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The Lion’s Mane Mushroom (Hericium erinaceus) is a unique nootropic that is rapidly increasing in popularity thanks to its vast range of health benefits. It is considered one of nature’s most powerful supplements for brain health, cognitive function and to combat anxiety.
This medicinal mushroom is also known as: Yamabushitake, Monkey’s Head, Bearded Tooth, Hedgehog Mushroom and Pom Pom Blanc.
Where does lion’s mane mushroom grow? Native to Europe, Asia and North America and found growing on trees. It can be easily identified thanks to its unusual, fur-like appearance. The Lion’s mane mushroom has been widely used in traditional medicines within Asia and as an ingredient for cooking so let’s take a closer look at the Lion’s Mane Mushroom health benefits and side effects.
Benefits and Effects
Lion’s Mane mushroom health benefits include its widely recognized ability to induce Nerve Growth Factor synthesis as well as promote neurite outgrowth  but what does this actually mean, what else can it do and, ultimately, is this mushroom good or bad for health?
Alleviate neurodegenerative disease symptoms
There is a strong relationship between Lion’s mane mushroom: brain damage, nerve pain and nerve degeneration. The healing powers of this mushroom go far beyond what many expect, something seen in over a dozen scientific studies indicating its ability to prevent and treat nerve damage.
In one such study, Lion’s Mane was able to regenerate damaged nerves in rats which resulted in the return of hind limb function.  This demonstrates the beneficial potential for those with neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
This neuroprotection is due to two unique types of compound found in the Lion’s Mane Mushroom; hericenones and erinacines. Erinacines are what allow the unique lions mane mushrooms blood-brain barrier relationship as they can cross that barrier, which is how the stimulation of new neurons in the brain can take place. 
The Lion’s mane: neurogenesis correlation continues as we take a look at a study where orally administered Lion’s Mane was found to provide a protective effect against the progression of Parkinson’s disease in Mice. 
Lion’s mane and Alzheimer’s
Studies on mice have shown that lions mane is able to reduce the amount of amyloid plaque which plays a crucial role in Alzheimer’s as well as other neurodegenerative diseases, thus reducing symptoms such as spatial, short-term and visual recognition memory impairments. 
Improvement of cognitive function
In a double-blind, placebo-controlled study on middle-aged to elderly people suffering from mild cognitive impairment it was found that cognitive function improved significantly in the patients being administered the Lion’s Mane Mushroom for at least four weeks.  Suggesting that not only does the mushroom improve cognitive function but it is also most effective when taken continuously.  The study used the Hasegawa Dementia Scale (HDS-R) to measure results and found marked improvements indicating a positive dementia effect of lion’s mane mushroom ingestion. 
Lion’s mane mushroom for memory: A study on mice found dietary supplementation of Lion’s Mane Mushroom caused significant improvement in recognition as well as helping preserve short term memory. 
In a four-week placebo-controlled study, the group consuming the Lion’s Mane Mushroom experienced significantly lower levels of depression and anxiety. 
This presents us with a natural way to combat depression without the side effects experienced when using pharmaceutical drugs, however due to the possibility of the mushroom interacting with over the counter or prescription drugs it is important to consult your doctor before supplementing.
A recent study indicates Lion’s Mane Mushroom has anti-inflammatory effects on macrophages (important cells within the immune system that help our bodies recognize and destroy foreign bodies) as well as the ability to prevent inflammation of adipose tissue associated with obesity. 
In addition to this, Lion’s Mane can promote gut health, in a 2013 study it was found to have direct inhibitory effects against bacterial stomach infection H. pylori. 
A 2013 study looked at the effects of Lion’s Mane Mushroom extract on colon cancer in mice, they found that not only did the extract produce cancer cell death but it also “inhibited metastasis of cancer cells to the lungs”.  A 2015 study examined the anticancer effects of various Lion’s Mane Mushroom extracts in leukemia cells, they found reduced cell proliferation as well as induced cell death of the leukemia cells. Indicating the use of this mushroom in potential cancer treatments. 
Accelerated wound healing
A study on rats using topical mushroom extract from lion’s mane found not only was wound healing faster but it also produced less significant scarring. 
The list of health benefits goes on and with so much research it is not surprising that more and more people are wondering where to buy lion’s mane mushroom. Our Lion’s Mane Mushroom extract powder is derived using a dual-extraction method ensuring its quality and maximizing the health benefits experienced.
How Lion’s Mane Mushroom Works
Lion’s Mane is a naturally occurring mushroom that is abundant in bioactive compounds.  These compounds include polysaccharides, glycoproteins, hericenones, erinacines, erinaceolactones and many more that contribute to its healing properties and neuroprotective and regenerative properties.  
Many studies over the past ten years have demonstrated the promising abilities of Lion’s Mane Mushroom polysaccharides, these include; antitumor, immunomodulation, anti-gastric ulcer, neuroregeneration, neuroprotection, anti-oxidation, anti-fatigue and more. 
