Does Lion's Mane Help with Anxiety?

Updated on August 18, 2023
 by — reviewed by Jason Williams, PhD (Contributor: George Collins / Editor: Yoko Hill)

Does Lion's Mane Mushroom help with anxiety?

Anxiety is a common mental health condition that affects an average of 260 million individuals worldwide. It is characterized by feelings of fear, worry, and unease, which can often interfere with daily life.

While there are various treatment options available for anxiety, some individuals may prefer natural remedies to manage their symptoms.

One such remedy that has gained attention in recent years is Lion's Mane mushroom. Famous mycologist, Paul Stamets, says,'' Lion's mane may be our first 'smart' mushroom. It is a safe, edible fungus that appears to confer cognitive benefits on our aging population.''

Additionally, for those struggling with anxiety and depression, this mushroom could provide a shining light in the dark.

In this article, we will explore the potential of this popular natural remedy and discuss its ability to alleviate uneasiness and promote relaxation.

Understanding Lion's Mane and Its Properties

Lion's Mane mushrooms, scientifically known as Hericium erinaceus, are a type of medicinal mushroom that has gained popularity for its numerous health benefits.

These mushrooms are known for their unique, shaggy outside appearance, which resembles a lion's mane, hence their name.

Lion's Mane mushrooms are widely used in Asian countries such as Korea, Japan, India, and China for culinary and medicinal purposes. However, these mushrooms are not only delicious to eat, but they also offer a range of health benefits!

Lion's Mane mushrooms are packed with essential nutrients such as thiamine, riboflavin, and niacin. They are also a good source of minerals like manganese, zinc, and potassium.

The Active Components of Lion's Mane

Hericium erinaceus contains several bioactive compounds that contribute to its health benefits.

Let's dive into them so we can understand the science behind this potent natural remedy!

Here is a brief summary of some of the most impactful bioactive compounds and functions of Lion's Mane mushroom:

  1. Beta-glucan: Beta-glucan is a type of polysaccharide found in Lion's Mane that has immune-modulating and antioxidant effects. Beta-glucan has also been shown to stimulate immune cells, such as macrophages and natural killer cells, which play a crucial role in defending the body against pathogens.(1)
  2. Hericenones and Erinacines: These are unique compounds found in Lion's Mane mushrooms that have been shown to stimulate the production of nerve growth factor (NGF). NGF is a protein that is essential for the growth, maintenance, and survival of nerve cells, including brain neurons.(2) Therefore, these compounds in Lion's Mane may also help improve memory, focus, and cognitive function by promoting the regeneration and protection of neurons.
  3. Antioxidants: Lion's Mane mushroom is also rich in antioxidants, such as phenolic compounds and flavonoids, which help neutralize free radicals and protect the body from oxidative damage. Oxidative stress caused by an imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants has been linked to various health issues, including heart disease, diabetes, and arthritis. 
  4. Anti-inflammatory properties: The anti-inflammatory properties of Lion's Mane compounds, including its polysaccharides, have also been studied and found to help reduce inflammation and alleviate associated symptoms.(3)
  5. Prebiotics: Lion's Mane has been traditionally used to support digestive health because it contains compounds called prebiotics. These compounds stimulate the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut and help maintain a healthy gut microbiome. Therefore, Lion's Mane has been found to possess anti-ulcer and anti-gastritis properties, which can help protect the stomach lining and reduce the risk of developing peptic ulcers.
  6. Anti-Cancer: Preliminary research also suggests that Lion's Mane mushroom may have potential cancer-fighting properties. Some compounds in Lion's Mane, such as polysaccharides and terpenoids, have shown inhibitory effects on the growth of cancer cells and can induce apoptosis (cell death) in cancerous cells.(4)

Overall, these bioactive compounds contribute to the potential health benefits of Lion's Mane to support cognitive function, immune health, reduced inflammation, and digestive health. It's by far one of the most effective natural nootropics.

It does all of this, whilst potentially fighting cancer, as well as providing cardiovascular and mental health support.(5)

Does Lion's Mane Reduce Anxiety?

