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Lion's Mane: It's Vegan Don't Worry

Lion's Mane: It's Vegan Don't Worry

Never f*ck with a hippopotamus. They’re aggressive, have sharp teeth, and stomp more than 500 people a year in Africa, making them the world’s larg...

Never f*ck with a hippopotamus. They’re aggressive, have sharp teeth, and stomp more than 500 people a year in Africa, making them the world’s largest land mammal killer. More importantly, though, you should never f*ck with your hippocampus — the part of your brain responsible for forming new memories and learning. When you make bad decisions like drinking a Four Loko, or watching an entire season of Tiger King in one sitting, it can damage the hippocampus. Lion’s mane is here to help.

Lion’s mane contains two special compounds that can stimulate the growth of brain cells called hericenones and erinacines. A study in older folks with cognitive impairment found that consuming 3 grams of powdered lion’s mane mushroom daily for four months significantly improved mental function, but these benefits disappeared when supplementation stopped. When older mice with Alzheimer's were given lion’s mane extracts it sped up nerve recovery in the hippocampus by as much as 41 percent. In one study, high doses of lion’s mane extract given to rats immediately after a stroke helped decrease inflammation and reduce the size of stroke-related brain injury by 44 percent.

Incorporating lion’s mane into your diet is just one of many samurai moves that can lead to a healthy brain. It’s also important to get lots of sleep, generously give compliments, and crush daily kettlebell swings while shouting, “I am the hammer of Thor!”

Not only does lion’s mane improve memory function, it also helps prevent stomach ulcers. As fun as it sounds to have painful sores burning through your stomach lining, we recommend you pass on that life experience and try white water rafting instead. Ulcers are often caused by two major factors: overgrowth of a bacteria called H. pylori and long-term use of anti-inflammatory drugs like aspirin. Lion’s mane extract may protect against the development of stomach ulcers by reducing inflammatory cytokines and inhibiting the growth of H. pylori.

Lion’s mane grows on dead and dying hardwood through North America. It is a white shaggy mushroom that looks like a mass of brain neurons, which lumps it in with a growing number of foods that are anatomically shaped like the part of the body that they support. Walnuts contain high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, which help support brain function. Celery contains silicon, which is part of the molecular structure that gives bones their strength. Grapefruits are high in limonoids, which inhibit the development of breast cancer. Cucumbers … you get the idea.

Mycologist, Paul Stamets once said, “mycelium is the neurological network of nature.” Next time you’re walking through the forest, bring a thermos of Mud\Wtr. As you stand beneath the canopy of trees that stretch their branches towards the sky and roots deep below your feet, remove your shoes and dig your toes into the dirt. Take a deep breath and imagine the root systems beneath you, connected by a mycelial network that is transferring nutrients from one tree to another. Then, sip your brew and picture lion’s mane working to connect neurons in your own brain, like the roots below you.

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By Shane Heath, Founder