By Austin Hand
In this blog, I am going to answer the question “What the hell is Lion’s Mane?” More specifically, I will explain what it is, what it does, and why you should care. First, I would like to introduce myself. My name is Austin Hand, and I joined the UpGo team about a year and a half ago. I have known most of the UpGo team for many years, and some since childhood. I recently graduated from law school and took the Arizona Bar Exam. In my free time I do a lot of reading and watching documentaries, which is how I came across Lion’s Mane and the wonderful benefits it offers.
During my 12-week Bar Exam preparation period, I began taking Lion’s Mane and instantly loved it. So, when the UpGo team decided it was time to expand on our product line, I knew what product I wanted to pitch to the team. LIONS MANE BABY. At our first meeting regarding new products that actually work, I suggested we come out with a Lion’s Mane supplement.
The response I got was “Austin, what the hell is Lion’s Mane?”
So, I am going to give you to same pitch that I gave my team, which lead to us rolling out our UpGo Lion’s Mane supplement.
What is Lion’s Mane?
Lion’s Mane (Hericium erinaceus) is a mushroom that grows mainly on decaying trees in forests in North America, Europe, and Asia. It can be eaten raw, cooked, dried, or steeped as a tea. However, their extracts are used to make Lion’s Mane supplements. Lion’s Mane contains bioactive substances that have shown to have beneficial effects on the heart, gut, and especially the brain.
My Experience - Lion’s Mane v. the Bar Exam
When I was a student, I seldom studied, or made outlines, or even gave much attention to all the lectures. Somehow at the end of the term, I would study for a week and then pass the final and consequently, the class. However, each class was only on one subject, whereas the bar tests you on 14-17 subjects (depending how you classify them). So, I knew my system that got me through undergrad and law school was not going to get me through the bar. Once I started bar prep, and began studying all day every day, I became nervous that I would not be able to learn all that information within the next 10 weeks. So, I began looking for an edge to help my brain handle a higher capacity of information that was not only healthy, but was something safe. That is when I learned about Lion’s Mane.
Once I learned about the benefits of Lion’s Mane, I ordered some immediately. I took it every morning for about two months, and very quickly noticed the improvement in my focus and organization of my thoughts, as compared to my first two weeks of studying. This helped make each hour spent studying more effective and worthwhile. I also noticed that my mental endurance drastically improved. I’m sure that some of that can be contributed to the consistency with which I was studying, but I have no doubt that the Lion’s Mane gave me the ol’ ally oop. Looking back over the experience, I feel that Lion’s Mane gave me a clear mind and helped me organize the information in my head in a very retrievable manner, which boosted my confidence about taking such a challenging test. After this experience, I knew we needed to offer a Lion’s Mane supplement, and was excited to pitch it to the team.
Why take it? What are the benefits?
For centuries, Lion’s Mane has been used in traditional Chinese Medicine to fortify the spleen, nourish the gut, and as an anticancer drug. It has long had culinary and medicinal uses in countries like China, India, Japan, and Korea. There are numerous purported benefits of Lion’s Mane such as: protect against ulcers in the digestive tract; reduces heart disease risk; helps manage diabetes symptoms; may help fight cancer. Although Lion’s Mane has been used for many of these reasons in traditional Chinese Medicine, they are still conducting tests to confirm the reported benefits.
There are a few that have been confirmed through human studies, such as Lion’s Mane’s ability to help the growth and differentiation of neurons. Meaning two extracts derived from Lion’s Mane (hericenones and erinacines) can actually promote growth of the nervous system. This leads to two large benefits: 1) protecting against dementia and Alzheimer’s, and 2) an overall increase in cognitive function.
Protect Against Alzheimer’s & Increase in Cognitive Function
Alzheimer’s disease is a degenerative brain disease that causes progressive memory loss. The Lion’s Mane extracts have been shown to reduce of memory loss, and prevent neuronal damage caused by amyloid-beta plaques that accumulate in the brain during Alzheimer’s. This is largely due to the Neural Growth Factor increasing properties of Lion’s Mane, which in studies have been shown to even foster a speedier recovery for nervous system injuries. According to a study published in the Journal of Restorative Medicine, the extracts from Lion’s Mane were found to significantly improve spatial short-term and visual recognition memory.
How should you take it?
My recommendation, which is also the easiest and most convenient way, is to take a Lion’s Mane supplement. This is largely because the majority of grocery stores do not carry fresh Lion’s Mane mushrooms. Not to mention the convenience of taking a capsule in the morning when you might not be in the mood for a mushroom. Based on my experience, the best time to take it is about 45-60 minutes before you get to work with a small meal or snack. This will allow you to digest the Lion’s Mane before you get into your workflow and will assist with your brain’s function and focus.
Having been taking Lion’s Mane for almost a year now and trying different extracts, I stand by UpGo’s Lion’s Mane Supplement, and would recommend it to anyone looking to boost their cognitive health and protect against frightening brain diseases.
 Lai, P.-L., Naidu, M., Sabaratnam, V., Wong, K.-H., David, R. P., Kuppusamy, U. R., Abdullah, N., & Malek, S. N. (2013). Neurotrophic properties of the Lion's mane medicinal mushroom, hericium erinaceus (higher basidiomycetes) from Malaysia. International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms, 15(6), 539–554. https://doi.org/10.1615/intjmedmushr.v15.i6.30
 Wong, K.-H., Naidu, M., David, R. P., Bakar, R., & Sabaratnam, V. (2012). Neuroregenerative potential of Lion's mane mushroom, Hericium Erinaceus (bull.: Fr.) pers. (higher basidiomycetes), in the treatment of peripheral nerve injury (review). International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms, 14(5), 427–446. https://doi.org/10.1615/intjmedmushr.v14.i5.10
 Spelman, K., Sutherland, E., & Bagade, A. (2017). Neurological activity of Lion’s Mane (hericium erinaceus). Journal of Restorative Medicine, 6(1), 19–26. https://doi.org/10.14200/jrm.2017.6.0108