Lion's Mane has been used for centuries in traditional Chinese medicine as a powerful medicinal mushroom. It has been shown to exhibit antioxidant activity, stimulate nerve growth factor, support long-term nerve potentiation, while also inhibiting monoamine oxidase. Recent clinical studies indicate that Lion's Mane may be useful in helping with mood disorders, and helping to reduce age-related cognitive decline.
One of the main properties which draws people to the use of Lion’s Mane is its apparent ability to improve memory and cognitive ability. Clinically, Lion’s Mane has been studied in an aging population, to understand if the cognitive improving effects of Lion’s Mane could be beneficial in helping to reduce age related cognitive decline. One such double-blind, parallel-group, placebo-controlled trial set out to understand if Lion’s mane could help a group of 50 - 80 year old Japanese men with age related cognitive decline. Researchers found that supplementation of 750 mg of Lion’s Mane daily for 16 weeks saw a significant improvement in the treatment group's cognitive scores compared to placebo (Mori, et al 2009). Furthermore, there were no negative side effects reported.
Lion’s Mane has also been noted to be used as a mood stabilizer, which has been seen to help reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety. One such study looked at the effects of Lion’s Mane supplementation on depression and sleep quality. This study involved using 30 female participants which were given either Lion’s Mane or a placebo for four weeks, before evaluating Lion’s Manes effect. This study found that Lion’s Mane inherently reduced symptoms of depression and improved the quality of sleep in the participants of the trial. With the researchers concluding that nerve growth factor may play a role in improving mood and sleep (Nagano, et al 2010). However, additional studies have cited that Lion’s Mane may also play a role in increasing BDNF (brain derived neurotrophic factor) and inhibiting monoamine oxidase, which are classical pathways in the treatment of depression (Chong, et al 2019).
Biochemically, Lion’s Mane has a number of biologically active molecules such as; hericenones, erinacines, sterols, and polysaccharides. Research into these bioactive compounds in in vitro studies has revealed that hericenones are responsible for neurological improvements, whilst the polysaccharides are involved in gut and digestive health. Experiments in human cell lines have shown hericenones have the ability to increase the mRNA expression of nerve growth factor (NGF) by up to five-fold (Mizuno, 1995). NGF is an important neurological signaling molecule which controls the development, potentiation and regeneration of new nerves in both the central and peripheral nervous system (Aloe, et al 2015). Because NGF plays an important role in nerve growth and regeneration, and with Lion’s Mane being shown to promote NGF expression, researchers tested if Lion’s Mane could be helpful in the treatment of peripheral nerve injury. They found in a rat model that Lion’s Mane could help to promote the regeneration of nerves after injury through NGF dependent pathways, thus helping to prove Lion’s Mane’s ability to promote nerve growth and regeneration (Wong, et al 2012).
These scientific findings validate the historical outlook and use of Lion’s Mane in medicine. Lion's mane grows on old or dead broadleaf trees found in Europe, Asia and the Americas, yet it is only commonly used as both a food and medicine in parts of Asia. The fruiting body is called yamabushitake (“mountain monk mushroom”) in Japanese and hóu tóu gū (“monkey head mushroom”) in Chinese. It has traditionally been used to nourish the five internal organs (liver, lung, spleen, heart, and kidney), and promotes good digestion, general vigor, and strength (Liu et al, 2015). It was also traditionally used for gastric ulcers, as well as chronic gastritis. The mushroom is also known for its effects on the central nervous system and has been used for insomnia, cognitive decline, weakness, and hypodynamia, which are symptoms of Qi deficiency in traditional Chinese medicine.Purchase Here
- Liu, J., DU, C., Wang, Y., & Yu, Z. (2015). Anti-fatigue activities of polysaccharides extracted from Hericium erinaceus. Experimental and therapeutic medicine, 9(2), 483–487. https://doi.org/10.3892/etm.2014.2139
- Mizuno, T. (1995) Yamabushitake, Hericium erinaceum: Bioactive substances and medicinal utilization, Food Reviews International, 11:1, 173-178, DOI: 10.1080/87559129509541027
- Aloe, L., Rocco, M. L., Balzamino, B. O., & Micera, A. (2015). Nerve Growth Factor: A Focus on Neuroscience and Therapy. Current neuropharmacology, 13(3), 294–303. https://doi.org/10.2174/1570159x13666150403231920
- Mori, K., Inatomi, S., Ouchi, K., Azumi, Y., & Tuchida, T. (2009). Improving effects of the mushroom Yamabushitake (Hericium erinaceus) on mild cognitive impairment: a double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial. Phytotherapy research : PTR, 23(3), 367–372. https://doi.org/10.1002/ptr.2634
- Nagano, M., Shimizu, K., Kondo, R., Hayashi, C., Sato, D., Kitagawa, K., & Ohnuki, K. (2010). Reduction of depression and anxiety by 4 weeks Hericium erinaceus intake. Biomedical research (Tokyo, Japan), 31(4), 231–237. https://doi.org/10.2220/biomedres.31.231
- Chong, P. S., Fung, M. L., Wong, K. H., & Lim, L. W. (2019). Therapeutic Potential of Hericium erinaceus for Depressive Disorder. International journal of molecular sciences, 21(1), 163. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms21010163
- Wong, K. H., Naidu, M., David, R. P., Bakar, R., & Sabaratnam, V. (2012). Neuroregenerative potential of lion's mane mushroom, Hericium erinaceus (Bull.: Fr.) Pers. (higher Basidiomycetes), in the treatment of peripheral nerve injury (review). International journal of medicinal mushrooms, 14(5), 427–446. https://doi.org/10.1615/intjmedmushr.v14.i5.10