Depression, also known as major depressive disorder, is a fairly common but serious mental health disorder. It negatively affects the way you think, feel and act. Depression can lead to a host of physical and emotional problems affecting your ability to perform at home and/or at work.
There are several things people can do to help reduce the symptoms of depression. Apart from seeking professional help, using medications and talk therapy, regular exercise, and quality sleep are some natural ways to cope.
But have you heard about Lion's mane mushroom for depression? Amazing as it may sound, researchers have found a link between lion's mane and depression relief.
So how does Lion's mane help with depression? Or does the lion's mane make you happy?
Below we will take a comprehensive look at 4 Lion’s mane depression benefits. We will also let you in on how much lion’s mane is good for depression.
Lion’s Mane Mushrooms: What Are They?
Lion’s mane mushroom, called Hericium Erinaceus in Latin, is a medicinal mushroom with white long spines resembling the mane of a lion. But unlike the ferocious king of the jungle, Lion’s mane mushroom is something you want to get your hands on!
While this detailed article will focus on Lion's mane for depression, it is worth noting that the health benefits of lion's mane supplements are numerous—the Lion's mane supplement reduces the risk of Alzheimer's disease, helps you avoid suffering from dementia in your old age, and gives your immune system a boost.
One of the best mushrooms for brain health, Lion's mane extract can help you improve cognitive function, and keep your memory healthy. Human and animal studies have also proven that Lion's mane is good for anxiety.
If you are not fond of the wild, the good news is that you can find Lion's mane products at a grocery near you. Even better, they are sold as health supplements.
As noted earlier, Lion’s mane mushroom has many mental-health-boosting effects. They are most famous for their extraordinary brain-boosting power(1)and have been rightly nicknamed a “brain tonic”.
These same benefits can be of help to ease symptoms of depression. If you are trying to improve depression—or avoid the mental health complication completely—read on to learn how Lion's mane helps mental health patients fix their depression.
Why Use Lion's Mane Mushroom For Depression?
1. Lion's Mane Supplements Increase Happy Hormones
Lion’s mane may be able to raise dopamine levels—this is according to the information obtained from this 2018 study(2). When mice who were under stress were given Lion’s mane mushrooms, their dopamine levels stabilized.
Before the administration of Hericium Erinaceus, a dip in the levels of the happy hormone was found. The results suggest that Lion’s mane mushroom may have antidepressant-like effects. The lion's mane dopamine benefits can have a significant impact on depression levels in adult humans.
It is also worth noting that the lion's mane testosterone benefits also play a key role in helping adults—in this case, men—deal with depression. By boosting the male hormone, Lion's mane changes men's behaviors allowing them to enjoy a more fulfilling life—this often reduces the risk of suffering from depression.
Most men tend to take Lion's mane as a pre-workout supplement—this offers two benefits in one go: it increases testosterone and also allows the men to enjoy a nice workout in the gym. When men and women take Lion's mane mushrooms at the right time, the lion's mane extract improves their life experience, resulting in a reduced risk of depression.
2. Anti-Inflammatory Effects
Inflammation(3) has been implicated in the pathogenesis of depressive disorders. Inflammation is also associated with mild cognitive impairment, Alzheimer's disease, and other brain health conditions.
Several studies have found that Lion’s mane mushroom tempers inflammation in depression. There is also evidence that inflammation could activate some signals which can trigger the transition to depression(4).
In one such 2015 study carried out in animals, the Amycenone(5) obtained from the extract of Lion's mane mushroom markedly blocked an increase in the serum TNF-α levels, a marker of inflammation.
The research study found that lion's mane extracts also significantly attenuated the levels of Lipopolysaccharides (LPS) which is a substance that is known to increase inflammation in the body.
These findings suggest that amycenone can exert antidepressant effects by controlling inflammation, thereby proving to be beneficial in such conditions. This suggests that when men, women, and even pregnant women use Lion's mane—whether in supplement form or cooked form—for the treatment of depressive behaviors and improvement of cognitive function, the effects of lion's mane will always be positive.
The good news is that when enjoying the bearded tooth mushroom benefits for depression and its anti inflammatory effects, you will also enjoy Lion's mane spiritual benefits which make you calmer and reduce your risk of suffering from depression in the future.
A very recent 2021 study has obtained similar results after investigating the impact of the monkey head mushroom on depression. Extracts of Hericium Erinaceus were given to animals for 4 weeks. The mushrooms were shown to induce anti-neuroinflammatory effects6 in areas of the brain involved in depression.
