Mushrooms have been used in traditional medicine systems for thousands of years but it seems like ever since best-selling author and renowned ‘lifehacker’ Tim Ferriss posted about Lion’s Mane Coffee— “I was on FIRE for the entire day… I got more done that day than three or four days prior to that”—there has been a surge in interest in these exotic mushrooms, and how they can help to improve health and performance.
Lion’s Mane Mushroom has received a lot of interest, in no small part due to this ‘Tim Ferriss Effect’, and the buzz is not without good reason.
Lion’s Mane (Hericium Erinaceus) is a mushroom native to North America, Europe, and Asia. As well as looking freaky-cool, it also being studied extensively and shows a range of health and performance benefits.
Brain Health and Cognition
Most interestingly, Lion’s Mane has been shown to increase ‘Nerve Growth Factor’ (NGF)1 which literally helps nerves and brain cells to grow and repair,2-7 an effect not seen from other medicinal ‘shrooms like Eringi, Maitake, and Himematsutake.8
This is important because neurons (brain and nervous system cells) typically don’t repair very well at all…and so, if you’ve lost a few cells, or damaged a few, through playing footy, bumping your head surfing, or falling off your bike… or from a few too many late nights out…you might be able to recover some of that previously lost brain tissue.
Because of this brain-repair effect, Lion’s Mane is being considered as one of the most promising preventative treatments for Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia.9, 10 It’s also being shown to be effective for treating depression and anxiety, both being significantly reduced after 4 weeks of Lion’s Mane treatment,3 and for boosting brain power with subjects taking Lion’s Mane significantly improving cognitive function (the ability to think and focus well).11
Immunity and cancer
Lion’s Mane also reduces oxidation and inflammation,12, 13 two of the major affecters of overall health and performance. Animal studies have demonstrated that Lion’s Mane can improve immunity,14 and is effective as a treatment against drug-resistant bacteria.15 Preliminary evidence also suggests that it may even be able to help treat stomach ulcers by combating Helicobacter pylori, the bacteria associated with ulcers16 and that it reduces alcohol-related ulcer formation.17
There have also been a lot of preliminary studies, both in vitro (test-tube) and in animals, for its anti-cancer and anti-leukaemia properties.18, 19 It has already been demonstrated to have potent anti-cancer activity and can reduce tumour size20 in liver, gastric, skin, and oesophageal and colon cancer cells, in vitro and in vivo,9, 21 and can inhibit metastasis (the spread of cancer) in mice.22
Lion’s Mane improves fat metabolism (in mice fed a high-fat diet)23 and reduces total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, blood glucose, and triglycerides, while increasing HDL (‘good’ cholesterol).24, 25
Lion’s Mane also appears to be a strong liver-protector26 even protecting against Salmonella and alcohol-induced liver damage.27, 28
Lion’s Mane can improve your physical performance by reducing fatigue, as well as increasing tissue glycogen content (stored carbohydrate fuel in the muscle and liver) and improved antioxidant activity.29
The Bottom Line
While a lot of the evidence at this stage, is from animal and lab studies, it’s also clear from the human studies and from our personal experience, that Lion’s Mane offers profound improvements in brain function, clarity of thinking, and focus, and may have a whole host of other amazing health benefits too.
How I use it
For cognition and a pick-me-up
A sachet of Lion’s Mane infused coffee
A tsp. of Lion’s Mane powder in smoothies
2 ml Lion’s Mane liquid double extract (a tincture) with caffeine and ketones
Nutrition Store Online, are the exclusive New Zealand distributors of Four Sigmatic Mushroom Coffees and Elixirs. Disclosure: I am the founder and CEO of Nutrition Store Online
Go to www.nutritionstore.online and use code: COACHCLIFF to claim a 15% off discount on Four Sigmatic and Life Cykel mushroom products
1. Lai P-L, Naidu M, Sabaratnam V, Wong K-H, David RP, Kuppusamy UR, et al. Neurotrophic Properties of the Lion’s Mane Medicinal Mushroom, <i>Hericium erinaceus</i> (Higher Basidiomycetes) from Malaysia. 2013;15(6):539-54.
