A Guide to the Lion’s Mane Mushroom

Is lion's mane healthy? Why yes, it is. Lion's mane has so many health benefits that it's crazy. That's why we include it in our granola. Hericium erinaceus packs a slew of amazing bioactive compounds that affect everything from neurogenesis to depression

Can the lion’s mane mushroom treat diabetes, beat cancer, and help you achieve God-tier mental abilities? Let's take a look at what the science says about the many benefits of this bizarre, shaggy fungus.

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What are lion's mane mushrooms?

What is the mushroom lion's mane good for?

How can you take lion's mane?

What are the negative effects of lion's mane?

Can you grow lion's mane at home?

How does lion's mane make you feel?

How much lion's mane mushroom is in Forij granola?

lion's mane for clarity and focusWhat are Lion’s Mane Mushrooms?

Hericium erinaceusotherwise known as lion's mane, bearded tooth, or pom pom mushroom, is an edible and adaptogenic mushroom. It's native to Europe, Asia, and North America. 

Where to Find Lion’s Mane Mushrooms

In the wild, lion’s mane is most commonly found in wooded areas during the summer and fall

Lion's mane usually feeds on dead trees, making it saprotrophic. However, it can also be found on certain living trees, where it lives as a parasite.

If tromping through the woods isn’t your thing, you can grow lion’s mane mushrooms yourself.

Or, you can buy lion’s mane online or from a local market that carries them; just do your research on lion’s mane sellers in your city.

Potential Medicinal Properties of Lion’s Mane Mushrooms

There's plenty of research on the medicinal properties of Hericium erinaceusand the results are promising. 

Here are some of the potential health benefits of the lion’s mane mushroom:

  • it seems to be able to protect against symptoms of dementia
  • it may reduce inflammation
  • it may alleviate neuropathic pain
  • it has been shown to reduce mild symptoms of depression and anxiety in some studies
  • it may increase testosterone levels
  • it possesses organic compounds that show cancer-fighting potential
  • it seems to promote neural regeneration and overall brain health
  • it shows promise for promoting gut health

From an evidence based perspective, these medicinal fungi have incredible potential and should be investigated further.

How to Grow Lion’s Mane Mushrooms

Growing mushrooms yourself can be a fun and rewarding hobby if you’re prepared to devote significant time and resources to it. 

If you’re going to attempt growing lion’s mane mushrooms, make sure you’ve got the right sort of facilities in your home or apartment. 

You’ll need a cool, damp, dark space. Basements work well, though you can also set up a small mushroom growing operation in a cabinet or a closet. 

You have three primary options when it comes to growing lion’s mane mushrooms yourself:

  1. Growing with a kit. Mushroom growing kits are readily available to purchase from various online retailers. This is the easiest option for someone without mushroom growing experience.
  2. Commercially made spawn. You can buy lion’s mane mushroom spawn and cultivate it yourself.
  3. Make your own lion’s mane spawn. This is the most advanced method of growing your own lion’s mane mushrooms. You’ll be spawning your own lion’s mane starting with a pure culture on agar, a jelly-like substance derived from algae.

If you want to try it yourself, this handy tutorial shows you how to get started with a kit.

Still, fungi can be quite fickle, so don't get discouraged if you don't succeed the first time. Until you get the hang of it, you can find your supply of lion's mane at various farmers' markets, with the prices ranging from $8 to $38 per pound.

lion's mane mushroom

"Lion's mane mushroom" bycricketsblog is licensed underCC BY 2.0

Lion’s Mane Mushroom Health Benefits

Hericium erinaceus has been a staple in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries. Still, modern society only recently began to appreciate the various lion’s mane mushroom benefits. These culinary and medicinal mushrooms are an incredible source of antioxidants and can aid in the protection of various internal organs.

So why is lion’s mane one of the hottest health topics in 2022? It seems to be a cognitive health powerhouse–among other health benefits!

