Lion's Mane Mushroom: A Complete Overview

Lion's Mane Mushroom: A Complete Overview

With its shaggy white tendrils resembling a lion's mane, Lion's Mane mushroom (Hericium erinaceus) is an impressive sight. This unique fungus, edible yet somewhat bitter, has been valued in traditional Eastern medicine for its potential health benefits. Now, scientific interest is focusing on the mushroom's possible impact on brain function, mood regulation, and nerve health.  

Fuelled by endorsements from prominent figures like neuroscientist Andrew Huberman, podcaster Joe Rogan, and mycologist Paul Stamets, Lion's Mane is finding its way into mainstream wellness conversations. 

This article offers an overview of Lion's Mane, examining the current research, potential benefits and risks, and how to determine if this promising mushroom might have a place in your wellness routine.

Purported Health Benefits

The Claims

Lion's Mane is associated with a wide range of potential health benefits. These include:

  • Cognitive Enhancement: Supporting memory, focus, mental clarity, and processing speed.
  • Mood Support: Potentially reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression.
  • Nerve Health: Promoting nerve repair, regeneration, and healthy nerve function.
  • Gut Health: Possible prebiotic effects and support for digestive health.
  • Anti-inflammatory Properties: Potential for reducing inflammation throughout the body.
  • Neuroprotection: Theoretical protection against neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.

The Science

While extensive research (particularly in animal and laboratory models) suggests Lion's Mane holds promise, more rigorous human studies are needed to fully understand its effects. Let's look at areas with differing levels of evidence:

  • Stronger Evidence: Cognitive function and mood support show promising results in smaller human trials, though larger, long-term studies are needed.
  • Early-Stage Research: Neuroprotection, nerve regeneration, and gut health demonstrate potential in laboratory and animal studies but require further human clinical research. Reduction of anxiety and depression symptoms found in rats.
  • Understanding Mechanisms: Scientists believe bioactive compounds in Lion's Mane, such as hericenones and erinacines, might stimulate nerve growth factor (NGF) production and possess antioxidant and inflammatory-modulating properties. However, the exact mechanisms in humans require deeper investigation.

Main Effects Investigated



Cognitive and Mood Benefits

Lion’s Mane Mushroom supplementation affects cognitive function, stress, and mood, potentially through neuroprotective properties and impacts on gut microbiota.

Supplementation with Lion’s Mane Mushroom may benefit cognitive function and mood, highlighting its neurohealth potential.

Neuroprotective Properties

Hericium erinaceus shows neuroprotective and neuroregenerative properties, indicating promise for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease treatment.

Hericium erinaceus is promising for neuroprotection and neuroregeneration, beneficial for neurodegenerative disease management.

Gut Microbiota and Serum Markers Influence

Short-term consumption of Hericium erinaceus affects gut microbiota and serum biochemical markers, increasing alpha diversity within the gut microbiota community.

Hericium erinaceus intake positively impacts gut microbiota, potentially influencing health through gut-brain axis interactions.

NGF Synthesis Induction

Hericium erinaceus induces NGF synthesis in nerve cells, promoting neurite outgrowth in neuroblastoma-glioma cell NG108-15, but lacks neuroprotective activity against oxidative stress.

Hericium erinaceus promotes neurite outgrowth through NGF synthesis, yet its neuroprotective applications are limited by its lack of protection against oxidative stress. ​​

Important Note: It's wise to remember that research on Lion's Mane is always ongoing. While evidence is encouraging (and it is very encouraging), it's too early to draw definitive conclusions about all potential applications.

Risks and Safety Considerations

While Lion's Mane is generally considered safe for most healthy adults, it's important to be aware of potential risks, side effects, and interactions before incorporating it into your routine.

Side Effects

Lion's Mane is typically well-tolerated. However, some people might experience:

  • Mild digestive upset (stomach discomfort, bloating)
  • Skin itchiness or irritation
  • Theoretical: Respiratory symptoms in those with severe mushroom allergies (use caution)


While research is limited, there's some concern about potential interactions:

  • Blood Clotting: Lion's Mane could theoretically affect blood clotting. Exercise caution if you take anticoagulants or antiplatelet medications (aspirin, warfarin, etc.), or have a bleeding disorder.
  • Blood Sugar: Some studies suggest Lion's Mane might lower blood sugar. Consult your doctor if you take medication for diabetes.

