We have all had moments when we couldn't remember something. Memory slips are common—they could include something simple like forgetting where you kept your car keys this morning or not remembering someone's name. But before it gets increasingly annoying and impairs daily living, you must take matters into your own hands!
With roots in traditional Chinese medicine, Lion's mane mushroom, also known as Hericium Erinaceus or hedgehog mushroom, is a fungus that has been revered for its ability to boost brain function. Lion's mane is often labeled as one of the best mushrooms for brain health. However, is Lion's mane good for memory?
Several animal and human studies have pointed out that taking Lion's mane for memory loss is wise. The potential neuroprotective effects of this medicinal fungus are known to benefit focus and overall cognition.
Let's talk in-depth about Lion's mane memory benefits below. But before we move on, let's understand how this may be possible.
Lion's Mane Mushroom And Brain Health: How It Helps?
Lion's mane mushrooms have been given various names by mushroom enthusiasts, of which brain tonic and nature's brain juice are the most popular ones. These names have resulted from the positive impact of Lion's mane on Alzheimer's disease, dementia, and other health problems that affect the brain.
The lion's mane supplements—and the raw mushroom when used in Lion's mane mushroom recipes—carry a range of beneficial bioactive compounds that play key roles in improving people's brain health. The mushroom contains two beneficial bioactive compounds inside the walls of its cells: hericenones and erinacines.
During the lion's mane extract preparation, Hericenones(1) are typically derived from the mushroom's fruiting body, while erinacines are found in the fungal mycelium. The compounds stimulate the production of Nerve Growth Factors (NGF), specialized proteins essential for the growth, differentiation, and survival of neurons during development.
Human and animal studies have proved the Nerve Growth Factor (NGF) to play an essential role in forming myelin, the sheath around nerve cells that helps brain cells do their job.
Studies(2) have also shown that taking lion's mane mushroom extract supports brain health and cognitive function by stimulating the production of another protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF).
BDNF helps the brain to develop new connections, repair failing brain cells, and protect healthy brain cells. It also increases brain plasticity, which helps your brain cells stay resilient in the face of stress or aging—this is one of the reasons Lion's mane treats depression and anxiety.
This mushroom, identified by its long, white and fluffy top and native to North America, Europe and Asia, can also pass the blood-brain barrier(3).
Many health supplements cannot pass this barrier, which may be why Hericium erinaceus holds such potential for improving brain function. Remember that it's in the brain where we see Lion's mane mushroom's cognitive effects and benefits.
It is also safe to say that without the ability to pass this barrier, Lion's mane mushroom may not have such a powerful brain-boosting impact.
Lion's mane mushroom enhances neurogenesis (the process of formation of new brain cells or neurons) in the hippocampus. This is the region of the brain responsible for memory and learning.
This suggests that after taking lion's mane mushroom capsules or lion's mane mushroom powder consistently for an extended period, its ability to boost cognitive health should improve your ability to understand and retain information.
Enhanced neurogenesis means forming additional connections in the brain, such as ideas, thoughts, and memories. As one of the effects of lion's mane, it shows how vital the mushroom's activity in the brain is.
Human and animal studies have shown that as our brains naturally slow down over time, memory loss and lack of focus, which are caused by damaged brain cells and shrinking neurons, begin to appear. Lion's mane mushrooms can help improve the symptoms associated with these brain changes for the reasons we discussed previously.
Clinical trials have revealed that taking advantage of the health benefits of Lion's mane can result in a better performing brain even in old age. However, the bigger question is, what specific brain benefits do you get when you take lion's mane capsules, Lion's mane organic mushroom powder, or cook the mushroom at home?
Below, we will go beyond the mushroom's ability to boost your immune system to show you its numerous brain boosting benefits.
Benefits Of Lion's Mane Mushroom For Memory
Let's take a closer look at Lion's mane mushroom memory benefits.
Improves Cognitive Functions
While a decline in cognitive function is to be expected as we age, lion's mane mushrooms may help us slow down the process. Human research has looked at the dietary supplements from Lion's mane and analyzed their ability to prevent cognitive decline.
For example, researchers evaluated the improving effects of Hericium erinaceus on mild cognitive impairment in this clinical trial in 2009(4). The study was performed on 50- to 80-year-old Japanese men and women diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment.
Thirty participants were divided into two 15-person groups, one of which was given Lion's mane mushroom and the other given a placebo. The groups receiving the mushroom took four 250 mg tablets containing 96% of Yamabushitake dry powder three times a day for 16 weeks.
After stopping the mushroom intake, the participants were observed for the next four weeks. At weeks 8, 12, and 16 of the trial, the group who took Lion's mane showed significantly increased scores on the cognitive function scale compared with the placebo group.
In another Japanese study(5) published in 2019, the improvement of cognitive functions by taking supplements containing the fruiting body of Hericium erinaceus for 12 weeks was assessed. Three different tests to evaluate cognition were carried out. Lion's mane mushroom oral intake significantly improved cognitive functions and prevented the deterioration.
