Lion's Mane Mushroom: A Nootropic Worth Exploring

Written on November 1, 2022 by | Reviewed by William Gallagher, MNeuroSci

Lion's Mane Mushroom is a well-known nootropic that has been used traditionally in Asia for hundreds of years.

It has been shown to have cognitive boosting effects and can help improve your memory as well as other areas of cognition.

Recent studies have also looked at how it may be helpful in treating Alzheimer's disease.

Let's explore the benefits and potential risks associated with Lion's Mane!

What is Lion's Mane Mushroom?

The lion's mane mushroom is known by a number of different names. Hericium Erinaceus, the scientific name for it, is how mycologists - those who study fungi - refer to it.

It is also known as Yamabushitake in Japanese and lion's mane in English. Lion's mane mushrooms, which have a highly textured surface owing to their native habitat in northeast Asia's mountains, are found throughout Europe and North America.

Lion's mane has long been used in traditional Chinese, Korean, and Japanese medicine because of its reputation as an adaptogen. It has also become increasingly popular recently, in part due to another name.

Lion's mane dubbed a "smart mushroom" because of its ability to improve cognitive function and neurological health, is attracting interest all around the world for its neuroprotective effects.

A Closer Look At Lion’s Mane Mushroom Benefits

Whether you're searching for methods to boost your productivity, enhance your attention on days when you can't remember where you parked your car keys (only to discover them in your hand), avoid brain fog, promote alertness and a good mood, or stimulate creativity and mental clarity, here are some of the most notable advantages of lion's mane.


Lion's Mane Mushrooms are edibles. Some people compare the flavor of fresh and sautéed lion's mane to crab or lobster, although it is more than simply a delicious meal. Lion's mane mushrooms have been assigned the status of a functional mushroom, which means they provide more than just sustenance.

Lion's mane may help your body function more effectively and remain balanced in the presence of internal and external stress, thanks to its bioactive components. Many people are turning to supplements for ready access to the benefits of this functional food because it contains bioactive chemicals that support a number of bodily functions and processes.

For this reason, lion's mane mushrooms can be considered a superfood.

Cognitive Boosting Effects

Lion's mane is also called the "smart mushroom" because it has been linked to improving cognitive function and enhancing memory.

This may be due in part to its ability as an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor, which means it reduces levels of this enzyme responsible for breaking down acetylcholine.

Acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter that plays a role in our ability to form new memories and recall what we have learned, so preventing its breakdown can help improve memory retention.

Additionally, the lion's mane boosts the production of the Nerve Growth Factor (NGF), which stimulates healthy brain cells and encourages them to grow.

Enhancing Nerve Growth Factor Production

Lion's mane mushroom contains a unique compound called erinacine A, which has been found in previous studies to help support nerve growth factor production within the brain.

This is important because NGF plays a crucial role in neuronal health by supporting the development of new neurons and keeping existing ones alive.

Lion's mane mushrooms also act as antioxidants, which means they can help prevent damage to cells caused by free radicals found in the body.

Free radicals are highly reactive molecules that make up your immune system—they combat foreign invaders like bacteria or viruses but these same chemicals may cause harm within the body.

When free radicals damage cells, this oxidative stress can lead to health complications like cancer and other diseases.

Neuro-Protective Effects

Lion's mane mushrooms are also neuroprotective by nature because they contain compounds that act as antioxidants, which help prevent cells from being damaged by the harmful reactive molecules known as free radicals.

When cells are exposed to free radicals, it can cause oxidative stress that results in cell damage.

The antioxidants found within lion's mane mushrooms help prevent this process from occurring.

Oxidative stress is particularly dangerous for the brain because its high concentration of oxygen makes it extremely vulnerable to harm caused by free radicals.

Lion's mane contains important nootropic substances that are capable of breaching the blood-brain barrier.

Neuroplasticity, or the formation of new neural connections in the brain after injury or disease, is reliant upon these factors.

According to research, lion's mane therapy benefits cognitive function and nerve regeneration in laboratory animals. These studies state that:

  • Lion's mane was found in one study to stimulate the formation of myelin (the protective covering) on nerve cells in animal tissue cultures.
  • In mice, a researcher in Japan suggested that lion's mane had a protective effect against learning and memory deficits.
  • In a study conducted in Taiwan, lion's mane mycelial extracts containing erinacines were found to have a healing effect on rats with brain injuries.

Extracts prepared with lion's mane fruiting bodies were given to rats with peripheral nerve damage.

The mushroom extracts encouraged more regular regeneration of nerve tissue in the rats that received them as opposed to those that did not, according to the study.

A Powerful Antioxidant

Lion’s mane, like other mushrooms, contains beta-glucans, which are polysaccharides that have strong antioxidant properties.

Beta-glucans help neutralizes free radicals within the body to prevent oxidative stress and its harmful effects on healthy cells found in organs including your brain.

Antioxidants also support neuron cell membranes by protecting them from oxidation caused by substances called free radicals.

Free radicals are actually oxygen molecules that have unpaired electrons, which makes them unstable and highly reactive to other compounds in the body including healthy cells.

If left unchecked, these free radicals can damage your brain tissue by causing oxidative stress within your neurons, which leads to decreased cognitive function over time as well as increased risk of neurodegenerative diseases.

Lion’s mane is a powerful nootropic agent and antioxidant that can help your neurons stay healthy by protecting them from the damaging effects of free radicals within the body.

This makes it an excellent treatment option for those who want to improve memory, mental alertness, and even prevent brain disorders.

Immune Support

Mushrooms' bioactive components modify the immune system, promoting appropriate responses without overreaction.

They also reduce the severity of allergies and asthma.

Lion’s mane mushrooms are unique in that they have both stimulant effects on macrophages (a type of white blood cell) to increase their activity while suppressing overactive cells from causing inflammation within your body.

This makes for a powerful adaptogen, which helps your immune system function better and improves your overall health at the same time.

Best Lion’s Mane Dosage

If you're still a bit confused about how much Lion's Mane to take, don't worry.

The strength of the extract determines how much Lion's Mane Mushroom is used.

Lion's Mane extract (10:1 ratio) has a daily dosage of 500 – 1,000 mg taken 1 to 3 times per day. This indicates that if you take a daily dose of 1,000 mg of Lion's Mane extract, you should take 500 mg in the morning and another 500 mg at noon.

The retail doses of Lion's Mane extract typically range from 300 mg to 3000 mg per day, dosed 1-3 times per day.

Check the label for suggestions from the manufacturer.

Start with the lowest dose and observe how your body responds when you first take it.

In Summary

Lion's Mane Mushroom is a nootropic that has been used throughout history and is quickly gaining popularity in modern times for its ability to enhance cognitive function.

It works by promoting the production of nerve growth factors, which help your neurons stay healthy while protecting them from free radicals within the body.

This makes Lion's Mane an excellent choice if you're looking for a nootropic that can protect your brain from oxidative stress, prevent neurodegenerative diseases, and even improve immune function.

The perfect dosage to maximize Lion's Mane benefits is 500 – 1000 mg taken once or twice per day, depending on the strength of the extract you use.