Lion’s Mane Mushrooms: Benefits and Side Effects

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A Quick Introduction to Lion’s Mane

Hericium erinaceus, or what is commonly known as Lion’s Mane, is an interesting-looking fungi that has long been used in traditional Chinese medicine. It gets its name from the shaggy “mane” appearance as it grows. This edible mushroom has properties to support many areas of health, including cognitive function, depression and anxiety, and digestion. (1)

Lion’s mane mushrooms are rich in polysaccharides, which play a large role in a balanced immune system and overall health. They are also a good source of many nutrients which support healthy functions throughout the body. (2)

This article discusses the many uses and ways lion’s mane mushrooms can benefit the body. 

What Makes Lion’s Mane Unique

Found in North America, Europe, and Asia, lion’s mane holds both culinary and medicinal properties. It can be eaten raw, cooked with food, or steeped in tea. Enjoyed in a variety of foods, such as soups, salads, or on its own, lion’s mane has diverse dietary uses. (1) It can also be dried and crushed into a powder to make a dietary supplement. Whether eaten or taken as a supplement, the lion’s mane mushroom benefits the body in a number of ways.

With the taste described as similar to lobster or crab, lion’s mane has a good amount of protein, with 2.4 grams in a 100 gram serving. It is higher in carbohydrates, due to the richness in polysaccharides. However, it is the nature of these polysaccharides, or beta glucans, that provide the true medicinal benefits. Beta glucans possess a wide variety of functions in nature, and most fungi have them. Some beta glucans are used for storing energy, some for sending cellular messages, and others provide support to cells and tissues. (2)

As with most fungi, the beta-glucans make lion’s mane an excellent choice for balancing immune health. In fact, the polysaccharides found in fungi are similar to the ones found in more commonly recognized immune-supporting herbs such as echinacea and astragalus. (3) 

Lion’s mane is rich in cell-supporting polysaccharides, and has been used in traditional medicine as well as in modern culture to help support cognitive abilities like focus and memory. (4) There is also scientific research supporting the use of lion’s mane for mild symptoms of depression and anxiety. (5) Lion’s mane is known for supporting a healthy gastrointestinal tract, defending against toxins from the environment and working with the immune system to support white blood cell production. 

Support for Cognitive Function

While most research has been done with animals thus far, there is reason to believe that lion’s mane mushrooms may support cognitive function. It has been shown to help mice in object recognition and memory simply by adding it to their diet. (6)

A study of older adults with mild cognitive impairment found that daily consumption of mushroom extract for 16 weeks led to higher scores on cognitive function scales compared with a placebo group. After participants stopped taking the extract, their scores began to decrease toward pre-study levels. (4)

The beta-glucans in lion’s mane mushrooms are full of hericenones and erinacines, which are molecules that are looked at as stimulators of nerve-growth. These molecules potentially have neuroprotective and neuroregenerative properties and can be used to support stronger cognitive function. (4)

Balance and Aid with Mild Symptoms of Depression and Anxiety

Depression is a common and serious illness with broad impacts across the globe. The effects of lion’s mane on brain function may also prove to be beneficial in supporting those who suffer from depression and anxiety. (4) A 2010 study was conducted with thirty post-menopausal women who experienced a variety of mental health complaints, including depression and lack of focus. Participants consumed either lion’s mane in a controlled dose, or a placebo dose, over a period of 4 weeks. Those who took lion’s mane showed less anxiety and lower levels of irritation than those who took the placebo. So, it appears lion’s mane can help calm our nervous system and balance mental health overall. (5) 

Making Lion’s Mane Part of Your Daily Wellness Regimen

With the promising research on lion’s mane, incorporating it into the diet is important to support overall health. Adding it into foods is easy, and there are many delicious recipes to incorporate it raw, cooked, or even as a tea. Supplementation is one of the most convenient ways to make this powerful fungi a part of a balanced wellness regimen. It can be found in capsule or powder form, making it even easier to add to foods and beverages. EcoNugenics MycoPhyto Complex is a safe and easy way to experience the benefits of lion’s mane and other myconutrients.

As with any new supplementation, consult your physician, especially if you have other serious health conditions. With strong research supporting the benefits, lion’s mane mushrooms may be a powerful addition to your health and wellness routine.

Lion’s Mane Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Is there anyone who should not take lion’s mane mushrooms?

A: Lion’s mane mushrooms may cause slow blood-clotting. If you have an upcoming surgery, or a special condition, speak to your physician and surgeon about potential risks.
Animal studies have shown that lion’s mane mushrooms are safe to consume, even in high doses. However, as more clinical studies are needed, care should be taken for those who are pregnant or breast-feeding, as well as those taking diabetes medication.

Those with allergies or sensitivity to mushrooms should avoid eating lion’s mane.

Are lion’s mane mushrooms safe to eat?

A: Lion’s mane mushrooms have been eaten by people in Asian countries for thousands of years. Research on animals shows it is safe to eat in even large doses. When implementing a supplementation program, it may be helpful to start with a small dose and note any unpleasant effects before incorporating the full dose. 

In fact, lion’s mane has so much promise, it is even recommended as a supplement for pets, citing the same benefits as experienced by humans.

Are there any adverse side-effects with lion’s mane mushrooms? 

A: In the clinical study on lion mane mushroom’s effect on anxiety and depression, there showed no risk of addiction, unlike traditional antidepressants or psychoactive drugs. There were also no withdrawal symptoms, other than mild symptoms of depression returning when taken off lion’s mane supplement.
While no studies have been done on side-effects on humans taking lion’s mane supplement, studies on animals receiving supplementation have shown no side-effects from any dose.

What is the best lion’s mane supplement?

A: When choosing a myconutrient supplement, take time to research properly to ensure the formula fits your particular needs. A formula that contains a blend of medicinal mushrooms, such as MycoPhyto Complex, can increase the benefits of each by combining it with other health-promoting mushrooms.

Sources

  1. Friedman M. Chemistry, nutrition, and health-promoting properties of Hericium erinaceus (lion’s mane) mushroom fruiting bodies and mycelia and their bioactive compounds. J Agric Food Chem. 2015;63(32):7108-7123.
  2. Bacha SAS, Ali S, Li Y, et al. Lion’s mane mushroom; new addition to food and natural bounty for human wellness: A review. doi:10.12692/ijb/13.4.396-8
  3. Medicinal Mushrooms. Christopherhobbs.com. Accessed December 17, 2020. https://www.christopherhobbs.com/library/featured-articles/mushroom-articles/
  4. Herbal Medicine for Alzheimer’s Disease: Lion’s Mane (Hericium erinaceus). Restorativemedicine.org. Published December 19, 2017. Accessed December 17, 2020. https://restorativemedicine.org/journal/neurological-activity-lions-mane-hericium-erinaceus/
  5. Nagano M, Shimizu K, Kondo R, et al. Reduction of depression and anxiety by 4 weeks Hericium erinaceus intake. Biomed Res. 2010;31(4):231-237
  6. Sabaratnam V, Kah-Hui W, Naidu M, Rosie David P. Neuronal health – can culinary and medicinal mushrooms help? J Tradit Complement Med. 2013;3(1):62-68

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