Since ancient times, Buddhist monks have drunk Lion’s Mane tea to deepen their focus and meditation practice.

Science shows that these people knew what they were doing.

Lion’s Mane boosts Nerve Growth Factor in your brain and helps create new brain cells. (2)

This nootropic mushroom is able to boost your mood, memory, and cognition.

Here are some of the key benefits of Lion’s Mane:

  • Improves Brain Plasticity – Lion’s Mane’s active compounds, erinacines and hericenones, easily pass through the blood-brain barrier to boost neuronal growth and repair. Not only does Lion’s Mane Mushroom prevent and treat brain cell damage. It also protects from neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and dementia.
  • Supports Healthy Memory and Cognition – By boosting Nerve Growth Factor, Lion’s Mane increases your cognitive capacity. This includes memory, focus, thinking, word recall, and logic.
  • Helps With Mood and Brain Fog – As a nootropic, Lion’s Mane stimulates the growth of new neurons and enhances your neurotransmitters. Among these are dopamine, GABA and serotonin, all of which are key mood regulators.

This scientifically referenced article explains all about Lion’s Mane Mushroom. Including its effects on the brain, dosage instructions, side effects, and more.

What is Lion’s Mane Mushroom?

Lion’s Mane, aka yamabushitake, is a mushroom with medicinal and brain-boosting properties.

It grows on trees and logs across Europe, Southeast Asia, and North America.

Lion’s Mane Mushroom works by boosting the Nerve Growth Factor (NGF) in your brain.

Nerve Growth Factor is essential for learning and neuroplasticity. (1)

However, there’s a catch.

NGF by itself can’t easily cross the blood-brain barrier since it has a heavy molecular weight.

But hericenones and erinacines, the two active compounds in Lion’s Mane, have a light molecular weight. This allows them to easily cross the blood-brain barrier and directly induce NGF production in the brain.

Not only that, Lion’s Mane helps reduce beta-amyloid build up in the brain.

Beta-Amyloids are proteins that can form plaque in your brain, blocking the signal between neurons. This can lead to neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s.

In addition to preventing amyloid plaque, Lion’s Mane Mushroom is also high in antioxidants and anti-tumor compounds like beta-glucans. These boost your immune system and fight cancer cells.

lion's mane on a tree

How it Works

Lion’s Mane works by improving the NGF release in the hippocampus. (2)

Hippocampus is the area of your brain essential for memory, learning, and cognition.

Alongside improving hippocampus activity, Lion’s Mane also:

  • Maintains brain plasticity
  • Helps build myelin sheath around your nerves, improving signaling between brain cells
  • Promotes growth and connection between neurons
  • Boosts synaptic activity leading to faster and clearer thinking

In fact, research has shown that low levels of NGF link to mood swings and brain degeneration. (3, 4)

What’s more, just a slight dip in your Nerve Growth Factor can cause spatial memory impairment.

A study from Kuala Lumpur showed that Lion’s Mane extracts improved NGF synthesis in the brains of volunteers, leading to neurite outgrowth and improved brain cell functioning. (5)

Another study from Japan tested the effects of Lion’s Mane on 30 women. These women experienced depression during menopause. They couldn’t sleep and had issues with mood swings.

After 4 weeks of receiving Lion’s Mane, these women showed reduced depression and anxiety levels. Based on these results, the study concluded that Lion’s Mane could be effective at treating mood disorders. (6)


Lion Mane’s Effects on Your Brain

To understand Lion’s Mane’s benefits, we should look at which brain pathways it affects:

Neuron Rejuvenation

Your hippocampus governs processes like your memory, learning, and retaining new information.

By boosting the Nerve Growth Factor synthesis, Lion’s Mane optimizes your hippocampal activity.

Not only that, animal studies show that Lion’s Mane speeds up neuron regeneration and formation of new nerves. (7)

It also promotes the creation of the myelin sheath which encases your axons.

What exactly is myelin sheath?

Basically, it’s a fatty substance wrapped around your nerve fibers (axons). Axons are long, threadlike parts of your neurons.

Much like insulation around an electrical cable, myelin sheath encases and protects your nerves.

In turn, this promotes a fast and smooth transmission of nerve signals.

