Lion’s Mane Benefits, Side Effects, Dosage And Stacking

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LION’S MANE

By Mark Taylor

lion's mane mushroom in forest with text overlay

What Is Lion’s Mane

Lion’s Mane, also known as Yamabushitake, has been used since the time of the ancient Chinese and lately, has been growing in popularity as a natural smart drug. It’s appropriately because of its long, white stems that look like a lion’s mane. Known by the scientific name Hericium Erinaceus1, these wild medicinal mushrooms can be found in the late summer and early fall on hardwood trees.

Lion’s mane, native to China, Japan, North America, and Europe, has been around for centuries. It was originally used as a tonic and health treatment and was traditionally prescribed as a general restorative. However, ancient physicians recognized the effects lion’s mane had on the brain and used the mushroom to treat what are now classified as neurodegenerative diseases2.

Since 1991, there have been about a dozen studies conducted, all proving the amazing effects lion’s mane can have.

What Are The Top Benefits?

Lion’s mane offers numerous health benefits that can dramatically improve your day-to-day functions. The Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry described the many powerful effects of the lion’s mane mushroom. They said that the mushroom was anticarcinogenic, antidiabetic, antibiotic, antihypertensive, anti-fatigue, anti-hyperlipidemic, anti-senescence, hepatoprotective, cardioprotective, nephroprotective, and neuroprotective.

They also said that lion’s mane improved anxiety, depression, and cognitive function. There’s no way a mushroom found in nature could actually provide all of those benefits, right? Think again! The lion’s mane mushroom is a powerful superfood adaptogen for the brain, nerves, and immune system.

Improved Memory, Concentration, And Focus

The lion’s mane mushroom is frequently used as a powerful brain food because of its ability to stimulate the production of nerve growth factors3 (NGF). An NGF acts as a neurotrophin that is important to the survival of neurons in the brain. It’s a small, secreted protein that helps aid neurogenesis and memory4.

Essentially, NGFs can help your brain process and transmit information more quickly. When tested, Hericium Erinaceus showed increased NGF production in the hippocampus area of the brain5, but not the cortex. The hippocampus is an important part of declarative and rational memory. When taken for at least four weeks, Lion’s Mane has been proven effective improving cognitive function.

Reduction Of Anxiety And Depression

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety disorders annually affect 18.1% of the population. Anxiety disorders are the most common form of mental illness in the country, affecting over 40 million adults.

Those who suffer from anxiety disorders are at a greater health risk than those who do not. Patients with anxiety disorders are three to five times more likely to see a doctor and are six times more likely to be hospitalized with a psychiatric disorder.

Additionally, Major Depressive Disorder is the most commonly diagnosed form of depression in the United States. Over 16 million adults, or 6.7% of the population, experienced one major depressive episode in 2015.

Lion’s mane can help treat these issues. NGFs have been proven to support the body’s autonomic nervous system, which is a component of treating anxiety and depression. Studies have shown that lion’s mane can reduce feelings of irritability and anxiety.

Protection Against Cancer

The lion’s mane mushroom has been shown to stop, and potentially reverse, the progression of the following cancers:

  • Leukemia
  • Lung Cancer
  • Cervical Cancer
  • Liver Cancer
  • Colon Cancer
  • Breast Cancer
  • Stomach Cancer

Increased Energy

Users have reported that lion’s mane helps them remain focused and alert throughout the day, reducing brain fog and distractions.

One of the main reasons for this is the antioxidants that lion’s mane provides. Antioxidants support the body’s cellular health and make it easier for your body to produce energy. Studies have also proven that lion’s mane reduces lactic acid, which is known to cause fatigue. Lion’s mane also increases tissue glycogen content, which allows your body to create energy at a quicker rate.

Reduction Of Neurodegenerative Disease Symptoms

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, dementia refers to a general decline in mental ability that impacts day-to-day life. Alzheimer’s is a specific form of dementia that negatively affects memory, thinking, and behavior. Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia. The diseases occur when cells in the brain begin to break down. There is no cure, and the disease worsens over time.

NGFs, which increase as a result of taking lion’s mane, prevent nerve cell damage. Studies have also indicated that lion’s mane can regenerate damaged cells, essentially stopping the effects of dementia and Alzheimer’s in their tracks.

When tested on an Alzheimer model, tests have indicated that lion’s mane reduces spatial visual recognition and short-term memory. Although more studies need to be done, Hericium Erinaceus could help relieve the symptoms of Alzheimer’s. There’s a chance that the medicinal mushroom is the key to discovering a permanent, sustainable Alzheimer’s cure.

Improved Insulin Sensitivity

Insulin helps control the amount of sugar in the blood. With insulin sensitivity or resistance, the body’s cells don’t’ respond properly to insulin. Glucose can’t enter the cells as easily, so it builds up in the blood. If left untreated, type 2 diabetes can develop. Insulin sensitivity impacts over three million Americans annually.

Lion’s mane can be used to treat an insulin sensitivity. Regularly taking the supplement can significantly lower high blood glucose levels in just 28 days. Lion’s mane can be an effective, natural way to treat type 2 diabetes.

Enhanced Gut Health

H. Pylori has been called “the most successful pathogen in human history”. For some, it can cause severe gastric conditions, including ulcers in the gastrointestinal tract. The lion’s mane mushroom has been shown to have antibacterial properties that fight h. pylori.

