Lion’s Mane Mushroom

Lion’s Mane Mushroom

What is Lion’s Mane Mushroom?

Lion’s Mane mushroom is also known by the scientific name Hericum erinaceus, and by the common names mountain-priest mushroom and bearded tooth fungus. If a cheerleader named it, it would probably be called pom-pom mushroom.  Its appearance is quite striking.  It grows on hardwoods and can be found in North America, Europe and Asia.   In the United States, they are most commonly found on beech and maple trees in late summer and early fall.  Lion’s Mane mostly feeds on dead trees, which makes it primarily a saprophyte, but it can also be a parasite on living trees, which means that in some cases it gets its nutrients as an endophyte. In Latin, its name means hedgehog, and its German name translates as “hedgehog goatee.” These mushrooms can fruit intermittently on the same dead tree for as long as 20 years.  Although it occurs naturally in the wild in Europe, it is scarce there, leading to protected status in 13 countries and it is illegal to pick or sell in the UK.

What is Lion’s Mane Mushroom good for?

Lion’s Mane is a specialty mushroom sometimes used in gourmet cooking.  Its flavor has been described by some as similar to lobster. Lion’s Mane mushroom has been a staple of traditional Chinese medicine for centuries. Lion’s Mane contains polysaccharides such as α-glucan and β-glucan, which can be found in other mushrooms, but also contains species specific compounds called hericenones and erinacenes.

In a broad survey of the potential clinical uses for the compounds occurring in Lion’s Mane, it was found to show activity against some antibiotic-resistant strains of Heliobacter pylori, the bacteria linked to ulcers. It’s ability to inhibit the development of new blood vessels in tumors was demonstrated.

It was shown to combat reduced blood flow and oxygen to the heart muscle (ischemia).  It has been shown to reduce memory impairment and have neuroprotective properties in animal studies, and enhance nerve regeneration.  Animal studies have shown that Lion’s Mane reduced blood glucose and increased insulin.

How does Lion’s Mane Mushroom help my immune system and promote healthy sleep?

Lion’s mane mushroom polysaccharides and H. erinaceus extracts have demonstrated immune-enhancing effects in test tube studies.  In other studies, immune function has been theorized to increase by Lion’s Mane activation of macrophages, which are large, specialized cells within the body that detect and destroy other cells within the body that aren’t healthy, such as bacteria, cells infected with a virus, or cells that are mutated into cancerous or pre-cancerous states.  This in turn results in an increase in the release of cytokines and interleukins, proteins that signal the immune system into increased action. It is also believed that Lion’s Mane acts to regulate the balance of healthy gut bacteria, which is also essential to the immune system.

Lion’s Mane has been shown in stress testing of mice to have anti-depressant effects by decreasing levels of neurotransmitters, thus reducing stress. It also resulted in decreased wakefulness in a study of behavioral rhythms in mice.

Who should not take Lion’s Mane Mushroom?

Lion’s Mane is a fungus, and that means that people with mushroom or mold allergies should not use it as a dietary supplement. Although Lion’s Mane mushroom is generally well-tolerated, there are no human studies examining its safety or correct dosage.

Tree of Life Botanicals Products with Lion’s Mane:

TOLB Immunity

TOLB Sleep


1 Chemistry, nutrition, and health-promoting properties of Hericium erinaceus (lion’s mane) mushroom fruiting bodies and mycelia and their bioactive compounds; J Agric Food Chem. 2015;63(32):7108-7123.26244378, M. Friedman.

2 Immunomodulatory effects of hydroxyethylated Hericium erinaceus polysaccharide on macrophages RAW264.7. Int J Biol Macromol. 2017;105 (pt 1):879-885.28729219, Z Ren, T Qin, F Qiu, et al.

3 Immunomodulatory activities of a fungal protein extracted from Hericium erinaceus through regulating the gut microbiota; Front Immunol. 2017;8:666.28713364,  C Diling, Z Chaoqun, Y Jian, et al.

4  Immunomodulatory Activities of a Fungal Protein Extracted from Hericium erinaceus through Regulating the Gut Microbiota; Front Immunol 2017 Jun 12;8:666, Chen Diling, Zheng Chaoqun, Yang Jian, Li Jian, Su Jiyan, Xie Yizhen, Lai Guoxiao.

5 Erinacine A-enriched Hericium erinaceus Mycelium produces antidepressant-like effects through modulating BDNF/PI3K/Akt/GSK-3β signaling in mice; Int J Mol Sci. 2018;19(2).29364170, CH Chiu, CC Chyau, CC Chen, et al.

6  Hericium erinaceus extracts alter behavioral rhythm in mice; Biomed Res. 2016;37(4):227-232.27544998, S Furuta, R Kuwahara, E Hiraki, K Ohnuki, S Yasuo, K Shimizu.

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