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Lion’s mane is an edible mushroom with many health benefits. It is a nootropic superfood that can modulate the immune system and provide many other health benefits. In this post, you will find 24 proven and potential benefits of Lion’s Mane, and all the different ways in which this mushroom can improve your wellbeing.

Introduction

Lion’s Mane is an edible mushroom with medicinal properties. This fungus is known by many other names, including Hedgehog Mushroom, Monkey’s mushroom, Bear’s Head, Old Man’s Beard, Yamabushitake (Japanese), Houtou (Chinese) and Hericium erinaceus (Latin) (R, R).

It has been used in traditional Chinese and Japanese medicine throughout history. It is also commonly consumed in many other Asian countries such as Korea and India (R, R, R).

Apart from vitamins and minerals, Lion’s Mane also contains some specific compounds such as hericerins, erinacines, erinaceolactones, and specific glycoproteins and polysaccharides (R).

Components and extracts of Lion’s Mane have proven antibiotic, anticancer, neuroprotective, fat- and glucose-lowering effects. This mushroom also protects against stomach ulcers, improves anxiety, cognitive function, and depression, and has anti-fatigue and anti-aging properties (R, R).

All of these beneficial effects are based on three important properties of this mushroom: it decreases inflammation, acts as an antioxidant, and stimulates the immune system (R).

Health Benefits of Lion’s Mane

Clinical trials in humans are few but promising. Therefore, many of the benefits below are based on animal studies and await confirmation in humans.

1) Lion’s Mane Improves Brain Function

In 50- to 80-year-old Japanese men and women diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment, Lion’s Mane improved cognitive function. However, cognitive function decreased again after the termination of the treatment, and therefore continuous intake may be necessary (R).

In mice with neurodegenerative diseases, Lion’s Mane improves both memory and cognitive function (R, R).

2) Lion’s Mane Enhances Nerve Regeneration

Lion’s Mane has nerve regenerating capability (R) and enhances nerve growth in animal models, both in the brain and throughout the body (R, R, R).

Lion’s Mane promotes nerve regeneration after limb injury in rats (R).

Lion’s mane promotes nerve growth factor (NGF) production (R).

3) Lion’s Mane May Help in Alzheimer’s

Lion’s Mane has anti-dementia activity in a mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease and in people with mild cognitive impairment (R, R).

Levels of acetylcholine (Ach), a chemical that helps nerve cells communicate, normally decrease with age. However, in diseases such as Alzheimer’s, levels of acetylcholine can drop by as much as 90 percent. Many of the drugs that are currently used to treat this disease work to increase acetylcholine levels.

In a mouse model of Alzheimer’s, Lion’s Mane improved cognitive function and the brain cholinergic system function. It enhanced both acetylcholine and choline acetyltransferase (ChAT, an enzyme that produces acetylcholine) concentrations in the blood and in the hypothalamus (R).

In mice with Alzheimer’s, Lion’s Mane prevents the loss of spatial short-term and visual recognition memory (R).

In a similar setting, Lion’s Mane decreased the amyloid beta plaque burden in the brain (R). The plaque contributes to brain degradation in patients with Alzheimer’s.

It was shown that Lion’s Mane components protect neurons from amyloid beta-induced neurotoxicity (R).

4) Lion’s Mane May Help in Parkinson’s

In a mouse model of Parkinson’s disease, treatment with Lion’s Mane reduced dopaminergic cell loss and attenuated motor deficits (R), suggesting that Lion’s Main can slow down progression of Parkinson’s Disease.

5) Lion’s Mane Combats Depression and Anxiety

In a four-week study, menopausal symptoms such as loss of concentration, irritability, palpitations and anxiety significantly decreased when treated with Lion’s Mane extract. This alleviation of symptoms also improved sleep quality (R).

Inflammation plays a role in depression, and Lion’s Mane compounds are known to decrease inflammation (R).

Amycenone, a Lion’s Mane component had antidepressant effects in mice (R).