It’s also been theorized that lion’s mane safeguards the gut’s mucosal lining, which can protect against digestive conditions like leaky gut. If that’s not enough, lion’s mane has also been proven to reduce inflammation in the GI tract. Inflammation of the GI tract can cause the development of inflammatory bowel diseases, such as Crohn’s disease and colitis, and other inflammatory bowel syndromes.

Reduced Inflammation And Improved Cardiovascular Health

More and more information has been coming out that reveals the devastating effects inflammation has on our bodies. The lion’s mane mushroom has been proven to reduce inflammation in fatty tissue. Excess fatty tissue inflammation promotes the formation of metabolic syndrome. By reducing inflammation in fatty tissue, lion’s mane reduces your risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes (R).
Its ability to reduce inflammation also makes lion’s mane a key player in promoting a healthy cardiovascular system. The lion mane’s mushroom can also reduce your risk of heart disease by reducing LDL cholesterol levels and elevated triglycerides.
Additional studies have shown that the lion’s mane mushroom can help reduce blood clots, which can immediately reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke.

What Are The Potential Side Effects?

For a supplement with so many benefits, it’s shocking that there are so few side effects. One study examined individuals age 50 to 80 who were suffering from mild cognitive decline. They were given 3g of lion’s mane per day for 16 weeks. Their cognitive function increased, and they did not experience any adverse side effects.

The only true side effect that’s been demonstrated is itchy skin. Typically, this is not caused by an allergy, but by an increase in the nerve growth factor, which demonstrates that the drug is actually working. You should monitor your symptoms to ensure that the itchiness does not come with any other side effects.

If your itchy skin is accompanied by swollen glands, hives, and itchy or watering eyes, there’s a good chance that you’re suffering from an allergic reaction. Immediately stop using lion’s mane and consult your health care professional for further advice.

It takes a while for lion’s mane to accumulate in your system, so you may suffer from delayed-onset allergy symptoms. Allergic reactions could take up to four months to begin displaying themselves. If you have ever displayed a previous mushroom allergy, it’s recommended that you do not take lion’s mane.

How To Supplement Your Diet With Lion’s Mane

Lion’s mane can be consumed in a variety of ways. You can take lion’s mane in supplement form, eat it, or drink it.

Lion’s Mane Supplements

Studies have indicated that users obtain the maximum benefits of lion’s mane when it is taken on a continual basis. A recommended dose varies between 1,000 and 3,000 mg per day. There has only been one human study involving lion’s mane. In it, patients were administered an oral dose of 1,000 mg three times per day, yielding a daily intake of 3,000 mg extract.

However, you should check with your doctor before supplementing with lion’s mane. Lion’s mane can interact with some OTC or prescription drugs, including antidepressants and antianxiety medications. It’s recommended that you consult with your healthcare professional before adding Hericium Erinaceus6 to your nutritional supplementation.

Users have had success when taking the drug with caffeine and theanine. Brain Topic suggests stacking lion’s mane with a fast-acting nootropic. Piracetam, pramiracetam, aniracetam, and oxiracetam can all be used for an immediate cognitive boost. If you are going to include racetams in your nootropic stack, it’s important also to include a high-quality choline supplement.

The website also suggests supplementing lion’s mane with uridine and fish oil, which both provide cellular membrane protection. Zinc should also be included in the stack because of its ability to regulate synaptic function. Also consider adding ALCAR or Acetyl L-Carnitine, which keeps brain cells healthy and alive.

Another potential to your lion’s mane stack is pregnenolone or P5, which helps produce new neurons. If neuronal health is a concern, also add a melatonin supplement, which will reduce neuronal death.

Reports indicate that the water-soluble extract version of the supplement is less potent than other fractions, so it’s recommended that the supplement is taken with meals. Various supplements can be found online, including Amazon. Supplements typically come in capsule or tablet form.

Drinking Or Eating Lion’s Mane

Lion’s mane can also be consumed in tea form. Products like Four Sigmatic’s Lion’s Mane Mushroom Elixir Mix allow for an easy, delicious way to get your daily Hericium Erinaceus supplementation. Lion’s mane is also sold in powder form, which makes it easy to add to your tea or coffee each morning.

If you wish to include Lion’s Mane in your food, you may be able to find the mushroom at some specialty or gourmet food stores. If you can’t, it’s possible to buy a dried version of the product online.

Lion’s mane tastes like seafood when cooked, and many have described it as tasting like shrimp or lobster. The mushroom is a healthy alternative to seafood for vegetarians or those allergic to shellfish. It’s recommended that you cook the mushrooms slowly. Being exposed to longer periods of heat will help make the mushroom chewier and easy to eat.

A delicious way many choose to enjoy the mushroom is by first heating a pan to high heat and adding a little oil. Then, add the mushrooms and cook until the teeth of the lion’s mane are browned.

Conclusion

Paul Stamets is a fungi expert who is very fond of everything lion’s mane has to offer, calling it “the first smart mushroom” that is “nature’s nutrient for your neurons”. It truly is an amazing supplement that has a host of health benefits. Whether you’re looking for a mental boost or are looking for a way to stop the spread of more serious diseases, lion’s mane could be a safe way to do so.

Remember, the benefits of lion’s mane are best seen with long-term dosing. If you are going to try it, it’s recommended that you start with a moderate dose. Allow the Hericium Erinaceus to build in your system slowly. Don’t get frustrated or give up on the supplement if you don’t see or feel any immediate changes.

Scientific & Reference Citations

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26244378
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26684183/
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4812798/
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5237458/
  5. https://www.apa.org/science/about/psa/2005/02/suzuki.aspx
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23735479