Lion’s Mane and Brain Health

The fungus’s cognitive health benefits are compelling. It’s important to note that, while much lion’s mane clinical research has been done on laboratory animals, it looks extremely promising for neuronal health and mental function.

Studies correlate improved cognitive functions and stronger neuronal cells to lion’s mane ingestion. So, just how far do the mushroom’s brain boosting benefits extend?

  • Boosting mental clarity? Evidence says yes.
  • Enhancing cognitive functions? Check.
  • Lowering anxiety and depression? So it seems.
  • Helping with regeneration of nerve cells? Affirmative.
  • Alleviating symptoms of ADHD? Mmhmm.

Clinical trials also show that lion's mane may be beneficial for progressive illnesses, such as Alzheimer's, in addition to improving overall memory and cognitive health

Lion’s Mane and Alzheimer’s Disease

The research on lion's mane and Alzheimer's disease is very promising. 

A
2016 study explored the neuroprotective effects of lion's mane on induced Alzheimer's disease in mice. Hericium erinaceus drastically improved the neurological health of test subjects. Treated mice needed less time than a placebo group to successfully finish various cognitive tests, such as a water maze.

Another Chinese study looked at the effects of the lion's mane mycelium on Alzheimer's and mild cognitive impairment. The mycelium, found in the fruiting body of the mushroom, was demonstrated to “possess anti-dementia activity in mouse model[s] of Alzheimer's disease and people with mild cognitive impairment.” 

In short, lion’s mane mushroom seems to aid in neurogenesis and to fight against diseases of neurological decline such as Alzheimer’s.

Lion’s Mane for Stroke Protection

According to a 2015 scientific articleHericium erinaceus may aid in stroke prevention. The mushroom fruit bodies and mycelia are full of bioactive compounds that seem to have cardioprotective and antihypertensive properties.

In addition to helping lower the probability of having a stroke, lion’s mane also has protective properties that aid in recovery after a stroke. 

A 2014 study investigated the “nerve-growth properties of Hericium erinaceus mycelium”; specifically,whether lion's mane mycelium can (1) protect against ischemic stroke, and (2) assist in nerve regeneration after a stroke. 

The answer appears to be yes on both counts.

The findings confirmed that Hericium erinaceus helps reduce the extent of brain injury caused by stroke-restricted blood flow to areas of the brain. 

The study also indicated that Hericium erinaceus mycelium has “nerve-growth properties” for post-stroke recovery. Said neural regeneration properties also “include the prevention of ischemic injury to neurons,” which occurs during a stroke.

Lion’s Mane for Neural Regeneration

In addition to slowing down the progression of dementia and alleviating the effects of a stroke, lion's mane mushrooms have promising benefits on overall neurological health, and it may even slow down the progression of multiple sclerosis.

A 2011 study investigated the impact of Hericium erinaceus on nerve injury recovery. Results suggest that daily intake of this fungus could stimulate the regeneration of injured nerves.

An in vitro experiment examined whether the mushrooms could influence the process of myelination (myelin production). Myelin is a layer that forms around nerves and protects them, which is why its production is integral for nerve health. Lion's mane extract promoted the normal development of brain cells and myelin.

Lion’s Mane and Heart Health

Platelet buildup in blood vessels causes blood clots, which can cause problems in your lungs, brain, and extremities. A 2010 study found that hericenone B, a compound found in lion's mane, worked to lessen platelet aggregation. This indicates that lion’s mane could be useful for those at high risk of thrombosis (blood clots that can block veins and arteries). 

Hericium erinaceus can also aid in fat metabolism. Researchers administered lion's mane to mice on a high-fat diet for 28 days. Without any changes in diet, the body fat percentage and levels of triacylglycerol (a type of fat found in the blood) decreased. 

Another study came to a similar conclusion. Lion's mane decreased levels of low-density, bad cholesterol (LDL), and increased levels of high-density, good cholesterol (HDL) in rats. 

lion's mane for heart health

Lion’s Mane and Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson's disease is a neurodegenerative disorder that affects dopamine-producing neurons. Since lion's mane has demonstrated nerve regeneration properties, it may alleviate the symptoms of this disease.

