Not quite plant and not quite animal, mushrooms are among the most fascinating organisms on the planet. And few mushrooms are as interesting as the Lion’s mane mushroom.
Not an ordinary mushroom, Hericium erinaceus or Lion’s mane has both science and history to support its use as a cognitive and mood enhancer. The mushroom has been used for thousands of years in traditional Asian medicine and is known for its unique appearance, which resembles a lion’s mane, and its health-promoting properties. Recent research has shown that Lion’s mane mushrooms may positively affect the brain and nervous system, including the potential to increase serotonin levels.
In this post, we will take a closer look at the scientific evidence behind the link between Lion's mane and serotonin and explore the potential Lion's mane serotonin effects on brain health.
Understanding Serotonin And Its Functions
Dopamine and serotonin have been referred to as the "happy" hormones. Not because they look like smiling face emoji, but that would be lovely. But they're termed that because they directly impact your mood and sense of well-being.
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter or chemical messenger produced in the brain and gut. It is essential for mood, sleep, and hunger regulation.
Dopamine and serotonin are both necessary for your brain to function correctly. When their levels are out of balance, it negatively impacts your daily life and human experience. Depression, anxiety, and insomnia are linked to low serotonin and dopamine levels.
Unfortunately, many of us have an imbalance or shortage of "happy hormones." The good news is that there are natural ways to boost your dopamine and serotonin levels. So, if you're suffering from depression symptoms and want to avoid the adverse side effects of antidepressants, you might wonder if Lion's mane supplements could help.
So, does Lion's mane increase serotonin? Onto this, next.
Lion's Mane Mushroom And Its Potential Effects On Serotonin
Lion's mane mushroom gets its name from the shaggy, white clusters of strands that fall from the fungus's fruiting body as it grows, resembling a lion's mane!
Hericium erinaceus has been used in Chinese and Japanese medicine for thousands of years. Lion's mane grows on hardwood trees in Europe, North America, and Asia. Lauded initially for its stomach and digestive system therapeutic properties, we now know that Lion's mane has the most profound influence on the mind.
Lion's mane mushrooms are one of nature's wonder foods, with several health advantages. The substances found in Lion's mane can benefit your health and well-being in various ways. The best consequence of taking Lion's mane mushroom supplement is arguably improved hormone function and mental well-being.
Furthermore, Lion's mane includes a variety of vitamins and minerals that are beneficial to mental health, including B vitamins thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), pyridoxine (B6), pantothenic acid (B5), folic acid (B9), calcium, potassium, and phosphorus. These nutrients aid in maintaining normal brain function by promoting nerve cell development and repair and lowering stress hormones such as cortisol, which can contribute to anxiety or depression symptoms if not regulated with correct nutrition!
But how does Lion's mane affect serotonin?
The compound Hericenones found in Lion's mane mushroom has been demonstrated to enhance the production of Nerve growth factor (NGF)(1) in the brain. NGF is a protein that promotes nerve cell development and survival, including those that make serotonin.
One study(2) discovered that taking Lion's mane mushroom supplement for four weeks increased NGF levels and improved moderate cognitive impairment.
It's also worth noting that Lion's mane mushroom has other compounds that may assist cognitive function, such as Hericenones and Erinacines, which aid in nerve growth.
Lion’s mane reduces stress
Stress causes inflammation in the body and has a negative impact on hormone levels. Lion's mane extract has been shown in studies to reduce stress levels and symptoms of stress.
A Taiwanese study(3) found that mice administered Lion's mane extract behaved differently under extended stress than the control group. Scientists discovered that when mice were stressed, "good" neurotransmitters in their brains declined while inflammatory cytokines increased. Stress caused inflammation and lowered brain function in the mice! The brains of mice fed Lion's mane extract produced opposite results.
The Lion's mane group had higher serotonin and dopamine levels and a reduced inflammatory response than the control group. This demonstrates that Lion's Mane extract boosted serotonin and dopamine levels in mice while decreasing inflammation. The mice were made joyful and calm by Lion's Mane!
Practical Considerations And Precautions
The most convenient way for most of us to acquire our daily dose of Lion's mane is as a supplement. A typical Lion's mane supplement dose is 1,000 to 3,000 milligrams per day.
Lion's mane has become a popular nootropic (cognitive enhancer), with several supplement companies jumping on board.
Because supplements vary widely in price and quality, opting for a trustworthy product is critical. Always look for certifications, third-party testing, beta-glucan continent, and products made from 100% fruiting body.
FAQs About Lion's Mane Serotonin
Is Lion's Mane Suitable For Long-Term Use To Support Serotonin And Overall Mental Health?
Long-term use of Lion's mane is typically regarded as highly safe. The most regularly reported side effect is itching skin, which is relatively transient and insignificant. An increase in nerve growth factor is thought to be responsible for this effect.
Can Lion's Mane Be Used Alongside Other Serotonin-Enhancing Supplements Or Treatments?
Lion’s mane mushrooms can be used alongside other serotonin-enhancing supplements or treatments. However, it is essential to consult a healthcare provider first.
Can Lions Mane Replace Antidepressants?
You should never take Lion's mane mushrooms as the only treatment for depression or anxiety or to treat any other medical issue. If you have symptoms of low serotonin, you should consult your doctor or healthcare practitioner.
Lion's mane mushroom is a treat for the brain. The mushroom may have the ability to raise serotonin levels, which may have a good influence on sleep, mood, and cognitive performance. More research is needed, however, to validate these findings and understand the processes underlying the Lion's mane serotonin effects.
- Nerve Growth Factor: Early Studies and Recent Clinical Trials, (1)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6295934/
- Lion’s Mane (also known as Hericium erinaceus), (2)https://www.alzdiscovery.org/uploads/cognitive_vitality_media/Lion%27s-Mane-UPDATE.pdf
- Erinacine A-Enriched Hericium erinaceus Mycelium Produces Antidepressant-Like Effects through Modulating BDNF/PI3K/Akt/GSK-3β Signaling in Mice, (3)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29364170/