Lion’s Mane Mushroom Benefits


Lion’s mane, named for its resemblance to the long, shaggy mane of a male lion, is an edible and medicinal mushroom that offers many health benefits, particularly for the brain and central nervous system.

However, it’s not just great for brain health. Lion’s mane is also thought to benefit cardiovascular function, gut health, immune system functioning, mood, and metabolism.

What Is Lion’s Mane?

Also known as Hericium erinaceus in scientific circles, lion’s mane is a medicinal or functional mushroom that imparts health benefits above and beyond the standard nutritional value of regular grocery store mushrooms (i.e., button, cremini, portobello, etc.).

Although these “regular” mushrooms are still vastly nutritionally dense, functional mushrooms like lion’s mane contain different kinds of bioactive compounds that benefit health.

In the case of lion’s mane, the primary bioactive compounds are erinacines, hericerins, and terpenoids, which are known to support cognition and brain health. Lion’s mane mushroom also provides these cognitive-related benefits due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.1

You can find lion’s mane growing in the wild in deciduous wooded forests of Europe, North America, China, and Japan, primarily on oak, beech, sycamore, maple, and walnut trees.

Health Benefits of Lion's Mane Mushroom

Health Benefits of Lion’s Mane Mushroom

1. Supports Cognitive Function and Brain Health

Lion’s mane supports brain health by providing antioxidant activity, oxidative stress reduction, anti-inflammatory properties, and erinacine content. 

Erinacines are beneficial compounds for neuron health that can pass through the blood-brain barrier, suggesting they can act on the brain.2

Lion’s mane also increases two brain growth factors: BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor) and NGF (nerve growth factor). BDNF and NGF are vital for growing, protecting, and maintaining neuron health, which is associated with cognition, memory, and mood.3

Clinical research in 50-to-80-year-old Japanese adults found that supplementing with lion’s mane mushroom powder for 16 weeks led to significantly improved cognitive function scores, which began to improve after 8 weeks of supplementation.4

A cell-based study in the lab elucidated more about how lion’s mane mushrooms benefit the brain. Researchers looked at how lion’s mane extracts affected mouse neurons after exposure to oxidative stress in the hippocampus—the area of the brain most associated with learning and memory.5

They found that lion’s mane protected the mouse neurons by increasing their viability after oxidative damage, boosting antioxidant activity, and reducing mitochondrial toxicity and inflammation.

2. Mental Health and Mood

The mechanisms behind lion’s mane mushrooms and mental health are likely similar to how they benefit cognition and brain health, including their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity, erinacine levels, and ability to boost BDNF.

Another mechanism behind this may be lion’s mane ability to increase serotonin and dopamine levels, two feel-good neurotransmitters related to happiness and pleasure. 

In a study of 77 people with sleep or mood disorders, taking lion’s mane mushroom supplements for 8 weeks led to significant reductions in depression and anxiety, as well as improved sleep.6

The beneficial effects lasted for 8 more weeks after stopping supplementation, suggesting that lion’s mane may benefit the brain in a long-lasting manner.

Research with stressed-out mice revealed those that did not receive lion’s mane had decreased serotonin and dopamine, while the lion’s mane-supplemented mice saw the reverse.7

3. Gut Health

The anti-inflammatory activity of lion’s mane lends itself well to the gastrointestinal tract, which is prone to inflammation. 

Lion’s mane mushroom (and all other mushrooms) contain beta-glucan, a prebiotic fiber that acts as fuel for healthy gut bacteria to consume and thrive on.

One animal study revealed mice consuming lion’s mane saw an increased growth of beneficial gut bacteria and reduced pathogenic bacteria.8

Lion’s mane mushrooms may also help to improve aspects of digestive disorders like gastritis, stomach ulcers, and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

A study on mice with IBD found that supplementing them with lion’s mane extract significantly increased healthy gut bacteria growth and provided immunomodulatory effects. As IBD is an autoimmune gut disease, modulating the immune system would be beneficial.10  

A study on people with ulcerative colitis(a form of IBD) also found that supplementing with a mixture of medicinal mushrooms led to significant improvements in quality of life, ulcerative colitis (UC) symptoms, and fatigue compared to a placebo.11

However, the mushroom mixture was only 14% lion’s mane, so it’s hard to say if lion’s mane specifically or the group of functional mushrooms benefitted UC symptoms.

4. Cardiovascular Health

Lion’s mane mushrooms may support heart health by reducing risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease, including high triglycerides and atherosclerosis—the buildup of fatty plaques in the arteries that cause blockages. 

