At least six species of mushrooms provide current research-supported evidence of benefits, or the potential of benefits, for the brain.
Hericium erinaceus, known generally as the “lion’s mane” mushroom, is referred to by other names, including bearded tooth mushroom, monkey’s head mushroom, bearded hedgehog, satyr’s beard, bearded tooth fungus, pom pom and others. It’s name in Japan is yamabushitake, which means “mountain priest mushroom.” Asians speak of the lion’s mane mushroom as endowing it’s consumer with “nerves of steel and the memory of a lion.”
Does it work? Research evidence, including some human studies, relates the lion’s mane mushroom to improved cognitive function, including nerve regeneration, remyelination, and increased Nerve Growth Factor (NGF). Research also supports other benefits, including improved digestive function and gastritis relief, immune system support as an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant, and it’s action as an anticoagulant and mild ACE inhibitor. It can be consumed as a dry powder. Check out these products and a few others in Amazon’s grocery and Prime Pantry.
The following other species of mushrooms are under continuing study and show promise for providing a beneficial effect on the brain and memory. Each of these are popularly consumed as edible mushrooms.
G. frondosa‘s Japanese name is Maitake. It has been called the “cloud mushroom,” “hen of the woods.” and sometimes the “dancing mushroom,” among other names. It is linked in research to effects relating to the immune system and blood pressure. A popular gourmet mushroom, G. Frondosa is also highly regarded clinically, especially in cancer therapy. It has been found to induce neuron growth and generally is a functional food relating to a longer and healthier life span.
T. fuciformis is also known as “Yin Er,” or white jelly fungus. It has been shown to significantly reverse memory deficit in rats.
Tricholoma or Matsutake has a gilled cap and fleshy stem. It is a wild, edible mushroom that has been identified by research to relate to PC12 cells and neurite growth. An isolate of this mushroom significantly induced neurite growth in PC12 cells in rats. A notable feature of PC12 cells is that they respond to nerve growth factor (NGF).
L. rhinocerotis, known as the Tiger Milk mushroom stimulated neuritogenic activity in PC12 cells comparable to that of NGF, but it may mimic NGF activity rather than induce it.
D. indusiata is the Reishi mushroom often known as “Queen of the mushrooms” or the “veiled lady.” In Japan, it is known as Kinugasatake, which means the bamboo mushroom and, in research, it has been linked to the promotion of the neurotrophin system in the brain. Neurotrophins are proteins that belong to a class of growth factors, secreted proteins, that signal particular cells to survive, differentiate, or grow.