clumps of Lion's Mane in a wooden basket

Lion’s Mane’s Powerful Healing Effects on Health & Cognition

Lion´s mane is a wellknown edible and medicinal mushroom found throughout the world that commonly colonizes both living and dead broadleaf trees. Its fruiting bodies, meaning the mushroom heads, and fungal mycelia, meaning the root-like structures, exhibit various pharmacological activities, including the enhancement of the immune system as well as anti-tumor, hypoglycemic, and anti-aging properties.

Lion’s Mane is also known as Hericium erinaceus in Latin, Yamabushitake (山伏茸) in Japanese, Monkey’s Head in China.

The mushroom looks like a clump of a lion’s mane, or someone’s beard hair- except the individual threads or spines are thicker than a strand of hair. Also, the mushroom is a pearly white color.

The whole mushroom, both Mycelium and the fruiting body, has many bioactive compounds that has a therapeutic action on the body. Lion’s Mane is found to benefit Alzheimer’s disease & dementia, regulation of the immune system, diabetes, wound healing, and many different types of cancer.

Scientific analysis has shown that the aromatic compounds hericenones and erinacines isolated from the fruiting body and mycelium promote nerve growth factor (NGF) synthesis in cultured astrocytes . These results highlight the usefulness of H. erinaceus for the treatment and prevention of dementia.

What are the Active Chemicals in Lion’s Mane?

Some of the active constituent responsible for Lion’s Mane medicinal effects include polysaccharides like Beta-glucans, heteroglucans, heteroxylans, several cyanthane derivative triterpeens also known as hericenone and erinacine. Beta glucans are found naturally in the cell walls of cereals, bacteria and fungi.

But what makes Lion’s Mane mushroom so interesting is its potential as a cognitive enhancer.

For starters, Lion’s Mane has many properties that also match the actions of smart drugs:

Medical Effects & Properties of Lion’s Mane

  • anti-anxiety
  • anti-cancer & anti-tumor
  • anti-inflammatory
  • antioxidant
  • neuroprotective
  • clears brain fog
  • increases energy
  • reduces memory impairment
  • increases long term memory
  • Increases motivation
  • Improves Wound healing
  • Lowers Blood Glucose
  • Increases vivid dreaming

In order to understand why Lion’s Mane has so many different properties, we need to understand how Lion’s Mane works. Let’s first investigate Lion’s Mane’s ability to increase Nerve Growth Factor (NGF) in the body.

Benefits of Lion’s Mane on Diabetes

tools for treating and measuring diabetesLion’s Mane has a substance called Hericenones that is responsible for stimulating Nerve Growth Factor (NGF) in the body. As the name suggests, NGF is responsible for the growth and survival of nerve cells, or neurons. NGF promotes the growth neurons in the brain, but NGF is also needed for many different biological processes.

For example, NGF is also involved with the regulation of the immune system and survival of pancreatic beta (β) cells. There is some evidence that Lion’s Mane may be useful for treating diabetes. The NGF in Lion’s Mane improves wound healing, and is also shown to help in the regeneration of insulin producing beta cells as well as the regeneration of nerves lost to peripheral neuropathy. What do these benefits mean?

Is it the NGF that improves wound healing? Or something else in Lion’s Mane?

It means that Lion’s Mane is reversing not only symptoms, but one of the causes for diabetes. Let me explain.

First, patients afflicted with diabetes experience delayed wound healing. That means that either the cells in the diabetic person is not regenerating fast enough to replace the dead cells, or that the diabetic person’s immune system is interfering with the healing process.

The delayed wound healing is a symptom of diabetes, because diabetes causes there to be chronic high levels of blood glucose in the human body. The chronically elevated blood sugar causes neuropathy.

Neuropathy is peripheral nerve cell death. For example, neuropathy in your hands & feet would mean that you loose your sense of touch or feeling in them. This is not uncommon in diabetic patients.

The chronically raised blood glucose levels in diabetic patients also leads to poor blood circulation, and proper blood circulation is needed for repairing damaged skin. That means that you’ll find that diabetic patients tend to have skin wounds that heal slowly.

But another question remains: What does Lion’s Mane do for the brain?

How Does Lion’s Mane Benefit the Brain?

There are multiple ways that Lion’s Mane functions to benefit the brain. For example, because Lion’s mane is an anti-inflammatory, it also reduces inflammation in the brain. Inflammation in the brain is harmful. For the occasional bout of brain inflammation, a person may experience a migraine, headache, or brain fog. But for chronic brain inflammatory conditions, like multiple sclerosis, a person may experience a loss of cognitive function overtime. So Lion’s Mane may help by reducing the inflammation in the brain.

3D overlapping neon rope net connectionsAdditionally, Lion’s Mane helps the brain by stimulating nerve cell growth, development, and repair. In this way, Lion’s Mane has a very similar functions to NGF and BDNF (Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor). The brain needs NGF and BDNF for maintaining a healthy number of neurons. Without NGF & BDNF, the number of neurons in the bran would decrease, and the brain would start showing symptoms that are very similar to Alzheimer’s disease.

Lion’s Mane also speeds up the growth of myelin sheaths on the axons of neurons. This is important for our neurons to function in the first place. Without myelin sheaths, not only would the action potentials or signals sent through a neuron’s axon slow down, but also loose signal before it is able to reach the next neuron

What Effects the Quality of Lion’s Mane?

In this section, I will cover the environmental conditions that affect the quality of the Lion’s Mane mushroom. The amount of therapeutic bioactive compound is dependent on the quality of the Lion’s Mane mushroom.

