If you’ve been paying attention to the supplement community, you’ll notice functional mushrooms and nootropics are gaining an extreme amount of popularity in the Western world. They’re natural, and many of them have been used for centuries throughout the world, yet many people out West have never heard of them.
What if I were to tell you there are certain functional mushroom species that double as nootropics? To be honest, if that doesn’t intrigue your curiosity, I’m not sure what will.
One of these mushroom species is called the Lion’s Mane mushroom, and it will completely reconfigure the way you look at mushrooms. Better yet, Lion’s Mane supplements allow you to add this powerful superfood to your daily diet without the taste, texture, or sight of mushrooms.
With these supplements popping up all over the market, we’re going to break down everything you need to know about the Lion’s Mane mushroom and which supplements you can trust.
Let’s get started so you can find out the best lion’s mane supplements!
What Are Lion’s Mane Supplements?
As the name suggests, Lion’s Mane supplements contain the Lion Mane mushroom. They will generally be extracted into a powder or capsule, but can be utilized in a variety of ways and combined with a variety of other powerful ingredients.
Much like we discussed above, the Lion’s Mane mushroom doubles as a functional mushroom and nootropic. To help you better understand the mushroom, let’s first understand what functional mushrooms and nootropics are.
Functional mushrooms are a specific category of mushrooms found throughout the world. Like most mushrooms, they are nutrient-dense and are utilized in many global dishes. What makes a functional mushroom different are the functional benefits they provide — benefits outside of the rich nutrients.
On the other hand, nootropics are a certain line of ingredients designed to improve cognitive ability. They do so in five ways — focus, memory, brain health, mood, and energy. Some nootropics provide multiple benefits, while others are more specific.
Lion’s Mane mushrooms fall in line with both of those categories, making them one of the more popular mushrooms utilized in supplements. We’ll discuss more about the specific benefits, but first, let’s learn more about their history and where they come from.
Where Do Lion’s Mane Mushrooms Grow?
If you’re looking for lion’s mane mushrooms, you’ll want to find places that have a lot of beech trees. They prefer cooler climates and won’t do very well in hot or freezing temperatures. You can generally find these mushrooms throughout the Northern United States and Canada.
While beech trees are a popular host for Lion’s Mane mushrooms, they can also be found on any hardwood — such as an oak tree or maple tree. Known to attack their host while the tree is still alive, they can also be found on trees that have already died. If you see a beech tree with beech cankers, it’s usually a good sign of Lion’s Mane.
These mushrooms can be found both on the ground level and high up in trees. If you come across some too high in a tree to forage, you can generally come back next year and find some lower to the ground.
What Do Lion’s Mane Mushrooms Look Like?
Many mushrooms are going to have a similar appearance, but there are a few that stand unique to all the others — lion’s mane is one of them. In fact, it’s one of the more beautiful-looking mushrooms in the world — along with the Tremella mushroom.
The best way to describe a lion’s mane mushroom is by imagining a group of icicles in a tree. The spores that grow out of the base of the mushroom grow like long hairs and drip down towards the ground.
If you’ve ever seen a weeping willow tree, imagine it much smaller, white, and hanging on the trunk of a tree — that’s the lion’s mane mushroom. Much like the name suggests, it’ll also resemble a lion’s mane, but I like the other analogies more.
Why Are Lion’s Mane Mushrooms So Powerful?
Functional mushrooms come with a variety of common benefits, no matter what the species. We’ll get to those benefits shortly, but there’s one benefit that isn’t as common in mushrooms — the cognitive benefit.
Not only do some studies suggest lion’s mane mushrooms reduce cognitive decline, but they also show it to improve object recognition and recognition memory. This is what makes this mushroom a favorite in nootropic supplements, along with functional mushroom supplements.
In addition to that, lion’s mane mushrooms provide the typical benefits that all functional mushrooms are known for — which include the following:
- Contains one of the highest amounts of antioxidants than any other functional mushroom
- Anti-inflammatory properties help boost the immune system
- Reduces anxiety and depression, largely due to the anti-inflammatory properties
- Lowers cholesterol and regulates blood sugar
- Prevents cancer cells in the liver, colon, and GI tract
- Promotes healthy bacteria in the gut
- Helps to heal wounds on the skin
- Enhances the growth and repair of nerve cells
Of course, you can also expect lion’s mane mushrooms to contain a wide variety of nutrients, including macronutrients, vitamins, minerals, and amino acids.
Ingredients To Combine With Lion’s Mane Supplements
When shopping for the best Lion’s Mane supplement, you’ll often come across other ingredients being utilized in the formula. While you can most definitely find a supplement containing just Lion’s Mane mushroom extract, you can increase the effectiveness with the other ingredients.
To give you a better idea of what ingredients mix well with Lion’s Mane mushrooms, we’ve listed some of our favorites down below.
Other Functional Mushrooms
There are 15 species of mushrooms that have gained “functional mushroom stardom,” and they all contain the benefits listed in the bullet points above. While they won’t all improve your cognitive performance like Lion’s Mane, there are two others that have potential — Chaga and Cordyceps.
