Are you searching for a natural way to improve your brain health? You might want to give lion's mane a try. This powerful mushroom has been found to support cognitive function, boost memory, and enhance focus.
In this article, we'll delve into the science behind lion's mane brain benefits and explore how it can help you unlock your full cognitive potential.
To learn more about the lion’s mane mushroom, read our detailed guide to Hericium erinaceus and its many benefits.
What Is Lion’s Mane?
Lion's mane (Hericium erinaceus) is a mushroom that has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries.
It is still one of the most popular adaptogenic mushrooms today due to its wide availability and the plethora of benefits it provides. This fungus thrives on dead tree detritus and favors the milder climates of Europe, northern Asia, and North America.
To learn more about how adaptogenic mushrooms work, take a look at our adaptogenic mushroom guide which explains the mechanisms behind their beneficial effects.
Lion’s Mane Benefits
Lion's mane is one of the healthiest mushrooms you can consume. This mushroom has been studied for its health benefits and there is evidence to suggest that they may have a positive impact on a variety of health conditions. Here are some of the potential benefits of lion's mane mushrooms:
- Reduces inflammation: lion's mane mushrooms contain anti-inflammatory compounds that may help to reduce inflammation throughout the body.
- Improves digestive health: studies suggest that lion's mane may be beneficial for individuals with digestive issues such as ulcerative colitis, as it can help to reduce inflammation in the digestive tract.
- Boosts immune system properties: lion's mane has been shown to have immune-boosting properties, which may help improve overall health and reduce the risk of infections and illnesses.
- Improves mental health: there is some evidence to suggest that lion's mane may be beneficial for individuals with depression and anxiety, as it may regulate mood and reduce symptoms of these conditions.
- Lowers blood sugar levels: studies suggest that lion's mane may lower blood sugar levels, which could be beneficial for individuals with diabetes and other blood sugar disorders.
- Provides antioxidant activity: lion's mane mushrooms are high in antioxidants, which may protect cells from damage and reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as cancer and heart disease.
To learn more about the benefits of this amazing mushroom, check out our guide to the potential health benefits of lion’s mane.
Lion’s Mane Side Effects
Consuming lion's mane has no known side effects. Clinical studies have not revealed any negative effects of this culinary and medicinal mushroom, and anecdotal evidence and centuries of use suggest that eating lion's mane is harmless.
However, lion’s mane mushrooms can have some contraindications. If you are prone to allergies, you should be cautious when taking lion’s mane (or any other adaptogenic mushroom).
Plus, lion’s mane may interact with some medications, so you should consult with a doctor if you are taking medicine that may be affected by this mushroom. To learn more about this topic, check out our article on lion’s mane drug interactions.
Is Lion’s Mane Mushroom Good for Brain Health?
Lion’s mane appears to be incredibly beneficial for brain health.
Clinical studies on the effects of this mushroom on the brain show that lion’s mane promotes the production of nerve growth factor (NGF) proteins, which, in turn, promote the formation of new nerve cells and regeneration of damaged cells.
Additionally, lion’s mane may improve memory, alleviate symptoms of mental health conditions, and even reduce symptoms of some brain conditions, such as Alzheimer’s disease.
Lion’s Mane and Nerve Growth
Fruit bodies of lion’s mane mushrooms contain hericenones and erinacines, bioactive compounds that were shown to promote nervous system regeneration and the formation of new neurons. According to a 2013 study, these compounds promote neurite outgrowths by promoting nerve growth factor synthesis in the brain.
Due to this effect, lion’s mane can be incredibly beneficial in preventing and treating neurodegenerative diseases such as multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease. To learn more about nerve growth and lion’s mane, take a look at our article on lion’s mane and neurogenesis.
Lion’s Mane and Parkinson’s Disease
Unfortunately, human research on the effects of lion's mane on Parkinson's disease is severely lacking. Anecdotal data and animal research, on the other hand, reveal that lion's mane mycelium can be quite helpful in treating injured brain cells in Parkinson's disease.
