In today’s fast-paced world, many people are searching for natural ways to improve their overall well-being. One such powerful combination that has gained significant attention in recent years is ashwagandha & lion’s mane. These two potent herbs have been used for centuries in traditional medicine and are now being studied for their potential to enhance cognitive function, reduce stress, and support the immune system. In this article, we’ll explore the benefits of this unique pairing and how you can incorporate them into your daily routine.
WHAT IS ASHWAGANDHA?
Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) is an ancient medicinal herb that has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for over 3,000 years[^1^]. Known as the “Indian ginseng” or “winter cherry,” this adaptogenic herb is native to India, Africa, and the Middle East. It has been traditionally used to treat a wide range of health issues, including stress, anxiety, and fatigue. Ashwagandha contains various bioactive compounds, including alkaloids, saponins, and steroidal lactones, which contribute to its many health benefits[^2^].
WHAT IS LION’S MANE?
Lion’s mane (Hericium erinaceus) is an edible mushroom native to Asia, Europe, and North America[^3^]. It has a long history of use in traditional Chinese and Japanese medicine, where it was believed to promote longevity, support the nervous system, and enhance cognitive function. Lion’s mane is rich in unique compounds called hericenones and erinacines, which are thought to have neuroprotective and neuroregenerative properties[^4^].
BENEFITS OF COMBINING ASHWAGANDHA & LION’S MANE
The combination of ashwagandha and lion’s mane offers a range of health benefits. Here, we discuss four of the most significant benefits supported by scientific research.
One of the primary benefits of both ashwagandha and lion’s mane is their potential to reduce stress. Ashwagandha is a well-known adaptogen that has been shown to lower cortisol levels and reduce the symptoms of chronic stress[^5^]. Similarly, lion’s mane has been found to have anti-stress effects, possibly by modulating the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis and reducing inflammation[^6^]. Together, these two natural compounds can provide a powerful stress-relieving effect.
Another significant benefit of ashwagandha and lion‘s mane is their potential to enhance cognitive function. Ashwagandha has been shown to improve memory, cognitive abilities, and executive function[^7^]. It is thought to achieve this by reducing oxidative stress and inflammation in the brain, as well as promoting the growth of new nerve cells[^8^].
Lion’s mane, on the other hand, is particularly known for its neuroprotective and neuroregenerative properties. Studies have shown that it can promote the production of nerve growth factor (NGF) and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which are crucial for the survival and growth of neurons[^9^]. As a result, lion’s mane has been found to improve cognitive function, memory, and learning in both animal and human studies[^10^].
By combining these two powerful herbs, you can potentially enhance your cognitive abilities and protect your brain from age-related decline.
IMMUNE SYSTEM SUPPORT
Both ashwagandha and lion’s mane have been shown to support the immune system, making them a potent duo for overall health. Ashwagandha has been found to have immunomodulatory properties, meaning it can help balance and strengthen the immune system[^11^]. It achieves this by promoting the production of immune cells and regulating the body’s response to inflammation.
Similarly, lion’s mane has been shown to have immune-boosting properties, particularly due to its high content of beta-glucans[^12^]. These compounds have been shown to stimulate the immune system and promote the production of immune cells, such as macrophages and natural killer cells[^13^]. By combining these two herbs, you can support your immune system and help your body fight off infections more effectively.
Ashwagandha and lion’s mane can also have a positive impact on mood and overall mental well-being. Ashwagandha has been found to help reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, potentially due to its ability to modulate stress hormones and neurotransmitters[^14^]. Lion’s mane, on the other hand, has been shown to have antidepressant-like effects in animal studies, possibly by increasing the levels of BDNF and reducing inflammation in the brain[^15^].
Together, these two natural compounds can help improve your mood and overall mental health.
DOSAGE AND HOW TO TAKE
When it comes to taking ashwagandha and lion’s mane, it’s important to follow the recommended dosages and guidelines. For ashwagandha, a typical dosage ranges from 300 to 500 mg per day of a standardized extract containing 1.5% to 5% withanolides[^16^]. For lion’s mane, a common dosage is 500 to 3,000 mg per day of a standardized extract containing at least 20% beta-glucans[^17^].
