The Beginner’s Guide To Lion’s Mane Mushroom
Updated September 22, 2023.
Functional mushrooms have a history stretching back millennia; from the times of Egyptian pharaohs and ancient Chinese medicine practitioners, fungi have been used as an effective therapy. Mushrooms are revered for their healing properties as well as their culinary delights. But not all species are created equally: Lion’s mane mushroom (Hericium erinaceus) sits at the top of the toadstool.
This edible fungus is native to North America, Europe and Asia. Its unusual appearance spawned a range of nicknames, including Monkey’s Head, Pom Pom Blanc, Satyr’s Beard, bearded tooth, and Yamabushitake.
Paul Stamets, an American entrepreneur and mycologist, simple calls it the “smart mushroom.” With its power to enhance cognitive function, memory and mood; Lion’s mane mushroom has earned this title.
We’ll cover more on its cognitive benefits shortly, but first, let’s start with the nutritional makeup of this prized mushroom?
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Lion’s Mane Mushroom: Nutrition 101
Lion’s mane mushroom is rich in β-glucan polysaccharides, essential amino acids, carbohydrates and fibre. With minerals including calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium, and vitamins like folic acid (vitamin B9), thiamin (vitamin B1) and tocopherols (vitamin E)(1), its diverse array of nutrients deliver wide-ranging health benefits.
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Lion’s Mane mushroom forms, dosage and preparation: What to look for and where to find it?
Modern research has uncovered what ancient wisdom knew; Lion’s mane mushroom delivers diverse healing benefits. Because of its potency and malleability, there is a choice in delivery routes. This means it is available in a variety of preparations.
- An edible mushroom: If you love the taste and texture, the simplest way to gain the benefits is to simply eat the fungi. Wash, chop and chomp away. Or throw a handful into salads or other recipes (hints below).
- Supplement: If you have a specific measure in mind, how can you ensure the right mushroom dosage? Supplementation is the best way to meet your target. Research shows incredible health advantages from supplementation. So, it will be easy to find a Lion’s mane mushroom supplement to suit.
- The taste of healing: If you decide to take the culinary route, what should you expect? This fungus delivers a seafood, scallop-like taste. Its texture is described as similar to lobster; stringy, fleshy, and delicate. Once cooked, it has a tender, juicy chew.
- Soups or stirfry’s to eat Lion’s mane mushroom? Any way you like! Brewed with ginger, carrot, stock and root vegetables, this fungus adds a meaty texture to a healthy soup. Or chop and stir with bok choy and onion, chilli and basmati for a delicious stir fry.
- Steeped in teas or coffees: Mushroom beverages have been served as a tincture and in ceremony for time immemorial. Lion’s mane’s beneficial properties are ingested with every sip. You can purchase these brews ready-made or create your own. An online search will raise ample recipes to try… Lion’s mane coffee might soon become your favourite morning brew!
- Powders, pills, tinctures or drops: Powders, pill, tinctures and drops are often made from dried mushrooms. You can find a ready-made option in health food stores or online. Asian markets often supply dried mushroom, where it’s known as “monkey head” dried mushroom. Or you can grow some in your own fungi garden or forage if it grows natively in your region.
Disclaimer: NEVER eat a mushroom that you are not 100% sure is edible! There are poisonous varieties that can cause significant harm and hallucination.
Now you know how to consume this therapeutic fungus, it begs the question: why would you want to?
There are a wide range of benefits; from cognitive support to improved mood, enhanced relaxation to vibrant skin, and more.
1. Lion’s mane assists with cognitive function and brain health
Do you worry that your mind might become less than sharp as you age? Or do you wish to protect the brilliance of your brain? Maybe you’d find it helpful to enhance your memory and aid cognitive repair?
Perfect! The evidence supports Lion’s mane mushroom’s effects as a cognitive enhancer.
Your brain is created from billions of neurons; nerve cells that communicate with each other constantly. As with all parts of the body, there is a continual cycle of death and repair. This is the process of life! But if the balance becomes skewed toward the former, function diminishes…
Cognitive function and memory can take a hit.
Nerve growth factor (NGF), as its name suggests, is important for replenishing and maintaining a healthy brain. A study published in 2013 showed that Lion’s mane mushroom has neurotrophic (“nerve growing”) properties. (2) In this way, this fungus can promote brain and cognitive function.
And research into memory shows it does just that.
Memory is a complex process. It can stammer or falter due to a number of causes. A gamut of issues from stress to dementia can cause decline; sometimes temporary, sometimes not. But whether you walk into a room only to forget the purpose of your journey, or your experience is more challenging, enhancing memory is a common request.
Here, Lion’s mane is here to come to the rescue.