Anecdotal use and the few available research all imply that lion's mane can be quite beneficial for Parkinson's disease due to its ability to mend damaged nerves and stimulate the creation of new ones.
Lion’s Mane and Multiple Sclerosis
Many people with multiple sclerosis report an improvement in their symptoms after lion's mane mushroom extract use. Although no human research has been conducted on the effects of lion's mane on MS, a few animal studies examined the effects of this medicinal mushroom on the myelination process.
An in vitro animal study, for example, evaluated the myelination process in cells with and without a Hericium erinaceus extract. The results reveal that the lion's mane mushroom extract both accelerated the myelination process and higher the rate of myelination.
Check out our article on the benefits of lion’s mane for MS to learn how this mushroom may aid in the treatment of multiple sclerosis.
Lion’s Mane and ALS
As of 2023, no clinical ALS study employing lion's mane mushrooms has been conducted. However, clinical research on the benefits of this fungus on neurite outgrowth and nerve healing show promising results when it comes to using lion’s mane to control ALS symptoms. Lion's mane appears to reduce muscle spasms, cramps, stiffness, and muscle weakness, all of which are classic ALS symptoms.
Lion’s Mane and Memory
Both animal and human studies on the effects of lion's mane mushrooms on cognitive functions appear to indicate that lion's mane may be beneficial for memory.
The effects of Hericium erinaceus mycelium on amyloid 2535 peptide-induced learning and cognitive impairments in mice were examined in a Japanese animal study.
For 23 days, the mice were fed a diet that included lion's mane. The results demonstrate that eating lion's mane improved visual recognition and short-term spatial memory, as the mice performed significantly better at these tasks after taking Hericium erinaceus.
Lion’s Mane and Memory in People
A double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial in Japan looked at the effects of Hericium erinaceus on cognitive function, particularly memory. The test group in this double-blind trial were given lion's mane mushroom pills for 12 weeks, while the control group received a placebo.
Both groups were examined on visual retention, verbal learning, and general cognitive health. The test group exhibited a significant increase in both visual retention and verbal learning after taking lion's mane for 12 weeks, but the control group did not.
Lion’s Mane and Alzheimer’s Disease
Lion’s mane appears to slow down the progression of dementia and may prevent or alleviate Alzheimer’s disease.
A study on the effects of Hericium erinaceus on mild cognitive impairment examined the effects of this mushroom on cognitive decline in people. The ages of the participants ranged from 50 to 80. For 16 weeks, half of the participants in this Japanese trial were given lion's mane supplements, while the other half received a placebo.
Those who took the mushroom extract performed better in terms of cognitive functioning. These considerable increases in cognitive health imply that lion's mane supplements may help to enhance moderate cognitive impairment and neuronal health and function.
To learn more about lion’s mane’s ability to maintain cognitive health of Alzheimer’s patients, take a look at our article on the effects of Hericium erinaceus on Alzheimer’s disease.
Lion’s Mane Spiritual Benefits
In ancient China, Shaolin monks used the lion's mane mushroom in their daily practice to strengthen their concentration and improve their mental health. They believed it boosted their "Qi," an energizing life force. Thanks to the many spiritual effects of lion’s mane, this mushroom appears to aid in reducing anxiety and depression symptoms and boosting brain clarity.
Lion’s Mane and Depression
Studies suggest that lion's mane may be able to alleviate symptoms of depression by stabilizing dopamine and serotonin production. An animal study published in Taiwan looked at the effects of Hericium erinaceus enriched with erinacine on dopamine and serotonin synthesis in stressed-out mice.
According to the study, lion's mane "may be an appealing agent for the treatment of depressive illnesses" as it appears to increase the production of these hormones in mice with low levels of dopamine and serotonin, but not those with normal hormone levels.
To learn more about the effects of Hericium erinaceus on depressive disorders, take a look at our in-depth guide to lion’s mane and depression.
