The #1 Lion's Mane Superfood


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Lion's Mane Shown to Grown New Brain Nerves

Bioactive compounds in lion’s mane mushrooms can stimulate neurogenesis (new nerve formation) and enhance memory. Research has shown lion's mane to significantly enhance neural growth and memory. The mushroom may even repair damaged nerve cells.

Article Jumplinks

Does lion's mane cross the blood-brain barrier?

Does lion's mane enhance neurogenesis?

How does lion's mane repair nerve damage?

Does lion's mane promote nerve growth?

Does lion's mane help with brain fog?

What time of day should you take lion's mane?

How to take lion's mane for neurogenesis?

We read through dozens of clinical trials to get a deeper understanding of the mechanisms behind the neuroprotective and neurogenic properties of lion's mane.

Here's what we found.

What are Lion’s Mane Mushrooms?

Lion’s mane mushroomHericium erinaceus, yamabushitake. This traditional Chinese medicine staple goes by many names. Commonly found in Europe, North America, and Asia, this medicinal mushroom has been used in ancient Chinese medicine for a long time.

Lion’s mane feeds off dead tree debris, more specifically the organic matter found in tree bark called detritus. Still, the adaptogenic mushroom can feed off living trees as well, in which case it kills the tree over the years of living as a parasite on it.

Lion’s Mane Benefits

Research on the health benefits of lion’s mane indicates the mushroom has significant potential to promote neurogenesis, improve cognitive performance, prevent and repair nerve damage, as well as alleviate dementia, symptoms of depression and anxiety, and neuropathic pain, among other neurological health properties.

Hericium erinaceus 
seems to aid in:

  • reducing anxiety and depression symptoms, as well as symptoms of other mental health conditions, such as bipolar disorder
  • alleviating cognitive decline and imrtoving cognitive function
  • protection against dementia and mild cognitive impairment
  • providing nerve pains reduction
  • fighting various forms of cancer
  • alleviating chronic inflammation and inflammatory bowel diseases through its antiinflammatory effects
  • apoptosis of cancer cells
  • immune health improvement
  • nervous system injuries recovery
  • lowering blood sugar levels
  • reducing symptoms of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinson’s disease

Lion’s Mane Vitamins and Minerals

The lion's mane mushroom contains plenty of vitamins, including thiamin, biotin, niacin, folate, and vitamin B6. It also contains important minerals for health, such as:

  • calcium
  • iron
  • phosphorous
  • zinc
  • potassium
  • magnesium
  • copper
  • selenium
  • manganese

Lion’s Mane Bioactive Compounds

In addition to vitamins and minerals, lion’s mane mushrooms contain active compounds, such as:

  • polysaccharides
  • polypeptides
  • beta-glucoxlan
  • prebiotic fibers
  • digestive enzymes
  • hericenones
  • erinacines

Does Lion’s Mane Cross the Blood-Brain Barrier?

Yes, lion’s mane compounds can pass through the blood-brain barrier. The blood-brain barrier serves an important function, screening sensitive brain tissues from toxins carried in the blood. 

While protecting your brain from toxins, the blood-brain barrier also keeps out many beneficial substances as well.

However, hericenones and erinacines—bioactive compounds found in fruiting bodies of many functional mushrooms, including lion’s mane—can cross the blood-brain barrier quite easily. These beneficial compounds stimulate nerve growth factors (NGF) that can provide many benefits, including brain injury protection, nerve regeneration (neurogenesis), and myelination.

What is Neurogenesis?

Neurogenesis is the process by which new neurons, or nerve cells, are formed in the brain. It entails the development, growth, and integration of these cells into existing neural networks. Neurons are the main working parts of the nervous system. They send and receive electrical and chemical signals to send and process information.

Neurogenesis mainly happens during embryonic development, when the brain is just forming. Recent research, though, has shown that it can also happen in certain parts of the adult brain, though less often. The two main regions where adult neurogenesis takes place are the subgranular zone (SGZ) of the dentate gyrus in the hippocampus and the subventricular zone (SVZ) lining the lateral ventricles.

The hippocampus is involved in learning and memory, while the SVZ contributes to the generation of new cells in the olfactory bulb, which is responsible for the sense of smell. Adult neurogenesis is thought to play a role in how well you think, remember, and control your mood.

Here's a breakdown of the ways neurogenesis occurs.

