9 Health Benefits of lion’s mane mushroom capsules (Plus Side Effects)
Lion’s mane mushrooms are large, white, shaggy mushrooms that resemble a lion’s mane as they grow. They contain bioactive substances that have many beneficial effects on the body, especially the brain, heart, and gut.
Lion’s mane mushrooms, also known as Hericium erinaceus, hou tou gu or yamabushitake, have both culinary and medicinal uses in Asian countries like China, India, Japan, and Korea (1Trusted Source).
Here are nine health benefits of lion’s mane mushroom capsules and their extracts, along with dosages, preparation, and side effects.
1. Could protect against dementia
The brain’s ability to grow and form new connections typically declines with age, which may explain why mental functioning worsens in many older adults (2Trusted Source).
Studies have found thatlion’s mane mushroom capsules contain two special compounds that can stimulate the growth of brain cells: hericenones and erinacines (3Trusted Source).
Additionally, animal studies have found that lion’s mane may help protect against Alzheimer’s disease, a degenerative brain disease that causes progressive memory loss.
In fact, lion’s mane mushroom and its extracts have been shown to reduce symptoms of memory loss in mice, as well as prevent neuronal damage caused by amyloid-beta plaques, which accumulate in the brain during Alzheimer’s disease (4Trusted Source, 5Trusted Source, 6Trusted Source).
A 2020 study of people with mild Alzheimer’s disease found that supplementation with 1 gram of lion’s mane mushroom daily for 49 weeks significantly improved cognitive test scores compared with a placebo (7Trusted Source).
The ability of lion’s mane mushroom capsules to promote nerve growth and protect the brain from Alzheimer’s-related damage may explain some of its beneficial effects on brain health.
However, it’s important to note that most of the research has been conducted on animals or in test tubes. Therefore, more human studies are needed.
Lion’s mane mushrooms contain compounds that stimulate brain cell growth and protect them from damage caused by Alzheimer’s disease. However, more research involving humans is needed.
2. Helps relieve mild symptoms of depression and anxiety
Up to one-third of people living in developed countries experience symptoms of anxiety and depression .
While there are many causes of anxiety and depression, chronic inflammation could be a major contributing factor.
Animal research has found that lion’s mane mushroom extract has anti-inflammatory effects that can reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression in mice (10Trusted Source).
Other animal studies have found that lion’s mane extract can also help regenerate brain cells and improve the functioning of the hippocampus, a region of the brain that processes memories and emotional responses (11Trusted Source, 12Trusted Source).
Researchers believe that improved hippocampus functioning may explain the reductions in anxious and depressive behaviors in mice receiving these extracts.
While these animal studies are promising, there is very little research involving humans.
One small 2010 study of menopausal women found that eating cookies containing lion’s mane mushrooms daily for 1 month helped reduce self-reported feelings of irritation and anxiety (13Trusted Source, 14Trusted Source).
Studies suggest that lion’s mane mushrooms may help relieve mild symptoms of anxiety and depression, but more research involving humans is needed to better understand the correlation.
3. May speed recovery from nervous system injuries
The nervous system consists of the brain, spinal cord, and other nerves that travel throughout the body. These components work together to send and transmit signals that control almost every bodily function.
Brain or spinal cord injuries can cause various adverse medical outcomes. They often cause paralysis or loss of mental functions and can take a long time to heal.
However, research has found that lion’s mane mushroom extract may help speed recovery from these types of injuries by stimulating the growth and repair of nerve cells (15Trusted Source, 16Trusted Source). It may also help reduce the severity of brain damage after a stroke.
However, no studies have been conducted involving humans to determine if lion’s mane would have the same therapeutic effect on nervous system injuries as animal research has suggested.
Rat studies have found that lion’s mane extract can speed up recovery from nervous system injuries, but research involving humans is lacking.
Lion’s mane may benefit older adults with mild cognitive impairment, according to a small study published in Phytotherapy Research in 2009. For the study, researchers assigned 30 older adults with mild cognitive impairment to take either lion’s mane extract or a placebo every day for 16 weeks. In cognitive tests given at weeks eight, 12, and 16 of the study, members of the lion’s mane mushroom capsules group showed significantly greater improvements compared to members of the placebo group.