A study published in 2020 examined whether lion's mane mushrooms could slow down the neurodegenerative process of Parkinson's disease. Researchers concluded that erinacine, derived from Hericium erinaceus, reduces neurotoxicity in the MPTP Parkinson's model.

Although more research is needed, it's safe to say that lion's mane mushrooms may help slow the progression of Parkinson's disease, especially if combined with traditional medication and an overall healthy lifestyle.

Lion’s Mane Spiritual Benefits

Nearly one in five people in the US live with some form of mental health issue, most commonly anxiety and depression. Whether you're struggling with mental health problems yourself, want to reap the spiritual benefits of lion's mane, or just want to achieve more mental clarity and focus, research suggests lion's mane can help you in your quest.

Lion’s Mane for Clarity and Focus

A few studies show promising results when it comes to using lion's mane for memory, overall brain health, clarity, and focus.

For example, an animal study published in 2017 looked at the effects of the mushroom on neuronal health and memory. The results show lion's mane significantly increased recognition memory, nerve growth, and neurotransmission in healthy mice.

Another study examined the effects of medicinal mushrooms, Hericium erinaceus included, on aging brains. Although it was an in vitro study, the results indicate improvement in cognitive functions from daily lion’s mane consumption.

Lion’s Mane and Anxiety

Lion's mane seems to help anxiety, as well as lessen the symptoms of many other mental health issues.

A
2010 study investigated the clinical effects of lion's mane on various symptoms of menopause, including anxiety. Half of the 30 women in the study were given cookies that contained the mushroom, while medical reviewers gave the other half a placebo.

After four weeks, the participants taking the mushroom reported better mental health. They scored lower than the placebo group on psychological tests that measure irritability and anxiety.

Another study looked at the effects of Hericium erinaceus extract on depression and anxiety. Results show that the mushroom extract reduces depressive and anxious behaviors by promoting the growth of new nerve cells in the hippocampus.

Lion’s Mane and Depression

The research on lion's mane and depression shows promising results.

Erinacine, one of the bioactive compounds found in lion's mane, could be an active agent in the treatment of depressive disorders. A
2018 study showed that erinacine produces antidepressant effects by modulating certain pathways and blocking NF-kB signals in mice.

A scientific article from 2020 took a critical look at the research linking lion's mane and depression. Although still at an early stage, this research demonstrates that lion's mane significantly relieves depressive episodes through monoaminergic regulation.

Lion’s Mane and Gut Health

Lion’s mane shows promise for promoting gut health.

Lion’s Mane and H. Pylori

Helicobacter pylori is a type of bacteria that causes ulcers in the stomach and intestines. In some instances, these infections can even contribute to stomach cancer.

Several studies examined how Hericium erinaceus may inhibit Helicobacter pylori. One revealed that ethanol extracts from lion's mane hindered the production of these harmful gut bacteria.

An in vitro study from 2013 came to a similar conclusion. A medicinal mushroom supplement made of 14 mushroom species, including lion's mane, inhibited the growth of H. pylori in an isolated cell.

Lion’s Mane and Ulcerative Colitis

A randomized, single-blind, placebo-controlled study examined the effects of a mushroom extract on ulcerative colitis. The extract contained several mushrooms, including lion's mane.

The results concluded that the extract had beneficial effects on symptoms of ulcerative colitis. It was particularly useful in mild to moderate cases, and for those who used conventional medication in addition to the extract.

Lion’s Mane and Diabetes

Hericium erinaceus polysaccharides possess various bioactive benefits, including anti-hyperglycemia. Essentially, these lion’s mane organic compounds can help lower blood sugar levels—quite useful for those with diabetes.

lion's mane for diabetesA 2013 study looked at the effects of a water-soluble extract of lion's mane in rats with diabetes. After 28 days on the medicinal mushrooms, the blood glucose level in subject rats lowered significantly.

