Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common neurodevelopmental disorders in children and adults. It is a chronic condition that affects how a person processes information, paying attention, and controlling their behavior. There are many treatments for ADHD out there, but some people are looking for alternatives to medication. Could lion's mane mushroom be a viable option? Let's take a closer look.
In our fast-evolving world, maintaining focus for a long time can be quite challenging. People now have access to more information than required, thanks to the age of the internet and faster social media interactions. Inevitably, there is a significant rise(1) in the diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), in both children and adolescents.
There is a growing interest in using natural options to help treat ADHD, and one supplement that is gaining attention is the fuzzy-looking Lion's mane mushroom or Hericium erinaceus.
Lion's mane mushroom is a tonic for our brains. They are well known for their ability to boost brain health. But can the nootropic properties of the mushroom alleviate symptoms of ADHD?
Hericium erinaceus mushroom has been known to stimulate the production of compounds that can stimulate the growth, repair, and development of neurons. This in turn can have a beneficial role in ADHD.
Here, we will take a closer look at what the available research has to say about the benefits of Lion’s mane for ADHD. We will also explore Lions mane ADHD effects.
Let’s jump right to it!
Lion's Mane Mushroom For ADHD: What Does The Research Say?
Currently, no research is specifically focused on the effects of Lion's mane extract on ADHD. However, anecdotal evidence suggests that when used alongside traditional treatment methods, it may prove to be quite beneficial.
Although scientific studies are limited, we still did some homework for you. And looks like we may have an answer.
Lion’s Mane Mushroom Stimulates Nerve Growth
Hericium erinaceus contains two incredibly beneficial compounds, hericenones, and erinacines. These two natural products isolated from the fruiting body and mycelium of Lion's mane mushroom promote the synthesis of Nerve growth factor (NGF)(2).
NGF has numerous biological activities, including the prevention of neuronal death and the promotion of neurite outgrowth. It is also essential to maintain and organize neurons functionally. Furthermore, alterations in NGF have been linked with ADHD(3).
We already know that Lion’s mane mushroom stimulates the synthesis of NGF. Apart from that, the mushroom also enhances the production of brain-derived neurotrophic factors (BDNF). This compound plays a fundamental role in the survival and proliferation of neurons.
Alterations in the activity of BDNF have been implicated in the development of the main symptoms of ADHD. Even more, low levels of BDNF in the blood in ADHD may persist till adulthood.
That means Lion’s mane mushroom has been proven to increase the levels of NGF and BDNF, two key molecules involved in the pathogenesis of ADHD. Even if the research is lacking on the effects of the mushroom on the disorder itself, the equation is quite clear.
Hericium Erinaceus Improves Focus
A common symptom of AHDS in both children and adults is the inability to focus at length on the task at hand. Those with ADHD are easily distracted. This makes it difficult to give sustained attention to a specific chore, assignment, and activity.
Lion’s mane mushroom not only shows great potential when it comes to improving cognition, memory, and mood but it also has been known to improve focus. Better focus with the intake of Lion’s Mane seems to be attributed to the anti-inflammatory effect(4) of the compound amycenone.
This means, that taking Lion’s mane mushroom may help improve focus in people with ADHD.
Lion’s Mane Posses Anti-Depressant Capacity
Another beneficial property of Lion’s mane mushroom is its ability to improve the symptoms of depression. But how are depression and ADHD linked you might ask.
Research indicates that ADHD may trigger depressive symptoms in ADHD, especially when they have a hard time coping with it. Additionally, both depression and ADHD have been found to co-exist(5).
There is a substantial burden of depression among young adults with ADHD. This is particularly true for women. Taking Lion's mane mushroom helps with fatigue, depression, and anxiety associated with ADHD. Some researchers even suggest the mushroom be a potential natural alternative for depression.
Lion's Mane And Adderall: Are They Equally Effective?
Medication and psychotherapy are the traditional treatment modalities for ADHD and one of the most routinely used drugs is Adderall.
There is limited research that compares the effects of Lion's mane vs Adderall, but let’s look at how each of them fares.
Adderall is a prescription medication that is a combination of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine. These compounds are stimulants of the central nervous system which affect the chemicals in the brain that contribute to hyperactivity and impulse control. Lion’s mane mushroom, on the other hand, is called nature’s brain juice for its ability to address brain health issues(6).
