What is Lion’s Mane?

Lion's mane mushrooms (Hericium erinaceus) have a rich history that spans centuries. It’s traceable as far back as the Tang Dynasty in China (618-907 AD).

Ancient China

Traditional Chinese medicine has used Lion's mane mushrooms for centuries. Known as "hóu tóu gū", which translates to "monkey head mushroom." In ancient Chinese culture, they were highly prized for their purported health benefits. Particularly for digestive health and as a general tonic for enhancing vitality and longevity.


In Japan, they call lion's mane mushroom "yamabushitake" or mountain monk. The name comes from the Yamabushi, ascetic hermits with a long tradition of practising Shugendo. Traditional Japanese medicine has used these mushrooms to support cognitive function and overall health.

Other Asian Cultures

Other East Asian cultures also use Lion's mane mushrooms, including Korea and India, often for their medicinal properties. In Ayurveda, they recognise the mushrooms for their health-promoting attributes.

What does Lion’s Mane (Hericium erinaceus) look like?

Lion's mane mushrooms are easily recognizable due to their unique and distinctive appearance. They grow on old or dead broadleaf trees. But you can spot them easily as they are large white and shaggy fungi resembling a lion’s mane.

  • Shape: They have a globe-like or bulbous shape with long, cascading spines that hang down. They resemble a lion's mane or a waterfall of icicles.
  • Colour: They are typically white when young, turning yellowish or brownish with age.
  • Size: They can vary in size, but mature specimens are often around 5-40 cm in diameter.

Habitat and Growth Conditions:

Lion's mane mushrooms grow in a variety of temperate forest environments:

  • Geographic Distribution: They grow in North America, Europe, and Asia.
  • Substrate: They grow on hardwood trees, particularly on dead or dying trees. They also grow on logs, and stumps of species such as oak, beech, maple, walnut, and sycamore.
  • Season: In the wild, they typically fruit in late summer to early fall, but this can vary based on local climate conditions.

Lion's mane mushrooms are distinctive with their cascading white spines. They fruit mainly in late summer to early fall.

Health Benefits of Lion’s Mushrooms

Lion's mane mushrooms (Hericium erinaceus) have associations with various health benefits. Traditional usage and modern scientific research support many of these benefits. Lion’s mane mushrooms have been a part of medicinal practices for centuries.  

Today, we see lion’s mane more and more in the Western world to support cognitive function and brain health. In studies, lion’s mane can help focus, increase productivity, and improve your digestion and immune system. Here are some of the key health benefits:

  • Brain Health & Cognitive Function

    Lion’s mane contains compounds called erinacines and hericenones. They help promote nerve growth factor (NGF) synthesis, which essentially stimulates the growth of brain cells.  Lion’s mane effect of NGF may help prevent brain disorders such as Alzheimer's disease

    Secondly, lion’s mane is a type of nootropic. This means it contains compounds that improve brain health, cognitive function, memory and focus.

  • Digestive Health

    Studies have suggested that lion’s mane mushroom can be beneficial for the digestive tract.  They help prevent ulcers that can form anywhere along the digestive tract, including the stomach, small intestine and large intestine. 

    The mushroom appears to have a gastroprotective effect, alleviating conditions such as IBS and ulcerative colitis. This promotes overall gut health.

  • Immune System Support

    Research in animals suggests that lion’s mane may strengthen the immune system.  Through the use of taking lion’s mane, you may boost your immune system. This helps protect against bacteria, viruses, and other harmful substances.  Which reduces inflammation and oxidative stress.

  • Relieves Depression & Anxiety

    Lion’s mane mushroom helped improve mood and sleep disorders in a 2019 study.  Within 8 weeks, the patients experienced a decrease in depression and anxiety symptoms but also improved their sleep. Their blood samples had shown increases in pro-brain derived neurotrophic factor (proBDNF). A protein that plays an important role in mood and brain health. 

  • May Prevent Cancer

    Animal and test tube studies show that lion’s mane extract can kill cancer cells. It may also slow the spread of tumours, however, this is pre-human studies. Lion’s mane cancer-fighting capabilities come from several of their compounds. The mushroom mixed with human cancer cells including liver, stomach and blood cancers causes the cancer cells to die faster. 