2. Park YS, Lee HS, Won MH, Lee JH, Lee SY, Lee HY. Effect of an exo-polysaccharide from the culture broth of Hericium erinaceus on enhancement of growth and differentiation of rat adrenal nerve cells. Cytotechnology. 2002;39(3):155.
3. Nagano M, Shimizu K, Kondo R, Hayashi C, Sato D, Kitagawa K, et al. Reduction of depression and anxiety by 4 weeks <I>Hericium erinaceus</I> intake. Biomedical Research. 2010;31(4):231-7.
4. Wong K-H, Vikineswary S, Naidu M, Keynes R. Activity of Aqueous Extracts of Lion’s Mane Mushroom <i>Hericium erinaceus</i> (Bull.: Fr.) Pers. (Aphyllophoromycetideae) on the Neural Cell Line NG108-15. 2007;9(1):57-65.
5. Wong K-H, Naidu M, David P, Abdulla MA, Abdullah N, Kuppusamy UR, et al. Peripheral Nerve Regeneration Following Crush Injury to Rat Peroneal Nerve by Aqueous Extract of Medicinal Mushroom Hericium erinaceus (Bull.: Fr) Pers. (Aphyllophoromycetideae). Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2011;2011:10.
6. Wong K-H, Naidu M, David RP, Abdulla MA, Kuppusamy UR. Functional Recovery Enhancement Following Injury to Rodent Peroneal Nerve by Lion’s Mane Mushroom, <i>Hericium erinaceus</i> (Bull.: Fr.) Pers. (Aphyllophoromycetideae). 2009;11(3):225-36.
7. Moldavan M, Grygansky AP, Kolotushkina OV, Kirchhoff B, Skibo GG, Pedarzani P. Neurotropic and Trophic Action of Lion’s Mane Mushroom <i>Hericium erinaceus</i> (Bull.: Fr.) Pers. (Aphyllophoromycetideae) Extracts on Nerve Cells <i>in Vitro</i>. 2007;9(1):15-28.
8. Mori K, Obara Y, Hirota M, Azumi Y, Kinugasa S, Inatomi S, et al. Nerve Growth Factor-Inducing Activity of <i>Hericium erinaceus</i> in 1321N1 Human Astrocytoma Cells. Biological and Pharmaceutical Bulletin. 2008;31(9):1727-32.
9. Mizuno T. Bioactive Substances in <i>Hericium erinaceus</i> (Bull.: Fr.) Pers. (Yamabushitake), and Its Medicinal Utilization. 1999;1(2):105-19.
10. Mori K, Obara Y, Moriya T, Inatomi S, Nakahata N. Effects of <I>Hericium erinaceus</I> on amyloid β(25-35) peptide-induced learning and memory deficits in mice. Biomedical Research. 2011;32(1):67-72.
11. Mori K, Inatomi S, Ouchi K, Azumi Y, Tuchida T. Improving effects of the mushroom Yamabushitake (Hericium erinaceus) on mild cognitive impairment: a double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial. Phytotherapy Research. 2009;23(3):367-72.
12. Kim Y-O, Lee S-W, Oh C-H, Rhee Y-H. Hericium erinaceus suppresses LPS-induced pro-inflammation gene activation in RAW264.7 macrophages. Immunopharmacology and Immunotoxicology. 2012;34(3):504-12.
13. Han Z-H, Ye J-M, Wang G-F. Evaluation of in vivo antioxidant activity of Hericium erinaceus polysaccharides. International Journal of Biological Macromolecules. 2013;52:66-71.
14. Sheu S-C, Lyu Y, Lee M-S, Cheng J-H. Immunomodulatory effects of polysaccharides isolated from Hericium erinaceus on dendritic cells. Process Biochemistry. 2013;48(9):1402-8.
