Yamabushitake (Hericium erinaceus) is an edible mushroom used traditionally to improve mental functioning. It is known as Lion’s Mane mushroom. It is used as a food in China and Japan. There are chemicals present in the mushroom which cause cultured astrocyte cells to produce neurogenic growth factor (NGF.) NGF promotes nerve cell differentiation and survival. This is believed to be beneficial in senile dementia, such as Alzheimer’s dementia.
The authors did a double-blind, placebo-controlled study of this mushroom (known as Lion’s Mane) on a group of patients with mild cognitive impairment. The subjects took four 250 mg. tablets of the powdered mushroom three times daily. The patients were asked not to take Ginkgo biloba or DHA to avoid confusing the results.
The study lasted 16 weeks. Thirty patients were studied. The subjects were tested using the Revised Hasegawa Dementia Scale, given at 8, 12 and 16 weeks. Numerous blood tests were done to test for any toxic effects. The mushrooms are safely eaten by large numbers of people, regularly.
As compared to the placebo group, the group taking the mushroom was significantly improved at all testing times. The mushroom group’s scores increased at each testing. But, their scores decreased, significantly, at 4 weeks following the discontinuation of the mushrooms at 16 weeks. No negative effects were seen. The mushroom is low in calories and is safe for diabetics.
CONCLUSION: Hiricium erinaceus is a beneficial treatment for mild cognitive impairment when compared to placebo. Part of the improvement was lost 4 weeks after the mushroom capsules were discontinued. Continuous use is needed to maintain the improvement. Toxic effects were not found on extensive blood tests and no serious side effects were reported. Lion’s mane mushroom is one of the rare foods which increase NGF (neurogenic growth factor) which may prevent Alzheimer’s dementia.
NOTE: Hericium erinaceus, known as Lion’s Mane mushroom.
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