Lion's Mane (Hericium erinaceus)
Lion’s mane, bear tooth, hedgehog, yamabushitake
Grows on deadwood of hardwoods and wounds in living trees. Hericium abietis can be found on softwoods like douglas fir, spruce and hemlock in California and the Pacific Northwest.
White mushroom with white spines that hang down like thin icicles
Mushroom/sporophore/basidiocarp, mycelium, primordia
Erinacines (mycelium), hericenones, polysaccharides, galactoxyloglucan, glycoxylan, mannoglucoxylan, (1-3, 1-6)-ß-D-glucans
The most studied constituents in lion’s mane are erinacines and hericenones, found in the mycelium and mushroom, respectively. Erinacines are cyathin diterpenoids and have thus far only been found in mycelium extracts of lion’s mane. Erinacine A and S have been shown to increase nerve growth factor mRNA expression while erinacine E is a κ opioid receptor agonist (1). Hericenones are diterpenoids that promote a healthy inflammatory process through the inhibition of the transcription factor NF-κB. Hericerins are aromatic compounds that inhibit COX-2, and reduce iNOS, PGE2, TNF-α, IL-6 and IL-1 (2,3).
Anti-fatigue. Animal studies demonstrate significant anti-fatigue activity through an increase in tissue glycogen content and a decrease in both blood lactic acid and serum urea nitrogen (4).
Nervous System. In an animal model, polysaccharides extracted from fresh fruiting bodies of lion's mane were administered to rats with peroneal nerve injury, and the rat's ability to respond to heat stimulus and general recovery was significantly improved compared to the control (5,6). This aqueous extract contains neuroactive compounds that induce nerve growth factor synthase, which is important for promoting the growth and differentiation of neurons.
Another animal model demonstrated that aqueous extract of lion's mane mushroom administered to rats with alloxan-induced diabetic neuropathic pain reversed diabetes-induced thermal hyperalgesia and mechanical allodynia. These diabetic rats also showed significant decrease in serum and urine glucose (7).
Aqueous extracts also have been shown to ameliorate various pathologies related to cognitive decline. Mycelial extracts containing erinacine A and S have been shown to inhibit plaque growth, diminish activation of glial cells, and promote hippocampal neurogenesis (8).
Lion's mane extract decreased nervous tension in animals with a chronic high-dose administration at 60mg/kg. After four weeks at this dose, there was significantly less nervous behavior in the mice compared to the control group. There was also an increase in the number of proliferating cells in the subgranular zone of the dentate gyrus, thereby enhancing hippocampal neurogenesis. This proliferation is associated with an increase in nerve growth factor production stimulated by the mushroom extract (9).
In an animal study, mice with alcohol-induced gastric damage were administered a mushroom polysaccharide extract of H. erinaceus. There was a significant improvement in treated mice compared with the control, with fewer ulcerations, fewer inflammatory cytokines, and improvement in overall regulation of gastric secretions (10).
Current and traditional medicinal use
History and folk use.
Although lion’s mane is now widely known for its nootropic effects, it was traditionally used in Chinese medicine to reduce gastrointestinal heat. This toothed mushroom can be cooked as food or taken as an extract.
Mental health. The promotion of a healthy inflammatory response and enhancement of nerve growth factor has potential to support mental health, specifically in menopausal females. In one randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial, women were given four cookies with .5g of powdered lion's mane mushroom or placebo for four weeks. The women consuming the lion’s mane cookies experienced significantly less nervous tension and low mood compared with the placebo (11).
Gastrointestinal. Preliminary clinical research suggests that taking H. erinaceus before meals daily for three months improves symptoms of gastrointestinal distress. In this study, patients who presented with chronic gastrointestinal distress were given either lion’s mane extract or placebo. The lion’s mane group had significant improvement in upper abdominal pain, dysplasia, and an overall healthier inflammatory response (12).
Double extraction. 1:1 - 1:5 liquid extract. The mushroom has been extracted with both water and alcohol.
Hot aqueous extract. Mushroom has been boiled for multiple hours either as a tea or used as a broth.
Powdered extract. 1:1 - 10:1. May be extracted only with water or with both water and alcohol. The extract is then dehydrated into a powdered extract. 10:1 implies that every 1g of extract is equivalent to 10g of dried mushroom.