6) Lion’s Mane Boosts the Immune System

Compounds found in Lion’s Mane improve immune function by enhancing both cell-mediated and humoral immunity. This mushroom activates macrophages and NK cells (R).

Lion’s Mane polysaccharides increase T cells and macrophage levels in mice (R).

Lion’s Mane also induces the maturation of human dendritic cells (antigen-presenting immune cells), which might reinforce the host innate immune system (R). Maturation of dendritic cells is an important process in the initiation and regulation of immune responses.

7) Lion’s Mane May Prevent Scarring

In rats, wounds treated with Lion’s Mane extract scarred less and contained more collagen (R).

8) Lion’s Mane Has Anti-Cancer Properties

As early as 1992, studies reported that components of Lion’s Mane showed high antitumor activity. These components prolonged the longevity and reduced the mortality of animal hosts (R).

Lion’s Mane promotes the Th1 response, which is important for fighting tumors (R).

Lion’s Mane polysaccharides also activate macrophages, and it is known that macrophages participate in the defense against tumor cells (R).

Lion’s Mane inhibits blood flow to cancer cells and migration of tumor cells to other organs (metastasis) (R, R). In mice, Lion’s Mane extracts induced cancer cell death and inhibited metastasis to the lungs (R).

Lion’s Mane also induces the death of leukemic, liver, colon, gastric, and breast cancer cells (RR, R, R).

9) Lion’s Mane Protects Against Bacteria

Lion’s Mane promotes the anti-bacterial immune response. In mice infected with a lethal dose of Salmonella typhimurium, Lion’s Mane extended lifespan and protected against liver damage (R).

10) Lion’s Mane Inhibits HIV Activity

A lectin found in Lion’s Mane inhibits HIV-1 reverse transcriptase activity, which is important for the HIV virus to expand (R).

11) Lion’s Mane Decreases Inflammation

Lion’s Mane exerts an anti-inflammatory effect by reducing excessive nitric oxide, prostaglandin, reactive oxygen species, and pro-inflammatory factors such as NF-κB (R).

In mice with acute gut inflammation, Lion’s Mane improved symptoms and decreased intestinal bleeding (R).

In rats with brain injury, Lion’s Mane extract reduced infarct volume and decreased the levels of inflammatory cytokines (R).

12) Lion’s Mane Has Antioxidative Qualities

Lion’s Mane possesses anti-oxidative qualities that prevent oxidative stress-related diseases. Consumption of the boiled mushroom can eliminate peroxides and remove harmful iron ions (R).

13) Lion’s Mane Improves Cardiovascular Health and Metabolism

In rats fed a high-fat diet, Lion’s Mane reduced total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, triglycerides and phospholipids and increased HDL cholesterol (R, R).

Similarly, in mice on a high-fat diet, Lion’s Mane decreased body weight gain, fat weight, and blood and liver triglyceride levels (R).

In ovariectomized mice (a menopause model), Lion’s Mane decreased fat tissue, total cholesterol, and leptin (R).

Cholesterol-lowering effect of Lion’s Mane may be related to increased bacterial short chain fatty acid production in the large intestine, and the accelerated rate of degradation of cholesterol to bile acids (R), or the reduced ability to absorb fat (R).

Lion’s Mane also exerts anti-inflammatory effects on macrophages and prevents or ameliorates fat tissue inflammation associated with obesity (R).

14) Lion’s Mane May Lower High Blood Glucose

Lion’s Mane reduced blood glucose levels in both normal and diabetic mice by nearly 50% (R).

Lion’s Mane also increased glucose tolerance in diabetic mice (R).

In diabetic rats, Lion’s Mane decreased blood glucose and increased insulin (R).

15) Lion’s Mane May Help with Diabetic Neuropathy Pain

In rats with diabetic neuropathy pain, Lion’s Mane significantly increased pain threshold while also improving glucose levels (R).

16) Lion’s Mane Improves Circulation

Lion’s Mane alcohol extracts can prevent blood clots. A component called hericenone B found in the mushroom inhibits human and rabbit platelet aggregation caused by collagen (R).

