The History and Health Benefits of Lion's Mane Mushroom


What is Lion's Mane?

Also known as Yamabushitake, this mushrooms is notorious for it's unique looks as it's large, white, and shaggy, resembling a lion’s mane. They grow on old or dead broadleaf trees and can be enjoyed raw, cooked, dried, steeped as a tea, or as supplements. Many describe their flavor as “seafood-like,” often comparing it to crab or lobster [1].

History of Lion's Mane 

Lions Mane can be found growing on many different tree species. In traditional Chinese medicine, it was used as a tonic for supporting overall health and longevity.

Buddhist monks were said to have used Lion’s Mane mushroom powder as a tea to enhance brain power and heighten their focus during meditation. This mushroom is referred to as Hou Tou Gu (Monkey Head Mushroom) in China and Yamabushitake in Japan [2].

What does it do?

Brain Health

Protects Against Dementia

Lion's Mane has been shown to protect against cognitive decline, which is caused by β-amyloid pigmentation* [5], as it stimulates new brain cells and protects them from damage against Alzheimer's disease.  One human study in Nagano Japan revealed using 3g of 98% Lion's Mane powder three times per day showed significant improvements after 16 weeks in subjects suffering from general cognitive decline [6].

*β-amyloid is a large membrane protein that normally plays an essential role in neural growth and repair. A corrupted form can destroy nerve cells, leading to the loss of thought and memory in Alzheimer's disease.

Nervous System Recovery

Lion's Mane ethanol extract appears to increase nerve growth factor levels* [3].

When looking at neurons specifically, Lion's Mane appears to promote neuronal prolongation and formation of myelin, which can even help speed recovery from nerve injuries by stimulating the growth and repair of nerve cells [4][7].

*Nerve growth factor is an insulin-like protein, which regulates growth, development and maintenance of sympathetic and embryonic sensory neurons.


Heart Health 

Studies have been done expressing that Lion’s Mane mushroom extract improves fat metabolism and lowers triglyceride levels [8].

One study in subjects fed a high-fat diet and given daily doses of Lion’s Mane extract observed 27% lower triglyceride levels and 42% less weight gain after 28 days. 

Obesity and high triglycerides are both considered risk factors for heart disease, so this is one way that Lion’s Mane can contribute to heart health.

Inflammation and Oxidative Stress

Research has also shown that Lion’s Mane contains powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds that may help reduce the impact of certain illnesses [9].

One study examining the antioxidant abilities of a variety of different mushroom species found that Lion’s Mane had the fourth highest antioxidant activity and recommended it be considered a good dietary source of antioxidants [10].

Several studies have found that Lion’s Mane extract reduced markers of inflammation and oxidative stress in subjects and may be especially useful in the management of inflammatory bowel disease, liver damage and stroke.


Lion’s Mane may be beneficial in lowering symptoms of diabetes by improving blood sugar control and reducing some diabetic side effects.

Several studies have shown that Lion’s Mane can cause significantly lower blood sugar levels, even at daily dosages as low as 2.7 mg per pound of body weight [11][12]. It can lower blood sugar by blocking the activity of the enzyme alpha-glucosidase, which breaks down carbs in the small intestine. 

Digestive Health 

Another benefit of the anti-inflammatory properties of Lion's Mane is the ability to improve digestive/gut health. Fighting inflammation can result in the growth of good bacteria in the gut, which can benefit people with irritable bowl syndrome. 

Studies have also shown that antibacterial activity Lion's Mane has on the gut improves overall digestion and can even protect against stomach ulcers [14][15]. 


Evidence has shown that Lion's Mane can contribute to certain cancer prevention or treatment thanks to it's high levels of antioxidants; however, it is not promised that this is 100% effective.

A study done in Changsha, China found that the extracts of Lion's Mane mushroom may fight, specifically, liver, colon, and gastric cancer cells. The study further showed that the compounds in Lion's Mane can be used alone for potential treatment of cancer, or in conjunction with chemotherapy [16].


Lion's Mane is known for it's drastic effective on the brain. Not only does Lion's Mane improve brain function over time, but it provides a natural boost of focus throughout the day, as well as improving immune system, improving nerve injuries, reducing inflammation, and other great properties. 

It has been reported that effective doses vary from 500mg-3000mg (96% purity extract)[13], though it is important to consult with your doctor before taking a Lion's Mane supplement. 



