Lion’s Mane Mushroom Nootropic Review

lions mane mushroom nootropic review

Lion’s Mane Mushroom benefits your brain in a number of ways. It can reduce brain fog, improve cognitive clarity, enhance memory, and help with mood swings.

It’s safe to say that Lion’s Mane is one of a kind mushroom. Not just in terms of its looks but also its benefits on the brain.

Lion’s Mane is the only mushroom with nootropic properties. It’s clinically shown to enhance brain health, providing nootropic support for the creation of Nerve Growth Factor (NGF).

This makes it extremely effective in helping your brain regenerate its neurons, along with boosting memory and cognition.

Here’s what Lion’s Mane helps you with:

  • Brain Cell Growth. Lion’s Mane aids in the creation and repair of neurons. It boosts your neurotransmitters and brain cell signaling, leading to sharper recall, better memory, improved learning, and elevated mood.
  • Clears Brain Fog. Lion’s Mane is one of the most powerful nootropics for all-round brain optimization. It restores mental clarity & alertness, sharpens your focus, and may even help with anxiety and depression.
  • Triggers NGF Release. Or Nerve Growth Factor, this protein is released by your brain when it’s time to repair and create new brain cells.  Lion’s Mane Mushroom is known to prevent, treat, and reverse nerve damage in some cases. As such it helps to relieve symptoms of neurodegenerative conditions and dementia.

The key active compounds in Lion’s Mane are erinacines and hericenones. It’s these two that work in synergy to promote the repair and growth of neurons in your brain.

In this Lion’s Mane Mushroom review, I dissect the key things you need to know about this natural nootropic. Including its benefits, how it works in the brain, dosage notes, and the best type of Lion’s Mane supplement you can take.

Related: Boost Your Brain Cell Growth With These 5 Herbs

A Glance at Lion’s Mane

As a medicinal mushroom, Lion’s Mane is proven to boost brain health, as well as the immune system.

You’d be forgiven for thinking Lion’s Mane Mushroom is not a mushroom. When I saw it for the first time, I thought the same.

While your typical mushroom has a stem with a cap, Lion’s Mane looks… well, like Lion’s Mane. It’s covered in long and wavy white tendrils.

You may have heard people call it under other names, including Monkey’s Head, Hedgehog Mushroom, Pom Pom Blanc, or Satyr’s Beard.

Lion’s Mane grows in Europe, North America, and Southeast Asia. As a parasitic fungus it grows on logs and trees. The Japanese call it yamabushitake, which means “those who sleep in the mountains.” This refers to hermit monks of the Shugendo sect, who are known for their long, flowing robes.

Lion’s Mane is a powerful brain tonic. Buddhist monks made tea out of it for thousands of years. They used it to enhance their brainpower and focus in meditation. Basically, these monks long knew what science is only now starting to discover.

Why It is a Popular Nootropic

Many neurohackers love using Lion’s Mane because it helps them learn new things faster, improves their memory, and enhances overall cognitive function.

Now, these benefits are all thanks to Lion’s Mane powerful effect on Nerve Growth Factor (NGF) in your brain.

NGF is made up of special proteins that work to regenerate neurons in the hippocampus. Which is an area of the brain that regulates your memory, mood, and thought processing.

  • Lots of research shows that Lion’s Mane reduces amyloid plaques in the brain. These are clumps of proteins that block signals between your brain cells. They’re speculated to be leading factors in developing Alzheimer’s and cognitive decline.

Lion’s Mane is also used for general health purposes – it contains powerful immune-boosting beta-glucoxylan and other polypeptides. So powerful are these compounds that they are shown to fight tumor growth. Due to its immune-boosting effects, some people also use Lion’s Mane to treat Lyme’s Disease.

How it Works

So, how does Lion’s Mane Mushroom actually work?

As I said briefly, it will increase your brain’s natural levels of Nerve Growth Factor. NGF is vital for the creation and maintenance of nerves throughout your body. (4)

And here’s what exactly NGF does in your brain (8, 9):

  • Regulates myelination of nerve cells (helping with their signaling and communication)
  • Promotes growth and organization of your neurons
  • Helps maintain plasticity and optimal function of the hippocampus

Now onto the bad news… if your NGF levels are low, you could be at risk of having mood problems and cognitive impairments. This is what studies have shown us. Even a short term blockage of NGF can impair your spatial memory. (10, 11)

Our current top rated nootropic, Mind Lab Pro, includes Lion’s Mane Mushroom along with 10 researched nootropics to support healthy NGF levels in the brain. This helps you maintain optimal brain plasticity and structure, which in turn leads to sharper memory, healthier mood, and improved cognitive function across the board.