From these studies, research suggests that the mushroom can be used for more than improving the nervous system—the mushroom will always go beyond neurological benefits to help you avoid depression.
3. Increases The Growth Of Neurons In Depression-Affected Areas Of The Brain
One of the few selected culinary medicinal mushrooms, the extracts of Lion’s mane mushrooms have been documented to enhance(7) the production of a nerve stimulant called Nerve Growth Factor (NGF). This NGF helps repair damaged neurons in the brain and also increases the growth of new brain cells.
The hippocampus of the brain is highly sensitive to stress. They are found to play a central role(8) in depression.
Chronic administration of Lion’s mane extracts was found to show antidepressant-like effects by enhancing the neurogenesis(9)> in the hippocampal region (which shrinks in depression). This animal-based study indicated an increased proliferation of the nerve cells in this region of the brain.
This indicates that taking Lion’s mane mushroom can prove beneficial in depression by possibly enhancing neurogenesis. This can result in the elimination of depression and anxiety symptoms.
The growth of new brain cells also makes Lion's mane good for treating brain fog. This suggests that when you start taking lion's mane, you eliminate worry and even think more clearly.
In a 2010 study(10), cookies containing the extracts of Lion’s mane mushroom were given to women and the clinical effects of the fungus on depression, effects of menopause, and sleep quality were assessed.
The 30 women who took part in the study were randomly given either a cookie containing Lion’s mane or cookies without the mushroom for a total duration of 4 weeks.
At the end of the study, several parameters related to depression and anxiety were found to be significantly reduced. The results of the study suggested that Lion’s mane mushroom had the possibility of reducing depression and anxiety.
One of the best alternative medicine for treating depression and always listed among the best dietary supplements, Lion’s mane mushroom is also known to stimulate the production of brain-derived neurotrophic (BDN) factor(11).
This is a chemical that supports the differentiation, maturation, and survival of neurons in the brain. An increase in the expression of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) has been linked to the antidepressant effect(12) of the Hericium Erinaceus mushroom.
Even before human research in the earliest years, traditional Chinese medicine relied on the mushroom to treat a variety of mental related conditions. The fact that the medication has been used in the diet for thousands of years shows that it is effective in different types of mental diseases and conditions related to cognitive health.
4. Improves Sleep
Lion's mane mushroom depression benefits go beyond the ones mentioned above to help people improve their sleeping patterns. The lion's mane neurotransmitters effect promotes better sleep, which, in turn, improves depression symptoms.
Disturbed sleep(13) is both a risk factor and a symptom of depression. It is estimated that about 75% of people with depression have trouble falling asleep 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.
A Japanese study that was conducted on students with irregular sleep patterns reported fewer symptoms of depression and insomnia(15) with the use of the fungus. The study participants also said they experienced a reduction in other symptoms like anxiety, irritability, and fatigue.
5. Lion's Mane Helps in the Treatment of Bipolar Disorder
A leading cause of depressive behavior, bipolar disorder is a condition that is associated with mood swings—it causes episodes of mood swings that range from depressive lows to manic highs.
Luckily, lion's mane bipolar disorder benefits are numerous. The mushroom helps people dealing with bipolar disorder treat neurological disorders, mood disorders, sleep disorders, and other neurological diseases that are closely tied to bipolar disorder.
Just like Lion's mane works for Parkinson's disease, the lion's mane bipolar benefits help minimize mood swings. By putting the users in a stable emotional state, the mushroom reduces the risk of depression.
6. Lion's Mane Reduces the Risk of Schizophrenia
In addition to treating depressive disorders and anxiety disorders, Lion's mane mushrooms also treat other conditions that tend to be precursors to depression. A good example, in this case, is Schizophrenia.
Schizophrenia is a mental disorder that makes people interpret reality abnormally. The condition often results in a combination of hallucinations, delusions, disordered thinking, and behavior that impairs daily functioning. Research has shown(16) that patients with Schizophrenia are at an increased risk of developing depression.
Research has also shown that people can use a lion's mane for schizophrenia. One research study showed(17) that an individual suffering from the condition used a lion's mane for schizophrenia and recovered from the condition. The fact that Schizophrenia is a major risk factor for depression means that using Lion's mane can reduce the risk of suffering from depression.
How To Use Lion’s Mane For Depression?
If you are wondering how to use Lion's mane for depression, you should know you are not alone. Very few people know how to use lion's mane for depression and anxiety. Below, we will take a look at some of the best ways to use Lion's mane for anxiety and depression.
