- What is a Lion’s Mane Mushroom
- Lion’s Mane and the Brain
- Additional Lion’s Mane Mushroom Health Benefits
- How is Lion’s Mane Extracted?
- Lion’s Mane Mushroom vs Mycelium – Which to Choose?
- Adding Lion’s Mane to Your Routine
Medicinal mushrooms are finally getting their well-deserved attention as researchers discover new ways they can benefit our health and wellbeing. Lion’s Mane mushroom is an increasingly popular option around the world for its health benefits, unique look, and exquisite taste.
This guide will explore Lion’s Mane in a variety of different ways. First, we’ll examine its origin and history to find out just where these interesting fungi came from. We’ll dive into the multitude of health and wellness benefits (including interesting, lesser-known characteristics) that a person can benefit from by including Lion’s Mane in their lifestyle.
We’ll also look at how it is extracted for supplement use, how to determine if a Lion’s Mane product is of high quality and potency, and outline who can experience Lion’s Mane mushroom benefits.
There is a lot to unpack about this fascinating health booster, so let’s look at where it came from, how it’s been used, and where it can be found today.
What is a Lion’s Mane Mushroom?
Lion’s Mane is an ancient mushroom originating from Asia. Its culinary and medicinal uses can be traced back through China, Japan, and India over thousands of years.¹ Lion’s Mane has been known by various other names through its ancient history, from “monkey head mushroom” in China to “mountain monk mushroom” in Japan. In North America, they’re called “bearded tooth” and “pom pom” mushroom.
The most common Lion’s Mane species is known as Hericium erinaceus, but there are other Hericium species like Hericium americanum and Hericium coralloides. It’s common name comes from its resemblance to a lion’s mane from the animal kingdom.22 The first thing many will notice about Lion’s Mane is its striking appearance. It’s long, thin tendrils and bright white coloring paint a unique picture in comparison to other fungal varieties.
This versatile mushroom can be enjoyed raw or cooked, though we always recommend that you cook your mushrooms. Lion’s Mane’s taste is often compared to seafood like crab or lobster. It is frequently used as a vegetarian meat replacement in China and other parts of the world. The extracts are used in a wide variety of health supplements.
Today, Lion’s Mane is grown and foraged all over North America, Europe and Asia, with different cultures using it in a variety of ways. It grows in the summer on hardwood and is often found on American beech trees. Research is linking Lion’s Mane mushrooms to a wide variety of mental and physical health benefits, leading to its rise in popularity.
Lion’s Mane – A Medicinal Mushroom
Lion’s Mane is characterized as a medicinal mushroom² for its vast array of potential health benefits. Some other well-known varieties of medicinal mushroom include Reishi, Chaga, Turkey Tail, Cordyceps³, Maitake, and Shiitake.
Lion’s Mane is rising through the ranks of its peers because of its wide range of anti-inflammatory and brain-boosting benefits that make it a very attractive option for those looking to add a supplement as part of a healthy lifestyle. Taking lion’s mane before bed has also been shown to decrease sleep disorders and improve REM sleep.39
However, before exploring their potential and making them part of your daily routine, it is important to understand the potential benefits to your health and how to find a supplement product that will be of high enough quality to actually deliver these benefits. There are many supplements on the market of less than pristine quality which will not provide your body with the bio-available potency of these mushrooms.
Lion’s Mane and the Brain
Lion’s Mane has a long history of being used as a brain-boosting supplement. Chinese Buddhist monks used Lion’s Mane powder in their tea, claiming it helped them focus in their meditation and increase overall brain power23. Modern science has set out to examine the validity of these claims and is finding promising results.
Compounds called hericenones and erinacines, when extracted and isolated from Lion’s Mane mushroom and mycelium, have qualities that may both protect and accelerate healing of neurons and nerves in our bodies. These unique effects are speculated to help mitigate the symptoms of neurodegenerative conditions like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and dementia. Overall, studies show Lion’s Mane protecting the brain from mild cognitive decline throughout aging.22
Though there are new theories emerging as we speak, science has thus far said that the most likely cause of Alzheimer’s is a build-up of proteins in the brain called amyloids. In large quantities, these can form plaque deposits around brain cells and lead to the degenerative cognitive functions Alzheimer’s is known for.24
In animal testing, compounds from Lion’s Mane have been shown to reduce the amount of amyloid plaque build-up, as well as help alleviate many of the short and long-term memory impairments symptomatic of Alzheimer’s.22 Interestingly, the same compounds were tested against Parkinson’s and found to alleviate the stress on the brain caused by the condition.22 While promising, more clinical data is needed.