Another study looked at the protective effects of Hericium erinaceus on neuropathic pain caused by diabetes. Levels of pain improved in rats after taking a lion's mane supplement for six weeks.

Lion’s Mane and Cancer

Many medicinal mushrooms exhibit incredible anti-tumor potential, including lion's maneCerebrosides found in lion's mane fruiting bodies could be particularly beneficial for cancer patients. A study assessed how cerebroside E, in particular, can aid in cancer treatment.

The compound was shown to slow down the growth of new cancer cells by inhibiting the formation of new blood vessels that would supply the cancer cells with blood.

Hericium erinaceus also contains phytochemicals (bioactive compounds) that may have therapeutic potential against certain types of cancer, including leukemia.

Lion's mane may also possess antimetastatic activity, especially for lung cancer metastasis. A 2013 study found that the mushroom strongly elicited cancer cell death by inhibiting metastasis of cancer cells.

Lion’s Mane and the Immune System

A study investigated the effects of lion's mane polysaccharides on immune health in mice. Results suggest that Hericium erinaceus improves immune function by enhancing both cell and humoral immunity.

The medicinal fungus can also aid in the regulation of the gut microbiome. A 2017 study revealed that a protein isolated from lion's mane acted as a probiotic and was beneficial for metabolism, in general. Given that the gut plays a major role in the immune system, a healthy gut microbiome is crucial for optimal immune health.

Another study looked at the potential antibacterial effects of Hericium erinaceus in mice. The results suggest that the lion's mane mushroom extract activated innate immune cells, thus helping the body fight bacterial infections.

Lion’s Mane to Fight Inflammation

Antioxidant properties and the ability to fight inflammation are among the many benefits of lion's mane mushrooms. A 2014 study found that water-soluble oligosaccharides found in Hericium erinaceus had incredible antioxidant activity.

lion's mane for inflammationAnother study looked at lion's mane mushroom’s ability to reduce inflammation in mice with acute alcohol poisoning. The mice that were taking lion's mane supplements had significantly less severe liver damage than their control counterparts.

The lion's mane mushroom contains polysaccharides that can lessen oxidative stress. A 2012 study found increased antioxidant enzymes in mice after 15 days of ingesting lion's mane.

How to Eat Lion’s Mane

The lion's mane mushroom dosage you should consume on a daily basis will differ based on what you're taking the fungus for. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to include lion's mane in your diet.

Some of the most common include lion's mane mushroom capsules and lion’s mane mushroom powder or extract. Alternatively, you can use dry mushrooms in recipes or opt for a fortified food that contains lion's mane.

For example, Forij granola contains lion's mane mushroom extract and is extremely tasty as an added bonus!

  • Lion’s Mane Powder

Lion's mane mushroom powder is one of the most common ways to consume these fungi. You can put the powder in your smoothies, shakes, or simply mix it with water. 

Mushroom powders allow you to reap all the lion's mane mushroom benefits. However, if you're not a fan of the earthy mushroom taste of lion's mane, you may want to find alternative ways to consume lion’s mane.

  • Lion’s Mane Supplements

You can get a lion's mane mushroom supplement in many forms, with mushroom capsules being the most popular choice. You can take a lion’s mane capsule with your daily vitamins in the morning and reap the benefits of the mushroom all day. However, if you often forget to take your supplements, this option may not be the right choice for you.

  • Cooking Lion’s Mane Mushrooms in Recipes

If you're a fan of mushrooms, try a few mushroom recipes out yourself. There are plenty of lion's mane mushroom recipe options to choose from, so you can experiment until you find ones you like.

  • Lion’s Mane Tea 

You can make lion's mane tea out of a powder supplement or buy a pre-made tea mix. If you're using a powder, pour a cup of boiling water over a teaspoon of it and let it steep for about 10 minutes. Alternatively, if you're using a pre-made mix, follow the instructions provided to you by the manufacturer.

