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Lion's Mane Benefits: How To Use And Avoid Side Effects
Dec 29, 21
This article has been vetted by the Onnit Advisory Board. Read more about our editorial process.
Author: Sony Sherpa

Lion's Mane Benefits: How To Use And Avoid Side Effects

  • by Sony Sherpa

    Medically reviewed by

    Sony Sherpa

    Dr. Sony Sherpa is a board-certified Clinical Doctor and dedicated advocate for holistic medicine, specializing in functional mushrooms. Her blend of medical expertise and passion for alternative wellness lends authenticity to her role as a contributor for Natures Rise.

  • |
  • 17 min read
Lion's Mane Benefits: How To Use And Avoid Side Effects

Lion's Mane is a medicinal mushroom known for its numerous health benefits. Its top advantages include cognitive enhancement, mental health support, immune system boost, digestive health improvement, and cancer-fighting potential. 

The mushroom contains bioactive compounds that promote memory, focus, and concentration while relieving depression and anxiety. In addition, Lion's Mane has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that support a healthy immune system and prebiotic effects that benefit gut health. Research also suggests that Lion's Mane has antitumor properties, making it a potential complementary therapy for cancer treatments.

The list of Lion's mane health benefits is long, and our goal with this detailed guide is to help you understand what you get from this unique fungus. However, before we dig deeper into the benefits of Lion's mane mushroom, let's first understand what it is. 

What's Lion's Mane Mushroom?

The Mane Mushroom (Hericium erinaceus) is a large, round, clump-forming mushroom covered in dense clusters of long, white, spiky spines resembling the Mane of a lion

Lion's Mane mushrooms have a firm, meaty texture and a mild, seafood-like flavor, making them a popular ingredient in many dishes. They are often used in soups, stews, sauces, and stir-fry dishes and can be sautéed, grilled, or roasted. Today, however, you can use this fungus as a supplement, including tinctures, capsules, and powders. 

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The Top 11 Lion's Mane Mushroom Benefits

1. Powerful Brain Booster

Powerful Brain Booster

Lion's mane mushrooms are known as a "brain tonic" for their nootropic effects. Substances with nootropic effects, like Lion's mane powder, offer numerous cognitive health benefits, including improving cognitive function, enhancing memory and learning, boosting focus, and fighting brain fog and mild cognitive impairment.  

The mushroom can regenerate brain cells by stimulating the Nerve Growth Factor (NGF) in a process known as neurogenesis. One research study conducted in 2013(1) verified that Mane mushroom extract stimulates the production of NGF in the nerve cells.  

Read More: Learn more about Lion's mane neurogenesis benefits.

2. Supports Speedier Recovery From Nervous System Injuries

Supports Speedier Recovery From Nervous System Injuries

Mane mushrooms provide neuroprotective effects following brain injury. The mushroom encourages the production of NGF, which facilitates the proper growth, differentiation, survival, and repair of neurons, facilitating brain injury recovery. 

One study(2) looking at the neurological health benefits of the mushroom demonstrated the role of Lion's mane extract in healing the nervous system and ensuring the nerve cells are healthy. Animal research studies(3) have also shown that Lion's Mane mushrooms may protect users from neuronal damage or what is commonly known as nerve damage. 

Read More: See how Lion's Mane fights neuropathy.

3. Protection Against Alzheimer's Disease And Dementia

Protection Against Alzheimer's Disease And Dementia

One of the lesser-known brain health benefits of Lion's Mane is that it can potentially reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia. Moreover, this functional mushroom is known to fight the symptoms of Alzheimer's, including memory loss and poor cognitive function. In addition, Lion's mane mushrooms reduce inflammation of the brain cells and eliminate biological markers associated with Alzheimer's, like amyloid plaques.

One study demonstrated(4) the potential for Lion's Mane to fight memory loss symptoms in mice by fighting amyloid beta plaques, indicating that the mushroom effectively boosts cognitive function and fights mild cognitive impairment. 

In addition, a 2016 study(5) proved that the health benefits of Lion's mane extracts ameliorate Alzheimer's disease-related pathologies, suggesting that they can improve the brain health of people with Alzheimer's disease or other forms of dementia.

