Mushrooms are known for their various medicinal properties. Study results show that some mushrooms, like Lion's Mane mushrooms, have positive effects on testosterone levels. Does this mean that Lion's Mane can be used as a natural testosterone booster? This has been a major topic of discussion for men who would like to boost and maintain high levels of testosterone.
If you are someone who wants to know how to use Lion's mane extract to boost your male hormone—or have already been using the mane mushrooms—several questions may pop into your head.
Like, does Lion's mane lower testosterone? Or does Lion's mane have testosterone? Even more, does Lion's mane increase testosterone?
We feel you and we are here to answer all that and more! Read through the article as we explore Lion's mane's effect on testosterone and find out what does lion's mane do for men? Let’s jump right to it!
What Are Lion's Mane Mushrooms?
Lion's mane mushroom, also known as Hericium Erinaceus,yamabushitake, or hou tou gu is a white shaggy mushroom resembling the mane of a lion. In the wild, this unique-looking mushroom can be found growing on dead logs in the late summer and fall.
If you are not much of a mushroom forager, lion's mane mushroom extract is widely available as an over-the-counter health supplement.
With the availability of ready-to-use lion's mane products and extract, people nowadays rarely go out in search of wild Lion's mane medicinal mushrooms. This comes as a major benefit because you won't have to worry about confusing Lions mane with other mushrooms and bringing home something that will worsen your symptoms.
Lion's mane mushroom is renowned for its numerous health-boosting effects. It has a long history of use in traditional Chinese medicine.
Even in other Asian countries like Japan, Korea, and India, Lion’s mane has been used for culinary and medicinal(1) purposes.
One of the best mushrooms for brain health, Lions mane has been shown to improve the condition of brain cells and lower the risk of Alzheimer's disease. In addition to using Lion's mane for brain fog and to lower the risk of mild cognitive impairment, people have used Lion's mane before bed to boost the quality of sleep.
The research on the health benefits of Lion’s mane is limited and still ongoing. And so is the evidence of side effects of the long-term use of the mushroom.
However, one clear thing is that taking lion's mane mushrooms carries numerous health benefits—people even use Lion's mane for Parkinson's disease.
There is some anecdotal evidence that medicinal mushrooms have lowered testosterone production which has been linked to decreased libido. While this is considered one of the side effects of lion's mane, the research we are about to look at below shows that Lion's mane rather increases testosterone levels but blocks the conversion of the hormone into its active form.
However, does this mean that when you take an ideal Lion's mane dosage you may end up having less male hormone? Or does it mean if you use Lion's mane recipes to prepare a nice mushroom meal at home your testosterone levels will reduce?
Recent research information proves otherwise—we will discuss this in detail in the following section.
Lion's Mane And Testosterone: What Is The Link?
Not many studies have explored the direct relationship between lion's mane mushroom testosterone effects. Also, there is not enough evidence that can allow us to tell you to avoid lion's mane—or use it—if your only goal is to boost your testosterone levels.
However, we will look at what’s known so far and how it may be linked. We will help you understand whether a lion's mane increases testosterone or it doesn't.
Lion’s mane mushroom may potentially affect the production of many hormones. We have linked this to various mechanisms and benefits associated with the medicinal mushroom.
1. Lion's Mane Mushroom Can Potentially Stimulate Hypothalamic Hormones
The mushroom promotes the development of nerve cells by stimulating Nerve Growth Factors(2) (NGF)—this process is known as Lion's mane neurogenesis. These chemicals can act on the hypothalamus, the area of the brain that is regarded as the body’s hormone production plant and helps humans regulate certain hormones.
The mushroom also has bioactive compounds that can promote the production of brain-derived Neurotrophic Factors (BDNF). These substances, in turn, can stimulate the hypothalamus and regulate the production of different hormones that are needed to fight a variety of disorders.
The hypothalamus is a structure located deep in your brain and is the main link between the endocrine system and nervous system in the body.
Any healthcare professional would confirm that the mushroom releases hormones to another part of the brain called the pituitary gland which in turn sends hormones to the different organs in the body.
