As the medical field continues to evolve, with new pharmaceutical drugs getting discovered, it is interesting to see a growing number of people favoring traditional medicines. Lion's Mane, a functional mushroom that has been used in traditional Asian medicine, is one of the latest holistic health solutions that a lot of people are interested in—and it is easy to see why.
Lion's mane mushroom has earned its position as one of the best brain tonics, improving brain health and fighting brain fog, preventing memory loss, and reducing the risk of brain-related issues like Alzheimer's disease and dementia. Regarding physical health, Lion's Mane fights cancer, treats diabetes, fights cardiovascular problems, and boosts overall immune health.
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.
Lion's Mane: What is It?
Lion's 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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What Are The Health Benefits Of Lion's Mane Supplements?
1. Powerful Brain Booster
Lion's mane mushrooms are known as a "brain tonic" for their nootropic effects. Substances with nootropic effects, like Lion mane mushroom, offer numerous brain health benefits, including improving cognitive function, enhancing memory and learning, boosting focus, and fighting brain fog.
The mushroom regenerates the brain cells by stimulating the Nerve Growth Factor (NGF) in a process known as neurogenesis. One research study conducted in 2013(1) verified that Lion's Mane 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
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 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
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 mushrooms to alleviate memory loss symptoms in mice by fighting amyloid beta plaques, indicating that the mushroom effectively boosts cognitive function.
In addition, a 2016 study(5) proved that Lion's mane extracts ameliorate Alzheimer's disease-related pathologies, suggesting that it 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
Research suggests(6) Lion's Mane could be a potential treatment for depression and anxiety. In addition, research indicates that Lion's Mane's 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
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
Lion's mane mushrooms have protective actions on the gastric mucosa and the pain that results from ulcers. In addition, the mushroom's anti-gastric ulcer activity is associated with the repair and restoration of the gastric mucosal barrier, resulting in a reduction in 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. A 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
Hericium Erinaceus boosts the immune system(10) with its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. In addition, Lion's 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, meaning they can promote the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut. This can help to 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
The mane mushroom boasts the ability to protect the body from cancer and keep any tumor from metastasizing and moving to other parts of the body.
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
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.
Lion's mane mushroom extracts prevent the oxidation of fat(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
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
Lion's Mane provides anti-obesity effects through multiple mechanisms, including increasing metabolism, increasing 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.
Read More: See how Lion's mane mushroom facilitates weight loss and fights obesity.
Lion's Mane Mushrooms Side Effects
Lion's Mane 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 Lion's Mane. 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 sensations 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.
Additionally, it's important to remember that supplements are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the same way that medications are. Hence, choosing a reputable brand and speaking to a healthcare professional before taking any supplement, including Lion's Mane, is essential.
Read More: See what to look for when buying Lion's Mane.
FAQs About Lion's Mane Benefits
Does Lion's Mane Mushroom Increase Serotonin?
Some evidence suggests that Lion's Mane may affect serotonin levels. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter often referred to as 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), which is 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.
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 side effects mentioned above.
Have you used Lion's Mane before? What was your experience, and what were you using it for? Let us know in the comments.
- Neurotrophic properties of the Lion's mane medicinal mushroom, Hericium erinaceus (Higher Basidiomycetes) from Malaysia, (1)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24266378/
- 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)https://www.mdpi.com/1422-0067/15/9/15073/htm
- Neuroregenerative potential of lion's mane mushroom, Hericium erinaceus (Bull.: Fr.) Pers. (higher Basidiomycetes), in the treatment of peripheral nerve injury (review), (3)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23510212/
- Effects of Hericium erinaceus on amyloid β(25-35) peptide-induced learning and memory deficits in mice, (4)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21383512/
- Erinacine A-enriched Hericium erinaceus mycelium ameliorates Alzheimer's disease-related pathologies in APPswe/PS1dE9 transgenic mice, (5)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27350344/
- Therapeutic Potential of Hericium erinaceus for Depressive Disorder, (6)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6982118/
- Evaluation of Selected Culinary-Medicinal Mushrooms for Antioxidant and ACE Inhibitory Activities, (7)https://www.hindawi.com/journals/ecam/2012/464238/
- 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)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26559695/
- Gastroprotective Effects of Lion’s Mane Mushroom Hericium erinaceus (Bull.:Fr.) Pers. (Aphyllophoromycetideae) Extract against Ethanol-Induced Ulcer in Rats, (9)https://www.hindawi.com/journals/ecam/2013/492976/
- Immunomodulatory effects of Hericium erinaceus derived polysaccharides are mediated by intestinal immunology, (10)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28266682/
- Extracts from Hericium erinaceus relieve inflammatory bowel disease by regulating immunity and gut microbiota, (11)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5689651/
- Hericium erinaceus: an edible mushroom with medicinal values, (12)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23735479/
- Hericium erinaceus (Lion's Mane) mushroom extracts inhibit metastasis of cancer cells to the lung in CT-26 colon cancer-tansplanted mice, (13)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23668749/
- Lipids and lipoproteins in cardiovascular diseases: a classification, (14)https://www.cell.com/trends/endocrinology-metabolism/fulltext/S1043-2760(22)00021-2
- 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)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24959591/
- Yamabushitake mushroom (Hericium erinaceus) improved lipid metabolism in mice fed a high-fat diet, (16)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20622452/
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