Lion’s mane appears to have some truly impressive benefits, but does it actually work? According to research, the answer is an astounding yes! Read on to learn more about the research-backed benefits of lion’s mane mushrooms.
What Is Lion’s Mane?
Native to North America, Europe, and Asia, the lion’s mane mushroom (Hericium erinaceus, Yamabushitake) is an adaptogenic mushroom that has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries. This fungus is one of the healthiest mushrooms you can consume thanks to the benefits it provides for physical and mental health.
Lion’s Mane Benefits
Research on the lion’s mane mushroom benefits indicates this fungus has the potential to promote nerve cell growth through the production of nerve growth factors (NGF) and repair brain cells. It reduces inflammation and oxidative stress, lowers blood sugars, and improves brain function and cognitive health.
Some of the potential health benefits of lion’s mane include:
- reduces mild symptoms of anxiety and depression
- provides antioxidant activities
- improves cognitive functioning by stimulating nerve growth factor proteins
- has a protective effect against nerve cells and improves brain health
- reduces the risk of heart disease and blood clots
- promotes the growth of nerve cells and nerve regeneration, which is beneficial for nervous system injuries
- reduces the risk of sleep disorders
- prevents memory loss and protects against mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease
- lowers blood sugar levels, which is quite beneficial to those with diabetes
- encourages apoptosis (cell death) of cancer cells, and has the potential to fight cancer
- improves digestive health and protects against irritable bowel disease and stomach ulcers
- boosts immunity and improves immune function
- has neuroprotective properties and reduces nerve damage in neurodegenerative diseases, such as multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease
Lion’s Mane Spiritual Benefits
The spiritual benefits lion’s mane provides are praised by alternative medicine experts. Shaolin monks in ancient China used the lion's mane mushroom in daily practice to improve their concentration. They believed it increased their "Qi," a mystical, energetic life force. Lion's mane's bioactive compounds do indeed seem to improve focus and memory.
Lion’s Mane Side Effects
Although no human studies have examined the side effects of lion's mane mushrooms yet, centuries of use and anecdotal evidence suggest that lion’s mane is completely safe to consume.
However, you may experience an adverse effect in the form of digestive issues if you consume too much lion’s mane at once. Therefore, it's best to start slow and talk to a healthcare professional if you notice any digestive discomfort.
Lion’s Mane Contraindications
Hericium erinaceus is incredibly healthy and safe to consume for most people. However, in rare cases, lion’s mane extracts can cause an allergic reaction or an asthma attack, and they may interact with some medications. That’s why lion’s mane may be contraindicated for people with allergies to fungi, mold, or yeast, those with severe asthma, and people on medication that interacts with Hericium erinaceus.
Does Lion’s Mane Work? Lion’s Mane Studies We Were Impressed By
People use lion’s mane as dietary supplementation to treat anything from depression to dementia, or to maintain overall health and well-being. But, does lion’s mane actually work? Let’s take a look at some evidence based beneficial properties of the lion’s mane mushroom.
Neurotrophic Properties of Lion’s Mane
Neurotrophic factors promote neuron growth and differentiation. Compounds found in the fruiting bodies of lion’s mane appear to aid in neurotrophic factor production, according to a study called Neurotrophic Properties of the Lion's Mane Medicinal Mushroom, Hericium erinaceus (Higher Basidiomycetes) from Malaysia.
According to this study, the activity of aqueous extract of Hericium erinaceus appears to promote the synthesis of neurotrophic factors called nerve growth factor (NGF) proteins. This mechanism is likely behind Hericium erinaceus’ ability to aid in brain neurogenesis.
Lion’s Mane and Nerve Growth
Hericium erinaceus extracts appear to promote nerve growth. An in vitro study examined the ability of Lion’s mane (Hericium erinaceus) and Tiger milk (Lignosus rhinocerotis) medicinal mushrooms to stimulate neurite outgrowth in dissociated cells of the brain, spinal cord, and retina.
This study concluded that a Hericium erinaceus extract improved neurite outgrowth by 20.47%, 22.47%, and 21.70% in the brain, spinal cord, and retinal cells, respectively. Neurite outgrowth activity was confirmed by the immu-nofluorescence method in all tissue samples.
Lion’s Mane and Mild Cognitive Impairment
Lion’s mane is highly beneficial for Alzheimer’s patients thanks to its ability to prevent, and even reverse cognitive impairment. A recent study examined the effects of Hericium erinaceus on mild cognitive impairment.
The study—called Improving effects of the mushroom Yamabushitake (Hericium erinaceus) on mild cognitive impairment: a double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial—consisted of adult Japanese people ranging from 50 to 80 years old.
The participants who were taking the mushroom extract showed increased scores in their cognitive functioning. These significant increases suggest that lion's mane supplements have the potential to improve mild cognitive impairment and aid in neuronal health and functioning.
Lion’s Mane, Learning, and Memory
Studies on lion’s mane and memory show that these medicinal mushrooms may improve learning and memory ability in animals and humans.
