March 10, 2022 7 min read

Lion’s Mane is a thick, shaggy mushroom that resembles a lion’s mane and grows on hardwood trees in North America and Asia. You can find it used in exotic cuisines, but usually you’ll hear about it being used as a wellness supplement. If you’ve heard about this ever-popular functional mushroom and want to know what all the fuss is about, take a look at the Lion’s Mane benefits below.

Key Benefits

Research is still limited, but some of the primary benefits of Lion’s Mane may include:

  • Enhanced cognition
  • Neuroprotective properties
  • Improved digestion
  • Heart disease prevention
  • Anticancer properties

Let’s dig into the research available. Here are 10 research-backed Lion’s Mane benefits you should know:

1. Lion’s Mane could improve cognition.

A man focusing on desk work after taking his daily Lion's Mane dose.

One study found that consuming Lion’s Mane daily for four months was associated with a significant increase in cognitive function in older adults with mild cognitive impairments. Lion’s Mane’s impact on cognition is among its most heavily touted potential benefits, and many people take Lion’s Mane alongside other nootropics to support general brain health.

2. It may prevent neurodegeneration and dementia.

Research suggests that Lion’s Mane may help prevent dementia and related disorders because it stimulated the production of two important brain cells–hericenones and erinacines.

Another study also found that Lion’s Mane extract may prevent memory loss and brain damage caused by the type of plaque that accumulates in the brain in Alzheimer’s patients. Most of the evidence available involve animal studies, so more evidence is needed to understand how Lion’s Mane supplementation may work for these neurodegenerative diseases in humans.

3. It may help improve mood and relieve anxiety.

Although there are many different factors that affect anxiety and depression, recent research suggests that chronic inflammation can cause or worsen the issue. One study found that an extract of Lion’s Mane could help reduce symptoms of inflammation-related depression, likely due to its potent anti-inflammatory effects.

While there are many causes of anxiety and depression, chronic inflammation could be a major contributing factor. Another study with similar results suggests that a Lion's Mane extract could be “an attractive agent for the treatment of depressive disorders.”

A studyinvolving a small group of women found that regular Lion’s Mane doses for one month reduced self-reported levels of anxiety.

Another animal study found that Lion’s Mane may be able to help regenerate cells in the hippocampus, a brain region responsible for memory and emotional responses. This may mean that Lion’s Mane can help heal physical trauma, but more research is needed.

A woman relaxing after taking a Lion's Mane dose for it's calming benefits.

4. It could help heal the nervous system.

Injuries to the nervous system can cause paralysis, loss of cognitive function, and more. Some research has found that Lion’s Mane extract may be able to speed the recovery process for nervous system injuries.

Injuries to the brain or spinal cord can be devastating. They often cause paralysis or loss of mental functions and can take a long time to heal. One study found Lion’s Mane to be one of three different functional mushroom extracts that may help stimulate the growth of nerve cells within the brain, spinal cord, and retina.

Another study puts this speedy recovery time into perspective, claiming that Lion’s Mane extract may speed nervous system recovery by 23-41% in animal subjects.

5. Lion’s Mane may prevent digestive ulcers.

According to one study, Lion’s Mane extract may help prevent stomach ulcers by combating the growth of H. pylori, one of the most common bacteria known to cause stomach ulcers. The same study found that Lion’s Mane may also protect the stomach lining from other damages.

Another study found that Lion’s Mane extract may be more effective than traditional antacid medications at preventing stomach ulcers caused by alcohol consumption.

Some research also suggests that Lion’s Mane extract can prevent or manage certain inflammatory conditions affecting the digestive tract, like Crohn’s disease. One study found that a blend of functional mushrooms, including 14% Lion’s Mane, may significantly improve symptoms in patients with ulcerative colitis.

6. It may improve heart health.

One animal study found that Lion's Mane may help improve fat metabolism and decrease triglycerides levels, two primary risk factors for developing heart disease.

