What are Lion’s Mane mushrooms and why are they important?
Lion’s Mane mushrooms happen to be one of our absolute favorite mushrooms here at Mushroom Revival — they have also made our list of the 10 best mushrooms for your health!* Lion’s Mane mushroom is considered a natural "nootropic." A nootropic is a supplement that is known to promote healthy neurological functions within areas of the brain that play active roles in memory, mood, motivation, and more.* Lion’s Mane is referred to as the “smart mushroom” by mycologists for its unique ability to help support healthy cognitive function within normal ranges.* Not only does Lion’s Mane work to support the mind, but it may also support the digestive system and immune system.*
These tasty and beneficial mushrooms are relatively easy to identify in nature once you see them a few times. In this 101 guide we'll dive in and learn more about why Lion’s Mane is worth getting to know and considering adding to your wellness routine!*
You may have seen this bushy mushroom at your local farmer’s market, but its glory extends far beyond its lion-esque appearance. These large, shaggy white mushrooms are used by chefs and by herbalists and have been for centuries. When eating this mushroom, we are provided with a mild, sweet, and pleasant taste on the palate; it offers a lobster and crab-like texture. While they’re better known in Asia (specifically China, Korea, and Japan), they are also found across North America and Europe. In the United States, Lion’s Mane is most commonly found in the South growing on logs, stumps, and decaying trees. Lions Mane is a wonderful mushroom that you can also grow at home.
Don’t worry though there are no actual Lions associated with Lions Mane mushrooms; they’re appearance simply resembles a Lion’s beautiful mane. This mushroom looks a little different than most cap and stem mushrooms given it’s iconic spines or teeth that look like cascading icicles which house the spores to help this mushroom spread its DNA.
- Pom Pom Mushroom
- Hedgehog Mushroom
- Monkey Head Mushroom
- Brain Mushroom*
- hou tou gu (in Chinese)
- yamabushitake (in Japanese)
What is in Lion’s Mane that makes it amazing?
Lion’s Mane mushroom contains several important compounds – including hericenones, Dilinoleoyl-phosphatidylethanolamine (DLPE), amyloban, amycenone, 3-Hydroxyhericenone F, Hericenes, Hericerins, and erinacerins, all which stimulate the production of Nerve Growth Factor.* Nerve Growth Factor is important in the development and survival of nerve cells (neurons), especially those that transmit pain, temperature, and touch sensations. Like all functional mushrooms, Lion’s Mane also contains 1,3 / 1,6 beta glucans. These beta-glucans are a type of polysaccharide that have been studied and shown to help support the immune system and overall wellness.*
Lions Mane mushrooms, like other functional mushrooms, are considered to be an adaptogen. Adaptogens are non-toxic plants, herbs, and fungi that help the body adapt to occasional stressors, whether from the environment, physical conditions, or occasional emotional stress.
What are the benefits of using Lion's Mane mushrooms?
- Promotes mental clarity, focus and memory*
Focus is the name of the game when it comes to Lion’s Mane. You could say that Lion's Mane’s main focus is….well, focus.* Many people are seeking assistance maintaining stable levels of attention, especially in work-from-home environments. If you’re looking to support your focus throughout a day full of zoom meetings, Lion’s Mane may be a great supplement to try incorporating into your routine.*
- Promotes gut health*
An added benefit of Lion’s Mane is that the functional mushroom may be helpful in supporting healthy digestive functioning.* Lion’s Mane may help support a healthy gut bacterial composition, which is important in maintaining overall gut health.*
- Helps support a healthy mood*
Because Lion’s Mane has been suggested to promote healthy nerve growth factor, the functional mushroom may help support cognitive function and promote mental clarity* Lion’s Mane has also been suggested to promote stable moods throughout the day.*
- Helps support the body's transition to rest.*
Lion’s Mane isn’t just beneficial when it comes to supporting you through a busy day. As humans begin to prepare for sleep our bodies should engage our parasympathetic nervous system; which essentially turns ‘off’ the body's flight or fight response. Because of external factors in today's modern world such as blue light exposure, lack of essential nutrients, and occasional stress the body may have a more difficult time getting into a parasympathetic state. This is where Lions Mane can help support the body in it’s natural transition to rest. Read more here.
Ways to enjoy Lion’s Mane mushrooms / How to use Lion’s Mane mushrooms
Lion’s Mane Tinctures:
Tinctures are a concentrated way to supplement functional mushrooms like Lions Mane. Mushroom tinctures are typically (or should be) dual extracted with alcohol and water to pull out all the beneficial compounds. Our tinctures are full-bodied, extremely easy to administer, faster to absorb, and more potent than other supplement formats.
Tinctures can be taken on an empty or a full stomach straight out of the bottle, added to a beverage of choice, and even used in recipes which makes them very simple to incorporate into busy routines. They are ideally taken before or during meals or snacks. The decision on when and how to take your Lion’s Mane Tincture depends entirely on your personal preferences. You can consume tinctures straight by simply taking two droppers under the tongue and swishing them around your mouth for 15-90 seconds until they absorb into the cell walls of your mouth. This is the quickest method of ingestion. If you have stomach sensitivities, then make sure to implement your new mushroom supplement regime with yummy food or drinks. You can also incorporate your Lion’s Mane tincture into your daily routine by adding it to coffee, tea, smoothies, shakes, overnight oats or chia, and even baked goods.
