Abstract: Does Lion’s Mane Improve Cognitive Function?
Kat Jackson and Rilee Christensen
Lion’s Mane, also known as Hericium erinaceus, Bearded Tooth, Pom Pom, and a variety of other names, has been used
for thousands of years as a part of traditional Chinese medicine. [1,2] Lion’s Mane is thought to help awaken your mind
and provide you with enhanced focus and as such was utilized by Monks during moments of meditation.
Lion’s Mane is a mushroom harvested from trunks of dead oak, beech, or Japanese walnut trees. In current times,
Lion’s Mane can also be artificially manufactured for mass production. Typical use consists of taking encapsulated
Lion’s Mane extract or powder, but can also include using tinctures and steeping teas. [1,3]
Mechanism of Action:
Alzheimer’s Disease initiation and progression is thought to be due to the accumulation of toxic amyloid beta protein
which come together to form plaques around brain cells. In vitro research has shown that Hericium Erinaceus reduces
amyloid beta-induced cytotoxicity resulting in the reduction of the number and burden of whole plaque found in the
Lion’s Mane is well-tolerated by most patients. The only side effect that has been reported is gastrointestinal discomfort.
Anticoagulant/Antiplatelet Drugs – Moderate Interaction: In-vitro evidence suggests that Hericium Erinaceus may inhibit
platelet aggregation, increasing the risk of bleeding.
Antidiabetic Drugs – Moderate Interaction: Animal research suggests that Hericium Erinaceus can reduce glucose and
increase insulin, resulting in additive effects and in increased risk of hypoglycemia.
Saitsu et al. conducted a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial in which cognitive impairment while using H.
erinaceus for 12 weeks was assessed among participants. Inclusion criteria included requiring “good health” and no
concurrent use of other supplements, medications, or functional-foods. The primary outcome was improvement of
cognitive impairment assessed at 0, 6, and 12 weeks by using the Mini Mental State Examination (MMSE), the Benton
visual retention test, and the standard verbal paired-association test (S-PA). The MMSE test showed a statistically
significant improvement in cognitive function when comparing weeks 0 and 6 in addition to weeks 0 and 12. There was no
statistically significant difference between treatment and placebo groups in either the S-PA or Benton visual retention test.
The authors concluded that the MMSE test alone showed that oral intake of H. erinaceus significantly improved cognitive
function. However, limitations of this study include a small sample size of 31 participants, strict inclusion criteria, a short
duration of 12 weeks, and only utilizing two study centers in Japan.
Mori et al. conducted a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial in which cognitive impairment and adverse
effect profile of H. erinaceus was evaluated among participants who took the supplement for 16 weeks. Inclusion
criteria included those with a diagnosis of mild cognitive impairment between the ages of 50-80. The primary outcome was
improvement in cognitive function at 8, 12, 16, and 20 weeks defined by the Revised Hasegawa Dementia Scale (HDS-R)
and drawing test. The participants in the H. erinaceus group showed an increased improvement in cognitive function
during the 16 week treatment compared to placebo with 10 participants having a 3-point or more increase in their HDS-R
score. However, the placebo group also showed some increase in cognitive function at the end of treatment with 1
participant having a 3-point or more increase in their HDS-R score. Participants showed a decline in cognitive function
during the 4-week follow-up after treatment stopped. No significant adverse effects were reported with 7 participants in the
H. erinaceus group experiencing mild gastrointestinal discomfort which was similar to the placebo group with 6
participants affected. The authors concluded that H. erinaceus can be taken with no incidence of serious adverse effects
and may be used in patients with Dementia to help improve mild cognitive impairment, however acetylcholinesterase
inhibitors are still the favored therapeutic treatment. Limitations of this study include a small sample size of 30
participants, strict inclusion criteria, and utilization of only one study center.
Randomized controlled trials demonstrate that Lion’s Mane can help to improve cognitive function with minimal to no
adverse effects.[4,5] However, due to the many limitations of these studies, such as small sample size, lack of external
validity, and limited study sites, further studies with more participants of diverse backgrounds need to be conducted. At
this time, acetylcholinesterase inhibitors are still the recommended therapeutic regimen for patients with cognitive
1. Hericium erinaceus Professional Monograph. Natural Medicines. Published 2020. Accessed July 21, 2021.
2. The Story of the Lions Mane Mushroom. Super Batter. Published 2020. Accessed July 21, 2021.
3. Julson E. 9 Health Benefits of Lion’s Mane Mushroom (Plus Side Effects). Healthline. Published online 2018.
Accessed July 21, 2021. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/lions-mane-mushroom
4. Saitsu Y, Nishide A, Kikushima K, Shimizu K, Ohnuki K. Improvement of Cognitive Functions by Oral Intake of
Hericium Erinaceus. Vol 40.; 2019.
5. Mori K, Inatomi S, Ouchi K, Azumi Y, Tuchida T. Mushroom Yamabushitake on Mild Cognitive Impairment 367
Improving Effects of the Mushroom Yamabushitake (Hericium erinaceus) on Mild Cognitive Impairment: A
Double-blind Placebo-controlled Clinical Trial. Phytother Res. 2009;23:367-372. doi:10.1002/ptr
6. What Happens to the Brain in Alzheimer’s Disease? | National Institute on Aging. National Institutes of Health.
Published 2017. Accessed July 21, 2021. https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/what-happens-brain-alzheimers-diseaseRecommend0 recommendationsPublished in