Researchers from The University of Queensland have discovered the active compound from an edible mushroom that boosts nerve growth and enhances memory.
Professor Frederic Meunier from the Queensland Brain Institute said the team had identified new active compounds from the mushroom, Hericium erinaceus. This type of edible mushroom, commonly known as the Lion’s Mane Mushroom, is native to North America, Europe, and Asia. It is commonly sought after for its unique flavor and texture, and it is also used in traditional Chinese medicine to boost the immune system and improve digestive health.
“Extracts from these so-called ‘lion’s mane’ mushrooms have been used in traditional medicine in Asian countries for centuries, but we wanted to scientifically determine their potential effect on brain cells,” Professor Meunier said.
“Pre-clinical testing found the lion’s mane mushroom had a significant impact on the growth of brain cells and improving memory.
“Laboratory tests measured the neurotrophic effects of compounds isolated from Hericium erinaceus on cultured brain cells, and surprisingly we found that the active compounds promote neuron projections, extending and connecting to other neurons.
“Using super-resolution microscopy, we found the mushroom extract and its active components largely increase the size of growth cones, which are particularly important for brain cells to sense their environment and establish new connections with other neurons in the brain.”