Read our ultimate guide to the benefits, how & why the super mushroom Lion's Mane is fast gaining popularity thanks to their incredible health benefits. Rumoured to be the next big thing for brain health, immunity and longevity, these medicinal mushrooms have some seriously exciting results.
But what are Lion’s Mane mushrooms? How do they work? What can they do for you? Are they legal and how do you find them?
We’ve pulled together everything you need to know about Lion’s Mane mushrooms in this ultimate guide.
So click the links below to jump to the section you’re most interested in or keep reading to discover the answers to these questions and more…
What Are Lion’s Mane Mushrooms?
Lion’s Mane mushrooms are small edible fungi found in parts of North America, Europe and Asia. But they’re not just any mushroom…
Unlike most mushrooms, which are just a tasty, nutritious food, Lion’s Mane has been classified as a functional food - a food that offers health benefits beyond that its nutritional value.
Researchers all around the world have been discovering the incredible benefits of this powerful mushroom, from better mood and focus to immune strength, mental health benefits and cognitive performance.
We’re not the first to discover these huge health benefits. Lion’s Mane has actually been used in traditional medicine in Asia for thousands of years, with the Japanese, Chinese and Koreans all making it an important part of their treatment.
What Do Lion’s Mane Mushrooms Look Like?
Lion’s Mane mushrooms don’t look like other mushrooms. They are white and usually measure between 10-25cm in diameter. But instead of the traditional “cap and stem” appearance most mushrooms have, Lion’s Mane mushrooms are round, with long, rubbery spines inside.
Found in various parts of Europe, Asia and North America, they’re quite easy to distinguish from other mushroom species, thanks to their unique icicle-like teeth that hang from their stalk.
Their unusual appearance has resulted in them gaining several nicknames, including the bearded tooth fungus, the pom pom mushroom and in Japan “yamabushitake” which translates as "those who sleep in mountains". This refers to the Shugendo sect of "hermit monks" and their long-flowing garments.
Where Can You Find Lion’s Mane Mushrooms?
Lion’s Mane is not a common species of mushroom, so you’re unlikely to find one by accident. You’ll usually find Lion’s Mane growing in woodlands around the world during late summer and autumn.
All hericium species of mushrooms are considered saprotrophs: organisms that feed on dead organic matter. You’ll usually find them on dead or dying hardwood trees, especially beech and oak.
They tend to grow high up on trees, rather than at the base like other fungi, so it’s easy to miss them on a mushroom hunt. In fact, finding one is a rare treat!
Are Lion’s Mane Mushrooms Like Magic Mushrooms?
In recent years, mushrooms have gained a bit of a cult following. Thanks mostly to the “micro-dosing” trends that spread through the likes of silicon valley.
But Lion’s mane mushrooms are not magic mushrooms.
They’re not psychedelic, they won’t get you high and they’re totally legal.
Lion’s Mane mushrooms are a functional food - not a drug.
We can’t stress this enough. Lion’s mane mushrooms are a medicinal mushroom - NOT a magic mushroom. They won’t get you high, make you hallucinate or cause any ill effects.
They are a powerful, nutritious food - not a psychedelic.
When added to your diet, either in a Lion’s mane mushroom recipe, tea or supplement, they have some incredible benefits.
They’re not magic mushrooms - but they are magical.
Want to learn more about the difference between Lion’s mane mushrooms and magic mushrooms? Check out our blog post here…
So what makes Lion’s Mane mushrooms so special? Researchers have recently cottoned onto the power of this wonder food and many studies have been funded to learn more about it.
While there’s still a lot to discover about how this medicinal mushroom works, we do know that they have some incredible benefits including improved brain function, better mental health, stronger immunity and reduced inflammation. There’s even some evidence to suggest it could help to protect against degenerative brain diseases such as Alzheimer's, dementia and even multiple sclerosis.
The nutritional content of Lion’s mane mushrooms is pretty impressive: it’s roughly 20% protein and has good amounts of potassium, iron and even vitamin D.
But that’s not what makes it special.
Lion’s Mane mushrooms are a powerful superfood adaptogen (a medicinal food that helps to reduce the impact of stressors) for the brain, nerves and immune system.
