Which is better for your health and well-being, Lion’s Mane or Ashwagandha? With so many supplements and natural products now available on the market, all claiming to be the best, the most effective and most widely helpful, how do you choose?
If you’re looking into natural supplements, it’s likely because you either love the taste of plants or you want to reap the benefits they can provide.
In this blog, we will give you the down-low on Ashwagandha and Lion’s Mane, their potential benefits and which one might be right for you. Let’s Ashwa-go!
What is Ashwagandha?
Ashwagandha is an important herb that has been used traditionally in the Indian Ayurvedic system of medicine. It’s native to India and the Middle East and can also be called Winter Cherry because the plant produces tiny cherry-like berries.
It’s used in this way because it's known for being quite the adaptogen, which, in simple terms, just means it can help your body deal with external circumstances. And it isn’t just herbal hearsay. A study group receiving Ashwagandha saw significant improvement in their sleep quality and anxiety.
This curious evergreen shrub works on your body by restricting the activity of a certain system in the brain that regulates your sleep and stress responses.
So what else does Ashwagandha have to offer?
Supporting Muscle Strength And Athletic Performance
Your muscles support you, so it’s only fair to support them too!
Now, we’ll be real, studies are still being conducted to evaluate the effects of Ashwagandha on improving muscle strength and athletic performance.
But as of right now, a review of existing studies has picked up that Ashwagandha can increase your max oxygen intake in healthy adults and athletes. So you can breathe easy knowing Ashwagandha has your back (and your lungs).
In fact, scientists found the herb’s performance so intriguing that they looked into its effects on athletes even more. They discovered that a dose of 600mg of Ashwagandha daily over 8 weeks made noticeable improvements to muscle strength and size.
That makes Ashwagandha possibly the best gym buddy.
Great For Arthritis And Inflammation
Athletes aside, Ashwagandha can help more than your muscles. Because of its analgesic properties (painkilling powers), it can block pain signals resulting from things like arthritis and inflammation.
It’s been proposed that it could actually have anti-inflammatory qualities, although this hasn’t yet been proven.
Prevents Neurodegenerative Diseases
First off, neurodegenerative disease is an illness that causes problems in your brain, giving you lots of complicated issues.
A 2011 review found that Ashwagandha was able to reduce the risk of developing this type of disease, helping with a range of problems like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Huntington’s.
This particular plant can do this because of the way these diseases advance. They begin taking over parts of the brain and disrupting their normal functions. Ashwagandha can hopefully provide protection from this action.
Reduce Blood Sugar and Manage Diabetes
The thing about Ashwagandha is that it has been used for ages, but scientific studies are yet to prove all of its many benefits. One of these benefits might be its effect on blood sugar levels. Some small studies revealed that Ashwagandha has the potential to regulate lower blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
It could even help reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, but more studies are definitely needed to explore all of its plant powers.
How About Side Effects?
Amongst its Ayurvedic uses in the past and its helpfulness in the present with all things anxiety and sleep, has anyone noticed any side effects?
As a general rule, scientists often say if a medicine works, it will have side effects. But all the same, you don’t want to be dealing with anything too scary when you’re just trying to look after your body.
For Ashwagandha, small to moderate dosages are typically tolerated by most people.
Though it’s important to note that in large doses, Ashwagandha may cause digestive problems like nausea, vomiting, and diarrhoea. This could be brought on by upsetting the mucous membrane in your gut through inflammation. Not fun, but also good to know in advance.
What Is Lion’s Mane?
Now that Ashwagandha has gotten comfy let’s bring Lion’s Mane into the mix!
Lion’s Mane is a mushroom also known as “hou tou gu” or “yamabushitake” and is large and white in colour. It is fairly easy to grow, but when it comes to supplements, it needs to be extracted correctly to get the highest quality Lion’s Mane possible for the full effects.
