Lions Mane

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


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: 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 ex vivo 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: High, but it should be avoided by those pregnant or breast feeding.

Dosage: Between 1-6, 500 mg capsules can be used per day. For additional dosage information see text book by Martin Powell (Powell, 2015).

Form: The fruiting body of the mushroom (above ground), not the mycelium (roots), is the part of the mushroom traditionally used for medicine. To save money and speed up the process, some companies will grow the mushroom mycelium on a bed of grain, and then grind the two together and package it, before the fruiting body has a chance to develop. That means a reduction on most of the active compounds.

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).