Lion's Mane

Lion's Mane

Written by Steven Sanders

A Nootropic mushroom for risk-averse Biohackers with a wide range of cognition-enhancing effects.

Hericium Erinaceus, or the Lion’s Mane mushroom, is a unique member of the mushroom family that shows nootropic properties. The mushroom gets its name from its appearance when it reaches maturity, which looks like a Lion's Mane. This article aims to take a closer look at the Lion’s Mane mushroom. This includes what it might help with and what the science behind it says. It will also take a look at what users have to say about Lion’s Mane.

Scientific Research
History and Origin
Neuroprotective Properties
Depression and Anxiety
Treating Ulcers
Reduction of Heart Disease Risk
Weight and Diabetes Management
Nervous System Injuries
Immune System Booster
Usage & Dosage
Side Effects
Risk Grade
Mysterious Mushrooms

This article is mostly going to focus on decoding what the human studies are saying about Lion's Mane and how this squares up with the anecdotal experiences of Biohackers online. For more of my own personal experiences, thoughts, and comparisons please see the written and video reviews in the sidebar.

The Lion's Mane mushroom is large and white, with a hair-like texture that cascades downwards. There are countless other names for these fungi, so you may have seen it described under a different title. It is also sometimes referred to as the Yamabushitake mushroom, the Satyr’s Beard, or the Monkey Head mushroom. Its effects have been used for thousands of years, particularly by Buddhist monks. After centuries, it seems like modern medicine is finally discovering the benefits of this fungus. So many years later, and it still holds promise to this day in giving users a myriad of benefits.

 Scientific Research

lion's mane effects diagram

In the notable 6-month double-blind placebo-controlled human study done on Lion's Mane, the dosage administered was 3 grams daily. You would have to do about 8 capsules daily of Neuro-Stack to get that much, although the study was done on cognitively impaired middle-aged and elderly Japanese patients. You probably need a whole lot less of the stuff. In human research, there are several remarkable effects of Lion's Mane...

 History and Origin

Found primarily in North America, Europe, and East Asia, the Lion's Mane mushroom has a long history of being used in traditional medical practices. The ancient Chinese referred to mushrooms as the “spirit plant”, as they believed mushrooms to be a source of longevity and spiritual wisdom. The ancient Chinese used the Lion's Mane mushroom for a variety of digestive ailments, long before modern medicine came onto the scene.

 Neuroprotective Properties

Alzheimer’s and Dementia are terrible illnesses that not only affect the sufferer but also their families and friends. One of the biggest draws of Lion’s Mane is its neuroprotective properties. Lion’s mane mushroom can be used to help protect against the onset of dementia. In other words, it has the potential to help retain mental functions such as memory and general cognition. These mushrooms contain two compounds, called hericenones and erinacines, that are known to help stimulate brain cell growth. In animal studies, it has also shown the potential to help with serious neurodegenerative diseases such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

lions mane alzheimers mechanism

A 2011 report on Lion’s Mane takes a deeper look into these properties, stating:

“It has been reported that [Lion's Mane] promotes nerve growth factor secretion in vitro and in vivo. Nerve growth factor is involved in maintaining and organizing cholinergic neurons in the central nervous system. These findings suggest that [Lion's Mane] may be appropriate for the prevention or treatment of dementia.”

To understand how this works, it’s important to take a look at nerve growth factor and the role Lion’s Mane plays in it.

Lion’s Mane stimulates nerve growth factor synthesis in the brain. Nerve growth factor is a protein in the brain. It plays a huge role in the health of your neurons. Specifically, it helps to maintain as well as regenerate neurons. These neurons are significant in regular cognitive function.

A Canadian biohacker on Longecity explains...

For [Lion's] mane, hericinones are in the fruiting body and erinacines are in the mycelium and both have shown NGF stimulation

 A Japanese study was conducted on older adults with mild symptoms of cognitive impairment in which they took 3 grams of Lion’s Mane a day for 4 months. The participants showed improvement until the supplementation was stopped. The study concluded:

“The [Lion's Mane] group's scores increased with the duration of intake, but at week 4 after the termination of the 16 weeks intake, the scores decreased significantly. Laboratory tests showed no adverse effect of [Lion's Mane]. The results obtained in this study suggest that [Lion's Mane] is effective in improving mild cognitive impairment.”

