Peripheral neuropathy is the slow progression of nerve loss or damage usually starting in the feet or extremities brought on by aging as well as diabetes, high blood pressure, injuries, metabolic problems, vitamin deficiencies, infections (like Hepatitis, Lyme disease, and shingles), autoimmune diseases (like AIDs, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis), kidney disease, underactive thyroids, exposure to toxins, tumors, alcoholism, or basically anything and everything. The symptoms are loss of sensation, numbness, tingling, burning sensations, weakness, and pain. The numbness is unpleasant but also dangerous because with numb feet a person can’t feel it when they walk on a stone or get cut so a severe infection can occur.
When my neighbor, who suffered from severe and spreading peripheral neuropathy in his feet, told me that he had been told that there was no cure, I considered that to be a sort of challenge and started researching for something that might help. We soon found a study that showed that Lion’s Mane mushrooms had been found to help neuropathy by regenerating nerves, something the medical world believes to be impossible.
Lion’s Mane, or Hericium Erinaceus, has been known for its curative effects in China for centuries. It is also called Monkey’s Head, Pom Pom Blanc, Beard mushroom and Icicle mushroom. It gets its names from the long thin hairs that grow from its center making it look like a pom pom or head of white hair. Ancient herbalists promised nerves of steel and the memory of a lion to those allowed to eat the precious white mushroom. It has long been known to cure problems of the digestive tract such as ulcers and cancers of the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum. But research in Japan, by Dr. Hirokazu Kawagishi at Shizoka University, has shown that Lion’s Mane actually stimulates the synthesis of Nerve Growth Factor (NGF). NGF is a protein molecule discovered by Rita Levi-Montalcini and isolated by Stanley Cohen, for which they jointly received the 1986 Nobel Prize due to its significance in stimulating nerve growth and aiding those with cognitive impairments. Lack of NGF is thought to be one of the major causes of Alzheimer’s disease. Dr. Kawagishi isolated the molecules in Lion's Mane that stimulate NGF production and help to alleviate symptoms of peripheral neurological dysfunction. Dr. Will Boggs reported on his research in Neurology magazine that showed NGF to significantly improve the pain symptoms of patients with sensory neuropathy. No known side effects have been shown from taking Lion’s Mane extract.
I hunted down an extract of the mushroom at my local vitamin store and started taking it immediately and noticed an effect on the sensitivity in my feet. I could suddenly feel the carpet texture and was sensitive to small temperature differences on concrete sidewalks and had improved dexterity in my toes.
Since I had no bad reaction to it, I offered some to my neighbor to see if it might help him. My offer was met with the typical response we get about our “web health” research. The response goes something like, “You can’t be serious, I have spent the last 5 years at the top the medical centers in the US working with the top doctors in this field. I am sure if some mushroom extract you bought at the local vitamin store would help, they would know and would have told me. You are SOOO gullible to believe all the stuff you read on the internet.”
I admit, we are “web gullible” but we also think that medicine in the US has become a prescription profit business and nutritional cures are not promoted because they aren’t profitable. After three years of “web” research and nutritional supplement experimentation on ourselves, we have come to believe that most diseases are symptoms of nutritional deficiencies and not incurable medical mysteries that can only be managed with prescription drugs.
We haven’t written about Lions Mane before because we had no way to gauge its usefulness since we don’t have neuropathy. But, just recently another neighbor told me about his struggle with peripheral neuropathy. When I described what I had learned, he was eager to try it so I gave him some of my Lions Mane mushroom extract to try. I was very surprised to hear the next day that he had already noticed an effect in his feet. The positive effects were repeated the next day and every day he took it, he said it was making a difference in the amount of feeling he had in his feet.
Could it be that a little mushroom can regenerate nerve tissue and be giving my neighbor feeling in his feet again? We think this highly nutritious food is needed to counter the effects of aging and toxins in the environment. If you don’t want to eat it as an extract in a pill, you can order kits to cultivate Lion’s Mane at home. The mushroom “fruits” as a culture in wood based mixtures or can be bought as a patch. Apparently, the mushroom tastes like lobster when it is cooked with onions and butter and some people prepare a tea by soaking the mushroom in hot water. Now, we have added this special white mushroom to our weekly diet.