Ongoing research continues to support use of lion’s mane (Hericium erinaceus) mushroom as part of a management regime for multiple sclerosis (MS). Studies suggest it is neuroprotective, may help remyelinate damaged nerves, as well as help with nerve regeneration.
It appears to promote gene expression of Nerve Growth Factor (NGF). These proteins, in addition to their role in a wide array of non-nervous system cells (including immune cells), support growth and survival of both developing and mature neurons.
Furthermore, lion’s mane has a good track record for safety. It has been consumed since ancient times, especially in Asia, as a medicine, in addition to being eaten long-term as part of the diet.
Other traditional uses
Lion’s mane is used in traditional Chinese medicine to help digestion and gastric and duodenal ulcers, as well as chronic gastritis.
More recent research
Lion’s mane contains five polysaccharides and polypeptides which have been seen to enhance immune function. Constituent hericenones have been found to induce synthesis of NGF, and to benefit Alzheimer’s disease (supplementation has improved cognitive function). Studies also support use of lion’s mane for nerve pain.
Traditionally said to give the user “the strength of a horse”!
Ashwagandha is considered to be an adaptogen; a class of herbs with a long history of use for helping the body adapt to stress. This stress may be a consequence of the body trying to deal with chronic illness, a difficult boss, exams or divorce.
Modern research suggests ashwagandha enhances immune and endocrine function, particularly supporting thyroid function and the adrenal glands. It is thought effective for anxiety, fatigue, “foggy thinking” and for re-regulating sleep when disrupted by stress.
Some studies: A recent study (Deshpande, et al, 2019) found ashwagandha improved quality of non-restorative sleep – this is commonly associated with medical conditions such as fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome.
Sharma, et al (2018) conducted a placebo-controlled study which involved trialling effect of ashwagandha on the thyroid function of fifty people, aged 18-50 years, with hypothyroidism (elevated serum thyroid stimulating hormone). They reported significantly improved blood test markers in the group prescribed ashwagandha compared with those in the placebo group (normalising serum thyroid indices during an 8-week period).