Chiba, Japan—Following previous research suggesting potential applications in the field of cognitive health, results from a new study suggest that lion’s mane mushroom (hericium erinaceum) may be able to alleviate depression by lowering levels of certain inflammatory markers.

In the study, mice induced to a depression-like state due to the administration of the bacterial endotoxin lipopolysaccharide(LPS) were supplemented with amycenone, a compound made from the extract of the lion’s mane mushroom and combined with its powder (supplied by Mushroom Wisdom Ltd., East Rutherford, NJ) then subjected to several behavioral tests. Serum levels of pro-inflammatory cytokine, tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) and the anti-inflammatory cytokine, interleukin-10 (IL-10) were also taken. It is believed that inbalanced levels of some of these inflammatories may factor into depression. One group of mice were also administered the antidepressant drug paroxetine to serve as a comparison.

The study results showed a clear demonstrated anti-depressive effect both on the serum and behavioral level, with the amycenone group showing improvement comparable to the paroxetine.  Perhaps most interesting is the fact that pre-administration of amycenone before LPS resulted in reduced behavioral activity such as immobility associated with depression. The study authors ultimately concluded “that amycenone shows antidepressant effects via anti-inflammatory activity,” but acknowledged that the exact mechanisms behind this still needed to be determined. No negative side effects were recorded.

Published in WholeFoods Magazine, September 2015 (online 7/31/2015)