If you have been around me for more than 5 minutes recently then I’m sure you have heard me banging on about Nerve Growth Factor.
Back in 2019 - after waking up too early to visit the bathroom one winters morning - I passed out and hit my head on the bathroom sink on the way down.
I received 5 stitches that day but what was even worse was the Post Concussion Syndrome that followed. For me, that was extremely difficult.
The first 4 weeks were a nightmare, I couldn’t concentrate, lots of mental fog, if there were too many people talking I couldn’t cope or catch what was being said, I even passed out a few times and Rebecca rushed me to the Doctors twice.
I felt I was loosing a big part of myself and I didn’t think I’d ever be the same again.
I was scared.
Not only was scared, but I desperately needed time off to recover and heal myself, but as any small business owner knows, taking a long time off would put our family business and sole income at huge risk.
I needed to find my recovery tools and fast.
I quickly got to researching and discovered Lion’s Mane Mushroom could be a useful tool after hearing Paul Stamets on Joe Rogan - so Rebecca and I jumped in the car and headed to Nourishing Insights in Aberdeen to pick up a few bottles (Nourishing Insights is now closed).
Now, I’ve heard people talking about Lion’s Mane being like the ‘Limitless Pill’ from the Movie, its absolutely not, but when I look back over the years of use since my accident and the cognitive leaps and bounds Ive made, I can kind of see their point, albeit an exaggeration.
After around 1 week of using Lion’s Mane (morning + night) I felt I was beginning to turn a corner, the mental fog was lifting and my concentration felt like it was being extended, I didn’t have to strain to concentrate when Rebecca was talking to me - things were looking up!
Over the next 4 months I made a full recovery, I was back to being myself once again - a place I wasn’t sure I’d get to - and I had made a ‘Fungi Ally’ for life, I absolutely love Hericium Erinaceus (Lion’s Mane) and I forever will.
Nerve Growth Factor History
The first growth factor, nerve growth factor was discovered by Stanley Cohen and Rita Levi-Montalcini in 1952.
The assumption of a soluble, diffusible agent exist in embryo or sarcoma was made based an interesting phenomenon discovered in the laboratories of Prof. Viktor Hamburger and Rita Levi-Montalcini more than half a century ago.
Researchers found that the transplantion of an extra limb bud to chick embryo would induce the growth of new nerve fibers on the periphery of the transplanted limb; furthermore, the graft of mouse sarcoma 180 on to the body wall of chick embryo would leads to the penetration of sensory nerve fibers in the sarcoma.
Based on making extract from the sarcoma, nerve growth factor was discovered.
Because of its heat-labile, non-dialyzable, protease-sentitive and DNase- or RNase-insentitive characteristics, the growth factor was believed to be a protein.
Then, another nerve growth factor was purified from snake venom in 1959, and the first epidermal growth factor was isolated from the submaxillary gland of the mouse in 1962.
Nowadays, many growth factors have been reported, and their number is still expanding. The discovery of nerve growth factor (NGF) opened up a huge new area of cell biology, and won the Nobel Prize in 1986.
What is NGF and what does it do?
NGF is abundant in seminal plasma. Recent studies have found that it induces ovulation in some mammals.
Nerve Growth Factors (NGF) were initially discovered due to their actions during development, but NGF are now known to be involved in the function throughout the life of the animal.
Nerve growth factor (NGF) is a neurotrophic factor and neuropeptide primarily involved in the regulation of growth, maintenance, proliferation, and survival of certain target neurons.
It is perhaps the prototypical growth factor, in that it was one of the first to be described. Since it was first isolated by Nobel Laureates Rita Levi-Montalcini and Stanley Cohen in 1956, numerous biological processes involving NGF have been identified, two of them being the survival of pancreatic beta cells and the regulation of the immune system.
As its name suggests, NGF is involved primarily in the growth, as well as the maintenance, proliferation, and survival of nerve cells (neurons).
In fact, NGF is critical for the survival and maintenance of sympathetic and sensory neurons, as they undergo apoptosis in its absence. However, several recent studies suggest that NGF is also involved in pathways besides those regulating the life cycle of neurons.
Regulation of the Immune System
NGF plays a critical role in the regulation of both innate and acquired immunity.
In the process of inflammation, NGF is released in high concentrations by mast cells, and induces axonal outgrowth in nearby nociceptive neurons. This leads to increased pain perception in areas under inflammation. In acquired immunity, NGF is produced by the Thymus as well as CD4+ T cell clones, inducing a cascade of maturation of T cells under infection.
NGF in Lion’s Mane Mushroom
Lion’s Mane mushroom can help promote neurogenesis, enhance memory and focus, and repair damage.
Preclinical trials report the compound had a significant impact on neural growth and improved memory formation.
Researchers say the compound could have clinical applications in treating and preventing neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease.
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.
“Extracts from these so-called ‘Lion’s Mane’ 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.”
Co-author, UQ’s Dr Ramon Martinez-Marmol said the discovery had applications that could treat and protect against neurodegenerative cognitive disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease.
“Our idea was to identify bioactive compounds from natural sources that could reach the brain and regulate the growth of neurons, resulting in improved memory formation,” Dr Martinez-Marmol said.
Dr Dae Hee Lee from CNGBio Co, which has supported and collaborated on the research project, said the properties of lion’s mane mushrooms had been used to treat ailments and maintain health in traditional Chinese medicine since antiquity.
“This important research is unravelling the molecular mechanism of lion’s mane mushroom compounds and their effects on brain function, particularly memory,” Dr Lee said.
The study was published in the Journal of Neurochemistry.
Whether you are looking to improve you memory, add some focus to you work-life or athletic pursuits, or looking to enhance you overall brain health and think clearer, Lion's Mane mushrooms a fantastic addition to your health toolbelt.
Additional Info - Lion's Mane Mushroom Benefits Video:
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