The benefits of Lion’s mane mushroom plus side effects, dosage

Last Updated: April 15, 2022

Overview | The Best Lions Mane Mushroom Supplements | Benefits | Gut health | Dosage | How to take | Safety | The bottom line

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Overview

Lion’s Mane mushroom (also known as hou tou gu in chinese medicine, or Hericium erinaceus) are round, hairy mushrooms that have been used in Asia for centuries for their medicinal properties. Taking Lion’s Mane Mushroom appears to stimulate nerve growth factor in the brain. It is believed that nerve growth factor is responsible for ensuring that cells survive and proliferate.

Modern research suggests that these mushrooms can reduce inflammation and improve mental performance.

Lion’s Mane can also improve our nerve health, burns fat and has antibiotic and anticancer properties.

Whilst synthetic neuroprotective agents have side effects including dry mouth, tiredness and drowsiness, Lion’s mane is both safe and effective. Lion’s mane has potent antioxidant activity, protects against amyloid beta and glutamate-induced neurotoxicity [1]. Plaque from amyloid beta peptides are a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease prognosis and glutamate toxicity can result in cell death.

The Best Lion’s Mane Mushroom Supplements

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Always look for a Lion’s Mane supplement that uses the whole fruiting body. This refers to the above ground part of the mushroom that contains the majority active triterpenes, beta-glucans and hericenones. These active ingredients that support brain health and stimulate nerve growth.

Benefits

The beneficial effects of Lion’s mane are due the mechanisms of decreased inflammation, antioxidant impact and stimulation of the immune system.

1. May be effective in improving mild cognitive impairment

Lion’s mane appears to boost activity of nerve growth factor in the brain.

A study performed with 50-80 year old Japanese men and women with mild cognitive impairment lasted 20 weeks [2]. During weeks 8, 12 and 16, subjects given 4 x 250mg of dry powdered mushroom had significantly higher cognitive test scores. These test scores increased as time went on.

However, after 16 weeks, the mushroom supplementation was stopped and subjects were tested again at week 20,  scores decreased significantly after this time.

For many older adults, Lion’s mane appears to be a safe way to improve cognitive health.

2. Lion’s Mane can Stimulate nerve growth factor

The ability of Lion’s mane to stimulate nerve growth in the brain is impressive. A spoonful of mushroom powder in your latte can lead to mental benefits.

It is thought that erinacines (unique compounds found in Lions Mane) are responsible for enhancing nerve growth [3].

Hericenones are also stimulatory but higher amounts of nerve growth factor was secreted in the presence of erinacines than for hericenones [4]. These compounds easily cross the blood-brain barrier.

In mice, Lion’s mane supplementation led to improved recognition memory [5].

3. Has potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects

Chronic oxidative stress can lead to heart disease, cancer and autoimmune disorders [6].

Lion’s Mane can combat this oxidative activity [7] [8].

As well as being an antioxidant, this medicinal mushroom has powerful anti-inflammatory benefits.

The research shows that Lion’s mane mushrooms can serve as a healthcare food and effective dietary source of antioxidants [9]

In mice, the supplementation of Lion’s mane extract reduced oxidative stress [10][11][12]. This led to reduced risk of bowel disease and liver toxicity.

For general health, adding a spoonful of Lion’s Mane powder to your coffee can reduce oxidative stress, inflammation and improve gut health.

4. Lion’s Mane May reduce mild anxiety and depression

Anxiety and depression affects a large proportion of the population and is projected to increase [13]. There is growing evidence that depression is the result of underlying inflammation, and treating this can have antidepressant effects [6]

Erinacine A-Enriched Lion’s mane extracts possibly help anxiety and improve depressive symptoms [14].

Lion’s mane appears to act on the hippocampus region of the brain. The hippocampal region is important for memory and learning. The improved functioning of the hippocampus can lead to a reduction in symptoms of depression.

One of the few studies involving human subjects examined the effects of Lion’s Mane on menopausal women [15]. These subjects suffered from irritability, anxiety and inattention. After being given four weeks of Lion’s Mane, their self-reported symptoms decreased across the board.

In an animal study, mice given lion’s mane mushroom also had improved blood markers of depression [16].

5. Possibly helps prevent stomach ulcers

Ulcers are able to form anywhere along the digestive tract. Ulcers cause a burning sensation that is often unpleasant and can lead to a loss of appetite. They are usually accompanied by gastritis, which can be be improved through Lion’s Mane supplementation.

One of the most common causes of stomach ulcers is H.pylori overgrowth. Lion’s mane can stop the growth of H.Pylori and protect the gut [10][17][18][19].

Lion’s Mane can also protect against ulcerative colitis, by lowering inflammation and intestinal bleeding.

However the majority of research has been performed on animals and human studies are required.

6. May lower cholesterol

High cholesterol is a risk factor for heart attacks.

In rats at risk of metabolic disease, those given Lion’s mane had reduced total and LDL cholesterol and increased HDL cholesterol [20].

In menopausal mice, Lion’s Mane decreased leptin, fat tissue and total cholesterol.

It also lowered body weight, fat tissue and blood triglyceride levels [21].

Dosage

There is no clinical recommendation for any dosage as Lion’s Mane has been taken in a wide range of doses. It is commonly eaten as a dish.

Most studies use around 1-3g/day which is enough to demonstrate some benefit.

How to take

Lion’s mane needs consistent supplementation to feel the effects.

The benefits of Lion’s mane typically grow with time. However, the benefits disappear when stopping supplementation.

Whilst you can eat the mushroom as food, capsule extracts are a increasingly popular way to take Lion’s Mane.

Safety

In humans, there has been a single case of allergic dermatitis [22].

Lion’s mane has been eaten as food for centuries. It is considered safe.

Moderate doses of around 750mg /day taken as 250 mg three times a day has been found to be safe.

The fruiting body has been consumed at dose of 5 grams per day.

Generally, lions mane is exceptionally safe in comparison to other nootropics.

The Bottom Line

Lion’s mane has been used in traditional medicine for centuries – for good reason.

It can confer positive brain function and mood in human studies, whilst animal studies find that it can lower the risk of ulcers, diabetes and heart disease.

Lion’s mane needs to be supplemented for a long period of time to reach complete benefit, but you should feel a difference within days of taking it.