Over the past couple of years I have been extremely interested in “brain food.” The brain is the most studied and least understood organ in our bodies, and much of the brain still remains a mystery to modern science. The brain is responsible for organization, concentration, self monitoring, speaking, personality, mental flexibility, inhibition of behavior, speech movement, and the proper functioning of the many organs of the body. The brain in combination with the spinal cord makes up our central nervous system (CNS). Our brains are non-negotiable. I believe that it is imperative to use food as medicine on a daily basis. We are what we eat. To that point, I believe that we should all be eating brain diets. We need to feed our heads!
“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” Hippocrates really was ahead of his time. This statement is over 2,500 years old, and has never been more relevant than it is now. Functional nutrition is one of the easiest ways that we can empower ourselves on a daily basis. We are what we eat, and our brains are a gigantic portion of ‘we’.
One of the best foods for our brain is Lion’s Mane mushroom. Lion’s Mane, Hericium erinaceus, is an edible mushroom belonging to the tooth fungus group. It is native to North America, Europe and Asia. Lion’s mane is known by many different names: pom pom, monkey head, bearded tooth, satyr’s beard, etc. Lion’s mane is a “nerve mushroom,” known to have a profound effect on the nervous system, and is known to stimulate nerve growth. In the East, Lion’s Mane has been revered as a medicinal fungus for centuries. Interestingly, in many ways a Lion’s Mane looks like a brain, following the doctrine of signatures, which is when a plant resembles the body part that it treats. Lion’s Mane looks like a brain and as it turns out, is excellent brain food. Lion’s mane was also revered as monk food in several traditions as it has been used for centuries to enhance meditation.
Lion’s Mane has been a part of the Chinese materia medica for thousands of years, and has been used for over 2,000 years in Chinese medicine to support mental function, memory and concentration. In Chinese medicine, Lion’s Mane, or hou tou gu, calms the Spirit Shen and strengthens brain activity. This has long been revered in Chinese medicine for supporting overall health and longevity.
In Japan, Lion’s Mane, or yamabushitake, mountain priest mushroom, has long been revered as a powerful brain food. It is named after the Yamabushi buddist monk who used the Lion’s Mane to stay focused during meditation. According to mycologist Paul Stamets, “I describe it as one of nature’s best examples of grace and elegance.” Stamets also believes that Lion’s Mane is the first “smart” mushroom. A recent study in Japan showed that eating soup with lion’s mane mushroom everyday for six months resulted in improved mental function. The Japanese have been using Lion’s Mane to treat depression for many years.
Lion’s Mane abounds with different stories and lore regarding the profound effect on the brain. Lion’s Mane has been a revered food amongst monks from the high Himalayan Tibetan Plateau. Buddhist monks used Lion’s Mane to deepen their meditation and enhance their brain power. Shaolin monks are said to have used this medicine as part of their training in Gongfu (rigorous Kung Fu) to help them strengthen their mind and brain.
Lion’s Mane is showing amazing promise in regards to degenerative neurological conditions like dementia and Alzheimer’s. Lion’s Mane contains hericenones and erinacines, compounds known to stimulate the growth of brain cells. Lion’s Mane promotes remyelination and promotes the production of nerve growth factor (NGF). NGF is produced by every peripheral tissue/organ that is innervated by sensory afferents and/or sympathetic efferents, as well as by central and peripheral nervous system and immune cells. Research shows that people who were taking Lion’s Mane reported better brain function. Better brain function looks like faster thinking, alternating between mental tasks more easily, reacting faster and absorbing more information.
WE can empower ourselves by using functional foods and the power of functional mushrooms. Because we know that Lion’s Mane has incredible benefits to the brain, our task is to implement it into our daily lives.
As you begin to incorporate medicinal mushrooms in your vitality routine please make sure to do your due diligence when it comes to sourcing. Here are five questions to ask before you buy your Lion’s Mane.
Where was it grown?
Who grew your mushrooms?
What were the cultivation methods used?
What are the extraction methods?
What are the other added ingredients in the products?
I believe that our best plant and mushroom foods should be stored in glass not plastic, so pay attention to packaging.
I love North Spore Mushrooms out of Maine for lion’s mane grow kits and Lion’s Mane tincture.
Use Code: FEEDYOURVIBE for 10% off.
I love Malama Mushrooms out of Big Island, Hawaii for your Lion’s Mane powder.
Use Code: FEEDYOURVIBE for 20% off.
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More about the author…
Shadi Ramey is the founder of the International Mushroom Society traveling mushroom mushroom farm to table pop up. She loves to nerd out on all things mycology. She has been cooking with mushrooms for the past twenty years. She is delighted to see mushrooms growing in the mainstream consciousness. She is doing several mushroom experiences in 2021 to include culinary immersions, 5-course farm-to-table events and she is taking a group to Sarlat France in January 2022 for the annual Truffle Festival. Shadi’s approach to culinary mushrooms is much like her other work as it stems from multicultural uses and flavors. Shadi is fascinated by the concept of terroir as it relates to culinary mushrooms and works to bring this to her guests through her culinary work.
Shadi is the author of Hemp Can Change the World, the first cookbook printed on hemp.
Find Shadi here-
Shadi has a Master’s degree in Cultural Anthropology with a focus on sustainable economic development. She has years of experience working with B Corp with mission driven business and conscious capitalism. She has been working on carbon finance issues since 2018 and is well versed in this subject and consults with other companies to help develop strategic plans to pursue carbon negative business practices. Ethical supply chain management is a specialty of Shadi’s. Shadi works with companies to make true sustainability a priority by working on the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development goals. “The future of the sustainable cannabis industry lies in mission driven business, carbon finance and showing true leadership with a supply chain rooted in a company ethos of integrity, accountability and transparency. “