Lion’s Mane – Therapeutic Potential

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Lion’s Mane, that tasty mushroom-with-icicles, has attracted a great deal of attention as a medicinal mushroom in recent years, in particular because it is thought to promote the so-called Nerve Growth Factor (NGF). Responsible for that are 2 unique groups of constituents (Hericenones and Erinacines) named after the Latin name of the mushroom (Hericium erinaceum).

NGF is a secreted protein that is important for the growth, maintenance, survival and regeneration of nerve cells in the human body, and is considered critical for their survival. Without it, these nerve cells / neurons will decline and die, causing both cognitive and motoric problems. The NGF was discovered in the 1950s, and in 1986 the scientists responsible received the Nobel Prize for this.

NGF is slowing down or reducing the degeneration of nerve cells such as caused by aging and neurodegenerative diseases (e.g. Alzheimer’s).

Unfortunately, the NGF production itself is declining with age as well and science so far has not been able to come up with an answer for that. Neurodegenerative diseases, spinal cord injuries and other nerve-related injuries affect approximately 50 million people worldwide, bringing the total related healthcare cost to over 600 billion dollars (estimate) per year.

Overview of the NGF-stimulators found in Lion’s Mane. According to research, erinacines are the most important. These are mainly found in the mycelium, as is shown in this overview.

Therefore unique natural compounds such as those discovered in Lion’s Mane are currently the subject of intensive research. Just imagine if science would be able to stop horrible diseases such as Alzheimer’s…!

So far one of the main hurdles is that the complexity of these natural compounds and their poor pharmaco-kinetic profile make synthesis and clinical use very difficult.

It is also not possible to determine the amounts of Hericenones and Erinacines present in whatever Lion’s Mane product in an easy, standardized way, because no 100% pure reference material (which is usually synthesized) exists, unfortunately.

ORIVeDA’s Lion’s Mane extract has been reformulated and now contains both extracted liquid mycelium and fruiting body extract, in a 50/50 ratio. (Used to be 100% fruiting body).

This is good news in particular for those that are after nootropic effects or want to pro-actively counter the negative effects of aging. Important news, because the main NGF stimulators (erinacines) are mainly found in the mycelium (99.8%).

The product now contains the whole spectrum of NGF-stimulators in bioavailable form, and on top of that at least 15% of (1>3)(1>6)beta-D-glucans (for immune support). This is a great tool to battle age-related, declining health.

Currently there are no Lion’s Mane products on the market derived from pure liquid mycelium, only mycelium grown on grains or rice. Such products are without exception contaminated with undigested grains/rice in the form of starch and because of that usually have a low therapeutic potential. If they list bioactive ingredients (such as polysaccharides), keep in mind starch is also a polysaccharide, but without therapeutic potential. Only if a decent % of beta-glucans is listed you can be sure you have a reliable product. Usually the percentage of starch in such a product is over 5%, and can be up to 50% in some cases. Very expensive starch that is! A great guideline for purchasing mushroom products can be found here.

The ORIVeDA Lion’s Mane extract has the following specs:

  • vegetarian capsules @ 300 mg – the basic daily dosage is 3 capsules
  • Contains 50% cultivated Lion’s Mane fruiting bodies (wood-grown) and 50% deep layer cultivated –liquid– Lion’s Mane mycelium.
  • Extracted using multiple hot water processing followed by alcohol precipitation
  • 100% bio-availability
  • ≥ 40% polysaccharides (≥ 38% (1>3)(1>6)Beta-D-Glucans)
  • ≥ 32 ppm zinc
  • ≥ 8 ppm copper
  • ≥ 27 ppm manganese