Hericium erinaceus is a fungus used in traditional medicine, and studies suggest that it possesses a number of medicinal properties. These effects include mood elevating effects. The mood elevating effects of the fungus may stem from its neuroprotective ability. For example a number of studies have reported that Hericium erinaceus has the ability to prevent nerve damage in animals. One way it may achieve this is by promoting the release of endogenous nerve growth factor. This has led authors to suggest that the fungus may be useful in the treatment of dementia. This view is supported by observations that Hericium erinaceus can improve short term memory. In culture studies extracts of Hericium erinaceus were able to promote the growth of myelin sheaths that protect nerves. The high antioxidant content of the fungus may explain some of the neuroprotective effects, and it is thought that polysaccharides within the mushroom confer its antioxidant effects to the consumer.
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