Lion's Mane is a stunningly beautiful mushroom found in nature growing on hardwood trees. (Ours is grown on oak.)
While most of the popularity and conversation about this mushroom has centered around it's benefits for brain performance and long-term cognitive health, in recent years there has been some very interesting research done on both animals and humans looking at it's affects of anxiety and depression.
THE 4 DIFFERENT PATHWAYS
#1 REDUCING INFLAMMATION
Even more interestingly, the findings are indicating multiple different pathways by which Lion's Mane is affecting these conditions. For example one study focused on the mushroom's ability to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression by reducing systemic inflammation.
#2 REGENERATING BRAIN CELLS
Then a second study focused on a different method of action- this time looking at the way that Lion's Mane helped to regenerate brain cells and improve hippocampal function. The hippocampus is the region of the brain responsible for processing memories and emotional responses, so naturally it plays a major role here.
It's not so easy to trace exact methods of action in humans, but there has been some very exciting human research done on Lion's Mane with regards to anxiety and depression.
(REGENERATING BRAIN CELLS WITH THE HELP OF COOKIES)
One study took two groups of menopausal women and fed them both cookies. But one group's cookies were "spiked" with Lion's Mane extract! (Side note: I think we need to do a recipe video now for some great Lion's Mane cookies 😄).
Sure enough, after 4 weeks the group eating the Lion's Mane cookies experienced marked reductions in measures of depression and anxiety.
#3 IMPROVING SLEEP QUALITY
And finally, a double-blind placebo controlled study conducted in Italy in 2019 found that 8 weeks of Lion's Mane supplementation improved mood disorders of a depressive-anxious nature and also improved sleep quality.
#4 IMPROVING REM SLEEP
This mention of sleep quality also leads to another pathway that I expect further research will find very important here as well- the ability of Lion's Mane to improve REM sleep.
As so many people are tracking their sleep stages at home these days, many anecdotal reports have been emerging that people are increasing their REM sleep through Lion's Mane supplementation.
This becomes particularly interesting when combined with the knowledge that REM sleep is where wedo a tremendous amount of emotional processing and emotional healing.
#5 - BONUS: BENEFICIAL EFFECT ON GUT HEALTH
It will also be fascinating to see whether a further pathway emerges in future research where Lion's Mane helps anxiety and depression via its effects on gut health.
Previous research on Lion's Mane has shown it to be beneficial for the gut microbiome and there is no shortage of emerging information about how the gut as the "2nd brain" has a huge impact on our emotional well being.
All we're missing now is a study to link these three directly together. But it's nice to have something to be excited about and look forward to!
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