Lion's Mane Mushrooms: Holistic Support for Cognitive Health

Written by: Brilliant Staff

Fact checked by: Ellen Landes, MS, RDN, CPT

Lion's Mane Mushrooms: Holistic Support for Cognitive Health

Recognized scientifically as “Hericium erinaceus,” the Lion's Mane Mushroom is an intriguing fungine anomaly that mirrors a shaggy white wig or a lion's mane, thus earning its common name. Native to regions within Asia, North America, and Europe, this distinctive mushroom is relished for its culinary merits and age-old pedigree in traditional Chinese medicine.

Let’s take a look at how Lion’s Mane could benefit your cognitive health to see if it’s right for you.

Cognitive Benefits of Lion's Mane

The potential cognition-enhancing properties of the Lion's Mane mushroom can be attributed to two vital compounds: hericenones and erinacines. These are thought to support the growth of brain cells and are believed to give the mushroom memory and mental clarity benefits.

Memory & Brain Function

Research specific to memory and brain function enhancement due to Lion's Mane is in its early stages but is promising. 

In one test tube study, the fungi increased nerve growth factor synthesis in human astrocytoma cells by 60.6%. Another study demonstrated that it improved discriminatory learning in mice. 

Additionally, research on mice has shown that Lion's Mane can enhance memory and brain function. The ability of Lion's Mane to promote Nerve Growth Factor (NGF) production, essential for neuron maintenance and survival, is believed to contribute to these cognitive benefits. However, this specific mechanism was not the focus of all studies.

One study found that Lion's Mane mushrooms could improve memory and promote brain cell growth in pre-clinical trials. The study also suggests that Lion's Mane promotes neuron growth, reinforcing its efficacy in improving memory and cognition.

While all of this research is exciting, more thorough human studies still need to be conducted.

Mental Health: Lion's Mane as a Potential Mitigator

Lion's Mane's influence on mental health may extend beyond cognitive enhancement, showing promise in addressing mood concerns in some preliminary research. This is supported by a study that found a reduction in symptoms following a four-week intake of Lion's Mane.

While the exact mechanisms are still being explored, the study suggests that regular consumption of Lion's Mane may benefit mental well-being. This aligns with the mushroom's traditional use in supporting emotional health.

It's essential to recognize that mental well-being is a multifaceted area of health. While Lion's Mane shows potential in alleviating some symptoms, it should be considered part of a broader, comprehensive mental health care plan. Individuals should always consult with healthcare professionals to tailor to their specific needs.

Either way, this promising research still must be validated through further large-scale human trials. Everyone is unique, so speaking with a healthcare provider before incorporating Lion's Mane or any other supplement into one's routine is crucial.


The Lion's Mane mushroom, with its novel appearance and array of possible cognitive benefits, stands as a testament to the richness of nature. Nevertheless, while Lion's Mane may supplement a brain-boosting lifestyle, it must never replace healthy eating, regular exercise, and good sleep habits.


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