The Issue with NGF

If you were to directly take Nerve Growth Factors in a supplement, it probably wouldn’t do you much good. How so?

Because NGF has a large molecular weight. As such it can’t pass your blood-brain barrier.

The active compounds in Lion’s Mane – hericenones and erinacines – on the other hand, have a low molecular weight. Because of this they can easily pass through your blood-brain barrier and spike your NGF levels. (12)

This is why most research on Lion’s Mane points to its efficiency at boosting brain health and staving off cognitive decline. As more studies keep coming out, we’re starting to see that Lion’s Mane could also brighten your mood and ease emotional stress. (2, 7)

Who is Lion’s Mane Mushroom For?

Is Lion’s Mane Mushroom for you? Should you supplement it?

Not long ago, scientists believed that we can’t grow new brain cells after childhood. But modern research shows us that this absolutely isn’t the case. You can increase neurogenesis naturally as an adult.

Our neurons can regenerate and our brains can change, if and only if we create an environment for them where that’s possible.

  • However, things like stress, lack of exercise and sleep, and poor nutrition can hinder neurogenesis and brain plasticity. In other words, it’s not just older people that can experience cognitive decline. Anyone can.

Luckily this is where supplements like Lion’s Mane help. The nootropic mushrooms works to counter the negative effects of stress and anxiety on the brain, along with directly boosting your brain cell growth.

So, who is Lion’s Mane Mushroom for? In essence, it’s for anyone who’s looking to have a healthy and optimized brain – regardless of their age.

How Lion’s Mane Can Help You

Whether you’re looking to maintain a youthful brain, or simply enhance your daily focus and memory. Lion’s Mane can be of great help.

Since 1991, there’s been an outburst of studies showing Lion’s Mane brain health benefits. The Japanese researcher Dr. Kawagishi was the first to discover NGF-boosting effects of this mushroom. (1)

  • One double-blind placebo-controlled study tested the effects of Yamabushitake (Lion’s Mane) on a group of men and women. They were between 50-80 years old and all had mild cognitive impairments. They received 250mg of 96% Lion’s Mane dry powder three times daily for 4 months. The men and women checked back for cognitive tests at months 1, 2, 3, and 4.
Those who took Lion’s Mane saw a significant improvement in their cognitive scores at each of the testing dates. The best of all, their scores kept increasing the longer they took Lion’s Mane. However, these benefits weren’t long-lasting as 4 weeks after stopping supplementation their scores decreased. (2)

This study suggests that Lion’s Mane helps your brain work better but only as long as you keep taking it. The benefits of Lion’s Mane don’t seem to last after stopping supplementation.

Recommended Product That Uses Lion’s Mane: Mind Lab Pro

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Developed by experts, featuring 11 bioactive ingredients, designed to naturally boost mood, motivation and cognitive function.

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Quick Facts About Lion’s Mane

  • Easily passes your blood-brain barrier
  • Stimulates formation and spurt of Nerve Growth Factors (NGF)
  • Helps with new learning, and by extension: brain plasticity

Nootropic Benefits of Lion’s Mane

  • Offers foundational support for clear cognition and memory
  • Might promote brighter mood
  • May offset the negative symptoms of age-related cognitive decline

Brain Pathways That Lion’s Mane Affects

You’ve seen the fundamentals of how Lion’s Mane works in the brain. I’m now going to show you the exact brain pathways this nootropic mushroom targets. Two in particular:

Nerve Regeneration

A part of your brain called the hippocampus controls your memory, learning, and memory retention. It’s also the area of the brain where most of brain cell growth takes place. By boosting NGF, Lion’s Mane supports and optimizes hippocampal activity.

Animal studies show that Lion’s Mane speeds up nerve regeneration as well as promoting the synthesis of the myelin sheath, which encases and insulates your nerves – much like insulation around an electric cable. This in turn helps with brain cell signaling, which is how Lion’s Mane boosts your mental clarity. (13)

Brain Protection

As I’ve repeated, Lion’s Mane promotes nerve myelination. This is important because myelin sheath is what protects your neurons and enables them to conduct signals to one another. Lion’s Mane also protects the brain from beta-amyloid plaque, which is linked to Alzheimer’s. (3)

Lion’s Mane Mushroom Studies

Early in this article I discussed how Lion’s Mane has long been used as food and herbal medicine in East Asia. But now, we have scientific research to prove what these people knew all along. Indeed, Lion’s Mane was shown to promote nerve growth in both animal and human studies. Let’s check some of them.

