Lion’s mane mushrooms have been present in traditional medicine for centuries, and people still swear by their anti-inflammatory properties.
We get a lot of questions about the therapeutic potential of lion’s mane for inflammation, so we decided to take an in-depth look at what science has to say.
We were quite impressed with the results, and you will be too.
What is Lion’s Mane?
Lion’s mane has been a staple in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries. This functional mushroom species is saprotrophic, meaning that it feeds off decaying organic matter, such as dead trees. It’s native to Europe, North America, and Asia. Known for its many health benefits, this medicinal mushroom warrants further research into its effects on the mind and the body.
Health Benefits of Lion’s Mane
Research on the health benefits of the lion’s mane mushroom indicates this fungus has the potential to promote nerve regeneration through the production of nerve growth factor proteins, and hence repair brain cells. It appears to ease the symptoms of dementia, lessen oxidative stress, as well as improve overall brain function and neuronal health.
Some of the potential beneficial effects of lion’s mane include:
- reduces symptoms of depression and anxiety
- reduces inflammation and nerve pains
- improves overall brain health and cognitive functions, including learning and memory
- has a protective effect on the brain and improves brain health
- reduces the risk of heart disease and blood clots
- promotes neurite outgrowth
- prevents memory loss and protects against mild cognitive impairment
- lowers blood glucose levels
- encourages apoptosis (cell death) of cancer cells, and has the potential to fight cancer
- improves digestive health
- boosts the immune system and improves immune function
- has neuroprotective properties and reduces nerve damage in neurodegenerative diseases, such as multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer’s disease
What are the Side Effects of Lion’s Mane?
There is no research on the side effects of lion's mane supplements, but anecdotal evidence and centuries of use suggest that this mushroom is completely safe to consume. Still, be cautious of certain lion’s mane drug interactions, as the mushroom may interact with antidiabetics and blood thinners.
What is Inflammation?
Inflammation is the immune system’s response to a perceived threat or danger. Unfortunately, it can get out of control and cause chronic health issues.
Your body releases special cells and substances into your bloodstream when it senses a threat. These threats can be from foreign invaders such as viruses and bacteria; they can also be damage to the body, such as a splinter, wound, or burn.
What is the Main Cause of Inflammation in the Body?
The most common cause of inflammation is the presence of bacteria or viruses in the body. However, autoimmune disorders, such as lupus, could cause your body to attack its own healthy tissue, leading to inflammation. Allergies, as well as exposure to harmful chemicals, can also cause inflammation.
What are the 5 Most Common Signs of Inflammation?
No matter what the cause of inflammation is, you’re likely to experience some, if not all five of these symptoms:
- heat to touch
- loss of function
Why is Inflammation Bad?
Short-term inflammation is good. It’s the chronic type that’s bad.
Ideally, the body triggers an inflammatory response in response to a problem, neutralizes the threat, and returns to normal.
Often, however, folks have ongoing inflammation, not in response to a specific threat, but as a “new normal.”
Many people today have chronic inflammation in their body, whether in the full-blown manifestation as one of the many diagnosable autoimmune diseases, or as a more low-grade form. Poor diet, stress, toxins, or other triggers can keep the immune system releasing inflammatory cells.
Ongoing inflammation can cause any of the following symptoms and issues:
- Reduced cognitive abilities
- Hardening of the arteries
- Blood clotting
- Lower back pain
- Insulin resistance
- Joint stiffness and joint pain
- Abdominal pain
- Chest pain
The following autoimmune diseases are directly implicated in chronic inflammation.
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Multiple sclerosis
- Guillain-Barre syndrome
- Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
- Chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy
- Graves disease
- Myasthenia gravis
- Hashimoto’s thyroiditis
- Type 1 diabetes mellitus
Chronic inflammation is really bad. Fortunately, lifestyle modifications, including dietary changes, can help reduce it.
TheAnti-Inflammatory Effects of Lion’s Mane Mushrooms
Research shows that lion’s mane mushroom extract can have incredible anti-inflammatory properties.
For example, the results of a recent study on the anti-inflammatory effects of Hericium erinaceus (higher basidiomycetes) indicate that lion’s mane exhibited anti-inflammatory effects through the inhibition of TLR4-JNK signaling.
The TLR4-JNK pathway promotes inflammation, according to a 2019 study. By inhibiting TLR4-JNK signaling, lion's mane seems to lessen inflammation levels in adipose tissue, which is associated with obesity and generally prone to chronic inflammation.
Lion’s Mane and Oxidative Stress Caused by Inflammation
Oxidative stress is a key factor in the pathogenesis of neurodegenerative illnesses such as Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis. According to a 2019 study, lion’s mane may exhibit antioxidant activity, as it seems to suppress oxidative damage in hippocampal neurons.
