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Lion’s Mane mushroom has been a staple in the naturopathic and holistic health communities for a long time. Not only is the Lion’s Mane a delicious addition to most dishes, but it’s been used in traditional medicines for centuries to help promote gut health, cognition, and neurological health.
In this post, we’re going to attempt to cover the aptly named Lion’s Mane mushroom and its,
- Nutritional benefits
- Functional uses
- Ingestion methods
- And, some of the internet’s common questions about the mushroom
What Are Functional Mushrooms
Functional mushrooms, sometimes referred to as medicinal mushrooms, are fungi that may offer a range of health benefits like improved focus, reduced stress, and better sleep. They’re nothing new though. Some cultures have been using fungi in herbal medicine for thousands of years. One such fungus, and the focus of this post, is called Lions Mane Mushrooms, named after its resemblance to a grown male lion’s mane.
Functional mushrooms can also have adaptogenic properties meaning that they can help neutralize and prevent free radicals in your body. Free radicals can cause damage to your organs and cause long-term health problems if left unchecked.
What Is Lion’s Mane Mushroom?
Lion’s Mane Mushroom (Hericium erinaceus), sometimes called the “Pom Pom mushroom” has been used in traditional Chinese, Japanese, and Korean medicine for centuries.
These shaggy white mushrooms grow in decomposing wood, or in wood shavings if properly watered, and are sought after for their nutritional, functional, and cognitive benefits.
Lion’s Mane mushroom first and foremost is a nutritional powerhouse. A 100-gram sample of these mushrooms contains:
- 35 calories
- 7 grams of carbohydrates (2 of fiber)
- 2.5 grams of protein
- And, all the essential amino acids
Not only is Lion’s Mane mushroom a good source of macronutrients, it also contains a whole host of great micronutrients like,
- Vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, and B7
There are many ways to consume Lion’s Mane mushroom, too. Functional mushroom gummies and tinctures are becoming increasingly popular because of their convenience, but they can be added to pizza, pasta, grilled, or thrown into your favorite stirfry. When cooked, many people have said that Lion’s Mane mushroom tastes like imitation crab meat, making it a popular stand-in for vegan recipes.
Lion’s Mane Mushroom Is Not Psychadellic
While Lion’s Mane is chock-full of vitamins, minerals, and other beneficial compounds that we’ll cover in a moment, one thing Lion’s Mane does not have is any psychedelic properties. Lion’s Mane mushroom is not part of the psilocybe family of mushrooms and will not give you any hallucinogenic effects.
Lion’s Mane Mushroom contains unique organic compounds called polysaccharides that we believe contribute to the fungi’s health benefits.
Immune System Health
Beta-glucans are a naturally occurring polysaccharide found in Lion’s Mane mushrooms. They work by enhancing our immune defense by activating macrophages and enhancing our natural killer cells— two types of our white blood cell system.1
Much of our immune system relies on our gut health. If our tummy isn’t happy, neither are we. Lion’s Mane contains a good amount of fiber which helps promote gut health and a healthy microbiome.
In the same way Lion’s Mane enhances our immune system, it may also help with inflammation response. By working with our body’s immune system, this mushroom may be able to inhibit and prevent tissue inflammation in folks who experience chronic conditions.2
Lion’s Mane mushroom doesn’t stop at nutritional and functional benefits though. Researchers are studying Lion’s Mane for its potential to support brain health. Lion’s Mane mushrooms contain erinacines and hericenones, compounds some research suggests may stimulate nerve growth and myelin sheath maintenance.
Another study found that Lion’s Mane mushrooms helped improve cognitive function in older people dealing with mild impairment.3 Compared to a control group, people who took Lion’s Mane extract three times per day for four weeks showed significantly improved scores on cognitive function tests.
Nervous System Support
In a study performed on rats, researchers found that Lion’s Mane mushroom and its active functional compounds can delay neuron cell death in rats with neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.4
Moreover, Lion’s Mane also helped reduce neuropathic pain and helped regenerate nerve cells in some affected rats. While these findings are exciting, to say the least, it’s important to approach them with a grain of salt. We cannot make the same claims about humans until trials are completed, confirmed, and reproduced.
How To Use Lion’s Mane Mushroom
As both a culinary and functional mushroom, there are plenty of ways to incorporate this fungus into your everyday routine so you may reap its benefits.
One of the most simple, no-frills ways to take Lion’s Mane is via a capsule filled with extract powder. Add it to your morning collection of vitamins and medications and you’ll be good to go!
As we mentioned earlier, this fungus is a common stand-in for meat and seafood in many vegan dishes. It can be included in sautees, stir-fries, soups, and more. Just be sure to clean your produce and mushrooms before you feast!
If you’re not a huge fan of the earthy mushroom taste, you can always opt for a functional mushroom gummy. The citrus flavors of most gummies are very effective in covering the taste of mushroom extracts, plus they don’t give you any earthy indigestion that you may experience with capsules.
Frequently Asked Questions About Lion’s Mane Mushrooms
Can You Take It With CBD?
You can take Lion’s Mane mushroom together with CBD. Both have relatively good safety profiles and do not interact with each other in any negative way that we know about so far. In fact, there are some gummies on the market that combine functional mushrooms and CBD.
Just be sure to read a product’s certificate of analysis so that you know what dose you’re taking.
Does It Make You High?
Lion’s Mane mushroom will not make you feel “high” or intoxicated as it’s not a psychedelic substance and will not induce any feelings of euphoria. Some people who take this fungus have reported that Lion’s Mane makes them feel more alert, able to focus, and in better spirits.
Is It Illegal?
Lion’s Mane mushroom is not illegal and has been a perfectly legal culinary mushroom for a long time.
Who Should Not Take Lion’s Mane?
People who are pregnant or are currently breastfeeding should avoid taking this functional mushroom only because we don’t yet know how it affects (if at all) development.
People who are diabetic should consult their doctor before they decide to add Lion’s Mane to their daily regimen.
And, people who have an allergy to mushrooms should avoid this functional mushroom.
Are There Any Side Effects?
Common side effects of taking Lion’s Mane mushroom include:
- Stomach discomfort
- Skin irritation
Does It Interfere With Any Medications?
You should avoid taking Lion’s Mane mushroom if you are currently on blood thinning medication. This functional mushroom is known to interfere with clotting and can cause bruising.
Always consult with your pharmacist if you’re unsure about medication interactions.
- Akramiene, Dalia et al. “Effects of beta-glucans on the immune system.” Medicina (Kaunas, Lithuania) vol. 43,8 (2007): 597-606.
- Mori, Koichiro et al. “The Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Lion’s Mane Culinary-Medicinal Mushroom, Hericium erinaceus (Higher Basidiomycetes) in a Coculture System of 3T3-L1 Adipocytes and RAW264 Macrophages.” International journal of medicinal mushrooms vol. 17,7 (2015): 609-18. doi:10.1615/intjmedmushrooms.v17.i7.10
- Mori, Koichiro et al. “Improving effects of the mushroom Yamabushitake (Hericium erinaceus) on mild cognitive impairment: a double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial.” Phytotherapy research : PTR vol. 23,3 (2009): 367-72. doi:10.1002/ptr.2634
- Li, I-Chen et al. “Neurohealth Properties of Hericium erinaceus Mycelia Enriched with Erinacines.” Behavioural neurology vol. 2018 5802634. 21 May. 2018, doi:10.1155/2018/5802634