In a more recent study (published in Biomedical Research in 2011), scientists examined the effects of lion’s mane on brain function in mice. Results revealed that lion’s mane helped protect against memory problems caused by the buildup of amyloid beta (a substance that forms the brain plaques associated with Alzheimer’s disease). Studies have also shown a possible neuroprotective effect against ischemic stroke.5
The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) cautions that while some small preliminary studies on the impact of natural supplements on cognitive function have shown modest effects, “direct evidence is lacking.” Claims made to the contrary are not supported by evidence.
5.Depression and Anxiety
Research to date suggests that lion’s mane may help alleviate depression and anxiety. For example, a 2020 review of the literature called lion’s mane “a potential alternative medicine for the treatment of depression.”7
Likewise, a 2021 research review detailed several studies that showed significant anti-anxiety effects. Lion’s mane appears to offer “neuroprotective functions, cytotoxicity, anticarcinogenic, antidiabetic, antimicrobial, and herbicidal activities,” as well.8
Due to a lack of supporting research, it’s too soon to recommend lion’s mane for any specific health condition.2 If you’re considering the use of lion’s mane for a chronic condition, make sure to consult your physician before starting your supplement regimen. Self-treating a chronic condition with lion’s mane and avoiding or delaying standard care may have serious consequences.
6. Helps manage diabetes symptoms
Diabetes is a disease that occurs when the body’s ability to manage blood sugar levels is impaired. As a result, levels are consistently elevated.
Chronically high blood sugar levels eventually cause complications like kidney disease, nerve damage in the hands and feet, and vision loss.
Lion’s mane mushroom may be beneficial for diabetes management by improving blood sugar management and reducing some of these side effects.
Several animal studies have shown that lion’s mane can cause significantly lower blood sugar levels in both normal and diabetic mice, even at daily dosages as low as 2.7 milligrams (mg) per pound (6 mg per kg) of body weight (31Trusted Source, 32Trusted Source).
One way that lion’s mane lowers blood sugars is by blocking the activity of the enzyme alpha-glucosidase, which breaks down carbs in the small intestine (33Trusted Source).
When this enzyme is blocked, the body is unable to digest and absorb carbs as effectively, which results in lower blood sugar levels.
In addition to lowering blood sugars, lion’s mane extract may reduce diabetic nerve pain in the hands and feet.
In mice with diabetic nerve damage, 6 weeks of daily lion’s mushroom extract significantly reduced pain, lowered blood sugar levels, and even increased antioxidant levels (34Trusted Source).
lion’s mane mushroom capsules shows potential as a therapeutic diabetes supplement, but more research is needed to determine exactly how it might be used in humans.
Lion’s mane mushroom can help lower blood sugar and reduce diabetic nerve pain in mice, but more studies are needed to determine whether it might be a good therapeutic option in humans.
7.May Provide Benefits After Stroke
Researchers are investigating the role of erinacines that are found in lion’s mane mushroom capsules. Erinacines and hericenones are natural substances found in the mushrooms that have demonstrated pharmacological benefits in the central nervous system in rats. Some researchers are also studying lion’s mane mushrooms that are enriched with different types of erinacines that may provide further benefits.3
Very preliminary research suggests that certain key erinacines may play a role in recovery after an ischemic stroke. But so far, the studies have only been conducted on rats. Much more research is needed to understand how lion’s mane or erinacines can play a role in stroke recovery in humans.
8.May Help Treat Depression
Some research suggests that lion’s mane may be a potential alternative medicine for the treatment of depression. One research review published in 2019 critically reviewed literature on the potential antidepressant effects of lion’s mane as a treatment for depressive disorder as well as its potential to provide an antidepressant-like response.4
When the study authors reviewed the existing evidence, they noted that much of it was performed on mice or had other methodological issues (such as small study size or confounding factors). Some studies were so limited in scope that it would be hard to draw conclusions for the general population.
However, the study authors were able to suggest that lion’s mane may have anti-depressant effects in female patients with symptoms of menopause and in obese patients.5 They also said that research is still in the early stages and more high-quality studies need to be conducted in the general depression population.4
9.May Protect Brain Health
Several in vitro (test tube) studies have suggested that polysaccharides in lion’s mane may protect neurons or make them function better. Other fatty acids in the mushrooms may reduce the risk of neurodegenerative disease-induced cell death. However, most of the research supporting these benefits has been done in a lab and did not involve humans.1
Beneficial effects in humans were observed in one widely cited (but small) study from 2009. The study involved 30 Japanese men and women (ages 50 to 80) diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment. They were given either a lion’s mane supplement (four 250mg tablets containing 96% lion’s mane dry powder) or a placebo three times a day for 16 weeks.
