Lion's Mane

Last Updated: October 30, 2023

Lion's mane, Hericium erinaceus, is a culinary and medicinal mushroom. Lion’s mane appears to have neuroprotective and antioxidant properties in the brain.

Lion's Mane is most often used for

What is lion’s mane?

Lion’s mane (Hericium erinaceus) is a mushroom belonging to the Hericiaceae family, recognized by its soft pendant projections (spines) measuring 1–4 cm in length. Lion’s mane typically requires a substrate like dead wood to grow, but it can also be cultivated on other substrates such as artificial logs or in a liquid matrix for larger-scale production. Lion’s mane can be used for both culinary and medicinal purposes. Its mature fruiting body has a fleshy, tough, and watery texture, and it’s known for its seafood-like flavor, reminiscent of crab, shrimp, or lobster.[5][6]

Lion’s mane contains a range of bioactive compounds, including high-molecular-weight substances like polysaccharides (e.g., beta-glucans) and low-molecular-weight compounds such as terpenoids, which usually require the use of solvents such as methanol or ethyl acetate to be extracted due to their limited solubility in water.[5][6]

Notably, lion’s mane has been used for a long time in traditional Chinese medicine in Asia, but it was initially described in North America and later in Europe.[5]

What are the main benefits of lion’s mane?

Lion’s mane has gained recent popularity due to its potential neuroprotective and antioxidant properties, which may improve cognitive function and symptoms associated with neurodegenerative conditions such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. However, the existing clinical trial evidence supporting these claims remains limited.

In one randomized controlled trial (RCT), individuals with mild Alzheimer's disease were given three 350 mg capsules daily of Hericium erinaceus mycelia enriched with 5 mg/g of erinacine (an active compound in lion’s mane) for 49 weeks. Although the group taking lion’s mane scored higher than the placebo group in the Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADL) test compared to baseline, no significant differences were observed in other tests used to assess mild to moderate dementia (MMSE, CASI, and NPI).[2] Another clinical study, using 3 g of lion's mane powder in capsule form, showed notable improvements in cognitive function for individuals with general mild cognitive decline. Cognitive improvement relative to the control group was observed, with the degree of improvement increasing over time. However, cognitive function reverted to baseline levels 4 weeks after the discontinuation of lion’s mane treatment, suggesting the need for a continuous intake to maintain its effect.[1] Additionally, one RCT involving healthy participants taking 3.2 g of lion’s mane daily demonstrated improved scores in the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) test compared to the placebo group. Although this may indicate lion’s mane’s potential for preventing cognitive decline in older adults, other tests of cognitive function in this study did not yield similar results.[3]

Lion’s mane is also being investigated for its potential to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. Two studies, one involving menopausal women[4] and another including overweight or obese individuals,[7] reported improvements following supplementation with lion's mane. However, both studies had limitations in their design and targeted people belonging to specific demographic groups rather than the general population.[8]

What are the main drawbacks of lion's mane?

The side effects of lion’s mane are still under investigation, but adverse effects have not typically been seen at the recommended dosage. The symptoms reported by study participants have included nausea, abdominal discomfort, diarrhea, and skin rash.[2][1]

How does lion’s mane work?

Lion’s mane contains several bioactive compounds that contribute to its properties. Notably, hericenones (primarily found in the mushroom’s fruiting body) and erinacines (concentrated in the mushroom’s mycelia) have been shown to stimulate the synthesis of nerve growth factor (NGF) in astrocytes (a type of non-neuronal brain cell) located in the hippocampus.[9] NGF is responsible for regulating neuronal cell differentiation, proliferation, and survival in the brain, and increased NGF levels have been associated with improved neurogenesis and neuroplasticity. There are different types of hericenones, and most of them appear to contribute to the biosynthesis of NGF. Hericenone B has also demonstrated potential in preventing thrombosis (blood clots) and increasing blood flow, both of which play a role in dementia.[3][8] Additionally, lion’s mane has shown the capacity to enhance the myelination (production of myelin sheath) of neurons in vitro.[10]

Another key compound in lion’s mane is beta-glucan. In vitro studies have suggested that beta-glucans may have two beneficial effects: a cholesterol-lowering effect and an antitumor effect. The latter is due to the activation of macrophages, which are crucial components of the innate immune system and which play a role in the neuroregeneration processes within the central nervous system.[3]

Animal studies have also observed that lion’s mane might exhibit antidepressant-like effects by restoring depleted serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine levels in the hippocampi of restraint-stressed mice. However, the precise mechanism through which lion’s mane modulates the concentrations of these neurotransmitters remains unclear.[8]

What else is Lion's Mane known as?
Note that Lion's Mane is also known as:
  • Hericium erinaceus
  • Monkey's Head
  • Houtou (infrequent)
  • Igelstachelbart
  • Pom Pom Blanc
  • Hedgehog Mushroom
  • Satyr’s Beard
  • Yamabushitake
  • Lion's Mane
Dosage information

Clinical studies investigating lion's mane mushroom have utilized dosages ranging from 1050–3000 mg, divided into three to four daily doses. Nevertheless, the optimal dose remains uncertain, and the minimum effective concentration may vary depending on the specific target system.[1][2][3][4]

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Update History
2023-10-30 00:30:03

Small correction

minor

We slightly misreported a study finding (PMID: 32581767). We mistakenly said that lion's mane both improved and didn't improve scores on the IADL evaluation. It now (correctly) states that it improved IADL scores.