Research is still ongoing, but it’s already clear this fungus has powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and is packed full of beta-glucans, polysaccharides and probiotics.
The Sciencey Bit - How & Why Do They Work?
The how and why of Lion’s Mane mushrooms is still being uncovered. But we’re already starting to discover the mechanisms by which this medicinal mushroom works.
If you’re into the sciencey stuff then this section’s for you… If not, then skip to the next section where we’ll tell you exactly how Lion’s Mane can help you…
Studies show that Lion’s Mane mushroom extract may support brain health by stimulating the production of two important compounds: nerve growth factor (NGF) and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF)
NGF and BDNF are important proteins that stimulate the creation of new cells and strengthen existing cells.
- NGF plays a key role in forming myelin, the sheath around nerve cells that helps brain cells function properly.
- BDNF increases brain plasticity: the brain’s ability to adapt and stay resilient when under stress or as they age.
Research has shown that hericenones and erinacines found in the fruiting body and the mycelium of Lion’s Mane easily cross the blood-brain barrier and help to stimulate NGF.
Lion’s Mane mushrooms also contain two important immune-boosting compounds: beta-glucans and prebiotics.
- Beta-glucans activate your innate immune cells, strengthening your immune system. They have also been shown to protect against heart disease and have cancer-fighting properties.
- Prebiotics are a source of food for your gut bacteria. The more we learn about the immune system, the more we discover the important role gut bacteria play in immune strength.
But that’s not all…
Lion’s Mane mushrooms also contain high amounts of antioxidants and polysaccharides that are made available when the mushroom is prepared correctly: usually heated or prepared as a hot water extract.
- Antioxidants help to neutralize free radicals found in the body (unstable atoms that can damage cells, causing illness and ageing) and protect your cells.
- Polysaccharides are a form of carbohydrates that support the immune system and have antiviral, antibiotic and even anticarcinogenic properties.
Research into how Lion’s Mane mushrooms work continues, but even with the evidence we already have access to, it’s easy to see that this wonderful little mushroom has some incredibly powerful properties.
But how can they help you?[ad-banner-1]
The Benefits of Lion’s Mane Mushrooms
People discover Lion’s mane mushrooms in many different ways. Some come looking for increased brain performance while others are hoping to resolve issues such as anxiety, depression or a poor immune system.
Whatever you’re looking to achieve, Lion’s Mane has much to offer…
But what are the benefits of Lion’s Mane? Let’s find out…
Benefit 1: Improve & Protect Your Brain Health
Want to protect your brain as you age? Looking for a way to improve your cognitive function and give your memory a boost?
Several studies on Lion’s Mane indicate that daily consumption of this wonder mushroom can do some marvellous things for your brain health.
From enhancing your cognitive function, improving your memory and increasing your brain energy, to helping keep your central nervous system healthy and preventing inflammation and damage from free radicals. Some studies suggest that they could even help to prevent or treat cognitive diseases such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's too!
So if you’ve been feeling mentally sluggish, or want to take a proactive approach to protect your brain as you age, Lion’s Mane mushrooms could be for you!
Benefit 2: Boost Your Focus & Performance
Suffering from brain fog, low energy or lack of motivation? Looking for a way to improve your focus and boost your productivity? You’re in the right place.
Lion’s Mane mushrooms can increase your focus and improve your concentration. By reducing inflammation, blood flow may increase, improving the oxygen supply to the brain. More oxygen means better brain performance - and more focus, productivity and progress!
The antioxidants in Lion’s Mane may also help to promote learning and memory, by strengthening your brain cells and stimulating the growth of new neurons.
So, if you’re looking to improve your focus and give your productivity a boost then Lion’s Mane mushrooms could be the answer.[ad-banner-3]
Benefit 3: Reduce Inflammation & Oxidation
As time goes on, more and more research is showing that inflammation in the body is bad news.
Inflammation is the body’s response to an injury or infection. It helps to heal the body and fight illnesses. But chronic inflammation (inflammation that is present for a prolonged period of time) is linked to other diseases such as autoimmune disease, allergies, arthritis and even cardiovascular disease.