Animal studies have shown that lion’s mane supplementation reduces total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglyceride levels while increasing HDL cholesterol. It also lowered markers of atherosclerosis.12 

Other research finds that hericenone B, a compound found in lion’s mane, decreased platelet aggregation (the rate of blood clotting), a marker associated with thrombosis that may lead to heart attack or stroke.13

However, we don’t yet have any research involving humans, heart health, and lion’s mane supplements. 

5. Metabolic Health

Lion’s mane mushrooms may help prevent or reduce markers of type 2 diabetes, including high blood sugar and insulin resistance. 

Once again, in animal research, lion’s mane was found to lower blood sugar levels and reduce diabetes-associated kidney and liver damage in diabetic mice.14

In that study, lion’s mane also improved antioxidant activity and reduced oxidative stress—a state of excessive free radical buildup that can be damaging to metabolic health.15 

Diabetes is also known to cause neuropathic pain if uncontrolled. Research with diabetic rats found that lion’s mane significantly reduced pain and blood sugar levels and boosted antioxidant activity.16 

6. Anti-Cancer Activity

Some lab and animal studies suggest that lion’s mane extract (or compounds found in lion’s mane) have anti-cancer activity, such as slowing cancer cell growth or helping to kill them off faster. 

In lab-based studies, lion’s mane extract exhibited anti-cancer activity against liver, colon, and gastric cancer cells.17  

Another study examined the effects of lion’s mane extract on mice with colon cancer. They found that the mushroom extracts increased cancer cell death and inhibited cancer cell metastasis to the lungs by up to 69%, as well as reduced tumor nodule formation in the lungs by up to 55%.18

However, we again need to mention that these results have not been replicated in humans with cancer.

Lion’s Mane Safety and Side Effects

Lion’s mane appears safe for the general population to take as a supplement, with no evidence of liver toxicity.19

In addition to lion’s mane supplements, it’s also edible in its whole state—you may even see lion’s mane mushrooms popping on natural health food store shelves. 

Some minor side effects of lion’s mane supplements have been reported, including:

  • Digestive upset
  • Nausea
  • Rash

Out of the functional mushroom family, lion’s mane appears to be the safest with the fewest potential side effects. 

Lion’s Mane Mushrooms FAQs

Is it safe to take lion’s mane every day?

Yes, it’s generally considered safe to take lion’s mane mushrooms at recommended doses every day. Most clinical studies looking at lion’s mane mushrooms have used dosages ranging from 1,000–3,000 mg per day, divided into three or four daily doses. If you’re unsure if you should take a lion’s mane supplement, speak with your healthcare provider.

Does lion’s mane help with brain fog?

Lion’s mane mushroom may help with brain fog, although that condition has not been studied. However, research has shown that lion’s mane helps with cognitive function when taken over time (8 weeks or so). Anecdotally, people report that lion’s mane helps with brain fog, mental clarity, focus, and memory. 

Who should not take lion’s mane?

Of course, if you are allergic to mushrooms, please avoid taking or eating lion’s mane. People who are pregnant or breastfeeding may also want to avoid lion’s mane, as there is not enough safety data available in these populations.

Is lion’s mane addictive?

No, lion’s mane is not considered addictive.

