Meet Nissa, Child of the Lion’s Mane – a personal talk about Multiple Sclerosis

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“It has been ten years since my diagnosis with Multiple Sclerosis. My story has its fair share of heartbreak, illness and fear; I hope that it also offers a story of resilience and inspiration”.

Nissa has just returned from an 18 day hike through the Himalayas in Nepal. She is medication free, has had no relapses or ‘lesions’ in six years and relies purely on evidence-based nutrition and lifestyle practices to maintain her wellness.

Nissa uses a high dose of Lion’s Mane mushroom, a new and promising natural treatment for M.S that stimulates the regrowth of damaged brain and nerve tissue.2-4

Meet Nissa, the Child of the Lion’s Mane

Written by Nissa Lee (Naturopath) and Dov Pine (DC)

Nissa Lee Phillips was travelling around Australia at the age of 24 when she became ill, feeling “weird” and experiencing pins and needles surging throughout her body. “I couldn’t walk straight, half of my face had dropped and was tingling and I was terrified I had experienced a stroke,” Nissa recalls.

In the days that followed, Nissa was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, the most common chronic neurological disease of the twenty to forty age group. Nissa feared she would be spending the rest of her life wheelchair-bound.

“I was extremely fatigued, I couldn’t drive, my body often felt chaotic and I experienced sensory overwhelm with exposure to loud noises and bright lights. An elderly family member gave me a walking stick and I tried to learn how to function in the world as a suddenly disabled young person. It was hard”.

After a few years in and out of hospital, taking steroids to quieten relapses, Nissa recounts that something within herself shifted. “I decided my life didn’t include ending up in a wheelchair. I wanted to be well, I wanted to live a full and healthy life.”

Nissa directed her focus to the internet and found inspiration in people living with MS, a number of whom were health professionals that followed a nutritional medicine approach. She began to follow the Wahls’ Paleo diet by Dr. Terry Wahls, alongside the ‘Overcoming M.S’ lifestyle program advised by Dr George Jelinek; two fellow MS sufferers who are now living medication free healthy lives.

Learning to overcome M.S.

Supported by a scholarship from the M.S society, Nissa went on to study Naturopathy. Based on her research she adopted a Paleo eating-plan rich in nutrient dense plants, berries and omega 3 rich foods such as fish, nuts and seeds. She also kept to her wellness plan of regular exercise, meditation and supplementation.

Within a few years Nissa had a lot of her abilities back and felt in control of her life once again. She completed her studies in Naturopathy, managed a natural health clinic and went on to share her story. She continued her training in martial arts and yoga and continues to teach safety and self defence workshops. After five healthy years there followed a series of stressful life events and in 2016 Nissa felt her health decline.

“I had some of the familiar headaches back, was easily fatigued and overwhelmed around bright lights and noises”

Meeting the Lion’s Mane

“That’s when I wanted to try something new and different. At this stage I started working with my Chiropractor to strengthen and calm my Nervous System. With a strong background in oriental medicine, he encouraged me to start taking Lion’s Mane mushroom to counter the degenerative effects of the MS. I was excited to see research behind Lion’s Mane’ mushroom for the nervous system so I decided to give it a try.”

When it comes to the health of the nervous system, a number of studies have focused on the successful use of Lion’s Mane extract in combating depression and anxiety6, Alzheimer’s7 and even Parkinson’s disease.8 This places  Lion’s Mane as a well recognized nootropic for its cognitive enhancement properties especially in conditions of dementia and cognitive impairment.5

Lion’s Mane, Hericium erinaceus  contains Neurotrophic Factors that stimulate the regrowth of damaged brain and peripheral nerve tissue.2-4 This applies both to nerve cells and the myelin sheath.9-10 In Multiple Sclerosis, the autoimmune disorder causes the erosion of myelin – the insulating material that surrounds brain and nerve tissue. This erosion of the myelin sheath slows or halts nerve conduction producing the neurologic signs and symptoms of MS.

Nissa started taking high doses of the Lion’s Mane and amazingly, three months later she reported improved energy, mood and memory. She felt so good that she decided to go hiking in the Himalayas of Nepal with her family.

“I travelled through the mountains with the Lion’s Mane. It was light to carry and mixed well with coffee, soups and my protein powder shake”.

“I encourage other people living with M.S to seek out affordable, evidence based and realistic health strategies. Learning how to eat well, supplement sensibly, meditate, exercise and listen to your body can make a world of difference to your health”.

