Growing on hardwood trees in temperate forests across the northern hemisphere, Lion’s Mane is a delicious culinary mushroom with a growing reputation as a medicinal mushroom.
Main active components– Lion’s Mane’s unique properties are due to two families of compounds that it produces: the erinacines and hericenones, which, as well as having strong anti-bacterial activity, help stimulate the generation of Nerve Growth Factor (NGF).
Traditional use– Traditional use of Lion’s Mane emphasises its anti-microbial and immunonological activity, with indications including gastric and duodenal ulcers, chronic gastritis, gastric and oesophageal cancer.
Dementia/Alzheimer’s disease– Patients with dementia have lower than normal levels of NGF and the ability of Lion’s Mane’s erinacines and hericenones to increase production of NGF makes it a particularly beneficial supplement for individuals with mild dementia.
Positive results have been reported in two small-scale clinical studies (using 3g/day in one study and 2g/day in the other), with improvements in: functional capacity (understanding, communication, memory etc.), functional independence scores (eating, dressing, walking etc.) and cognitive function (1,2).
Neuropathy– NGF also plays an important role in pain sensitivity and low NGF levels have been linked to neuropathy in both animal and in-vitro studies. Clinically Lion’s Mane is seen to be beneficial for neuropathy from a variety of causes, including multiple sclerosis (3,4).
Nerve damage– Lion’s Mane is also beneficial in many cases of nerve damage from traumatic injury, helping promote faster regrowth, mirroring the results seen from animal studies (5).
Menopausal syndrome– Some of the compounds that help generate NGF have been shown to have a calming effect and this may account for the clinically observed benefit of Lion’s Mane for menopausal syndrome with patient’s reporting significant improvements in sleep disturbance, anxiety and hot flushes (hot flashes) (6).
Anti-bacterial– The erinacines and hericenones are produced by Lion’s Mane for their potent anti-microbial activity and effectiveness against MRSA has been reported from both laboratory tests and clinical studies (7,8).
Lion’s Mane’s unique properties are due to two families of compounds that it produces: the erinacines and hericenones, which, as well as having strong anti-bacterial activity, help stimulate the generation of Nerve Growth Factor (NGF).
Although clinical trials have used dried fruiting body at a dose of 2-5g/day, it is probable that mycelial biomass may offer similar benefits at lower supplementation levels.
1. The anti-Dementia effect of Lion's Mane mushroom and its clinical application. Kawagishi H, Zhuang C, Shnidman E. Townsend Letter for Doctors and Patients. 2004 Apr.
2. Improving effects of the mushroom Yamabushitake (Hericium erinaceus) on mild cognitive impairment: a double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial. Mori K, Inatomi S, Ouchi K, Azumi Y, Tuchida T. Phytother Res. 2009;23(3):367-72.
3. Nerve growth factor and diabetic neuropathy. Pittenger G, Vinik A. Exp Diabesity Res. 2003;4(4):271-85. Review.
4. Long-term treatment with recombinant nerve growth factor for HIV-associated sensory neuropathy. G. Schifitto et al. Neurology. 2001;57:1313-1316.
5. Neuroregenerative Potential of Lion’s Mane Mushroom, Hericium erinaceus (Bull.: Fr.) Pers. (Higher Basidiomycetes), in the Treatment of Peripheral Nerve Injury (Review). Wong K H, Naidu M, David R P, Bakar R, Sabaratnam V. Int J Med Mushrooms, 2012; 14(5):427-446.
6. Erinacine E as a kappa opioid receptor agonist and its new analogs from a basidiomycete, Hericium ramosum. Saito T et al. J Antibiot (Tokyo). 1998 Nov; 51(11):983-90.
7. Anti-MRSA compounds of Hericium erinaceus. Kawagishi H et al. Int J Med Mushr. 2005;7(3):350.
8. In vitro anti-helicobacter pylori effects of medicinal mushroom extracts, with special emphasis on the Lion’s Mane mushroom, Hericium erinaceus (higher Basidiomycetes). Shang X, Tan Q, Liu R, Yu K, Li P, Zhao GP. Int J Med Mushrooms. 2013;15(2):165-74.
9. Wong KH, Naidu M, David RP, Bakar R, Sabaratnam V. Neuroregenerative potential of lion's mane mushroom, Hericium erinaceus (Bull.: Fr.) Pers. (higher Basidiomycetes), in the treatment of peripheral nerve injury (review). Int J Med Mushrooms. 2012;14(5):427-46. PubMed PMID: 23510212.