  1. Embryonic neurogenesis. During embryonic nervous system development, neural stem cells (NSCs) differentiate into neurons and other types of cells such as astrocytes and oligodendrocytes. This forms various brain structures and neural networks that enable cognitive, motor, and sensory functions.
  2. Adult hippocampal neurogenesis. Neural stem cells and progenitor cells in the hippocampus' dentate gyrus generate new neurons that integrate into the existing circuitry. This process is thought to aid in learning and memory consolidation, as well as mood regulation. This is the type of neurogenesis that lion’s mane is thought to influence.
  3. Olfactory bulb neurogenesis. Neural stem cells in the SVZ generate new neurons, which migrate to the olfactory bulb and integrate into existing neural networks. 
  4. Injury-induced neurogenesis. Following a brain injury or stroke, the brain may exhibit increased neurogenesis in an effort to repair damaged neural tissue. 

Lion’s Mane and Neurogenesis

Available lion’s mane research suggests the fungus has potent neurotrophic properties.

A 2023 study from the University of Queensland Brain Institute found that "the lion’s mane mushroom had a significant impact on the growth of brain cells and improved memory formation," validating what previous studies had also hinted that these mushrooms magnify memory by boosting nerve growth.

2021 study looked at the effects of four compounds found in Hericium erinaceus on brain health, and the results suggest the mushroom shows great potential in memory improvement.

Hericium erinaceus promotes the formation of new neurons. This mechanism may be at the root of the medicinal mushroom’s mental health benefits. Neurogenesis, the process of new neuron formation in the brain, may have an anti-depressant effect.

study looked at the effects of lion’s mane neurogenesis properties on depression in animals. The results show that Hericium erinaceus exerts anti-depressant effects, as it reduces inflammation in the brain and promotes the formation of new nerve cells.

lion's mane and neurogenesis

Is Lion’s Mane a Nootropic?

Nootropics are compounds that support the brain’s natural cognitive functions and protect the nervous system, and studies suggest that lion’s mane mushrooms are loaded with these helpful compounds.

2012 paper looked at the nootropic potential of amycenone, a compound found in Hericium erinaceus. Amycenones can pass the blood-brain barrier, meaning that they can provide benefits to brain cells through the bloodstream.

Although more research is needed, anecdotal evidence suggests that this traditional medicine staple can aid in the treatment of sleep apnea and other sleep-related breathing disorders, as well as increase alertness and improve focus. Additionally, there is strong evidence of amycenones restoring cognitive function in mild cognitive impairment.

Can Lion’s Mane Reverse Brain Damage?

Brain cell damage can be caused by oxidative stress, inflammation, stroke, and various other factors. Several studies suggest that lion’s mane mushrooms have the ability to aid in nerve regeneration and reverse nervous system injuries.

An animal study looked at the effects of Hericium erinaceus on brain injuries caused by an ischemic stroke. Researchers gave rats that suffered an ischemic stroke an aqueous extract of Hericium erinaceus. The brain damage significantly improved in rats who were taking the lion’s mane supplement, compared to those who didn’t.

Does Lion’s Mane Promote Nerve Growth?

Clinical studies suggest that one of the properties of the lion’s mane mushroom is its ability to stimulate nerve growth factor (NGF for short) proteins. These proteins aid in the growth and proper development of nerve cells.

Lion’s Mane Promotes Nerve Regeneration in Animals

An in vitro study looked at the effects of Hericium erinaceus on NGF-mediated neurite outgrowth. The study examined the effects of hericenone K in particular and found that the compound stimulated the production of NGF proteins. This, in turn, promoted neurite overgrowth (the fundamental process in neuron differentiation).

Based on the above results, it appears that the mushroom Hericium erinaceus definitely does promote neurogenesis, at least in animals. 

Lion’s Mane May Promote Nerve Growth in Humans

Human studies (such as the one on the effects of Hericium erinaceus on mild cognitive impairment in Japanese adults) show promising results, but the body of evidence is not sufficiently robust to conclusively say that lion’s mane promotes nerve regeneration in humans.

Lion's Mane for Brain Fog

Brain fog is defined by a lack of clarity, forgetfulness, and the lack of ability to focus while performing everyday tasks.

Though there is not a lot of research on using lion's mane for brain fog, its exising brain benefits, anecdotal research, as well as available scientific studies seem to confirm this mushroom can alleviate symptoms of this condition. 

