The mushroom can be found in North America, Europe, and Asia. In traditional Chinese medicine, it is used to boost the immune system and improve digestive health.
Boosting brain cells
So far, the researchers have conducted pre-clinical trials with very promising results.
“Extracts from these so-called ‘lion’s mane’ mushrooms have been used in traditional medicine in Asian countries for centuries, but we wanted to scientifically determine their potential effect on brain cells,” Professor Meunier said in the press release.
“Pre-clinical testing found the lion’s mane mushroom had a significant impact on the growth of brain cells and improving memory.”
QBI researchers, including Professor Frederic Meunier @MeunierLab and Dr Ramon Martinez-Marmol @marmol_dr have discovered that a ‘lion’s mane’ #mushroom extract boosts #neuron growth and enhances #memory.https://t.co/8RNPO69LMJ@UQ_News pic.twitter.com/EdF2j8vm69
— Queensland Brain Institute, UQ (@QldBrainInst) February 13, 2023
Promoting neuron projections
“Laboratory tests measured the neurotrophic effects of compounds isolated from Hericium erinaceus on cultured brain cells, and surprisingly we found that the active compounds promote neuron projections, extending and connecting to other neurons,” added Meunier.
“Using super-resolution microscopy, we found the mushroom extract and its active components largely increase the size of growth cones, which are particularly important for brain cells to sense their environment and establish new connections with other neurons in the brain.”
Co-author UQ’s Dr. Ramon Martinez-Marmol added that the newly-discovered compound may have applications in the treatment and protection against neurodegenerative cognitive disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease.
“Our idea was to identify bioactive compounds from natural sources that could reach the brain and regulate the growth of neurons, resulting in improved memory formation,” Dr. Martinez-Marmol said.