In order to find a high quality Lion’s Mane supplement, you have to consider in what conditions was the mushroom grown in, and on the flip side you can test different supplements by observing & comparing their affects on yourself.

Lion’s mane is white when it is young, and becomes yellowish & brownish the older it gets. The browning indicates that the quality of the mushroom has decreased.

The growth of the Lion’s Mane is sensitive to air circulation, light, temperature,  humidity, and pH. Given that Lion’s Mane is a aerobic fungus, it is also sensitive to the concetration of CO2. When there is too much CO2 in the area where the Lion’s Mane is growing (exceeds 0.1%), then the lion’s mane will develop a deformity that makes it look like a coral reef. To contrast, Healthy Lion’s Mane has a smooth straight spines.

Also the medium in which the Lion’s Mane is grown can affect the bioactive compounds that it has. Just like the quality of a plant may depend on its soil, the quality of the medium (i.e. a tree log) may influence the quality of the Lion’s Mane.

The growing medium is also important to consider, given that the Lion’s Mane mushroom absorbs nutrients & minerals from the medium. The problem is that this mushroom also can collect hazardous heavy metals if they are inside the medium- like cadmium, lead, & radionuclides.

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Where to Find Lion’s Mane Supplements

19 thoughts to “Lion’s Mane’s Powerful Healing Effects on Health & Cognition”

  1. I’m surprised to see you recommend Host Defense capsules here. Host Defense does not contain Lion’s Mane mushroom but biomass, consisting mainly of undigested substrate (starch, leftover from grains) and non-extracted mycelium. They do not specify a single active ingredient and are expensive. So why list that one ?

    Lion’s Mane should ideally be alcohol extracted because the erinacines etc are all alcohol solubles, not water solubles. A hot water extract will not hold a lot of those compounds because the levels are low as a standard unless special processing is used – research is clear about this

  2. I’m taking Lions Mane mushroom because Paul Stamets “made me do” it :-) This of course is a joke it is just that I take the capsules because Stamets is raving about it’s qualities in avoiding Alzheimers or dimentia. But I have the impression that it gives me a fogisch headache.. IS this known to be a side effect to some people?

    1. I have been taking the tincture for a few days and have been getting headaches, and my tinnitus has gotten a little louder…

      1. I think there could be a problem with how the tincture was prepared, or the quality of the Lion’s Mane. Generally, if there is something that you supplement that causes you harm, you should stop taking it.

        1. It’s a Fungi Perfecti tincture… I think I may just be sensitive. A ton of different supplements end up giving me headaches after a few days. I think individual metabolism, genetics, etc. can cause unpredictable or uncommon side effects…

    2. I get a headache every time I take this supplement. It begins about 8 hours after taking the supplant and continues for a full day.

  3. I also experinces headace with Lions Mane!
    It is mostly around my forehead and sinus/nose.
    So far it has ranged from a low but ever present preassure to a “mild” migrane with some visuel imparement (zigzag lights before my eyes).

    I keep taking it because I think it is related to nerve-growth but please undestand that I just do it on a gut-feeling thats based on the fact that Lions mane can also cause itching in the skin because of nerves growing back – so I “Translate” that to the same effekt. It’s not sciences I know, so thats my disclamer :)

  4. Hi Really wanted to be able to take this but sadly as with NAC Gluthamine they all trigger my Migraines two of my family have passed with Dementia hence looking for ways to help prevent as there is Nothing pharmaceutical that works there must be something that stimulates the cells making them react to certain supplements gutted 😢

    1. If you don’t want to go through the supplementation route, I believe cardiovascular exercise and stimulating the mind (video games, chess, etc.) are good ways to retain cognitive function for later on.

      If you want to use supplements, you don’t have to use Lion’s Mane. If you do want to still use Lion’s Mane, you could look for a reputable vendor like Nootropics Depot because other brands of Lion’s Mane may have less quality control, thus have more mold contamination that would cause the migraines. Likewise with fish oil.

  5. Thank You it’s just the migraines that’s the problem where taking supplements can bring one on but many thanks for advice much appreciated

  6. Brain tumor (c***er if you must) survivor here. I had a craneotomy for maximal safe resection of a grade 2 glioma later identified as diffuse astrocytoma due to a positive IDH1 mutation and 132H/No codeletion pathology when the extracted tumor was studied. I started from the bottom using host defense capsules before chemo and radio, then a tincture from Hawaii during radio and now that it’s being grown close to where I live I use the tincture Wild Culture Lion’s Mane Double Extract from 100% Fruiting Body. Something I noticed was the difference in color when the tincture is fresh, the one I am using now (locally grown and fresh) has a beige/cloudy/clear hue with visible fruiting body particles vs the hawaiian brand that was clear/cloudy alcohol tasting mostly and in 30 days turned somewhat redddish. I use 1ml a day, I stopped using it this month because I was restocking and I had a terrible headache since 05/30 after my most recent scan (stable) on a daily basis for a few seconds a few times a day when I least expected it. I just took it today since it arrived recently and I swear I can feel a relief in my head and no headaches so far. It helps me with the brain-fog/adhd caused by the 30 radiotx and 8 chemo cycles endured. I would add from *experience* the headache relief experience from the anti-inflammatory effect it has on the brain, helps me concentrate and hopefully fight off anything happening up there. There is no evidence but as with western medicine, it’s a mixture of hope and faith along with a very healthy diet filled with anti-inflammatory ingredients. I just wanted to share from the brain cancer patient perspective how much this has helped me on my journey. Maybe the people experiencing headaches it’s because your brain might not need an anti-inflammatory so it’s just causing you a headache. Try taking it to relief headaches, probably will notice the difference then.

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