Benefits of Lion’s Mane Mushroom (Hericium erinaceus)

Mar 13, 2024

The health benefits of Lion’s Mane Mushroom are attributed to a complex mix of bioactive compounds, including hericenones, erinacines, Hericenone C, Ergosterol, Hericene A, and oligosaccharides. These compounds work together to offer neuroprotective effects, cognitive enhancement, and support for mental health, as well as antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and immune-boosting properties.

Health Benefits

Cognitive Enhancement and Neuroprotection of Lion’s Mane Mushroom

Lions Mane mushrooms health benefits

Recent studies on Lion’s Mane Mushroom have explored its potential benefits for mental health support, particularly focusing on cognitive function, stress reduction, and mood enhancement. Here’s a summary of the findings from these studies:

  1. Mushrooms for the mind: Research concludes Lion’s Mane improves cognitive performance and reduces stress – A randomized controlled trial (RCT) conducted on healthy, young adults reported significant improvements in cognitive performance and a reduction in subjective stress levels after Lion’s Mane supplementation. The study observed quicker performance on the Stroop task 60 minutes post-intake and a trend towards reduced subjective stress levels following a 28-day supplementation period. The researchers suggest that Lion’s Mane may improve performance speed and exert a stress-reduction effect, potentially by stimulating neurotrophic factors like nerve growth factor.
  2. Can Lion’s Mane Cure Depression and Increase Dopamine? – This article discusses the antidepressant effects of Lion’s Mane, highlighting research that shows significant improvements in depressive disorders. It suggests that including Lion’s Mane in one’s diet could lessen the symptoms of depression. The article also touches on the potential of Lion’s Mane in treating bipolar disorder due to its dietary lithium content and mentions that Lion’s Mane supplements are generally safe to consume.
  3. The Acute and Chronic Effects of Lion’s Mane Mushroom on Cognitive Performance and Mood in Healthy, Young Adults – This study aimed to investigate both the acute and chronic effects of Lion’s Mane on cognitive performance and mood in healthy, young adults. The research found that Lion’s Mane supplementation could potentially elicit cognitive and mood effects through various biological mechanisms. However, the trials to date are limited, and more research is needed to fully understand the potential benefits of Lion’s Mane, especially in younger, healthy adults without cognitive decline.
  4. Neurological Activity of Lion’s Mane (Hericium erinaceus) – This publication suggests that the consumption of Lion’s Mane could positively impact cognitive function, promote nerve regeneration, and provide neuroprotective benefits. It highlights the mushroom’s potential in enhancing neurological health and function.
  5. Lion’s Mane and the brain: Study identifies new compounds in ‘smart mushroom’ (February 17, 2023): Researchers identified novel compounds in Lion’s Mane mushroom that may improve memory and boost brain cell growth. The study, which involved pre-clinical mouse models, found that these compounds stimulate neurite outgrowth in hippocampal neurons. The findings suggest that Lion’s Mane could act through a novel pan-neurotrophic signaling pathway, leading to improved cognitive performance.

These studies contribute to the growing body of evidence supporting the potential mental health benefits of Lion’s Mane Mushroom, including its effects on cognitive function, stress, and mood. However, the research also underscores the need for further investigation to confirm these effects and explore their underlying mechanisms.

Immune System Boost

Here’s some relevant research supporting the claim that lion’s mane may enhance immune function:

  1. Intestinal Immune System Modulation: A study published in the journal Mycobiology: (2013) demonstrated that a polysaccharide extracted from lion’s mane stimulated immune cells in mice intestines. This suggests it could bolster the gut’s defense mechanisms, which play a significant role in overall immunity.
  2. Increased Activity of Immune Cells: Research in the International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms: (2017) indicated that lion’s mane polysaccharides enhanced the activity of macrophages, specialized immune cells crucial for engulfing pathogens and cellular debris.
  3. Antioxidant and Anti-inflammatory Properties: Numerous studies point towards lion’s mane possessing antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. While not directly proving immune enhancement, reducing inflammation and oxidative stress is beneficial for optimal immune function.

Anti-inflammatory and Antioxidant Properties

Here’s some scientific research supporting the claim that lion’s mane mushrooms have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties:

Anti-Inflammatory Effects:

  1. Reduced Inflammation Markers: A study published in the International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms (2015) found that lion’s mane extract reduced several markers of inflammation in mice with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). 
  2. Inhibition of Inflammatory Pathways: Research in the journal Food & Function (2015) investigated lion’s mane compounds called hericenones and erinacines, suggesting that they could suppress inflammatory pathways in the body.
  3. Scavenging Free Radicals: A study published in Phytotherapy Research (2010) demonstrated that polysaccharides within lion’s mane might have strong antioxidant properties, helping to neutralize free radicals that cause oxidative damage. 