Brain Cell Protection

There’s a bonus benefit of having enough myelin sheath around your nerves, besides faster neuron signaling.

This benefit is brain cell protection.

See, Lion’s Mane indirectly protects your brain by helping to create enough myelin sheath around the nerve to protect it.

The stronger the myelination, the more insulated your nerves are – just like with an electrical wire.

Also, Lion’s Mane protects the brain from excess protein plaque. (8)

It does this by preventing the formation of irregular proteins which can block neuron signaling.

By doing so, Lion’s Mane helps you avoid neuronal degeneration.


lion's mane nootropic brain effects

Clinical Evidence of Lion Mane’s Benefits

While we have human studies that show Lion’s Mane positive benefits for cognition, mood, and memory.

There isn’t much human research on Lion’s Mane brain regenerating properties.

However, we do have some very promising animal studies.

If these are anything to go by, Lion’s Mane might be of the best nootropics for rejuvenating your neurons.

See for yourself:

Lion’s Mane Reverses Damage to the Nerve

Lion’s Mane Mushroom can repair brain nerves.

This was the conclusion of the study which tested Lion’s Mane extract on rats after a brain injury.

These rats suffered from gluteal nerve damage. They were unable to walk.

Lion’s Mane extract induced neuron regrowth in these rats, and they were eventually able to walk again. (9)

The research concluded:

  1. Lion’s Mane is able to regenerate damaged nerves.
  2. In this study, the effect of Lion’s Mane was so strong, it helped the disabled rats walk again.

Lion’s Mane Mushroom Prevents Cognitive Decline

In this clinical trial, researchers injected mice with Amyloid β(25-35) peptide to induce memory and cognition deficits.

This peptide links to neurodegenerative disease such as Alzheimer’s.

The entire study lasted 23 days. On days 7 and 14, these mice received injections of the Amyloid β(25-35) peptide.

However, they also ate a diet with Lion’s Mane Mushroom.

The result?

Lion’s Mane prevented memory impairment that Amyloid β(25-35) peptide usually causes.

The study concluded that Lion’s Mane could be useful for preventing cognitive impairment. (10)


lion's mane effect on cognition

How to Take Lion Mane’s Mushroom

Lion’s Mane Mushroom dosage depends on how strong the extract is.

With that in mind, here are the recommended doses for different extracts:

  • Lion’s Mane 10:1 extract with 30% polysaccharides – 500-1000mg, 1 to 3 times daily
  • Other Lion Mane Extracts – 300-3000mg, 1 to 3 times daily.

It’s always best to start with the lowest dosage to see how you’ll react.

Also, don’t forget to read your supplement label. And act according to what it says.

It Takes Time to Work

Here’s the thing with Lion’s Mane:

It won’t instantly regrow your neurons and make you smarter.

But if you give it time, you can really start to feel some of its brain-boosting effects.

Many users say that when used consistently, Lion’s Mane boosts their mood and mental clarity over time.

Some people even report improvements in their senses such as smell.

Others say how Lion’s Mane improved their learning, decision-making, and problem-solving capacity.

This is likely due to neuroplasticity-enhancing effects of Lion’s Mane.

The general consensus amongst users and experts is this:

  • When taken long-term, Lion’s Mane improves mental performance while reducing anxiety, depression, and brain fog.

lion's mane hanging on a tree

How Safe is Lion’s Mane Mushroom?

Lion’s Mane Mushroom is safe and well-tolerated by most people.

However, some users report itchy skin as a side effect.

This is due to an increase in Nerve Growth Factor. Which is a good thing – because it tells you that Lion’s Mane is working.

In animals, Lion’s Mane has been shown to be safe at high doses. Such as 5g per kg of body weight.


FAQ

Can Lion’s Mane cause anxiety? User reports and clinical evidence show that Lion’s Mane doesn’t cause anxiety; it, in fact, alleviates it by boosting Nerve Growth Factor and neurotransmitters. (6)

Can you take Lion’s Mane every day? Studies show that it’s safe to take Lion’s Mane every day. In fact, research shows that when you stop taking Lion’s Mane, its effects start to taper off. (11)

Should Lion’s Mane be taken on an empty stomach? You can take Lion’s Mane on an empty stomach or with food. It’s always best to check your supplement label and act according to it.