If you want to learn more about the lion's mane mushroom effects on brain development and its brain boosting properties, check out our article on lion's mane and the brain.

What Is the Main Cause of Brain Fog?

There is no one main culprit responsible for causing brain fog. This condition can be caused by stress, overworking, lack of sleep, excess screen time, and even some mental health and chronic inflammatory conditions.

Beating Brain Fog with Lion's Mane Mushrooms

Yes, both anecdotal and research-based evidence seems to suggest that lion’s mane can reduce brain fog. Lion's mane supplements have been reported to be effective in treating brain fog caused by migraines, insomnia, and Lyme's disease after only a few weeks of regular use.

2018 study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food looked at the effects of the medicinal mushroom Hericium erinaceus water extracts on symptoms of depression, including brain fog. Results suggest that the 'smart mushroom' can improve brain fog through the neurotrophic effect it has on the brain and its anti-inflammatory properties. 

What We Can Say Conclusively About Lion’s Mane and Neurogenesis

Here’s what we know to date regarding Hericium erinaceus and nerve growth:

  1. This edible mushroom improved brain cell growth and regeneration in animal studies and had beneficial effects on memory and brain fog in human research.
  2. Animal studies evidence is strong in favor of lion’s mane prompting brain regeneration, including it's ability to promote neuronal formation and the regeneration of damaged neurons in the brain.
  3. Human studies are few and far between on the effects of lion’s mane and neurogenesis. The ones that exist indicate a positive correlation between the consumption of lion’s mane, and improved cognition (which hints at neurogenesis).
  4. More research involving humans is needed to say conclusively that lion’s mane helps human brains grow new nerve cells.
  5. Given that there is no downside to consuming lion’s mane–and given its relatively low cost and high availability–it may make sense to integrateHericium erinaceus dietary supplementation into one’s diet as a complementary and alternative medicine for neurogenesis, based on existing evidence.

When to Take Lion’s Mane

While you can take lion’s mane mushrooms any time of the day, we suggest taking them in the morning or early afternoon. Taking lion’s mane later in the day may make you feel restless, as the 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 lion’s mane provides.

Is it Safe to Take Lion’s Mane Every Day?

Taking lion’s mane mushrooms is completely safe, and can be quite beneficial to take them every day. Frequent use has a cumulative effect, meaning you’ll start noticing the effects of the mushroom sooner. However, the dosing on lion’s mane extracts varies greatly depending on the potency, so make sure not to exceed the dose recommended by the manufacturer.

How Does Lion’s Mane Make You Feel?

Lion’s mane does not have psychotropic properties, so you won’t “trip” on this mushroom. However, you can expect to feel more alert, awake, and focused. With regular use, you may even start to see an improvement in your overall mood, especially if you experience milder symptoms of anxiety or depression.

Interested in Taking Lion’s Mane for Neurogenesis?

If you want to try lion’s mane for neurogenesis, it’s important to go with a premium quality mushroom supplement that contains high levels of helpful compounds. Our Forij Superfood Granola contains a hyperconcentrated extract of the fungus, meaning you’ll get 10-15 times the nutrient density you would get in a mushroom powder—with none of the mushroom taste.

In addition to containing lion’s mane extract, our granola also has hyperconcentrated cordyceps and chaga mushroom extracts, it’s vegan, gluten-free, and made completely out of clean ingredients you can pronounce. Who knew your morning bowl of cereal could be this tasty?

Lion’s Mane and Neurogenesis FAQ

Does lion's mane make you smarter?

While it doesn’t necessarily make you smarter, one of the many benefits of lion’s mane mushrooms seems to be memory improvement. Although human studies on this effect of the medicinal mushroom are still scarce, some animal studies suggest that lion’s mane can improve memory.  For example, a 2019 study concluded that lion’s mane supplementation significantly improved recognition memory in aging mice.

Does lion's mane lower testosterone?

There are no studies to suggest lion’s mane mushrooms decrease testosterone production. Quite the contrary, one of the effects of adaptogenic mushrooms, including lion’s mane, is often an increase in levels of testosterone in the body. Taking lion’s mane may or may not improve your testosterone levels—but certainly won’t lower testosterone.

Can lion's mane prevent dementia?

Research suggests that the adaptogenic mushroom Hericium erinaceushas a positive effect on the mental functions of people with memory loss and dementia.

According to a 2020 double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial, lion’s mane mushroom extract significantly improved overall cognitive function in people with early symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.