When looking at Lion’s Mane supplements that target the mind, you’ll likely find these two mushrooms with it. Here’s why:
- Chaga – could help reduce memory loss when taken over long periods of time by reducing the oxidative damage caused in the brain by a plant toxin called scopolamine.
- Cordyceps – a unique mushroom that grows on the backs of dying insects, cordyceps are known to improve the way our bodies (and brains) utilize oxygen, which improves performance.
You’ll also find Lion’s Mane mushroom extracts combined with other functional mushrooms, but they won’t have the cognitive benefits of the Chaga and Cordyceps. You could also throw in the Reishi mushroom if you’re looking for an adaptogen. In fact, Cordyceps is also a good adaptogen!
We’ve mentioned nootropics earlier, but we’ll discuss some of the specific ingredients that combine well with Lion’s Mane mushrooms. There are a lot, and they help in different ways, but we’ll break it down easy for you:
- Adaptogens – help the body ward off stress and anxiety
- Rhodiola Rosea, Ashwagandha, Pine Bark Extract
- Memory – targets the amygdala, prefrontal cortex, hippocampus and cerebellum
- Ginkgo Biloba, Bacopa Monnieri, Citicoline, Phosphatidylserine
- Focus – a little boost of energy mixed with a splash of concentration
- Teacrine, L-Theanine, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B9, Vitamin B12
When you combine the above ingredients with Lion’s Mane mushroom, you’ll create a powerful cognitive supplement that could potentially target different areas of the brain. These can be taken daily at the right dosage and provide long-term benefits to your brain health, as well.
All functional mushrooms are known for providing antioxidants to the body. For those that don’t know, antioxidants help prevent oxidative stress due to an increasing amount of free radicals in your cells. These free radicals damage the cell and can eventually lead to their demise.
You can find antioxidants everywhere. Commonly found in food like grapes, blueberries, red berries, nuts, dark green vegetables, and sweet potatoes, there are a variety of supplements that utilize extracts like the Lion’s Mane mushroom.
If you’re looking for other quality sources — not including any of the functional mushrooms — you can also look for supplements that contain Rose Hips, Vitamin C, Glutamine, Glycine, and Cysteine.
Best Lion’s Mane Supplements
Now it’s time for the moment we’ve all been waiting for — determining the best Lion’s Mane supplements available on the market today. With the power of functional mushrooms becoming more popular these days, there are a few companies taking advantage of it with quality products.
You’ll see a variety of supplements that contain different ingredients, but they’ll be ingredients we discussed above — bringing everything full-circle.
Let’s take a look!
Four Sigmatic Coffee Blends
It’s difficult to mention any functional mushroom supplement without showcasing the work of Four Sigmatic. A product line created by Tero Isokauppila after foraging functional mushrooms in his homeland of Finland, Four Sigmatic has since moved to Los Angeles in hopes of bringing this joy to the Western World.
And that they did.
Four Sigmatic has many mushroom products available, including Four Sigmatic Mushroom Cacao Mix, Four Sigmatic 10 Mushroom Blend, and this product- Four Sigmatic Ground Mushroom Coffee. That’s right; they have an entire coffee blend product line dedicated to the Lion’s Mane mushroom. Using organic fair-trade coffee (the highest quality), Four Sigmatic combines Lion’s Mane and Chaga fruit bodies to give you a memory boost in the morning. If you like coffee, you’ll love it after trying this blend.
They also have several variations of the blend, including one that adds Rhodiola Rosea and one that utilizes Field Mint and Rose Hips for a better flavor — and antioxidants.
Four Sigmatic can run on the expensive side for some people, but it is well worth the investment in any scenario.
Nootropic Chocolates by Sakara
If you like chocolate, we’ve got a surprise for you — a nootropic chocolate! Brought to you by Sakara, Nootropic Chocolates utilize raw organic dark cacao with a little coconut sugar and peppermint. It’s a tiny, bite-sized piece of chocolate with extremely powerful benefits.
In addition to 50mg of Lion’s Mane mushroom, Nootropic Chocolates also contain 50mg of Gotu Kola and 50mg of Bacopa Monnieri — two powerful adaptogens. To improve mental energy, you’ll also receive 53mg of Green Tea extract and 100mg of L-Theanine — effectively reducing the jitter and crash you get from most stimulants.
You’ll receive 30 pieces of chocolate in one container, intended to be taken one per day. A one-month supply will cost $45, and you can also shop around their other supplements, which range from powders to snack bars.
Mind Lab Pro
One of the most powerful and popular nootropics today, Mind Lab Pro, contains a variety of ingredients that boost cognitive performance from all angles.
It contains Citicoline, Phosphatidylserine, Bacopa Monnieri, Lion’s Mane mushroom, L-Tyrosine, Maritime Pine Bark Extract, L-Theanine, Rhodiola Rosea, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B9, and Vitamin B12. That’s a group of nootropic ingredients ready to make you feel your best day-in and day-out.
A one-month’s supply will cost you $65, but you can receive a free bottle with the purchase of three bottles — a $260 value available to you for just $195. Can’t go wrong here at all.