The hormone system operates in a feedback loop. It signals the hypothalamus to release more hormones or to stop releasing them. The result is balanced hormones in the body of the users and patients.
One of the organs that Lion's mane mushrooms influence when it comes to hormone production are the testicles which are sites for the production of testosterone.
Therefore, when it comes to the lion's mane testosterone discussion, one thing that stands clear for men who would like to take advantage of lion's mane mushroom testosterone is that when they take Lion's mane at the right time, the fungus can ensure their testicles are producing more testosterone.
In women, testosterone is produced in various locations such as the ovaries, the adrenal gland (located right above the kidneys), and other tissues. For this reason, when it comes to mushroom testosterone in women, taking Lion's mane can help females' ovaries and the adrenal gland work a little bit harder to produce the vital hormone that is needed for reproduction.
Lion’s mane testosterone-altering effects may be due to its ability to stimulate the hypothalamus. However, there is no direct link between the two, and more research is required to fully understand Lion's mane mushrooms testosterone impacts on both men and women.
However, if you are wondering do mushrooms increase testosterone, the currently available information suggests that consuming high-quality Lion's mane—we have a guide showing you what to look for when buying Lion's mane—can help your body generate more testosterone.
2. May Block Testosterone Conversion Directly
Another concern men using Lion’s mane have is that the fungus lowers libido. This is also a concern for women using Lion's mane for pregnancy—that is, women who would like to become pregnant at some point.
The loss of sex drive in not just men, but people using it has been linked this issue to the ability of Lion’s mane mushroom to block DHT. The fact that lions mane DHT impact is clearly understood shows that combining Lion's mane and Chaga—or using just Lion's mane—to increase your testosterone, reduce impairment, eliminate inflammation, lower the risk of heart disease, reduce oxidative stress, and minimize nervous system injuries does not mean that you will end up with low testosterone levels.
Testosterone is initially produced as an inactive hormone that needs to be converted into an active form. The enzyme 5 alpha-reductase converts this inactive male hormone to the active form known as dihydrotestosterone or DHT.
Again, there is not much research done at this moment and not enough studies to back this claim. However, if you are someone that experiences low sex drive, you may want to use this mushroom with caution.
While Lion's mane may be one of the best mushrooms for testosterone, the fact that it blocks the conversion of testosterone to DHT could mean that it hinders the maximum use of testosterone by the body.
Even if you think that Lion's Mane is the reason behind your low libido, then you may want to know that this side effect usually goes away after you stop taking them.
But as they say, one man's loss is another man's gain, this potential side effect of Lion’s mane may also be used as an advantage.
DHT blockers are a clinically proven treatment for hair loss caused by excessive androgen. Male pattern baldness, or loss of hair from the scalp in men, is due to the actions of DHT. The hair follicles are sensitive to the hormone, causing them to shrink and fall off.
In women, natural supplements that block DHT may improve the symptom of unwanted facial hair (hirsutism), often associated with the polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).
3. Lion's Mane Extract Helps With Sleep
Sleep is a vital component when it comes to testosterone production. A research study conducted in 2011(3) determined that skipping sleep reduces the testosterone levels of a young man by the same amount as aging 10 to 15 years. Another study conducted in 2014(4) determined that sleep disorders often cause a reduction in testosterone levels.
In addition to preventing nervous system injuries, fighting human cancer cells, eliminating stomach ulcers, boosting the immune system, and helping with the intestinal immune system, research suggests that lion's mane improves the quality of sleep.
Acting as a major major contributing factor to the quality of sleep, the mushroom can help the male body synthesize more testosterone. The improved testosterone production resulting from better sleep (made possible by Lion's mane) leads to healthier and more vibrant males.
4. Lion's Mane Mushrooms Controls Blood Sugar Levels
In addition to improving brain function and brain health, taking lion's mane has been shown to help with the regulation of blood glucose levels. Several animal studies(5) have shown that the Lion's Mane mushroom can cause significantly lower blood glucose levels in both diabetic and normal mice.
