Lion’s Mane Mushroom (AKA, Heiricum erinaceus) is mushroom known for its culinary and medicinal uses.
Growing in Euroasia and North America, Lion’s Mane is the only known mushroom with nootropic effects – meaning, it can affect your brain function.
Because of its growing popularity, researchers have been investigating Lion’s Mane Mushroom benefits, which include:
- Reduced brain fog
- Improved mood & mental well-being
- Potential reductions in depression and anxiety
- Stronger immune system
Lion’s Mane contains active compounds such as hericenones and erinacines, which are suggested to be behind its benefits.
While promising, the research on Lion’s Mane Mushroom is still early, with additional human studies needed to confirm its reported effects.
- Supports Immunity
- May Lower Chronic Inflammation
- Stimulates Brain Cell Repair & Growth
- Enhances Mental Clarity
- May Reduce Symptoms of Depression
- May Help Fight Cognitive Decline
How Does Lion’s Mane Work?
Although the mechanism of action of Lion’s Mane isn’t yet fully understood, studies show it can boost physical & cognitive health in the following ways.
- Stimulates Nerve Growth Factor (NGF)
Lion’s Mane is best known for boosting Nerve Growth Factor synthesis. A type of protein found in the brain, NGF influences survival, maintenance, and regeneration of neurons.
Your brain needs NGF to stay resilient and healthy. Various neurological conditions reduce how much NGF your brain makes.
A 2013 study from Kuala Lumpur is one of many showing that Lion’s Mane increases NGF synthesis and neurite outgrowth. 
- Lowers Inflammation Markers
One of the ways Lion’s Mane is speculated to boost neuron health is by lowering inflammation.
In one study, animals with gut inflammation were relieved of their symptoms – including pain and internal bleeding – after receiving Lion’s Mane. 
In another study, lion’s mane extract reduced animals’ brain injury and levels of inflammatory cytokines. 
Cell studies show similar results, in addition to reductions in nitric oxide, reactive oxygen species, prostaglandin, and key inflammatory marker NF-κB. 
As promising as this research looks, no human studies have yet looked into these effects, so you should take them with a grain of salt.
- Bolsters the Immune System
Chemicals in Lion’s Mane have been shown to improve immune function.
As you may have noticed, most of the studies around Lion’s Mane have been done on animals and in cells, and the same is with this one.
The researchers in this study found that polysaccharides in the mushroom enhance immune cell activity in the intestinal walls. 
Another mice study reported an increase in T cells and macrophages, which fight tumors. 
In terms of bacteria, Lion’s Mane has been shown to extend lifespan and protect from liver damage in mice injected with a lethal dose of Salmonella Typhimurium. 
Side Effects – Is Lion’s Mane Mushroom Safe?
Being an edible mushroom, Lion’s Mane is considered very safe when consumed in moderate amounts.
With that said, very few human studies have looked into the side effects of lion’s mane or its extracts specifically.
In animal studies, even extremely high doses of Lion’s Mane didn’t cause any adverse effects.
You may come across reports of people having skin rashes or digestive issues from Lion’s Mane, but these cases are extremely rare.
Needless to say, if you’re sensitive to mushrooms in general, you should avoid taking Lion’s Mane.
The optimal dosage of Lion’s Mane Mushroom is 500-1,000mg, taken 1 to 3 times daily.
However, the dose can vary greatly depending on your age and lifestyle, as well as the strength of the Lion’s Mane extract. You can take Lion’s Mane in capsules or as a powder.
You’ll also find it in numerous supplements, such as ‘nootropics,’ which combine multiple ingredients that have been suggested to enhance mood & cognition. .
As with any supplement, it’s always best to start with the lowest dosage of Lion’s Mane to see how your body reacts. Also, talk with your doctor if you have any questions, as well as if you suffer from any type of condition.
- Lai PL, Naidu M, Sabaratnam V, et al. Neurotrophic properties of the Lion’s mane medicinal mushroom, Hericium erinaceus (Higher Basidiomycetes) from Malaysia. Int J Med Mushrooms. 2013;15(6):539-554. doi:10.1615/intjmedmushr.v15.i6.30
- Qin M, Geng Y, Lu Z, et al. Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Ethanol Extract of Lion’s Mane Medicinal Mushroom, Hericium erinaceus (Agaricomycetes), in Mice with Ulcerative Colitis. Int J Med Mushrooms. 2016;18(3):227-234. doi:10.1615/IntJMedMushrooms.v18.i3.50
- Lee KF, Chen JH, Teng CC, et al. Protective effects of Hericium erinaceus mycelium and its isolated erinacine A against ischemia-injury-induced neuronal cell death via the inhibition of iNOS/p38 MAPK and nitrotyrosine. Int J Mol Sci. 2014;15(9):15073-15089. Published 2014 Aug 27. doi:10.3390/ijms150915073
- Kim YO, Lee SW, Oh CH, Rhee YH. Hericium erinaceus suppresses LPS-induced pro-inflammation gene activation in RAW264.7 macrophages. Immunopharmacol Immunotoxicol. 2012;34(3):504-512. doi:10.3109/08923973.2011.633527
- Sheng X, Yan J, Meng Y, et al. Immunomodulatory effects of Hericium erinaceus derived polysaccharides are mediated by intestinal immunology. Food Funct. 2017;8(3):1020-1027. doi:10.1039/c7fo00071e
- Wang JC, Hu SH, Su CH, Lee TM. Antitumor and immunoenhancing activities of polysaccharide from culture broth of Hericium spp. Kaohsiung J Med Sci. 2001;17(9):461-467.
- Kim SP, Moon E, Nam SH, Friedman M. Hericium erinaceus mushroom extracts protect infected mice against Salmonella Typhimurium-Induced liver damage and mortality by stimulation of innate immune cells. J Agric Food Chem. 2012;60(22):5590-5596. doi:10.1021/jf300897w