Myceliated grain. Mycelium is grown on grain substrate and when the mycelium seems to have digested the majority of the grain, the entire block is extracted.
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Want to learn more? Visit our research collection on PubMed
1. Saito T., Aoki F., Hirai H., et al: Erinacine E as a kappa opioid receptor agonist and its new analogs from a basidiomycete, Hericium ramosum. J Antibiot 1998; 51: pp. 983-990
2. Friedman M. Chemistry, Nutrition, and Health-Promoting Properties of Hericium erinaceus (Lion’s Mane) Mushroom Fruiting Bodies and Mycelia and Their Bioactive Compounds. J Agric Food Chem. 2015. doi:10.1021/acs.jafc.5b02914.
3. Ma B-J, Shen J-W, Yu H, Ruan Y, Wu T-T, Zhao X. Hericenones and erinacines.pdf. Mycology. 2010;1(2):92-98.
4. Liu J, Du C, Wang Y, Yu Z. Anti-fatigue activities of polysaccharides extracted from Hericium erinaceus. Exp Ther Med. 2015;9(2):483-487. doi:10.3892/etm.2014.2139.
5. Wong KH, Naidu M, David RP, Bakar R, Sabaratnam V. Neuroregenerative potential of lion's mane mushroom, Hericium erinaceus (Bull.: Fr.) Pers. (higher Basidiomycetes), in the treatment of peripheral nerve injury (review). Int J Med Mushrooms. 2012;14(5):427-46. Review. PubMed PMID: 23510212.
6. Wong K, Kanagasabapathy G, Bakar R, Phan C, Sabaratnam V. Restoration of sensory dysfunction following peripheral nerve injury by the polysaccharide from culinary and medicinal mushroom , Hericium erinaceus through its neuroregenerative action. 2015;35(4):712-721.
7. Yi Z, Shao-long Y, Ai-hong W, et al. Protective Effect of Ethanol Extracts of Hericium erinaceus on Alloxan-Induced Diabetic Neuropathic Pain in Rats. 2015;2015.
8. Tzeng TT, Chen CC, Chen CC, Tsay HJ, Lee LY, Chen WP, Shen CC, Shiao YJ. The Cyanthin Diterpenoid and Sesterterpene Constituents of Hericium erinaceus Mycelium Ameliorate Alzheimer's Disease-Related Pathologies in APP/PS1 Transgenic Mice.Int J Mol Sci. 2018 Feb 17;19(2). pii: E598. doi: 10.3390/ijms19020598. PubMed PMID: 29463001; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5855820.
9. Ryu S, Kim HG, Kim JY, Kim SY, Cho K. hericium erinaceus extract reduces anxiety and depressive behaviors by promoting hippocampal neurogenesis in adult mouse brain. J Med Food. 2018;21(2):174-180. doi:10.1089/jmf.2017.4006.
10. Wang X, Yin J, Zhao M, Liu S, Nie S, Xie M. Gastroprotective activity of polysaccharide from Hericium erinaceus against ethanol-induced gastric mucosal lesion and pylorus ligation-induced gastric ulcer , and its antioxidant activities. Carbohydr Polym. 2018;186(December 2017):100-109. doi:10.1016/j.carbpol.2018.01.004.
11. Nagano M, Shimizu K, Kondo R, Hayashi C, Sato D, Kitagawa K, Ohnuki K. Reduction of depression and anxiety by 4 weeks Hericium erinaceus intake. Biomed Res. 2010 Aug;31(4):231-7. PubMed PMID: 20834180.
12. Xu CP, Liu WW, Liu FX, Chen SS, Liao FQ, Xu Z, Jiang LG, Wang CA, Lu XH. A double-blind study of effectiveness of hericium erinaceus pers therapy on chronic atrophic gastritis. A preliminary report. Chin Med J (Engl). 1985 Jun;98(6):455-6. PubMed PMID: 3932005.
13. Mori K, Inatomi S, Ouchi K, Azumi Y, Tuchida T. Improving effects of the mushroom Yamabushitake (Hericium erinaceus) on mild cognitive impairment: a double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial. Phytother Res. 2009 Mar;23(3):367-72. doi: 10.1002/ptr.2634. PubMed PMID: 18844328.