Lion’s Mane — The Best Nootropic Mushroom
A Nootropic mushroom for risk-averse biohackers with a wide range of cognition-enhancing effects.
Hericium erinaceus, or the Lion’s Mane mushroom, is a unique member of the mushroom family that shows nootropic properties. The mushroom gets its name from its appearance when it reaches maturity which looks like a Lion’s Mane.
This article aims to take a closer look at the Lion’s Mane mushroom. This includes what it might help with and what the science behind it says. It will also take a look at what users have to say about Lion’s Mane.
This article is mostly going to focus on decoding what the human studies are saying about Lion’s Mane and how this squares up with the anecdotal experiences of Biohackers online. For more of my own personal experiences, thoughts, and comparisons please see the written and video reviews in the sidebar.
Lion's Mane[Title/Abstract] - PubMed - NCBI
PubMed comprises more than 29 million citations for biomedical literature from MEDLINE, life science journals, and…
The Lion’s Mane mushroom is large and white, with a hair-like texture that cascades downwards. There are countless other names for this fungi, so you have seen it described under a different title. It is also sometimes referred to as the Yamabushitake mushroom, the Satyr’s Beard, or the Monkey Head mushroom. Its effects have been used for thousands of years, particularly by Buddhist monks. After centuries, it seems like modern medicine is finally discovering the benefits of this fungus. So many years later and it still holds promise to this day in giving users a myriad of benefits.
In the notable 6-month, double-blind placebo-controlled human study done on Lion’s Mane the dosage administered was 3 grams daily. You would have to do about 8 capsules daily of Neuro-Stack to get that much, although the study was done on cognitively impaired middle-aged and elderly Japanese patients. You probably need a whole lot less of the stuff. In the human research, there are several remarkable effects of Lion’s Mane…
History and Origin
Found primarily in North America, Europe, and East Asia, the Lion’s Mane mushroom has a long history of being used in traditional medical practices. The ancient Chinese referred to mushrooms as the “spirit plant” as they believed mushrooms to be a source of longevity and spiritual wisdom. The ancient Chinese used the Lion’s Mane mushroom for a variety of digestive ailments, long before modern medicine came onto the scene.
Alzheimer’s and Dementia are terrible illnesses that not only affect the sufferer but also their families and friends. One of the biggest draws of Lion’s Mane is its neuroprotective properties. Lion’s mane mushroom can be used to help protect against the onset of dementia. In other words, it has the potential to help retain mental functions such as memory and general cognition. These mushrooms contain two compounds, called hericenones and erinacines, that are known to help stimulate brain cell growth. In animal studies, it has also shown the potential to help with serious neurodegenerative diseases such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
A 2011 report on Lion’s Mane takes a deeper look into these properties, stating:
“It has been reported that [Lion’s Mane] promotes nerve growth factor secretion in vitro and in vivo. Nerve growth factor is involved in maintaining and organizing cholinergic neurons in the central nervous system. These findings suggest that [Lion’s Mane] may be appropriate for the prevention or treatment of dementia.”
Effects of Hericium erinaceus on amyloid β(25-35) peptide-induced learning and memory deficits in…
Biomed Res. 2011 Feb;32(1):67-72. Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
To understand how this works, it’s important to take a look at nerve growth factor and the role Lion’s Mane plays in it.
Lion’s Mane stimulates nerve growth factor synthesis in the brain. Nerve growth factor is a protein in the brain. It plays a huge role in the health of your neurons. Specifically, it helps to maintain as well as regenerate neurons. These neurons are significant in regular cognitive function.
A Canadian biohacker on Longecity explains…
For [Lion’s] mane, hericinones are in the fruiting body and erinacines are in the mycelium and both have shown NGF stimulation
Verdict on Lions Mane? - Page 3 - Brain Health
Page 3 of 9 - Verdict on Lions Mane? - posted in Brain Health: Jeezes this thread is anoying to read with all this…
A Japanese study was conducted on older adults with mild symptoms of cognitive impairment in which they took 3 grams of Lion’s Mane a day for 4 months. The participants showed improvement until the supplementation was stopped. The study concluded:
“The [Lion’s Mane] group’s scores increased with the duration of intake, but at week 4 after the termination of the 16 weeks intake, the scores decreased significantly. Laboratory tests showed no adverse effect of [Lion’s Mane]. The results obtained in this study suggest that [Lion’s Mane] is effective in improving mild cognitive impairment.”