Following an extensive list of benefits including those stated above, a 2015 study states; “The described anti-inflammatory, antioxidative, and immunostimulating properties in cells, animals, and humans seem to be responsible for the multiple health-promoting properties”. 
The Lion’s Mane Mushroom is edible in its natural form and is often used in cooking, although the lion’s mane nutrition is nothing to write home about, consuming the fresh mushroom allows you to reap the health benefits, is low in calories and has a pleasant, almost lobster-ish taste.  How to cook lion’s mane mushroom: if you’re feeling adventurous and you’ve managed to bag yourself some of these strange-looking mushrooms you may now be wondering how to incorporate them into your diet. Well you can cook them just as you would other mushrooms and they make a great addition to stir fry’s, sauces and even on their own! It’s a little inconvenient for most of us to try to consume fresh mushrooms in this way each day, so let’s get back to the extracts.
When we are considering the dosage, it is important to take into account the type, strength and quality of the extract being used. For a 10:1 extract (30% polysaccharide) the recommended dosage is 500-1000mg taken between one and three times a day. We recommend you start with lower doses and increase if necessary.
Three studies, all on rats, investigated Lion’s Mane Mushroom extract dose to determine whether any adverse effects and toxicity presented with higher doses; a 2016 study found it could be safely administered at daily doses of up to 1000mg/kg body weight for ninety days with no adverse effects.  A second looked at dosages up to three times that of the aforementioned study and also observed no adverse effects.  The third administered an even larger dose of 5000mg/kg during an acute toxicity study and found no toxicological signs. 
The most common forms of Lions Mane Mushroom available are:
Lion’s Mane Mushroom Powder: This is when the mushroom is dried and turned into a powder, it does not go through any other processes and is often available as lion’s mane mushroom capsules or tablets (read on to discover why this form may not be your best option).
Lion’s Mane Mushroom Extract Powder: This is when an extraction process takes place in order to draw out certain components of the product, making it a more potent form of the mushroom. You will often see a ratio listed – commonly “10:1” which refers to the concentration of the extract. Extraction is carried out using water or alcohol or both for ‘dual-extract’ products. Lion’s Mane Mushroom extract benefits your health considerably more than a dried mushroom powder as the extract has been produced to deliver the medicinal effects that naturally occur within the mushroom.
Lion’s Mane Mushroom Tincture: This is a liquid form of extract that is often created using alcohol as a solvent.
When we consider dried Lion’s Mane Mushroom vs extract, it is far better to go for an extract as otherwise the healing potential of the mushroom essentially remains untapped, something demonstrated in a 2015 study comparing medicinal mushroom potency depending on extraction process.  Ultimately, the extraction method used is what determines the extract strength from lion’s mane mushrooms.
Food for thought: Lion’s Mane Mushroom Coffee is another available option on the market, although less widely available it is usually a blend of coffee, lion’s mane mushroom extract and other medicinal products such as the chaga mushroom and rhodiola root. The ingredients are specifically chosen to complement one another in order to produce a brain boosting beverage to enjoy at any time.
How to take lions mane mushroom: This is completely dependent on the product you decide is right for you…
Fresh lion’s mane mushrooms? Eat them
lion’s mane mushroom powder bulk? Very versatile: add them to your hot or cold drinks, water, smoothies, include in your favorite recipes or simply sprinkle onto food.
Lions mane mushroom tincture? Take orally (often with water).
Lion’s Mane Mushroom side effects are unlikely as it is non-toxic and considered a safe nootropic, there are multiple studies which recorded no adverse effects even with high dosages.  
However, there has been one recorded case of a 63-year-old man who suffered acute respiratory distress associated with Lion’s Mane Mushroom.  As well as an isolated case of allergic reaction, seen in a 53-year-old man. The patient had a patch test which was positive (20 control patients also did a patch test which came back negative) and sensitization was confirmed with further testing. 
Lions mane mushroom & pregnancy: this mushroom is completely safe, natural and non-toxic but always be sure to consult your doctor before taking supplements, especially if you are pregnant, nursing or taking other medications.
Although very effective on its own, you can combine Lion’s Mane Mushroom with other supplements for even better results.
Lion’s Mane Mushroom can be combined with Pyrroloquinoline quinone (PQQ) for optimizing nerve growth factor. PQQ is an antioxidant that is often used for improving mitochondrial health, it has been found to stimulate nerve growth factor synthesis and secretion and a 2005 study states “PQQ is a potent enhancer for the regeneration of peripheral nerves”.  The two synergize to repair and regenerate nerves.
Lion’s Mane Mushroom can also be combined with Phosphatidylserine (PS) to promote brain health. PS is essential for healthy nerve cell membranes, it supports cognitive functions and can safely slow, halt, or reverse biochemical alterations and structural deterioration in nerve cells.  The two support the growth and production of new brain cells as well as brain cell membranes and promote cognitive enhancement.
If you’re in need of an immediate cognitive boost, take a look at stacking Lion’s mane with one of the racetam family such as piracetam as well as a high-quality choline supplement to ensure balance and best results.