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Mushrooms are having a moment. The global mushroom market was valued at a whopping $50.3 billion in 2021 and is expected to grow nearly 10 percent per year until 2030, according to a market analysis report by Grand View Research.
One mushroom making its way into the spotlight is the aptly named lion’s mane (also known as hedgehog mushroom). It’s a large, white, shaggy mushroom that resembles a full-grown lion’s mane, and while it’s not the prettiest fungus out there, people are mixing it into soups, brewing it into teas, taking it in tinctures, and swallowing it in capsule form, all in hopes of reaping its many potential health benefits.
“Lion’s mane, also known officially as Hericium erinaceus, is an edible fungus that has been used in East Asia for centuries as food and medicine,” says Monique Richard, RDN, an integrative dietitian-nutritionist in Johnson City, Tennessee, and a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
In Chinese and Japanese medical systems, lion’s mane is traditionally used to fortify the spleen, nourish the gut, and, currently, to treat cancer, per a research paper published March 2017 in the Journal of Restorative Medicine.
Because of its effects on the central nervous system, lion’s mane is also used in traditional Chinese medicine for insomnia and muscle weakness — symptoms of low qi (life energy force), according to the same paper.
Many helpful plant compounds can be found in the lion’s mane fruiting bodies (the part we recognize as the mushrooms) and mycelium (the mushrooms root-like structure).
“Lion’s mane contains a number of compounds that may have beneficial effects on the body, including antioxidants, anti-inflammatory agents, and nerve growth factors,” says Lindsay Delk, RDN, a registered dietitian-nutritionist in Houston, who specializes in the connection between food and mental health. Read more: https://bit.ly/3VIyng8