Present-day neurohackers around the world are using lion’s mane mushroom as a nootropic supplement for benefits ranging from enhanced focus and attention to management of some of the symptoms of mood disorders.
Lion’s mane, also known as Hericium Erinaceus and yamabushitake, is a mushroom with a rich history in Chinese traditional medicine and as a food source in Asian countries.1
As one of the most thoroughly-studied functional foods available today, there is a fairly good understanding of what benefits lion’s mane offers and the mechanism by which this is accomplished.
Much of the recent attention given to lion’s mane is due to its ability to simulate the production of nerve growth factor (NGF).2 NGF is responsible for the health and growth of neurons, making this discovery an especially important one. Lion’s mane is also known to suppress inflammation and may consequently act as an immunomodulator and mood regulator.
Lion’s Mane Nootropic Benefits
Boosts Memory and Cognition
One of the most common uses of nootropic supplements is for protection from age-related cognitive decline. The ability of lion’s mane to promote NGF may play a role in protecting against neurological problems.
In a human study in those suffering from mild cognitive impairment, those given three grams of 96 percent lion’s mane tablets daily for 16 weeks demonstrated significantly improved cognitive function scores when compared to the placebo group.3
More research is required to see what conditions lion’s mane may help with, but these and other preliminary results are promising. Additionally, in an animal study, lion’s mane improved motor deficits and reduced the loss of dopaminergic cells.4
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While the above studies provide hope for the use of lion’s mane in improving memory and cognitive function in those with cognitive impairment, more studies are needed to determine if a similar cognitive enhancement is seen in healthy adults.
Reduces Stress and Anxiety
Mood disorders are becoming increasingly common and many are turning to natural remedies in the hopes of relieving symptoms and experiencing a more positive mood.
In a human study, 30 adult women were randomly assigned to either a lion’s mane group (0.5 g, four times per day) or control group for four weeks. The study used scores like the Kupperman Menopausal Index and Indefinite Complaints Index to assess the clinical effects of lion’s mane on the groups. They discovered that scores for these criteria were significantly lower in the lion’s mane group than in the placebo group.5
Enhances Attention and Focus
When neurohackers choose a nootropic to increase their ability to focus, they tend to use synthetic nootropics rather than natural nootropics. However, limited evidence suggests the lion’s mane may boost the ability to concentrate.
When 30 healthy adult women were given either two g/day lion’s mane or a placebo for four weeks, those in the placebo group reported significantly lower “concentration” abilities than those in the lion’s mane group, revealing a possible benefit for with lion’s mane.6
How Does Lion’s Mane Mushroom Work?
Many of the benefits associated with lion’s mane mushroom are thought to come from its ability to stimulate NGF, which is critical for the production and survival of neurons. By increasing NFG, neuroplasticity and brain health are improved.7
When it comes to cognition, NGF is also known to play a role in the viability of cholinergic neurons.8 The cholinergic system is often targeted by nootropics because of its role in memory, focus, and cognition.9
Additionally, multiple animal studies have found the lion’s mane mushroom to exhibit anti-inflammatory effects, which may partially account for its ability to reduce stress and promote a positive mood.10
So how much lion’s mane should you take if you’re looking to boost mental performance and improve mood? In human studies, the following dosages have been used with success:
- Anxiety and Depression Symptoms: 2,000 mg/day lion’s mane split into four doses
- Cognitive Function: 3,000 mg/day lion’s mane split into three doses11
You can find lion’s mane mushrooms in many forms, from the actual mushroom itself in some health food markets to powders, capsules, and even liquid extracts.
If you’re looking for specific nootropic benefits, it may be best to choose a form where you can easily measure your dosages, such as an extract or capsule, and play around with how much you take until you find the best dosage for you.
As the water-soluble extract appears to be less potent, you may want to try a capsule taken with food to increase the effects.
Given the wide range of knowledge and research on the potent nootropic benefits of lion’s mane, this is one of the top possible additions to your nootropic stack. From improving cognition to reducing the symptoms of stress and anxiety, lion’s mane is both readily available and highly beneficial, making it well worth considering as the newest addition in your daily routine.
PhotoCredits: Puttography/shutterstock.com, Vmaslova/shutterstock.com, Ringosounds/shutterstock.com, Fotograefiecor.nl