Depression and Anxiety
Mental health conditions like depression and anxiety can make it significantly more difficult to function in everyday life. Lion’s mane has been studied in mice for its ability to improve mood. Some studies have shown that Lion’s Mane mushroom can improve the functioning of the hippocampus, because of its ability to stimulate brain cell growth.
This region of the brain controls the processes associated with memory and emotional responses. The consensus among researchers is that if the functioning of the hippocampus is improved, then emotion regulation will improve.
This, in turn, would lead to a reduction in symptoms of anxiety and depression. This could be quite effective in cases of mild anxiety or depression, but you would probably still have to utilize an antidepressant in cases of more severe symptoms.
A 2018 Korean study looked at the potential of Lion’s Mane for depressive and anxiety measures through testing on mice. They concluded:
“The results indicate that chronic [Lion’s Mane] administration can exert anxiolytic and antidepressant-like effects, possibly by enhancing adult hippocampal neurogenesis.”
Stomach ulcers are sores that can form anywhere in the digestive system. The most common causes of these ulcers are the overgrowth of bacteria in the gut, and damage to the stomach from daily use of NSAIDs like aspirin.
The bacteria, called H. pylori, has been shown to have its growth inhibited by Lion’s Mane mushroom. These results come from studies conducted in test-tubes, but it’s strongly hypothesized that these same results would occur in the stomach. The evidence was concluded with the following;
“This study revealed that the extracts from petroleum ether contribute to the anti-H. Pylori activity.”
Anti-Helicobacter pylori activity of bioactive components isolated from Hericium erinaceus. …
J Ethnopharmacol. 2016 May 13;183:54-58. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2015.09.004. Epub 2015 Sep 11. Research Support, Non-U.S…
A 2015 Chinese paper looked at why Lion’s Mane was useful for ulcers and concluded that it is the beneficial polysaccharide components in the mushroom. To be exact;
“These results indicate that the polysaccharide fraction is the active component of the [Lion’s Mane] mycelium culture, which protects against gastric ulcers.”
Anti-Gastric Ulcer Activity of Polysaccharide Fraction Isolated from Mycelium Culture of Lion's…
Int J Med Mushrooms. 2015;17(11):1055-60. Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
Lion’s mane also works to treat ulcers due to its anti-inflammatory properties. This makes Lion’s Mane effective for other conditions like Irritable Bowel Disease and Crohn’s.
Reduction of Heart Disease Risk
Heart disease is a leading cause of death in the United States and elsewhere. Some causes of this condition are high cholesterol, obesity, and a sedentary lifestyle. If dietary and exercise changes are not enough, adding Lion’s Mane mushroom might be worth adding to your regimen with the advice of a doctor.
While most studies have been performed on animals, Lion’s Mane has shown some promising effects for symptoms that lead to heart disease. Studies have shown that Lion’s Mane can lower triglyceride levels.
This positively affects your cholesterol in a way that reduces your risk for heart disease. A 2010 study, in particular, showed 27% lower triglyceride levels in rats that were fed high-fat diets over the course of a month.
Weight and Diabetes Management
Diabetes can be a very difficult illness to manage, especially for those that lead busy lives and have little time to deal with their blood sugar. Lion’s mane mushroom can be added to a treatment regimen to make managing this condition a little easier.
By blocking the alpha-glucosidase enzyme, Lion’s Mane prevents the body from properly digesting carbohydrates. Since the body cannot digest those carbs properly, the result is a lower blood sugar level. There are some studies that show Lion’s Mane has the ability to lower blood sugar levels in mice, both healthy and diabetic.
Lion’s Mane also helps lipid metabolism in high-fat diets, as the study discussed in the previous section suggested. This means that not only might it help diabetes, but weight as well. The study used a hot water extract (HW-E) and ethanol extract (EtOH-E) of the mushroom. It was shown that;
“Administration of [hot water extract] or [ethanol extract] with a high-fat diet for 28 [days] resulted in a significant decrease in body weight gain, fat weight, and serum and hepatic triacylglycerol levels.”