  • Wider Benefits

    • Neuroprotection
    • Improved cognitive function
    • Reduction of anxiety and depression
    • Immune system support
    • Anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects
    • Digestive health
    • Cardiovascular health

    While traditional usage and preliminary research are promising, there is a need for further clinical studies. This is to fully understand the extent of these benefits and the mechanisms behind them.

How to incorporate Lion’s Mane into your daily route?

Incorporating the mushrooms into your daily routine is a fantastic way to leverage their potential health benefits. Whether you prefer culinary uses, supplements, or creative recipes, there are various methods to integrate lion’s mane mushrooms.

Culinary Uses

  • Cooking Fresh Lion's Mane Mushrooms: Fresh lion's mane mushrooms have a mild, seafood-like flavour. It has a meaty texture, making it a delightful addition to many dishes. You can sauté them with garlic and olive oil, add them to stir-fries, and soups, or even substitute it for meat in vegan recipes. For breakfast, consider adding them to omelettes or scrambled eggs. 
  • Below are a few recipes to try out: 
  1. Saute lion’s mane and add them to a stir fry or put them on toast 
  2. Roast them in the oven as a vegetarian option
  3. Sear them into lion’s mane steaks
  4. Dice them up and add to a risotto 
  • Dried Lion's Mane Mushrooms: If fresh mushrooms aren't available, dried mushrooms are a convenient alternative. Rehydrate them by soaking in warm water for about 20-30 minutes before using. You can add the rehydrated mushrooms to stews and broths, or blend into sauces.
  • Powder: Lion's mane mushroom powder is an easy way to incorporate the mushroom into your diet. You can add a teaspoon of the powder to your morning coffee, tea, or smoothie. It blends well with various beverages and provides a subtle flavour without altering the taste significantly. You can also sprinkle the powder on top of your yoghourt or oatmeal.

Lion's Mane Supplements

  • Capsules: If you prefer a no-fuss approach, lion's mane mushroom supplements are available in capsules. You can take these with water alongside your daily vitamins or other supplements. Wake-Up Call and Happy Hour both use lion’s mane mushroom and vitamins. Taking Moodeys is beneficial because it provides vitamins and minerals for a healthy mood, maintaining focus, and keeping you productive.
  • Tinctures: Lion's mane mushroom tinctures are a concentrated liquid extract. You can add tinctures to beverages or take them directly under the tongue. Add a few drops to your morning juice, tea, or even water.

Creative Lion’s Mane Mushroom Recipes

  • Smoothies and Shakes: Add lion's mane powder to your favourite smoothie or protein shake. Blend it with fruits, vegetables, protein powder, and other superfoods for a nutritious and energising drink.
  • Energy Bars and Snacks: You can make homemade energy bars or protein balls by using lion's mane powder into the mix. Combine with nuts, seeds, dates, and other healthy ingredients to create a portable snack that you can enjoy throughout the day.
  • Soups and Broths: Enhance the nutritional profile of your soups and broths by adding lion's mane powder or dried mushrooms. They will not only boost the flavour but also add health benefits.

Consistency and Routine

To maximise the benefits of lion's mane mushrooms, consistency is key. Aim to incorporate them into your diet daily, whether through cooking, supplements, or creative recipes. Keeping a variety of lion's mane products on hand—such as fresh, dried, powdered, or in supplement form. This can help you easily integrate them into different meals and snacks.

By making lion's mane mushrooms a regular part of your daily routine, you can enjoy their potential health benefits. Including enhanced cognitive function, improved immune support, and overall well-being.

In Summary

Lion's mane mushrooms (Hericium erinaceus) are distinctive fungi known for their cascading spines and seafood-like flavour. Often found on dead or decaying hardwood trees in temperate forests across North America, Europe, and Asia. 

Traditionally used in Chinese, Japanese, and other East Asian medicines, prized for their potential cognitive benefits. Some benefits include neuroprotection and improved memory, as well as their capacity to reduce anxiety and depression. They can also boost the immune system, and provide anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. 

You can incorporate it into your daily routines through fresh, dried, or powdered forms. Easily add it to dishes like omelettes, soups, and smoothies, or consumed as supplements in capsules. Regular use of lion's mane can promote a healthy mood, enhance focus, and support overall productivity.

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