Lion's Mane mushroom (Hericium erinaceum) is a well-known fungal species with potent therapeutic properties. This type of mushroom contains a variety of bioactive compounds such as protein, vitamins, minerals, and powerful antioxidants that help scavenge destructive free radical toxins . These important nutrients have a beneficial impact on both the brain and body.
Additionally, Lion's Mane mushroom is an excellent source of plant-based extracts such as hericenones and erinacines, which have been shown through research to enhance nervous system function and brain health [1-3]. These two extracts work together to enhance the production of specific proteins called nerve growth factors (NGF) that boost the health of nerves responsible for transferring vital signals throughout the body, including the brain [1-4]. Maintaining healthy levels of nerve growth factors is especially important as individuals get older.
As people age, the brain's ability to develop and form new connections gradually begins to decrease . Similarly, some people are susceptible to brain cell damage due to the buildup of protein clumps called amyloid-beta plaques . These types of age-related issues are associated with cognitive decline as well as destructive changes in brain cell health that can lead to reduced mental performance, concentration problems, and memory loss, among other issues.
Research shows that hericenones and erinacines bolster the release of NGF, helping lower the risk of age-related cognitive decline [1-4]. Indeed, one particular study involving the administration of a tablet containing 96% of Lion's Mane powder to a group of participants between 50 to 80 years old evaluated the impact of this supplement on mild cognitive problems (e.g., memory deficits, nervous tension). The participants took the Lion's Mane supplement three times a day for almost four months (16 weeks). During the 16-week period, the participants experienced heightened cognitive processes such as enhanced thinking, recall, and reasoning, as well as boosted physical abilities .
However, after Lion's Mane mushroom supplementation was discontinued, the participants were monitored for an additional four weeks and their levels of cognitive function started to dramatically decrease . These findings indicate that daily consumption of lions mane, which contains potent extracts such as hericenones and erinacines, bolsters brain health.
Another study demonstrated that by supporting NGF release, the extracts in Lion's Mane mushroom also help lessen anxiousness, nervous tension, worrying, unhappiness, irritability, and concentration problems . During this clinical study, one group of participants consumed a Lion's Mane mushroom product for four weeks, while another consumed a placebo. The participants in the Lion's Mane group experienced significantly lower levels of stress, anxiousness, and irritation than those in the placebo group, providing evidence of lion mane’s ability to boost mental health .
In addition to its NGF-enhancing properties, hericenones and erinacines in Lion's Mane appear to support healthy levels of dopamine, serotonin, norepinephrine, and essential proteins that play a role in emotion control and stress resistance .
Therefore, consuming Lion's Mane mushroom regularly reinforces brain health by heightening the body’s natural production of key proteins, hormones, and neurotransmitters (chemical messengers) that help sustain youthful cognitive activity, even as people get older. Supplementation with Lion's Mane is especially beneficial because it supplies the brain with the powerful extracts hericenones and erinacines, which boost mental performance, target age-related cognitive issues, and heighten overall quality of life.
- Lai P, et al. Neurotrophic properties of the Lion's mane medicinal mushroom, Hericium erinaceus (Higher Basidiomycetes) from Malaysia. Int J Med Mushrooms. 2013;15(6):539-54.
- Cheng JH, Tsai CL, Lien YY, Lee MS, Sheu SC. High molecular weight of polysaccharides from Hericium erinaceus against amyloid beta-induced neurotoxicity. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2016, 16(1):170.
- Li IC, et al. Neurohealth Properties of Hericium erinaceus Mycelia Enriched with Erinacines. Behav Neurol. 2018; 2018: 5802634.
- Burke SN, Barnes CA. Neural plasticity in the ageing brain. Nat Rev Neurosci. 2006;7(1):30-40.
- Mori K, et al. Improving effects of the mushroom Yamabushitake (Hericium erinaceus) on mild cognitive impairment: a double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial. Phytother Res. 2009;23(3):367-72.
- Nagano M, et al. Reduction of depression and anxiety by 4 weeks Hericium erinaceus intake. Biomed Res. 2010;31(4):231-7.