Study #1 – Lion’s Mane Prevents Cognitive Impairment 

This clinical trial looked into Lion’s Mane’s effects of memory and learning deficits in mice. The reason for cognitive impairment in these mice was a beta-amyloid plaque in their brain.

The researchers injected beta-amyloid peptide in mice on days 7 and 14 of the study. They were also fed with Lion’s Mane during the study. The result?

Lion’s Mane prevented visual and short-term recognition memory reduction that beta-amyloid peptide normally causes. (3)


Key Point: Lion’s Mane could be useful in preventing cognitive dysfunction and protecting the brain from arterial plaque.

Study #2 – Lion’s Mane Boosts Nerve Growth Factor

I’ve talked a lot about Lion’s Mane’s effects on NGF, now it’s time to see how it fares in actual studies.

In this research, animals were fed Lion’s Mane extract for a full week. Their Nerve Growth Factor levels in the hippocampus increased and so did their mental capacity. The study researchers concluded that the active compounds in Lion’s Mane stimulate NGF synthesis. (4)

In another more recent study, scientists from Kuala Lumpur confirmed these findings. Their study showed that Lion’s Mane extract has a powerful effect on NGF levels as well as neurite outgrowth. (5)


Key Point: While we still need more human research, animal studies show that Lion’s Mane significantly boosts NGF levels and neurite outgrowth.

Study #3 – Lion’s Mane Reverses Nerve Injury in Rats

This is probably the most promising animal study on Lion’s Mane. Again, we still need to wait for human research to confirm some of these benefits, but so far, all things point to the fact that Lion’s Mane has incredible regenerative properties.

Case in point: In one study, researchers gave water with Lion’s Mane extract to a group of injured rats. These animals had gluteal nerve damage which means they couldn’t walk.

However, Lion’s Mane induced neuron regrowth after their injury. Shockingly it reversed the nerve damage, enabling these animals to walk again. (6)


Key Point: Lion’s Mane repairs neurons and holds the potential to reverse nerve damage. In the case of this study, the effect of Lion’s Mane was so profound that it allowed injured rats to walk again.

Study #4 – Lion’s Mane May Reduce Anxiety & Depression

In addition to its nootropic properties, Lion’s Mane shows promises in regard to improving cognitive well-being as well.

Lots of anecdotal evidence points to the benefits of Lion’s Mane on anxiety and depression. Many people claim it helped improve their cognition, memory, and mood.

Still, these are just personal experiences from people. The question is, what does the science say?

Well, the science agrees. And human science at that.

According to a study from Japan, Lion’s Mane can indeed act as a natural anti-depressant. The study recruited 30 women who went through menopause. They had symptoms such as depression, poor sleep, and mood swings.

The researchers split these women into two groups. One receiving a placebo and the other cookies with Lion’s Mane in them.

The study found that Lion’s Mane has the potential to reduce anxiety and depression. But, the way it achieves this is different from its NGF-boosting action. (7)


Key Point: While Lion’s Mane is best known for boosting Nerve Growth Factor. It may also help reduce depression and anxiety through a different mechanism of action in the brain.

What Does Lion’s Mane Feel Like?

Don’t expect to feel Lion’s Mane working immediately. People report that the longer they took it, the bigger was the boost in their mood and mental energy.

Some people report an improvement in their sense of smell. Other say Lion’s Mane increased their depth perception.

Then there are people who say that Lion’s Mane helped them with everything from decision making to problem-solving. This is most likely due to Lion’s Mane benefits on neuroplasticity.

The general consensus amongst users seems to be that Lion’s Mane reduces anxiety, improves mood, and most of all, enhances mental clarity.

I can attest to some of these benefits myself, as I’ve been taking this nootropic mushroom for a while now…

My Experience With Lion’s Mane

For me, Lion’s Mane was a game-changer. During one period in 2019, I suffered from massive brain fog. My diet was on point, I exercised regularly, but I was under a lot of stress. This, I think, contributed to me feeling so mentally fatigued and generally unproductive.

I knew for a long time about Lion’s Mane and its supposed ability to clear brain fog, but I never actually tried it myself. Until that point, that is.

At first, I didn’t notice much from Lion’s Mane. But after 2-3 weeks of taking it, I noticed my brain fog went away. As in, completely disappeared!

I was thrilled so I kept taking it, and ever since, the brain fog hasn’t come back. Even on days where I don’t sleep well and would typically get brain fog, it seems that Lion’s Mane mushroom completely prevents it from rising.

