Human study: Yambushitake is a brain booster
On the web anti-agers and lovers of nootropic substances rave about Hericium erinaceus - also called Lion's Mane or Yambushitake - and in web shops one after the other supplement with extracts of this mushroom hits the shelves. Yambushitake is so popular and so successful that it shouldn't be difficult to trace a human study that confirms its reputation, we thought.
And look what we found.
Yambushitake is an edible mushroom, which is grown and eaten on a large scale in China and Japan. This mushroom contains substances like hericenone and erinacine, which imitate and enhance the effects of growth factors such as Nerve Growth Factor [NGF] and Brain-Derived Nerve Factor [BDNF] [Cytotechnology. 2002 Sep;39(3):155-62.] and stimulate brain cells to create more connections with each other. [Int J Med Mushrooms. 2013;15(6):539-54.] In lab rats these compounds in accelerate the repair of damaged neural pathways. [Chin J Integr Med. 2016 Oct;22(10):759-67.]
Users of Yambushitake supplements report that their brains function better. They think faster, alternate between mental tasks more easily, react faster and absorb more information. No wonder some companies claim Yambushitake supplements improve the abilities of gamers.
In 2009, Japanese researchers, affiliated with the mushroom producer Hokuto, [hokto-kinoko.co.jp] published a small human study in which 15 subjects aged 50-80 years used 1 gram of dried Yambushita powder each day for 16 weeks. 15 other subjects took a placebo.
Before, during and after the supplementation, the researchers studied the subjects with the Revised Hasegawa Dementia Scale, a questionnaire with which psychiatrists and gerontologists measure whether someone is demented. On that questionnaire, you can score 30 at best. The test subjects with whom the researchers experimented were not demented at all, but sometimes a bit forgetful. 'Mild cognitive impairment', the researchers diagnosed.
It took 8 weeks until the effects became visible, but after this period supplementation with Yambushitake improved the subjects' scores significantly. When the subjects stopped using the supplement, scores relapsed.
"The results obtained in this study suggest that Yamabushitake is effective in improving mild cognitive impairment", the researchers write.
Phytother Res. 2009 Mar;23(3):367-72.
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