I firmly believe there are two types of people in this world — those that absolutely love mushrooms and those that’ll do anything to avoid mushrooms. They’re one of those foods that you either can’t get enough of or can’t run away fast enough from.
The good news is it doesn’t matter which one you are because there’s a way for everyone and anyone to enjoy mushrooms. Yes, even those people that can’t stand the taste, sight, or texture of mushrooms.
If that’s not enough ‘icing on the cake’ for you, mushrooms are much more powerful than you thought and present a wide range of benefits that often get overlooked. In fact, there’s an entire group of mushroom species — called functional mushrooms — that are some of the most nutritious foods known to man.
One of those mushroom species is called Lion’s Mane mushroom and it’s taking the world by storm. Don’t worry, we’re going to detail everything there is to know about Lion’s Mane mushroom and how you can start benefiting from its effects on a daily basis — without having to taste or chew them. So, what are the benefits of Lion’s Mane? Let’s find out!
What Is Lion’s Mane?
Lion’s Mane mushroom is one of the most popular mushrooms in the world today. It has been a staple in traditional Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years and has an enormous amount of studies and research to support it.
Also referred to as Hericium erinaceus, it falls under the ‘functional mushroom’ category because it’s nutrient-dense, great for the immune system, and provides the body with a variety of ‘functional’ benefits.
Unlike most mushrooms, which have a cap and a stem, the Lion’s Mane mushroom has long, white strings flowing down from the top. It resembles a weeping willow tree, but also looks like the mane of a lion — which is where it gets its name from.
Other names this mushroom goes by are yamabushitake (Japan), Pom Pom Blanc, Monkey’s Head, Satyr’s Beard, Hedgehog Mushroom, or Bearded Tooth.
Lion’s Mane mushroom is native to the United States, Canada, most of Europe, and Southeast Asia. It likes to grow on decaying trees and even logs that have already decayed, but are easy to spot with its ‘icicle-white’ appearance — making it a good place to start for first-time foragers.
It’s also not picky on the type of tree and can be found on birch, beech, oak, sycamore, maple, or walnut trees.
How Does Lion’s Mane Work?
While it doesn’t look like a mushroom at first glance, it’s one of the most studied and researched mushrooms and is one of the most powerful nootropic ingredients in the world today — meaning it improves the way your brain works and how well you’re able to utilize it on a daily basis.
A majority of the benefits from this mushroom come from the two main active compounds found in the mushroom — Hericenones and Erinacines. They can easily cross the blood-brain barrier, which is why this mushroom is so beneficial to the brain and nervous system. It’s also what makes it so unique when compared to other functional mushrooms.
In addition to those two active compounds, Lion’s Mane mushroom also contains a powerful antioxidant called beta-glucans, as well as polysaccharides and polypeptides. You’ll find a majority of these compounds in most functional mushroom species and it’s what makes them so beneficial to the immune system.
What’s The Recommended Dosage Of Lion’s Mane?
Like most mushrooms, Lion’s Mane mushroom is generally well-tolerated in children and adults. There aren’t, however, a lot of studies being performed on humans to fully understand what a safe and effective dosage looks like, but we have a lot of results from rats.
For the most part, you’ll see Lion’s Mane available in an extract in powdered form, capsule form, or liquid form. You’ll be safe with a dosage of anywhere from 100mg-3,000mg per day, but it’s best to aim for at least 500mg to see effective results.
If you want a true cognitive and immune system boost, aim for a supplement that contains around 1,000-1,500mg per serving. That’s how you know you’re getting the most out of your Lion’s Mane supplement.
Is Lion’s Mane Safe?
While Lion’s Mane mushrooms are well-tolerated among humans and animals, there is the risk of an allergic reaction to anyone generally allergic to mushrooms. It might also cause complications with asthma, but there isn’t enough research to fully support this yet.
In addition to that, some people have reported itchy skin or rashes when taken in high doses, but this can easily be avoided by following the recommended dosages listed above. If you follow that, you should have no issues consuming Lion’s Mane mushroom.
Lion’s Mane Mushroom Benefits
By now, we’re starting to get a pretty good look at what this special species of mushroom is, where it’s grown, and whether it’s safe or not. Unfortunately, we still have yet to discuss the most important aspect of consuming them — the benefits!
There are four main benefits when it comes to Lion’s Mane mushrooms and we’re going to detail each of them one-by-one, that way you get a full understanding of what to expect when supplementing with this mushroom.
Let’s take a look.
1. Increases Neurogenesis
Neurogenesis is essential to living a quality life because it involves the growth and development of nerve tissue. The more this tissue breaks down without being maintained or repaired, the more issues you’ll see with your cognitive function.