Read More: See how Lion's Mane fights dementia

4. Relieves Symptoms Of Depression And Anxiety

Relieves Symptoms Of Depression And Anxiety

Research suggests(6) Hericium Erinaceus could be a potential treatment for depression and anxiety. In addition, research indicates that its benefits on anxiety and depression result from its ability to promote the growth of new neurons in the hippocampus. 

The hippocampus is an area of the brain that shrinks in people with depression and anxiety. By keeping this area from shrinking, the Hericium erinaceus extract lowers the risk of depression and anxiety. 

Read More: See how Lion's Mane fights anxiety

5. Combats Inflammation And Oxidative Stress

Combats Inflammation And Oxidative Stress

Lion's mane mushrooms have potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activity. Oxidative stress and inflammation are implicated in many degenerative diseases and syndromes, including cancer, diabetes, heart diseases, and arthritis which manifests in joint pain. 

A Malaysian study(7) conducted in 2012 evaluated the antioxidant potential of different medicinal mushrooms. Lions head mushroom was found to have the fourth highest antioxidant activity. Moreover, a research study conducted in 2015(8) proved that Lion's Mane effectively fights inflammation in adults. 

6. Fights Gastrointestinal Issues And Ulcers

Fights Gastrointestinal Issues And Ulcers

One of the best mushrooms for gut healthLion's mane mushrooms protect the gastric mucosa and fight the pain from ulcers. In addition, the mushroom's anti-gastric ulcer activity is associated with the repair and restoration of the gastric mucosal barrier, reducing the edema and ulcer area(9) in the gastric wall. 

Gastric ulcers are associated with the growth of Helicobacter pylori, a bacterium that causes gastritis. However, Lion's mane mushroom supplement has been shown to inhibit the development of the bacteria, ensuring they do not cause ulcer pain. 

7. It Makes Our Immune System Stronger

It Makes Our Immune System Stronger

Hericium Erinaceus boosts the immune system(10) with its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. In addition, the mane mushroom also improves the activity of particular white blood cells (NK cells), which play an active role in strengthening the immune system and supporting immune health.

The mushroom enhances the killing of foreign particles and microbes by increasing the number of macrophages, a Pac-man-like cell that eats and destroys intruders in the body. This Pac-man-like cell plays a vital role in the immune system. 

The gut and the immune system have a joint relationship. However, Lion's Mane mushrooms have also been shown to have prebiotic properties, which can promote beneficial gut bacteria growth. This can improve gut health and support the overall functioning of the digestive system. 

The gut microbiome is also home to a large proportion of the intestinal immune system. The beneficial bacteria in the gut help train the immune system and protect against harmful pathogens. Research conducted in 2017(11) verified that Lion's Mane effectively improves the health of the gut microbiota, encouraging the growth of beneficial gut bacteria. 

8. Potential To Fight Cancer

Potential To Fight Cancer

The mane mushroom can protect the body from cancer and keep tumors from metastasizing and moving to other body parts

The mushroom's polysaccharides have anticancer activity against cancers like sarcomas and human monocytic leukemia cells. In addition, the fungus may help with mushroom-induced apoptosis in cancerous cells, a programmed cell death that helps eliminate cancerous cells from the human body.  

Moreover, human and animal studies(12) have linked this fungus with tumor size and weight reduction. Additionally, one research study demonstrated(13) that Lion's Mane could prevent colon tumor metastasis to the lung. 

Read More: Learn more about Lion's mane cancer benefits

9. Reduces The Risk Of Cardiovascular Diseases

Reduces The Risk Of Cardiovascular Diseases

Research has shown(14) that individuals with unregulated lipid metabolism are at a higher risk of heart disease. This is because high levels of oxidized fat in your blood eventually deposit in the blood vessels' walls. Over time, it causes hardening and narrowing of the vessel lumen, increasing the risk of heart attack and stroke.

The mane mushroom extracts prevent fat oxidation(15) in the bloodstream. In addition, Hericenone in Lion's mane mushrooms also inhibits the formation of blood clots, lowering the risk of stroke and heart attack. 

Lion's Mane also has a blood pressure-lowering effect, showing activity similar to the angiotensin I-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitor group of drugs, one of the commonly used antihypertensive. Since hypertension and heart disease have a joint relationship, Lion's Mane's ability to fight high blood pressure further reduces the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases. 