A Japanese animal study examined the activity of Hericium erinaceus mycelium on amyloid β2535 peptide-induced learning and memory deficits in mice.
The mice were fed a diet containing lion’s mane for 23 days. Results show that the consumption of lion’s mane prevented impairment of visual recognition and short-term spatial memory.
Lion’s Mane, Depression, and Anxiety
Lion’s mane appears to alleviate anxiety and ease mild symptoms of depression. A recent Japanese study examined the beneficial effect of Hericium erinaceus on symptoms of depression and anxiety in menopausal women.
After taking a lion’s mane supplement for 4 weeks, these women reported feeling less depressed and anxious than they did at the beginning of the trial, while the women who were taking a placebo did not report an improvement in their symptoms.
Lion’s Mane and Diabetes
Hericium erinaceus may help treat both types of diabetes as well as prevent type 2 diabetes. These medicinal mushrooms show great potential when it comes to lowering blood sugar levels, as well as lessening neuropathic pain related to diabetes.
An in vitro study examined the effects of Hericium erinaceus on blood sugar levels. Fruiting bodies found in lion’s mane had an α-glucosidase inhibitory activity, indicating that they could lower blood sugar levels.
When to Take Lion’s Mane
While you can take this mushroom any time of the day, we suggest taking lion’s mane in the morning or early afternoon. Taking lion’s mane later in the day may make you feel restless, as this adaptogenic mushroom can act as a natural stimulant. Therefore, it’s best to take the mushroom before you start your workday, so you can reap the mental clarity and focus benefits Hericium erinaceus provides.
Interested in Taking Lion’s Mane Mushrooms?
If you want to get the benefits of Hericium erinaceus, we have a solution for you—our healthy mushroom granola with a hyperconcentrated lion’s mane extract.
The granola is vegan, gluten-free, and made completely out of delicious, clean ingredients. Who knew your morning dose of lion’s mane could be this tasty?
FAQ on Lion’s Mane
How much lion’s mane is in Forij granola?
Forij granola uses a high-quality lion's mane mushroom extract made from whole medicinal mushrooms. Our dual extraction method extracts both water-soluble beta-glucans as well as alcohol-soluble triterpenes. Our decoction process breaks down indigestible chitin cell walls of the mushroom to get much more of these compounds out than ordinary processes do.
One serving of our granola provides 250 mg of hyperconcentrated lion's mane extract, which is eight times more concentrated than regular lion’s mane mushroom supplements. Therefore, you get as much potency as you would if you were taking a 2000 mg lion’s mane mushroom powder, all in one bowl of granola.
How does lion’s mane make you feel?
Taking lion’s mane can make you feel energized and focused, and it may also calm you down if you’re prone to feeling anxious. Due to its energizing properties, you should avoid taking lion’s mane late in the day, even if you are taking it for insomnia and better sleep quality, as it may make you feel restless and unable to fall asleep.
Should I take lion’s mane everyday?
Yes, you should take lion’s mane every day. It’s not only completely safe but highly beneficial to take lion’s mane mushrooms every day. The long-term benefits of lion’s mane become more pronounced the longer you use this mushroom.
Luckily, there are plenty of ways to take lion’s mane. Choose from lion’s mane supplements, foods fortified with lion’s mane extracts, or simply cook and eat the mushroom.
Does lion’s mane make you gain weight?
No, lion’s mane mushrooms don’t cause weight gain. On the contrary, Hericium erinaceus may aid in weight loss. These adaptogenic fungi are low in calories and high in protein and water content, so they’ll keep you satiated.
A recent animal study examined the effects of lion’s mane mushroom extract on weight, and determined that lion’s mane may even aid in weight loss.
The mice that were given the lion’s mane mushroom extract had a significantly lower body weight and fewer digestive issues after taking Hericium erinaceus for seven days.
Can lion’s mane cause nerve damage?
No, lion’s mane can’t cause nerve damage. This mushroom is actually appears to prevent nerve damage and aid in nerve recovery. Lion’s mane also alleviates neuropathic pain, which is a common symptom of nerve damage.
What is the ideal lion’s mane dosage for depression?
There is no exact dosage of lion’s mane that will alleviate symptoms of depression in everyone. However, you should strive to take upwards of 1000 mg per day if you are taking lion’s mane for depression. If you’re new to taking adaptogenic mushrooms, you may want to start with a lower dosage, as lion’s mane can upset the stomach if you’re not used to taking it.
Can I take lion’s mane mushrooms with other medicinal mushrooms?
Yes, you can take lion’s mane with any other type of medicinal fungus, including the reishi mushroom, shiitake, turkey tail, and many more. When it comes to adaptogenic mushrooms, the whole is always greater than the sum of its parts. Therefore, the benefits of lion’s mane can only be improved upon by taking them with other mushrooms and vice versa.
This article was written strictly for informational purposes. This website is not intended to inform about professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment of any kind. The statements contained herein have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).