Using Lion’s Mane mushroom has become integral to my daily health practice. I source it from a local company in Newcastle called Reishi and here is how I use it”

To learn more about Lion’s Mane, and how it works click here.

Read more about Nissa here

Follow her on on Facebook at @NissaLeeNaturopathy

Using Lion’s Mane at Home

Lion’s Mane Beetroot Chocolate Latte

For starters, this one is my personal favourite.

Ingredients: 1 TBSP raw cacoa, 1 tsp beetroot powder, 1 tsp Reishi brand Lion’s Mane mushroom extract, ½ tsp coconut oil, 1 cup milk of choice (I use almond milk)

Method: Just mix all the ingredients together and heat on the stove, sometimes I use a milk frother.

Lion’s Mane Teas and Hot Cacao

Tea  – Simply dissolve 1- 1.5 tsp of the Lion’s Mane mushroom extract in 1 cup hot water. Drink slowly and enjoy the pure feeling it gives.

Hot Cacao – Dissolve 1-1.5tsp of the Lion’s Mane mushroom extract together with 1 TBSP of organic raw cacao in almond, coconut or rice milk. Heat up slowly until it starts to simmer. Then add a pinch of cinnamon.

Lion’s Mane Miso Soup

This macrobiotic preparation is deeply nourishing, inflammation reducing and provides fiber to support a healthy digestive system whilst reducing the autoimmune response.

Ingredients: Fresh leek, onion, garlic, broccoli, fresh or dry shiitake mushrooms, Miso paste, 1 tsp Lion’s Mane and dried seaweed like nori or wakame, brown, red or wild rice.

Method: Gently steam the above veggies and shitake mushrooms in water until tender. Place on the side.

Sauce: In warm water mix in 1 TBSP of organic miso paste and 1 tsp of Reishi brand Lion’s Mane extract powder. Add a pinch of black pepper and ginger powder.

Mix the sauce with the veggies and together with broken up nori or wakame flakes/pieces. Enjoy!

Among Lion’s Mane myriad of health benefits for the nervous system, it has been traditionally used for its anti-tumour action in natural cancer therapy and prevention.1,2 This nourishing soup is a wonderful way to emphasize its deep healing potential.

Disclaimer. The information represented in this article is meant to provide concepts from the health journey of a single individual and evidence based research. It is not intended to treat or diagnose any health condition. For appropriate treatment methods please contact your healthcare provider. 

Works Cited

  1. Chang R. Functional properties of edible mushrooms.  Nutr Rev. 1996 Nov;54(11 Pt 2):S91-3.
  2. Lee E.W et al. Two novel diterpenoids, erinacines H and I from the mycelia of Hericium erinaceum. Biosci Biotechnol Biochem. 2000 Nov;64(11):2402-5.
  3. Wong KH et al. Hericium erinaceus (Bull.: Fr.) Pers., a medicinal mushroom, activates peripheral nerve regeneration. Chin J Integr Med.2016 Oct;22(10):759-67.
  4. Kenmoku H. et al. A new erinacine from Hericium erinaceum, and its biosynthetic route to erinacine C in the basidiomycete.  Biosci Biotechnol Biochem. 2002 Mar;66(3):571-5.
  5. Mori K et al. Improving effects of the mushroom Yamabushitake (Hericium erinaceus) on mild cognitive impairment: a double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial. Phytother Res.2009 Mar;23(3):367-72.
  6. Nagano M et al. Reduction of depression and anxiety by 4 weeks Hericium erinaceus intake. Biomed Res.2010 Aug;31(4):231-7.
  7. Kawagishi, H., Zhuang, C. Compounds for Dementia from Hericium erinaceum. Drugs Fut 2008, 33(2): 149.
  8. Kuo et al. Hericium erinaceus mycelium and its isolated erinacine A protection from MPTP-induced neurotoxicity through the ER stress, triggering an apoptosis cascade J of Translational Medicine. 2016;14:(78).
  9. Kolotushkina EV et al. The influence of Hericium erinaceus extract on myelination process in vitro. Fiziol Zh.2003;49(1):38-45.
  10. Moldavan M. et al. Neurotropic and Trophic Action of Lion’s Mane Mushroom Hericium erinaceus (Bull.: Fr.) Pers. (Aphyllophoromycetideae) Extracts on Nerve Cells in vitro. International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms. 2007;9(1).