  • Forij Superfood Granola

Researchers suggest that lion's mane should be taken every day for at least two weeks if you want to reap its many benefits. And, is there a better way to get your daily dose of the fungus than a bowl of delicious cereal?

Forij offers healthy granola in three flavors: cinnamon, sunflower seed cacao, and vanilla almond. In one bowl of cereal, you'll get your daily dose of lion's mane mushroom plus the highly beneficial cordyceps and chaga mushrooms

Forij granola uses a high-quality lion's mane extract 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 a regular lion’s mane supplement. Therefore, you get as much lion's mane potency as you would if you were taking a 2000 mg mushroom powder supplement, all in one bowl of granola.

Forij superfood granola

Can You Eat Lion’s Mane Raw?

Yes, you can eat lion's mane mushrooms raw. However, you may not reap all of the lion's mane mushroom benefits this way. 

Since raw fungi are difficult to digest, your body may not absorb all of the nutrients.

And, if your gut has difficulty with uncooked vegetables, the mushroom may also give you gastrointestinal issues. If that happens, try taking lion's mane with food, preferably breakfast, to avoid gut problems.

Lion’s Mane Dangers

Research suggests that lion's mane mushrooms are safe to consume, even at high doses. Still, be cautious if you have a history of allergies, especially to other types of fungi, mold, or yeast.

Lion’s Mane Drug Interactions

Lion's mane appears to interact with certain prescription drugs, such as blood clotting medication. Since Hericium erinaceus can slow down blood clotting, it may increase your chances of bleeding or bruising if you're on medication that also prevents blood clotting, such as aspirin.

Lion’s Mane Addiction

Lion's mane does not get you high, and poses no risk of addiction, even if you consume it every day. 

If you stop using the mushrooms, you won't experience symptoms of withdrawal or other problems.

Interested in Trying Lion’s Mane?

Although there is no definitive proof that this fungus can treat, cure, or prevent any disease on its own, there is plenty of research on the many health benefits of lion's mane. If you're interested in experiencing the full spectrum of benefits this mushroom can offer, you can't go wrong with Forij Superfood Granola

Forij granola is gluten-free, vegan, and full of mushroom nutrients. In addition to lion's mane mushrooms, it contains chaga and cordyceps. Who knew you could improve your focus, energy, and overall health just by eating delicious cereal?

Lion’s Mane Mushroom FAQ

How does lion’s mane make you feel?

Lion's mane does not give you a high in the psychotropic sense. However, it can positively affect your brain health. Regular use of lion's mane can lead to a decrease in depression and anxiety symptoms. Additionally, the mushroom may make you feel more relaxed, as well as improve your focus and memory.

How long does it take to notice the effects of lion’s mane?

Like with any herbal supplement, it may take a while before you notice the effects of lion's mane mushrooms. You will need to use it regularly for at least two weeks before you notice a difference in your overall well-being. And, of course, the longer you use it, the more pronounced the benefits will be.

Is it safe to take lion’s mane every day?

Yes, it is perfectly safe to take lion's mane mushrooms on a daily basis, even in high doses. However, if you are allergic to certain fungi, mold, or yeast, make sure to talk to your healthcare professional if you notice any side effects.

Is lion's mane healthy?

Lion's mane mushrooms are among the healthiest foods you could possibly find on the planet.

Can I take reishi and lion’s mane together?

When it comes to mushrooms, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Medicinal mushrooms such as the maitake mushroom, hedgehog mushroom, lion's mane, and reishi mushrooms each have their own sets of benefits.

Therefore, we always suggest taking more than one medicinal fungus, as combining them can only lead to a fuller range of benefits, including neuronal health and more.

Can I buy certified organic lion’s mane mushrooms?

Yes, there are many sources for certified organic mushrooms, including lion’s mane. You can find them online, as well as in most major cities.

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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