Do you know that feeling when you place your TV remote somewhere and can't remember exactly where? People with Alzheimer's go through this feeling—and worse—daily. The disease destroys brain cells, affecting a person's behavior, speech, memory, and thinking.
Scientists have been working extremely hard to find a solution to Alzheimer's disease to eliminate the condition and support the community of people dealing with this health complication. However, although a few clinical trials in the pipeline show promise, scientists are also looking at alternative treatments to combat Alzheimer's disease, like Lion's mane mushroom.
Lion's mane has already proven itself as one of the best mushrooms for brain health. Numerous studies support that the fungus positively impacts the hippocampus, neurons, the central nervous system, and other parts connected to the brain.
But, can you use Lion's mane for Alzheimer's disease?
This detailed guide aims to show you how Lion's mane can help with Alzheimer's disease. Below we will take a closer look at the relationship between Lion's mane mushroom and Alzheimer's and how the mushroom may help lower the risk of disease.
Let's get right to it.
Is There a Relationship Between Lion's Mane And Alzheimer's Disease?
It is estimated that 24 million people(1) have Alzheimer's disease worldwide. Even in the western world, Alzheimer's disease is the most common cause of dementia.
A diagnosis of Alzheimer's can leave people feeling lost and hopeless. Currently, there are no drugs on the market that prevent, reverse, or halt the progression of Alzheimer's disease. But some treatments may change disease progression and help treat symptoms.
Lion's mane (also known as Hericium erinaceus) is a medicinal, edible mushroom containing two key bioactive compounds beneficial for brain health, hericenones and erinacines (isolated from the fruiting body and mycelium, respectively).
Through these compounds, Lion's mane offers neurogenesis benefits. Preclinical studies suggest that it may be able to increase levels of a protein called nerve growth factor (NGF), which is essential for the growth, differentiation, and survival of nerve cells.
The two natural bioactive substances in Lion's mane mushrooms could potentially contribute to the benefits of the medical fungus in Alzheimer's. In addition, the lions mane dementia benefits may also result from the eranacines and hericenones—it is worth noting that dementia is an umbrella term commonly given to brain health issues that affect memory and thinking.
Most brain health diseases, including Alzheimer's disease, result from decreased nerve growth factor levels. The mushroom's ability to increase the nerve growth factor's production is why Lion's mane is used for Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's, and other conditions.
Research exploring the benefits of Lion's mane for Alzheimer's indicates that the mushroom may help improve cognitive function scale compared to other solutions currently being investigated. In addition, some studies suggest that Lion's mane may reduce inflammation and biological markers of Alzheimer's.
Lion's Mane Mushroom For Alzheimer's: What The Evidence Tells Us?
The blood-brain barrier helps protect your brain from certain toxins found in your blood. However, this barrier sometimes doesn't let through compounds that may benefit your brain and the central nervous system.
However, hericenones and erinacines can cross the blood-brain barrier quite quickly, contributing to their brain health-boosting properties. Furthermore, when these bioactive compounds cross this barrier, they boost the cognitive function scale to help with visual recognition memory. This further shows that Lion's mane offers memory benefits too.
Below, we will take a deeper look at the numerous benefits of Lion's mane mushrooms on people dealing with Alzheimer's disease.
Improves Mild Cognitive Impairment
Two research studies suggest that Lion's mane may improve cognition in healthy patients or individuals with mild cognitive impairment (MCI). Information from the two studies—one from 2009 and the other from 2019—suggests that taking Lion's mane supplements can significantly positively change people dealing with cognition problems.
Below, we will look at the two studies to see how Lion's mane supplements—Lion's mane mushroom extract and Lion's mane mushroom powder—can boost your brain health.
The 2009 Study
The first study on the benefits of Lion's mane for brain health from Japan was published in 2009(2). In this study, the researchers analyzed the benefits of Lion's mane extract or powder on improving the cognition of 50- to 80-year-old Japanese men and women diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment.