Special Precautions

  • Pregnancy and Breastfeeding: There's not enough data to determine safety during pregnancy or breastfeeding. It's best to avoid Lion's Mane in these circumstances.
  • Asthma or Allergies: Proceed cautiously if you have severe allergies, especially to other mushrooms.
  • Scheduled Surgery: Discontinue Lion's Mane use at least two weeks before surgery due to possible blood-thinning effects.

The Importance of Consulting Your Doctor

It cannot be emphasised enough: Always consult your doctor before taking Lion's Mane if you have any health conditions or are taking medications. This ensures your safety and helps avoid potential interactions. Your doctor can assess your individual needs regarding Lion's Mane's use.

Regulation and Quality Control

Not Your Typical Medicine

Dietary supplements, including Lion's Mane, are not regulated in the same way as prescription medications. This means:

  • Manufacturers don't need to prove safety or effectiveness before putting products on the market.
  • There's no guarantee that ingredients align with what's on the label or that the listed amounts are accurate.
  • Quality and potency can vary greatly between brands.

Choosing Wisely: Tips for Finding Reputable Products

  • Look for brands with third-party testing certificates (verifying ingredient purity and amounts).
  • Check for recognised quality seals (e.g. USP, NSF).
  • Research the manufacturer's reputation and customer reviews.
  • Opt for products made with standardised extracts, ensuring consistent levels of active compounds.
  • Ask your doctor or a registered dietitian for brand recommendations.

Quality and Trust: The Mushroom Works Difference

Finding reputable Lion's Mane supplements can be confusing in a market with varying regulations. At Mushroom Works, we understand the importance of quality and transparency.  That's why:

  • UK-Based Manufacturing: All of our products are manufactured in the UK to GMP standard, guaranteeing consistent high quality and safety.
  • In-House Expertise: Our supplier uses an in-house regulatory team to ensure any products we make are fully compliant, giving you complete peace of mind.

Choosing Mushroom Works means choosing a brand committed to providing the best possible supplements to support your health journey.


Beyond the Supplements: Lion's Mane's Natural Form and Traditional Uses

Lion's Mane in its Natural Form

Lion's Mane (Hericium erinaceus) is a culinary mushroom with a unique appearance. While its white, cascading spines might make it seem unappetising, it has a surprisingly mild flavour reminiscent of seafood, like lobster or crab. Some enthusiasts find that drying and grinding the mushroom into a powder helps mask its potential bitterness and makes it a versatile addition to smoothies, stir-fries, or broths.

Names and Nicknames: Lion's Mane has several descriptive names hinting at its distinctive looks:

  • Scientific Name: Hericium erinaceus
  • Lion's Mane: Its most common name, alluding to its shaggy, mane-like appearance.
  • Bearded Tooth Fungus: Another reference to its tooth-like spines.
  • Yamabushitake (Japanese): Literally translates to "mountain priest mushroom," possibly evoking the robes of ascetic Buddhist monks.

Where in the World: This intriguing mushroom grows on decaying hardwood trees, primarily beech, oak, and maple. You can find it in temperate forests throughout North America, Europe, and Asia. Look for these striking fungi in late summer and fall.

Foraging Note: While Lion's Mane is edible, positive identification is crucial before consuming any wild mushrooms. In some areas, similar-looking Hericium species exist. Always consult with a mushroom identification expert if unsure.

Traditional Uses

Lion's Mane has a rich history in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and other Eastern healing traditions. Within TCM, it's believed to nourish "Qi" (vital energy) and support the five key internal organs (heart, liver, spleen, lungs, and kidneys). Practitioners might recommend it in various forms:

  • Decoctions: Long-simmered preparations to create a concentrated tea-like beverage, maximising the extraction of beneficial compounds.
  • Culinary Uses: While less common due to the bitterness, incorporating Lion's Mane into broths and soups might offer a wider range of uses beyond medicinal teas.
  • Herbal Formulas: In TCM, Lion's Mane is rarely used alone, but rather combined with other herbs in customised formulas tailored to the individual's specific needs.

Understanding TCM

Understanding TCM requires exploring its core principles like Qi, yin and yang, and the interconnectedness of the body's systems. If you're interested in harnessing the potential of Lion's Mane through the lens of TCM, it's best to consult with a qualified TCM practitioner (Association of Traditional Chinese Medicine - They can provide personalised guidance on dosage, preparation, and how Lion's Mane integrates into a holistic treatment plan.