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Research Breakdown

References
  1. ^Mori K, Inatomi S, Ouchi K, Azumi Y, Tuchida TImproving effects of the mushroom Yamabushitake (Hericium erinaceus) on mild cognitive impairment: a double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trialPhytother Res.(2009 Mar)
  2. ^I-Chen Li, Han-Hsin Chang, Chuan-Han Lin, Wan-Ping Chen, Tsung-Han Lu, Li-Ya Lee, Yu-Wen Chen, Yen-Po Chen, Chin-Chu Chen, David Pei-Cheng LinPrevention of Early Alzheimer's Disease by Erinacine A-Enriched Hericium erinaceus Mycelia Pilot Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled StudyFront Aging Neurosci.(2020 Jun 3)
  3. ^Saitsu Y, Nishide A, Kikushima K, Shimizu K, Ohnuki KImprovement of cognitive functions by oral intake of Hericium erinaceus.Biomed Res.(2019)
  4. ^Nagano M, Shimizu K, Kondo R, Hayashi C, Sato D, Kitagawa K, Ohnuki KReduction of depression and anxiety by 4 weeks Hericium erinaceus intakeBiomed Res.(2010 Aug)
  5. ^Thongbai et alHericium erinaceus, an amazing medicinal mushroomMycol Progress.(2015-09-16)
  6. ^Jiang S, Wang S, Sun Y, Zhang QMedicinal properties of Hericium erinaceus and its potential to formulate novel mushroom-based pharmaceuticals.Appl Microbiol Biotechnol.(2014-Sep)
  7. ^Vigna L, Morelli F, Agnelli GM, Napolitano F, Ratto D, Occhinegro A, Di Iorio C, Savino E, Girometta C, Brandalise F, Rossi PImproves Mood and Sleep Disorders in Patients Affected by Overweight or Obesity: Could Circulating Pro-BDNF and BDNF Be Potential Biomarkers?Evid Based Complement Alternat Med.(2019)
  8. ^Chong PS, Fung ML, Wong KH, Lim LWTherapeutic Potential of for Depressive Disorder.Int J Mol Sci.(2019-Dec-25)
  9. ^Mori K, Obara Y, Hirota M, Azumi Y, Kinugasa S, Inatomi S, Nakahata NNerve growth factor-inducing activity of Hericium erinaceus in 1321N1 human astrocytoma cells.Biol Pharm Bull.(2008-Sep)
  10. ^Kolotushkina EV, Moldavan MG, Voronin KY, Skibo GGThe influence of Hericium erinaceus extract on myelination process in vitro.Fiziol Zh (1994).(2003)
  11. ^Łysakowska P, Sobota A, Wirkijowska AMedicinal Mushrooms: Their Bioactive Components, Nutritional Value and Application in Functional Food Production-A Review.Molecules.(2023-Jul-14)
  12. ^Grozier CD, Alves VA, Killen LG, Simpson JD, O'Neal EK, Waldman HSFour Weeks of Supplementation Does Not Impact Markers of Metabolic Flexibility or Cognition.Int J Exerc Sci.(2022)
  13. ^Abdulla MA, Fard AA, Sabaratnam V, Wong KH, Kuppusamy UR, Abdullah N, Ismail SPotential activity of aqueous extract of culinary-medicinal Lion's Mane mushroom, Hericium erinaceus (Bull.: Fr.) Pers. (Aphyllophoromycetideae) in accelerating wound healing in rats.Int J Med Mushrooms.(2011)
  14. ^Hiwatashi K, Kosaka Y, Suzuki N, Hata K, Mukaiyama T, Sakamoto K, Shirakawa H, Komai MYamabushitake mushroom (Hericium erinaceus) improved lipid metabolism in mice fed a high-fat diet.Biosci Biotechnol Biochem.(2010)
  15. ^Yang BK, Park JB, Song CHHypolipidemic effect of an Exo-biopolymer produced from a submerged mycelial culture of Hericium erinaceus.Biosci Biotechnol Biochem.(2003-Jun)
  16. ^Ghosh S, Nandi S, Banerjee A, Sarkar S, Chakraborty N, Acharya KProspecting medicinal properties of Lion's mane mushroom.J Food Biochem.(2021-Jun-24)
  17. ^Joseph M Rootman, Maggie Kiraga, Pamela Kryskow, Kalin Harvey, Paul Stamets, Eesmyal Santos-Brault, Kim P C Kuypers, Zach WalshPsilocybin microdosers demonstrate greater observed improvements in mood and mental health at one month relative to non-microdosing controlsSci Rep.(2022 Jun 30)
  18. ^Xiao-Qian Xie, Yan Geng, Qijie Guan, Yilin Ren, Lin Guo, Qiqi Lv, Zhen-Ming Lu, Jin-Song Shi, Zheng-Hong XuInfluence of Short-Term Consumption of Hericium erinaceus on Serum Biochemical Markers and the Changes of the Gut Microbiota: A Pilot StudyNutrients.(2021 Mar 21)
Examine Database References
  1. Depression Symptoms - Nagano M, Shimizu K, Kondo R, Hayashi C, Sato D, Kitagawa K, Ohnuki KReduction of depression and anxiety by 4 weeks Hericium erinaceus intakeBiomed Res.(2010 Aug)
  2. Alzheimer's Disease Symptoms - I-Chen Li, Han-Hsin Chang, Chuan-Han Lin, Wan-Ping Chen, Tsung-Han Lu, Li-Ya Lee, Yu-Wen Chen, Yen-Po Chen, Chin-Chu Chen, David Pei-Cheng LinPrevention of Early Alzheimer's Disease by Erinacine A-Enriched Hericium erinaceus Mycelia Pilot Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled StudyFront Aging Neurosci.(2020 Jun 3)
  3. Cognitive Decline - Mori K, Inatomi S, Ouchi K, Azumi Y, Tuchida TImproving effects of the mushroom Yamabushitake (Hericium erinaceus) on mild cognitive impairment: a double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trialPhytother Res.(2009 Mar)