Lion’s mane mushroom (Hericium erinaceus) has been used commonly throughout Asia for years as both a food item and a medicinal supplement. The top of the mushroom is big, white, and fluffy and looks similar to a lion’s mane—hence the name.
Lion’s mane mushroom offers nutritional benefits when added to your diet or taken as a supplement. The mushroom contains antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, among others. Most research on lion’s mane has been completed on animals, but there are some studies that have researched the effects on humans.
Lion’s mane mushroom has anti-inflammatory properties that may help protect your brain from diseases such as Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease.
In one study, participants with Alzheimer’s took a one-gram supplement of lion’s mane mushroom daily for almost one year. The results found the people who took the supplement performed better on cognitive tests than the people who received a placebo.
Another study found participants showed improvements in cognitive function after taking a supplement containing lion’s mane mushroom for 12 weeks. The researchers noted lion’s mane mushroom may have potential effects on the nerve cells in the brain leading to improvement in cognitive function.
Lion’s mane mushroom may help relieve symptoms of major depressive disorder. Depression is a common mental health condition that affects more than 280 million people in the world.
Lion’s mane mushroom may be used as a complementary or alternative therapy for depression. The mushroom has anti-inflammatory properties which may have antidepressant effects. Research also suggests lion’s mane mushroom has an effect on brain activity and nervous system regulation that may help reduce depression. However, it’s important to consult your healthcare provider before altering or starting any new treatments for depression.
Lion’s mane mushroom may be beneficial for other mood disorders and some sleep disorders. One study found taking a lion’s mane mushroom supplement for eight weeks decreased depression and anxiety and improved sleep quality in people with obesity or higher weights.
As a food, lion’s mane mushroom offers several vitamins and nutrients. A 100 gram (g) portion of lion’s mane mushroom contains:
- Calories: 43
- Protein: 2.5 g
- Carbohydrates: 7.6 g
- Fiber: 4.4 g
- Fat: 0.26 g
- Potassium: 443 milligrams (mg), or 15% of the Daily Value (DV)
- Phosphorous: 94 mg
- Water: 88.6 g
- Biotin: 16.9 micrograms (µg)
- Folate: 30 (µg)
Lion’s mane mushroom is a good source of potassium. Potassium is an important mineral that helps with kidney and heart function as well as muscle contraction and nerve transmission.
It also offers minerals like phosphorus, which helps grow and maintain cells, and magnesium, which helps regulate muscle and nerve function, among other things.
Lion’s mane mushrooms are available to eat raw, cooked, or dried. You can add them to soups, sauces, or stir-fries or saute and season them for a side dish. There are also lion’s mane mushroom burgers available at some grocery stores.
Other than food items, Lion’s mane mushroom is also available as a supplement in the form of capsules, powders, or liquid extracts.
Lion’s mane mushroom has been shown to be safe to take at a dose of one gram per day for up to 16 weeks.
A study based on self-reported use of lion’s mane mushroom has shown people taking up to 3 grams of the mushroom twice per day.
Since research is limited, talk to your healthcare provider before you take lion’s mane mushroom and they can recommend a specific dosage for you.
As a food item, Lion’s mane mushroom is safe to eat. As a supplement, Lion’s mane mushroom has been tolerated well in research with very few side effects reported.
There is not enough research about consuming lion’s mane mushroom while pregnant or breastfeeding, so it’s best to avoid it during those times.
Potential Drug Interactions
Lion’s mane mushroom may have antiplatelet effects, meaning it prevents blood clots from forming. This could increase your risk for bleeding, especially when used with anticoagulant medications, or blood thinners.
Some research shows lion’s mane mushroom may lower blood sugar levels. It could have an additive effect when paired with other herbs or supplements that lower blood sugar, causing your levels to drop too low.
Talk to your healthcare provider about any concerns you may have about drug interactions with lion’s mane.
What to Look For
You can purchase lion’s mane mushroom at most grocery stores. When buying lion’s mane mushroom as a supplement, it’s important to look for products that have been third-party tested for quality and safety. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not regulate supplements the same way it regulates food and drug products.
Organizations like ConsumerLab.com, NSF International, and U.S. Pharmacopeia test to make sure the product has the correct ingredients and amounts, and does not contain harmful contaminants. Products tested by these organizations will display a seal of approval.
Can You Have Too Much Lion’s Mane Mushroom?
Lion’s mane mushroom is generally safe to eat, but there is currently no set standard for an upper level of lion’s mane supplements. One gram per day has been shown to be a safe amount for up to 16 weeks.
It’s best to follow the instructions for dosing listed on the supplement product.
There are few reported side effects of taking lion’s mane mushroom supplement. Some of the side effects may include:
- Upset stomach
- Skin rash (when used topically)
Overall, the majority of people who take lion’s mane mushrooms don’t experience side effects and the mushroom is safe to eat in moderate amounts.
Lion’s mane mushrooms can be eaten as a food or taken in the form of a supplement, powder, or liquid extract.
The research on the health benefits of this mushroom is limited, but shows promise for improvements in brain function and symptoms of depression. The mushroom also contains plenty of vitamins and nutrients, and is a good source of potassium.
The supplement of lion’s mane has limited side effects, but it’s important to talk to your healthcare provider to determine if lion’s mane mushroom is appropriate for your individual health needs.