The Lion's Mane mushroom or Hericium Erinaceus is a fungus that grows naturally on old or dead trees such as oak. The mushroom's appearance is a globe-shaped white fungus with long and shaggy spines. The fungus can be found in many regions throughout the world, including the mountainous areas of Asia. The mushroom has served as medicine in East Asia by supporting overall health and longevity for thousands of years.
Lion’s Mane can be taken in various supplement forms or cooked and eaten when fresh. The taste and texture have been compared to lobster or crab. These medicinal mushrooms contain a chemical component known as polysaccharides which have been shown to be beneficial to the heart, brain, and body. As a natural superfood, Lion's Mane mushrooms fight cancer, build the immune system, aid digestion, and boost cell turnover.
This article looks at how the lion's mane mushroom offers health benefits and how you can incorporate it into your day-to-day regimen.
But first, let's look into some of the basic facts about the mushroom:
What is Lion's Mane?
Scientifically, the Lion's Mane mushroom is known as Hericium Erinaceus. Other names referring to Lion's Mane include hedgehog mushroom, pom pom mushroom, Japanese Yamabushitake, and the bearded tooth.
All of the weird names above give you a better idea of how the mushroom looks. The mushroom's fruiting body (the part above the ground) is stingy, white, and doesn't resemble any other mushroom.
Additionally, Lion's Mane thrives on trees such as oak and beech during fall and summer. It's native to Europe, Asia, and North America. And while the mushroom is edible and delicious, you're not likely to find it in the grocery store due to its shortened shelf life.
How Does It WorkHericium Erinaceus improves the function and development of nerves. It also protects the nerves from damage. In the long run, this helps keep off conditions such as memory loss and Parkinson's disease. Hericium Erinaceus also protects the mucous membrane in your stomach, which as a result, improves gastritis symptoms.
Lion's Mane Mushroom Benefits (Health Benefits)
Hericium Erinaceus helps with the following benefits:
Oxidation and Inflammation (Antioxidant)
Inflammation leads to medical conditions such as autoimmune diseases, heart diseases, and diabetes. Therefore, antioxidants fight both oxidation and inflammation in the body. A study in 2012 showed that Lion's Mane ranked fourth in antioxidant activity.
Antioxidant properties in Hericium Erinaceus may help in preventing or treating cancer. A vitro study shows that Lion's Mane extracts have the potential of fighting off leukemia.
Depression and Anxiety
Extracts from Lion's Mane medicinal mushrooms may help treat depression and anxiety. In a study in 2015, there were minimal depressive behaviors for mice that consumed Lion Mane's extracts. Thus, researchers suggest that it could be due to the Hericium Erinaceus anti-inflammatory effects.
Research performed on mice showed that Hericium Erinaceus has the chance to boost intestinal immunity. So, the mushrooms are likely to enhance your immunity, partly by preventing oxidation and reducing inflammation.
The Hericium Erinaceus extract may boost cognitive function, but there's the only evidence in tested animals. In a particular study, the Lion's Mane dietary supplements gave mice better object and memory recognition, improving their overall cognitive function.
One of the ways of managing diabetes is by controlling your blood sugar levels. A study shows that blood sugar levels in diabetic rats went down after the Hericium Erinaceus treatment in four weeks.
Compounds Found in Lion's Mane Mushrooms
Lion's mane mushrooms boast a range of compounds that are believed to enhance various bodily functions. Here's a rundown of some of its potentially beneficial components:
- Prebiotic Fibers: These are crucial for gut health. Consuming lion’s mane might promote the proliferation of beneficial gut bacteria, which bolsters the immune system, metabolism, and digestive processes.
- Polypeptides: These are essentially amino acids that might have a role in promoting cell repair and the production of healthy collagen, a key component of skin proteins. Including a good amount of polypeptides from lion’s mane might contribute to skin health and the healing of wounds.
- Beta-Glucans 1,3 1,6: These compounds can be particularly beneficial. They aid the body's mechanisms in controlling bad cholesterol (LDL) levels, which is pivotal for heart health. Moreover, they may also assist the body in managing blood sugar levels, offering general health advantages. Remarkably, lion’s mane contains 29 times more 1,3 1,6 beta-glucans than mycelium.