If you want to learn more about the mechanisms behind the dementia-preventive properties of this mushroom, check out our detailed post on lion’s mane and Alzheimer’s

Can lion's mane replace Adderall?

Hericium erinaceus may aid in the treatment of ADHD. Lion’s mane mushrooms can aid in memory and focus enhancement, and some people find that lion’s mane mushrooms help them eliminate the need for Adderall. However, always consult with your physician or psychiatrist before making medication changes. Alternatively, you can take lion’s mane in addition to Adderall, as the fungus won’t interfere with the effects of the drug.

Does lion's mane increase serotonin?

Although lion's mane does not increase total serotonin levels, research suggests that the mushroom has the ability to stabilize blood serotonin levels, as well as levels of other neurotransmitters, such as dopamine.

Therefore, the medicinal mushroom may increase levels of serotonin in people with naturally low levels of the neurotransmitter but not in those with normal levels. This can be quite helpful in reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression caused by neurotransmitter imbalances. 

Can you take lion's mane and reishi together?

Yes, you can take lion’s mane mushrooms with any other type of medicinal fungus, including reishi and shiitake mushroom varieties. When it comes to adaptogenic mushrooms, the whole is always greater than the sum of its parts, so the benefits of reishi mushrooms can only be improved upon by taking them with lion’s make and vice versa.

Can you take cordyceps and lion's mane together?

Yes, you can take cordyceps and lion’s mane together, and you will reap more benefits of both fungi by doing so, which is why we included both mushrooms, in addition to chaga, in our granola. Forij granola combines the cancer-fighting properties of cordyceps with the nootropic effects of lion’s mane and the immunity-boosting properties of chaga. 

Is lion's mane a blood thinner?

Lion’s mane mushrooms are anticoagulants, which means they decrease blood clotting. While the adaptogenic mushroom won’t act as a blood thinner on its own, it may aid in the blood-thinning properties of certain medications. Therefore, if you are on blood thinners, it’s best to consult your doctor before you start taking lion’s mane supplements.


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  2. Martínez‐Mármol, R. (2023). Hericerin derivatives activate a pan‐neurotrophic pathway in central hippocampal neurons converging to ERK1 /2 signaling enhancing spatial memory. Journal of Neurochemistry.
  3. Ryu, S. H. (2021). Neurotrophic isoindolinones from the fruiting bodies of Hericium erinaceus. Bioorganic & Medicinal Chemistry Letters, 31, 127714.
  4. Taupin P. (2006). Neurogenesis and the effect of antidepressants. Drug target insights, 1, 13–17.
  5. Chong, P. S. (2021). Neurogenesis-dependent antidepressant-like activity of Hericium erinaceus in an animal model of depression. Chinese Medicine, 16(1).
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  7. Lee, K. F. (2014). Protective Effects of Hericium erinaceus Mycelium and Its Isolated Erinacine A against Ischemia-Injury-Induced Neuronal Cell Death via the Inhibition of iNOS/p38 MAPK and Nitrotyrosine. International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 15(9), 15073–15089.
  8. Zhang, C. C. (2015). Chemical constituents from Hericium erinaceus and their ability to stimulate NGF-mediated neurite outgrowth on PC12 cells. Bioorganic & Medicinal Chemistry Letters, 25(22), 5078–5082.
  9. Mori, K. (2009). Improving effects of the mushroom Yamabushitake (Hericium erinaceus) on mild cognitive impairment: a double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial. Phytotherapy Research, 23(3), 367–372.
  10. Ratto, D., Corana, F., Mannucci, B., Priori, E. C., Cobelli, F., Roda, E., Ferrari, B., Occhinegro, A. (2019). Hericium erinaceus Improves Recognition Memory and Induces Hippocampal and Cerebellar Neurogenesis in Frail Mice during Aging. Nutrients, 11(4), 715.
  11. Li, I. C. (2020). Prevention of Early Alzheimer’s Disease by Erinacine A-Enriched Hericium erinaceus Mycelia Pilot Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Study. Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, 12.
  12. Ryu, S. (2018). Hericium erinaceus Extract Reduces Anxiety and Depressive Behaviors by Promoting Hippocampal Neurogenesis in the Adult Mouse Brain. Journal of Medicinal Food, 21(2), 174–180.

Forij Disclaimer

The information provided in this article is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any disease or illness. The statements contained herein have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

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