Alcohol extracts of Lion’s Mane inhibit the production of excess blood vessel cells in rats (R). Excess blood vessel cells contribute to atherosclerosis (thickening of the arteries).

17) Lion’s Mane May Protect the Gut

Lion’s Mane extracts protect against alcohol-induced stomach lining injury and ulcers in rats (R, R).

Lion’s Mane also protects against gastritis (R) and colitis, by suppressing inflammatory cytokines and reducing intestinal bleeding (R).

18) Lion’s Mane Inhibits H. pylori Growth

Lion’s Mane inhibited the growth of H. pylori in several laboratory studies (R, R, R).

19) Lion’s Mane May Protect the Liver

A component of Lion’s Mane protects mice from chemically induced liver damage (R).

Lion’s Mane decreases liver damage caused by acute alcohol exposure in mice, decreasing blood ALT, AST, and MDA levels (R).

20) Lion’s Mane May Help with Fatigue

In mice, Lion’s Mane extended the exhaustive swimming time, increased tissue glycogen content and antioxidant enzyme activity, and decreased biochemical parameters related to fatigue, including blood lactic acid, urea nitrogen, and malondialdehyde (R).

Lion’s Mane increases the flying ability in flies (R).

21) Lion’s Mane Can Be Good for the Skin

Lion’s Mane has anti-aging effects on the skin. Polysaccharides found in this mushroom enhance antioxidant enzyme activities and increase collagen levels in aged rat skin (R).

22) Lion’s Mane is Anti-Aging

Lipofuscin is a waste product of human and animal aging metabolism. It is constantly accumulating in as cells age, contributing to cell atrophy (wasting). In both mice and flies, Lion’s Mane polysaccharides significantly reduced lipofuscin content (R).

On the other hand, superoxide dismutase (an enzyme that converts reactive oxygen species O- into oxygen or O2) decreases significantly with age. Lion’s Mane polysaccharides can increase the activity of superoxide dismutase in the brain and the liver (R).

Lion’s Mane exhibited anti-aging properties in human cell cultures (R).

23) Lion’s Mane May Increase Bone Density

Lion’s Mane polysaccharides improved bone density and bone strength in rats (R).

Moreover, Lion’s Mane compounds inhibited the production of osteoclasts, cells that break down bone tissue, in the laboratory (R).

24) Lion’s Mane May Help Adjust Circadian Rhythms

Lion’s Mane extracts decreased wakefulness at the end of the active phase in mice. Furthermore, some components of Lion’s Mane can advance the sleep-wake cycle (R).

Therefore, it has been suggested that Lion’s Mane may help in conditions with circadian clock impairments, such as dementia, Alzheimer’s and delayed sleep phase disorder (R).

Safety and Side Effects of Lion’s Mane Mushroom

A couple of studies showed that in rats, administration of Lion’s Mane extracts and individual components caused no adverse effect on the behavior, body weight or blood works (R, R).

However, in humans, a single case of allergic contact dermatitis (R), and one case of acute respiratory failure (R) associated with this mushroom were registered.

Lion’s Mane may stimulate Th1 immune response, so you should avoid it if you suffer from Th1-dominant autoimmune problems.

Buying Lion’s Mane

Lion’s mane is a Th1 stimulant, so be careful if you’re Th1 dominant.

Technical

Lion’s Mane can both increase and decrease pro-inflammatory cytokines depending on the context. In cancer patients, this fungus increases the Th1 response and pro-inflammatory cytokines. In inflammatory conditions, such as IBD, it decreases them.

Health Tools I Wish I Had When I Was Sick

At SelfHacked, it’s our goal to offer our readers all the tools possible to get optimally healthy. When I was struggling with chronic health issues I felt stuck because I didn’t have any tools to help me get better. I had to spend literally thousands of hours trying to read through studies on pubmed to figure out how the body worked and how to fix it.

