Lion’s mane for brain cognition: Researchers find merit in traditional Chinese medicine
13 Feb 2023 --- Researchers at the University of Queensland, Australia, have discovered lion’s mane mushrooms to improve brain cell growth and memory in pre-clinical trials. The team revealed active compounds from the edible mushroom boosts nerve growth and enhances memory.
Co-author Dr. Ramon Martinez-Marmol asserts neurodegenerative cognitive disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease could be treated and protected against with the discovery.
“Extracts from these so-called ‘lion’s mane’ mushrooms have been used in traditional medicine in Asian countries for centuries, but we wanted to determine their potential effect on brain cells scientifically,” adds professor Frederic Meunier from the Queensland Brain Institute.
“Pre-clinical testing found the lion’s mane mushroom had a significant impact on the growth of brain cells and improving memory.”
Exploring Chinese medicine
Meunier continues explaining that laboratory tests measured the neurotrophic effects of compounds isolated from Hericium erinaceus on cultured brain cells, “and surprisingly, we found that the active compounds promote neuron projections, extending and connecting to other neurons.”
“Using super-resolution microscopy, we found the mushroom extract and its active components largely increase the size of growth cones, which are particularly important for brain cells to sense their environment and establish new connections with other neurons in the brain.”
Dr. Martinez-Marmol asserts the discovery could treat and protect against neurodegenerative cognitive disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease. “Our idea was to identify bioactive compounds from natural sources that could reach the brain and regulate the growth of neurons, resulting in improved memory formation,” he says.
Dr. Dae Hee Lee from CNGBio, which has supported and collaborated on the research project, says the properties of lion’s mane mushrooms has been used to treat ailments and maintain health in traditional Chinese medicine since antiquity.
“This important research is unraveling the molecular mechanism of lion’s mane mushroom compounds and their effects on brain function, particularly memory,” stresses Dr. Lee.
The study was published in the Journal of Neurochemistry.
Worldwide mushroom news
In a similar development, ibogaine, the naturally psychoactive compound found in the African shrub Tabernanthe iboga and other plants of the Apocynaceae family, and psilocybin – the psychoactive compound in magic mushrooms – have been highlighted for their potential to cure addiction while improving mental well-being in an Italian-based study.
NutritionInsight previously delved into how the natural compounds might benefit addiction withdrawal and mental health while looking at recent developments in the industry of psychedelics. We spoke with Andrea Mastinu, author of the study, on how psychedelic substances affect the brain.
Furthermore, in the US, the people of the state of Colorado voted “yes” on Proposition 122 to legalize four psychedelics for medical use and decriminalize personal possession. The new law applies to the two substances in magic mushrooms (psilocybin and psilocin), dimethyltryptamine, ibogaine and non-peyote-derived mescaline.
The legalization means that psilocybin can be used under supervision at state-regulated centers. It also permits psilocybin and the other psychedelics mentioned for personal use, growing and sharing as long as there is no financial reward and the consumer is over 21 years old.
Edited by Natalie Schwertheim
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