Lion's Mane (Hericium erinaceus) is a medicinal mushroom known for its potential benefits on brain health and cognitive function. It has been studied for its potential role in alleviating depression due to its neuroprotective effects, stimulation of nerve growth factor (NGF) and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), anti-inflammatory properties, and antioxidant capabilities.
Some animal studies and limited human trials have shown promising results, suggesting that Lion's Mane could effectively treat depression. In addition, research indicates that Hericium Erinaceus goes deep, addressing the root cause of depression instead of just fighting the symptoms like most medications.
Below we will look at 6 reasons to use Lion's Mane for depression. In addition, we will show you what the researchers have to say about the mushroom's effectiveness in fighting depression in adults and kids.
Understanding Depression: Symptoms and Common Treatments
Depression, also called a major depressive disorder, is a common yet severe mental health condition characterized by persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and a lack of interest or pleasure in activities. Other symptoms may include changes in appetite, sleep disturbances, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, and even thoughts of self-harm or suicide.
Causes and Risk Factors
The exact causes of depression are still not fully understood, but it is believed to be the result of a complex interplay of genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological factors.
The central nervous system plays a crucial role in regulating mood and mental health, with imbalances in neurotransmitters such as serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine potentially contributing to the development of depression. Risk factors for depression may include a family history of mental health disorders, stressful life events, chronic medical conditions, and substance abuse.
Current Treatment Options
Currently, treatment for depression typically involves a combination of psychotherapy, antidepressant drugs, and lifestyle modifications. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and interpersonal therapy are two common evidence-based psychotherapies to help individuals manage their depression.
Antidepressant drugs, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), are often prescribed to help regulate neurotransmitter levels and improve mood. However, concerns surrounding antidepressant efficacy and side effects have led many individuals to explore alternative treatments to support their mental health, such as natural remedies like lion's mane mushrooms.
Why Use Lion's Mane Mushroom For Depression?
1. Increases Happy Hormones
Dopamine and serotonin—often called the "happy hormones"—are vital neurotransmitters regulating emotions and pleasure. Researchers have linked(1) low serotonin levels with mood disorders like depression and anxiety. Moreover, studies have confirmed(2) that reduced dopamine levels can also increase the risk of depression.
Lion's Mane may be able to raise dopamine levels, according to the information obtained from this 2018 study (3). In addition, research(4) into the therapeutic potential of Lion's Mane in depressive disorders showed that the mushroom might have the potential to increase serotonin.
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2. Anti-Inflammatory Effects
Inflammation(5) has been implicated in the pathogenesis of depressive disorders. In addition, research suggests(6) that inflammation could activate signals that can trigger the transition to depression. Inflammation is associated with mild cognitive impairment, Alzheimer's disease, and other brain health conditions.
One of the best mushrooms for brain health, several studies have proven that Lion's mane mushroom contains many antioxidants that fight oxidative stress, reducing inflammation to fight depression and improve overall cognitive function.
In one such 2015 study(7) on animals, the Amycenone obtained from Hericium Erinaceus markedly blocked an increase in the serum TNF-α levels and attenuated the levels of Lipopolysaccharides (LPS), both markers of inflammation. Furthermore, in a 2021 study(8), Hericium Erinaceus induced anti-neuroinflammatory effects in brain areas involved in depression.
3. Increases Neurons Growth
The extracts of Hericium Erinaceus have been documented to enhance(9) the production of a nerve stimulant called Nerve Growth Factor (NGF) in a process known as neurogenesis. The nerve growth factors help repair damaged neurons, regenerate brain cells, and encourage new brain cell growth.
The brain's hippocampus is susceptible to stress and plays a central role(10) in depression. Supplementation of Lion's mane extracts has shown antidepressant-like effects by enhancing the neurogenesis(11) in the hippocampal region (which shrinks in depression).
Hericium Erinaceus is also known to stimulate the production of brain-derived neurotrophic factors (BDNF)(12). This chemical supports the differentiation, maturation, and survival of neurons in the brain and stimulates nerve cells growth.
An increase in the expression of BDNF has been linked to the antidepressant effect(13) of the Hericium Erinaceus mushroom.
