3 Ways Lion's Mane Mushrooms Reduce Anxiety
Updated September 22, 2023.
When people are suffering from anxiety, it is often difficult to discern what remedies will reduce their symptoms without causing other problems as time goes on, and many medications are only useful for a short period. Therapy is beneficial; however, it takes significant time and money to have a full impact and doesn't always get rid of some of the more intense physical symptoms of anxiety. Though you should never avoid therapy if it is needed, natural substances like Lion's Mane mushrooms offer a safer and potentially highly beneficial alternative for those wary of pharmaceuticals.
A variety of fungi have a beneficial impact on mental health, but this article looks specifically at the benefits of Lion's Mane.
That being said, here are three main ways that Lion's Mane benefits people who suffer from anxiety.
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1. Alleviates Stress & Improves Focus
There are many anecdotal reports highlighting that the anti-inflammatory properties of Lion's Mane mushrooms act well to decrease anxiety and depression, though there is also emerging research in animal studies (1).
Lion's mane may also help improve focus. A recent 2020 study highlighted the improvement in cognitive function for participants who took a supplement containing Lion's Mane extracts daily (2).
Current research stresses the importance of good quality Lion's Mane supplement that is free from extra and potentially harmful artificial ingredients.
» Learn more: the beginner's guide to Lion's Mane mushrooms
2. Promotes Neurogenesis
Neurogenesis is the development or growth of neural tissue. Lion's mane appears to promote the growth of new neurons, particularly in the hippocampus—the part of the brain associated with learning and memory. It is a complex structure that can be negatively impacted by many things (including ongoing anxiety and depression). Studies have demonstrated new neural growth due to Lion's Mane in vitro (3).
People suffering from anxiety are often prescribed medication that has the potential to be addictive—many anti-anxiety medications encourage physiological dependence after a relatively short period. This has the effect of ultimately creating higher levels of anxiety and making them more difficult to manage.
Conversely, Lion's Mane does not create physiological dependence.
3. Supports Healthy Sleeping
Sleep deprivation is one of the hallmarks of anxiety disorders and is often impacted by depression, stress, and pain.
Lion's Mane doesn't cause sleepiness or drowsiness, even when taken before bed. Instead, it offers a stimulating effect on circadian cortisol, which helps to stabilise your circadian rhythm (4), the natural physiological process that regulates the sleep-wake cycle. Cortisol peaks in the morning and hits a low point around the time a person heads for sleep, making sleep easier.
A 2019 study found evidence that Lion's Mane may improve the symptoms of sleep disorders, though the reasons were not fully clear (5). Other studies have also suggested that Lion's Mane improves circadian rhythm and, therefore, sleep disturbance when taken daily over a period of at least eight weeks.
» Learn more: CBD and functional mushrooms for better sleep
Evidence suggests that Lion's Mane may be effective in improving the regulation of circadian rhythm and improving sleep disorders in some people, relieving symptoms of depression, reducing inflammation, and promoting neurogenesis, all of which can contribute to reduced feelings of anxiety. Though the results are promising, there is a lot more research that needs to be done to fully understand how this amazing fungus impacts humans and how it can best be used to help treat anxiety disorders.
One advantage of Lion's Mane is that there is a low risk of drowsiness or chemical dependence, whereas many modern medications for anxiety carry high risks of detrimental side effects.
Always Consult a Doctor
Prior to using Lion's Mane to treat mental health symptoms, it is a good idea to speak with a holistic practitioner who can do a full assessment to make sure this is the best intervention. Adding adaptogenic substances like Lion's Mane to daily supplements can create many positive changes to mental and emotional states and help support optimal circadian sleep cycles, but is not completely without risk.