Lion's Mane Mushroom

Purported Benefits, Side Effects & More

Lion's Mane Mushroom

Purported Benefits, Side Effects & More
Lion's Mane Mushroom

Common Names

  • Bearded tooth mushroom
  • Yamabushitake
  • Hou Tou Gu
  • Monkey head mushroom
  • Bearded hedgehog
  • Pom pom mushroom
  • Hedgehog fungus
  • Satyr’s beard

For Patients & Caregivers

Tell your healthcare providers about any dietary supplements you’re taking, such as herbs, vitamins, minerals, and natural or home remedies. This will help them manage your care and keep you safe.

What is it?

Lion’s mane mushroom is used in East Asian medical systems to improve general health. It also comes as dietary supplements in capsules, powders and liquid extracts.

What are the potential uses and benefits?

Lion’s mane is used to:

  • Improve memory
  • Improve mood
  • Reduce stress

Lion’s mane also has other uses that haven’t been studied by doctors to see if they work.

It’s generally safe to use lion’s mane in food and tea but talk with your healthcare providers before taking lion’s mane supplements. Herbal supplements are stronger than the herbs you would use in cooking.

They can also interact with some medications and affect how they work. For more information, read the “What else do I need to know?” section below.

What are the side effects?

Side effects of using lion’s mane may include:

  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Nausea (feeling like you’re going to throw up)
  • Skin rash 

For Healthcare Professionals

Scientific Name
Hericium erinaceus
Clinical Summary

An edible mushroom used in East Asian cuisine, lion’s mane grows on dead hardwood trees and has distinctive long, white spines that dangle downward resembling a lion’s mane.  It has a long history of use in Native American as well as East Asian medical systems for infections, anxiety, stress, and depression.  Lion’s mane mushrooms are eaten raw, dried, or cooked. Supplemental forms are promoted for improving cognitive health, mood, and immunity.

Preclinical studies reported antioxidant, antimicrobial, immunomodulatory, anti-neuroinflammatory, neuroprotective, cognition-enhancing (1) (2) (3) (4), wound-healing (5) and anti-gastric ulcer (6) effects.

Limited clinical data suggest lion’s mane may improve memory and mood in overweight individuals (7), mild cognitive impairment (8), cognitive function in older adults (9) and in patients with mild Alzheimer’s disease (10), as well as mood in menopausal women (11). Subjective reductions in stress were also reported in younger adults (12) although supplementation had no impact on metabolic flexibility or cognition (13).

In addition, lion’s mane demonstrated antiproliferative (4) (14) (15) and antimetastatic (16) activities in preclinical models. But there are no studies in humans that show it has anti-cancer effects.

Purported Uses and Benefits
  • Improve memory
  • Improve mood
  • Reduce stress
Mechanism of Action

Pharmacological investigations revealed several bioactive compounds in the mycelia and fruiting bodies of lion’s mane including phenolic acids and terpenoids, specifically hericenones and erinacines, polysaccharides, sterols, and lactones (17).

Both hericenones and erinacines were shown to cross the blood-brain barrier (18) and promote nerve growth factor synthesis and secretion (19). They also exerted anti-neuroinflammatory, neuroprotective (20) (2) (21), and cognition-improving effects in murine models (3). In addition, administration of both lion’s mane extract and hericene A to mice led to increased neurotrophin expression and downstream signaling, resulting in enhanced hippocampal memory (22). Improvements were also reported in preclinical models of ischemic stroke, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and depression using lion’s mane mycelia enriched with erinacines (23)

Clinical findings suggest lion’s mane may increase diversity of the gut microbiome (24)

Adverse Reactions

Abdominal discomfort, nausea, and skin rash were reported in a clinical study (10).