 Depression and Anxiety

Mental health conditions like depression and anxiety can make it significantly more difficult to function in everyday life. Lion’s mane has been studied in mice for its ability to improve mood. Some studies have shown that Lion's Mane mushroom can improve the functioning of the hippocampus because of its ability to stimulate brain cell growth.

This region of the brain controls the processes associated with memory and emotional responses. The consensus among researchers is that if the functioning of the hippocampus is improved, then emotion regulation will improve.

This, in turn, would lead to a reduction in symptoms of anxiety and depression. This could be quite effective in cases of mild anxiety or depression, but you would probably still have to utilize an antidepressant in cases of more severe symptoms.

A 2018 Korean study looked at the potential of Lion’s Mane for depressive and anxiety measures through testing on mice. They concluded:

The results indicate that chronic [Lion’s Mane] administration can exert anxiolytic and antidepressant-like effects, possibly by enhancing adult hippocampal neurogenesis.”

 Treating Ulcers

Stomach ulcers are sores that can form anywhere in the digestive system. The most common causes of these ulcers are the overgrowth of bacteria in the gut, and damage to the stomach from the daily use of NSAIDs like aspirin.

The bacteria, called H. pylori, has been shown to have its growth inhibited by Lion's Mane mushroom. These results come from studies conducted in test-tubes, but it’s strongly hypothesized that these same results would occur in the stomach. The evidence was concluded with the following;

“This study revealed that the extracts from petroleum ether contribute to the anti-H. Pylori activity.”

A 2015 Chinese paper looked at why Lion’s Mane was useful for ulcers and concluded that it is the beneficial polysaccharide components in the mushroom. To be exact;

“These results indicate that the polysaccharide fraction is the active component of the [Lion’s Mane] mycelium culture, which protects against gastric ulcers.”

Lion’s mane also works to treat ulcers due to its anti-inflammatory properties. This makes Lion's Mane effective for other conditions like Irritable Bowel Disease and Crohn's.

 Reduction of Heart Disease Risk

Heart Disease

Heart disease is a leading cause of death in the United States and elsewhere. Some causes of this condition are high cholesterol, obesity, and a sedentary lifestyle. If dietary and exercise changes are not enough, adding Lion's Mane mushroom might be worth adding to your regimen with the advice of a doctor.

While most studies have been performed on animals, Lion's Mane has shown some promising effects for symptoms that lead to heart disease. Studies have shown that Lion's Mane can lower triglyceride levels.

This positively affects your cholesterol in a way that reduces your risk of heart disease. A 2010 study, in particular, showed 27% lower triglyceride levels in rats that were fed high-fat diets over the course of a month.

 Weight and Diabetes Management

Weight management

Diabetes can be a very difficult illness to manage, especially for those that lead busy lives and have little time to deal with their blood sugar. Lion’s mane mushroom can be added to a treatment regimen to make managing this condition a little easier.

By blocking the alpha-glucosidase enzyme, Lion's Mane prevents the body from properly digesting carbohydrates. Since the body cannot digest those carbs properly, the result is a lower blood sugar level. Some studies show Lion's Mane has the ability to lower blood sugar levels in mice, both healthy and diabetic.

Lion’s Mane also helps lipid metabolism in high-fat diets, as the study discussed in the previous section suggested. This means that not only might it help diabetes, but weight as well. The study used a hot water extract (HW-E) and ethanol extract (EtOH-E) of the mushroom. It was shown that;

“Administration of [hot water extract] or [ethanol extract] with a high-fat diet for 28 [days] resulted in a significant decrease in body weight gain, fat weight, and serum and hepatic triacylglycerol levels.”

Another benefit of Lion's Mane mushroom is its use for diabetic nerve pain. This pain most often affects the hands and feet and can range from mild to severe. This could be extremely beneficial for those struggling with diabetic nerve pain who have trouble managing their pain through other means.

Lion’s mane shows quite a bit of promise in treating diabetes, but more research is needed before any major conclusions can be made.

 Nervous System Injuries 

The nervous system is comprised of the brain, spinal cord, and the network of nerves that span the body. Injuries to the central nervous system are serious and require significant treatment to protect your quality of life. These injuries can be incapacitating, leading to paralysis or even death.

What’s amazing is that Lion's Mane mushroom has been studied for its ability to help improve the condition of these injuries. One example is the ability of this mushroom to repair nerve cells. The repair of nerve cells could make a significant impact on injuries where paralysis is present.