Antioxidants can help to reduce inflammation - and Lion’s Mane mushrooms are packed full of them!
You don’t have to have redness, swelling or heat to have inflammation lurking behind the scenes. Inflammation can be “symptomless” but still do damage.
If reducing inflammation is something you’d like to do, then keep reading to learn more about how Lion’s Mane mushrooms can help.
Benefit 4: Improve Mental Health, Anxiety and Mood
Suffering from low mood, mood swings or lack of motivation? Looking for a way to reduce anxiety and depression and improve your mental health?
It seems Lion’s Mane mushrooms could help! Research is ongoing but already shows promising results for the treatment of anxiety and depression.
One study, involving 30 women (and a steady supply of mushroom cookies!) found that over just a 4 week period the test subjects reported a significant improvement in mood, whereas the control group experienced none.
This could be a game-changer for many people. Mental health struggles can have a huge impact on every aspect of your life - from your relationships and career to your physical health.
To learn more about Lion’s Mane mushrooms and mental health read our blog here…
Benefit 5: Strengthen Your Immune System
Struggling with a weak immune system? Fed up and frustrated with getting every cold and flu bug that goes around? Battling chronic low immunity issues or autoimmune disease? Or just looking for a way to strengthen your immune system?
It’s now more important than ever to keep your immune system strong and Lion’s mane mushrooms could be the immune boost you’ve been looking for.
This medicinal mushroom supports the immune system in a multitude of ways, including fortifying and feeding the healthy bacteria in your gut that form the basis of your immune system. Strengthening your body’s ability to fight off disease and even helping to suppress autoimmune diseases.
If you’ve been feeling run down or struggling with poor immunity Lion’s mane mushrooms have a lot to offer you.
How To Take Lion’s Mane Mushrooms
Lion's Mane mushrooms can be consumed raw, fresh, dried or soaked in water. The best benefits occur when the mushrooms have been heated, as this helps to release some of the powerful compounds that deliver the medicinal effects.
There are plenty of Lion’s Mane mushroom recipes available online: you can make stews, teas, stir fry, soup… and even cookies!
But to enjoy the full spectrum of results, you need to ensure you’re ingesting a high enough volume of the mushroom - quality matters but in this case, quantity does too.
Sure, you could cook up 20g of Lion’s Mane mushrooms every day. Pick them, stew them, strain them… but in reality, most people just don’t have the time, space or resources to do it consistently.
And while some people enjoy the flavour, Lion’s Mane mushrooms taste like seafood - so they’re a bit of an acquired taste!
Here at TwentyTwo, our Lion’s Mane mushroom supplements deliver the same benefits of 20g of fresh mushrooms in just two capsules. Making it quick, easy and affordable to consume medicinal levels of this wonder-food each and every day.
To find out more about our Lion’s Mane mushroom supplements click here.
Where To Buy Lion’s Mane Mushroom Supplements?
Like all supplements, Lion’s Mane products come in varying qualities. To get the full benefits of Lion’s Mane mushrooms you need to be sure your supplements have been grown, processed and prepared correctly. Many products on the market offer low-quality supplements packed with fillers and preservatives.
We believe that TwentyTwo’s Lion’s Mane supplement is the best product available, buy it now via the button below.
Or to learn more about what to look for in a Lion’s Mane supplement read our blog post here…
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Thank you for sharing your experience Ross, we’re thrilled to hear about the positive impact TwentyTwo’s Lion’s Mane has made in your life.
Thank you for your question Sam! Two capsules can be taken daily with water, it doesn’t have to be heated as we have already extracted our Lion’s Mane. We use hot water to extract our Lion’s Mane to obtain a high-quality and potent Lion’s Mane supplement which is also alcohol-free. We’ve chosen capsules as we wanted to make it as easy as possible for people to take their Lion’s Mane on a daily basis.
Please can you clarify how the capsules work, if you’re recommending that Lions mane works best when heated?
I have been taking this for 2 weeks and can’t tell you how much difference it has made. I love it and honestly feel it’s made life changing impact on me.