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  • BrainGauge – a device that detects subtle brain changes and allows you to test what’s working for you
  • SelfHacked VIP – an area where you can ask me (Joe) questions about health topics

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24 COMMENTS

  • professor suomi

    Did lions mane heal spinal cord nerve damage in rats or did it only affect the brain and peripheral nerves?

  • Jas

    For Parkinson which is more suitable-lion mane or Astaxanthin?

  • Viktor Tikka

    I took lions mane 1 month then i developed neuropathy but this was because i have severe copper deficiency and not because of the lions mane ( I think)
    So i just started taking lions mane,forskolin and acetyl l carnitine along with 4 mg of copper a day to see if i can reverse these neurological damages i have developed because of copper deficiency

  • godhelps

    what brand of such mushroom is the most effective one?

  • Rose

    Following

  • Novalyn untivero

    My daughter diagnosed Wilson disease and mushroom is one of the prohibited food for her , what dxn product can you recommend for her.

  • Cherie hodder

    If this can help with epilepsy how does it interact with other medications? Son taking trilept klonapin and depikote

  • Luke Holst

    Hey I’ve taken Lion’s Mane in the past and have found it very effective. I am also TH1 dominant so is there a substitute for Lion’s Mane that won’t boost TH1?

  • SM

    QWZZA, thank you so much for your informative comment. I am very surprised by your answer as it’s not the answer I had imagined but it makes a lot of sense to me. I had learned since being poisoned by carbon monoxide that CO can affect both dopamine and serotonin in the brain. So it makes sense that if dopamine can be lessened by lions mane that I would see a regression in symptoms. I was also giving it to my son and he had the same symptoms of brain fog and he had also been CO poisoned. We both quit taking it and the fog cleared up after a bit. Thank you again.

  • qwzza

    To SM, regarding brain fog with lion’s mane:
    Brain fog with otherwise “brain boosting” supplements is often due to increased acetylcholine and/or prolactin leading to decreased dopamine. You might consider supplementing with the amino acid L-tyrosine (a dopamine precursor), mucuna pruriens (contains L-DOPA), or other dopaminergic compounds.

  • Angela

    I bought Lion’s Mane from Host Defense three weeks ago. After about two weeks I noticed feeling mentally sharp and more energetic. I suffer intermittently from brain fog induced by my hypothyroidism. This product has made me feel like my old self. I have had no negative side effects…..Only positive.

  • SM

    I recently took lions mane for about a week and I had notably increased memory fog. It was hard for me to think and function properly and I would frequently forget what o was doing in the middle of doing it. I have improved since stopping. I was taking host defense bought from amazon. I was carbon monoxide poisoned about a year ago and while time has healed much of the injury I wanted to take lions mane to help heal lingering issues. What’s suprised me most is it felt like I was regressing while taking it. Another weird symptom I noticed was having issues with spatial perception such as my brain getting confused about if something was to the right or left of me or up or down. This was something that I had issues with after CO poisoning but improved with time so it felt weird to me experiencing it again.

  • Otieno George

    I dont think smoking weed helps completely…

  • Victoria

    If I want to eat the mushroom instead of capsules how much should I eat at a time?

  • Ro

    Taking it for post concussion treatment.

  • Wendy Cohen

    I’ve been taking only 1 capsule a day for 30 days, along with St Johns Wart, I’m hesitant to say I’m feeling great, more energy, and seem to be thinking clearer. (Gifted w ADHD;) Although I’m not sure if I’m Th1 or Th2?

  • JenniferItoND

    There was no significant difference in sleep quality in the 2010 – 4 week study on menopausal women (Nagano, et al).

  • Jeff Diegel

    It helps the brain heal epilepsy too!

  • I know

    This is what my husband needs so bad. So I really need a address so I can order some

  • K

    Nice one!

  • christianschwalbach

    I just started trying this out for some migraine and peripheral neuropathy assistance. Have you used this often?

    1. Angie Matthews

      Has this help with your neuropathy? My husband has poly neuropathy and looking for something other than painkillers to help with the pain

      1. Epstein

        Smoke some weed.

        1. Ezra

          Good advice

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