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Lion’s Mane Mushroom, also known as Yamabushitake, is an edible mushroom that is often taken as a supplement due to its beneficial effects on cognition. Lion’s Mane is particularly popular due to its ability to improve nerve-growth factor (NGF), a neurotrophic factor which is involved in regulating the growth and survival of new neurons.
The typically recommended dosage of Lion’s Mane is 1000 mg per day, taken with food. This dose can be repeated with each meal if desired, for a total daily dose of 3000 mg. It’s not recommended to exceed 3000 mg per day due to a lack of research at higher doses, though no specific safety concerns for higher doses have been raised.
Lion’s Mane is well tolerated and presents few adverse side effects. The most common side effect reported from taking Lion’s Mane is an upset stomach, which is less likely if used with food. Itchy skin is rarely reported as an adverse side effect as well.
Lion’s Mane should not be used if you suffer from a bleeding condition or are at least 2 weeks away from a surgery as some research suggests it may slow blood clotting. (Although this has only been observed in animal studies.)
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Lion’s Mane, also known as Yamabushitake or Hericium erinaceus, is an edible mushroom that has a long history of usage in traditional Japanese and Chinese medicines. It gains its name from its bushy, mane-like, appearance. While native to Asia, North America, and Europe, Lion’s Mane is a parasitic fungus that grows off trees and logs. (1,2)
Lion’s Mane is unique for both its appearance and nootropic activity. Lion’s Mane has long white tendrils compared to most mushrooms which have a stem and cap. As a nootropic, Lion’s Mane has shown to have brain boosting activity through its ability to stimulate Nerve Growth Factor (NGF). (1,2)
The primary benefits of Lion’s Mane lay in its ability to increase levels of NGF. (1,2,4) NGF doesn’t exist as a supplement as it cannot cross the blood-brain barrier. If you wish to increase NGF, you must find a way to boost NGF production which is what Lion’s Mane does.
NGF is vital for the body as it is involved in the growth, regulation, maintenance and survival of neurons. Neurons transmit information to nerve cells throughout the central nervous system (CNS). Neurons are involved in sensory and motor skills and are responsible for connections throughout the brain. A decline in NGF production, and an increase in neuronal death as we age is responsible for physical and mental impairments associated with aging.
Along with NGF production which leads to other benefits, Lion’s Mane has other benefits that will be discussed further under “Lion’s Mane Research”. They include:
There are several different types of Lion’s Mane available. A majority of them can be found as a powder or powdered capsule. The capsule or powder are best to be taken with food in the morning. These include:
Our Lion's Mane is the first type, is certified as Organic Whole Food Mushroom Powder, and the mushrooms are grown in the USA.
Lion’s Mane is also available as a tea that can be drank. Since its difficult to determine the amount of the mushroom getting brewed into the tea, this is the least precise way to determine a dosage.
It is important to note that Lion’s Mane is best to be consumed from a reputable distributor and not harvested for individual use. Although the mushroom is safe, identification should only be done by trained individuals as misidentification can lead to serious health problems.
Lion's Mane Dosage Guidelines
The dosage for Lion’s Mane is dependent upon the form of the supplement you’re taking. For pure Lion’s Mane, the recommended dose starts at 500mg and can go as high as 3,000mg. A typical recommendation would be to start at 1,000mg with your morning meal, and then take additional dosages with other meals throughout the day.
For the extract or standardized Lion’s Mane, the dose would be dependent on the makeup of the specific product. For example, the dose for a 10:1 extract would not be the same as the dose for a 14:1 extract. Similarly, for the standardized product, the dose would not be the same for a 25% polysaccharides product as for the 50% polysaccharides product.
Half Life and Duration of Effects
The half-life of Lion’s Mane is dependent upon what type/how you take the supplement. Generally, it will take 30 to 60 minutes to take effect. When taking ground Lion’s mane powder, the half-life is between 4 to 6 hours.
Lion’s Mane is a very safe and well tolerated supplement. Testing in animals has shown that it is safe up to 5g/kg of bodyweight. (22)
While Lion’s Mane is a mushroom that is found in nature, it should only be ingested when harvested by professionals. Supplementation of wild mushrooms is very dangerous without proper identification and can result in serious medical issues including death.
Side effects associated with Lion’s Mane are very rare. The most commonly reported side effect is itchy skin that may be caused by an increase in NGF. (19,20)
Lion’s Mane mechanism of actions lay in the different components that make up the mushroom.
The primary mechanism is increasing the NGF levels in the brain which in turn produce numerous benefits for the brain. (1,2,4) The two unique components of Lion’s Mane that work to increase NGF are hericenones and erinacines which are naturally occurring isolates of the fruiting body of the mushroom. (5,6) These two isolates work by effectively crossing the blood-brain barrier which allow them to enhance the synthetization of NGF in vitro. (7)
NGF is incredibly important for the human brain. So much so that its discovery won Dr. Rita Levi-Montalcini a Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1986. NGF is a neuropeptide (small protein-like molecule) that is primarily involved in the growth, regulation, maintenance, and survival of neurons. NGF plays a vital role in brain health, modulation of cholinergic receptors, and neuroplasticity which aid in learning and preventing cognitive decline. (8)
NGF also works by promoting myelination that aids axons (9), which are nerve cell extensions where impulses are conducted. By encouraging the growth and branching of axons, NGF enhances the speed and efficiency at which impulses are transmitted throughout the brain.