Adderall is a habit-forming drug and a drug that can be abused while the mushroom has no such effects. The medication has also been associated with several side effects like heart attack, stroke, and sudden death in people with high blood pressure.
You may not be able to use Adderall if you have an overactive thyroid, moderate to severe high blood pressure, severe agitation, heart disease, or a history of drug or alcohol addiction. Adderall may also impair your thinking or reactions. You should be careful if you drive or do activities that require you to be alert. Likewise, an overdose of the drug could be fatal.
Lion’s mane mushroom is generally considered to be a safe medicinal fungus for most people, even at high dosages(7). The superfood fungus mushroom is neither a sedative nor a stimulant. It tends to yield a steady boost of energy without the jitters, generally associated with most stimulant drugs. However, the mushroom should be avoided by those with mushroom allergies, children, and pregnant and lactating women.
Despite all of the drawbacks, scientific studies(8) have shown that Adderall is efficacious for symptoms of aggression, hyperactivity-impulsivity, and inattention. This stimulant medication has, for many years, been the pharmacological treatment of choice for children and adults with ADHD.
The effects of Lion’s mane mushroom are yet to be studied extensively in humans, even though its popularity is on the rise. Likewise for its side effects and drug interaction. Therefore, it will always be wise to use Lion’s mane as an additional therapy for ADHD, rather than as an alternative to Adderall.
Lion’s Mane ADHD Usage
So, what is the best way to take Lions mane for ADHD?
First off, you can cook the mushroom, like any other meaty mushroom. When cooked, it has a texture and flavor similar to seafood like lobsters and crabs.
But unless you forage the mushroom from the wild, or live near a farmer's market and specialty stores that stock these unique mushrooms, your best bet would be Lion's mane mushroom supplements!
Supplements containing Lion’s mane are one of the easiest and the most convenient ways to get the benefits of the superfood fungus for ADHD.
Simply mix the powder in a cup of hot water, or take it with any of your desired beverages. Additionally, you can mix a scoop of the powder in your salads, soups, and smoothies. These are also available in the form of capsules and tinctures
What Is The Lion's Mane Dosage For ADHD?
As we mentioned before, there is no specific research that has focused on the effect of Lion’s mane on ADHD. Therefore, the dosage is not specific. You may start with a low dose and see how you respond to it, before gradually increasing it. Work closely with your healthcare provider to see what dose works best for you.
So, how effective is Lion’s mane for ADHD? Well, the clinical research in this area is limited, however, the mushroom is known to stimulate the production of two compounds that have been directly implicated in the development of ADHD. Furthermore, Lion’s mane also improves focus and symptoms of depression, both of which are beneficial in ADHD.
If you or someone you know suffers from ADHD, it might be worth giving lion’s mane a try. Speak with your wellness professional if you are interested in trying the mushroom to help with your symptoms. Leave us a comment below and let us know if lion’s mane mushroom has helped you manage your ADHD symptoms.
Twenty-Year Trends in Diagnosed Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder Among US Children and Adolescents, 1997-2016, (1) https://doi.org/10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2018.1471
Hericenones and erinacines: stimulators of nerve growth factor (NGF) biosynthesis in Hericium erinaceus, (2) https://doi.org/10.1080/21501201003735556
Alterations of Growth Factors in Autism and Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (3) https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyt.2017.00126
Effects of amycenone on serum levels of tumor necrosis factor-α, interleukin-10, and depression-like behavior in mice after lipopolysaccharide administration, (4) https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pbb.2015.06.012
Depression and Suicidal Behavior in Young Adult Men and Women With ADHD: Evidence From Claims Data, (5) https://doi.org/10.4088/jcp.19m13130
Dietary Supplementation of Hericium erinaceus Increases Mossy Fiber-CA3 Hippocampal Neurotransmission and Recognition Memory in Wild-Type Mice, (6) https://doi.org/10.1155/2017/3864340
- Haematological, biochemical and histopathological aspects of Hericium erinaceus ingestion in a rodent model: A sub-chronic toxicological assessment, (7) https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jep.2016.10.084
- Efficacy of Adderall for Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder: a meta-analysis, (8) https://doi.org/10.1177/108705470200600203