Another benefit of Lion’s Mane mushroom is its use for diabetic nerve pain. This pain most often affects the hands and feet and can range from mild to severe. This could be extremely beneficial for those struggling with diabetic nerve pain and have trouble managing their pain through other means.
Lion’s mane shows quite a bit of promise in treating diabetes, but more research is needed before any major conclusions can be made.
Nervous System Injuries
The nervous system is comprised of the brain, spinal cord, and the network of nerves that span the body. Injuries to the central nervous system are serious and require significant treatment to protect your quality of life. These injuries can be incapacitating, leading to paralysis or even death.
What’s amazing is that Lion’s Mane mushroom has been studied for its ability to help improve the condition of these injuries. One example is the ability of this mushroom to repair nerve cells. The repair of nerve cells could make a significant impact on injuries where paralysis is present.
The use of Lion’s Mane is also helpful in speeding the recovery from nervous system injuries by as much as 23% to 41%. A Malaysian study on rats found that;
“These data suggest that the daily oral administration of aqueous extract of [Lion’s Mane] fresh fruiting bodies could promote the regeneration of injured rat peroneal nerve in the early stage of injury.”
Peripheral Nerve Regeneration Following Crush Injury to Rat Peroneal Nerve by Aqueous Extract of…
Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2011;2011:580752. doi: 10.1093/ecam/neq062. Epub 2011 Aug 11.
Another way that Lion’s Mane mushroom can help nervous system injuries is by reducing the severity of brain damage following a stroke. A stroke is an event wherein the blood supply to a part of the brain is interrupted. Like any part of the body, lack of blood flow causes tissue to die, and this is extremely dangerous in the brain.
Strokes can lead to partial paralysis, speech dysfunction, and neurological impairment. Lion’s Mane mushroom has been shown to reduce the severity of brain damage following a stroke. This could be a game-changer in the way that strokes are currently treated.
No studies have been done on humans yet, but there is growing evidence from studies completed on mice. If these experiments prove fruitful, we may one day see Lion’s Mane mushroom become a part of the standard care for stroke victims.
Immune System Booster
The immune system is our first line of defense against all of the things in the world that can get you sick. If your immune system is compromised, due to illness or poor health, you are much more likely to get sick. For those who are immunocompromised, getting sick with a mild cold can end up being a significant event with serious consequences.
A Chinese study found that Lion’s Mane mushroom can boost the health of the immune system by working in the gut. By boosting the part of the immune system in the intestines, the body is able to ward off pathogens that were ingested. They noted:
“Here, we report that [Lion’s Mane] improves immune function by functionally enhancing cell-mediated and humoral immunity, macrophage phagocytosis, and NK cell activity.”
Immunomodulatory effects of Hericium erinaceus derived polysaccharides are mediated by intestinal…
Food Funct. 2017 Mar 22;8(3):1020-1027. doi: 10.1039/c7fo00071e.
While this could be potentially life-changing for people with compromised immune systems, more research is needed. More studies have to be done before we will truly know the effects that Lion’s Mane mushroom will have on the human immune system.
When looking to try a new supplement, it can be helpful to read some testimonials from people who have taken it themselves. A simple internet search can reveal a plethora of posts from people who have taken Lion’s Mane for one condition or another. Most of these people have reported few or no side effects from taking Lion’s Mane mushroom.
Among the testimonials, you’re likely to find comments from other people who have taken the supplement. In these comments, you’ll find advice from other users about dosage, side effects, and what to watch out for when taking Lion’s Mane mushroom.
One user who was familiar with other nootropics stated the following:
“Lion’s Mane increases my energy, doesn’t give me that weird head sensation that racetams induce in me, acts as an anti-anxiety agent, stacks great with caffeine + theanine, reduces the memory impairing effects of kratom, and increases my motivation.”
Hot Water Extracted
This is the optimal extraction method for the bioavailability of Lion’s Mane’s constituent parts.
Lost Empire Herbs in the USA offers Organic Dual Extracted Lion’s Mane powdered at an 8:1 proportion.