One analogue of hericenones, 3-hydroxyhericenone, has shown neuroprotective properties. (10,11) This mechanism acts by preserving neurons from endoplasmic reticulum stress-dependent death.
There are several other components of the mushroom, notably the antioxidant beta-glucoxylan, erinaceolacones, glycoproteins, and various polysaccharides that work to produce other benefits that will be discussed further in “Lion’s Mane Mushroom Research” section. (6,12)
Prevents Cognitive Decline (13)
One study looked at the effects of Lion’s Mane on the amyloid β (25-35) peptide. The amyloid β (25-35) peptide is associated with learning and memory degeneration. Over the course of 23 days, mice were fed a diet containing Lion’s Mane while being injected with amyloid β (25-35) peptide on days 7 and 14.
During this time, memory and learning was tested utilizing a Y-maze test and a novel-object recognition test. The results showed that Lion’s Mane prevented learning and memory deficits normally induced by the amyloid β (25-35) peptide. This leads to strong indication that Lion’s Mane may help to prevent cognitive decline.
Cognitive Enhancement (14,15)
While one benefit of Lion’s Mane is to prevent cognitive decline, it has also been examined to improve cognition. These studies have been focused around subjects that already have some level of cognitive impairment.
One of these studies was conducted on a group of 30, 50 to 80-year-old men and women. The subjects were split into two groups of 15, with one group receiving 250mg tablets of Lion’s Mane, and the other receiving a placebo, three times a day for 16 weeks. During the supplementation, the group who received Lion’s Mane showed increased scores in cognitive functions compared to the group who received a placebo.
A separate study was conducted on mice where they were split into two groups; one that received a diet containing Lion’s Mane and one that did not. The mice were tested using a Novel Object Recognition Task (NOR). The mice who were fed a diet containing Lion’s Mane performed significantly better than the mice that did not. They showed to have increased recognition memory and exploration of a novel object.
Reduces Feelings of Anxiety and Depression (16)
Lion’s Mane was studied to determine its effectiveness on dealing with feelings of depression and anxiety that are associated with post-menopausal females. 30 females were randomly assigned to groups that given cookies with Lion’s Mane or cookies without.
Based on the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CES-D) and the Indefinite Complaints Index (ICI), the women who ate the Lion’s Mane cookies had significantly lower scores after 4 weeks of supplementation. Control words, such as “irritated” and “anxious” were lower than that of the placebo group. This shows promise for Lion’s Mane to reduce feelings of depression and anxiety based on non-NGF enhancing mechanisms.
Boost Immune System (17)
One study examined Lion’s Mane and its effects on different aspects of immunity in mice. This study assessed cell-mediated immunity and humoral (relating to substances found in bodily fluids) immunity. These two aspects of immunity contrast one another as cell-mediated does not relate to antibodies while humoral does.
It was found that Lion’s Mane had improved overall immune function by enhancing both cell-mediated and humoral immunity. Additionally, Lion’s Mane upregulated immunoglobulin A (SigA) which plays a crucial role in the immune function of mucous membranes.
Reduces Inflammation (18)
A study was conducted to determine the anti-inflammatory activity of Lion’s Mane. 20 mice were exposed to dextran sulfate sodium to induce intestinal inflammation. Lion’s Mane was then orally administered to half of the mice at a dosage of 250mg/kg/day or 500mg/kg/day.
The mice administered Lion’s Mane saw a significant improvement in intestinal inflammation. The mechanism behind this is by Lion’s Mane suppressing the production of inflammatory mediators and by adjusting the production of several enzymes, including superoxide dismutase, to suppress oxidative stress.
Is Lion’s Mane mushroom safe?
When purchased as a dietary supplement from a reputable distributor, Lion’s Mane is very safe. You should not ingest mushrooms found in nature assuming they are Lion’s Mane at the risk of misidentification.
Can I take Lion’s Mane at night?
Although it is recommended to take Lion’s Mane in the morning for the cognitive benefit, there is some belief that Lion’s Mane can aid sleep as well. There is currently insufficient evidence to support this but is discussed in the mushroom community.
Is Lion’s Mane legal?
Lion’s Mane is a completely legal product to distribute and purchase. There are many mushrooms that are illegal, typically psychotropic, which is why mushroom supplements should only be purchased from reliable distributors.
Where is Lion’s Mane found in the United States?
Lion’s Mane mushrooms are most commonly found growing in the Pacific Northwest or New England as they product the best climates for Lion’s Mane to flourish.
Is Lion’s Mane good to stack with other supplements?
Yes, and Lion’s Mane is found in many pre-made stacks.
* These reviews are the experiences of the individual customers that submitted them, results may differ from person to person.
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