Important Notes:

  • Animal vs. Human Research: Many of the supporting studies are conducted on animals. While promising, more research in humans is needed for conclusive evidence of these immune-boosting effects.
  • Specificity of Effects: The mechanisms of how lion’s mane interacts with the immune system are complex, and ongoing research seeks to understand them more fully.

Consumption and Dosage

Lions mane mushroom health benefits

The recommended dosage of Lion’s Mane Mushroom for mental health support varies across different studies and depends on the specific health outcomes being targeted. Here are some dosages that have been used in clinical studies:

  1. Cognitive Function and Mood: A pilot study investigated the effects of Lion’s Mane on cognitive function and mood in young adults. Participants in this study took three capsules daily, with each capsule containing 600 mg of Lion’s Mane mushroom, equating to a daily dose of 1.8 grams. The study observed improvements in cognitive performance and a trend towards reduced subjective stress after 28 days of supplementation.
  2. Depression, Anxiety, and Sleep Disorders: A study involving participants who were overweight or had obesity found that taking three 400-mg capsules daily for 8 weeks helped relieve depression, anxiety, and sleep disorders.
  3. General Dosage Recommendations: While there is no standard dosage for Lion’s Mane, some researchers recommend 3 to 5 grams per day for improving cognition. For depression and anxiety, some anecdotal evidence suggests starting with a lower dosage, such as 750-1000 mg per day, and adjusting based on individual response.

It is important to note that while these dosages have been used in studies, individual needs may vary, and it is always best to consult with a healthcare provider before starting any new supplement regimen, especially for mental health support. Additionally, more research is needed to establish standardized dosages for specific mental health conditions.

Side Effects and Considerations

Lion’s Mane Mushroom is generally considered safe for most people, but there are some side effects and considerations to be aware of. Here’s a summary of the relevant research and information regarding its safety, side effects, and considerations:

  1. Allergic Reactions: There have been documented cases of individuals experiencing allergic reactions to Lion’s Mane Mushroom, including difficulty breathing and skin rashes. These reactions are likely related to allergies, indicating that individuals with known mushroom allergies should avoid Lion’s Mane.
  2. Side Effects: While no studies involving humans have examined the side effects of Lion’s Mane Mushroom or its extract extensively, they appear to be very safe. Animal studies suggest that even at high doses, Lion’s Mane Mushroom and its extracts are very safe. However, mild side effects such as stomach discomfort have been reported when taken by mouth
  3. Special Precautions and Warnings: For individuals with autoimmune diseases (such as MS, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, etc.), Lion’s Mane Mushroom might cause the immune system to become more active. This could potentially increase the symptoms of autoimmune diseases. Additionally, Lion’s Mane Mushroom might slow blood clotting, increasing the risk of bruising and bleeding in people with bleeding conditions.
  4. Interactions with Medications: Lion’s Mane Mushroom can increase the activity of the immune system. This might decrease the effectiveness of medications used to decrease the immune system (immunosuppressants), suggesting a need for caution when combining these treatments.
  5. Pregnancy and Breastfeeding: There isn’t enough reliable information to know if Lion’s Mane Mushroom is safe to use when pregnant or breastfeeding. Therefore, it’s recommended to stay on the safe side and avoid use during these periods.
  6. Sourcing and Contamination: It’s important to source Lion’s Mane Mushroom from reputable suppliers to avoid contamination. The cultivation methods and processing can affect the mushroom’s medicinal properties, and currently, there are no guidelines to ensure these products are safe and effective.

Conclusion

The active compounds in Lion’s Mane Mushroom that contribute to its health benefits are primarily hericenones and erinacines. These compounds are known for their ability to stimulate the growth of brain cells, which is a key factor in the mushroom’s cognitive enhancement and neuroprotective effects. Additionally, Lion’s Mane Mushroom contains other bioactive compounds such as Hericenone C, Ergosterol, and Hericene A, which have been identified to offer a range of health benefits including anti-obesity, antioxidant, anti-microbial, and anti-inflammatory effects.

The growth period of the mushroom also plays a significant role in the concentration of these bioactive compounds, with different stages of growth showing variations in the levels of these compounds and their antioxidant activities. This suggests that the timing of harvest can impact the health-promoting properties of Lion’s Mane Mushroom.

Moreover, Lion’s Mane Mushroom is rich in specific types of carbohydrates called oligosaccharides, which exhibit immune-stimulating functions and possess anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. These characteristics contribute to the mushroom’s potential in fighting chronic inflammation and reducing the impact of various health conditions such as heart diseases and autoimmune disorders.

Floris - Author of Mushroology.com

Floris - Author of Mushroology.com

Passionate mushroom hunter and grower. I am fortunate to have learned from some of the best mushroom experts in the field! When I’m not writing mushroom articles, I can usually be found hiking and identifying native mushrooms in different parts of the world.

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Floris - Author of Mushroology.com

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Passionate mushroom hunter and grower. I am fortunate to have learned from some of the best mushroom experts in the field! When I’m not writing mushroom articles, I can usually be found hiking and identifying native mushrooms in different parts of the world.