May 17, 2022 7 min read

Lion's Mane is a medicinal mushroom that has been used for centuries in various traditional medicine techniques to support healthy brain function. Modern research suggests that it could have even more benefits, though, like supporting healthy mood and boosting immunity. Many people who take Lion’s Mane daily are interested in it’s potential benefits for improving cognition, memory, and energy levels.

Before we can dig into the question at hand–does Lion’s Mane work?–let’s take a look at some of the most popular wellness claims to better understand the effects we may expect from a daily Lion’s Mane dose:

Table of Contents
Lion’s Mane Benefits and Research
Anecdotal Evidence: Does Lion’s Mane Work?
How to Start Using Lion’s Mane
Lion’s Mane FAQs
Resources

Key Takeaways

  • Many claim that Lion’s mane is beneficial for improving cognitive functions and mood.
  • Human research is limited, but some preliminary studies do verify potential benefits for mood support, enhanced brain function, nervous system regeneration, and more.
  • The quality of the Lion’s Mane supplement you choose is important, and low quality products may not provide consistent results.
  • Most people need to take Lion’s Mane daily for up to two weeks before experiencing any significant effects.
A Lion's Mane mushroom growing on the bark of a hardwood tree.

Lion’s Mane Benefits and Research

There are a variety of anecdotal reports concerning the efficacy of Lion’s Mane supplementation (more on that below), but the scientific evidence available is a little more limited. Although there is a wide range of research available, most of it involves animals trials. Human trials are still limited.

In other words, we can get an idea of where Lion’s Mane may be beneficial, but you’ll still need to try Lion’s Mane for yourself (or research other’s experiences) to get a good idea of what to expect.

Inflammation and Immunity

Some studies point to Lion’s Mane’s antioxidant content as a reason that it may have some potential for managing certain chronic conditions, like various strains of gastric cancer. This may also be part of the reason why Lion’s Mane is sometimes linked to immune boosting effects or is said to lower inflammation, although more research is needed to understand these potential benefits.

Digestive Health

A 2016 in vitro study found that lion’s mane may increase antibacterial activity in the gut that helps enhance digestion. A later study found that lion’s mane extract may help protect against stomach ulcers in mice, which helps support this antibacterial theory.

Mood Support

A 2015 study found that lion’s mane may help reduce anxiety and depression, although it didn’t verify how or why this may be the case. In this animal study, the subjects displayed fewer depressive behaviors and improved blood markers indicating a decrease in depression after taking Lion’s Mane. Another 2018 study also supports these results, concluding that lion’s mane could potentially be useful for treating depressive disorders.

Enhanced Brain Function

A 2017 study suggests that Lion’s Mane supplementation potentially increased object recognition and memory in mice, while another study purports potential benefits for preventing neurodegeneration caused by dementia. There’s not much human evidence to help us understand these potential benefits for young adults with a healthy brain, but one studydid find some signs of improved cognitive performance in older adults after taking Lion’s Mane consistently.

Human evidence is limited, but one older study did evaluate the benefits of the medicinal mushroom on cognitive performance in older adults. This research concluded that daily consumption of mushroom extract for 4 months improved cognitive performance in adults between 50 and 85 years of age compared to the placebo control group. The cognitive performance scores decreased after discontinuing the extract.

Nervous System Regeneration

Part of the reason that Lion’s Mane may be beneficial for preventing neurodegeneration is because it may actually help to repair cells within the nervous system. Evidence is limited, but one study found that Lion’s Mane extract may encourage the growth of new nerve cells and may stimulate faster healing within in the nervous system.

If you’re interested in reading more about the research available to back Lion’s Mane’s therapeutic use, read “Lion’s Mane Benefits.”

Anecdotal Evidence: Does Lion’s Mane Really Work?

A selection of Lion's Mane capsules and powder, two high-quality dosing options for reaping Lion's Mane's benefits.

Lion’s Mane for Energy and Focus

Lion’s Mane’s potential for improving energy and focus is among it’s most popular purported benefits. Many people suggest that Lion’s Mane gives them energy similar to a morning coffee or tea, while others focus more on it’s ability to help them feel sustained and focused throughout the day.

One person claimed that they were less than impressed with their daily Lion’s Mane dose at first, but after increasing the dosage to two grams a day, they felt significant improvements in their energy levels. Combining the dosage with piperine, a compound in black pepper known to increase the absorption of many herbal supplements, increased the effects even more. On a reddit forum, the poster even remarked “I wish I had done this sooner; it's actually mentally stimulating and anxiolytic.”

Lion’s Mane for Anxiety and Depression

Another forum outlines one person’s experience with Lion’s Mane’s benefits on anxiety, depression, and general cognition. Daily doses of Lion’s Mane left the poster feeling “mentally calm and happy” and much less “irritable, snappy, or unsociable.” The poster also claimed to experience a decrease in brain fog, though they claimed that they benefits for anxiety and depression outweighed the nootropic and cognitive benefits by far.