While I do have days where I feel a lack of focus and a bit less mental clarity, it’s nowhere as near as what it was before I started taking Lion’s Mane.

How to Get the Most Out of Lion’s Mane

Generally speaking, there are two ways you can take Lion’s Mane.

The first way is to take it individually.

Or if you’re like me, you’ll take Lion’s Mane as a part of a pre-formulated, professional nootropic stack. My favorite is Mind Lab Pro which includes the full fruiting body spectrum with erinacines and hericenones.

The advantage of taking Lion’s Mane together with other researched nootropics is obvious. They simply work better together – giving your brain a wide range of benefits.

For example, Mind Lab Pro uses a synergy of 11 research-backed nootropics. Together, they cover all aspects of your brain health. Including:

  • Mood
  • Memory
  • Recall
  • Mental clarity
  • Cognitive strength
  • Attention & focus

If you’re an experienced neurohacker who wants to create your own stack with Lion’s Mane Mushroom, you can do that too.

For example, a great and simple nootropic stack is Lion’s Mane with Alpha GPC, DHA, and Aniracetam. Together, these will provide you an immediate mental boost.

What is the Best Way to Take Lion’s Mane?

What’s the right Lion’s Mane Mushroom dosage? How long should you take it? And should you cycle it on and off?

The answer to these questions depends on several factors. Mainly, the strength of your Lion’s Mane extract. You can either get it in capsules or powder form.

  • For a 10:1 extract with 30% polysaccharides, Lion’s Mane dosage is 500-1,000mg split into 1-3 daily doses

Lion’s Mane extract strength varies from product to product. It can be anywhere from 300-3,000mg. Be sure to read the label and follow what it says.

And if this is your first time trying Lion’s Mane, start with the lowest dosage. To see how you’ll react.

Side Effects

Lion’s Mane is a non-toxic mushroom. And it’s one of the safer nootropics out there. So naturally, very few users report side effects.

Some people will get itchy skin from higher doses of Lion’s Mane. This is likely due to an increase in Nerve Growth Factors.

In animal studies, Lion’s Mane showed no side effects at doses as high as 5 g/kg.

Anything Else to Consider?

As a supplement, Lion’s Mane Mushroom most often comes as an extract or in powder form. But you can also find it in premium nootropic formulas.

I keep coming back to Mind Lab Pro which I personally use and love the brain benefits it gives me.

  • Developed by experts, Mind Lab Pro includes full fruit spectrum Lion’s Mine alongside 10 brain enhancing nootropics.

In other words, it addresses all aspects of memory, anxiety & stress resistance, focus, brain repair, and long-range cognitive health.

Mind Lab Pro was formulated to support your neurotransmitters, cognitive energy, brain regeneration, neuroprotection, and brain waves. Check my full Mind Lab Pro review to find out more.

FAQ’s

Does Lion’s Mane Give You Energy?

Lion’s Mane boosts Nerve Growth Factors, which could technically increase your mental energy. But other than that, experts don’t yet know if it can boost physical energy or energy levels in general.

Does Lion’s Mane Make You Smarter?

As Lion’s Mane is known to promote brain cell growth in the hippocampus – a part of your brain which regulates your memory and cognition – you could say that it makes you smarter. However, as far as IQ goes, I’m afraid it won’t really help in that regard. At least not until a reliable human study shows otherwise!

Can You Take Lion’s Mane With Adderall?

If you’re currently taking Adderall, it’s best to talk with your doctor before mixing it with any kind of supplement, including Lion’s Mane. That said, current evidence shows that Lion’s Mane is an extremely safe nootropic. Some users claim it is like “a natural Adderall.”

Does Lion’s Mane Mushroom Get You High?

Lion’s Mane Mushroom doesn’t get you high – it’s not a drug. That said, some users (including myself), do occasionally get waves of euphoria while supplementing with the mushroom.

Does Lion’s Mane Make You Sleepy?

Lion’s Mane shouldn’t make you sleepy. However, it is shown to promote healthy sleeping patterns, so that when it’s time to actually go to sleep, it can help you sleep better.

Can Lion’s Mane Make You Dizzy?

Unless you’re allergic to it (extremely rare), Lion’s Mane shouldn’t make you dizzy. Current evidence shows that the nootropic mushroom is safe and non-toxic, and in most cases, only delivers mental benefits. (study, study, study)

Do You Take Lion’s Mane With Food?

