The medicinal mushroom that connects the gut-brain axis
Lion’s Mane (Hericium erinaceus), or simply Hericium, is a medicinal mushroom widely used for its benefits to the body. It is also known as ‘Yamabushitake’, ‘Hou Tou Gu’ (monkey head mushroom), ‘hedgehog mushroom’ or ‘pom-pom-blanc‘.It is visually attractive because of its imposing globular fruiting body with dangling white spines that give the impression of a frozen waterfall or a majestic lion’s mane (hence its curious popular name).
Essential notes on hericium fungus
Hericium contains hundreds of bioactive components or active biomolecules such as beta-glucans, hericenones, ergosterol (provitamin D2) or natural GABA, which are studied for their role in gut microbiota health (related to the gut-brain axis connection) and neurogenesis. Currently enjoying increasing popularity this mushroom is the subject of ongoing scientific research:
- Gastroenterology (gastrointestinal or digestive health) and immune health: for its role in the care of the intestinal microbiota.
- Neurology-nervous system: neurocognitive function (memory – hippocampal function, concentration and attention) and low mood states.
- Integrative support: studies on its activity in combination with conventional treatments and its effect on quality of life.
Hericium erinaceus is an edible mushroom well known in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Asian medicinal cuisine. In fact, Lion’s Mane was first documented in a beautiful Chinese illustration during the Ming dynasty in the 16th century. From an historical perspective, Lion’s Mane has traditionally been used to “fortify the spleen, nourish the intestine and fight cancer”. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the mushroom is said to be “nourishing to the five internal organs (liver, lung, spleen, heart and kidney)”. In addition, it is said to “promote good digestion and general vigour, and treat intestinal ulcers”. Finally, it has been used for “insomnia, weakness and hypodynamia” (decreased strength), which are characteristic symptoms of ‘Qi’ (life force) deficiency in TCM.
Properties, applications and uses of LION’S MANE
Research into its health-promoting properties has accelerated in the last twenty years, making Lion’s Mane a medicinal mushroom with exciting potential. It has been traditionally used for thousands of years in holistic practices. Buddhist monks used to take an infusion of this medicinal mushroom to aid concentration during meditation, as they attributed to it the power to “clear the mind and enhance cognition“.
In addition, it has been used throughout history in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) to “combat stomach and other digestive system problems” (Hiwatashi et al., 2010). Lion’s Mane can now be found worldwide as a supplement or food supplement in the form of a concentrated extract such as our Mico-Leo (organic and standardised in the respective active biomolecules).
The advantage of the extract is that it is highly concentrated, which means that it can be up to 30 times more potent than an equivalent amount of fresh mushrooms. Extracts in liquid form with this medicinal mushroom are also available, especially for consumption by young children. This is the case with infant formulas such as Dr. GB‘s ‘Gut and Brain‘.
You can also find this mushroom in powder form in food supplements such as our Bio-Intestin. Which also contains organic powders of other medicinal mushrooms such as Shiitake (Lentinula edodes), Oyster mushroom (Pleurotus ostreatus) and King oyster mushroom (Pleurotus eryngii), which synergise with the effects of Lion’s Mane.
Lion’s Mane can also be found as a whole mushroom, fresh or dried. The fresh mushroom can be easily cooked, but should be consumed quickly. The dried mushroom, on the other hand, can be prepared as an infusion or in the form of a smoothie, soup, cream or juice from an organic superfood powder such as Hericium Digest (prebiotic recipe).
HERICIUM NUTRIENT HIGHLIGHTS
Lion’s Mane possesses a series of nutrients, biomolecules and active compounds among which the following stand out:
Habitat and distribution
Lion’s Mane is a fungus that grows on old or dead trees (mainly in beech and oak forests). It occurs naturally in many regions of the world. It is widespread in the mountainous areas of Asian territories, the northern hemisphere of America and in many parts of Europe, being especially abundant in Central and Southern France.
Hericium erinaceus usually has a rounded fruiting body with spines that all emerge from the same point and cascade down like a mop head. White or pale yellow-brown in colour that darkens with age, the fruiting body is attached to the substrate by a very short, broad stipe (stem). They are annual fruiting bodies, but may recur in the same place on a tree for several years.The entire fruiting body can be up to 30 cm in diameter, although 15-20 cm is more typical. The spines of Hericium erinaceus have pointed tips and vary in length from 1 to 5 cm.
The cultivation of Lion’s Mane
Although the mushrooms have been found in nature for many years, Lion’s Mane cultivation was first reported in China in 1988.
Hericium erinaceus is cultivated both industrially and on a small scale. Commercial cultivation uses dead tree trunks or sterilised sawdust. Different cultivation kits are also available, which include the culture medium and spores and/or mycelia of the fungus.
These crops should be grown in places where there is no direct sunlight, with temperatures between 15 and 20 °C and high humidity, with watering at least twice a day.
As mentioned above, the medicinal mushroom has been cultivated for just over 60 years and, to this day, China is considered to be the main producer, with a cultivation volume of more than 10 tonnes per year.
Cultivation in bioreactors
Highest quality, purity and performance in our production systems
One of the most powerful lines of research at Hifas da Terra focuses on the continuous improvement of the cultivation of different species in bioreactors (Reishi, Lion's Mane, Shiitake and Maitake) using certified organic substrates, as well as the standardisation of the quality of source ingredients to guarantee excellence in the final product with each medicinal mushroom.
Through our own quality standards, we identify biomolecules and active ingredients with therapeutic actions, selecting the fungal strains that contain the optimum amounts, and use our own specific analytical systems to apply analysis protocols at different stages of production. Thanks to this rigorous system, we offer natural products, supplements and nutraceuticals with the Hifas Quality System guarantee, setting us apart from other products in terms of quality, safety and efficacy.
R&D and studies with HERICIUM
- The study published by Hifas da Terra, carried out by our R&D department, has successfully obtained the fractionation of the extract of Hyphae erinaceus using eco-friendly solvents.
- Hifas da Terra has its own strains isolated from the Iberian Peninsula in its extensive mycological library (Mycological Bank Hifas).
- Hericium, the generic name – means belonging to a hedgehog, and is a reference to the spiny fertile surfaces of the fungi of this species. As is often the case with the type species of a genus, the specific epithet erinaceus means the same as the generic name: “like a hedgehog”.
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