Luckily, these effects don’t seem to be limited only to the original poster. A commenter confirmed“I have a similiar background, and have noticed virtually identical effects.”

Lion’s Mane for Memory

We can’t forget one of the most popular reasons that people take Lion’s Mane–improving memory. Research has shown it to be potentially beneficial for older adults experiencing cognitive decline, but some anecdotal reports claim that it has benefits all around. One redditor described a self-led 45 day experiment where he tested the benefits of Lion’s Mane on his own cognition. He wrote “I was pleasantly surprised with my experience. I played memory games before, during and after and the results would suggest that lion’s mane absolutely does work for memory!”

Another commentor detailed a similar experience, claiming they “started paying a lot more attention to detail and have more patience.”

How to Start Using Lion’s Mane

If you’re ready to take the jump to find out if Lion’s Mane works for you, you should follow these simple guidelines to create a dosing routine that’s gentle and effective.

Choose a High Quality Supplement

Whether or not Lion’s Mane will work depends heavily on the quality of the supplements. Some supplements do not necessarily contain the Lion’s Mane potency they claim, while others could contain harmful contaminants that cause unwanted side effects. Be sure that you buy Lion’s Mane from a responsible manufacturer that provides lab testing for the final product batch. It’s always nice to know that you’re actually getting what you see on the product’s label.

Take Lion’s Mane Daily

Lion’s Mane is best taken daily, usually in the morning. Some people claim to experience adverse effects on their sleep when taking Lion’s Mane too late in the day. Studies typically involve routine daily doses, and some have shown that the cognitive benefits of Lion’s Mane do not persist after stopping the daily doses.

Start With Small Doses

In general, studies use Lion’s Mane doses ranging from 750 mg to 3,000 mg. The amount of Lion’s Mane you should take per day varies based on a number of factors, like whether you are taking other adaptogens with the Lion’s Mane or the particular reason you may be taking Lion’s Mane. You may want to start on the low end of that dosing threshold and increase until you reach the desired effects you’re after.

An arrangement of Lion's Mane capsules, one convenient dosing method for daily dosing.

Lion’s Mane FAQs

How long does it take for Lion’s Mane to work?

Lion’s Mane needs to be taken consistently for several weeks to reap the full benefits, although some people report that they can feel the effects only an hour after dosing, and that they especially can tell when they’ve missed a dose.

Is Lion's Mane scientifically proven?

There is a good variety of research to back up many Lion’s Mane health claims, but human trials are still limited. For now, research verifies that Lion’s Mane has great potential, but more evidence is needed to fully understand it’s health benefits.

Can you feel the effects of lion's mane?

Yes, most people describe the effects as energizing or focus-enhancing, although the feeling should be incredibly mild and should not interfere with your day to day functions.

Does Lions Mane really help memory?

Many anecdotal reports claim that Lion’s Mane does help to improve memory overtime. Some limited research even suggests that it may be beneficial for enhancing cognition in older adults with dementia, but this evidence is still in its preliminary stages.

Resources

  1. “Evaluation of Selected Culinary-Medicinal Mushrooms for Antioxidant and ACE Inhibitory Activities” https://www.hindawi.com/journals/ecam/2012/464238/
  2. “Anticancer potential of Hericium erinaceus extracts against human gastrointestinal cancers” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24631140/
  3. “Immunomodulatory effects of Hericium erinaceus derived polysaccharides are mediated by intestinal immunology”https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28266682/
  4. “Anti-Helicobacter pylori activity of bioactive components isolated from Hericium erinaceus” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26364939/
  5. “Anti-Gastric Ulcer Activity of Polysaccharide Fraction Isolated from Mycelium Culture of Lion's Mane Medicinal Mushroom, Hericium erinaceus (Higher Basidiomycetes)” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26853960/
  6. “Effects of amycenone on serum levels of tumor necrosis factor-α, interleukin-10, and depression-like behavior in mice after lipopolysaccharide administration” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26150007/
  7. “Erinacine A-Enriched Hericium erinaceus Mycelium Produces Antidepressant-Like Effects through Modulating BDNF/PI3K/Akt/GSK-3β Signaling in Mice” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5855563/
  8. “Dietary Supplementation of Hericium erinaceus Increases Mossy Fiber-CA3 Hippocampal Neurotransmission and Recognition Memory in Wild-Type Mice” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5237458/
  9. “The Neuroprotective Properties of Hericium erinaceus in Glutamate-Damaged Differentiated PC12 Cells and an Alzheimer’s Disease Mouse Model”https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5133811/
  10. “Improving effects of the mushroom Yamabushitake (Hericium erinaceus) on mild cognitive impairment: a double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial”https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18844328/
  11. “Lion's Mane, Hericium erinaceus and Tiger Milk, Lignosus rhinocerotis (Higher Basidiomycetes) Medicinal Mushrooms Stimulate Neurite Outgrowth in Dissociated Cells of Brain, Spinal Cord, and Retina: An In Vitro Study” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26853959/

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