- Polysaccharides: These compounds are significant for stimulating the production of white blood cells, which act as a shield. Polysaccharides in lion’s mane might bolster immune response, helping the body fend off harmful microbes. Additionally, they provide dietary fiber, which can aid digestion and enhance metabolic health.
- Digestive Enzymes: Present in lion's mane, these enzymes foster the body's inherent ability to digest fats, carbs, and proteins. Focusing on digestive health can have positive effects on bowel regularity, metabolic efficiency, and weight management.
- Compounds Boosting Nerve Growth Factor (Cognitive Health): Lion’s mane contains eight distinct classes of compounds that have been researched for their potential to support NGF and cognitive health. Notably, these compounds are not found in the mycelium. They include Hericinones, Dilinoleoyl-phosphatidylethanolamine (DLPE), Amyloban, Amycenone, 3-Hydroxyhericenone F, Hericene, Hericerin, and Erinacerin.
Where to Buy Lion's Mane Mushroom
You can find Hericium Erinaceus or Lion's Mane online in the form of lion's Mane capsules, tablets, capsules, and liquid form or jellies.
There's a wide variety of Lion's Mane mushroom jellies and other products, so we advise you to adequately research the company and product.
Possible Side Effects of Lion's Mane
Lion's Mane appears safe when used in moderate quantities, and its use is rampant in most Asian countries. Animal studies didn't show any adverse effects even in high doses.
What to Look For When Buying Lion's Mane Supplements
For the best quality Hericium Erinaceus, always check labels to confirm that the product is organic and certified to be of the highest quality. Accordingly, the end product should contain low starch levels and high beta-glucan levels.
Also, the tinctures and powders must undergo analytical testing, and there's a guarantee for beneficial compounds. Additionally, the product should contain non-GMO ingredients, and there should be a purity commitment from the manufacturer.
The best way to know you're buying authentic products is to buy from a trusted company.
Dosage and Preparation
If you wish to incorporate Lion’s Mane Mushrooms into your diet, you must cook it until the outer layer becomes crispy. Otherwise, you can find supplements online in the form of:
- Lion's Mane mushroom capsules
- Lion’s Mane mushroom powder
- Liquid or jellies
- Grow Your Own Lion's Mane
Eating Lion’s Mane Mushrooms
Lion's Mane mushrooms are safe to be eaten raw. You can cook fresh Lion’s Mane mushrooms or take dried Lion’s Mane as a powder or capsule supplement. As mentioned above, many describe the flavor of Lion's mane to be “seafood-like,” often comparing it to crab or lobster.
When Should You Take Lion's Mane?
In the end, there isn't a one-size-fits-all guideline for the best time to consume lion's mane mushrooms or their supplements. The most suitable time hinges on your daily routine and how comfortably you can integrate the supplement. If your goal is to boost mental focus during the day using lion's mane, it might be wise to consume it in the morning or early afternoon to counteract the typical decline in concentration as the day progresses.
Is Lion's Mane Psychoactive?
There's often a mix-up between functional mushrooms and those with psychoactive properties. Lion's mane (a type of functional mushroom) is not psychoactive. This is because it lacks psilocybin, the compound responsible for the hallucinogenic effects seen in "magic mushrooms."
In the U.S., psilocybin-containing mushrooms remain illegal in most states, although Oregon and Colorado have legalized them at the state level for medicinal purposes.
While consuming functional mushrooms like lion's mane won't result in hallucinations, many users do report noticeable positive changes. A significant number of individuals note feeling rejuvenated and a sense of well-being after consuming lion's mane. This adaptogenic mushroom can also complement spiritual routines, aiding in practices such as yoga, meditation, and mindfulness.
How to Grow Lions Mane Mushrooms at Home
Growing Lion’s Mane Mushrooms at home can be easily done with a Lion’s Mane Mushroom growing kit. Instructions are as follows:
- Unboxing & Setup:
- Remove the substrate block and mister from the box.
- Position the bag upright on a countertop that gets natural, indirect light. Please, refrain from cutting the bag open.
