Lion’s Mane Mushroom Shows Further Evidence of Preventing and Reversing Memory Loss
Source: J Neurochemistry (2023)
Lifestyle Medicine Update (February 28, 2023)
Since the early 2000’s studies have shown that active constituents found in the medicinal mushroom commonly known as the Lion’s Mane mushroom (Hericium erinaceus – H. erinaceus) can stimulate the production of Nerve Growth Factor (NGF) and brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which can help to heal certain types of neuropathies and help to preserve and reverse memory loss.
In fact, in a 2009 study involving 30 patients (50-80 years old), diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment, half the subjects were given either Lion’s Mane mushroom supplementation or a placebo for 16 weeks. The group given four tablets, three times per day of Lion’s Mane (250 mg tablets containing 96% of Yamabushitake dry powder) showed significant improvement on cognitive function scores compared with the placebo group. Animal studies have also shown that Lion’s Mane supplementation significantly slows the production of beta amyloid plaque in mice who are bred to develop Alzheimer’s disease and it protects brain cells against damage from cerebral artery occlusion. In mice with age-related mild cognitive impairment, Lion’s Mane supplementation has been shown to improve recognition memory by increasing nerve cell generation in the brain area known as the hippocampus. The hippocampus is where we convert short-term memory into long-term memory. In aging, and especially in Alzheimer’s disease, the hippocampus undergoes significant atrophy with corresponding death of many brain cells in this region. The result is decreased short-term memory recall and a decreased ability to convert short-term memory into long-term memory.
Thus, anything that can stimulate nerve growth and new brain cell formation (neurogenesis) in the hippocampus of the brain is likely to prevent memory loss, help recapture some lost memory (as we have already seen in a human study and in mice models of cognitive impairment) and help to consolidate recent events and conversations into long-term memory storage. As such, the 2023 research paper in the journal Neurochemistry is very illuminating indeed. Scientists from the University of Queensland showed that two active compounds in Lion’s Mane can enhance nerve growth and boost memory in mice. The researchers showed that these active compounds (Hericene A and polysaccharides) cross the blood-brain-barrier and stimulate the production of new nerve cells in the hippocampus and improve recognition memory function in mice. The researchers claim that this study was the first to show that the active constituent Hericene A, derived from Lion’s Mane, is the active ingredient that stimulates brain derived neurotrophic factor signal enhancing activity that produces a nerve growth and nerve branching effect in the hippocampus of the brain. This effect is what is largely responsible for improved memory in mice with mild cognitive impairment and largely explains the positive outcomes seen in the 2009 human clinical study in patients with mild cognitive impairment.
So, what does all this mean for us? Well, I routinely take a couple of teaspoons per day of a medicinal mushroom powdered blend, mixed into a few ounces of juice. Medicinal mushrooms, such as reishi, shitake, cordyceps, turkey tail, lion’s mane, and others, all have immune-modulating properties that are important once you are older than 45-50 years of age – a time when your immune system starts to become weaker. But a secondary benefit is the fact that Lion’s Mane (and possibly other medicinal mushrooms) found in many of these mushroom blends, may also help to support memory function in this stage of life, as strongly suggested by the research I am reporting on today. So, I suggest that you seek out a 10 or 14 mushroom powdered blend (available in many health food stores) and take a couple of teaspoons per day once you are over 45 to 50 years of age. Make sure that one of the mushrooms in the blend is Lion’s Mane if memory support is on your wish list.
Remember that after age 55 it’s also very wise to take a memory support supplement each day containing CDP-choline, Huperzine A, Phosphatidylserine and Bacopa monnieri, as I have discussed in previous Lifestyle Medicine Update video newsletters.I have included the references for the Lion’s Mane research in the text below.
Martinez-Marmol R et al. Hericerin derivatives activates a pan-neurotrophic pathway in central hippocampal neurons converging to ERK1/2 signaling enhancing spatial memory. J Neurochemistry. January 20, 2023. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/36660878/
Active compound in Lion’s Mane mushroom improves nerve growth and memory. News Medical Life Sciences. Feb 13, 2023 https://www.news-medical.net/news/20230213/Active-compound-in-Lione28099s-Mane-mushroom-improves-nerve-growth-and-memory.aspx#:~:text=In%20a%20recent%20study%20published,nerve%20growth%20and%20boost%20memory
Tsai-Teng T, et al. Erinacine A-enriched Hericium erinaceus mycelium ameliorates Alzheimer’s disease-related pathologies in APPswe/PS1dE9 transgenic mice. J Biomed Sci. 2016; 23 (1): 49 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27350344/
Mori K et al. Improving effects of the mushroom Yamabushitaki (Hericium erinaceus) on mild cognitive impairments: a double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial. Phytother Res. 2009; 23 (3): 367-72. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18844328/
Ratto D et al. Hericium erinaceus improves recognition memory and induces hippocampal and cerebellar neurogenesis in frail mice during aging. Nutrients. 2019; 11 (4): 715 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6521003/
Eat Smart, Live Well, Look Great,
Dr. James Meschino
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr. James Meschino, DC, MS, ROHP, is an educator, author, and researcher having lectured to thousands of healthcare professionals across North America. He holds a Master’s Degree in Science with specialties in human nutrition and biology and is recognized as an expert in the field of nutrition, anti-aging, fitness, and wellness as well as the author of numerous books.