15. Kawagishi H. Anti-MRSA Compounds from <i>Hericium erinaceus</i> (Bull.:Fr.) Pers. 2005;7(3):350.
16. Shang X, Tan Q, Liu R, Yu K, Li P, Zhao G-P. <i>In Vitro Anti-Helicobacter pylori</i> Effects of Medicinal Mushroom Extracts, with Special Emphasis on the Lion’s Mane Mushroom, <i>Hericium erinaceus</i> (Higher Basidiomycetes). 2013;15(2):165-74.
17. Wong J-Y, Abdulla MA, Raman J, Phan C-W, Kuppusamy UR, Golbabapour S, et al. Gastroprotective Effects of Lion’s Mane Mushroom Hericium erinaceus (Bull.:Fr.) Pers. (Aphyllophoromycetideae) Extract against Ethanol-Induced Ulcer in Rats. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2013;2013:9.
18. Kim SP, Kang MY, Choi YH, Kim JH, Nam SH, Friedman M. Mechanism of Hericium erinaceus (Yamabushitake) mushroom-induced apoptosis of U937 human monocytic leukemia cells. Food & Function. 2011;2(6):348-56.
19. Wang JC, Hu SH, Lee WL, Tsai LY. Antimutagenicity of extracts of Hericium erinaceus. Kaohsiung J Med Sci. 2001;17(5):230-8.
20. Kim SP, Kang MY, Kim JH, Nam SH, Friedman M. Composition and Mechanism of Antitumor Effects of Hericium erinaceus Mushroom Extracts in Tumor-Bearing Mice. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. 2011;59(18):9861-9.
21. Li G, Yu K, Li F, Xu K, Li J, He S, et al. Anticancer potential of Hericium erinaceus extracts against human gastrointestinal cancers. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 2014;153(2):521-30.
22. Kim SP, Nam SH, Friedman M. Hericium erinaceus (Lion’s Mane) Mushroom Extracts Inhibit Metastasis of Cancer Cells to the Lung in CT-26 Colon Cancer-Tansplanted Mice. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. 2013;61(20):4898-904.
23. Hiwatashi K, Kosaka Y, Suzuki N, Hata K, Mukaiyama T, Sakamoto K, et al. Yamabushitake Mushroom (Hericium erinaceus) Improved Lipid Metabolism in Mice Fed a High-Fat Diet. Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Biochemistry. 2010;74(7):1447-51.
24. Yang B-K, Park J-B, Song C-H. Hypolipidemic Effect of an Exo-biopolymer Produced from a Submerged Mycelial Culture of Hericium erinaceus. Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Biochemistry. 2003;67(6):1292-8.
25. Wang JC, Hu SH, Wang JT, Chen KS, Chia YC. Hypoglycemic effect of extract of Hericium erinaceus. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture. 2005;85(4):641-6.
26. Zhang Z, Lv G, Pan H, Pandey A, He W, Fan L. Antioxidant and hepatoprotective potential of endo-polysaccharides from Hericium erinaceus grown on tofu whey. International Journal of Biological Macromolecules. 2012;51(5):1140-6.
27. Kim SP, Moon E, Nam SH, Friedman M. Hericium erinaceus Mushroom Extracts Protect Infected Mice against Salmonella Typhimurium-Induced Liver Damage and Mortality by Stimulation of Innate Immune Cells. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. 2012;60(22):5590-6.
28. Hao L, Xie Y, Wu G, Cheng A, Liu X, Zheng R, et al. Protective Effect of Hericium erinaceus on Alcohol Induced Hepatotoxicity in Mice. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2015;2015:5.
29. Liu J, Du C, Wang Y, Yu Z. Anti-fatigue activities of polysaccharides extracted from Hericium erinaceus. Experimental and therapeutic medicine. 2015;9(2):483-7.