This effect of Hericium erinaceus plays a massive role in its ability to protect the brain from injury and inflammation.
By providing protective effects on brain cells, lion’s mane has the potential to improve cognition and even reverse symptoms of neurodegenerative disorders (for example, the potential benefits of lion’s mane on Alzheimer’s disease are quite promising).
Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Lion’s Mane and Digestive Health
In addition to relieving oxidative stress in the brain, lion’s mane reduces inflammation of the stomach lining and may have a protective effect on the stomach. Studies published on the beneficial effects of these culinary-medicinal mushrooms suggest that lion’s mane could provide cytoprotection against stomach ulcers, at least in animals.
Unfortunately, there is insufficient evidence on the effects of the lion’s mane mushroom supplement on digestive health in humans. However, anecdotal evidence, as well as studies done on animals, seem to suggest that these medicinal mushrooms could be quite beneficial in the treatment of chronic inflammatory illnesses of the digestive system.
Lion’s Mane and Inflammatory Colitis
An animal study examined the effects of Hericium erinaceus on inflammation related to ulcerative colitis. After inducing colitis in mice, the researchers fed them an extract made up of polysaccharides found in the lion's mane.
Mice that were given the extract of lion's mane showed fewer signs of inflammation than mice that were not given the supplement. Based on these findings, lion's mane may serve as a protective dietary nutrient, as it appears to protect against inflammatory colitis.
Lion’s Mane and Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Hericium erinaceus seems to improve symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), one of the most common autoimmune inflammatory illnesses. A 2017 study examined the effects of Hericium erinaceus on IBS in mice.
After two weeks, the lion’s mane extract reduced symptoms of inflammation in the mice and promoted the growth of beneficial gut bacteria. Although further research is needed, this study shows significant promise when it comes to using a lion’s mane mushroom supplement for IBD treatment.
What We Can Conclusively Say About Lion’s Mane and Inflammation
Here’s what we know to date about Hericium erinaceus and inflammation:
- Lion’s mane appears to exert anti-inflammatory effects on adipose tissue through the inhibition of TLR4-JNK signaling.
- Lion’s mane mushrooms may exhibit antioxidant activity in the brain by suppressing oxidative damage in hippocampal neurons.
- Hericium erinaceus may exert anti-inflammatory effects on the digestive system and could protect against stomach ulcers.
- Animal studies suggest that lion’s mane could protect against inflammation related to inflammatory bowel diseases, including inflammatory colitis.
- More human studies are needed to uncover the underlying mechanisms of lion’s mane and its anti-inflammatory properties.
- Given that there are no downsides to taking lion’s mane, its low cost, and high availability, it may make sense to include this fungus into one’s diet as a way to fight inflammation.
Interested in Taking Lion’s Mane for Inflammation?
If you’re interested in trying lion’s mane for inflammation, our Forij Superfood Granola is a great way to start your mornings.
In addition to lion’s mane extract, our granola contains hyperconcentrated extracts of cordyceps and chaga mushrooms. That means you’ll get 10-15 times the nutrients these mushrooms provide than you get in a regular mushroom powder.
The Forij mushroom granola is vegan, gluten-free, and contains organic, high-quality ingredients. What more could you ask for in a delicious bowl of cereal you’ll be excited to eat every morning?
Lion’s Mane and Inflammation FAQ
Can you take lion's mane and reishi together?
Yes, you can take lion’s mane with any medicinal mushroom, including cordyceps, turkey tail, maitake mushroom, and reishi mushroom. When it comes to medicinal mushrooms, the whole is better than the sum of its parts, so you’ll likely reap more benefits of lion’s mane if you take it with reishi, cordyceps, chaga, or any other adaptogenic fungus.
How does lion's mane make you feel?
A lion’s mane mushroom supplement will likely make you feel more awake and alert, so it’s the perfect medicinal mushroom to start your workday with. If you’re prone to anxiousness, you may also feel more relaxed, which will make it easier for you to focus on your work.
What happens if you take a lot of lion's mane?
There are no lasting side effects of lion’s mane, even if you take a lot of it. If you eat too much of the mushroom at once, you may experience digestion issues such as diarrhea and stomach pain, but these effects will pass in a day or two.
Does lion’s mane work immediately?
You may experience certain lion’s mane benefits immediately after you start taking the mushroom. For example, many people start noticing the anxiolytic lion’s mane mushroom benefit immediately. However, you’ll have to wait at least two weeks before you start noticing improvements in cognitive functions and overall health.
Does lion’s mane give you a high?
No, lion’s mane does not have psychoactive effects and will not cause a high. This adaptogenic mushroom does not contain psilocybin, a compound responsible for the mind-altering effects of ‘magical mushrooms’.
This article was written strictly for informational purposes and is not intended to inform about medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment of any kind. The statements contained herein have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).