Read More: See how Lion's Mane fights high blood pressure

10. Fights Diabetes

Fights Diabetes

The Lion's mane extract treats diabetes, reducing blood sugar levels by inhibiting alpha-glucosidase activity.This enzyme is responsible for breaking down carbohydrates in the small intestine. 

Moreover, Lion's Mane supplements fight diabetes by increasing insulin levels and fighting insulin resistance, helping people with diabetes maintain good blood sugar control throughout the day. 

11. Combats Obesity

Combats Obesity

Hericium Erinaceus provides anti-obesity effects through multiple mechanisms, including increasing metabolism and feelings of fullness and reducing food intake. 

Moreover, this adaptogenic mushroom has a lipid-lowering effect, reducing blood levels of total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and triglycerides. But on the other hand, it is also associated with increased high-density lipoprotein, known as the "good cholesterol." 

One study investigating the obesity benefits of the mane mushroom(16) fed rats a high-fat diet. They were then given Lion's mane mushrooms daily for 28 days. At the end of the study period, researchers found that Lion's Mane significantly decreased body fat gain, weight gain, and blood-fat levels.

How to Incorporate Lion's Mane into Your Routine

How to Incorporate Lion's Mane into Your Routine

Choose the Right Product

To experience the potential Lion's Mane mushroom benefits, you can choose from various available supplements. Look for high-quality products that contain Lion's mane mushroom extract or Lion's mane powder. 

These supplements often come in capsule or powder form, and it's essential to select a reputable brand to ensure you're getting a genuine medicinal mushroom Hericium erinaceus product.

Cook with Lion's Mane

Incorporating Lion's mane mushrooms into your diet is an excellent way to enjoy their potential health benefits while savoring their unique medicinal mushroom taste. Here are a couple of recipes you can try:

  • Sautéed Mane Mushrooms: Heat olive oil or butter in a pan over medium heat, add sliced lion's mane mushrooms and cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender and golden brown—season with salt, pepper, and your favorite herbs.
  • Mane Mushroom Soup: In a pot, sauté onions, garlic, and chopped Lion's mane mushrooms in olive oil. Add vegetable broth, boil, and then reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for 20-30 minutes until the mushrooms are tender. Blend the soup until smooth and creamy, and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Interesting Read: See 15 tasty Lion’s mane mushroom recipes you can use at home.

Recommended Dosages and Precautions

The dosage for Lion's Mane supplements varies depending on the specific product and individual needs. However, start with a lower Lion's mane dosage and gradually increase it to assess your tolerance. Research suggests that taking 500-3000mg of Lion's mane powder daily for 16 weeks can improve cognitive function and overall health. 

Lion's Mane Mushrooms Side Effects

Lion's Mane Mushrooms Side Effects

Hericium Erinaceus is generally considered safe and well-tolerated, with few reported side effects. However, like any supplement or medication, it is possible to experience some side effects with the functional mushroom. Some of the most commonly reported side effects include:

  • Digestive Issues: Some people have reported digestive discomforts, such as bloating, gas, or upset stomach, after taking Lion's Mane. This is likely because it may be difficult for some people to digest.
  • Allergic Reactions: Rarely, some individuals may experience an allergic reaction to Lion's Mane, such as itching, skin rash, hives, or difficulty breathing.
  • Interaction with Medications: Lion's Mane has been shown to interact with certain medications, such as blood thinners and immunosuppressants. It's, therefore, essential to consult a healthcare professional before taking it if you are taking any prescription medications.
  • Nerve Issues: Lion's Mane stimulates the production of nerve growth factor (NGF), which can affect nerve function. Some people have reported temporary numbness or tingling after taking Lion's Mane.

It's essential to remember that these side effects are rare, and most people do not experience any adverse effects from taking Lion's Mane. However, if you experience any unusual symptoms after taking Lion's Mane, you should discontinue use and consult a healthcare professional.

Lion's Mane Benefits Video

FAQs About Lion's Mane Benefits

Does Lions Mane Mushroom Increase Serotonin?

Some evidence suggests that Hericium Erinaceus may affect serotonin levels. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter often called the "feel-good" hormone, as it regulates mood, appetite, and sleep.