Another study offers a similar conclusion, citing that triglyceride levels decreased by 27% while weight gain decreased by 42% over a 28 day period when rats were given Lion's Mane extract daily in addition to a high-fat diet.

An in vitro study found that Lion's Mane may also help to prevent the oxidation of cholesterol. Since oxidized cholesterol is more likely to attach to artery walls, this may reduce the risk of stroke and heart attack.

Lion's Mane also contains adequate amounts of hericenone B, a compound associated with a significant reduction in the risk of heart attack or stroke.

Lion's Mane may provide various benefits to heart health, but more research is needed to understand how it may benefit those at high risk for heart-related disease.

7. It could help manage diabetes.

Some evidence suggests that Lion's Mane may help improve the body's ability to naturally control blood sugar. One animal study found that lion’s mane may significantly lower blood sugar levels in mice. The study also found that Lion's Mane may have significant antioxidant benefits that prevent oxidative stress, a fact of importance to diabetic patients.

One study suggests that Lion's Mane regulates blood sugar by blocking aloha-glucosidase, an enzyme that converts carbs to sugar in the gut.

Another study found that Lion's Mane extract may even help reduce pain caused by diabetes-related nerve damage.

Much of this evidence involves animal trials, so more human studies are necessary to fully understand how Lion's Mane may benefit diabetic patients.

8. Lion’s Mane may have anticancer properties.

Research has found Lion's Mane to potentially have anticancer benefits, although human evidence is lacking. Still, test tube studies have found that Lion's Mane extract may kill the cells of various types of cancer, including liver, colon, stomach and blood cancer cells.

Another study found that Lion's Mane could reduce the spread of colon cancer to lungs by nearly 70%. A more recent study even found Lion's Mane to be more effective than various traditional cancer treatments at stunting tumor growth in mice. This study also found Lion's Mane to have far fewer side effects.

A person holding a Lion's Mane capsules, a popular dosing form for therapeutic benefits.

9. Reduces Inflammation and Oxidative Stress

According to one study, Lion's Mane contains antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds that may help reduce the impact of conditions characterized by inflammation and oxidative stress, which includes many chronic conditions.

In a studycomparing the antioxidant effects of different functional mushrooms, Lion's Mane was found to have the fourth highest antioxidant activity.

Lion’s mane may also help reduce inflammation linked to obesity, potentially decreasing the risk of chronic illnesses for obese patients.

More human trials are necessary to determine how these potential benefits may affect humans, but the current evidence looks promising.

10. It could provide an immune boost.

An animal trial found that Lion's Mane may boost immune system activity in the gut, known to play an important role in the body's overall immune system. According to this study, this means that Lion's Mane could protect against bacteria and pathogens that enter the body through the nose or mouth.

In general, though, Lion's Mane could boost immune functioning throughout the entire body. Another animal study found that daily Lion's Mane extract doses extended the lifespan of mice by almost 400% after being injected with a deadly salmonella dose.

More human trials are needed to understand the full impact Lion's Mane may have on the immune system.

Conclusion

Various Lion's Mane benefits have been thoroughly studied in animal models, but human evidence is still limited. Still, researchers know that Lion's Mane contains a handful of unique compounds with potent therapeutic benefits, hence why Lion's Mane has been used in traditional medicine for hundreds of years.

For now, evidence is too limited to suggest that Lion's Mane mushroom can cure or prevent any illness or condition, but many people still use it as a daily supplement to support overall wellness and especially brain health. Just make sure you buy a high-quality form supplement and use the correct Lion's Mane dosage to prevent any possible Lion's Mane side effects that could come from poor quality formulations.

