Anxiety disorders affect forty million adults in the United States every year, making them the most common form of mental illness in the country. Anxiety can often lead to depression, and depression itself is the leading cause of disability worldwide .
Since anxiety and depression have become so endemic in societies across the globe, scientists, psychologists, and mental health researchers have been searching tirelessly for an effective treatment or solution.
Mounting research has shown that lion’s mane, a medicinal mushroom, may be an effective, natural solution to help combat anxiety and depression .
Mushrooms and Mental Health
A placebo-controlled clinical study of lion’s mane mushrooms found that after four weeks, participants who consumed two grams of lion’s mane mushroom per day experienced a reduction in depression and anxiety compared with those who took a placebo .
Lion’s mane mushroom, or Hericium erinaceus, is often used in both food and supplement-form to support brain health. It does this by inducing Nerve Growth Factor (NGF) synthesis in the nerve cells of your brain. NGF is essential for the maintenance and development of the neurons in your brain and can improve your memory, focus, clarity, and recall [3,4].
Two Competing Theories
This newer study, however, supports the growing belief that the “neurogenic theory of depression and anxiety” provides a better explanation as to the cause of depression and anxiety. The basis of this theory is that neurogenesis (the growth and development of nerves) is impaired in the brains of adults with depression, and can actually be accelerated by antidepressant treatment .
This theory has led scientists and researchers to believe that the restoration of neurogenesis in adults is an effective form of treatment for depression and anxiety .
Other Health Benefits of Mushrooms
Lion’s mane mushroom offers a host of other health benefits outside of helping to treat anxiety and depression. It contains two compounds, hericenones and erinacines, which help stimulate the growth of brain cells. This can help prevent degenerative brain diseases like dementia .
Lion’s mane mushroom has been shown to protect against ulcers in the stomach, the small intestine, and the large intestine as well. This is because ulcers in the digestive tract are often caused by an overgrowth of the bacteria H. pylori. Lion’s mane mushroom has been shown to inhibit the growth of this bacteria and therefore protect the lining of the stomach and the intestines [10,11].
It is important to note, however, that all of these benefits have primarily been observed in animal studies, and so more work is needed to understand whether the effects of the mushroom are the same in humans.
How to Take Lion’s Mane Mushroom
Lion’s mane mushroom can be purchased in supplement form as a capsule, liquid, tablet, or powder. The dosages of these supplements may vary widely depending on the manufacturer, so it is important to read and follow the directions on the label carefully, and of course, discuss any new supplement you are taking with your doctor .
Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and is for information only. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions about your medical condition and/or current medication. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking advice or treatment because of something you have read here.
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