Read More: See precisely how Lion's Mane promotes neurogenesis.
4. Improves Sleep Quality
Disturbed sleep(14) is both a risk factor and a symptom of depression. About 75% of people with depression have trouble falling or staying asleep. There is also a 10-fold higher risk of developing depression in people with insomnia than in people who get a good night's sleep.
Hericium Erinaceus enhances sleep quality and duration(15), fighting and preventing depression.In addition, a study on students with irregular sleep patterns reported fewer symptoms of depression and insomnia(16) after using Hericium Erinaceus products.
Read More: See how taking Lion's Mane before bed increases sleep quality.
5. Fights Stress
Chronic stress can cause depression by releasing cortisol, disrupting neurotransmitter balance, and changing brain structure, leading to mood changes, decreased pleasure, and altered sleep patterns.
Lion's mane medicinal mushrooms are an adaptogen because they help the body cope with stress and improve overall physical and mental well-being. Adaptogens are natural substances that help the body adapt to stressors and restore balance to the body's systems without producing adverse effects.
By regulating the body's response to stress, Hericium Erinaceus can help improve energy levels, reduce feelings of anxiety and depression, and enhance cognitive function and memory. This, in turn, allows the body to function at its best, even under stressful conditions.
6. Improves Gut Health
A healthy gut microbiome can help produce and regulate neurotransmitters such as serotonin, positively impacting mood and emotional well-being. On the other hand, poor gut health and imbalances in the gut microbiome have been linked to increased inflammation and oxidative stress, which can contribute to depression and other mood disorders.
Lion's Mane mushrooms support healthy gut bacteria growth, increasing diversity in the gut microbiome. In addition, research conducted in 2019(17) indicated Hericium Erinaceus is an excellent prebiotic that feeds gut bacteria and improves intestinal immunity.
How to Use Lion's Mane for Depression
Hericium Erinaceus is a popular choice for those seeking the health benefits of medicinal mushrooms. There are several ways to incorporate these medicinal mushrooms into your diet and fight depression.
One way to enjoy the health benefits of Lion's Mane for depression is by consuming them fresh. This mushroom species can be found in selected culinary medicinal mushrooms markets and cooked in various dishes. These fresh mushrooms have a unique texture and offer a delicious seafood-like taste that complements numerous recipes.
Powders and Supplements
Consider using a lion's mane supplement—for example, powder, capsule, or tincture—for a more concentrated option. Lion's mane supplements are widely available and can provide the health benefits of lion's mane extract in a convenient, easy-to-consume format.
Lion's Mane Dosage for Depression
The recommended Lion's Mane dosage for depression is 500 to 3000mg daily. However, research on mild cognitive impairment has shown benefits from consuming Hericium Erinaceus extract at 1,000 mg, taken three times daily.
Other Natural Remedies for Depression
St. John's Wort
In addition to the effects of Lion's Mane on mental health, other natural remedies can help alleviate depressive behaviors. St. John's Wort is a popular herbal supplement known for its potential antidepressant properties. Research has shown that(18) it may help reduce depressive symptoms in some individuals, making it a valuable alternative.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids, particularly EPA and DHA, have been studied for their anti-inflammatory properties and potential benefits in managing depression. These essential fatty acids can be found in fatty fish, fish oil supplements, and certain plant-based sources. In addition, the anti-inflammatory properties of omega-3s may help reduce depressive disorders by combating inflammation associated with mental illnesses.
Exercise and Mindfulness Practices
A holistic approach to treating depression includes lifestyle modifications such as regular exercise and mindfulness practices. Physical activity has positively affected mental health, including reducing depressive symptoms and improving sleep disorders. In addition, Mindfulness practices, like meditation and yoga, can help individuals develop coping strategies to manage their emotions and mental health better.
Lion's Mane Depression Video
FAQs About Lion's Mane Depression Benefits
Does Lion's Mane Help With Mood?
Some evidence suggests that Lion's Mane can help improve mood. For example, Hericium Erinaceus has been shown to support the growth and function of nerve growth factor (NGF), a protein that promotes brain neurons' development, maintenance, and survival. This can help regulate mood and improve cognitive function, reducing feelings of anxiety and depression.
