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Medicinal Mushrooms: The Dynamic Brain Boosting Duo

by Khyati Kapur

Medicinal Mushrooms: The Dynamic Brain Boosting Duo

Mushrooms have been getting a lot of hype lately in the wellness community. What’s so special about them that you can’t get from just plant-based foods? Hint, mushrooms aren’t plants, and they’ve got their own set of unique, nutrient-dense compounds.

Throughout human history, many historical accounts testify to the incredible health-boosting properties for a number of medicinal mushrooms found in the wild. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, medicinal mushrooms have been used for thousands of years to treat illnesses ranging from various neurologic disorders to healing an upset digestive system. In Ayurveda (ancient Indian medicine), medicinal mushrooms have been considered to enhance overall vitality and strength. In modern times, people continue to see major improvements in their health after incorporating medicinal mushrooms into their diets. 

Now, out of all the medicinal mushrooms out there today, there are two very special ones that you should pay close attention to: Lion’s Mane and Chaga. Why are they so special? Read further to find out! 

Lion’s Mane Mushroom (Hericium erinaceus) 

These large, white shaggy mushrooms get their name due to their resemblance of a lion’s mane. Don’t underestimate their funny-looking appearance; these mushrooms can provide ferocious benefits for your overall health! 

Consuming Lion’s Mane on a regular basis can potentially offer you the following benefits [1]: 

  • Immune boosting

o  Extracts of Lion’s mane were discovered to strengthen both the innate and adaptive immune system, by stimulating macrophage cell activity and increasing the number of CD-4 helper T cells. This mushroom has also been proven to reduce inflammation in the digestive system, which can help to maintain integrity of the stomach and intestinal cell lining.

  • Antimicrobial and anticancer properties

o  Lion’s mane has also been shown to inhibit H. pylori (the bacteria responsible for stomach ulcers), harmful fungi (candida), and even inhibit and kill cancer cells in vitro and in vivo. 

  • Enhancing your gut microbiome

o  The polysaccharides found in Lion’s Mane act as food (prebiotics) for your gut bacteria, strengthening the community of good bacteria. By feeding the good bacteria in your gut, you are indirectly benefiting your brain, since gut bacteria are heavily responsible for influencing the health of the gut-brain-axis.

  • Blood sugar control

o  Suffering from diabetes or neuropathic pain associated with it? Lion’s Mane was shown to reduce blood glucose levels, increase insulin levels, and reduce neuropathic pain in diabetic rats through a mechanism of antioxidant activity. 

  • Neuroprotective properties

o  By far the biggest benefit that Lion’s Mane can provide for your health is from its ability to protect against neurodegenerative disease and memory-decline as a result of aging.

Let’s dive further into the brain health boosting power of Lion’s Mane. Not only can Lion’s Mane boost your overall mental function and heighten the capacity to focus, but it also exhibits neuroprotective effects against dementia. How does this fungus achieve all of these abilities? Through the action of two special classes of bioactive molecules, hericenones and erinacines 

Hericenones help to produce more nerve growth factor (NGF), while erinacines can cross the blood-brain barrier to boost production of new neurons [2]. NGF is a protein that is heavily involved in the function of the central nervous system, which is the part of your body that can degenerate when suffering from dementia. In a recent 2019 study, researchers also found that a combination of hericenones and erinacines extracted from the Lion’s mane led to a reversal age-related memory decline in mouse models [3]. Since both of these compounds can induce NGF synthesis in nerve cells, they help stimulate growth of new brain cells and can also repair damaged neurons.

What does all of this information mean for your health?  Less brain fog and more mental alertness. Less symptoms of anxiety and depression. Of course, you can’t just rely on Lion’s Mane by itself; you need to live a healthy lifestyle and eat healthy foods each day to reap any visible benefits when incorporating Lion’s Mane into your meal plan. 

Chaga Mushroom (Inonotus obliquus)

Besides Lion’s Mane, another powerful medicinal mushroom is the Chaga mushroom. This unique black mushroom has been used in traditional European medicine for many generations. By far, Chaga’s claim to fame is thanks to its antioxidant strength. The strength of antioxidants is measured by their ability to scavenge and bind to oxidized free radicals, eventually clearing them from our bodies. Chaga is one of the most potent antioxidant foods found on earth, and you would be missing out some big time health benefits if you don’t include it in your weekly routine.

How then, can Chaga improve brain health exactly? Chaga lowers the oxidative stress on our brains and also increases acetylcholine levels, which act as neurotransmitters and play an important role in attention and memory. In other words, Chaga consumption has been shown to improve the following brain functions:

  • Improved learning and memory
  • Reduce inflammation in the brain 
  • Increased energy levels and overall improved mental health (according to anecdotes from Russian folk medicine) 

Remember, all of the amazing benefits Chaga could provide are found in its potent, antioxidant-rich compounds. Just how dense is Chaga in antioxidants? (Hint, it’s crazy dense!) It’s said to have one of the highest ORAC scores (a measure of antioxidant strength) among superfoods, even more than acai berries, blueberries, or pomegranates. 

Chaga can also play an active role in fighting off hard-to-treat viruses like HIV and Hepatitis C. And most of all, studies are very promising to show that the Chaga mushroom is an effective anti-cancer agent against many different cancer types (including brain cancer), helping to reduce cancer cell growth and enhance the immune system to fight off existing cancer cells [4].

In addition, much like Lion’s Mane, several different polysaccharides (or complex carbs) found in Chaga also act as prebiotics for your gut bacteria. Studies have shown that supplementing with Chaga can alter the gut microbiota of mice suffering from chronic pancreatitis, and shift the composition of gut bacteria to more Bacteroidetes species, one of the main groups of bacteria found in the human gut that contribute to a healthy digestive system [5]. Remember the gut-brain connection; the health of your gut can directly affect the health of your brain. You’d be wise to take good care of your gut bacteria if you want to maintain strong cognitive function.

Consuming Chaga alongside Lion’s Mane Mushroom is a smart move, since they work synergistically together as antioxidant ingredients. Combining these two medicinal mushrooms, along with a fresh cup of coffee, which also has antioxidant properties, and you’ve got a perfect match to fight free radicals in your body!

Why Seva Soul Nootropic ? 

So now that you have an idea of how awesome these two medicinal mushrooms are for your brain health, what’s holding you back from trying them out? You may not like the idea of eating mushrooms raw or the general texture of cooked mushrooms, but there is another way; incorporating Lion’s Mane and Chaga in a powder form! Now where can you find a product that has both of these powerful mushrooms as a powder that you could add to your morning coffee?

Seva Soul’s Neurovana Nootropic Coffee boasts a powerhouse of ingredients that is packed with antioxidants and stimulating compounds. It features both Lion’s Mane and Chaga, along with other important nootropics including Rhodiola, Mct oil powder, and L-theanine, all of which play a vital role in brain health.

By drinking this coffee, not only can you get your day started off right, but also keep yourself operating at peak capacity throughout the day. Our nootropic coffee has an incredible taste all while being incredibly great for you. Kick start your day with your Seva Soul coffee so that you can be more productive, focus better, and power through your day efficiently. “Let food be thy medicine!” 

PLEASE NOTE that this article is not in lieu of medical advice from your doctor. All content found on this website, including articles, text, images, audio, videos, or other formats were created for informational purposes only.  This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

Khyati Kapur
Khyati Kapur