Lion’s Mane mushroom is king of the fungi jungle when it comes to brain-boosting benefits. The lion’s mane species supported by scientific research, hericium erinaceus, contains unique compounds that contribute to better mood, focus, productivity, memory, and creativity. This nootropic and medicinal mushroom is a mush-have for cognitive function. Read on for essential details about lion’s mane from Max Lowenstein, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist with a Masters in Clinical Nutrition. Learn about Lion’s Mane health benefits, breakthrough scientific research, historical medical uses, and how to choose the right supplements.
Table of Contents:
- What is Lion’s Mane?
- Lion’s Mane Benefits
- Lion's Mane Dose
- Traditional Uses
- Is Lion’s Mane Right for you?
- Lion's Mane Studies
What is Lion’s Mane?
Lion’s mane is the ultimate “smart” mushroom that has shown potential to enhance brain function, combat neurodegenerative disorders, and support psychological well-being. Native to mountainous areas, hericium erinaceus (scientific name for the specific species of lion’s mane supported by clinical research) is a white and fluffy fruiting body mushroom with protruding spines. It is referred to as Pom Pom, monkey head, hedgehog, and several other names. Lion’s mane has become the most popular functional mushroom for those who wish to improve concentration, reduce stress and bolster cognition.
Main Lion’s Mane Benefits
Lion's mane mushroom has potential to offer the following health benefits:
- Improve brain function
- Facilitate neurogenesis
- Reduce anxiety
- Combat depression
- Encourage better sleep
Hericenones and erinacines from lion’s mane induce Nerve Growth Factor (NGF) protein synthesis. NGF is a neurotrophic property shown to stimulate positive brain activity and combat neurodegeneration. Hericenones and erinacines are able to cross the blood brain barrier (BBB), which typically prevents substances from entering the blood supply in our brains. It's a big deal when something can pass the BBB because the majority of beneficial compounds are NOT able to reach the brain. These properties from lion’s mane facilitate neurons in the Peripheral Nervous System (PNS) and Central Nervous System (CNS).
In a double blind placebo controlled study, adults with age-related memory issues were split into two groups. Half were provided hericium erinaceus and the rest were given a placebo. Participants who received actual lion’s mane achieved better cognition scores than those in the placebo group. However, after not taking the mushroom for 4 weeks, their cognitive abilities declined again. This demonstrates the importance of consistency when it comes to lion’s mane mushroom for neurogenesis.
Mood & Sleep
A study administered Amycenone, a nootropic property derived from Lion’s mane extract that penetrates the blood brain barrier. College students who took amycenone experienced better sleep, reduced sleep disorders (such as sleep apnea), less anxiety, and improved immunity. Although researchers only analyzed 8 undergraduate students in total, the results were very promising and called for further inspection.
Another study provided lion's mane to 30 female participants for 4 weeks. The group showed lower levels of "irritating" and "anxiety" than the placebo group. This suggests that lion's mane has the potential to reduce anxiety and depression.
Lion’s Mane Dose
Scientific literature is very promising when it comes to the benefits of lion’s mane. You might be interested in using this mushroom, but not sure how much to take or where to start. Many companies throw out random claims about the ideal daily dosage of Lion’s mane. However, everyone is different and an expert is required to make medicinal mushroom dietary recommendations. Max Lowenstein, Registered Dietitian and Master of Clinical Nutrition, provides information to help you take Lion’s mane optimally. That said, everyone is different. This is a general outline for education purposes. It’s always wise to consult a physician and listen to your body’s reaction.
“We have to consider several factors when deciding how much lion’s mane mushroom to take. You typically shouldn’t exceed 2-4 grams per day (about 1/2 - 1 full teaspoon). The exact amount depends on your weight, age, health, and how you feel after taking the medicinal mushroom. As is the case with all supplements, make sure to take lion’s mane with food for optimal digestion and get approval from your physician,” says Max.
- Personal Reaction: As a general rule of thumb, it’s best to start with the recommended dose and work your way up. This will give you a chance to monitor your reaction.
- Consistency: Research shows that it takes about 4 weeks of consistent use before experiencing noticeable results. Regardless of your daily dosage, consistency is KEY!
- Extraction Method: If your Lion’s mane is optimally extracted from a fruiting body mushroom with high beta-glucan concentrations (we’ll touch more on this in the next section), 2-4 grams (about 1/2 to 1 tablespoon) will suffice. If you’re purchasing mycelium, there’s probably more grain filler and less actual mushrooms. Again, supplements containing mycelium may require a larger serving size.
