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If You’ve Bee Wondering, What is Lion’s Mane Mushroom? You’ve Come to the Right Place

You’re out in the woods on a hike when you notice something big and white on a tree just off the trail ahead of you. It looks like a snowball or icicles, but it’s fluffy and definitely not made of water. And it’s late summer or maybe fall. What is it? You’ve likely found a Lion’s Mane mushroom, my friend. What is Lion’s Mane, you ask? Good question!

Lion’s Mane mushrooms happen to be one of our absolute favorite mushrooms — they made the cut for our list of the 10 best ones for your health!* These tasty, useful mushrooms are relatively easy to identify in nature once you see them a few times. Let’s dive in and learn more about why Lion’s Mane is worth getting to know better.

The basics about Lion’s Mane

Here’s the Tl;dr version of the answer to “What is Lion’s Mane?”

Botanical name:

Hericium erinaceus

Other names:

Pom Pom Mushroom, Hedgehog Mushroom, Monkey Head Mushroom, Brain Mushroom, hou tou gu (in Chinese), and yamabushitake (in Japanese)

Native to:

North America, Asia and Europe

Traditional and modern uses:

  • Promotes mental clarity, focus and memory*
  • Provides cerebral and nervous system support*
  • Promotes optimal nervous and immune system health*
  • Supports cognitive function*

A Deeper Dive into Lion’s Mane

Lion’s Mane is one of our most popular mushrooms, so we love it when folks have questions about it. What is Lion’s Mane? These large, shaggy white mushrooms are used in the kitchen and by herbalists (and have been for centuries!). While they’re better known in Asia (specifically China, Korea, and Japan), they are also found across North America and Europe.

Many “heavy hitter” mushrooms like Chaga, Cordyceps, and Reishi need to be extracted — they aren’t pleasant to eat due to their texture. But Lion’s Mane is tasty and tender (but also has plenty of health benefits!). They have a flavor similar to seafood, so if you’re looking for a plant-based alternative, check out our Lion’s Mane recipe for “Don’t Be a Crab” Cakes!

Pop quiz: If you had to guess what is Lion’s Mane used for traditionally, what would you say? (Its appearance is a hint!) Here’s another hint: You might keep a bottle of Lion’s Mane tincture in your school backpack or in your desk at work.

Lion’s Mane and the Brain

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Lion’s Mane mushroom is in a category of herbs (including plants and mushrooms) known as nootropics. These are botanicals that have traditionally been used to support neural and cognitive function.*

Lion’s Mane mushroom contains several well-known compounds – including hericenones and erinacines – that have been found to promote nerve growth factor synthesis in nerve cells.* In your body, NGF is responsible for regulating growth, maintenance, proliferation, and survival of neural cells.* It also promotes long-term health in your body.*

Research has also connected Lion’s Mane to neurogenesis, the process by which neurons are produced by neural stem cells.* In particular, Lion’s Mane supports this process in the hippocampus, an area of your brain that’s tasked with learning and memory.* In addition, Lion’s Mane may also promote a healthy mood.*

Beyond the brain, Lion’s Mane has traditionally been used to support digestive health, heart health, and the immune system.* Plus, Lion’s Mane has antioxidant qualities!*

So, after reading this, do you feel better equipped to answer the question: What is Lion’s Mane?

Want to try Lion’s Mane for yourself? Start with our Certified Organic Lion’s Mane Tincture For Cognitive Function & Memory. We add cinnamon to make it extra tasty — and to support healthy circulation.*

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Sources:

Photo by Soundtrap on Unsplash

Brandalise F, Cesaroni V, Gregori A, et al. Dietary Supplementation of Hericium erinaceus Increases Mossy Fiber-CA3 Hippocampal Neurotransmission and Recognition Memory in Wild-Type Mice. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2017;2017:3864340. doi:10.1155/2017/3864340

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. 2015;63(32):7108-7123. doi:10.1021/acs.jafc.5b02914

Jiang S, Wang S, Sun Y, Zhang Q. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol. 2014;98(18):7661-7670. doi:10.1007/s00253-014-5955-5

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