The use of Lion’s Mane is also helpful in speeding the recovery from nervous system injuries by as much as 23% to 41%. A Malaysian study on rats found that;

“These data suggest that the daily oral administration of aqueous extract of [Lion’s Mane] fresh fruiting bodies could promote the regeneration of injured rat peroneal nerve in the early stage of injury.”

Another way that Lion's Mane mushroom can help nervous system injuries is by reducing the severity of brain damage following a stroke. A stroke is an event wherein the blood supply to a part of the brain is interrupted. Like any part of the body, lack of blood flow causes tissue to die, and this is extremely dangerous in the brain.

Strokes can lead to partial paralysis, speech dysfunction, and neurological impairment. Lion’s Mane mushroom has been shown to reduce the severity of brain damage following a stroke. This could be a game changer in the way that strokes are currently treated.

No studies have been done on humans yet, but there is growing evidence from studies completed on mice. If these experiments prove fruitful, we may one day see Lion's Mane mushroom become a part of the standard care for stroke victims.

 Immune System Booster

The immune system is our first line of defense against all of the things in the world that can get you sick. If your immune system is compromised, due to illness or poor health, you are much more likely to get sick. For those who are immunocompromised, getting sick with a mild cold can end up being a significant event with serious consequences.

A Chinese study found that Lion's Mane mushroom can boost the health of the immune system by working in the gut. By boosting the part of the immune system in the intestines, the body can ward off pathogens that were ingested. They noted:

“Here, we report that [Lion's Mane] improves immune function by functionally enhancing cell-mediated and humoral immunity, macrophage phagocytosis, and NK cell activity.”

While this could be potentially life-changing for people with compromised immune systems, more research is needed. More studies have to be done before we will truly know the effects that Lion's Mane mushroom will have on the human immune system.


When looking to try a new supplement, it can be helpful to read some testimonials from people who have taken it themselves. A simple internet search can reveal a plethora of posts from people who have taken Lion's Mane for one condition or another. Most of these people have reported few or no side effects from taking Lion's Mane mushroom.

Among the testimonials, you’re likely to find comments from other people who have taken the supplement. In these comments, you’ll find advice from other users about dosage, side effects, and what to watch out for when taking Lion's Mane mushroom.

One user who was familiar with other nootropics stated the following:

“Lion’s Mane increases my energy, doesn’t give me that weird head sensation that Racetams induce in me, acts as an anti-anxiety agent, stacks great with caffeine + theanine, reduces the memory impairing effects of kratom, and increases my motivation.”

A reader privately relayed to me this disappointing experience...

Admittedly, my experience is mostly anecdotal. I began taking [Lion's Mane] about 5-6months before I noticed that I was failing to get aroused before sex with my wife (sorry for the graphic details). This only happened once or twice, but it had never happened to me before! I started to panic. I began to look into possible causes. I came across a Reddit forum in which many user claimed to have similar experiences. The consensus was that upon eradication of the supplement sex drive came back again. I decided to drop [Lion's Mane] and since that time (over a year now) have never had the same problem, thank God. I have read several studies since the time that alude to this possible side effect, so I was under the assumption that you already were aware. But like you stated, there are many factors, including placebo, that could have resulted in my experience.

Hot Water Extracted

This is the optimal extraction method for the bioavailability of Lion's Mane's constituent parts.


These recommended vendors all offer it lab-tested for purity...

You can get it powdered (the most economical form) from or capsuled (the most convenient form) from Double Wood Supplements. Lost Empire Herbs in the USA offers Organic Dual Extracted Lion's Mane powdered at an 8:1 proportion. And in the EU, I recommend getting it from Indigo Herbs in the UK.

Lion's Mane Rich Nootropic Stacks?

Look for Lion's Mane from 100% mushroom fruiting body. There's a huge difference in potency -  this is a true full-spectrum mushroom, most others are not. Organic Lion's Mane mushrooms are farm grown on natural substrates. This kind of Lion's Mane is NOT mycelium that is grown on grain. This is what most mushroom products do, and it's called "Grain Spawn" - That way of producing is antiquated and you lose 30-60% potency. If a mushroom supplement doesn't explicitly state (and prove) that it is none-mycelium, non-grain spawn, and grown on natural substrates (typically, old trees), it's probably crappy mushroom stock not worth consuming.

Demand a COA

I'd encourage you to examine the certificate of analysis for the Lion's Mane, and demand to see the COA of any mushroom supplement you're considering purchasing or consuming! Mushrooms have a propensity to attract toxins, thus it's key to check out the parts per million of undesirable toxins section of the COA, otherwise, you might end up consuming poisonous mushrooms.