Is it safe to take Lion’s Mane while pregnant? According to the Urban Wellness Clinic, Lion’s Mane mushroom coffee can be taken by pregnant women as a replacement for regular coffee. However, it’s always best to check with your doctor to determine if it’s appropriate for you to take Lion’s Mane during pregnancy.

Will Lion’s Mane break a fast? One gram of Lion’s Mane Mushroom contains less than 0.5 calories. Lion’s Mane also helps prevent blood sugar spikes. Based on this information, it’s safe to conclude that Lion’s Mane won’t break your fast.

Can Lion’s Mane cause depression? Lion’s Mane isn’t shown to cause depression. In fact, research suggests that Lion’s Mane alleviated symptoms of depression in people who took it. (6)

Should you cycle Lion’s Mane? Lion’s Mane is safe and non-toxic, and there’s no indication that it should be cycled. Be aware that once you stop taking Lion’s Mane, its benefits will wear off, as shown in this study. (11)


nature woods lion's mane nootropic

Conclusion

In the world of fungi, Lion’s Mane stands out from the rest.

Not just in terms of looks but also its health benefits.

Lion’s Mane is the only mushroom known to benefit the brain. It does so in a number of ways:

  • Boosts Nerve Growth Factor – As a nootropic, Lion’s Mane enters your brain and directly boosts NGF release in the hippocampus. An area of the brain responsible for memory and cognition.
  • Regenerates Your Brain – Studies show that Lion’s Mane can reverse and repair damage to nerves. It rebuilds myelin sheath and helps neurons to transmit signals fast and efficiently. One study has even shown that Lion’s Mane can make the disabled rats walk again.
  • Improves Nerve Myelination – The myelin sheath protects your axons (long and thread-like brain cell parts) from damage and serves as a ‘conductor’ for the transmission of nerve signals. Much like insulation around an electrical wire. Lion’s Mane Mushroom stimulates nerve myelination and thus improves your overall brain functioning.
  • Enhances Neurotransmitters – Lion’s Mane induces repair and growth of new neurons. This affects your neurotransmitters, including dopamine, serotonin, and GABA, which help keep anxiety and depression at bay.

Lion’s Mane is safe and non-toxic even at high doses. Both animal studies and anecdotal evidence show this.

The optimal dosage for Lion’s Mane depends on the source and strength of the extract. But the general consensus is 300-1000mg, 1 to 3 times daily as the optimal dose.

Last but not least, Lion’s Mane takes time to work.

It won’t repair your neurons or optimize brain immediately.

But studies prove that when taken long-term, Lion’s Mane is one of the most potent nootropics for enhancing your cognition and mental performance.

References

  1. NGF Is Essential for Hippocampal Plasticity and Learning. (source)
  2. Nerve growth factor-inducing activity of Hericium erinaceus in 1321N1 human astrocytoma cells. (source)
  3. GDNF, NGF, and BDNF as therapeutic options for neurodegeneration. (source)
  4. Neurotrophic factors, clinical features and gender differences in depression. (source)
  5. Neurotrophic properties of the Lion's mane medicinal mushroom, Hericium erinaceus (Higher Basidiomycetes) from Malaysia. (source)
  6. Reduction of depression and anxiety by 4 weeks Hericium erinaceus intake. (source)
  7. Neuroregenerative potential of lion's mane mushroom, Hericium erinaceus (Bull.: Fr.) Pers. (higher Basidiomycetes), in the treatment of peripheral nerve injury (review). (source)
  8. Effects of Hericium erinaceus on amyloid β(25-35) peptide-induced learning and memory deficits in mice. (source)
  9. Peripheral Nerve Regeneration Following Crush Injury to Rat Peroneal Nerve by Aqueous Extract of Medicinal Mushroom Hericium erinaceus (Bull.: Fr) Pers. (Aphyllophoromycetideae). (source)
  10. Effects of Hericium erinaceus on amyloid β(25-35) peptide-induced learning and memory deficits in mice. (source)
  11. Improving effects of the mushroom Yamabushitake (Hericium erinaceus) on mild cognitive impairment: a double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial. (source)

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