Lion’s Mane mushroom benefits are also being studied as an adjunct therapy for people suffering the effects of dementia. A study in Japan showed that adults affected by cognitive impairment who were administered Lion’s Mane mushroom powder scored better on the Hasegawa Dementia Scale then those who did not take the extract.22 Their scores then worsened after ceasing the treatment.
Lion’s Mane has also been shown to help in healing nerve injuries. Animal studies show that Lion’s Mane compounds can help to regenerate nerves and restore motor functions at a significant rate.22 These benefits are linked to increased production of nerve growth factor (NGF), a compound that maintains the health of neurons in our brains.23
Clearly, Lion’s Mane is proving itself as an incredible ally in the fight against cognitive decline. While it’s not a cure, research into how it can help alleviate symptoms and improve quality of life is ongoing.
Feedback from our customers about our Lion’s Mane provides even more insight into how effective these supplements can be:
“Since starting to take Lion’s Mane Mushroom capsules I have seen a significant improvement in my memory. I would recommend this product to anyone who is suffering from memory loss.” – Nancy
“Both my parents take Lion’s Mane and it helps them with brain fog and cognitive function. I can definitely see the difference.” – Kelly
Mood & Mental Health
These incredible brain-boosting properties can have a dramatic effect on an individual’s mental health as well. Millions of people worldwide suffer from anxiety and depression, and there are studies¹¹ that link Lion’s Mane’s antidepressant properties to relief for these common mental health issues.¹²
Animal studies have shown Lion’s Mane to increase neuron production in the hippocampus, the part of the brain that regulates emotions. This can result in alleviating mild symptoms of depression and anxiety.35
A small clinical trial out of Japan found that Lion’s Mane mushroom consumption improved anxiety and depression scores and suggested that the mechanism was different from its NGF enhancing effects.37
Focus, Memory, Cognition, and Sleep
You don’t need to be sick to experience the brain-boosting benefits of this fascinating fungi. Like the Buddhist monks, you can add our Lion’s Mane mushroom capsules to your supplement or well being routine. It may help maintain your focus, boost your productivity, and possibly increase your efficiency.
In fact, a number of the people who use our organic Lion’s Mane extract supplements are students or professionals who enjoy the additional mental energy, focus, memory retention, and sleep quality they get from this mushroom extract.
Here’s feedback on the effects of Lion’s Mane on cognition and mood that we’ve received from some of our customers:
“I have used the Lion’s Mane in my matcha latte for the last six months. I do not have brain fog, no afternoon slump and my processing and retention of information is much better. People at work have actually asked me how I do it! I have switched from other suppliers of mushroom supplements to Real Mushrooms and I can feel the difference.” – Michelle
“Real Mushrooms Lion’s Mane is amazing. Within 10 minutes of use I feel a positive rush and a boost to my mood. Throughout the day I feel more focused and don’t get that afternoon fog anymore. I would definitely recommend their products to anyone” – Gareth
“I’m experiencing much better mental focus as well as higher quality sleep. I switched from a different manufacturer’s Lion’s Mane after learning about Real Mushrooms on a podcast. The quality is definitely here and it is noticeable! Thanks Real Mushrooms.” – Rich
Additional Lion’s Mane Mushroom Health Benefits
Lion’s Mane mushroom is linked to a plethora of potential health benefits beyond the cognitive and neurological world. Traditional Chinese Medicine has promoted the use of Lion’s Mane for thousands of years as a tonic for everything from digestive health to reduction in inflammation.22 In fact, one of the most popular Lion’s Mane products in China is a biscuit that is used for stomach ailments.
Modern research is again proving these ancient techniques correct, as Lion’s Mane demonstrates it can improve mental, cognitive, and physical well-being in a wide variety of ways.
Below are some of the additional ways Lion’s Mane mushroom benefits could potentially improve your health:
- Inflammation Reduction – Chronic inflammation can lead to a wide variety of detrimental health conditions. Medicinal mushrooms are well known as anti-inflammatory and antioxidant powerhouses so it’s no surprise that Lion’s Mane properties make it a heavyweight in that field.¹³ In a study, Lion’s Mane landed in the top five most effective among potent anti-inflammatory medicinal mushrooms.
- Heart Disease – Heart disease is the leading cause of death among men and women in the United States26. Research is showing that Lion’s Mane can help reduce the risk of heart disease by combating some of its leading causes. The stresses of obesity are a very common cause of heart attacks and coronary failure. Animal studies show that mice fed a high fat diet showed improved metabolism and less obesity when administered Lion’s Mane extracts.27 Lion’s Mane may also work to keep arteries clear by preventing cholesterol from oxidizing and clogging them.28 Hericenone B, a compound extracted from Lion’s Mane mushroom, is also found to help reduce the risk of blood clots.29 All these benefits combine to help keep your heart and cardiovascular system healthy.