As a nootropic, should you take Lion’s Mane with or without food? Current evidence doesn’t suggest that one way is better than the other. Each one of us responds differently to different supplements. That said, it’s important that you follow what the label on your Lion’s Mane supplement says. On a personal note, I’m taking Lion’s Mane with food just to help with the absorption of any fat-soluble nutrients.

Conclusion on Lion’s Mane Mushroom Review

So there you have it. This was my A-Z Lion’s Mane Mushroom review.

It took me a lot of time and research to pen this post – comment below if you learned something useful from it. Or perhaps I missed something you wanted to know? Be sure to let me know either way.

Lion’s Mane Mushroom might still be a fairly under-researcherd nootropic when it comes to human studies. But if the animal research is anything to go by, this looks to be one of the most powerful nootropics out there.

Plus, let’s not forget that Lion’s Mane has been used for thousands for years. People of all backgrounds, including monks from the east, used it to enhance their focus, mental clarity, meditation practice, and daily life.

So far, a big chunk of the evidence points to these Lion’s Mane Mushroom benefits:

  • Increases Nerve Growth Factor which stimulates the repair and growth of brain cells
  • Clears brain fog
  • Improves neurotransmitters
  • Offers neuroprotection
  • Enhances memory, cognition and focus

The chemical compounds in Lion’s Mane are also shown to relieve anxiety, insomnia, and depression. In other words, Lion’s Mane isn’t just for you neurohackers and productivity nuts out there. It could be just as beneficial for people looking to ease their stress and improve their quality of mind.

You can cook Lion’s Mane, drink it, or take it as a supplement. The two most common types of Lion’s Mane supplements are powders and extract pills. You can also take it individually, or as a part of a pre-formulated nootropic stack such as Mind Lab Pro. Which combines multiple nootropics that provide total brain optimization.

In addition to enhancing your mental powers, Lion’s Mane also has the potential to boost your immune system and support cardiovascular health. It’s a powerful inflammation regulator; suppressing when there’s too much of it, and increasing when the body needs it.

On a personal note, Lion’s Mane has worked great for me. The first time I took it, it didn’t work instantly. But after a few weeks, my brain fog was pretty much gone. I still take Lion’s Mane to this day – and continue to reap its truly awesome nootropic benefits.

Recommended Product That Uses Tyrosine: Mind Lab Pro

Mind Lab Pro is the best reviewed brain health supplement on the market right now.

Developed by experts, featuring 11 bioactive ingredients, designed to naturally boost mood, motivation and cognitive function.

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References

References
  1. Erinacines A, B, and C, strong stimulators of nerve growth factor (NGF)-synthesis, from the mycelia of Hericium erinaceum. (source)
  2. Improving effects of the mushroom Yamabushitake (Hericium erinaceus) on mild cognitive impairment: a double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial. (source)
  3. Effects of Hericium erinaceus on amyloid β(25-35) peptide-induced learning and memory deficits in mice. (source)
  4. Nerve Growth Factor-Inducing activity of Hericium erinaceus in 1321N1 Human Astrocytoma Cells. (source)
  5. Neurotrophic properties of Lion’s mane medicinal mushroom, Hericium erinaceus (Higher Basidiomycetes) from Malaysia. (source)
  6. Peripheral Nerve Regeneration Following Crush Injury to Rat Peroneal Nerve by Aqueous Extract of Medicinal Mushroom Hericium erinaceus (Bull.: Fr) Pers. (Aphyllophoromycetideae). (source)
  7. Reduction of depression and anxiety by 4 weeks Hericium erinaceus intake. (source)
  8. NGF is essential for hippocampal plasticity and learning. (source)
  9. The influence of Hericium erinaceus extract on myelination process in vitro. (source)
  10. GDNF, NGF and BDNF as therapeutic options for neurodegeneration. (source)
  11. Neurotrophic factors, clinical features and gender differences in depression. (source)
  12. Hericenones and erinacines: stimulators of nerve growth factor (NGF) biosynthesis in Hericium erinaceus. (source)
  13. Neuroregenerative potential of lion’s mane mushroom, Hericium erinaceus (Bull.: Fr.) Pers. (higher Basidiomycetes), in the treatment of peripheral nerve injury (review). (source)
About Valentino M. 84 Articles
Valentino is a nutritionist, author, spiritual practitioner, and health coach. He's been researching nutrition and brain health since 2015, and has launched Valentino's Naturals to help people maximize their cognitive performance. When he isn't writing, Valentino loves to travel around Europe, spend time recharging in nature, and research topics within his field of expertise. More...

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