Lion’s Mane and Anxiety
Lion’s mane appears to alleviate anxiety and may even aid in the treatment of anxiety-related mental health conditions (for example, the effects of lion’s mane on OCD seem promising).
The effects of lion's mane supplements on anxiety levels in menopausal women were examined in a recent Japanese study. The women were assessed for irritability and anxiety levels before taking a lion's mane for four weeks.
When assessed again on these metrics, the women who took the lion's mane mushroom supplement scored much lower than their control group counterparts, indicating that they had fewer symptoms of stress and anxiety.
When to Take Lion’s Mane for Brain Benefits
If you’re taking it for brain boosting properties, it is preferable to take lion's mane in the morning or early in the afternoon. That way, you'll benefit from its effects, such as increased focus and higher energy levels, all day. Taking lion's mane later in the day may cause you to feel restless and unable to sleep.
How to Get the Brain Boosting Benefits of Lion’s Mane
By incorporating lion's mane into your daily routine, you may experience increased mental clarity, improved cognitive functions, and a sharper, more focused mind. But, what is the best way to get Hericium erinaceus into your diet?
At the risk of sounding biased, we can’t think of a better way to get your daily dose of lion’s mane than our medicinal mushroom granola. Our granola contains a hyperconcentrated lion’s mane mushroom extract and wholesome, high-quality ingredients. Plus, the granola is gluten-free, vegan, and mouth-wateringly delicious.
Lion’s Mane Dosage for Brain Benefits
While there is no official recommended dosage of lion’s mane for brain benefits, most studies use doses ranging from 500 mg to 3000 mg per day. If you are new to adaptogens, start with a lower dosage and work your way up to 2000 mg, or even 3000 mg per day.
How Much Lion’s Mane Is in Forij Granola?
Forij granola uses high-quality lion's mane extracts 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 supplements. Therefore, you get as much potency as you would if you were to take 2000 mg of mushroom powder, all in one bowl of granola.
FAQ on Lion’s Mane Brain Benefits
Does lion’s mane increase intelligence?
Intelligence is a complex trait that is influenced by many factors, including genetics, environment, and lifestyle. While there is no research proving that lion’s mane can increase intelligence on its own, this mushroom can help improve your focus and memory. This mushroom also aids in nerve cell growth and regeneration, which could lead to an intelligence increase, though there’s no research to prove so as of yet.
Which mushroom is best for the brain?
Lion’s mane is the undisputed king when it comes to brain boosting medicinal properties. However, mushrooms such as cordyceps and reishi are also known to be beneficial for the brain. The cordyceps mushroom is believed to have benefits for brain health due to its ability to increase oxygen uptake and improve blood flow, which can help support brain function. Reishi may also have neuroprotective effects and help improve memory and learning.
Does lion’s mane work immediately?
That is dependent on why you are taking the mushroom. Within the first two weeks of using lion's mane, you should start feeling some short-term effects, such as less stress and more energy. To get the long-term benefits of lion's mane, though, you should take it consistently for at least a few months.
Does lion’s mane affect sleep?
Although lion's mane will not make you sleepy, the anxiolytic effect of Hericium erinaceus may make it easier to fall asleep. As a result, if a mental health condition is interfering with your sleep, taking lion's mane may help you fall asleep and relieve insomnia.
For some additional information on lion’s mane mushroom benefits on sleep, check out our article on how Hericium erinaceus can improve your sleep schedule.
Does lion’s mane affect hormones?
The lion's mane mushroom appears to regulate hormones. Several adaptogenic mushrooms, including Hericium erinaceus, can influence hormones through maintaining bodily homeostasis. For example, the positive effects of lion's mane on hormones may aid in the production of testosterone.
Is lion’s mane anti-aging?
Lion's mane may have anti-aging properties. This mushroom contains a ton of antioxidants and may ease inflammation in the body. Inflammation is a common source of skin issues and may speed up aging, and the anti-inflammatory characteristics of lion’s mane may slow this process.
