Lion’s Mane | Nature’s “Smart Mushroom?”

Lion’s Mane (Hericium erinaceus), classified as a tooth fungus, grows predominantly in the northern hemisphere and can be recognized as a dangling white clump of spines. This mushroom has no lookalikes, edible or poisonous, and all forms are edible and tasty in the kitchen. In the wild, these mushrooms are common during late summer and fall on hardwoods, particularly American beech.

The lion’s mane mushroom is one of nature’s most powerful supplements for the brain. There is evidence that it can permanently heighten brain function as well as protect the brain and even promote neurogenesis.

This mushroom not only can enhance cognition including improved memory and recall, but it also helps with maintaining focus and attention, something practically every person can benefit from. By increasing a person’s ability to place focus on work or study, individuals will find themselves becoming more efficient in the school or workplace. Lion’s mane is one of the best natural supplements for improving overall brain function.

Lion’s mane also contains two potent Nerve Growth Factors (NGF), therefore showing potential benefits for Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease, mild cognitive impairment, leg cramps, multiple sclerosis, anxiety, and more. One of the reasons for this mushroom’s extraordinary capability to protect neurons is its ability to stimulate synthesis of NGF. NGF is a protein that plays a major part in the maintenance, survival, and regeneration of neurons in both your central and peripheral nervous systems.

This toothy fungus also contains two distinct types of compounds, hericenones and erinacines. The erinacines found in lion’s mane mycelium are among the most powerful NGF inducers in the natural world, able to cross your blood-brain barrier and stimulate production of new neurons within the brain itself.

According to world renowned fungi expert Paul Stamets, lion’s mane may be the first and only discovered “smart mushroom,” providing support specifically for cognitive function, including memory, attention, and creativity. It is reported that Buddhist monks have consumed lion’s mane tea for centuries before meditation in order to enhance their powers of concentration.

This fungus contains a group of compounds that regenerate myelin along the axons, which leads to a great deal of brain health benefits.

With many neurological disorders, the brain is unable to produce NGF. Actually, myelin sheaths and the blood-brain barrier prevent one’s body from accessing external sources of NGF, which, over time, contributes to the deterioration of brain neurons. Lion’s mane is the only (discovered) mushroom to demonstrate significant potential for nerve regeneration.

NGF also serves important roles in myelination, including protecting oligodendrocytes (cells producing myelin) and the production of Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF). Lion’s mane extract has been found to stimulate nerve myelination, which can really help individuals with multiple sclerosis, a disease characterized by progressive demyelination.

So, how can you include this “smart mushroom” into your daily health regimen? Well, some people grow their own with this kid-friendly grow kit. You can also make a great mushroom tea with this lion’s mane mushroom powder, or add it to your morning smoothie. If you really want to reap the benefits from lion’s mane, try these hot water extract capsules which claim to be twice as potent as its competitors. Paul Stamet’s company, Host Defense, also make a great capsule supplement.

You can find out more about lion’s mane and which supplements we recommend here.

As always, stay smart.


  1. Reply
    Liza Ann April 10, 2014 at 11:47 am

    Great article!

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