Neurons are very active cells creating comparatively large quantities of free radicals as a result.
Long-term free radical accumulation in the brain can lead to a loss in cognitive function.
Free radicals are oxygen-containing molecules with an uneven number of electrons making them highly reactive. Free radicals can cause large chain chemical reactions in your body because they react so easily with other molecules. These reactions are called oxidation. A build-up of free radicals is called oxidative stress and linked to premature signs of ageing and a host of diseases.
It is therefore important for the body to neutralise free radicals and prevent oxidative stress.
….compared to other cells around the body the brain lacks sufficient defenses against free radicals.
Of particular concern to brain cells are a group of free radicals known as Reactive Nitrogen Species (RNS).
Chronic RNS levels prevent the brain cells ability to fold proteins into their correct shapes which causes a host of issues including the risk of neuronal cell death.
How Mushrooms Help Protect Brain Cells
An unsaturated fatty acid found in Lions mane (Hericium erinaceus) fruiting body has been shown to help reduce oxidative stress within the brain.
Erinacines found within Lions mane mycelium have been shown to activate molecules which unfold misshaped proteins.
When too many misshaped proteins occur in a brain cell a molecule called CHOP signals the command for the neuron to destroy itself because its not functioning properly. Medicinal compounds found within Lions mane help prevent the production of CHOP and therefore help save neurons from death.
Initial research suggests that Lions mane also helps protect the fatty layer around neurons. These fatty layers are known as myelin sheaths and are vital for neurons ability to send signals across the brain.