These mushrooms are normally used for both culinary and medicinal purposes in different regions of the world. Overall, they’re widely regarded as a positive shroom that can do a lot of good. Especially since the science has started to pour in supporting these ferocious fungi.
Lion’s Mane mushrooms possess some medicinal compounds that have health-promoting effects on the body, including your brain, heart and gut.
But what exactly can it do?
Help Relieve Inflammation
It’s true, Lion’s Mane is rich in antioxidant compounds which help the body combat both free radicals and inflammation (the bad guys of the body).
Now, inflammation is a natural defensive process, but if it persists for a long time or is left untreated, it may lead to the development of various diseases like diabetes and heart disease. So anything that can help our bodies overcome unnecessary inflammation is a big plus.
According to research, Lion's Mane even ranked fourth among 14 varieties of mushrooms in a 2012 study analyzing their therapeutic potential, with "moderate to high" antioxidant activity. Well done, Lion’s Mane!
Prevent Ulcers and Boost Digestive Health
Tummy ache? Toilet troubles? Mushrooms may be your answer. Lion’s Mane extract has been shown to have antibacterial properties which help prevent bacterial infections and improve digestive health.
Things like stomach ulcers may be caused by bacterial overgrowth and damage to the stomach lining due to NSAIDs. When combating stomach ulcers, the aim is to reduce the bad bacteria while boosting the good bacteria.
Taking Lion’s Mane as part of your diet can do just that, as it’s been proven to restrict the growth of a particular belly baddie called H.pylori, protecting your stomach lining.
May Boost Immune Health
Speaking of your stomach and your entire immune system, did you know Lion’s Mane can help to strengthen your immune health?
Because it contains powerful anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, Lion’s Mane acts as a powerful protector, standing up to the bullies of inflammation and oxidative stress.
According to even more scientific research, this smart shroom can increase your intestinal immune activity too. That means your body will be prepared for anything. This positive effect is further boosted by Lion’s Mane’s ability to boost the growth of good gut bacteria, so your gut is healthier than ever.
Memory is a precious ability, but as we age, our body’s ability to form new brain connections means worsening mental capability. Fortunately, Lion’s Mane has been proven to contain bioactive compounds like hericenones and erinacines, which can boost the growth of brain cells.
This is important because it’s those brain cells that hold your memory! It will also improve things like your overall thinking power and mental health.
May Relieve Depression and Anxiety
To dive into the mental health side a little more, animal studies have discovered that Lion’s Mane mushroom extract is actually able to relieve the symptoms of depression.
In fact, a few studies have noticed the regenerative effect Lion’s Mane has on brain cells, which can help with associated emotional regulation.
Possible Risks or Side Effects
So when we compare Ashwandha to Lion’s Mane’s symptoms, how does the latter stack up?
Well, the adverse effects of the Lion's Mane mushroom or its extract have not been investigated in human trials. Although, general observation in other studies has shown that they seem to be quite harmless.
We’ve seen that even at doses as high as 2.3 g per pound (5 grams per kg) of body weight per day for one month or lower amounts for three months, no side effects have been seen in rat tests.
But, of course, if you know you have a sensitivity to mushrooms (ever broke out in a rash after ramen?), then you should probably follow common sense and avoid taking Lion’s Mane as you may get a similar allergic reaction.
When it comes to how Lion’s Mane interacts with other medical issues and medications, it’s important to know who exactly should and should not take Lion’s Mane supplements - read our previous blog here if you want to learn more about this…
What's The Verdict?
When we boil it down (that’s a little mushroom extraction joke!), Ashwagandha and Lion’s Mane both can help relieve stress and anxiety, improve sleep quality and boost brain function.
Both herb and shroom contain natural properties that have been investigated for their potent health-promoting abilities, although Lion’s Mane has a little more science to back up its benefits.
It’s fair to say that the addition of these supplements to your diet can improve your well-being and health in several specific ways. So, if you’d like to see what a quality Lion’s Mane supplement can do for you, check out our capsules here.