Once you’ve mastered the art of extracting oil from plants, it only makes sense to experiment with other herbs and plants. One of my most successful extraction experiments was with lion’s mane mushrooms. For this reason, I’ve chosen the topic of lion’s mane mushroom oil for my first blog. My friend, Chris Swinson, of Mycophile Gardens in Grand Rapids, Michigan inspired me to learn about mushrooms. When he started sharing the multitude of benefits of lion’s mane mushrooms, I honestly thought he was pulling my leg. The more I researched, the more it blew my mind!
Here are some of the amazing health benefits that tempted me into trying lion’s mane mushrooms:
What’s so special about lion’s mane mushrooms?
- Neuro Enhancing – Studies have found that lion’s mane mushrooms contain two special compounds that can stimulate the growth of brain cells. Hericenones and erinacines can induce NGF synthesis in nerve cells which are essential for the maintenance of the basal forebrain cholinergic system. To put it in layman’s terms, lion’s mane mushrooms build new neural pathways in the brain which helps to boost your focus as well.
- Memory Improvement – Lion’s mane mushroom and its extracts have been shown to reduce symptoms of memory loss in mice, as well as prevent neuronal damage caused by amyloid-beta plaques, which accumulate in the brain during Alzheimer’s disease. Though I’m not aware of any studies on the effects of lion’s mane on Alzheimer’s disease, it’s reasonable to conclude that they may very well may protect against dementia.
- Relieve Anxiety & Depression –A study of mice that consumed lion’s mane had fewer depressive behaviors with blood markers to back up their observations. A later study of animals concluded that they contain beneficial properties for treating depression.
- Reduce Inflammation – Lion’s mane mushrooms have been shown to reduce the production of inflammatory proteins.
- Improve Digestive Function – Lion’s mane encourages the growth of good bacteria in the gut which aides in digestion. The inflammation fighting properties of lion’s mane may also protect again stomach ulcers.
- Diabetes – Lion’s mane may help manage type 2 diabetes and other blood sugar imbalances. A study of rats with diabetes showed that their blood sugar levels were lower after just 4 weeks of lion’s mane extract. A later study on rats which ingested lion’s mane showed they had lower blood sugar and less nerve pain. Other studies have shown that consuming or supplementing with lion’s mane may help improve insulin sensitivity and lower high blood glucose levels in under 30 days.
- Cancer – Multiple studies have shown that lion’s mane mushrooms may be therapeutic against leukemia in humans. Compounds and extracts of lion’s mane have been shown to fight stomach, liver, colon, and intestinal cancers. Extracts of Lion’s Mane reduced the weights of transplanted colon tumors in mice while doubling the numbers of natural killer (NK) cells, increasing macrophage activation, and reducing the number of blood vessels inside the tumors by half at the same time.
- Wound Healing – A study of rats with neck wounds healed faster with lion’s mane extract.
- Quicker Nervous System Regeneration – A study of rats with nerve damage that consumed lion’s mane extract had quicker nerve regeneration. Researchers believe that lion’s mane enhances nerve cell growth allowing quicker cell repair.
- Enhance Heart Health – A study done on rats showed that lion’s mane extracts lower cholesterol which may improve heart function.
- Increase Energy – Lion’s mane mushrooms reduce lactic acid in the blood and increases glycogen in the tissues, allowing the body to produce energy more quickly.
- Immune Boosting – According to 2017 review, “Lion’s Mane, is capable of fortifying the spleen and nourishing the stomach, tranquilizing the mind, and fighting cancer. Over the past decade, it has been demonstrated that H. erinaceus polysaccharides possess various promising bioactivities, including antitumor and immunomodulation, anti-gastric ulcer, neuroprotection and neuro regeneration, anti-oxidation and hepatoprotection, anti-hyperlipidemia, anti-hyperglycemia, anti-fatigue and anti-aging. “
Furthermore, mushrooms are the only item in the produce department that contain vitamin D. Most people know that sun exposure replenishes vitamin D. But, did you know that the sun makes vitamin D from cholesterol in your skin when it’s exposed to the sun? This could be the reason that many people with Ehler Danlos Syndrome (malformed collagen) are notoriously low on vitamin D. Current studies suggest that vitamin D helps fight against cancer, heart disease, fractures and falls, autoimmune diseases, influenza, type-2 diabetes, and depression. Humans must have vitamin D to absorb calcium and phosphorus, which interacts with vitamin B. It’s estimated that almost half of American adults have a vitamin D deficiency. This is why is very important to get enough sunlight, eat mushrooms, and supplement when necessary to keep your Vitamin D level up. Your energy level depends upon it!Needless to say, without hesitation I began consuming lion’s mane mushrooms on a regular basis.
After a few weeks, I started having stomach pain after eating them. Once again, I turned to Chris, who explained that the cell walls of many mushrooms contain chitin, which is also found in the exoskeletons of insects. Cooking mushrooms helps to break down the chitin and releases many beneficial nutrients locked inside the cells. Unwilling to experience further discomfort, I was inspired to seek other ways to consume lion’s mane. Here are some ways to consume lion’s mane mushrooms:
- Cook and eat.
- Mixes like tea or cocoa
- Supplement tablets or capsules
As a general rule, I prefer as close to nature as possible, avoiding commercially produced food products. By the time manufacturing processes are finished, I seriously doubt the quality and viability of any food product. Heat, additives, dyes, not to mention shelf life… you never know what you are actually getting. Furthermore, my research shows that the improvements gained through supplements are generally temporary. Because of my experience with extracting oil from other herbs, I felt compelled to investigate making my own extracts. Following the extraction procedure, I dried the mushrooms, chunked them up, soaked them in alcohol, filtered the mix with Buchner funnel, and extracted the oil with distiller. Detailed directions of the procedure with pictures are outlined in my book, Canna Crocker Guide to Micro-Dosing.
To my delight the process yielded 3 grams of lion’s mane mushroom oil, which I promptly consumed. Within a couple of days I began to notice improved memory. Furthermore, I began experiencing sporadic unexpected past memories. After 6 grams of lion’s mane mushroom oil, I self-published my book and began a business plan.Today my memory is far from perfect, but way better than it was before lion’s mane oil. That was 13 months ago and my improvements haven’t faded. I truly believe my extractions from raw, organic plants are far more powerful and effective than any store-bought product. When you extract oils from raw organic materials the heat is kept low enough to maintain medicinal properties that are compromised in commercial manufacturing processes. It is my plan to continue consuming lion’s mane, shitake, and other mushroom oils as often as possible for optimal health. May this article inspire you to seek the good mushrooms can do for you.