Thirty participants were randomly divided into two 15-person groups, one given Lion's mane mushroom and the other given a placebo. The group receiving this traditional Chinese medicine (Lion's mane mushroom) took four 250 mg tablets containing 96% of Hericium erinaceus dry powder three times a day for 16 weeks. They were then observed for the next four weeks.
Researchers found that at weeks 8, 12, and 16 of the trial, the group receiving the mushroom showed significantly increased scores on the cognitive function scale compared with the placebo group.
This suggested a positive impact of Lion's mane mushroom on their brain function. Furthermore, laboratory tests showed no adverse effect—when using the recommended Lion's mane dosage in the research study, the patients did not deal with any side effects.
However, the cognitive performance declined after the treatment ended, indicating that this mushroom may not have lasting benefits after discontinuing. This suggests that a family—or a group of caregivers—who would like to improve the cognitive function of a member with Alzheimer's disease may need to give the mushroom consistently.
Consistent consumption of Lion's mane will promote long-term nerve growth factor synthesis, which can quickly eliminate the need to get other medications for people who have received the Alzheimer's diagnosis from their doctor.
The results from the 2009 study suggest that Lion's mane mushroom effectively improves mild cognitive impairment. The mushroom may also maintain cognitive health in people who do not have mild cognitive impairment condition or problems with cognition.
The 2019 Study
In another similar study, published in 2019(3), the improvement of cognitive functions by oral intake of Hericium erinaceus was explored. Supplements containing the fruiting body of Hericium erinaceus were given for 12 weeks. Three different kinds of tests were performed.
Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE), a cognitive test designed to measure dementia, showed that oral intake of Lion's mane mushroom significantly improved cognitive functions and prevented deterioration. It is, therefore, unclear how relevant these results are to already healthy individuals.
However, based on the study's results, researchers speculated that the various chemical compounds in the mushroom, including hericenones, have multiple effects on the brain's neural networks and improve cognitive functions. Therefore, Lion's mane could be a safe and convenient method for dementia prevention so far.
Different clinical trials have been used to determine whether Lion's mane can be effective in the prevention of dementia and treatment of dementia patients. The clinical trials showed that irrespective of how the mushroom was used—including Lion's mane tinctures—the mushroom showed improved cognition on the revised Hasegawa dementia scale.
The fruiting body of Hericium erinaceus has been demonstrated to possess anti-dementia(4) activity in mice with Alzheimer's disease and people with mild cognitive impairment. The mice were given Lion's mane mushroom mycelia for 30 days, which attenuated the burden of the plaques of Alzheimer's in the brain.
These results highlight the therapeutic potential of Lion's mane mushroom for Alzheimer's disease. Therefore, the effective components of Hericium erinaceus are worth to be developed to become a therapeutic drug for Alzheimer's disease.
Reduces The Burden Of Alzheimer's Plaque In The Brain
When fighting Alzheimer's disease, Lion's mane goes beyond nerve regeneration to fight plaque in the brain. Apart from neurodegenerative diseases, these plaques are also a leading cause of Alzheimer's.
Several studies have focused on more than Lion's mane's ability to help with cholinergic neurons and NGF synthesis. Below, we will take a look at how Lion's mane prevents cognitive decline by fighting Alzheimer's plaque:
The 2016 Study
In another study from 2016(5), erinacine S, erinacine A, and several new compounds were isolated from the ethanol extract of the mycelia of Lion's mane medicinal mushrooms.
Of these, erinacines A and S attenuated the burden of Alzheimer's plaque in the cerebral cortex in mice. This resulted in improved cognitive functioning in the rats (mice) used in the study.
The 2018 Study
Similar results were seen in a 2018 study from Taiwan(6), where a 30-day short-term administration of erinacine A and S was performed on mice. Again, the results indicated the beneficial effects of both erinacine A and S in the brain, including the promotion of neurogenesis.
When a long-term administration of erinacine A was further performed, results indicated that erinacine A helped recover the impairment in the tasks.
The 2011 Study
In a study published in 2011 in Biomedical research(7), Hericium erinaceus impacts on amyloid peptide-induced learning and memory deficits in mice were examined in animal models. Interestingly, the study arrived at the same results as other preclinical studies—proving that Lion's mane is an effective solution.