Resources

  1. “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/
  2. “Neurotrophic properties of the Lion's mane medicinal mushroom, Hericium erinaceus (Higher Basidiomycetes) from Malaysia” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24266378/
  3. “Effects of Hericium erinaceus on amyloid β(25-35) peptide-induced learning and memory deficits in mice” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21383512/
  4. “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/
  5. “Erinacine A-Enriched Hericium erinaceus Mycelium Produces Antidepressant-Like Effects through Modulating BDNF/PI3K/Akt/GSK-3β Signaling in Mice” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29364170/
  6. “Reduction of depression and anxiety by 4 weeks Hericium erinaceus intake” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20834180/
  7. “Hericium erinaceus Extract Reduces Anxiety and Depressive Behaviors by Promoting Hippocampal Neurogenesis in the Adult Mouse Brain” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29091526/
  8. “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/
  9. “Peripheral Nerve Regeneration Following Crush Injury to Rat Peroneal Nerve by Aqueous Extract of Medicinal Mushroom Hericium erinaceus (Bull.: Fr) Pers. (Aphyllophoromycetideae)” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21941586/
  10. “Medicinal properties of Hericium erinaceus and its potential to formulate novel mushroom-based pharmaceuticals” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25070597/
  11. “Gastroprotective Effects of Lion's Mane Mushroom Hericium erinaceus (Bull.:Fr.) Pers. (Aphyllophoromycetideae) Extract against Ethanol-Induced Ulcer in Rats” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24302966/
  12. “Effect of a Medicinal Agaricus blazei Murill-Based Mushroom Extract, AndoSan™, on Symptoms, Fatigue and Quality of Life in Patients with Ulcerative Colitis in a Randomized Single-Blinded Placebo Controlled Study” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26933886/
  13. “Hypolipidaemic Effect of Hericium erinaceum Grown in Artemisia capillaris on Obese Rats”https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3714447/
  14. “Yamabushitake mushroom (Hericium erinaceus) improved lipid metabolism in mice fed a high-fat diet” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20622452/
  15. “Inhibitory effect on in vitro LDL oxidation and HMG Co-A reductase activity of the liquid-liquid partitioned fractions of Hericium erinaceus (Bull.) Persoon (lion's mane mushroom)” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24959591/
  16. “Inhibitory effect of hericenone B from Hericium erinaceus on collagen-induced platelet aggregation” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20637576/
  17. “Antihyperglycemic and antihyperlipidemic activities of aqueous extract of Hericium erinaceus in experimental diabetic rats” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3852124/
  18. “Antidiabetic and antioxidant activities of eight medicinal mushroom species from China”https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25746618/
  19. “Protective Effect of Ethanol Extracts of Hericium erinaceus on Alloxan-Induced Diabetic Neuropathic Pain in Rats” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4415746/
  20. “Isolation and identification of aromatic compounds in Lion's Mane Mushroom and their anticancer activities” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25306354/
  21. “Anticancer potential of Hericium erinaceus extracts against human gastrointestinal cancers” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24631140/
  22. “Mechanism of Hericium erinaceus (Yamabushitake) mushroom-induced apoptosis of U937 human monocytic leukemia cells” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21779573/
  23. “Hericium erinaceus (Lion's Mane) mushroom extracts inhibit metastasis of cancer cells to the lung in CT-26 colon cancer-tansplanted mice” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23668749/
  24. “Anticancer potential of Hericium erinaceus extracts against human gastrointestinal cancers” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24631140/
  25. “Composition and antioxidant activity of water-soluble oligosaccharides from Hericium erinaceus” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25529054/
  26. “Evaluation of Selected Culinary-Medicinal Mushrooms for Antioxidant and ACE Inhibitory Activities”https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21716693/
  27. “The Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Lion's Mane Culinary-Medicinal Mushroom, Hericium erinaceus (Higher Basidiomycetes) in a Coculture System of 3T3-L1 Adipocytes and RAW264 Macrophages” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26559695/
  28. “Immunomodulatory effects of Hericium erinaceus derived polysaccharides are mediated by intestinal immunology” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28266682/
  29. “Hericium erinaceus mushroom extracts protect infected mice against Salmonella Typhimurium-Induced liver damage and mortality by stimulation of innate immune cells” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22624604/

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