Researchers have speculated that the various chemical compounds in the medicinal mushroom, including hericenones, improve cognitive functions and have multiple effects on the brain's neural networks.
Lion's mane's ability to improve memory has a lot to do with the health of our neurons. Maintaining a healthy nervous system lowers the risk of memory loss and plays a key role in eliminating other health conditions that often affect the brain.
We know that hericenones and erinacines promote brain neurogenesis, aiding in nerve regeneration and even the formation of new neurons. Now how can this help improve memory? You may ask us.
An animal study(6) that examined the effects of lion's mane on depression and anxiety concluded that the mushroom helps promotes neurogenesis within the hippocampus(7). This region of the brain plays a major role in memory and learning.
Additionally, research shows that the formation of new nerves in this brain area can have tremendous benefits on cognitive function, including memory formation and retention.
Helps Improve Learning And Memory Deficits
We all know that memory is crucial when it comes to learning. Luckily, taking the right Lion's mane dosage allows us to read and understand faster and retain that information long-term. Moreover, Lion's mane helps with brain fog, which allows maximum focus during the learning process.
One research study investigated the effects of Lion's mane on memory(8) in mice. The animals were fed a lion's mane supplement for two months. Although there were no significant changes to the spatial memory in the mice, their recognition memory did improve.
Another study from 2011(9) examined the effects of Hericium erinaceus on learning and memory deficits in mice. The animals were fed a diet containing Lion's mane over a 23-day experimental period.
Memory and learning functions were examined using specific tests. Results revealed that Hericium erinaceus prevented impairments of spatial short-term and visual recognition memory, indicating that the mushroom may be useful in preventing cognitive dysfunction.
Lion's Mane Fights Diseases That Cause Memory Loss
The current research studies suggest that lion's mane mushrooms directly impact improving and maintaining a good memory. However, most people may not know that the mushroom also fights diseases that often increase the risk of memory loss. These health conditions include:
Lion's Mane Fights Alzheimer's Disease
The mushroom Lion's mane has Alzheimer's Disease benefits—research studies have repeatedly proved these benefits. For example, a study(10) explored the neuroprotective effects of the mycelium polysaccharide of Lion's mane mushroom on animals with Alzheimer's disease.
The medicinal mushroom suppressed intracellular reactive oxygen species accumulation and enhanced the results of several tests performed on the mice. These findings prove that Lion's mane mushrooms may provide neuroprotective benefits for treating or preventing neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's.
Lion's Mane Fights Cancer
Brain cancer is one of the leading causes of memory loss. A research study conducted in 2014(11) to analyze the impact of cancer cells on memory concluded that cognitive impairment is one of the most common symptoms in patients with brain metastasis. Moreover, the study found that significant cognitive dysfunction is prevalent in most cancer patients still able to engage in basic self-care activities.
Moreover, research has shown that some cancer treatment options can result in memory loss. An article published in the National Library of Medicine(12) indicated that chemotherapy is one of the leading causes of memory issues.
Luckily, Lion's mane has cancer benefits. In addition to offering health benefits that prevent cancer, the mushroom is known to aid with cancer treatment.
Test tube studies have shown that some of the bioactive compounds in the mushroom do trigger the apoptosis of cancer cells. What's more, for people using other treatment options—including chemotherapy and radiotherapy, the mushroom eliminates the side effects of these treatment options.
By preventing cancer and aiding in treating this chronic illness, the lion's mane improves mental clarity and prevents memory loss.
Lion's Mane Helps with Diabetes Treatment
Diabetes is a leading cause of brain health issues. Research has determined(13) that compared to people without diabetes, people with diabetes are much more likely to develop cognitive problems.
A research study conducted in 2022(14) compared cognitive problems in people with diabetes to people without diabetes. The study concluded that cognitive impairment was in 63.8% of diabetics, compared to just 10.8 percent of non-diabetic people. This further proved that diabetes significantly increases the risk of suffering from memory loss issues.
However, Lion's mane offers diabetes benefits. The mushroom is known to regulate blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. In people without diabetes, the mushroom regulates insulin and blood sugars in their bodies, reducing the risk of developing the chronic condition.
By reducing the risk of diabetes and helping people with diabetes manage the symptoms of the condition, the mushroom helps lower the risk of memory loss in humans. What's more, Lion's mane fights nerve damage and neuropathic pain in people with diabetes—this may also play a part in reducing the risk of memory loss since unhealthy nerves can damage memory.
Lion's Mane Fights Obesity
A condition that affects many people, obesity has been shown to increase the risk of memory loss. For example, one research study conducted in 2022(15) determined that obesity is linked to a higher risk of developing dementia in the future. The study noted that obesity had been linked to memory, attention, and executive function decline by affecting core neural structures such as the hippocampus and frontotemporal parts of the brain.
Weight loss can be challenging for people dealing with obesity. However, luckily for these people, Lion's mane offers weight loss benefits.