It’s always best to start with a lower dosage and gradually increase it as needed. Additionally, consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new supplement, especially if you have any pre-existing conditions or are taking medications.
SIDE EFFECTS AND CONTRAINDICATIONS
While both ashwagandha and lion’s mane are considered safe for most people, some individuals may experience side effects or have contraindications for their use. Possible side effects of ashwagandha include gastrointestinal upset, drowsiness, and allergic reactions[^18^]. Lion’s mane is generally well-tolerated, but some individuals may experience gastrointestinal upset or allergic reactions[^19^].
Ashwagandha should not be taken by pregnant or breastfeeding women, as its safety during pregnancy and lactation has not been well-established[^20^]. Additionally, those with autoimmune disorders, thyroid issues, or taking medications should consult with a healthcare professional before using ashwagandha[^21^]. Lion’s mane is not recommended for those with mushroom allergies or taking blood-thinning medications, as it may increase the risk of bleeding[^22^]. Always consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new supplement, especially if you have pre-existing conditions or are taking medications.
The combination of ashwagandha and lion’s mane offers a potent natural duo for improving overall well-being. Their potential benefits include stress reduction, cognitive enhancement, immune system support, and mood improvement. When taken in the recommended dosages, these two herbs can provide a powerful boost to your mental and physical health.
However, it’s essential to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new supplement, especially if you have pre-existing conditions or are taking medications. By incorporating ashwagandha and lion’s mane into your daily routine, you may experience the benefits of these powerful natural compounds for yourself.
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- Lee, K. F., Chen, J. H., Teng, C. C., Shen, C. H., Hsieh, M. C., Lu, C. C., & Lee, K. C. (2013). Protective effects of Hericium erinaceus mycelium and its isolated erinacine A against ischemia-injury-induced neuronal cell death via the inhibition of iNOS/p38 MAPK and nitrotyrosine. International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 14(10), 20000-20019.
- Choudhary, D., Bhattacharyya, S., & Bose, S. (2017). Efficacy and safety of ashwagandha (Withania somnifera (L.) Dunal) root extract in improving memory and cognitive functions. Journal of Dietary Supplements, 14(6), 599-612.
- Kuboyama, T., Tohda, C., Komatsu, K., & Neuronal Regeneration Research Group. (2005). Effects of Ashwagandha (roots of Withania somnifera) on neurodegenerative diseases. Biological and Pharmaceutical Bulletin, 28(8), 1321-1323.
- Mori, K., Obara, Y., Hirota, M., Azumi, Y., Kinugasa, S., & Inatomi, S. (2008). Nerve growth factor-inducing activity of Hericium erinaceus in 1321N1 human astrocytoma cells. Biological and Pharmaceutical Bulletin, 31(9), 1727-1732.
- Nagano, M., Shimizu, K., Kondo, R., Hayashi, C., Sato, D., Kitagawa, K., & Ohnuki, K. (2010). Reduction of depression and anxiety by 4 weeks Hericium erinaceus
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- Liao, Y. R., Leu, S. F., & Chan, Y. C. (2019). Protective effects of lion’s mane mushroom (Hericium erinaceus) against oxidative stress and apoptosis induced by amyloid beta in SH-SY5Y cells. Food and Function, 10(12), 7879-7891.
- Li, I. C., Lee, L. Y., Tzeng, T. T., Chen, W. P., Chen, Y. P., & Shiao, Y. J. (2014). Neurohealth properties of Hericium erinaceus mycelia enriched with erinacines. Behavioural Neurology, 2014, 1-9.
- Lai, P. L., Naidu, M., Sabaratnam, V., Wong, K. H., David, 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.
- Vigna, L., Morelli, F., Agnelli, G. M., Napolitano, F., Ratto, D., & Occhinegro, A. (2019). Evaluation of the tolerability and efficacy of a combination of ashwagandha, Rhodiola, and schisandra in moderately anxious subjects. Journal of Evidence-Based Complementary & Alternative Medicine, 24, 1-10.
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- Chandrasekhar, K., Kapoor, J., & Anishetty, S. (2012). A prospective, randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled study of safety and efficacy of a high-concentration full-spectrum extract of ashwagandha root in reducing