Can Lion’s Mane Mushrooms Improve Cognitive Functioning?


Can the tasty lion’s mane mushroom really improve our memory and cognitive functioning? Research is showing that yes, it can. The lion’s mane mushroom is a very unique food because it contains two chemicals that can actually stimulate the growth of Nerve Growth Factor (NGF). Nerve Growth Factor is a protein that maintains brain health and homeostasis in the body. When NGF binds to certain cellular receptors, it sets off a string of events that can lead to increased memory and enhanced brain function. In fact, NGF can even prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s disease by limiting the accumulation of beta-amyloid plaque in the brain.

NGF is available as a supplement, yet when taken orally it cannot penetrate the blood-brain barrier. According to a study published in the Journal of Mycology lion’s mane mushrooms contain two chemicals that do pass through the blood-brain barrier and stimulate the production of NGF where it is most important–inside the brain. Lion’s mane is currently being researched for it’s neuroregenerative properties and is thought to be a promising medicinal food for counteracting the development of Alzheimer’s and other neurological disorders. And they taste good too!

Ma, Bing-Ji, Jin-Wen Shen, Hai-You Yu, Yuan Ruan, Ting-Ting Yu, and Xu Zhao. “Hericenones and erinacines: stimulators of nerve growth factor (NGF) biosynthesis in Hericium erinaceus.” Journal of Mycology 1.2 (2010): 92-98.