Nootropic Review: Lion’s Mane Mushroom

Lion’s Mane is a nootropic mushroom going by the names of Sheep’s Head, Bear’s Head and Yamabushitake. The mushroom can be recognized immediately for its teeth-resembling spines compared to other mushrooms possessing the common cap-and-stem look. Lion’s mane has been utilized in Chinese medicine for centuries [1] [2].

Nootropic Stack

Lion’s Mane MushroomLion’s Mane is an excellent addition for a majority of stacks and can likely pair sufficiently with ALCAR, which is capable of enhancing NGF sensitivity in vitro. Further evidence indicate the nootropic to have memory-enhancing and anxiolytic properties that can mesh well with Bacopa [3].

Dosages of Lion’s Mane

A couple human studies to date involved using two to three grams of the nootropic extracted from fruiting bodies. Such studies noted a number of benefits through the given dosages. It’s still not clear if going above 3g/day would be a great benefit [4].

Nootropic Structure

Most of the research done involved focusing on two compounds: Erinacine and Hericenones. Hericenones usually found in the body of the mushroom while Erinacine taken from the mycelium. Both groups of compounds have a number of similar sub-components. The majority of them seem to trigger the release of growth factor.

Aside from the two compounds, the nootropic has a wealth of polysaccharides and some phenol content [4].

Absorption Properties

Certain absorption data for the Hericenones and Erinacine for humans has either been left unknown or never officially published. Recent studies in menopausal females indicate that it’s still not clear if such compounds made it past the blood-brain barrier [4].

Lion’s Mane Benefits

A study involving 18 rodents indicate that the nootropic has a neurodegenerative potential. Rats were divided into three groups: placebo, Lion’s Mane, and Methylcobalamin. The rodents were pre-treated for 2weeks by undergoing surgery to have sciatic nerve crushed, and then going for a 20-day post-surgical treatment.

Initial gait improvement was observed four days after both groups while the group without a placebo saw no changes. By the 10th day, the spreading of toes reverted back to its pre-surgical levels in both treated groups. Meanwhile, the placebo group showed no improvement. Scientists theorized that the nootropic improved recovery of the nerve via the neurogenesis.

A study that involved mice testing indicated the nootropic’s ability to support short term memory and recognition of objects after being exposed to beta-amyloid peptides. The beta-amyloid peptides are widely known for minimizing cognitive processes in rodents. Lion’s Mane was observed to curb cognitive deficit triggered by the beta amylase peptide by facilitating memory and object discrimination through a recognition test.

A Lion’s Mane extract of fruiting bodies found it to enhance healing of wounds when applied on the skin.Scientists observed minimal scarring and more blood vessel formation in the Lion’s Mane group compared to wounds treated with distilled water.

A one-month study consisting of 30 post-menopausal women showed that the nootropic was capable of minimizing anxiety and depression compared to those taking placebos. Volunteers were divided into two groups – one with powdered Lion’s mane (given in the form of cookies at four cookies daily consisting of 0.5 g of the nootropic), and the other with a placebo. After a month, patients from the Lion Mane’s group showcased less irritability, anxiety, and symptoms of depression compared to the placebo group [3] [5] [6].

Mechanism of Lion’s Mane

A number of studies showed how the Lion’s Mane is capable of improving the release of NGF. The compounds responsible were speculated to be Heroines and Erinacine. Human astrocytes cells study showcased how NGF expression through the JNK signaling along with the nootropic increased NGF and mRNA expression [7].

Lion’s Mane Safety and Side Effects

The nootropic has been culinary served in Asia for centuries and appears to be tolerated well by a majority of users.. One minor side effect observed in human clinical trials was gastrointestinal distress [8].


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