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In Focus: Understanding Adaptogens and Lion’s Mane Mushroom


In Focus: Understanding Adaptogens and Lion’s Mane Mushroom

Adaptogens keep cropping up in the world of health and beauty, but it’s hard to know exactly what they are and why it is in the zeitgeist at the moment.

Adaptogens are herbs known for their unique ability to “adapt” their function according to the body’s specific needs. Adaptogenic herbs stimulate the body’s hormonal response to improve the body’s functions and overall health. They were first discovered when researchers explored the berries and seeds eaten by native hunters to reduce their thirst, hunger, and exhaustion. Adaptogens help our bodies fight the effects of stressors, which means that they have several benefits. They can be challenging to include in a standard Western diet, so supplements are always recommended for added support. 

Lion’s Mane Mushrooms are an adaptogenic mushroom also known as hou tou gu or yamabushitake, and are large, white, shaggy mushrooms that resemble a lion’s mane as they grow. Studies have found that Lion’s Mane Mushrooms contain two unique compounds that can stimulate brain cells’ growth: hericenones and erinacines. They are found worldwide but primarily used in Asian countries for medicinal and culinary purposes. These mushrooms are nootropic, meaning they help to improve cognition. One study found that Lion’s Mane Mushrooms’ use is effective in improving mild cognitive impairment. Not only are these mushrooms effective at enhancing cognitive function, but they also have been shown to help regenerate nerves in the brain in rats in a 2012 study. More research is needed to understand the effects of these mushrooms fully. Still, due to their prevalence in traditional medicine, it’s clear that they positively impact the body!

It’s believed to be a powerful catalyst for brain cell regeneration, which helps improve memory and cognition. Hericenones help your brain produce more nerve growth factor, a hormone that boosts and stimulates nerve reparation and growth. While erinacines easily crosses the blood-brain barrier to increase the production of neurons. Lion’s Mane Mushroom benefits include possible protection against dementia, relieves mild symptoms of depression and anxiety, may speed up recovery from nervous system injuries, reduces inflammation and oxidative stress, and boosts the immune system, and more

At times, adaptogens can be hard to find and include in your diet. Luckily, supplements can provide us with these powerful botanicals in an accessible, daily manner.  Integrate these rare ingredients in your diet to boost your brain function, reduce your stress, balance your hormones, and more. Or, try out this recipe!


Written by:
Leah Wingenroth

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