You may have noticed more and more mushroom-based supplements on the shelves of your local health food store recently. Certain mushrooms and blends have become very important nutritional supplements all over the world, and while there are many mushrooms we could talk about, for this column let's focus on lion's mane.

Lion's mane can be found in Asia, Europe and North America and is known for its distinct long white spines that look  wait for it  kind of like the mane of a lion. Lion's mane has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years, mainly to support brain and nervous system health. In recent years, the medical community has taken note and research has started on many mushrooms including lion's mane.

Data is starting to confirm the brain- and nerve-supporting properties of this promising mushroom. Researchers are especially interested in the way that lion's mane may be able to aid in nerve repair. Many health professionals are suggesting a regimen that includes B-12 alongside a dose of lion's mane, and many supplement companies are now starting to combine it with other complementary brain- and nervous system-supporting supplements like ginkgo, bacopa or turmeric.

Lion's mane is edible and can be found for culinary use. But the part that we call the mushroom, the fruiting body, cannot be easily digested and is not ideal for supplementation without some processing. When looking for a supplement, look for products that use either the root system known as the mycelium or products that use a water extract of the fruiting body.

The research looking into lion's mane is exciting and will hopefully bring this impressive mushroom into the forefront of natural cognitive support. In the meantime the data has been strong enough for me to take note of this interesting fungi, and it might just make a great supplement for you.

Travis Lemon is a certified herbalist and co-owner of Tulsi at The Market in Huntington. He has worked in the natural health and wellness industry for over 16 years. He can be contacted at travislemonmh@gmail.com.

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