Hericium Erinaceus has anti-inflammatory properties and can help reduce oxidative stress, contributing to mood disorders. Some studies have also shown that Lion's Mane can improve sleep quality and reduce fatigue symptoms, positively impacting mood and overall well-being.
Is Lion's Mane An Antidepressant?
Lion's Mane is not an officially recognized antidepressant medication. However, some studies have shown that the benefits of Lion's Mane can positively impact mood and reduce symptoms of depression.
It is important to note that Hericium Erinaceus should not be used as a substitute for conventional antidepressant medications. Also, it would help if you start taking Lion's Mane under the supervision of a healthcare professional.
Can Lion's Mane Extract Help With Anxiety?
Yes, Lion's Mane can help with anxiety. Lion's mane extract contains compounds called beta-glucans, which have a calming effect on the body and mind. In addition, these beta-glucans stimulate the immune system and modulate inflammation, which may help reduce anxiety and stress.
In addition, Hericium Erinaceus is also rich in antioxidants, which can help to protect the brain from oxidative stress and prevent damage to brain cells. Lion's Mane also fights anxiety by promoting NGF production.
Animal research and human studies have suggested that Lion's mane depression benefits may be linked with its ability to promote the growth of brain cells. In addition, the functional mushroom has also been shown to increase dopamine and serotonin levels, improve sleep quality, fight inflammation and oxidative stress, and boost gut health, further keeping depression at bay.
This suggests that Hericium Erinaceus may be a cost-effective complementary and alternative medicine for treating depressive disorders, generally with fewer side effects. It is, however, not intended to replace your antidepressant medications. Therefore, if you are currently using other antidepressants, be sure to consult your doctor before switching to Hericium Erinaceus as your only depression remedy.
Have you ever tried using Lion's Mane mushrooms for depression? Let us know about your experience in the comments below!
- What has serotonin to do with depression?, (1)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4471964/
- Dopamine System Dysregulation in Major Depressive Disorders, (2)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5716179/
- Erinacine A-Enriched Hericium erinaceus Mycelium Produces Antidepressant-Like Effects through Modulating BDNF/PI3K/Akt/GSK-3β Signaling in Mice, (3)https://www.mdpi.com/1422-0067/19/2/341
- Therapeutic Potential of Hericium erinaceus for Depressive Disorder, (4)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6982118/
- Cytokines in major depression, (5)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/7811853/
- Neuroinflammation and comorbidity of pain and depression, (6)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24335193/
- Effects of amycenone on serum levels of tumor necrosis factor-α, interleukin-10, and depression-like behavior in mice after lipopolysaccharide administration, (7)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26150007/
- Neurogenesis-dependent antidepressant-like activity of Hericium erinaceus in an animal model of depression, (8)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34876186/
- Neurotrophic properties of the Lion's mane medicinal mushroom, Hericium erinaceus (Higher Basidiomycetes) from Malaysia, (9)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24266378/
- The role of the hippocampus in the pathophysiology of major depression, (10)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC524959/
- Therapeutic Potential of Hericium erinaceus for Depressive Disorder, (11)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6982118/
- Hericium erinaceus mycelium ameliorate anxiety induced by continuous sleep disturbance in vivo, (12)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8643634/
- Erinacine A-Enriched Hericium erinaceus Mycelium Produces Antidepressant-Like Effects through Modulating BDNF/PI3K/Akt/GSK-3β Signaling in Mice, (13)https://www.mdpi.com/1422-0067/19/2/341
- Depression and Sleep, (14)https://www.mdpi.com/1422-0067/20/3/607/htm?from=article_link
- Hericium erinaceus extracts alter behavioral rhythm in mice, (15)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27544998/
- The effects of Hericium erinaceus (Amyloban® 3399) on sleep quality and subjective well-being among female undergraduate students: A pilot study, (16)https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S2186495015000103?via%3Dihub
- A Critical Review on Health Promoting Benefits of Edible Mushrooms through Gut Microbiota, (17)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5618583/
- A meta-analysis on the efficacy and safety of St John’s wort extract in depression therapy in comparison with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors in adults, (18)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4946846/