The fungus helps people with excess body weight consume fewer calories by ensuring they get full faster. Moreover, when overweight people take Lion's mane pre-workout, the fungus helps them work out more, resulting in faster shedding of excess body fat.
Lion's Mane Supplements Reduce the Risk of Blood Clots
Blood clots are often blamed as precursors to Alzheimer's disease. According to an article published on the Johns Hopkins Medicine website(16), after Alzheimer's disease, vascular dementia is the most common type of dementia.
It occurs when reduced blood flow damages brain tissue. The article notes that blood flow to brain tissue can be reduced or completely blocked by a blood clot.
Lion's mane mushroom is known to reduce the risk of blood clots. According to a research study conducted in 2010(17), the mushroom contains a compound known as hericenone B, which can slow blood clotting and reduce the risk of a heart attack or stroke. While lowering the risk of stroke and heart attack, the mushroom may also reduce the risk of suffering from memory loss.
Lion's Mane Fights Insomnia
Insomnia, defined as persistent difficulty initiating or maintaining sleep, has been linked to daytime cognitive impairments such as impaired memory performance. Narcolepsy and other sleep disorders that cause excessive daytime sleepiness can cause memory lapses.
A research study conducted in 2020(18) determined that sleep deprivation induces fragmented memory loss.
The good news is that taking Lion's mane before bed promotes restful sleep. The mushroom is known to help people with sleeping troubles unwind, calm down, and sleep through the night. This can boost memory in people dealing with memory loss caused by poor sleep.
Does Lion's Mane Help With Memory?
Several scientific studies have indicated that Lion's mane mushroom and its extracts help reduce symptoms of memory loss as well as improve cognition.
What Does Lion's Mane Do For The Brain?
Lion's mane mushroom is a potent brain tonic that improves focus and clarity and reduces brain fog.
Is Lion's Mane Mushroom Good For Your Brain?
Lion's mane mushroom, also known as nature's brain juice, is a potent medicinal mushroom with many neuro-health-boosting properties. Lion's mane supplements have the potential to improve mild cognitive impairment and aid in neuronal health and functioning.
Does Lion's Mane Help Dementia?
Research has found that Lion's mane mushroom or its supplement may protect against dementia.
Lion's mane mushroom has been widely reported to have therapeutic activities for promoting nerve and brain health. Lion's mane has several benefits for memory, including improvements in cognitive function, promotion of neurogenesis, and benefits in neurodegenerative diseases.
Start using Lion’s mane as soon as possible if you want to experience the memory-boosting potential of Lion's mane mushrooms. Using the nootropic consistently can do wonders for your brain.
- Neurohealth Properties of Hericium erinaceus Mycelia Enriched with Erinacines, (1)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5987239/
- Erinacine A-Enriched Hericium 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
- Hericenones and erinacines: stimulators of nerve growth factor (NGF) biosynthesis in Hericium erinaceus, (3)https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/21501201003735556
- Improving effects of the mushroom Yamabushitake (Hericium erinaceus) on mild cognitive impairment: a double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial, (4)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18844328/
- Improvement of cognitive functions by oral intake of Hericium erinaceus, (5)https://www.jstage.jst.go.jp/article/biomedres/40/4/40_125/_article
- Hericium erinaceus Extract Reduces Anxiety and Depressive Behaviors by Promoting Hippocampal Neurogenesis in the Adult Mouse Brain, (6)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29091526/
- A model of hippocampal neurogenesis in memory and mood disorders, (7)https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1364661306003068
- Dietary Supplementation of Lion's Mane Medicinal Mushroom, Hericium erinaceus (Agaricomycetes), and Spatial Memory in Wild-Type Mice, (8)https://www.dl.begellhouse.com/journals/708ae68d64b17c52,6de384366c0c5922,5af64f332e1ca306.html
- Effects of Hericium erinaceus on amyloid β(25-35) peptide-induced learning and memory deficits in mice, (9)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21383512/
- The Neuroprotective Properties of Hericium erinaceus in Glutamate-Damaged Differentiated PC12 Cells and an Alzheimer's Disease Mouse Model, (10)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5133811/
- Cognition in patients with newly diagnosed brain metastasis: profiles and implications, (11)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4295820/
- Memory and Cancer: A Review of the Literature, (12)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4033831/
- Can Diabetes Lead to Cognitive Impairment?, (13)https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/professionals/diabetes-discoveries-practice/can-diabetes-lead-cognitive-impairment
- Sweet Memories or Not? A Comparative Study on Cognitive Impairment in Diabetes Mellitus, (14)https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpubh.2022.822062/full
- Obesity and Neurocognitive Performance of Memory, Attention, and Executive Function, (15)https://www.mdpi.com/2673-4087/3/3/27/htm
- Vascular Dementia, (16)https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/dementia/vascular-dementia
- Inhibitory effect of hericenone B from Hericium erinaceus on collagen-induced platelet aggregation, (17)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20637576/
- Sleep deprivation induces fragmented memory loss, (18)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32179655/