- Let the bag sit outside the box for 7-14 days, during which you might notice white mycelium growth and potentially the emergence of small fruiting bodies.
- Once you observe vibrant white mycelium or the beginning of baby fruiting bodies (pins), it's time to place the bag back inside the box.
- Open one of the box's perforated panels and lay it flat with the open panel facing upwards.
- Slide the bag into the box, ensuring the section showing maximum mycelium or pins is closer to the bottom of the opened panel. The folded filter end of the bag is usually this side.
- Make sure the folded part is at the back, away from the open panel. Now, seal the box.
- Make an "X" incision in the bag where the mycelium is the healthiest. If you notice tiny mushrooms, make the cut there.
- Stand the box vertically.
- Fill the mister with cold water and spray the cut area 1-2 times daily. Position the box in a space with ample natural light (avoid direct sun) and maintain a room temperature between 18-22°C.
- The mycelium will detect the increased oxygen and humidity, prompting it to produce mushroom pins or baby mushrooms in 5-10 days after the incision.
- Should you observe pins growing above the initial "X," feel free to make another "X" for them to emerge from.
- When the Lion's Mane mushroom has formed its characteristic "teeth" and remains white (before transitioning to a golden hue), it's time to harvest. Typically, from the appearance of the initial pins, this process takes 4-7 days.
- To harvest, grasp the mushroom cluster at the base near the bag opening, twist gently, and pull. Some substrate might come off during this, which is normal.
- Initiate a new growth cycle by going back to step 3. If desired, you can take the bag out of the box, identify a region with budding fruiting bodies, and make a new incision. At this stage, you can continue growing outside the box.
- Top Fruiting Note: If your Lion's Mane begins fruiting atop the bag, you can cut the top open to facilitate its growth.
- If the mushrooms start turning brown and seem to be drying up, it indicates excessively dry conditions. In such cases, consider using a humidity tent during the growth process.
Lion's Mane FAQs
What is Hericium Erinaceus Used For?
There are chances that Hericium Erinaceus may help improve the function and development of nerves. In addition, it also protects nerves from damage. Therefore, it helps prevent particular conditions like Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's, memory loss, or anxiety. Furthermore, Hericium Erinaceus protects the stomach's mucous membrane.
What Ingredients are in Lion's Mane?
Lion's Mane contains compounds such as Hericenones and Erinacines. The two compounds are known to induce the NGF (Nerve Growth Factor) by crossing the blood-brain barrier. Therefore, NGF as a peptide produced by the body is critical for nerve cell survival, maintenance, and growth.
Does Lion's Mane Get You High?
No, Lion's Mane isn't psychoactive and doesn't get you high. However, it's a great supplement that improves your everyday cognition.
How Long Does it Take for Lions Mane to Work?
It takes Lion's Mane around two weeks to work. Like other medicinal mushrooms or herbal supplements, it takes some time for the beneficial health effects to kick into your system. It'll take around two weeks for you to notice any changes on most occasions.
Does Lion's Mane Give You Energy?
Lion's Mane has antioxidants that act as a catalyst to energy production in the body. Accordingly, the Lion's Mane mushrooms increase the health of cells by getting rid of unstable molecules from energy-creating cells.
What are the Negative Effects of Lion's Mane?
One of the adverse effects of Lion's Mane is that it might cause an allergic reaction. There are documented cases of people experiencing breathing difficulties or skin rashes after consuming Lion's Mane mushrooms. Therefore, it's prudent to avoid Lion's Mane if you have any known mushroom allergies.
The Bottom Line
Lion's Mane mushrooms and their extracts have significant health benefits. These benefits include helping repair nerve damage, reducing anxiety symptoms, and protecting you against dementia.
In addition, Lion's Mane mushrooms can boost your immunity, works as an antioxidant, and is a potent anti-inflammatory. Also, it's known to reduce risks of animal diabetes, ulcers, cancer, and heart disease.
It's, therefore, safe for people to enjoy Lion's Mane as a food option. Alternatively, if you wish to take Mane mushroom powder or any other supplement, consult the doctor first.