Should You Try Lion's Mane? Making an Informed Decision

Weighing Potential Benefits and Considerations

Before incorporating Lion's Mane into your wellness routine, it's crucial to weigh the potential benefits against your individual circumstances and potential risks. Remember, while research is promising, it's important to have realistic expectations.


Who Might Consider It? 

Lion's Mane supplements might be worth exploring if you're interested in:

  • Supporting cognitive function, especially memory and focus.
  • Natural approaches to manage symptoms of anxiety or low mood.
  • Potential support for overall neurological health.

Who Should Proceed With Caution?

Lion's Mane might not be suitable if you:

  • Are pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • Have a bleeding disorder or take blood-thinning medications.
  • Take medications for diabetes.
  • Have any underlying health conditions.
  • Have severe allergies, especially to mushrooms.

This can't be overstated: Always talk to your doctor before trying Lion's Mane if you fall into any of the categories above. They can help you determine if it's a safe choice based on your unique health profile and potential interactions.


Finding Reliable Information

Stick to trustworthy sources like:

  • Reputable medical websites (e.g. those associated with universities, etc.)
  • Government health agencies
  • Peer-reviewed research studies

Remember: Be wary of exaggerated claims and always prioritise trustworthy sources when learning about natural remedies.

At Mushroom Works we make sure to always relay what the scientific data actually says, any claims will link to real studies and scientific journals so you can be confident in what you are reading, along with the efficacy of our products.

The Takeaway on Lion's Mane Mushroom

Lion's Mane mushroom offers intriguing potential for supporting brain health, mood, and overall well-being.  While research is encouraging, it's still developing, and more definitive answers, especially on long-term use, require further investigation.  Before incorporating Lion's Mane into your routine, always consult with your healthcare provider and prioritise reliable information. 

If you're looking for a convenient way to explore the potential benefits of Lion's Mane, consider our "Cognition" supplement.

For a broader approach to cognitive support, our "Thrive" blend combines Lion's Mane with other brain-boosting mushrooms, dosed at clinically researched levels.

Citations & Study References

*Lai PL, Naidu M, Sabaratnam V, Wong KH, David RP, Kuppusamy UR, Abdullah N, Malek SN. Neurotrophic properties of the Lion's mane medicinal mushroom, Hericium erinaceus (Higher Basidiomycetes) from Malaysia. Int J Med Mushrooms. 2013;15(6):539-54. doi: 10.1615/intjmedmushr.v15.i6.30. PMID: 24266378. 

*Xie XQ, Geng Y, Guan Q, Ren Y, Guo L, Lv Q, Lu ZM, Shi JS, Xu ZH. Influence of Short-Term Consumption of Hericium erinaceus on Serum Biochemical Markers and the Changes of the Gut Microbiota: A Pilot Study. Nutrients. 2021 Mar 21;13(3):1008. doi: 10.3390/nu13031008. PMID: 33800983; PMCID: PMC8004025. 

* Spelman, Kevin & Sutherland, Elizabeth & Bagade, Aravind. (2017). Neurological Activity of Lion’s Mane ( Hericium erinaceus ). Journal of Restorative Medicine. 6. 19-26. 10.14200/jrm.2017.6.0108.'s_Mane_Hericium_erinaceus 

*The Acute and Chronic Effects of Lion’s Mane Mushroom Supplementation on Cognitive Function, Stress and Mood in Young Adults: A Double-Blind, Parallel Groups, Pilot Study

Sarah Docherty, Conceptualization, Methodology, Formal analysis, Investigation, Writing – original draft, Writing – review & editing, Supervision, Project administration,1,* Faye L. Doughty, Investigation, Writing – review & editing,1 and Ellen F. Smith, Conceptualization, Methodology, Formal analysis, Investigation, Writing – original draft, Writing – review & editing, Supervision, Project administration2 

*Chiu CH, Chyau CC, Chen CC, Lee LY, Chen WP, Liu JL, Lin WH, Mong MC. Erinacine A-Enriched Hericium erinaceus Mycelium Produces Antidepressant-Like Effects through Modulating BDNF/PI3K/Akt/GSK-3β Signaling in Mice. Int J Mol Sci. 2018 Jan 24;19(2):341. doi: 10.3390/ijms19020341. PMID: 29364170; PMCID: PMC5855563. 

Main image by Stu Spivack

Back to blog