We’ve been hearing a lot about lion’s mane and anxiety, so we dug deep into the current clinical research.
We wanted to learn whether this medicinal mushroom improves mental health, and specifically if it helps in the reduction of panic attacks and anxiety.
Turns out, it does!
What follows is a detailed presentation of our findings on the effects of lion’s mane mushrooms on anxiety.
Lion’s Mane Mushrooms
Although lion’s mane has been a staple in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries, the western world is just starting to learn about the many health-enhancing properties of this mushroom. It seems that this saprotrophic fungus can treat anything from Alzheimer’s disease to depression to diabetes.
Due to their high availability and promising potential, health enthusiasts have begun touting the medicinal benefits of lion's mane mushrooms. Still, there’s so much more to learn about these adaptogenic mushrooms and especially their applicability as an alternative to medication in the treatment of mental health issues.
Lion’s Mane Benefits
Research on the medicinal benefits of lion’s mane indicates the mushroom has the potential to promote neurogenesis and repair nerve cells. Lion’s mane appears to ease the symptoms of dementia, depression and anxiety, and neuropathic pain, as well as improve overall cognitive function.
Some of the apparent effects of the lion’s mane mushroom:
- reduces anxiety and depressive disorders
- improves brain functions and overall brain health
- protects against mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease
- reduces inflammation and nerve pains
- encourages apoptosis (cell death) of cancer cells
- improves gut health
- lowers blood sugar levels
- boosts the immune system
- reduces symptoms of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Parkinson’s disease, and multiple sclerosis
Lion’s Mane Spiritual Benefits
Lion's mane mushrooms appear to have spiritual benefits. 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.
What is Anxiety?
Anxiety is a mental health condition that causes physical, emotional, and behavioral symptoms. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, around 19% of adult Americans suffer from some type of anxiety disorder, with the prevalence being slightly higher for females than males.
Types of Anxiety
There are five major types of anxiety disorders. These disorders share certain symptoms, such as exaggerated worry without an apparent cause, but also have their own unique sets of symptoms. The five main types of anxiety disorders are:
- generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
- post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- panic disorder
- obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
- social anxiety disorder
Symptoms of Generalized Anxiety Disorder
GAD is the most common anxiety disorder. The symptoms of this mental health issue may include:
- restlessness or feeling on edge
- getting tired easily
- experiencing muscle tension
- difficulty concentrating
- exaggerated feelings of worry without an apparent cause
- sleep issues (difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep)
Can Lion’s Mane Treat Anxiety?
According to research, lion's mane mushrooms seem to reduce mild symptoms of anxiety and depression. In addition to its ability to make you feel more relaxed and focused, these medicinal mushrooms may be able to improve sleep problems, a common symptom of anxiety disorders.
Lion’s Mane and Anxiety Relief
A Japanese study looked at the effects of lion’s mane dietary supplements on anxiety and depression levels in menopausal women. The women were tested for baseline irritability and anxiety levels and took a lion’s mane extract for 4 weeks.
Upon being tested on these metrics a second time, the women who took the lion’s mane mushroom supplement scored much lower than their control group counterparts, meaning they exhibited fewer symptoms of stress and anxiety.
How Does Neurogenesis Affect Anxiety?
Research suggests that Hericium erinaceus seems to aid in nerve growth factor production and promote neurogenesis.
A study examined the relationship between neurogenesis and anxiety and concluded that a decrease in neurogenesis could be associated with an increase in anxiety-related behaviors.
In other words, an inverse relationship appears to exist between the production of new nerve fibers and the level of anxiety one experiences.
An animal study seems to confirm that lion’s mane powder can aid in nerve growth and, therefore, anxiety reduction. The mice that were given a Hericium erinaceus fruiting bodies extract showed signs of neurogenesis, particularly in the hippocampal region of the brain.
Additionally, they exhibited fewer signs of anxious behaviors, confirming that the mushroom could cause anxiolytic effects.
Lion’s Mane and Anxiety-Related Sleep Disorders
Lion’s mane extracts seem to alleviate one of the most common symptoms of anxiety—sleep issues.