The Lion’s Mane in Neuro-Stack is 100% mushroom fruiting body.
A huge difference in potency — this is a true full-spectrum mushroom, most others are not. Organic Lion’s Mane mushrooms are farm grown on natural substrates. They are grown deep in the Chinese wilderness in a mountain farm isolated from urban or industrial sprawl, a 6-hour drive from the nearest airport.
Neuro-Stack’s Lion’s Mane is NOT mycelium that is grown on grain, this is what most mushroom products do, and it’s called “Grain Spawn” — That way of producing is antiquated and you lose 30–60% potency. If a mushroom supplement doesn’t explicitly state (and prove) that it is non-mycelium, none-grain spawn, and grown on natural substrates (typically, old trees) it’s probably crappy mushroom stock not worth consuming.
I’d encourage you to examine the certificate of analysis for the Lion’s Mane, and demand to see the COA of any mushroom supplement you’re considering purchasing or consuming! Mushrooms have a propensity to attract toxins, thus it’s key to check out the parts per million of undesirable toxins section of the COA, otherwise, you might end up consuming poisonous mushrooms.
Micronized Lion’s Mane; is labeling jargon that you’ll see on a lot of Lion’s Mane products. It’s a red flag of low-quality stuff.
The danger in Chinese sourced mushrooms is explained here…
I assume that everyone reading these posts understands that China geology contains the largest and most wide spread deposits of about all of the rare earth metals and many of the toxic heavy metals besides that class. The aquifer is contaminated with these. Extensive mining and intrusive extraction without regulation has caused the largest contamination area on the planet. I doubt if it is possible to obtain any products from China that do not exceed some toxic metal values. This is a real and present danger.
Usage & Dosage
In the clinical studies, the dosage used was three doses daily of 1000 milligrams (3000 milligrams total)
In Nootropic stacks it’s used in smaller dosages. I’ve taken 500 to 1400 milligrams daily which enhanced my productivity, mood, and memory.
Generally, Lion’s Mane is a non-toxic substance and, as we’ve covered here, is safe to take. As such, there are very few side effects that users need to worry about. A 2016 study looked at the effects of Lion’s Mane mushrooms on rats and found that no side effects presented themselves, even at high doses. They stated:
“The results showed that the oral administration of [Lion’s Mane] daily at three different doses for 90 days had no adverse effect on the general behaviour, body weight, haematology, clinical biochemistry, and relative organ weights.”
Haematological, biochemical and histopathological aspects of Hericium erinaceus ingestion in a…
J Ethnopharmacol. 2016 Dec 24;194:1051-1059. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2016.10.084. Epub 2016 Nov 2.
The biggest concern about the side effects of Lion’s Mane mushroom in humans is allergic reactions. Because of this, if you are allergic to mushrooms, Lion’s Mane mushroom should be avoided.
Risk Grade: B+
- It’s a natural, non-toxic mushroom not some sort of exotic, molecule created in a laboratory or a pharmaceutical factory.
- It’s been the subject of several human clinical trials totaling 60 participants, one which lasted 4 weeks and the other 6 months.
- A 90-day animal study noted no adverse effects.
- It would be nice to see some population studies or long-term studies with follow-up after years of usage.
- There was one case of an elderly man who was hospitalized for acute respiratory failure. Apparently, the guy had excess lymphocytes which negatively reacted to the Lion’s Mane extract he had been using for 4 months.
- Pure organic, Lion’s Mane grown on natural substrates probably deserves an A+ grade but a lot of the Lion’s Mane out there is of lower quality. The fruiting bodies of mushrooms attract a lot of toxins from their environments via Mycoremediation which is why you only want Lion’s Mane that comes from a pristine source.
Mushrooms are a fascinating life form worth learning more about…
- As fungi, they are genetically closer related to us humans than they are to other plants sprouting from the forest floor.
- Mushrooms may be from space!
- Mushrooms have formed some of the largest living organisms on earth. In Oregon, a giant underground fungus network has set the record.
- They may be the cure to the bee Colony Collapse phenomena that threatens global food supplies.
Checkout mushroom guru Paul Stamets interview with Joe Rogan…