- Digestive Health – The anti-inflammatory properties of Lion’s Mane can help with stomach pain and overall digestive health. In laboratory studies, Lion’s Mane has been found to stop growth of H.pylori – a bacteria which grows in the stomach and causes ulcers.30 Lion’s Mane can also help aid problems related to inflammation, such as Inflammatory Bowel Disease and Crohn’s disease. A study on patients suffering from ulcerative colitis found medicinal mushrooms to be an effective supplement to help relieve their symptoms.31
- Diabetes – Regulating blood sugar levels is a daily cause of stress for the millions worldwide suffering from diabetes. Lion’s Mane has been shown in animal studies to lower blood sugar levels by blocking the production of carb crunching enzymes in the small intestine.32 Lion’s Mane’s neuron regenerative abilities extend to helping relieve the symptoms of diabetic nerve pain as well.33 These properties demonstrate that it can be an ally in the fight against diabetes.
- Immune system – A healthy immune system is critical in protecting the body from foreign invaders. Lion’s Mane is a proven immune system builder. Studies have shown it to improve immune responses by helping to regulate gut and intestinal bacteria.36
While human studies into these wide range of beneficial health effects continues, it is undeniable that Lion’s Mane extract is an amazing supplement that contributes to a healthy lifestyle. Whether you’re wanting to improve focus, reduce inflammation, or improve your digestive health, Lion’s Mane is a great option. Lion’s mane is also becoming popular as a mushroom that can help with sleep issues.
You can start to experience these benefits for yourself with our Lion’s Mane mushroom extract powder. It is a high-quality, certified organic supplement with no fillers to ensure you receive the maximum benefit possible.
How is Lion’s Mane Extracted?
Knowledge about the ingredients you’re incorporating into your diet is important. This rings especially true when it comes to medicinal mushrooms and their quality. A low-quality product won’t allow you to experience all the potential benefits. The first sign of a high-quality medicinal mushroom product is that it is extracted from the base fungi using the appropriate method. There are three methods of extraction in use with medicinal mushrooms:⁴
- Hot water
- Dual extraction – both hot water and alcohol
There is some debate over which of these methods results in the purest, highest quality extraction. Research shows that not every method is effective for every mushroom and that some may even be detrimental⁵ as they remove medicinal constituents in the process. With that in mind, it’s important that any supplement producer understand which extraction method will provide the maximum benefit and highest efficacy in the product.
Real Mushroom’s decades of expertise and experience allows us to tailor the extraction method we use to each individual type of mushroom. Our Lion’s Mane products are extracted using the hot water yet still contain all of the insoluble compounds by not removing any of the mushroom during the extraction process. This method is consistent with the current clinical data that we have on Lion’s Mushroom mushroom. By extracting this way, we can guarantee all the medical properties and benefits are transferred to the extract, delivering a product of the highest quality that you can feel confident with.
Our mushroom extracts are trusted by leading health practitioners and naturopathic doctors around North America because of their purity and potency.
Here, in the words of one of our customers who is a naturopathic doctor, is why our Lion’s Mane supplements are used and recommended by such medical professionals:
“I am a licensed naturopathic physician and acupuncturist, and I am so grateful to be able to recommend Real Mushrooms formulas to patients. They are of utmost quality–grown and processed properly in order to be truly rich in beneficial mushroom-derived polysaccharide compounds. Personally, I am using your Lion’s Mane capsules as part of a neurological support program following exposure to mold that impacted my cognitive function. Your mushroom extracts are the only ones I use and recommend because they’re the ones I trust most for potency and purity. Thank you for your dedication and integrity!” – Dr. Mark Bricca
Lion’s Mane Mushroom vs Mycelium – Which to Choose?
There’s a lot of debate about what is the best part of this fungus to use for specific cognitive benefits. Is it the mushroom or mycelium? There are two compounds that are the area of focus of this debate – hericenones which are found in the mushroom, and erinacines which are found in the mycelium.
Erinacines are showing a lot of promise, and many consumers have trended towards mycelium based Lion’s Mane products as a result. What these consumers don’t know is that there currently is no reliable way to test for these compounds.
In addition, most mycelium based products are myceliated grain, and the Lion’s Mane mycelium based research is based on pure mycelium which is very different from grain based mycelium. Given that these erinacines only occur in very small amounts in pure mycelium, it’s important to ask how much of this compound is actually present when a large amount of grain is part of the final product.
Currently, most of the clinical data is based on research using the mushroom (fruiting body). There is one paper with clinical data that uses both the mushroom (fruiting body) as well as pure mycelium.38
For these reasons, Real Mushrooms only uses the mushroom for our Lion’s Mane Extract, which the existing body of clinical data supports.