Yes, Lion's Mane is celebrated for its various health benefits, and studies suggest that it can help alleviate mild symptoms of anxiety.(6) Hericium erinaceus's bioactive substances are believed to enhance the functioning of the hippocampus, a region of the brain responsible for processing emotions and memories. This enhancement is known to potentially reduce feelings of uneasiness and sadness.

So, does this mean that Lion's Mane mushroom helps with depression?

Yes, the ''Pom Pom'' mushroom (one of its many names) has also been researched for its ability to manage depressive disorders.(7)

But, how long does it take for Lion's Mane mushroom to reduce anxiety and depression?

Studies suggest that it may take up to 4 weeks of consistent use of Lion's Mane to see a positive change in your mood and relief from anxiety.(8) This notorious, fluffy mushroom is one of the most powerful natural nootropics available to, and some users experience sensations of relaxation within an hour of ingesting it.

However, it's important to understand that individual factors play a key role in how fast Lion's Mane takes to work. The timeframe it takes to work will vary from person.

How to Use Lion's Mane for Anxiety

100% natural Lion's Mane mushroom supplements can be found in various forms, including premium capsules, powder, and teas.

The recommended dosage may vary depending on the form and the individual's specific needs.

It is advised to start with a low dose and gradually increase it, as tolerated.

Here are some guidelines for using Lion's Mane for anxiety relief:

  • Capsules: Follow the recommended dosage instructions provided by the manufacturer. Typically, a daily intake of 1000-3000 mg is suggested.
  • Powder: Mix 1-2 teaspoons of Lion's Mane powder into your favorite beverage, such as coffee, tea, or smoothies. Start with a small amount and gradually increase the dosage if needed.
  • Tea: Steep Lion's Mane mushroom slices or powder in hot water for 10-15 minutes. Drink the tea regularly to experience its potential benefits.

It is essential to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new supplement, especially if you have underlying medical conditions or are taking medication. They can provide personalized guidance and help determine the appropriate dosage for you.

Other Health Benefits of Lion's Mane

Aside from its potential benefits for anxiety, Lion's Mane mushroom has been associated with various other wellness benefits.

Here are some of the most notable health benefits of the Lion's Mane mushroom:

  1. Brain health: Lion's Mane mushrooms contain compounds that can stimulate the growth of brain cells and protect them from damage. This may help improve cognitive function, memory, and overall brain health.
  2. Neurodegenerative diseases: Studies have shown that Lion's Mane may have protective effects against neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. It may help reduce the risk of cognitive decline and improve symptoms in individuals with these conditions.
  3. Digestive health: The bioactive substances in Lion's Mane can support a healthy gut by promoting the growth of beneficial gut bacteria and reducing inflammation in the digestive system.
  4. Immune function: The beta-glucans in Lion's Mane mushrooms have immune-stimulating effects, which may help boost the body's immune response and protect against infections.
  5. Mood regulation: Preliminary research suggests that Lion's Mane may have antidepressant and mood-regulating effects. It may help alleviate symptoms of depression and improve overall well-being.

It's important to note that while many studies have shown promising results, more research is still needed to fully understand the extent of these health benefits and their mechanisms of action.

Conclusion: Can Lion's Mane Cure Anxiety?

The medicinal properties of Lion's Mane mushrooms are still being researched, and more studies are needed to fully understand their potential health benefits.

Lion's Mane can be considered a natural remedy that supports overall mental wellness and holistic health. Its potential benefits for anxiety are believed to be linked to its ability to promote neurogenesis, reduce inflammation, and support brain health.

These mushrooms can be consumed fresh, cooked, dried, or in the form of supplements, offering a versatile and beneficial addition to one's diet.

However, it's important to note that Lion's Mane should not substitute professional medical advice or prescribed treatments. If you experience severe or persistent anxiety symptoms, it's crucial to seek help from a qualified healthcare provider who can provide you with appropriate diagnosis and treatment options.