Nerve Growth Factor (NGF) are special proteins that work to regenerate, repair, maintain, produce, and synthesize neurons. They’re produced in the hippocampus and help modulate cholinergic receptors and neuroplasticity.
The two main active compounds — Hericenones and Erinacines — are both classes of NGFs. Low levels of NGF are often linked to neurological disorders, but since neurogenesis is increased when taking Lion’s Mane Mushroom, your levels remain intact.
2. Improves Cognitive Function
In addition to healthier neurons, Lion’s Mane mushroom is known to strengthen cholinergic receptors. Choline is an essential nutrient and helps regulate cognitive function, such as memory, by synthesizing acetylcholine (neurotransmitter).
Lion’s Mane mushroom is also known to increase the production and synthesis of neurotransmitters, such as epinephrine and norepinephrine. This can help heighten focus and keep you locked in to the task at hand.
Since the Nerve Growth Factor levels increase as well, you’ll effectively slow down cognitive decline. Not only do you get a cognitive boost now, but you get a continuous one in the future.
You’ll also reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s disease in the process, especially since it helps reduce amyloid plaques — little clumps of beta-amyloid proteins that contribute to Alzheimer’s.
3. Enhances & Boosts The Immune System
The immune system is responsible for protecting your body from outside threats, such as bacteria, viruses, toxins, and infections. The weaker your immune system is, the more likely you are to get sick frequently.
The beta-glucans found in Lion’s Mane mushroom are largely responsible for the boost to the immune system here — though the polysaccharides and polypeptides also play a role. They’re a powerful antioxidant that helps reduce oxidative stress and reduce inflammation in the body.
In addition to that, Lion’s Mane mushroom can help prevent ulcers from forming in the digestive tract. A healthy gut is essential to feeling your best throughout the day, giving you even more benefits to enjoy when consuming this mushroom.
4. Improves Mood & Reduces Depression Symptoms
In addition to the neurotransmitters that play a role in memory and focus, Lion’s Mane mushroom helps increase the synthesis of mood-related neurotransmitters, such as dopamine and serotonin. These are known as the feel-good neurotransmitters.
Studies show that people suffering from depression, anxiety, or excessive stress are often low in these neurotransmitters or have difficulty synthesizing them. That’s why Lion’s Mane mushroom can also help reduce depression symptoms and anxiety.
When combined with the other cognitive effects, benefits to the immune system, and improvement to the digestive system, you can start to see how beneficial Lion’s Mane mushroom is to daily health and wellness.
What Stacks Well With Lion’s Mane?
While Lion’s Mane mushroom is an effective ingredient to use on its own, there are a growing number of ingredients that you can stack with it to enhance the benefits, add some new benefits, and continue to reach your full potential on a daily basis.
There are a wide range of ingredients I could choose here, but I’m going to discuss three of my favorites — as well as three vitamins you should include in your stack. Don’t worry, I’ll mention the recommended dosages so you can practice safety and precaution.
We mentioned how Lion’s Mane mushroom helps to strengthen cholinergic receptors in the brain, but that doesn’t necessarily make Lion’s Mane mushroom a direct choline source. That’s why Citicoline, also known as CDP-Choline, is an excellent ingredient to stack with.
When Citicoline enters the body, it breaks down into cytidine and choline, but it converts back to Citicoline once it enters the brain — where it does a majority of its work. Choline is needed to synthesize acetylcholine, the neurotransmitter responsible for memory and learning.
On the other hand, Cytidine converts to uridine once it enters the brain, which helps maintain neuron integrity in the brain and repairs neurons for continued growth. It also helps increase other neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin, as well as increase ATP (energy).
Ashwagandha is another staple in traditional Ayurvedic medicine, much like Lion’s Mane mushroom is. While Lion’s Mane is more beneficial to the nervous and immune systems, Ashwagandha is an adaptogen that helps your body adapt and move past stress.
The reason I’m introducing this ingredient to stack with Lion’s Mane is because we’re often asked to recall certain things and exert focus under stressful situations. The combination here not only helps you perform at your best, but allows you to do it in a relaxed state of mind.
Don’t worry, it’s also a powerful antioxidant and helps to reduce inflammation in the body and reduce oxidative stress. Not only that, but it contains acetylcholinesterase, an enzyme responsible for breaking down acetylcholine — further showing the connection between Ashwagandha and Lion’s Mane.
We’ve already mentioned two staples in traditional Ayurvedic medicine, so why not add a third one to complete the trifecta. Bacopa Monnieri is another ancient herb that helps increase cognitive function and calm the nerves during stressful situations.