Lions mane COA

Double-check that the heavy metals fall within acceptable toxicity ranges

Micronized Lion's Mane; is labeling jargon that you'll see on a lot of Lion's Mane products. It's a red flag of low-quality stuff.

The danger in Chinese sourced mushrooms is explained here...

I assume that everyone reading these posts understands that China geology contains the largest and most wide spread deposits of about all of the rare earth metals and many of the toxic heavy metals besides that class. The aquifer is contaminated with these. Extensive mining and intrusive extraction without regulation has caused the largest contamination area on the planet. I doubt if it is possible to obtain any products from China that do not exceed some toxic metal values. This is a real and present danger.

Downloadable Lion's Mane?

You may be interested in taking it as an infoceutical - a non-pharmacological, side-effect-free version of the supplement that takes advantage of the phenomenon of water memory - which is imprinted on water via quantum collocation and electromagnetism using this device...

Infoceuticals typically have 1/3 or half the effect of the actual medicine being imprinted. If you're skeptical of Infopathy that's understandable, it's a game-changing application of a little-known scientific phenomenon. But I'd urge you to evaluate the scientific evidence (presented in my biohacker review) that downloadable medicine is no longer science fiction...

 Usage & Dosage

In the clinical studies, the dosage used was three doses daily of 1000 milligrams (3000 milligrams total)

In Nootropic stacks, it's used in smaller dosages. I've taken 500 to 1400 milligrams daily which enhanced my productivity, mood, and memory. Dave Asprey, the godfather of biohacking, opines on mushroom coffee in his book, Fast This Way...

If you’re a masochist, you can make adaptogen or mushroom tea or coffee. Expect a bitter, earthy flavor. But there’s no reason to choke down mushroom tea; you can take adaptogenic mushrooms as capsules or liquid droppersful. Powdered mushrooms are not as strong as a high-quality extract, and I’ve never experienced any benefit from taking them in that form. There’s a reason for that: some compounds in mushrooms can be extracted only with hot water, others only by alcohol. If you’re going to all the trouble of buying adaptogen mushrooms, I would highly encourage you to go for the liquid extracts. Pro tip: putting mushroom powder into your coffee is a terrible idea because it tastes nasty, and there’s no benefit to polluting the taste of your coffee anyway. The best mushroom extracts are dual-extracted with alcohol and hot water, then bottled in glass bottles with droppers. The flavor is mild (you can put it into your coffee without ruining it) and the effect is dramatic. (pp. 182-183)

 Side Effects

Generally, Lion’s Mane is a non-toxic substance and, as we’ve covered here, is safe to take. As such, there are very few side effects that users need to worry about. A 2016 study looked at the effects of Lion’s Mane mushrooms on rats and found that no side effects presented themselves, even at high doses. They stated:

“The results showed that the oral administration of [Lion’s Mane] daily at three different doses for 90 days had no adverse effect on the general behaviour, body weight, haematology, clinical biochemistry, and relative organ weights.”

The biggest concern about the side effects of Lion’s Mane mushroom in humans is allergic reactions. Because of this, if you are allergic to mushrooms, Lion’s Mane mushroom should be avoided.

 Risk Grade: B+

  • It's a natural, non-toxic mushroom, not some sort of exotic, molecule created in a laboratory or a pharmaceutical factory.
  • It's been the subject of several human clinical trials totaling 60 participants, one which lasted 4 weeks and the other 6 months.
  • A 90-day animal study noted no adverse effects.
  • It would be nice to see some population studies or long-term studies with follow-up after years of usage.
  • There was one case of an elderly man who was hospitalized for acute respiratory failure. Apparently, the guy had excess lymphocytes which negatively reacted to the Lion's Mane extract he had been using for 4 months.
  • Pure organic, Lion's Mane grown on natural substrates probably deserves an A+ grade but a lot of the Lion's Mane out there is of lower quality. The fruiting bodies of mushrooms attract a lot of toxins from their environments via Mycoremediation which is why you only want Lion's Mane that comes from a pristine source.

 Mysterious Mushrooms

Mushrooms are a fascinating life form worth learning more about...

Check out mushroom guru Paul Stamets's interview with Joe Rogan...


Lion's Mane
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Lion's Mane
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Lion's Mane - The Best Nootropic Mushroom


Health Benefits Of Lion's Mane
Lion’s Mane — The best Nootropic mushroom


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