with its own effects that impede one's ability to complete tasks or function at full capacity. At their core, however, each type has similar symptoms: a loss of focus and concentration leading to the individual becoming easily distracted by their surroundings.
The real question lies in how lion's mane can be used to cope with ADHD and whether it is effective. With ADHD, the key comes from the mushroom's nootropic effects. Nootropics are known as cognition and memory enhancers and also act as stimulants. As such, nootropics are known to treat many medical conditions, including ADHD. Unfortunately, many nootropic substances are prescription-only, including well-known ADHD medications such as Ritalin and Adderall. However, lion's mane is a natural nootropic and provides all the same benefits as prescription nootropics.
The compounds found in lion's mane mushrooms that make it a nootropic are the Erinacines and Hericenones. A series of studies were conducted when reviewing how these nootropic substances worked for those taking lion's mane. One study found that lion's mane promoted myelin production, a substance that produces a protective coating on the nerve cells of animals. Another study in Japan found that lion's mane produced a protective effect against deficits in memory and learning patterns in mice. These deficits can extend to ADHD in humans and therefore counteract the issues that come from the condition.
When human trials were conducted, the study saw 80-year-old men and women given 3,000mg of dried lion's mane powder improved their cognitive function over the subjects given the placebo instead. The basic principle is that lion's mane has the potential to shield us from mental issues in general, with ADHD merely being the tip of the iceberg. Furthermore, there is evidence that lion's mane can prove to be an effective weapon against even Alzheimer's, albeit to a diminished capacity.
How to Introduce It
If lion's mane is starting to sound like a good way to fight against the effects of ADHD or make focusing and concentrating a less difficult feat, you might wonder what the best way to take it is.
Fortunately, lion's mane is something that can be introduced in any number of ways. You can eat the mushroom itself and cook it into one of your daily meals. You can also purchase powdered mushrooms to mix into a smoothie or shake or bake into a cookie. However, the most common method for getting lion's mane into your system is to purchase supplement capsules that you can take at any point in the day that suits your needs.
Lion's mane is easy to introduce into your system, so you can begin fighting your lack of focus or ADHD as soon as you like in any way you like.
The flexibility of lion's mane supplements means you can work them into your diet in many ways. Taking the supplement as a single dose will have the biggest effect shortly after consumption, while taking it mixed throughout many meals will give you a small boost throughout the day. It's up to you which result you prefer.
Does Lion's Mane Have Side Effects?
There is almost always a risk of suffering from side effects when taking a supplement. However, when it comes to the lion's mane mushroom, there is something of an exception. To date, there is little evidence to suggest that lion's mane in and of itself produces any harmful side effects in those who consume it. Granted, the tests to determine the potential side effects of the lion's mane mushroom have only been conducted on mice rather than humans, but the results still point to the mushroom being safe.
The studies conducted on rats involved administering doses of lion's mane at 2.3g per pound of the rat's body weight every day for a month. After the testing was complete, none of the rats showed any sign of being adversely affected by the mushroom or the substances naturally occurring within it.
However, this does not mean lion's mane is entirely risk-free. Some specific individuals are subject to adverse side effects to lion's mane, not because it is lion's mane specifically, but because it is a mushroom. For example, many people on Earth suffer from fungal allergies and cannot consume mushrooms of any kind. Those with the allergy who consumed lion's mane have developed skin rashes or even difficulty breathing.
While the risks with lion's mane are restricted to those with pre-existing allergies, it is still ideal to keep the amount ingested balanced in relation to your standard diet. Too much of a good thing can still backfire even if there is no inherent risk in its consumption.
Lion's mane is a mushroom that is highly unusual in many ways and is still not fully understood. The simple fact is that there is still a lot to learn about it, but the information discovered has shown that it is an exceptionally useful substance capable of helping us stay healthy. The truly remarkable thing about it is that it seems to give us the focus we need to overcome even major mental conditions like ADHD.
ADHD or even a simple lack of focus is something that we have tried to combat for years due to the major impact it has on the productivity and success of students and professionals alike. However, not everyone is keen to use synthetic medication to overcome them if a more natural alternative is available. Lion's mane is natural and has many neurological effects that can reinforce us against these issues with little risk.
As always, please consult your primary care physician before introducing something new to your diet or starting a new supplement regimen.