Is it good to take lion’s mane everyday?
Taking lion's mane mushrooms every day is not only absolutely safe, but also quite useful. Long-term benefits of this edible mushroom, such as its capacity to prevent diabetes and treat Parkinson's disease symptoms, become more apparent the longer you take lion’s mane.
What is the best mushroom for focus?
Lion’s mane is the best mushroom to take for focus thanks to its beneficial effects on nerve growth. In addition to Hericium erinaceus, mushrooms such as reishi, cordyceps, and chaga may also have focus-boosting properties. We took an in-depth dive on the benefits of various adaptogenic mushrooms on brain health in our article on best fungi for the brain.
What is the ideal lion’s mane dosage for neuropathy?
Lion's mane appears to alleviate neuropathic pain. To reap this benefit of lion's mane, take 500-1000 mg of the mushroom 1-3 times per day. Lion's mane doses for neuropathy will vary from person to person, so explore until you discover the dose that works for you. To learn more about how lion’s mane can ease nerve pain, take a look at our article on lion’s mane and neuropathy.
Is lion’s mane addiction possible?
No, it is not possible to get addicted to lion’s mane mushrooms. Even if you're taking high doses of lion's mane, you won't feel any adverse effects or withdrawal symptoms if you stop taking it, but you won't be getting its benefits either.
What are the effects of lion’s mane on weight loss?
Hericium erinaceus may aid in weight loss and weight management. These adaptogenic fungi have a low calorie count but a high protein and water content, so they will keep you full.
A recent animal study looked at the effects of lion's mane mushroom extract on weight and discovered that it may help with weight loss.
After seven days of consuming Hericium erinaceus, mice administered lion's mane mushroom extract had a much lower body weight and less stomach difficulties than their control group counterparts.
How do lion's mane mushrooms aid in heart health and reduce heart disease risk?
Lion's mane mushrooms contain bioactive compounds that can reduce inflammation in the body, which is a known risk factor for heart disease. Additionally, they have been found to lower blood pressure and have cholesterol-lowering effects, which can help reduce the risk of heart disease, and may even prevent heart attacks.
What are the antioxidant activities of lion's mane mushrooms?
Antioxidants, such as ergothioneine and hericenones, are found in high concentrations in lion's mane and have been shown to aid in the neuroprotective effects of the mushroom. Lion's mane supplementation can increase the levels of these antioxidants in the body, potentially leading to improved cognitive function and protection against age-related cognitive decline.
Can lion's mane mushrooms benefit women's health?
Yes, lion's mane mushrooms have been shown to have several potential health benefits for women. For example, they may help reduce inflammation and oxidative stress, which can play a role in the development of health conditions such as breast cancer, psoriatic arthritis, and heart disease.
Lion's mane mushrooms also contain compounds that can support healthy hormonal balance, potentially alleviating symptoms of menopause such as hot flashes and mood swings. Still, more medically reviewed, double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trials done on women are needed to fully understand the effects of lion's mane on women's health.
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- Kolotushkina, E. V. (2003). The influence of Hericium erinaceus extract on myelination process in vitro. Fiziolohichnyi zhurnal (Kiev, Ukraine : 1994), 49(1), 38–45. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12675022/
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- Chiu, C. H. (2018). Erinacine A-Enriched Hericium erinaceus Mycelium Produces Antidepressant-Like Effects through Modulating BDNF/PI3K/Akt/GSK-3β Signaling in Mice. MDPI. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms19020341
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- Qin, M. (2016). Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Ethanol Extract of Lion’s Mane Medicinal Mushroom, Hericium erinaceus (Agaricomycetes), in Mice with Ulcerative Colitis. International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms, 18(3), 227–234. https://doi.org/10.1615/intjmedmushrooms.v18.i3.50
Forij FDA Disclaimer
This article was written strictly for informational purposes and is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment of any kind. The statements contained herein have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and should not be used for medicinal purposes.