The Problem with Focusing on Hericenones and Erinacines
It may be surprising to learn that there is no reliable lab test for hericenones or erinacines. Any product claiming to contain these compounds is speculative at best. Many Chinese suppliers are selling products with a guarantee of specific amounts of both compounds, but they’re using UV testing methods which are very unreliable. These so-called compound-specific guarantees can give brands reselling these ingredients a false sense of quality and reliability.
Until more reliable testing methods are available, Real Mushrooms continues to focus on the clinical data that supports the use of the mushroom in its entirety. As our products still contain the entire mushroom, we maintain consistency with the existing clinical data, along with the added benefit of our products being extracted from the mushroom.
Adding Lion’s Mane to Your Routine
How to Find Quality Lion’s Mane
It’s important to know how to purchase, prepare, and consume medicinal mushrooms in order to experience the most benefits and avoid any potential side effects.
Lion’s Mane can sometimes be found at farmer’s markets or specialty grocery stores. They can be cooked or grilled similar to other common mushrooms. Their dense and meaty texture may surprise you! Many people compare its flavor to a mild crab or lobster taste.
With supplements, it’s very important to look for sourcing and purity. Many products may contain fillers like grains that provide no additional health benefits or will have no guarantee of specific beneficial compounds like beta-glucans. To get the most potent and high-value medicinal fungi supplement, extracts should be made from the mushroom (fruiting body) which also specifies beta-glucan content (medicinal compounds), rather than grain based mycelium.¹⁹
The FDA also doesn’t control what information supplement producers publish on their labels, so even product labels can be misleading. Many popular supplement brands hide the use of myceliated grain and other fillers. This makes it difficult to distinguish whether it is an extract and whether it was made with the mushroom (fruiting body) or its root structure (mycelium).
How to Take Lion’s Mane Extracts
Real Mushrooms offers two Lion’s Mane products: capsules and powder. Our Lion’s Mane mushroom powder is made from the mushroom (fruiting body) to ensure maximum efficacy. This creates a pure product rich in medicinal compounds that we’re proud of and this powdered form it’s very convenient.
Here are some easy and fun ways to add Lion’s Mane powder into your daily routine:
- Stir it in your morning coffee, tea, or hot chocolate
- Add it to a mushroom broth or soup for a nutritious lunch or dinner
- Make it the star ingredient of a raw vegan chocolate cake
- Add it to your morning smoothie to start your day with a boost
The recommended dosage for adults is 1/2 or 1 gram per day as a dietary supplement. As always, check with your health care provider before starting any new supplement. For added convenience, we also offer Lion’s Mane mushroom capsules. Adults can take two capsules per day as a supplement.
Lion’s Mane Mushroom Benefits for Pets
Medicinal mushrooms aren’t just beneficial to humans either! The powder is safe for animal consumption and can provide many of the same benefits to dogs and cats when added as a supplement to their meals. Many holistic veterinarians are prescribing medicinal mushrooms to animals as natural alternative treatments and overall health boosters.
Precautions to be Aware of
While Lion’s Mane mushroom health benefits are numerous and well-documented, there is still a small number of people who should be careful before adding it to their regular morning ritual. Anyone with a mushroom allergy should tread carefully to ensure Lion’s Mane does not cause a reaction.
Pregnant or breastfeeding women should seek a doctor’s approval before taking any type of anti-inflammatory or antioxidant ingredient. People taking prescription medications, particularly anything related to neurology or mental health, should seek a doctor’s advice before adding medicinal mushroom supplements to their routine.
From its ancient origins in traditional Chinese medicine to modern research finding a myriad of health-boosting abilities, Lion’s Mane is an incredible medicinal mushroom. It has risen among its fungal peers to become one of the most popular supplement options.
Lion’s Mane mushroom has shown to have tremendous brain-boosting benefits and is even being studied as a potential aid for cognitive impairments. It may help repair nerves, boost the immune system, and reduce inflammation. Studies continue into how Lion’s Mane can boost overall health.
Anyone can add Lion’s Mane to their supplement routine today. You can be confident that Real Mushroom’s organic products are extracted with the most efficient methods to provide you with the maximum benefits. It’s never too early (or late!) to start thinking about your health. Lion’s Mane extracts are a multi-benefit, convenient, natural, and organic biological powerhouse to add to your routine.
*Disclaimer: The statements made in this article have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Any products mentioned are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. The information in this article is intended for educational purposes. The information is not intended to replace medical advice offered by licensed medical physicians. Please consult your doctor or health practitioner for any medical advice.