Hericium erinaceus is an unusual fungus, which due to its appearance has been given several curious names, including Lion's Mane, Monkey's Head, Monkey's Mushroom (Old Man's Beard, Yamabushitake. This mushroom is found very rarely, very well absorbed in terms of bioavailability, was used for thousands of years in many traditional medicines, from Traditional Chinese Medicine to Japan (for gastrointestinal problems), but it also turns out that Native Americans used it as a cicatrizant. In the East this mushroom is said to confer "nerves of steel and the memory of a lion", and these effects have recently been confirmed by Western scientific research. Many studies attribute to Hericium anticancer, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and prebiotic properties at the gastro-enteric level. Indeed, this is the reason why in mycotherapy it is the medicinal "mushroom of excellence" for inflammatory and infectious pathologies that involve the mucosa of the digestive system, as it rebalances the intestinal bacterial flora by nourishing it, bonds gastro-intestinal mucous membranes by heating them, which helps solve intestinal permeability problems (such as Leaky Gut Syndrome), which, among various severe disorders, favours the recurrence of thrush and cystitis. Due to its soothing and healing effect, it has always been used as a remedy for different types of gastritis, in particular for somatization gastritis but also for Helicobacter Pylori and hiatal and gastroduodenal hernia disorders. Therefore, it has in particular a general soothing and probiotic action on the gastrointestinal area, notably however on the "enteric nervous system", also called the second brain or enteric brain.
Its interesting properties have seen it reassert itself as the subject of studies in modern medicine. Today, for example, it is used more and more frequently as a powerful "nootropic" to support cognitive functions, memory and concentration stimulants. It can thus be used as a tonic for the so-called "first brain (central brain) and second brain (enteric brain)" both from a functional and lesional point of view, but the Hericium can equally be considered an "adaptogen" and and an aid to managing situations of strong anxiety and psychophysical stress that can result in somatization processes.
In recent years, however, other very interesting properties of neurological importance have been highlighted, which concern the recovery of the central and peripheral nervous system from the functional point of view, so that it can be potentially useful also in neurological diseases such as Parkinson's, Alzheimer's and multiple sclerosis.
The specificity of the activities in which this medicinal mushroom is effective is due to the two active ingredients it contains: Erinacine and Ericenoni, which can cross the blood-brain barrier and protect neurons from damage by some neurotoxic substances, stimulate nerve cell repair and regeneration and induce genetic expression of the neuronal growth factor (NGF - Nerve Growth Factor) in the brain. It is currently considered the most powerful natural stimulant of the expression of the precious NGF. Nerve growth factor (NGF) was discovered in the 1950s by an Italian scientist called Rita Levi Montalcini who undertook continuous research on this protein molecule and its action mechanism for about thirty years, for which in 1986 she was awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine together with the American, Stanley Choen. This protein is very important in our nervous system since it enables the development, growth and development of synapses and survival of both central and peripheral neurons. This peptide is produced by a large number of cells, such as the cells of the immune system, but its production decreases under certain pathological or age-related conditions. Unfortunately, NGF cannot be used for treatment or prevention because it cannot cross the blood-brain barrier. This is why Hericum could play an exclusive role, since it is composed of natural compounds of low molecular weight that surpass the blood-brain barrier to favour the synthesis of this Nerve Growth Factor, and the resynthesis of myelin by the cells of the nervous system, regulating the growth of axons, the long cytoplasmic part of the nerve cell, through mechanisms of stimulation and cell regeneration. This is why it is an intensively studied element, to find a cure to some of the most serious diseases that affect the nervous system, such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Alzheimer's disease and Multiple Sclerosis.
Given these facts, it is understandable that researchers have become increasingly curious about this millennial remedy, as regards "neuroprotection", preventing the maintenance of cognitive functions, memory and concentration, but also as a support in degenerative and lesional situations. Used as a natural "nootropic" supplement, its activity will focus on greater "neuroprotection" against age-related memory loss and cognitive dysfunction, also improving the conductivity of signals between neurons, facilitating better concentration and focus in daily activities.