Dosage (OneMSK Only)
  1. Khan MA, Tania M, Liu R, Rahman MM. Hericium erinaceus: an edible mushroom with medicinal values. J Complement Integr Med. May 24 2013;10doi:10.1515/jcim-2013-0001
  2. Tsai-Teng T, Chin-Chu C, Li-Ya L, et al. Erinacine A-enriched Hericium erinaceus mycelium ameliorates Alzheimer’s disease-related pathologies in APPswe/PS1dE9 transgenic mice. J Biomed Sci. Jun 27 2016;23(1):49. doi:10.1186/s12929-016-0266-z
  3. Mori K, Obara Y, Moriya T, Inatomi S, Nakahata N. Effects of Hericium erinaceus on amyloid β(25-35) peptide-induced learning and memory deficits in mice. Biomed Res. Feb 2011;32(1):67-72. doi:10.2220/biomedres.32.67
  4. Li Y, Zhang G, Ng TB, Wang H. A novel lectin with antiproliferative and HIV-1 reverse transcriptase inhibitory activities from dried fruiting bodies of the monkey head mushroom Hericium erinaceum. J Biomed Biotechnol. 2010;2010:716515. doi:10.1155/2010/716515
  5. Abdulla MA, Fard AA, Sabaratnam V, et al. Potential activity of aqueous extract of culinary-medicinal Lion’s Mane mushroom, Hericium erinaceus (Bull.: Fr.) Pers. (Aphyllophoromycetideae) in accelerating wound healing in rats. Int J Med Mushrooms. 2011;13(1):33-9. doi:10.1615/intjmedmushr.v13.i1.50
  6. Wang M, Konishi T, Gao Y, Xu D, Gao Q. Anti-Gastric Ulcer Activity of Polysaccharide Fraction Isolated from Mycelium Culture of Lion’s Mane Medicinal Mushroom, Hericium erinaceus (Higher Basidiomycetes). Int J Med Mushrooms. 2015;17(11):1055-60. doi:10.1615/intjmedmushrooms.v17.i11.50
  7. Vigna L, Morelli F, Agnelli GM, et al. Hericium erinaceus Improves Mood and Sleep Disorders in Patients Affected by Overweight or Obesity: Could Circulating Pro-BDNF and BDNF Be Potential Biomarkers? Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2019;2019:7861297. doi:10.1155/2019/7861297
  8. Mori K, Inatomi S, Ouchi K, Azumi Y, Tuchida T. Improving effects of the mushroom Yamabushitake (Hericium erinaceus) on mild cognitive impairment: a double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial. Phytother Res. Mar 2009;23(3):367-72. doi:10.1002/ptr.2634
  9. Saitsu Y, Nishide A, Kikushima K, Shimizu K, Ohnuki K. Improvement of cognitive functions by oral intake of Hericium erinaceus. Biomed Res. 2019;40(4):125-131. doi:10.2220/biomedres.40.125
  10. Li IC, Chang HH, Lin CH, et al. Prevention of Early Alzheimer’s Disease by Erinacine A-Enriched Hericium erinaceus Mycelia Pilot Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Study. Front Aging Neurosci. 2020;12:155. doi:10.3389/fnagi.2020.00155
  11. Nagano M, Shimizu K, Kondo R, et al. Reduction of depression and anxiety by 4 weeks Hericium erinaceus intake. Biomed Res. Aug 2010;31(4):231-7. doi:10.2220/biomedres.31.231
  12. Docherty S, Doughty FL, Smith EF. The Acute and Chronic Effects of Lion’s Mane Mushroom Supplementation on Cognitive Function, Stress and Mood in Young Adults: A Double-Blind, Parallel Groups, Pilot Study. Nutrients. Nov 20 2023;15(22)doi:10.3390/nu15224842
  13. Grozier CD, Alves VA, Killen LG, Simpson JD, O’Neal EK, Waldman HS. Four Weeks of Hericium erinaceus Supplementation Does Not Impact Markers of Metabolic Flexibility or Cognition. Int J Exerc Sci. 2022;15(2):1366-1380.
  14. Li W, Zhou W, Kim EJ, Shim SH, Kang HK, Kim YH. Isolation and identification of aromatic compounds in Lion’s Mane Mushroom and their anticancer activities. Food Chem. Mar 1 2015;170:336-42. doi:10.1016/j.foodchem.2014.08.078
  15. Wang M, Zhang Y, Xiao X, Xu D, Gao Y, Gao Q. A Polysaccharide Isolated from Mycelia of the Lion’s Mane Medicinal Mushroom Hericium erinaceus (Agaricomycetes) Induced Apoptosis in Precancerous Human Gastric Cells. Int J Med Mushrooms. 2017;19(12):1053-1060. doi:10.1615/IntJMedMushrooms.2017024975
  16. Kim SP, Nam SH, Friedman M. Hericium erinaceus (Lion’s Mane) mushroom extracts inhibit metastasis of cancer cells to the lung in CT-26 colon cancer-tansplanted mice. J Agric Food Chem. May 22 2013;61(20):4898-904. doi:10.1021/jf400916c
  17. Friedman M. Chemistry, Nutrition, and Health-Promoting Properties of Hericium erinaceus (Lion’s Mane) Mushroom Fruiting Bodies and Mycelia and Their Bioactive Compounds. J Agric Food Chem. Aug 19 2015;63(32):7108-23. doi:10.1021/acs.jafc.5b02914
  18. Hu JH, Li IC, Lin TW, et al. Absolute Bioavailability, Tissue Distribution, and Excretion of Erinacine S in Hericium erinaceus Mycelia. Molecules. Apr 24 2019;24(8)doi:10.3390/molecules24081624
  19. Zhang CC, Yin X, Cao CY, Wei J, Zhang Q, Gao JM. Chemical constituents from Hericium erinaceus and their ability to stimulate NGF-mediated neurite outgrowth on PC12 cells. Bioorg Med Chem Lett. Nov 15 2015;25(22):5078-82. doi:10.1016/j.bmcl.2015.10.016
  20. Trovato A, Siracusa R, Di Paola R, et al. Redox modulation of cellular stress response and lipoxin A4 expression by Hericium Erinaceus in rat brain: relevance to Alzheimer’s disease pathogenesis. Immun Ageing. 2016;13:23. doi:10.1186/s12979-016-0078-8
  21. Wang LY, Huang CS, Chen YH, Chen CC, Chen CC, Chuang CH. Anti-Inflammatory Effect of Erinacine C on NO Production Through Down-Regulation of NF-κB and Activation of Nrf2-Mediated HO-1 in BV2 Microglial Cells Treated with LPS. Molecules. Sep 12 2019;24(18)doi:10.3390/molecules24183317
  22. Martínez-Mármol R, Chai Y, Conroy JN, et al. Hericerin derivatives activates a pan-neurotrophic pathway in central hippocampal neurons converging to ERK1/2 signaling enhancing spatial memory. J Neurochem. Jun 2023;165(6):791-808. doi:10.1111/jnc.15767
  23. Li IC, Lee LY, Tzeng TT, et al. Neurohealth Properties of Hericium erinaceus Mycelia Enriched with Erinacines. Behav Neurol. 2018;2018:5802634. doi:10.1155/2018/5802634
  24. Xie XQ, Geng Y, Guan Q, et al. Influence of Short-Term Consumption of Hericium erinaceus on Serum Biochemical Markers and the Changes of the Gut Microbiota: A Pilot Study. Nutrients. Mar 21 2021;13(3)doi:10.3390/nu13031008
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