We get asked a lot whether it is healthier to take lion’s mane with or without food.
You can take Hericium erinaceus on an empty stomach, as part of a meal, or however you like. There are a few factors to consider, though.
Let’s dive deeper into the topic.
What are Lion’s Mane Mushrooms?
The lion’s mane medicinal mushroom (Hericium erinaceus) has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries, and it’s still known as one of the healthiest mushrooms in alternative medicine. This mushroom species grows in cooler climates and is native to northern parts of Europe and Asia, as well as North America, where it grows on dead tree debris.
What are the Health Benefits of Lion’s Mane?
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 factor (NGF) proteins and repair brain cells. It appears to fight inflammation and oxidation, lower blood sugar levels, as well as improve mental functions and neuronal health.
Some of the beneficial effects of lion’s mane mushrooms include:
- reduces symptoms of anxiety and depressive disorders
- provides anti-inflammatory effects
- improves central nervous system functions by stimulating nerve growth factors
- has a protective effect on cognitive function 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 and neuropathy
- reduces the risk of sleep disorders
- prevents memory loss and protects against mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease
- lowers blood sugars, which is quite beneficial to those with diabetes
- encourages apoptosis (cell death) of cancer cells, and has the potential to fight cancer
- aids in weight loss and weight maintenance
- improves digestive health and protects against stomach ulcers caused by Helicobacter pylori and ulcerative colitis
- boosts immunity and improves immune function
- has neuroprotective properties and reduces nerve damage in neurodegenerative diseases, such as multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease
Does Lion's Mane Have Side Effects?
Although there are no studies on the adverse effects of Hericium erinaceus, anecdotal evidence and centuries of use suggest that lion's mane mushrooms are completely safe.
There is a slight possibility of side effects such as an upset stomach or diarrhea at high doses, but you can mitigate these problems by starting with a lower dosage or taking lion’s mane with food.
Should I Take Lion’s Mane On an Empty Stomach?
Your call. You can take lion’s mane with food or on an empty stomach. Fresh lion’s mane is usually eaten as part of a meal, while people usually take lion’s mane powder, extract, and supplements on an empty stomach first thing in the morning.
Taking Lion’s Mane Powder
Lion’s mane mushroom powder works best when taken early in the morning on an empty stomach. However, doing so may cause digestive issues, especially if you’re not used to adaptogenic mushrooms. If you notice any side effects, try mixing the powder into a hearty smoothie to ease any stomach problems.
Taking Lion’s Mane Supplements
You should be taking a lion’s mane mushroom supplement in the morning or early afternoon to reap this mushroom’s energizing effects.
Most people take lion’s mane capsules and other supplements with their daily vitamins. If your stomach is already used to the vitamins, lion’s mane supplements shouldn’t cause any digestive issues, especially if you eat your breakfast soon after taking them.
Taking Foods Fortified with Lion’s Mane
If you aren’t used to taking mushroom powders and supplements, foods fortified with lion’s mane may be your best bet.
Due to the popularity of this mushroom, it’s easy to find lion’s mane tea, coffee, and even cereal (such as our mushroom granola). By opting for fortified foods, you’ll avoid any digestive issues lion’s mane may cause and still reap all of its benefits.
What is the Best Way to Consume Lion's Mane?
There is no one superior way to consume Hericium erinaceus. You can even combine multiple ways of taking lion’s mane. For example, make a recipe that uses cooked lion’s mane, find a fortified food you love, and drink lion’s mane tea when you want a refreshing beverage.
What Time of Day Should I Take Lion's Mane?
It’s best to take lion’s mane in the morning or early afternoon. That way you’ll reap its energizing benefits throughout the day. Taking lion’s mane later in the day could make you feel restless and unable to fall asleep.
Should You Take Lion’s Mane Every Day?
It’s not only completely safe but highly beneficial to take lion’s mane mushrooms every day. Long-term benefits of lion’s mane—such as their ability to prevent diabetes and alleviate symptoms of Parkinson’s disease—become more pronounced the longer you use this mushroom.
Are You Interested in Trying Lion’s Mane Mushrooms?
If you want to incorporate the Hericium erinaceus into your diet, you can do so with our Forij Superfood Granola.
Our granola contains a hyperconcentrated lion’s mane mushroom extract, as well as cordyceps and chaga mushroom powders.
The granola is vegan, gluten-free, packed with nutrients, and delicious. What more could you want in a morning bowl of cereal?
Lion’s Mane FAQ
How quickly does lion's mane work?
That depends on what you’re taking the mushroom for. You can notice the short-term effects of lion’s mane after just a few days. You’ll likely feel less anxious and more energized within the first two weeks of taking lion’s mane extracts. However, to reap the long-term benefits of lion’s mane, you should be taking it consistently for at least a few months.
Does lion's mane affect sleep?
Lion’s mane will not make you sleepy, but the anxiolytic effect of Hericium erinaceus could help you fall asleep easier.
A double-blind, placebo-controlled study on the effects of lion’s mane on depression and anxiety in Japanese menopausal women shows that this adaptogenic mushroom could reduce symptoms of these mental health conditions.
Thus, if a mental health condition is affecting your sleep, taking lion’s mane could help you fall asleep and alleviate insomnia.
Does lion's mane give you energy?
Lion’s mane does not contain caffeine, but it can give you a natural energy boost. A lion’s mane mushroom extract was shown to promote neurogenesis, which, in turn, leads to better memory and overall cognitive functioning. The brain health boost will certainly make you feel more clear-headed and energized.
Can you take lion’s mane, reishi, and maitake mushrooms together?
Yes, you can take lion’s mane with any medicinal mushroom, including the 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 other adaptogenic fungi.
This article was written strictly for informational purposes and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. The statements contained herein are not evaluated by healthcare professionals or the FDA advisory board, and are not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment information.