Lion’s mane can be best taken in the form of supplements such as capsules, tinctures, or powders. However, if you are looking for a more creative way to take advantage of lion's mane depression benefits, you can cook it at home—we have a detailed article that shows you the best Lion's mane recipes.
A spoonful of high-quality lion's mane mushroom powder can be mixed with your favorite food and beverage. Capsules are convenient, travel-friendly, and fuss-free to use—this means that with capsules, you can always use lions mane for depression on the go. Tinctures have a higher absorption rate and can be directly placed under the tongue.
Make sure to look for high-quality brands that use the best ingredients when purchasing your Lion’s mane supplements. Our detailed guide shows you what to look for when buying Lion's mane so you can always be sure that you are getting a high-quality product.
Lion’s mane mushroom can also be consumed fresh. But unless you live close to the native habitat of the mushroom, sourcing it can be quite cumbersome. Therefore, when using lions mane depression, you should rely on the best mushroom supplements you can find on the market.
Lion’s Mane Dosage For Depression
For people who would like a lion's mane dosage for depression that suits their exact needs, talking to a professional health practitioner is a good idea. A professional can help you figure out an ideal lions mane mood dosage that won't cause any side effects.
In a 2014 study(19), 1950 mg/tablet of Lion’s mane was used per day for 6 months. Similarly, the Japanese study performed on students also used the same amount, albeit for 4 weeks.
Therefore, the general recommended oral dose is 1500 to 2000 mg. However, it is best to ask your healthcare provider what works best for you.
Animal and human studies have suggested that Lion’s mane depression benefits may be linked with its ability to promote the growth of brain cells. It has also been shown to increase the levels of dopamine in a few studies. The mushroom also combats inflammation and promotes sleep, two factors that may contribute to depression
Lion’s mane mushroom supplements for depression may be a cost-effective complementary and alternative medicine for the treatment of depressive disorders, generally with fewer side effects. It is, however, not intended to replace your antidepressant medications.
Have you ever tried using lions mane mushrooms for depression? Let us know about your experience in the comments below!
- Neurotrophic Properties of the Lion's Mane Medicinal Mushroom,Hericium erinaceus (Higher Basidiomycetes) from Malaysia, (1)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24266378/
- Erinacine A-EnrichedHericium erinaceus Mycelium Produces Antidepressant-Like Effects through Modulating BDNF/PI3K/Akt/GSK-3β Signaling in Mice, (2)https://www.mdpi.com/1422-0067/19/2/341
- Cytokines in major depression (3)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/7811853/
- Neuroinflammation and Comorbidity of Pain and Depression, (4)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, (5)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26150007/
- Neurogenesis-dependent antidepressant-like activity ofHericium erinaceus in an animal model of depression (6)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34876186/
- Neurotrophic Properties of the Lion's Mane Medicinal Mushroom,Hericium erinaceus (Higher Basidiomycetes) from Malaysia, (7)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24266378/
- The role of the hippocampus in the pathophysiology of major depression (8)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC524959/
- Therapeutic Potential ofHericium erinaceus for Depressive Disorder, (9)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6982118/
- Reduction of depression and anxiety by 4 weeksHericium erinaceus intake (10)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20834180/
- Hericium erinaceus mycelium ameliorate anxiety induced by continuous sleep disturbance in vivo (11)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8643634/
- Erinacine A-EnrichedHericium erinaceus Mycelium Produces Antidepressant-Like Effects through Modulating BDNF/PI3K/Akt/GSK-3β Signaling in Mice (12)https://www.mdpi.com/1422-0067/19/2/341
- Depression and Sleep, (13)https://www.mdpi.com/1422-0067/20/3/607/htm?from=article_link
- Hericium erinaceus extracts alter behavioral rhythm in mice (14)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27544998/
- The effects ofHericium erinaceus (Amyloban® 3399) on sleep quality and subjective well-being among female undergraduate students: A pilot study, (15)https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S2186495015000103?via%3Dihub
- Schizophrenia and depression co-morbidity: what we have learned from animal models (16)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4332163/
- Case Report: Recovery from Schizophrenia Using Amyloban 3399, Compounds Extracted from Hericium erinaceum (17)https://www.omicsonline.org/open-access/case-report-recovery-from-schizophrenia-using-amyloban-compounds-extracted-from-hericium-erinaceum-1522-4821-17-141.php?aid=33887
- Improvement of cognitive functions by oral intake ofHericium erinaceus, (18)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31413233/
- Marked improvement of neurocognitive impairment after treatment with compounds from Hericium erinaceum: A case study of recurrent depressive disorder, (19)https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S2186495014000108?via%3Dihub