High blood glucose levels have been known to lower the levels of testosterone in the human body. Researchers in 2013 determined(6) that glucose ingestion was associated with a significant decrease in testosterone. According to the researchers, consuming 75 grams of sugar resulted in a 25% drop in testosterone levels for up to two hours after consumption.
The fact that Lion's mane helps with controlling blood sugar levels means that the mushroom can also help keep the levels of testosterone in the human body from plummeting.
Consuming Lion's mane mushrooms regularly could mean maintaining ideal levels of blood sugar which will, in turn, result in higher testosterone levels in your body. This could result in better muscle growth and improved fat metabolism.
5. Lion's Mane Extract Helps with Weight Loss
In addition to increasing your risk of heart disease and chronic inflammation, weight gain also affects testosterone levels. A research study conducted in 2014(7) confirmed that moderate obesity decreases total testosterone levels. The study noted that more severe obesity is additionally associated with reductions in free testosterone levels due to suppression of the HPT axis.
The good news, however, is that researchers have helped draw conclusive results that the use of lion's mane can help with controlling body weight. Studies in rats and mice(8) have concluded that a Lion's mane mushroom extract boosts fat metabolism and lowers triglyceride levels.
One research study in rats(9) fed with a high-fat diet and given daily doses of Lion's mane mushroom extract determined that the rats had 27% lower triglyceride levels and experienced 42% less weight gain after 28 days.
There is no doubt that more human studies need to be done to prove whether the effect that Lion's mane extract had on rats is the same one the fungus will have on the weight of human beings. However, the current results suggest that the mushroom can help humans control their body weight.
The fact that Lion's mane is capable of reducing body weight means that the medicinal mushrooms can help boost the testosterone levels of people who are already overweight.
There is not enough scientific evidence regarding Lion’s mane testosterone effects. However, anecdotal evidence does suggest that the mushroom may block active forms of testosterone leading to a decline in libido or may influence the production of the hormone.
If you are worried about this potential side effect, consider incorporating other food into your diet that may help stimulate testosterone production.
It is, however, worth noting that the effects of lion's mane on other health issues—for example, weight gain and high blood sugar—have a positive impact on the levels of testosterone. This means that while it is impossible to conclude whether Lion's mane lowers testosterone, it is easy to see that its benefits may have a positive impact on testosterone production.
Therefore, if you want better muscle growth that results from increased testosterone, research shows consuming Lion's mane mushrooms may be a good idea. The good news is that while enjoying increasing testosterone, you will also be reducing your risk of cognitive impairments, benefit from anti-inflammatory properties, eliminate anxiety and depression, lower your risk of brain damage, reduce the risk of nerve damage, and much more.
- Chemistry, Nutrition, and Health-Promoting Properties of Hericium erinaceus (Lion’s Mane) Mushroom Fruiting Bodies and Mycelia and Their Bioactive Compounds, (1) https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.jafc.5b02914
- Dietary Supplementation of Hericium erinaceus Increases Mossy Fiber-CA3 Hippocampal Neurotransmission and Recognition Memory in Wild-Type Mice, (2) https://doi.org/10.1155/2017/3864340
- Effect of 1 Week of Sleep Restriction on Testosterone Levels in Young Healthy MenFREE, (3) https://doi.org/10.1001/jama.2011.710
- The relationship between sleep disorders and testosterone in men, (4) https://doi.org/10.4103/1008-682X.122586
- Antihyperglycemic and antihyperlipidemic activities of aqueous extract of Hericium erinaceus in experimental diabetic rats, (5) https://doi.org/10.1186/1472-6882-13-253
- Abrupt decrease in serum testosterone levels after an oral glucose load in men: implications for screening for hypogonadism, (6) https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2265.2012.04486.x
- Lowered testosterone in male obesity: mechanisms, morbidity and management, (7) https://doi.org/10.4103/1008-682X.122365
- Hypolipidaemic Effect of Hericium erinaceum Grown in Artemisia capillaris on Obese Rats, (8) https://doi.org/10.5941/MYCO.2013.41.2.94
- Yamabushitake mushroom (Hericium erinaceus) improved lipid metabolism in mice fed a high-fat diet (9) https://doi.org/10.1271/bbb.100130