The mice were fed a diet containing Lion's mane mushroom over a 23-day experimental period, and memory and learning functions were examined using several tests.
The results revealed that Lion's mane prevented impairments of memory induced by the amyloid peptide. This finding suggests that Hericium erinaceus may help prevent cognitive dysfunction.
How Lion's Mane Mushroom Decreases The Risk Factors For Alzheimer's
Now, we have seen how Lion's mane helps in Alzheimer's disease with its ability to stimulate the nerve growth factor. Also, we have discovered that Lion's mane mushroom extract and Lion's mane mushroom powder go beyond the nerve growth factor synthesis to keep plaques from damaging your brain cells.
However, how about its role in preventing the development of risk factors? How do Lion's mane mushroom's other potential health benefits lower your risk of Alzheimer's disease?
Several factors(8) can modify the risk of Alzheimer's disease. For instance, type II diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, and traumatic brain injury can contribute to the development of Alzheimer's.
Let's look at how each of these may be implicated in the disease and the potential role of the Lion's mane mushroom.
1. Lion's Mane Fights Diabetes
Research studies have established a significant connection between diabetes and Alzheimer's disease. The presence of type II diabetes is associated with an approximately twofold increased risk of Alzheimer's.
According to an article published in 2011(9) in the National Library of Medicine, Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) and Alzheimer's disease may share pathogenesis, according to epidemiological and basic science research. In addition, the article noted that even the possibility that Alzheimer's Disease is "type 3 diabetes" has been shown in several studies.
Another research study published in 2018(10) analyzed the relationship between Alzheimer's Disease and type II diabetes. The research study determined that type II diabetes is one of the leading risk factors for Alzheimer's Disease.
Lion's mane offers diabetes benefits. The mushroom is noted for its ability to reduce blood sugar levels and prevent the development and progression of type II diabetes.
This means that by taking Lion's mane, people with diabetes can balance their blood sugar levels. In addition, people who are yet to get a diagnosis for the condition may be able to avoid getting the condition in the future.
By reducing the risk of diabetes complications, Lion's mane goes beyond lowering the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease to reduce the risk of nerve damage, neuropathic pain, and other mild symptoms often identified by a primary care physician in people with diabetes. Lion's mane neuropathy benefits also help people with diabetes avoid the pain associated with nerve damage.
2. Lion's Mane Fights High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure has been implicated as a possible contributor to dementia occurring later in life. A research study conducted in 2021(11) by The Lancet Neurology showed the connection between high blood pressure and Alzheimer's disease.
An article published in 2019(12) by the National Institute on Aging showed scientific evidence that controlling high blood pressure reduces the risk of Alzheimer's disease. In addition, a research study conducted in 2017(13) and looking at evidence from more than 27 years further proved that Alzheimer's disease and high blood pressure have a deep connection.
However, Lion's mane organic mushroom powder is revered for its blood pressure-lowering effects.Lion's mane helps with weight loss—obesity is one of the leading causes of high blood pressure. Earlier, we noted that Lion's mane fights diabetes—diabetes is another precursor for high blood pressure.
Beyond fighting amyloid plaques to help with blood pressure control, Lion's mane prevents memory loss and improves the brain health of people with or without Alzheimer's disease.
3. Lion's Mane Fights Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is a disruption in the brain's normal function caused by external trauma like a blow, bump or jolt to the head. Individuals that have suffered from TBI also have a higher risk of dementia.
Hericium Erinaceus's ability to prevent neurodegenerative processes has been demonstrated in a 2021 study(14) done on animals with TBI.
4. Lion's Mane Fights Obesity
Several studies have linked high body weight and weight gain as risk factors for the development of Alzheimer's disease. A research study conducted in 2019(15) analyzed the relationship between Alzheimer's disease and obesity. The researchers concluded that obesity is a direct risk factor for Alzheimer's.
However, as noted earlier, Lion's mane mushroom helps with weight loss, and the anti-obesity effects of the mushroom have been examined in experimental studies(16).
