Lion’s Mane, that tasty mushroom-with-icicles, has attracted a great deal of attention as a medicinal mushroom in recent years, in particular because it is thought to promote the so-called Nerve Growth Factor (NGF). Responsible for that are 2 unique groups of constituents (Hericenones and Erinacines) named after the Latin name of the mushroom (Hericium erinaceum).
NGF is a secreted protein that is important for the growth, maintenance, survival and regeneration of nerve cells in the human body, and is considered critical for their survival. Without it, these nerve cells / neurons will decline and die, causing both cognitive and motoric problems. The NGF was discovered in the 1950s, and in 1986 the scientists responsible received the Nobel Prize for this.
NGF is slowing down or reducing the degeneration of nerve cells such as caused by aging and neurodegenerative diseases (e.g. Alzheimer’s).
Unfortunately, the NGF production itself is declining with age as well and science so far has not been able to come up with an answer for that. Neurodegenerative diseases, spinal cord injuries and other nerve-related injuries affect approximately 50 million people worldwide, bringing the total related healthcare cost to over 600 billion dollars (estimate) per year.
Therefore unique natural compounds such as those discovered in Lion’s Mane are currently the subject of intensive research. Just imagine if science would be able to stop horrible diseases such as Alzheimer’s…!
So far one of the main hurdles is that the complexity of these natural compounds and their poor pharmaco-kinetic profile make synthesis and clinical use very difficult.
It is also not possible to determine the amounts of Hericenones and Erinacines present in whatever Lion’s Mane product in an easy, standardized way, because no 100% pure reference material (which is usually synthesized) exists, unfortunately.
ORIVeDA’s Lion’s Mane powdered alcohol extract contains both extracted liquid mycelium and fruiting body extract, in a 50/50 ratio.
This is good news in particular for those that are after nootropic effects or want to pro-actively counter the negative effects of ageing or a nerve-affecting disease or injury. Important news, because the main NGF-inducers (alcohol-soluble erinacines) are mainly found in the mycelium (99.8%).
The product now contains the whole spectrum of NGF-stimulators in bioavailable form, and on top of that 8% of beta-D-glucans (for immune support). This is a great tool to battle age-related, declining health.
Currently there are no alcohol-extracted Lion’s Mane products on the market, and also none using pure liquid mycelium. Oriveda’s L+ is therefore a unique and very promising product – it is an alcohol extract in powder form, standardised for terpenes (all NGF-inducers are terpenes) and it includes mycelium as well.
Most products use mycelium grown on grains or rice (biomass). Such products are without exception contaminated with undigested grains/rice in the form of starch and because of that usually have a low therapeutic potential. If they list bioactive ingredients (such as polysaccharides), keep in mind starch is also a polysaccharide, but without therapeutic potential. Only if a percentage of beta-glucans is also listed you can be sure you have a decent product, at least if you are after immune-supporting properties. Beta-glucans are not relevant for NGF-boosting, only terpenes are.
However, in the case of Oriveda’s Lion’s Mane extract the beta-glucan level is not a quality marker because it is an alcohol extract and beta-glucans are water-solubles, mainly. A great guideline for purchasing mushroom products can be found here.