Studies have shown that Lion's Mane can increase the production of nerve growth factor (NGF), essential for the survival and function of neurons in the central and peripheral nervous systems. This increase in NGF production may increase serotonin levels in the brain, as serotonin-producing neurons require NGF to survive and function properly.

Does Lions Mane Make You High?

No, Lion's Mane does not make you "high." Instead, the mushroom increases NGF (Nerve Growth Factor) production, improving cognitive function and overall brain health. However, the mushroom's ability to improve cognitive function, improve focus, and keep you alert does not result in a state of "high."

It's important to note that Lion's Mane is not a recreational drug and should not be used for that purpose. Instead, use it as a supplement to support overall health and well-being under the guidance of a healthcare professional.

Can You Take Lion's Mane With The Chaga Mushroom?

Yes, you can take Lion's Mane and Chaga mushrooms together. Lion's Mane and Chaga mushrooms have been used for thousands of years in traditional medicine.

Lion's Mane medicinal mushroom is known for its potential to improve cognitive function and support nerve health, while Chaga is known for its potential anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting effects. Therefore, taking Lion's Mane supplement and Chaga supplement together may provide a synergistic effect and enhance the health benefits of each mushroom.

Key Takeaways

Lion's mane mushroom is a delicious culinary and medicinal fungus used for centuries in Asian countries. However, western countries are slowly waking up to the health benefits of Lion's Mane, including improved cognitive function, better immune health, protection against gastric problems and ulcers, improved nerve health, weight loss and anti-obesity benefits, anti-inflammatory benefits, and others. 

The mushroom is available in supplements—including powders, capsules, and tinctures—and can also be raw when fresh or turned into a tasty meal. However, it is essential to note that the ideal dosage for the functional fungus varies from one person to the other. Therefore, we always recommend talking to a healthcare professional before using the mushroom to avoid the abovementioned side effects. 

Have you used Lion's Mane before? What was your experience, and what were you using it for? Let us know in the comments. 

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  1. Neurotrophic properties of the Lion's mane medicinal mushroom, Hericium erinaceus (Higher Basidiomycetes) from Malaysia, (1) 
  2. 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, (2) 
  3. Neuroregenerative potential of lion's mane mushroom, Hericium erinaceus (Bull.: Fr.) Pers. (higher Basidiomycetes), in the treatment of peripheral nerve injury (review), (3) 
  4. Effects of Hericium erinaceus on amyloid β(25-35) peptide-induced learning and memory deficits in mice, (4) 
  5. Erinacine A-enriched Hericium erinaceus mycelium ameliorates Alzheimer's disease-related pathologies in APPswe/PS1dE9 transgenic mice, (5) 
  6. Therapeutic Potential of Hericium erinaceus for Depressive Disorder, (6) 
  7. Evaluation of Selected Culinary-Medicinal Mushrooms for Antioxidant and ACE Inhibitory Activities, (7) 
  8. The Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Lion's Mane Culinary-Medicinal Mushroom, Hericium erinaceus (Higher Basidiomycetes) in a Coculture System of 3T3-L1 Adipocytes and RAW264 Macrophages, (8) 
  9. Gastroprotective Effects of Lion’s Mane Mushroom Hericium erinaceus (Bull.:Fr.) Pers. (Aphyllophoromycetideae) Extract against Ethanol-Induced Ulcer in Rats, (9) 
  10. Immunomodulatory effects of Hericium erinaceus derived polysaccharides are mediated by intestinal immunology, (10) 
  11. Extracts from Hericium erinaceus relieve inflammatory bowel disease by regulating immunity and gut microbiota, (11) 
  12. Hericium erinaceus: an edible mushroom with medicinal values, (12) 
  13. Hericium erinaceus (Lion's Mane) mushroom extracts inhibit metastasis of cancer cells to the lung in CT-26 colon cancer-tansplanted mice, (13) 
  14. Lipids and lipoproteins in cardiovascular diseases: a classification, (14) 
  15. Inhibitory effect on in vitro LDL oxidation and HMG Co-A reductase activity of the liquid-liquid partitioned fractions of Hericium erinaceus (Bull.) Persoon (lion's mane mushroom), (15) 
  16. Yamabushitake mushroom (Hericium erinaceus) improved lipid metabolism in mice fed a high-fat diet, (16)

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