  1. Khan, M. A., Tania, M., Liu, R., & Rahman, M. M. (2013). Hericium erinaceus: an edible mushroom with medicinal values. Journal of complementary & integrative medicine, 10, /j/jcim.2013.10.issue-1/jcim-2013-0001/jcim-2013-0001.xml.
  2. Li, T. J., Lee, T. Y., Lo, Y., Lee, L. Y., Li, I. C., Chen, C. C., & Chang, F. C. (2021). Hericium erinaceus mycelium ameliorate anxiety induced by continuous sleep disturbance in vivo. BMC complementary medicine and therapies, 21(1), 295.
  3. Szućko-Kociuba, I., Trzeciak-Ryczek, A., Kupnicka, P., & Chlubek, D. (2023). Neurotrophic and Neuroprotective Effects of Hericium erinaceus. International journal of molecular sciences, 24(21), 15960.
  4. Mori, K., Inatomi, S., Ouchi, K., Azumi, Y., & Tuchida, T. (2009). Improving effects of the mushroom Yamabushitake (Hericium erinaceus) on mild cognitive impairment: a double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial. Phytotherapy research : PTR, 23(3), 367–372.
  5. Kushairi, N., Phan, C. W., Sabaratnam, V., David, P., & Naidu, M. (2019). Lion’s Mane Mushroom, Hericium erinaceus (Bull.: Fr.) Pers. Suppresses H2O2-Induced Oxidative Damage and LPS-Induced Inflammation in HT22 Hippocampal Neurons and BV2 Microglia. Antioxidants (Basel, Switzerland), 8(8), 261.
  6. Vigna, L., Morelli, F., Agnelli, G. M., Napolitano, F., Ratto, D., Occhinegro, A., Di Iorio, C., Savino, E., Girometta, C., Brandalise, F., & Rossi, P. (2019). Hericium erinaceus Improves Mood and Sleep Disorders in Patients Affected by Overweight or Obesity: Could Circulating Pro-BDNF and BDNF Be Potential Biomarkers?. Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM, 2019, 7861297.
  7. Chiu, C. H., Chyau, C. C., Chen, C. C., Lee, L. Y., Chen, W. P., Liu, J. L., Lin, W. H., & Mong, M. C. (2018). Erinacine A-Enriched Hericium erinaceus Mycelium Produces Antidepressant-Like Effects through Modulating BDNF/PI3K/Akt/GSK-3β Signaling in Mice. International journal of molecular sciences, 19(2), 341.
  8. Priori, E. C., Ratto, D., De Luca, F., Sandionigi, A., Savino, E., Giammello, F., Romeo, M., Brandalise, F., Roda, E., & Rossi, P. (2023). Hericium erinaceus Extract Exerts Beneficial Effects on Gut-Neuroinflammaging-Cognitive Axis in Elderly Mice. Biology, 13(1), 18.
  9. Gravina, A. G., Pellegrino, R., Auletta, S., Palladino, G., Brandimarte, G., D’Onofrio, R., Arboretto, G., Imperio, G., Ventura, A., Cipullo, M., Romano, M., & Federico, A. (2023). Hericium erinaceus, a medicinal fungus with a centuries-old history: Evidence in gastrointestinal diseases. World journal of gastroenterology, 29(20), 3048–3065.
  10. Diling, C., Xin, Y., Chaoqun, Z., Jian, Y., Xiaocui, T., Jun, C., Ou, S., & Yizhen, X. (2017). Extracts from Hericium erinaceus relieve inflammatory bowel disease by regulating immunity and gut microbiota. Oncotarget, 8(49), 85838–85857.
  11. Therkelsen, S. P., Hetland, G., Lyberg, T., Lygren, I., & Johnson, E. (2016). Effect of a Medicinal Agaricus blazei Murill-Based Mushroom Extract, AndoSan™, on Symptoms, Fatigue and Quality of Life in Patients with Ulcerative Colitis in a Randomized Single-Blinded Placebo Controlled Study. PloS one, 11(3), e0150191.
  12. Choi, W. S., Kim, Y. S., Park, B. S., Kim, J. E., & Lee, S. E. (2013). Hypolipidaemic Effect of Hericium erinaceum Grown in Artemisia capillaris on Obese Rats. Mycobiology, 41(2), 94–99.
  13. Mori, K., Kikuchi, H., Obara, Y., Iwashita, M., Azumi, Y., Kinugasa, S., Inatomi, S., Oshima, Y., & Nakahata, N. (2010). Inhibitory effect of hericenone B from Hericium erinaceus on collagen-induced platelet aggregation. Phytomedicine : international journal of phytotherapy and phytopharmacology, 17(14), 1082–1085.
  14. Zhang, C., Li, J., Hu, C., Wang, J., Zhang, J., Ren, Z., Song, X., & Jia, L. (2017). Antihyperglycaemic and organic protective effects on pancreas, liver and kidney by polysaccharides from Hericium erinaceus SG-02 in streptozotocin-induced diabetic mice. Scientific reports, 7(1), 10847.
  15. Mahjoub, S., & Masrour-Roudsari, J. (2012). Role of oxidative stress in pathogenesis of metabolic syndrome. Caspian journal of internal medicine, 3(1), 386–396.
  16. Yi, Z., Shao-Long, Y., Ai-Hong, W., Zhi-Chun, S., Ya-Fen, Z., Ye-Ting, X., & Yu-Ling, H. (2015). Protective Effect of Ethanol Extracts of Hericium erinaceus on Alloxan-Induced Diabetic Neuropathic Pain in Rats. Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM, 2015, 595480.
  17. Li, G., Yu, K., Li, F., Xu, K., Li, J., He, S., Cao, S., & Tan, G. (2014). Anticancer potential of Hericium erinaceus extracts against human gastrointestinal cancers. Journal of ethnopharmacology, 153(2), 521–530.
  18. Kim, S. P., Nam, S. H., & Friedman, M. (2013). Hericium erinaceus (Lion’s Mane) mushroom extracts inhibit metastasis of cancer cells to the lung in CT-26 colon cancer-tansplanted mice. Journal of agricultural and food chemistry, 61(20), 4898–4904.
  19. Lion’s Mane. (2024). In LiverTox: Clinical and Research Information on Drug-Induced Liver Injury. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. 


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