Lions Mane

Common name: Lion’s mane mushroom
Other names: Bearded tooth mushroom, Satyr’s beard, monkey head mushroom
Latin name: Hericium erinaceus
Affinity: Nervous system, digestive system
Actions: Nervine tonic, nootropic
Diseases: Depression(1), anxiety(1), MS(3), neuropathy(2), gastric ulcers(2), nerve damage(2), Alzheimer’s(3), dementia(3)
Parts used: Fruiting body, mycelium


Characteristics: A medicinal and culinary mushroom native to Asia, North America, and Europe that grows on hardwoods (Mau et al., 2002; Friedman, 2015). It is distinctive because of its long spines that dangle beneath it (usually greater than 1cm in length).

History: Lions mane has historically been used to treat gastric ulcers, gastritis, and gastric and oesophageal cancer in traditional Chinese medicine (Powell, 2015). There is no clear evidence it was used to treat neurological conditions in ancient China, this appears to be a recent development.

Current applications: Martin Powell lists lion’s mane as having applications in dementia, Alzheimer’s, MS, nerve damage, and menopausal symptoms (Powell, 2015). It can be used to treat nerve damage, but also has a role in reducing anxiety similar to other nervines.

Science: Research on lion’s mane is not well developed and there are not many human studies. In vivo and ex vivo research supports similar activities of lions mane to other medicinal mushrooms with anti-oxidant and anti-tumour effects (Mau et al., 2002; Kim et al., 2013). There is evidence it encourages the production of NGF (nerve growth factor) in cellular models and regrowth of nerves (Wong et al., 2007). There is also evidence that is stimulates growth of damaged neurons in an animal model (Wong et al., 2009). Human clinical studies support its use for depression and anxiety (Nagano et al., 2010).

Safety: Lions mane is safe, however, it should be avoided by those pregnant or breast feeding.

Dosage: Between 1g and 5g per day.

Brands to look out for: In the U.S.A, host defence. In the UK, I recommend Myconutri. Myconutri sells extract from the fruiting body which is the traditionally used part of the mushrooms, most other extracts are from the mycelium, although this appears to have similar effects to the fruiting body.

Scientific Summary

Research on models

Gastroprotective activity: One study found lion’s mane exhibited a protective effect on gastric mucosa in vivo (Wong et al., 2013).

Anti-tumour activity: Inhibits metastasis in colon cancer transplanted models (Kim et al., 2013).

Neural regrowth: Lions mane extracts stimulated peroneal nerve repair in an in vivo model (Wong et al., 2009)

Research on humans

Depression and Anxiety: A study (n = 30, double blind placebo controlled) found treatment with lion’s mane for 4 weeks found a significant decrease in both anxiety and depression (Nagano et al., 2010). Dose was 0.5g per day.


Friedman, Mendel. “Chemistry, nutrition, and health-promoting properties of Hericium erinaceus (lion’s mane) mushroom fruiting bodies and mycelia and their bioactive compounds.” Journal of agricultural and food chemistry 63.32 (2015): 7108-7123.

Kim, Sung Phil, Seok Hyun Nam, and Mendel Friedman. “Hericium erinaceus (Lion’s Mane) mushroom extracts inhibit metastasis of cancer cells to the lung in CT-26 colon cancer-tansplanted mice.” Journal of agricultural and food chemistry 61.20 (2013): 4898-4904.

Mau, Jeng-Leun, Hsiu-Ching Lin, and Si-Fu Song. “Antioxidant properties of several specialty mushrooms.” Food Research International 35.6 (2002): 519-526.

Nagano, Mayumi, et al. “Reduction of depression and anxiety by 4 weeks Hericium erinaceus intake.” Biomedical Research 31.4 (2010): 231-237.

Nagano, Mayumi, et al. “Reduction of depression and anxiety by 4 weeks Hericium erinaceus intake.” Biomedical Research 31.4 (2010): 231-237.

Powell, Martin. Medicinal Mushrooms-A Clinical Guide. Mycology Press, 2015.

Wong, J.Y., Abdulla, M.A., Raman, J., Phan, C.W., Kuppusamy, U.R., Golbabapour, S. and Sabaratnam, V., 2013. Gastroprotective effects of Lion’s Mane mushroom Hericium erinaceus (Bull.: Fr.) Pers.(Aphyllophoromycetideae) extract against ethanol-induced ulcer in rats. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2013.

Wong, Kah-Hui, et al. “Activity of aqueous extracts of lion’s mane mushroom Hericium erinaceus (Bull.: Fr.) Pers.(Aphyllophoromycetideae) on the neural cell line NG108-15.” International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms 9.1 (2007).

Wong, Kah-Hui, et al. “Functional recovery enhancement following injury to rodent peroneal nerve by lion’s mane mushroom, hericium erinaceus (Bull.: Fr.) Pers.(Aphyllophoromycetideae).” International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms 11.3 (2009).