With a long history of usage in Traditional Chinese Medicine, Lion’s Mane mushroom is famous for its neuroprotective properties and ability to support memory, clarity, focus, nerve health, and mood. In fact, the mushroom’s reputation for cognitive health has even earned it the nickname, the “smart” mushroom. But what does Lion’s Mane actually do to the brain? And are Lion’s Mane benefits as effective as die-hard fans say? If you’re curious about how this functional mushroom can support your brain health, explore what makes Lion’s Mane unique and how you can integrate it into your daily routine.
How Lion’s Mane Interacts With the Brain
Lion’s Mane is rich in β-glucan polysaccharides as well as the active nootropic compounds erinacines and hericenones, which are directly related to the mushroom’s ability to stimulate the growth of brain cells, otherwise known as NGF (nerve growth factor). Erinacines (found in Lion’s Mane mycelium) and hericenones (found in the fruiting body) are low-molecular weight compounds that easily cross the blood–brain barrier to synthesize NGF and support brain plasticity, which affects memory and new learning. Research has also shown that Lion’s Mane Mushroom may help to accelerate nerve regeneration.
Lion’s Mane Health Benefits
From higher cognitive functioning to improved mood, there are several health benefits of Lion’s Mane to get excited about. Here are some of the many science-backed benefits of using Lion’s Mane.
Higher Cognitive Functioning
In a double-blind trial of 50- to 80-year-old Japanese men and women diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment, subjects were given extracts of Lion’s Mane three times a day for 16 weeks. Cognitive function improved during the duration of the study with no adverse effects, proving that Lion’s Mane could help those experiencing impaired focus, brain fog, or other mild cognitive impairment.
Animal studies have shown that Lion’s Mane may help protect against progressive memory loss by reducing plaque in the hippocampus and cerebral cortex. While more studies are needed to find out how Lion’s Mane may play a role in helping to support in situations of cognitive decline, the neuroprotective properties of the mushroom are just as promising for long nights of studying, or those days when you can’t seem to remember where you put your keys.
In addition to helping regenerate brain cells and improving the functioning of the hippocampus, Lion’s Mane also has anti-inflammatory effects, which may improve mood. In one study of mice exhibiting depression-like behavior, researchers administered extracts of Lion’s Mane and noted both anti-inflammatory and antidepressant effects. While human studies are limited, one four-week study in menopausal women found that consuming Lion’s Mane daily for one month helped alleviate feelings of depression, anxiety, and frustration.
Since Lion’s Mane studies have been shown to stimulate the growth and repair of nerve cells, it may help to speed recovery of nerve injuries. Animal studies have also shown Lion’s Mane may also help to decrease inflammation and oxidative stress and reduce the size of stroke-related brain injury when given immediately after a stroke.
How to Use Lion’s Mane
Whether you are noticing more brain fog than usual, or you simply want to be proactive about your cognitive health, Lion’s Mane can help you stay sharp, alert, and ready to learn new things in the face of life’s challenges. Because on top of supporting the growth of new cells, this “smart” mushroom can also help protect the ones you already have. Best of all, it’s easy to incorporate into your daily routine.
One easy way to take advantage of Lion’s Mane is to use Om’s Lion’s Mane powder, which can be added to juice, coffee, or smoothies. The mushroom can also be taken in capsule form daily. While some Lion’s Mane products contain either erinacines or hericenones, Om’s certified organic Lion’s Mane mushroom powders contain both compounds for maximum health benefits.
- Another way to fuel your brain with Lion’s Mane is the plant-based Om Mighty Veggie Miso Broth, which combines Lion’s Mane with Shiitake and Reishi. This superfood mushroom combination is also found in the Om Mighty Beef Bone Broth Om Beef Bone Broth, which also contains collagen to support joints, bones, skin, digestive and gut health.
- Like the idea of using Lion’s Mane in the kitchen? Try Lion’s Mane Avocado Toast or the Triple Mushroom Smart Pizza. Explore more superfood recipes here.
QUIZ: Test Your Lion’s Mane Mushroom Knowledge
1. How can regular use of Lion’s Mane mushroom supplements help the brain?*
a. Higher cognitive functioning
b. Stronger memory
c. Improved mood
d. Nerve health support
e. All of the above
2. Which Om functional beverages contain Lion’s Mane powder?
a. Hot Chocolate
b. Matcha Latte
c. Coffee Latte
e. All of the above
3. True or False: Om Lion’s Mane mushroom powder contains active compounds known to stimulate the growth of brain cells.
4. Taking one _______ dose of Lion’s Mane mushroom supplement daily will help support memory, focus, nerve health, creativity, and mood.
a. 2.0 gram
b. 4.5 gram
c. 3.0 gram
5. __________ include unique properties for health benefits and overall wellness.
a. Functional mushrooms
b. None of the above
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Answers: E, E, A, A, A
Erica Garza is an author and essayist from Los Angeles. Her writing has appeared in TIME, Health, Glamour, Good Housekeeping, Women's Health and VICE.