A clinical trial examined the effects of Hericium erinaceus on sleep quality and general well-being on female students during a particularly stressful exam season.
The students reported feeling much calmer and their sleep schedules improved significantly after 4 weeks of using the lion's mane mushroom extract.
What We Can Conclude About Lion’s Mane and Anxiety
Although additional information on the effects of lion’s mane on anxiety is needed, we can conclude that taking this mushroom can benefit the nervous system overall and alleviate anxiety-related symptoms.
Here’s what we know to date regarding Hericium erinaceus and anxiety:
- According to a study on menopausal women, lion’s mane seems to alleviate symptoms of anxiety commonly present during menopause.
- An animal study suggests that the neurogenerative properties of lion's mane may also make it anxiolytic (anxiety-lowering).
- Lion’s mane also seems to be able to improve sleeping issues, a symptom commonly associated with anxiety.
- More human studies are needed to learn about the underlying mechanisms of lion’s mane and its effects on anxiety.
- Given that there are no downsides to taking lion’s mane, its low cost, and high availability, it may make sense to include the mushroom into one’s diet as a way to lessen the symptoms of anxiety.
Lion's Mane Dosage for Anxiety
There is no perfect lion’s mane dosage that will absolutely alleviate anxiety in everyone.
While some people report taking 750-1000 mg daily, others take up to a couple of spoonfuls of lion’s mane mushroom powder (around 5000 mg) to feel the calming effect of Hericium erinaceus.
Therefore, it’s best to start with a low dosage and gradually increase the amount you take until you find a dosage that works for you.
Interested in Trying Lion’s Mane for Anxiety?
If you’re interested in trying lion’s mane for anxiety and you don’t like the taste of mushrooms, Forij Superfood Granola may be exactly what you’re looking for.
The hyperconcentrated extract we use contains 10-15 times the nutrients a regular lion’s mane mushroom powder does, without the mushroom flavor. Additionally, our granola contains extracts of chaga and cordyceps, adaptogenic mushrooms that provide a slew of benefits as well.
Lion’s Mane and Anxiety FAQ
How does lion’s mane make you feel?
Taking lion’s mane may make you feel more energized and focused, and it may also calm you down if you’re prone to feeling nervous. 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 sleep issues.
Does lion’s mane increase serotonin?
Lion’s mane does not raise serotonin production per se, but it may be able to stabilize levels of several neurotransmitters, including serotonin. Therefore, this adaptogenic mushroom will not increase levels of serotonin in those who already have enough of it but may do so for people whose serotonin levels are low.
Are there any lion’s mane side effects?
Lion’s mane does not have side effects per se, but if you're on blood thinning medication or antidiabetic medications, consult a doctor prior to use.
Is lion’s mane a stimulant?
Yes, lion’s mane could be considered a stimulant, as it can provide a natural boost in energy and focus. However, unlike drinking caffeine, taking lion’s mane won’t cause an energy crash.
How long does it take to feel the effects of lion’s mane?
It takes about two weeks to feel the effects of lion’s mane. For some people, it may even take longer, especially if they start with a very low dosage. If you don’t notice any effects in two to three weeks of using lion’s mane, consider increasing the amount you take on a daily basis.
Can lion’s mane get you high?
No, lion’s mane will not get you high. This mushroom does not contain psychoactive properties and, therefore, can’t alter your perception. However, it can boost your mood and improve your cognition if taken regularly.
Can lion’s mane ease depression?
Yes, reduction of depression symptoms seems to be one of the many lion’s mane mushroom benefits. A scientific article examined the medically reviewed effects of lion’s mane on depression. The article concluded that, although additional information on the underlying mechanisms is needed, lion’s mane and depression is certainly a topic worth looking into.
Are lion’s mane supplements safe to eat?
Yes, including lion's mane in your diet is completely safe and can be quite beneficial. This mushroom is one of the most beneficial mushrooms you can consume. It contains a plethora of benefits, from its antioxidant activity to its ability to improve cognitive functions and alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression.
This article has not been reviewed by healthcare professionals and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any diseases. The statements contained herein have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).