When you hear a name like lion’s mane, your first thought may be Mufasa, not mushrooms. While the king of the jungle is definitely top dog, or cat in this case, of the animal kingdom—its fungi counterpart is an underfoot force to be reckoned with.
So, in the supplement world, what exactly is lion’s mane? What can it do to benefit our health?
Let’s do some digging on this fierce fungus.
What is Lion’s Mane Mushroom?
Lion’s mane gets its luxurious name from its long, shaggy features that resemble the mane of a lion. Along with its regal title, lion’s mane also has a pretty royal lineage. It’s part of the shiitake family which is known as the “king of the mushrooms.” No leaving that royal family!
Along with some other fun names such as hedgehog mushroom and Yamabushitake, lion’s mane also goes by Hericium Erinaceus for those who especially love Latin. It gets this name from having two compounds, hericenones and erinacines, which may provide health benefits.
This furry mushroom is usually found on dead broadleaf trees and can be used for both food and for health benefits such as promoting restful sleep.1 But what else can it do for us?
What Benefits Can Lion’s Mane Bring to the Table?
The short answer: A lot.
Lion’s mane packs a lot of power under its furry frame and can provide an array of clinically studied health benefits.
Here’s a quick list to just name a few of them.
Brain and Mood
This mushroom is full of good vibes and may help you maintain a sense of calm while also remaining alert. One study on a small group of women showed that eating lion’s mane for a month helped promote relaxation and tranquility, and also provided nutritional support to cope with everyday stress and tension.2 Lion’s mane may also reduce occasional sad and anxious feelings as well as support mental and emotional wellbeing and positive thinking for a positive attitude.3
The hericenone and erinacine compounds that are found in lion’s mane may also contribute to brain and nerve cell health.4 A study was done on the mushroom and showed that it may aid short term memory support, healthy cognitive function and memory recharge.5 It is also potentially associated with other brain boosting benefits such as promoting optimal neurological health, staying on track mentally and encouraging focus.6
As far as some internal improvements such as enjoying meals and not suffering for it later, there may also be some benefits from this mushroom. Lion’s mane may be linked to digestive health. Not only could it support gastrointestinal health, but it is thought to promote gut immunity.7
One of the beauty and skin health benefits that lion’s mane may contribute to is cellular health. This has been tested on rats showing that these fungi could have some positive effects on skin health such as enhancing collagen production.8
There are even more benefits from lion’s mane being studied such as weight management, protection against oxidative stress and promoting comfort.9,10,11 This all-around mighty mushroom can be a great supplement in many forms and flavors for people all across the board.
How to Get the Benefits of Lion’s Mane?
Since lion’s mane can be consumed raw, there are a lot of great ways to incorporate it in your daily routine. If you’re good with its texture and taste, you can eat it as is or cook it up into a meal. It can also be dried and steeped into tea if you’re looking for a relaxing end to a long day.12
With so many ways for this mushroom to be prepared and consumed, it’s much easier to sneak this snack into your diet.
If you’re not a fan of the fuzzy texture or would rather not include it in your meal plan, there are also lion’s mane capsules available along with powder forms that provide an array of clinically studied health benefits. This is a quick and simple method to really supplement your diet.
Regardless of how you take lion’s mane mushroom, there’s a form that can fit into your daily routine so that you can enjoy the roaring health benefits and feel like the king or queen of the jungle.
About Lindsey Toth, MS, RD
Registered Dietitian, Swanson Health Products
Lindsey is a nationally-recognized registered dietitian and nutritionist with a soft spot for pie. She empowers people to take charge of their health by finding the balance between the pleasure and nourishment in food. Her philosophy is that you should take care of your body because it’s the only permanent home you have. It’s what inspired her to pursue a career in nutrition and, ultimately, led her to Swanson Health.
1 Neurological Activity of Lion’s Mane ( Hericium erinaceus ) https://www.researchgate.net/publication/321969743_Neurological_Activity_of_Lion's_Mane_Hericium_erinaceus
2 Nagano M;Shimizu K;Kondo R;Hayashi C;Sato D;Kitagawa K;Ohnuki K;. (n.d.). Reduction of Depression and Anxiety by 4 Weeks Hericium Erinaceus Intake. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20834180/
3 Yao, W., Zhang, J., Dong, C., Zhuang, C., Hirota, S., Inanaga, K., & Hashimoto, K. (2015, September). Effects of amycenone on serum levels of tumor necrosis factor-α, interleukin-10, and depression-like behavior in mice after lipopolysaccharide administration. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26150007
4 Lai, P., Naidu, M., Sabaratnam, V., Wong, K., David, R., Kuppusamy, U., . . . Malek, S. (2013). Neurotrophic properties of the Lion's mane medicinal mushroom, Hericium erinaceus (Higher Basidiomycetes) from Malaysia. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24266378
5 Mori, K., Inatomi, S., Ouchi, K., Azumi, Y., & Tuchida, T. (2009, March). Improving effects of the mushroom Yamabushitake (Hericium erinaceus) on mild cognitive impairment: A double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18844328
6 Mori, K., Obara, Y., Hirota, M., Azumi, Y., Kinugasa, S., Inatomi, S., & Nakahata, N. (2008, September). Nerve growth factor-inducing activity of Hericium erinaceus in 1321N1 human astrocytoma cells. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18758067
7 Diling, C., Xin, Y., Chaoqun, Z., Jian, Y., Xiaocui, T., Jun, C., . . . Yizhen, X. (2017, September 6). Extracts from Hericium erinaceus relieve inflammatory bowel disease by regulating immunity and gut microbiota. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5689651
8 Abdulla MA, Fard AA, Sabaratnam V, et al. Potential activity of aqueous extract of culinary-medicinal Lion's Mane mushroom, Hericium erinaceus (Bull.: Fr.) Pers. (Aphyllophoromycetideae) in accelerating wound healing in rats. Int J Med Mushrooms. 2011;13(1):33‐39. doi:10.1615/intjmedmushr.v13.i1.50
9 Mori, K., Ouchi, K., & Hirasawa, N. (2015). The Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Lion's Mane Culinary-Medicinal Mushroom, Hericium erinaceus (Higher Basidiomycetes) in a Coculture System of 3T3-L1 Adipocytes and RAW264 Macrophages. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26559695
10 Qin, M., Geng, Y., Lu, Z., Xu, H., Shi, J., Xu, X., & Xu, Z. (2016). Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Ethanol Extract of Lion's Mane Medicinal Mushroom, Hericium erinaceus (Agaricomycetes), in Mice with Ulcerative Colitis. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27481156
11 Valverde, M., Hernández-Pérez, T., & Paredes-López, O. (2015). Edible mushrooms: Improving human health and promoting quality life. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25685150
12 "9 Health Benefits of Lion's Mane Mushroom (Plus Side Effects)." 19 May. 2018, https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/lions-mane-mushroom.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.