- Mushroom tincture: Make sure your lion’s mane or any medicinal mushroom tincture is dual-extracted with both water and ethanol. This is the best way to ensure optimal potency. Certain compounds in mushrooms require ethanol and others need water.
- Goals: Identify what you’re looking to achieve with this mushroom. Do you want to prevent neurodegenerative disorders, combat anxiety & depression or improve brain function? Perhaps you’re focused on energy or fitness and choose to take more cordyceps powder than lion’s mane. Regardless of your goals, all functional mushrooms offer unique health benefits and can be used in some capacity. Setting a clear goal is an essential step in deciding your ideal dosage.
- Timing: When to take lion's mane? It’s beneficial to ingest this mushroom in the morning for a brain boost and coffee alternative. However, as mentioned earlier, taking lion’s mane before bed has shown great potential to improve sleep. Everyone is different, but most people achieve ideal results by using lion’s upon waking and before going to sleep
Where to Buy Lion’s Mane
There are a few essential things you need to know before choosing a lion’s mane supplement. If you want to find the best hericium erinaceus option with maximum health benefits, make sure to follow these guidelines.
Species VS Genus
First and foremost, let’s discuss the difference between a mushroom genus and species. There are approximately 12 SPECIES in the lion's mane GENUS (hericium). However, only one of those is strongly supported by clinical studies, hericium erinaceus. Make sure you’re purchasing the right species of mushrooms for optimal benefits.
Beta-glucans are the most well-researched bioactive property in functional mushrooms supported by science. NutroMushroom ensures that there are at least 30% beta-glucans in our lion’s mane mushroom extract powder, which is an industry-leading amount. When large molecular compounds, such as beta glucans, are present, you can be sure that the smaller, equally beneficial turpines, diterpenes and turpinoids are there as well.
Third-Party Lab Results
Before putting any mushroom into your body, including lion’s mane supplements, make sure there are independent lab results confirming purity and effectiveness. Most companies do their own testing in-house, but NutroMushroom utilizes an unbiased and accredited lab to ensure there is no bias in achieving accurate results.
Traditional Lion's Mane Uses & Origins
Understanding the history of lion’s mane will help you grasp its incredible health benefits. Take a ride in our fungi time machine and let’s rewind 2000 years to the mountainous areas of Asia. Here we discover a unique fruiting body that looks more alien than mushroom. It’s white and fluffy with long protruding spines. You might recognize it as Lion’s mane or hericium, but those labels were developed quite recently.
It is said that the Shaolin Monks would ingest lion’s Mane before entering states of meditation to improve concentration. Considering that recent studies suggest that lion’s mane is great for cognition and focus, this is a perfect example of ancient wisdom preceding recent research. We would be wise to pay attention to traditional remedies and practices.
In Japan, they referred to this medicinal mushroom as yamabushitake, inspired by the Yamabushi Monks, which translates to those who sleep in the mountains. These mountain-residing monks also wore suzukake, garments with long pieces of material hanging from the sides that resembled a lion’s mane mushroom.
China named the ancient mushroom Hou Tou Gu, which translates to Monkey Head Mushroom. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has been utilizing Hou Tou Gu for centuries to improve 5 critical organs, including the liver, spleen, kidney, and heart. They would prescribe the mushroom to relieve symptoms that TCM believed were associated with Qi deficiency, including insomnia, vacuity (weakness), hypodynamia, and central nervous system disturbances. It was also used to promote good digestion, strength and vitality.
Introduce Lion’s Mane Into Your Life
Every human can benefit from enhancing their cognitive function and mood. Our brain and attitude directly impacts immunity, energy, hormones, vitality, skin, and so much more. If you’re looking for a natural nootropic or way to feel better, lion’s mane might be the perfect fit.
Is Lion’s mane right for you? If you fit any of these descriptions or wish to improve overall mental well-being, lion’s mane might be right for you.
- Student who is seeking to improve academic performance
- Retired individual looking to reinvigorate, motivate and create
- Professional or worker who wants a more fulfilling and productive work experience
- Busy parents who need that extra boost for work/life balance
- Musician, writer or any kind of artist looking to get the creative juices flowing
- Anyone who is seeking a less stressful or anxious life
- Athlete or yogi looking for more focus and passion
- People who chronically or occasionally suffer with depression
- Those who are concerned about cognitive decline or looking to improve memory
The benefits of lion's mane are undeniable and people are starting to take notice. It's important to educate yourself about the perks of lion's mane to fully capitalize on them.
Lion's Mane Studies
View all lion's mane scientific studies for the benefits mentioned above.