At the end of the study, those who took the lion’s mane supplement showed improved cognitive function scale scores as compared to the placebo group and the scores increased with the duration of intake. When supplement use was discontinued at the end of the study, the cognitive scores decreased again.Dosage
There’s no standard dosage for lion’s mane mushrooms. The safest, most beneficial amount depends on factors like your age and overall health. You may want to talk with a doctor about the right dosage for you.
For improving cognition, some researchers recommend 3 to 5 grams per day.
In a 2020 study, people ages 50 and older with mild Alzheimer’s disease symptoms showed significantly improved cognitive function after taking three 350-mg lion’s mane capsules daily for 49 weeks. (7Trusted Source)
Taking three 400-mg capsules daily for 8 weeks helped relieve depression, anxiety, and sleep disorders for 77 people who were overweight or had obesity, according to a 2019 study. (57Trusted Source)
The most effective dosage of lion’s mane mushrooms depends on factors like your age and overall health.
How to prepare lion’s mane
Lion’s mane mushrooms can be enjoyed raw, cooked, dried, or steeped as tea.
The mushrooms can be cooked and served in dishes like risotto, pasta, or soup.
Lion’s mane mushroom powder can be mixed into hot water, tea, coffee, a smoothie, or other beverages. It can also be added to soup, stew, or gravy.
Lion’s mane mushrooms can be eaten raw, cooked, or dried.
Fresh lion’s mane mushrooms have the greatest health benefits, according to some researchers. However, the cultivation methods may affect the mushrooms’ medicinal properties.
Lion’s mane mushrooms are available over the counter in some of the following forms:
However, researchers advise that there are currently no guidelines to ensure these products are safe and effective.
Although fresh lion’s mane mushrooms may provide the most health benefits, they can also be taken as a supplement in forms like tablets or capsules.
Safety and side effects
No studies involving humans have examined the side effects of lion’s mane mushroom or its extract, but they appear to be very safe.
No adverse effects have been seen in rats, even at doses as high as 2.3 grams per pound (5 grams per kg) of body weight per day for 1 month or lower dosages for 3 months (60Trusted Source, 61Trusted Source, 62Trusted Source).
However, anyone who is allergic or sensitive to mushrooms should avoid lion’s mane since it’s a mushroom species.
Animal studies suggest that lion’s mane mushroom and its extracts are very safe, even at high doses. However, allergic reactions in humans have been reported, so anyone with a known mushroom allergy should avoid it.
Frequently asked questions
Are lion’s mane mushrooms good for you?
Yes, they can be. lion’s mane mushroom capsules appears to be safe to use, as long as you speak with a doctor before you start using it and follow the instructions carefully.
What are the benefits of taking lion’s mane?
As discussed in detail above, the benefits of taking lion’s mane may include:
- potential improvement of mild cognitive impairment
- support for depression and anxiety symptoms
- speed recovery from nerve injuries
- protection against stomach ulcers
- improved heart health
- management of diabetes symptoms
- cancer prevention
- lower inflammation markers
- improved immune function
Most studies on the benefits of lion’s mane have been on animals. More research in humans is needed to validate some of these findings.
What does lion’s mane do for the brain?
lion’s mane mushroom capsules contains substances that may contribute to nerve growth. Some studies have suggested that taking lion’s mane may boost thinking and memory processes. It may also help protect against Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia
. However, more research is needed.
What are the negative effects of lion’s mane?
Lion’s mane mushrooms are considered safe in general, unless you’re allergic to mushrooms. No significant side effects have been reported
in research, but if you experience any adverse symptoms after consuming lion’s mane, seek prompt medical attention.
Is lion’s mane good for ADHD?
Some people use lion’s mane for ADHD because of its potential to protect and enhance brain function. However, there is no scientific evidence to support this use.
Is lion’s mane illicit?
Lion’s mane is legal to buy and use in the United States. However, due to its rarity, it is a protected species in some countries and U.S. states, making foraging illegal. Check with your local regulations if you plan to forage for lion’s mane and always ensure you obtain lion’s mane from a reputable and sustainable source .
The bottom line
As it turns out, there’s much more to these fuzzy fungi than meets the eye. From their potential benefits to their fantastic flavour, there are many reasons to include lion’s mane mushroom capsules in your diet.
Whether you cook up a batch of fresh lion’s mane mushrooms, take a convenient capsule or try a tasty lion’s mane coffee, you’ll undoubtedly make the most of their lion’s mane effects and their active ingredients.