7 Benefits of Lion’s Mane Mushrooms

Most people are familiar with a few well-known mushrooms: 

But there are over 150,000 known species of other fungi (and counting), many of which are highly beneficial to our health and planet

Lion’s mane mushrooms are one of those highly beneficial mushrooms that have been studied for decades. Because of the numerous benefits indicated in peer-reviewed research, lion’s mane is one of our favorite mushrooms to cultivate and consume. And it’s why we created Bill Walton’s Wonder Bar with 3,000 mg of lion’s mane mushroom powder. 

Lion’s mane mushroom benefits include: 
  1. Improved focus and memory
  2. Increased nerve growth factor
  3. Reduced anxiety and depression
  4. Reduced inflammation
  5. Increased immune function
  6. Reduced risk of heart disease
  7. Improved gut health

Let’s explore further. 

Lion's mane mushroom

Lion's mane mushrooms (Hericium erinaceus) grown by Bridgetown Mushrooms

1. Improved Focus and Memory

In a world filled with distractions, the ability to focus has become a valuable asset. Lion's mane mushrooms have shown promise in enhancing cognitive function. Research indicates that certain compounds in lion's mane can support the brain's capacity to concentrate, allowing individuals to navigate tasks and activities with greater clarity and attention to detail. 

In one study, lion's mane supplementation was investigated among middle-aged and older adults with mild cognitive impairment (MCI), which is a transitional stage between normal age-related cognitive decline and dementia. The study revealed that participants who consumed 1,000 mg of lion's mane three times a day for 16 weeks experienced a notable improvement in cognitive function compared to those who didn't. However, this improvement wasn't sustained after supplementation ceased. 

In a more recent study focused on individuals with mild Alzheimer's disease, taking 1,050 mg of lion's mane daily for 49 weeks appeared to contribute to significant enhancements in brain health. 

Furthermore, research highlights enhanced cognitive performance in the hippocampus, the brain region responsible for memory processing. As a result, many individuals are turning to lion’s mane as a means to bolster their focus and memory capabilities.

2. Increased Nerve Growth Factor

Studies have indicated that lion's mane's active compounds can induce nerve growth factor (NGF) synthesis. NGF contributes to the formation of connections between neurons, which are essential for proper communication within the nervous system. NGF is particularly relevant because it fosters neuroplasticity, the brain's ability to adapt and reorganize itself in response to experiences, learning, and changes in the environment. Neuroplasticity is essential for cognitive functions such as memory, learning, and emotional regulation. An adequate level of NGF helps ensure that these processes function optimally. 

Furthermore, NGF has been linked to the survival and maintenance of neurons in regions like the hippocampus, which is responsible for memory and emotional processing. Reduced NGF levels have been associated with neurodegenerative conditions, such as Alzheimer’s, and mental health disorders, including depression, anxiety, and cognitive decline.

In one study, NGF and hippocampal neurogenesis increased in mice after 30 days of consuming lion’s mane.

By promoting NGF production, lion's mane mushrooms have the potential to support the growth and health of nerve cells, which can ultimately contribute to better cognitive function, emotional well-being, and overall mental health.

3. Reduced Anxiety & Depression 

Lion’s mane has the potential to provide relief from anxiety and depression. Mechanisms that boost nerve growth factor (NGF) and support neural growth align with the underlying processes of depression. Through its influence on NGF levels, as well as specific brain neurotransmitters, and the reduction of inflammation, lion’s mane holds promise as an alternate avenue for addressing both depression and anxiety. Improved functioning of the hippocampus may also explain why lion’s mane can be effective in alleviating mild anxiety and depression. 

In one study, overweight individuals with mood disorders were given 1,500 mg of lion’s mane daily over 8 weeks. These individuals not only noticed reduced depression and anxiety, but also reported better sleep quality.  Blood tests indicated higher levels of pro-brain-derived neurotrophic factor (proBDNF), a protein crucial for mood regulation and brain well-being.

Another study gave a group of women cookies containing 2,000 mg of lion's mane daily for four weeks. Those who consumed the lion's mane cookies reported a reduction in feelings of irritation and anxiety compared to the placebo group. 

4. Reduced Inflammation

Chronic inflammation is linked to a wide array of health issues, ranging from cardiovascular problems to autoimmune conditions. Lion's mane mushrooms boast anti-inflammatory properties that could help mitigate these issues. Research highlights the potential of lion's mane to suppress inflammation by modulating cytokines, contributing to a healthier overall inflammatory response.

Lion’s mane’s ability to reduce inflammation may also aid in stroke recovery. Animal studies have shown decreased inflammation and reduced brain damage when lion’s mane is administered immediately after a stroke.

5. Increased Immune Function

A resilient immune system is vital for maintaining optimal health. Preliminary studies suggest that a protein called HEP3 in lion's mane mushrooms may support the immune system. It reduces inflammation and affects certain cells to keep our immune response in check. More studies showed that HEP3 can also make our immune system stronger by changing the bacteria in our gut and helping important immune cells grow. It even has potential to help with conditions like inflammation in the gut and fighting against tumors. This research suggests that the protein from lion's mane mushrooms might be used in medicines or healthy foods to help our immune systems function better. 

Further research showed certain extracts from lion’s mane mushrooms can fight against certain harmful bacteria. The extracts didn't directly stop the bacteria from growing in a lab, and they didn't harm immune cells. Instead, the extracts seemed to help immune cells, called macrophages, work better against the bacteria. When the macrophages were infected with the bacteria, the extracts made them better at fighting the bacteria after a few hours. 

6. Reduced Risk of Heart Disease

Lion's mane mushrooms could play a role in supporting cardiovascular health, primarily through effects on cholesterol. 

Research has explored how lion's mane can help manage cholesterol levels, particularly by reducing LDL (bad) cholesterol and increasing HDL (good) cholesterol. These effects could contribute to a reduced risk of heart disease. Additionally, lion's mane mushrooms contain hericenone B, which may decrease blood clotting and lower the risk of heart attack or stroke.

Another study found that extract from lion’s mane could potentially help prevent oxidation of cholesterol in the bloodstream. 

7. Improved Gut Health

Certain properties of lion's mane mushrooms possess digestive support properties, potentially aiding in the prevention of ulcers by inhibiting the growth of harmful bacteria, such as H. pylori, known to impact gut health.  

One experiment conducted in test tubes demonstrated that lion's mane had the ability to inhibit the growth of H. pylori.

Another study conducted on individuals with ulcerative colitis showed that those who consumed a supplement containing 14% lion's mane extract, among other ingredients, reported reduced symptoms and an improved quality of life within three weeks.

Additional Benefits

The benefits of lion's mane mushrooms extend beyond focus, memory, emotional balance, nerve growth, inflammation, and immune function. Ongoing research is exploring their role in: 

  • Managing diabetes (1, 2, 3), 
  • Treating gastric ulcers (4, 5, 6), 
  • Treating inflammatory bowel disease (7), 
  • Wound healing (8)
  • Fighting cancer (9, 10, 11, 12, 13).


Disclaimer: This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. 

Older Post Newer Post

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published