Furthermore, the mushroom goes beyond making people feel full sooner—so they reduce the number of calories they put in their bodies—to help people burn more calories by boosting their metabolism.
What's more, Lion's mane also works wonders in helping people generate better results with workouts. When people use Lion's mane pre-workout, they get more energy and enjoy reduced fatigue, which allows them to work out more and burn more calories, contributing to weight loss.
5. Lion's Mane Fights Vitamin D Deficiency
Research studies have also found a lower risk of Alzheimer's disease in individuals with a higher dietary intake of vitamin D.
A research study conducted in 2014(17) concluded that vitamin D deficiency is associated with a substantially increased risk of all-cause dementia and Alzheimer's disease. Another research study(18) conducted in 2019 arrived at the same conclusion, indicating that vitamin D deficiency increases the risk of suffering from Alzheimer's disease.
Hericium erinaceus is high in protein and Vitamin D. In fact, mushrooms are the only plant-based products that provide Vitamin D.
6. Lion's Mane Aids with Cancer treatment
While cancer cells may not directly increase the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease, the treatment methods used for tumors often increase the risk of dementia.
Chemotherapy and other cancer therapies may cause cognitive changes that impact one's capacity for thought, learning, information processing, or memory. These changes may impact numerous facets of life, including one's capacity for employment or even simple daily duties.
Luckily, Lion's mane offers cancer benefits. The mushroom goes beyond cancer prevention to help with the treatment of cancer.
The mushroom is known to initiate the death of cancer cells. Moreover, the mushroom also prevents the side effects of other cancer treatment methods—this means that the mushroom may stop memory damage often associated with treatments like chemotherapy.
7. Lion's Mane Fights Depression
Research has shown that depression is one of the leading causes of Alzheimer's disease. According to an article published on the Alzheimer's Association website(19), up to 40% of people with Alzheimer's suffer from depression.
A research study conducted in 2006(20) determined that an increased chance of subsequently getting Alzheimer's disease may be associated with a history of depression. Furthermore, the study noted that this relationship could represent depression as a distinct dementia risk factor.
Lion's mane fights depression and anxiety. The fact that the mushroom can result in improvements in the symptoms of depression shows that the fruiting bodies of mushroom yamabushitake can reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease later in life.
Taking Lion's Mane For Alzheimer's: The Best Way To Consume Lion's Mane For Dementia
When taking advantage of Lion's mane mushroom dementia benefits, you can be as flexible as you want. Lion's mane does not just improve cognitive health when taken as supplements.
If you know how to grow Lion's mane mushrooms, you can always take advantage of Lion's mane mushroom recipes to transform the raw fungus into the food you and your family can enjoy. When consumed as food, the mushroom will still increase the synthesis of nerve growth factors and enhance your cognition.
Moreover, you can add Lion's mane in coffee or tea and enjoy the morning drink before leaving for work. Alternatively, you can benefit from Lion's mane and Alzheimer's relationship by simply taking the capsules, tinctures, and other Lion's mane supplements. You can also add Lion's mane powder to your smoothies before heading to the gym.
There is no specific time when you have to take Lion's mane to enjoy its Alzheimer's disease benefits. You can take it in the morning, afternoon, evening, or even before bed. The benefits you get will remain the same irrespective of when you take the mushroom.
However, to take full advantage of Lion's mane mushroom for Alzheimer's, be sure to take the mushroom consistently. The mushroom generates the most benefits when it is taken consistently. Also, talk to a healthcare professional to ensure you take advantage of Lions mane Alzheimers benefit at a dosage that won't harm you.
Can Lion's Mane Reverse Alzheimer's?
No evidence currently supports the ability of Lion's mane to reverse Alzheimer's. It can, however, help prevent the progression of the disease.
Can Lion's Mane Cure Dementia?
While we would all want Lion's mane to be the mushroom extract that reverses Alzheimer's, unfortunately, this is not the case. However, although there are no reports on Lion mane Alzheimer disease curing effects, it can lower the associated risk factors.