1. Jiang, S., Wang, S., Sun, Y., & Zhang, Q. (2014). Medicinal properties of Hericium erinaceus and its potential to formulate novel mushroom-based pharmaceuticals. Applied microbiology and biotechnology98(18), 7661–7670.

2. The Story of the Lions Mane Mushroom. Super Batter. (2020). Retrieved 4 November 2021, from

3. Mori, K., Obara, Y., Hirota, M., Azumi, Y., Kinugasa, S., Inatomi, S., & Nakahata, N. (2008). Nerve growth factor-inducing activity of Hericium erinaceus in 1321N1 human astrocytoma cells. Biological & pharmaceutical bulletin31(9), 1727–1732.

4. Moldavan, M., Grygansky, A., Kolotushkina, O., Kirchhoff, B., Skibo, G., & Pedarzani, P. (2007). Neurotropic and Trophic Action of Lion's Mane Mushroom Hericium erinaceus (Bull.: Fr.) Pers. (Aphyllophoromycetideae) Extracts on Nerve Cells in Vitro. International Journal Of Medicinal Mushrooms9(1), 15-28.

5. Mori, K., Obara, Y., Moriya, T., Inatomi, S., & Nakahata, N. (2011). Effects of Hericium erinaceus on amyloid β(25-35) peptide-induced learning and memory deficits in mice. Biomedical research (Tokyo, Japan)32(1), 67–72.

6. Mori, K., Inatomi, S., Ouchi, K., Azumi, Y., & Tuchida, T. (2009). Improving effects of the mushroom Yamabushitake (Hericium erinaceus) on mild cognitive impairment: a double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial. Phytotherapy research : PTR23(3), 367–372.

7. Samberkar, S., Gandhi, S., Naidu, M., Wong, K. H., Raman, J., & Sabaratnam, V. (2015). Lion's Mane, Hericium erinaceus and Tiger Milk, Lignosus rhinocerotis (Higher Basidiomycetes) Medicinal Mushrooms Stimulate Neurite Outgrowth in Dissociated Cells of Brain, Spinal Cord, and Retina: An In Vitro Study. International journal of medicinal mushrooms17(11), 1047–1054.

8. Choi, W. S., Kim, Y. S., Park, B. S., Kim, J. E., & Lee, S. E. (2013). Hypolipidaemic Effect of Hericium erinaceum Grown in Artemisia capillaris on Obese Rats. Mycobiology41(2), 94–99.

9. Hou, Y., Ding, X., & Hou, W. (2015). Composition and antioxidant activity of water-soluble oligosaccharides from Hericium erinaceus. Molecular medicine reports11(5), 3794–3799.

10. Abdullah, N., Ismail, S. M., Aminudin, N., Shuib, A. S., & Lau, B. F. (2012). Evaluation of Selected Culinary-Medicinal Mushrooms for Antioxidant and ACE Inhibitory Activities. Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM2012, 464238.

11. He, X., Wang, X., Fang, J., Chang, Y., Ning, N., Guo, H., Huang, L., Huang, X., & Zhao, Z. (2017). Structures, biological activities, and industrial applications of the polysaccharides from Hericium erinaceus (Lion's Mane) mushroom: A review. International journal of biological macromolecules97, 228–237.

13. Roberts, A. (2021). Lion's Mane Dosage: How Much Should You Take?. MindLabPro. Retrieved 4 November 2021, from

14. Wang, M., Konishi, T., Gao, Y., Xu, D., & Gao, Q. (2015). Anti-Gastric Ulcer Activity of Polysaccharide Fraction Isolated from Mycelium Culture of Lion's Mane Medicinal Mushroom, Hericium erinaceus (Higher Basidiomycetes). International journal of medicinal mushrooms17(11), 1055–1060.

15. Liu, J. H., Li, L., Shang, X. D., Zhang, J. L., & Tan, Q. (2016). Anti-Helicobacter pylori activity of bioactive components isolated from Hericium erinaceus. Journal of ethnopharmacology183, 54–58.

16. Li, G., Yu, K., Li, F., Xu, K., Li, J., He, S., Cao, S., & Tan, G. (2014). Anticancer potential of Hericium erinaceus extracts against human gastrointestinal cancers. Journal of ethnopharmacology153(2), 521–530.