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Alzheimer's disease is a progressive disorder that causes brain cells to waste away, or degenerate, and die. Alzheimer's disease is the most common cause of dementia — a continuous decline in thinking, behavioral and social skills that disrupts a person's ability to function independently.
As we age, advancing passed middle age and into our later years, there is a general reduction in our ability to grow and form new connections along with the decline of production of Nerve Growth Factor (NGF). This decline is closely associated with degenerative neurological conditions that are synonymous with old age like Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia.
Lion’s Mane was found to have anti-dementia activity in a mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease using ethanol extract of Lion's Mane. Lion’s Mane prevented short term memory loss in mice by decreasing amyloid beta plaque in the brain. Amyloid beta plaque contributes to brain degradation in patients with Alzheimer’s. (1)
A study in Japan provided 5 grams of Lion's Mane extract for 6 months to patients suffering from dementia. 6 of the 7 dementia patients showed improvement in their perceptual capacities, and all 7 had improvement in their overall FIM score. In particular, 3 bedridden patients were able to get up for meals after the administration.
In 2004 and 2005, two other preliminary clinical trials in patients with senile dementia and Alzheimer's disease were conducted in Japan. The results showed that Lion's Mane retarded the progression of the disease or improved cognitive abilities. The results of preliminary clinical trials indicate this fungi to be effective for senile dementia, especially Alzheimer's disease. (2)
Another mouse study isolating erinacine A from Lion's Mane showed to have increased production of NGF. NGF induces the growth and proliferation of sympathetic and sensory neurons, and is believed to help prevent neurodegenerative disease such as Alzheimer's. The results suggested that the erinacines of Lion's Mane reduced cortical and hippocampal amyloid plaque burden through increasing the level of insulin degrading enzyme (IDE), and increase nerve growth factor maturation and hippocampal neurogenesis. (3)
These findings raise the possibility that prevention with erinacine A from Lion's Mane mycelia could be an effective therapeutic strategy for managing Alzheimer's disease.
A separate mouse study showed this mushrooms ability to upregulate lipoxin A4, an anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective leukotriene in the brain. Representing a therapeutic target to minimize the deleterious consequences associated to oxidative stress, such as in brain aging and neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer's. (4)
Case Study: A male at 41 years of age was experiencing hand tremors and noticed that he was forgetting appointments and conversations with employees during business. As symptoms became worse he decided to get a medical evaluation and was diagnosed with early-onset dementia. After careful consideration, the business man made a decision to try the natural mushroom extract provided by his doctor. After three to four months, the hand tremors disappeared and his concentration and retention gradually improved. After six months, he was able to recall complete agendas, not only for the week but also from the week before.
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