Not only is Bacopa an adaptogen like Ahwagandha, but it helps increase acetylcholine levels in the brain like Lion’s Mane. If you’re going for the ultimate memory- and focus-booster, then stacking Bacopa, Lion’s Mane, and Ashwagandha makes for a powerful boost.
Adding in a direct source of choline, like Citicoline described above, only further enhances your cognitive performance. That’s why you’ll often see these ingredients in nootropics — the effective ones, at least.
Vitamins B6, B9, & B12
Vitamins are an essential part of everyday nutrition and are found in most foods we eat daily. While most people get the recommended amounts of B-Complex Vitamins everyday, giving yourself a little extra can help your body perform better.
I’m introducing three that I believe have an excellent effect on the way your brain operates:
- Vitamin B6 – also known as pyridoxine, it’s a required coenzyme for several neurotransmitters we’ve discussed above, including dopamine, epinephrine, and serotonin (as well as GABA and melatonin).
- Vitamin B9 – also known as folate, another vitamin necessary for the synthesis of neurotransmitters such as the ones listed above. Also needed for gene expression, DNA production, and improves mood.
- Vitamin B12 – also known as cobalamin, is a cofactor for most neurotransmitters, improves mood, and improves cerebral circulation.
If you’re looking to get the most out of your memory-boosting, mood-improving, or cognitive-enhancing stack, ensuring your body has the necessary coenzymes and cofactors is an important part of the process. That’s why we’re introducing them here.
Best Lion’s Mane Supplement Brands
Now that we’ve gotten a good look at some of the best ingredients to stack with Lion’s Mane mushroom, as well as everything you need to know about Lion’s Mane, we can start to look at some of the most effective supplement brands available on the market today.
There are a lot out there, but I’ve narrowed my list down to the top-three brands utilizing Lion’s Mane mushroom today — Four Sigmatic, Roar Ambition, and Opti-Nutra. Let’s take a closer look at what makes these brands so special!
Lion’s Mane Elixir by Four Sigmatic
Four Sigmatic was hands-down going to be the first brand mentioned here and it’s because there’s not a single company in the world I trust more than them when it comes to functional mushrooms. It’s a company created by a mushroom fanatic from Finland, Tero Isokauppila.
I’m highlighting their Lion’s Mane Elixir formula, but they use Lion’s Mane in a variety of their supplements — so don’t be shy when navigating through their online shop.
In this particular product, however, they combine a whopping 1,500mg of Lion’s Mane mushroom with Rhodiola Rosea — which is actually another staple in Ayurvedic medicine that could be added to the list of stackable ingredients above.
There’s also Rose Hips and Field Mint to provide Vitamin C and help improve the taste.GET THE BEST PRICE ON FOUR SIGMATIC LION’S MANE ELIXIR
Mind Lab Pro by Opti-Nutra
Mind Lab Pro is another amazing nootropic stack that utilizes Lion’s Mane mushroom, though it also takes into account some of the other ingredients we’ve discussed above. Overall, it has 11 ingredients ready to enhance the way your brain operates.
The 11 ingredients included in the formula are Citicoline, Phosphatidylserine, Lion’s Mane Mushroom, Bacopa Monnieri, L-Theanine, Rhodiola Rosea, N-Acetyl L-Tyrosine, Maritime Pine Bark Extract, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B9, and Vitamin B12.
It’s a powerful stack and helps with all aspects of cognitive performance including brain health, mood, focus, memory, and energy. Plus, it’s safe to take on a daily basis, giving you that boost you love whenever you want it.GET THE BEST PRICE ON MIND LAB PRO
Hunter Focus by Roar Ambition
The last brand we’re going to highlight here is Roar Ambition with their Hunter Focus formula. As the name suggests, it’s designed to give you the focus that hunters require when stalking their prey.
The formula is similar to Mind Lab Pro, but only contains 9 ingredients. They are Lion’s Mane mushroom, Citicoline, Bacopa Monnieri, Maritime Pine Bark Extract, N-Acetyl L-Tyrosine, L-Theanine, Phosphatidylserine, Ashwagandha, and Passion Flower extract.
Much like Mind Lab Pro, it’s designed to satisfy all five areas of cognitive improvement, including mood, energy, focus, memory, and brain health. It’s a little more expensive than Mind Lab Pro, but it’s worth the money if you’re willing to try it.GET THE BEST PRICE ON HUNTER FOCUS
Final Thoughts: Lion’s Mane
Lion’s Mane Mushroom can benefit your health in a variety of ways. From improving cognitive function to boosting the immune system to improving mood and more, Lion’s Mane is a supplement that provides for your health. You’ve learned all about Lion’s Mane, so now all that is left to do is pick your supplement!