A 2019 study published in the journal Nutrients showed that, in mice, two months of oral supplementation “reversed the age-decline of recognition memory.” (3)
In fact, it seems there are magic powers contained within mushrooms. Research published in the journal Current Developments in Nutrition found that “Dietary supplementation with Lion’s mane, Reishi and Cordyceps mushrooms may have a beneficial effect on cognitive impairment.”(4)
2. Lion’s mane may offer mood and stress support
We, modern humans, live in a stress-filled world. The past year has been lived on constantly shifting sands, whose unstable grains have profoundly affected our collective and individual stress levels and mood.
Yet, again, certain fungi offer potential respite… and quite quickly.
A 2019 study found that a mere eight weeks of oral supplementation with Lion’s mane mushroom produced profoundly beneficial effects. The authors noted a decrease in depression, anxiety, and sleep disorders, and an improvement in mood disorders. Sleep quality improved too.(5)
There are wonderful products that blend Lion’s mane with other functional mushrooms like those mentioned earlier, Reishi and Cordyceps. Relax Drops by Cannabotech combines these fungi to elevate synergy and results. This formula also contains nature’s soothing ingredients, chamomile and lavender extract, to support relaxation. Add in premium non-intoxicating CBD with our unique M2CBD formula to support relaxation whenever and wherever you need to unwind.
3. Lion’s mane may support your gut health
Lion’s mane has been used for aeons for gastrointestinal support in special tonics, however research is only now making headway. You may have heard that your gut can affect your overall health, so this is particularly worth special attention. In a 2013 study, lion’s mane mushrooms were shown to significantly reduce ulcers and gastric mucosal injury.(6) This has been linked largely to its high antioxidant profile. Other studies have also suggested that lion’s mane can help balance the microbes in the gut.
4. Lion’s mane exhibits extraordinary skin benefits
This mushroom appears to be beneficial for skin too.
“As within so without”, as the saying goes. Inflammation, oxidative stress, and environmental damage take their toll on both internal systems and our outermost layer.
As a great source of natural antioxidant(7) and anti-inflammatory compounds(8), Lion’s mane mushroom may calm skin problems. In fact, when applied topically, Hericium erinaceus has been shown to accelerate wound healing.(9)
As you can see, there is a range of profound benefits associated with consuming this natural healing agent. As with any form of therapy, it’s important to ask… what are the potential side effects?
5. Lion’s mane is a superfood packed with nutritional benefits
Lion’s Mane act as powerful antidotes to many ails due to the following components:
- β-glucan polysaccharides
- essential amino acids
- vitamins and minerals including the much needed Vitamin B12 largely remiss in vegan diets
- anti-inflammatory properties
What are the side effects of Lion’s mane mushroom?
Fullness if you eat too much! In all seriousness, Lion’s mane mushroom is considered to be incredibly safe. If you have an allergy to mushrooms, though, avoid this fungus along with the rest.
The Lion’s Mane Takeaway
Lion’s mane mushroom contains a wide range of nutrients that are essential for bodily function as well as reparative properties. The most accurate way to ensure a therapeutic dose is by supplementing with a premium product that contains other synergistic ingredients that maximise the benefits. We believe that the nutrients, natural and safe profile. Moreover, a wide evidence-base make Lion’s mane mushroom essential for daily use and the medicine cabinet.
- Lion’s mane mushroom; new addition to food and natural bounty for human wellness: A review https://www.researchgate.net/publication/329781583_Lion’s_mane_mushroom_new_addition_to_food_and_natural_bounty_for_human_wellness_A_review
- Neurotrophic properties of the Lion’s mane medicinal mushroom, Hericium erinaceus (Higher Basidiomycetes) from Malaysia https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24266378/
- Hericium erinaceus Improves Recognition Memory and Induces Hippocampal and Cerebellar Neurogenesis in Frail Mice during Aging https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6521003/
- A Systematic Review of in-vivo Studies on Dietary Mushroom Supplementation for Cognitive Impairmenthttps://academic.oup.com/cdn/article/3/Supplement_1/nzz052.P14-021-19/5518278
- Hericium erinaceus Improves Mood and Sleep Disorders in Patients Affected by Overweight or Obesity: Could Circulating Pro-BDNF and BDNF Be Potential Biomarkers? https://www.hindawi.com/journals/ecam/2019/7861297/
- Gastroprotective Effects of Lion’s Mane Mushroom Hericium erinaceus (Bull.:Fr.) Pers. (Aphyllophoromycetideae) Extract against Ethanol-Induced Ulcer in Rats https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3835629/
- Composition and antioxidant activity of water-soluble oligosaccharides from Hericium erinaceus https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25529054/
- Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Ethanol Extract of Lion’s Mane Medicinal Mushroom, Hericium erinaceus (Agaricomycetes), in Mice with Ulcerative Colitis https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27481156/
- Potential activity of aqueous extract of culinary-medicinal Lion’s Mane mushroom, Hericium erinaceus (Bull.: Fr.) Pers. (Aphyllophoromycetideae) in accelerating wound healing in rats https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22135902/