Lion’s Mane – Therapeutic Potential


Lion’s Mane – Therapeutic Potential

The Lion’s mane mushroom is a popular culinary ingredient in South-East Asia. It is also widely sought after due to its medicinal value.
It is a highly acclaimed nootropic or brain tonic. More precisely, studies have shown that the mushroom is effective in stimulating Nerve Growth Factor or NGF – a protein that plays a key role in the formation and regeneration of nerve cells. Thus, Lion’s mane could be the key to reversing the brain effects of ageing, as well as neurodegenerative disorders (such as Alzheimer’s).  Read on and find out more about how it works and the therapeutic potential of Lion’s mane mushroom supplements.


How does it work?

The Lion’s mane contains two unique classes of NGF triggering compounds – Hericenones and Erinacines. Once ingested, these compounds are carried through the bloodstream and can easily cross the blood-brain barrier. Once inside the brain, the Lion’s mane triggers the production of enzymes that release Nerve Growth Factor. The occurrence of NGF in the brain, in turn, stimulates formation, regeneration and repair of nerve cells. It relieves symptoms of neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s, dementia and Alzheimer’s. It also boosts neurotransmission thereby enhancing memory, learning, and mental alertness.

But that’s not all. The Lion’s Mane, like other medicinal mushrooms, has been found to contain high amounts of the fungal glycol beta-glucoxylan. It also contains other polysaccharides that are known for enhancing the immune system and decreasing tumour growth. Thus, it’s a three-in-one therapeutic mushroom.



As we mentioned earlier, the Lion’s mane mushroom is a popular culinary ingredient in parts of South-East Asia. Generations in that part of the world have consumed the fungi in its natural form for centuries. It’s not a surprise therefore that Dr Kawagishi, a Japanese scientist, was the first to identify the NGF properties in Lion’s mane mushroom back in 1991. Since then, the mushroom’s popularity has soared. Today, it’s available as in its natural form, or as an extracted supplement in powder or capsule form.


Therapeutic potential of Lion’s mane supplements

It’s hard to describe what makes an effective Lion’s mane supplement especially if you are looking for the NGF benefits. For starters, the natural compounds occurring in the fungus are complex and the pharmaco-kinetic-profile is hard to determine. This makes synthesis and clinical use difficult. Also, there’s no benchmark (or 100% pure reference material) of Lion’s mane compounds. Therefore, there’s no standardized way of determining the quantities of Hericenones and Erinacines available in a Lion’s mane supplement. 

Most Lion’s mane products in the market today are derived from mycelium grown on grains. Such products are often contaminated with grain starch during the production process. Since grain starch is also a polysaccharide, but with nil therapeutic potential, any reference to the product’s polysaccharide content could be misleading. However, Lion’s mane products which specify the percentage quantities of available Beta-D-glucans can be helpful when determining the therapeutic potential for those after the immune-boosting effects.


Here’s the bottom line.

There’s no doubt about the medicinal benefits of consuming Lion’s mane mushroom supplements. But it’s hard to determine a supplement’s brain boosting therapeutic potential. To obtain both the NGF and immunomodulation benefits of lion’s mane, we suggest that you consider products with a combined approach. Look for high-quality products that consist of two parts. One part would be an unfiltered lion’s mane with all its bioactive compounds including the Hericenones and Erinacines. The other part would be an extracted product in which the constitution of Beta-D-glucans has been determined.

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