Mystery of Medicinal Mushrooms - Part 3 of 3

Mystery of Medicinal Mushrooms - Part 3 of 3

Exploring the Most Functional Fungi on the Planet: Lion’s Mane!

 By Don Gauvreau, MSc, CSCS

aka The Supplement Godfather

 In part one of this three-part series we covered the history and traditional use of mushrooms as a medicine. In part two of this series, we explained the mushroom-immunity connection and highlighted the top immune-boosting mushrooms. In part three of this series, we will highlight arguably the most functional mushroom on Earth, Lion’s Mane, and its benefits.

 The powerful benefits of Lion’s Mane have gained great popularity in recent years. It contains potent cognitive health properties. Lion’s mane is a very unique mushroom, a tooth fungi, that also goes by the names bearded tooth, Japanese yamabushitake, pom pom, and its Latin name, Hericium erinaceus. Lion’s mane belongs to a group of fungi in the basidiomycota division that produces spores on tooth-like or spine-like projections, hence the term tooth fungi. This beautiful mushroom naturally grows on dead or dying trees in forests throughout the world, including North America. Lion’s mane doesn’t look like your typical mushroom and it gets its name because the fruiting body mushroom resembles a flowing lion’s mane, which is white in color and also resembles a snowball. The teeth-like projections act as the gills of the lion’s mane mushroom and distribute its spores.


  • Promotes mental clarity, focus, and memory
  • Boosts cognitive function
  • Provides nervous system support
  • Studies have identified a NGF (nerve growth factor) in lion’s mane
  • Optimizes immune system health
  • Enhances gut health

 History of Use & Key Benefits of Lion’s Main

Lion’s mane has a long history of use in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and research studies show it has potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. It is most famous for its immunomodulating and brain-boosting properties. Your brain naturally slows down over time and this is caused by many factors including stress which damages brain cells and shrinks neurons. Lion’s mane provides protective effects on your brain cells and can reduce the symptoms you would normally associate with stress and aging, such as a lack of focus and memory impairment. 

Boosts Cognitive Function & Brain Health

One of the key benefits of Lion’s Mane is its ability to boost brain health. Studies show that Lion’s Mane can support brain function by stimulating the creation of two important compounds: nerve growth factor (NGF) and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). NGF and BDNF are proteins that stimulate the production of new brain cells and strengthen existing ones. NGF also plays an important role in forming myelin, the sheath around nerve cells that helps brain cells do their job. BDNF increases brain plasticity, which helps your brain cells stay resilient in the face of stress or aging.
The key active compounds found in lion’s mane have been identified as erinacines, erinacerins and herecinones. It’s important to use lion’s mane raw material with a full spectrum of constituents, including polysaccharides (beta-glucans, arabinoxylan, glucose, xylose, galactose and mannose), glycoproteins, ergosterols, triterpenoids and other myco-nutrients, which are essential for supporting natural immunity and cognitive function.

Research on Lion’s Mane and Neurogenerative Diseases

In a 2008 double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical study of 50 to 80-year-old Japanese men and women with cognitive decline, a diet including 1 gram of Lion's Mane mushroom powder reversed age-related cognitive decline. Research has also been conducted on mice injected with neurotoxic peptides to mimic amyloid plaque formation and inhibit cognitive capacity. After cognitive capacity was compromised, the mice were unable to memorize a simple maze. After 23 days of a diet that included lion’s mane mushroom the mice were able to memorize the maze and regained improved cognitive capacity. 

Repairs Neurons & Helps Prevents Brain Disease

Another fascinating benefit of Lion’s Mane is that it helps to cleanse amyloid plaque as well as build myelin sheaths. Amyloid plaque is a protein that destroys healthy neurons, impairs cognition, and has been associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Myelin breakdown is a main component of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases. Lion’s mane is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent and antioxidants neutralize free radicals, preventing them from causing inflammation and damaging your brain cells. Antioxidants help you make more BDNF and lion’s mane stimulates BDNF and NGF. This combined synergistic effect on neural health can slow and reverse brain cell degradation, which is important for your current brain health and for the prevention of brain-related diseases. 

There is even some research that shows that the polysaccharides from lion’s mane in combination with polysaccharides from other mushrooms made lymphocytes proliferate at two to three times the ordinary rate and reduce tumor weights by shrinking them or stopping their growth.

Laser Sharp Mental Focus

Lion’s mane boosts focus and cognitive function by way of reducing inflammation in the brain. By decreasing inflammation, blood flow to the brain improves which provides it with more oxygen. More oxygen in your brain means better brain performance. As I already explained, lion’s mane is shown to increase BDNF and NGF in the brain, which then strengthens brain cells and stimulates the growth or new neurons. This is likely another mechanism and benefit of Lion’s Mane that improves cognitive function.

 Improves Mood & Reduces Anxiety

Lion's Mane has been researched for its effects on depression and anxiety. In a 2010 study, researchers examined the effects of lion’s mane mushroom on 30 women over a four-week period. The participants were randomly assigned to a test group or a control group, and they were given lion’s mane mushroom cookies or placebo cookies. At the end of the four weeks, the lion’s mane group reported a reduction in depression scores. Lion’s mane may alleviate mood disorders by reducing inflammation in the brain. In fact, lion’s mane has been shown to reduce the production of inflammatory proteins in the brain and there is a growing body of research that links brain inflammation and mental illness.

 Final Pro-Tip on Lion’s Mane

It’s important to use a proper dosage to reap the most benefits of Lion’s Mane, and research supports at least a 1,000 mg daily dosage. It’s also important to mention that combining Lion’s Mane with other mushrooms has a synergistic effect, and that’s why we included a full 1,000 mg dose in every serving of Earth Powder, along with the support of 9 other mushrooms.


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