Lion’s Mane Capsules and Powders:
Other ways to incorporate Lion’s Mane mushroom into your routine include powders and capsules. Capsules are an incredibly easy way to work Lion’s Mane into your routine especially if you already have a designated time of day that you take other supplements.
Powders have been gaining popularity in recent years because of their flexible format. Powders are easy to add into morning matcha or coffee, smoothies, soups, and baked recipes.
Make sure that you are only sourcing powders and capsules that disclose that they are using the ‘fruiting body’. Again, the fruiting body is the actual mushroom that grows above ground that we recognize. Unfortunately, there are some companies out there that are using ‘mycelium on grain’ which are essentially ‘filler’ or starches and do not contain the same beneficial compounds as the fruiting bodies do.
Lion’s Mane Drinks and Recipes:
A fun fact about Lion’s Mane is that for centuries Buddhist Monks would traditionally drink it as a tea to support and extend their meditation sessions. If you have a meditation practice, you might try incorporating your Lion’s Mane into a tea to enjoy and support your ritual. You can also simply add Lion’s Mane tinctures to your morning coffee or smoothie bowl to support your cognition throughout the day.*
Many “heavy hitter” mushrooms like Chaga and Reishi need to be extracted — meaning that they aren’t pleasant to eat due to their texture. But that’s not the case with Lion’s Mane! It is tasty and tender (and as we know also has plenty of health benefits). Lion’s mane has a flavor similar to seafood and an extremely versatile texture which makes them a wonderful vegan protein source. Some of our favorite ways to prepare Lion’s Mane are in stews, Lion’s Mane 'crab cakes’, Lion’s Mane ‘tacos’, and those are just a few!
Check out more Lion’s Mane recipes here!
When to take Lion’s Mane mushrooms
While there is a best time to take some other functional mushrooms - Lion’s Mane is one of the most flexible - as you can take it anytime you need additional ‘focus’ support.* Because Lions Mane is considered to be an adaptogen it can help support your body in adapting to occasional stress and staying in ‘cruise control’.*
The format you choose to supplement your Lion’s Mane may also determine when you take it. Capsules may be simple to add into your routine in the morning or at night especially if you already have others that you are taking. Powders might work best in the morning to add into your coffee and smoothies. We love tinctures because they can be taken any time of the day and are super convenient to carry with you wherever you go. Plus they are absorbed into your body quicker than most other formats.
When is the best time to take Lion's Mane?
The time of day is completely up to you and what works best for your schedule. Because Lions Mane mushrooms offer healthy cognitive support some people prefer to take them before they start the work day or head to class.
Lion’s Mane Dosage
We recommend starting with 2 droppers full of the tincture. However, you can always adjust your dosage depending on the support that you need!. We recommend taking 2 droppers of Lion’s Mane Tincture under the tongue and hold it for at least 20 seconds. This method allows for the supplement to enter the bloodstream quickly through the cells in the mouth.
Furthermore, this method maintains proximity to the brain.* This allows for the Lions Mane tincture to provide support to the brain rapidly and efficiently.* Sublingual application bypasses the acidity of the digestive process as well, which also promotes even more health benefits.* Ultimately, the sublingual application is the most potent form of taking functional mushroom supplements.
You can always take Lion’s Mane mushroom tinctures with food or drink as well. Just add 2 droppers full into your beverage or meal of choice. For a pleasurable experience, add the tincture to your smoothie, protein shake, juice, or other drink of at least 2 fluid ounces. Sip to get the full flavors. Then the best absorption will happen within the mouth and the throat. To see the best results from your Lion’s Mane, select a time of day that you will remember to take your supplement. This helps when consistency.
What to look for in Lion’s Mane mushroom supplements
In order to reap all the benefits Lion’s Mane has to offer, when you purchase be sure you are purchasing a supplement made with 100% fruiting bodies (aka the actual mushrooms) — ideally, organically grown. The two main parts of the mushroom used in mushroom supplements are the fruiting body and the mycelia. The easiest way to think about these parts is that the fruiting body is the above ground actual ‘mushroom’ that we recognize; whereas, the mycelium are the underground roots of the mushroom. The mycelium or roots typically have up to 70-90% grain filler and are lacking a lot of the main functional compounds. Lion’s mane mycelium is missing the hericenones, Dilinoleoyl-phosphatidylethanolamine (DLPE), amyloban, amycenone, 3-Hydroxyhericenone F, Hericenes, Hericerins, and erinacerins which we talked about above that were great for supporting nerve growth factor and all around cognitive health. The actual fruiting bodies also have up to 29 times more 1,3 1,6 beta glucans for immune health. We only use 100% fruiting bodies in our products at Mushroom Revival so you don’t have to worry about the product missing the good stuff, being full of fluff or filler, or being extremely watered down. We also make sure to carefully extract the beneficial compounds to create an extremely potent functional mushroom supplement.
At Mushroom Revival, we start with 100% organic fruiting bodies, which have been lab tested and verified for high 1,3 1,6 beta-glucan levels (you can find our lab test results here). Tincture making begins with an alcohol extraction, and then a hot water extraction follows. When these two extractions are combined they create a potent functional mushroom tincture. We also make sure to control evaporation during the alcohol extraction to ensure that the beneficial compounds stay in the liquid.*
Potential side effects of Lion’s Mane mushroom
As with any supplement we always recommend discussing them with your healthcare provider before starting to incorporate them into your life. There are no known side effects (to our knowledge) of consuming a Lion’s Mane supplement.
Lion’s mane is one of the most popular mushroom functions. Click here to find out more!***