The Brain Boosting Effects of Lion's Mane Mushroom
By Neil Thenier, Certified Health Coach.
Cover photo courtesy of Katja Schulz.
Read Time: 6 minutes
Contents: What is Neurogenesis? | Lion's Mane & Neurogenesis | Mushroom Ecology | Sustainable Harvesting | FAQs
Since you've landed on this page, chances are that someone told you to check out an amazing, brain boosting mushroom called "lion's mane."
Mushrooms? you may have wondered. How can an edible, non-psychedelic mushroom be food for thought?
There are many potent mushrooms that promote natural healing throughout the body, and lion's mane mushrooms are true "brain food."
Lion's mane mushrooms promote neurogenesis, and can support neurological health, brain health, memory, focus, and cognition. (I've had great success using lion's mane for my own neurological Lyme disease!) Read on to learn more about the research that's boosting this medicinal mushroom's popularity around the world.
What is Neurogenesis?
“Neurogenesis” refers to the growth of new nerves and new brain cells. A few decades ago, the scientific community believed that nerve cells in the brain could not grow during adulthood. However, research has since proven that our brain and nerve cells are actually incredibly adaptable! They have the ability to heal, repair, and grow new cells throughout our lifetime.
However, neurogenesis does slow with age. A typical adult continues to use their existing, healthy neurons and brain cells to think, recall information, and form new memories. Meanwhile, neurogenesis slows down, sometimes stopping altogether (1).
This may be why some people experience “brain fog” after their early twenties. Of course, brain fog can also be caused by poor sleep, illnesses, and other circumstances that place high demands on the nervous system.
Through neurogenesis, brain fog is lifted, memory improves, and cognition is enhanced. That’s why neurogenesis is a fascinating area of research.
Lion’s Mane and Neurogenesis
Lion's Mane has taken center stage as the number one natural supplement to support cognitive function due to its abundance of brain boosting compounds called “hericenones" and "erinacines.”
In the early nineties, organic chemist Hirokazu Kawagishi made a fascinating discovery while studying lion’s mane mushrooms. He discovered two unique organic compounds that he named "hericenones" and "erinacines" after the mushroom’s scientific name, Hericium erinaceus.
In study after study since the 1990’s, hericenones and erinacines have been reported to stimulate neurogenesis, stimulate neuron regeneration, and rebuild neurons’ protective myelin sheaths (2, 3, 4).
The research has also shown potential success with treating cognitive disorders like Alzheimers and Parkinson's disease (5).
Personally, I used lion's mane mushroom extract to treat neurological Lyme disease that plagued my life for over four years. After only two weeks of steady use, my migraines, insomnia, and brain fog were virtually nonexistent. It's that powerful.
A wild lion's mane mushroom I foraged.
Wild Ecology & Lion's Mane Mushrooms
Lion's mane has a huge role to play in human health, just as it also plays a vital role in wild eco-systems.
Lion's mane grows on dying or dead deciduous trees such as oak, beech, and sometimes maple. It has but one mission: to convert dead trees and wood back into soil. Fungi with this objective are known as “saprophytes.”
In this jaw-dropping process, the lion's mane’s mycelium grows inside the trees and wood, producing enzymes that break it down. (The mycelium functions somewhat like a plant’s roots function, and isn’t very good for eating). As the mycelium spreads, it collects the tree’s nutrients and stores them in the mushroom’s fruiting body. After the fruiting body grows into a robust, golden-fringed mushroom, we harvest it and turn into into a medicinal mushroom extract.
A close-up of lion's mane mushroom and its spores.
Sustainably Harvesting Wild Lion’s Mane
Lion's Mane typically starts to grow its fruiting bodies from early fall to early winter, when temperatures are cool but not freezing. During this time, the fruiting body will mature and begin to release its spores.
You can think of spores as little tiny mushroom seeds that get carried by the wind. When our mushroom foragers pick ripe lion’s mane mushrooms, they shake loose those spores, helping them spawn the next generation of lion’s mane mushrooms.
We harvest Lion's Mane only after sporulation has occurred and the mushroom is at its peak nutritional potency. Harvesting before then would hurt the mycelium and could potentially destroy it.
Watch our video on sustainable mushroom foraging:
Frequently Asked Questions
Should I purchase extracts made from mycelium or fruiting bodies?
Every mushroom, whether farmed or wild, contains two components: the mycelium (roots) and the fruiting body (reproductive organ). Kawagishi discovered Lion's Mane's erinacines in the fruiting body. He produced an ethanol (alcohol) and aqueous (water) extract to harness their cognitive abilities. We replicate Kawagishi’s dual extraction method using wild lion's mane fruiting bodies.
While Wild Kingdom has taken all measures to produce extracts that rank highest in potency and support sustainable foraging, we advise you to be wary of other lion's mane products made from mycelium. To make mycelium, growers inoculate mushroom spores onto grains like oats or rice. Once the mycelium spreads through the grain, they grind the myceliated grain into a powder, which is the basis for their extracts.
This mycelium-only method is still being debated by mycologists all over the world regarding its efficacy, since no actual mushrooms are present in the extraction. Furthermore, with clever marketing and labeling, consumers are tricked into thinking they are taking a mushroom extract when in fact, it is mostly just grains.
Click here to learn more about our Lion's Mane Dual Extract made from wild harvested mushroom fruiting bodies.
What is the best way to take lion's mane extract?
Our convenient extracts can be taken by placing one dropper-full under the tongue. They can also be added to tea or your favorite beverage.
What is the recommended dosage?
The suggested dose for our extract is 1ml, or one dropper-full.
How long does lion’s mane take to work?
Some people notice the benefits of lion’s mane extract the first day they use it. Others notice benefits emerging gradually, over several weeks of use.
We advise our clients to use mushroom extracts daily for one month before expecting optimal results.
Why you should try our Lion's Mane Extract
It's rare to find people who are able to keep up with the demands of modern life and stay energized and focused. It's equally as rare to find a company that can provide quality products and cares about the health of our planet.
By purchasing our products, you get potent mushroom extracts sourced from the wild that support your health and wellbeing and help reforest our planet.
Every sale from our store donates to One Tree Planted, an organization that shares our mission for sustainability by planting trees worldwide.