Does Lion's Mane Improve Memory?
Lion's mane mushroom is a revered brain tonic that is known for its ability to improve memory, focus, and cognition. The Lion's mane mushroom Alzheimer's disease benefits also aid in boosting overall memory and brain health.
Lion's mane Alzheimer's disease benefits may be attributed to its two bioactive compounds that can help improve mild cognitive impairments and reduce the burden of the disease. Furthermore, the mushroom also plays a role in decreasing the risk factors implicated in Alzheimer's.
The mushroom fights amyloid plaques that play a significant role in the development of Alzheimer's disease. Boosting the synthesis of the nerve growth factors, the mushroom replaces damaged neurons, lowering the risk of brain health problems that result from nerve damage.
Have you used Lion's mane for brain health before? Start using the mushroom today to enjoy clearer thinking and benefit from a reduced risk of Alzheimer's disease.
- Epidemiology of Alzheimer Disease, (1)http://perspectivesinmedicine.cshlp.org/content/2/8/a006239
- Improving effects of the mushroom Yamabushitake (Hericium erinaceus) on mild cognitive impairment: a double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial, (2)https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ptr.2634
- Improvement of cognitive functions by oral intake of Hericium erinaceus, (3)https://www.jstage.jst.go.jp/article/biomedres/40/4/40_125/_article
- Erinacine A-enriched Hericium erinaceus mycelium ameliorates Alzheimer's disease-related pathologies in APPswe/PS1dE9 transgenic mice, (4)https://jbiomedsci.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12929-016-0266-z
- Erinacine S, a Rare Sesterterpene from the Mycelia of Hericium erinaceus, (5)https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/acs.jnatprod.5b00474
- The Cyanthin Diterpenoid and Sesterterpene Constituents of Hericium erinaceus Mycelium Ameliorate Alzheimer's Disease-Related Pathologies in APP/PS1 Transgenic Mice, (6)https://www.mdpi.com/1422-0067/19/2/598
- Effects of Hericium erinaceus on amyloid β(25-35) peptide-induced learning and memory deficits in mice, (7)https://www.jstage.jst.go.jp/article/biomedres/32/1/32_1_67/_article
- Epidemiology of Alzheimer Disease, (8)http://perspectivesinmedicine.cshlp.org/content/2/8/a006239
- Diabetes mellitus and Alzheimer's disease: shared pathology and treatment?, (9)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3045545/
- Alzheimer's Disease and Type 2 Diabetes: A Critical Assessment of the Shared Pathological Traits, (10)https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fnins.2018.00383/full
- The link between blood pressure and Alzheimer's disease, (11)https://www.thelancet.com/journals/laneur/article/PIIS1474-4422(21)00340-9/fulltext
- Further evidence that controlling high blood pressure can reduce dementia, Alzheimer's risk, (12)https://www.nia.nih.gov/news/further-evidence-controlling-high-blood-pressure-can-reduce-dementia-alzheimers-risk
- Association between blood pressure and Alzheimer disease measured up to 27 years prior to diagnosis: the HUNT Study, (13)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5452294/
- Hericium erinaceus and Coriolus versicolor Modulate Molecular and Biochemical Changes after Traumatic Brain Injury, (14)https://www.mdpi.com/2076-3921/10/6/898
- Obesity as a Risk Factor for Alzheimer’s Disease: Implication of Leptin and Glutamate, (15)https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fnins.2019.00508/full
- Yamabushitake Mushroom (Hericium erinaceus) Improved Lipid Metabolism in Mice Fed a High-Fat Diet (16) https://academic.oup.com/bbb/article/74/7/1447/5940067
- Vitamin D and the risk of dementia and Alzheimer disease, (17)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4153851/
- Vitamin D deficiency as a risk factor for dementia and Alzheimer’s disease: an updated meta-analysis, (18)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6854782/
- Depression, (19)https://www.alz.org/help-support/caregiving/stages-behaviors/depression
- Depression and Risk for Alzheimer Disease, (20)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3530614/