While no studies have analyzed whether lion’s mane mushroom is beneficial for Alzheimer’s disease in humans, it appears to boost mental functioning.
A study in older adults with mild cognitive impairment found that consuming 3 grams of powdered lion’s mane mushroom daily for four months significantly improved mental functioning, but these benefits disappeared when supplementation stopped (9Trusted Source).
The ability of lion’s mane mushroom to promote nerve growth and protect the brain from Alzheimer’s-related damage may explain some of its beneficial effects on brain health.
However, it’s important to note that most of the research has been conducted in animals or in test tubes. Therefore, more human studies are needed.
SUMMARYLion’s mane mushrooms contain compounds that stimulate the growth of brain cells and protect them from damage caused by Alzheimer’s disease. However, more human research is needed.
Other animal studies have found that lion’s mane extract can also help regenerate brain cells and improve the functioning of the hippocampus, a region of the brain responsible for processing memories and emotional responses (13Trusted Source,14Trusted Source).
Researchers believe that improved functioning of the hippocampus may explain the reductions in anxious and depressive behaviors in mice given these extracts.
While these animal studies are promising, there is very little research in humans.
One small study in menopausal women found that eating cookies containing lion’s mane mushrooms daily for one month helped reduce self-reported feelings of irritation and anxiety (15Trusted Source).
SUMMARYStudies suggest that lion’s mane mushrooms may help relieve mild symptoms of anxiety and depression, but more human research is needed to better understand the correlation.
Several animal studies have shown that lion’s mane can cause significantly lower blood sugar levels in both normal and diabetic mice, even at daily dosages as low as 2.7 mg per pound (6 mg per kg) of body weight (35Trusted Source,36Trusted Source).
One way that lion’s mane lowers blood sugars is by blocking the activity of the enzyme alpha-glucosidase, which breaks down carbs in the small intestine (37Trusted Source).
When this enzyme is blocked, the body is unable to digest and absorb carbs as effectively, which results in lower blood sugar levels.
In addition tolowering blood sugars, lion’s mane extract may reduce diabetic nerve pain in the hands and feet.
In mice with diabetic nerve damage, six weeks of daily lion’s mushroom extract significantly reduced pain, lowered blood sugar levels and even increased antioxidant levels (38Trusted Source).
Lion’s mane mushroom shows potential as a therapeutic supplement for diabetes, but more research is needed to determine exactly how it might be used in humans.
SUMMARYLion’s mane mushroom can help lower blood sugar and reduce diabetic nerve pain in mice, but more studies are needed to determine whether it might be a good therapeutic option in humans.
In fact, when lion’s mane extract is mixed with human cancer cells in a test tube, they cause the cancer cells to die at a faster rate. This has been demonstrated with several types of cancer cells, including liver, colon, stomach and blood cancer cells (41Trusted Source,42Trusted Source,43Trusted Source).
However, at least one study has failed to replicate these results, so more studies are needed (44Trusted Source).
In addition to killing cancer cells, lion’s mane extract has also been shown to slow the spread of cancer.
One study in mice with colon cancer found that taking lion’s mane extract reduced the spread of cancer to the lungs by 69% (45Trusted Source).
Another study found that lion’s mane extract was more effective than traditional cancer medications at slowing tumor growth in mice, in addition to having fewer side effects (42Trusted Source).
However, the anti-cancer effects of lion’s mane mushroom have never been tested in humans, so more research is needed.
SUMMARYAnimal and test-tube studies show that lion’s mane extract can kill cancer cells and slow the spread of tumors, but human studies are still needed.
Chronic inflammation and oxidative stress are believed to be at the root of many modern illnesses, including heart disease, cancer and autoimmune disorders (46Trusted Source).
Research shows that lion’s mane mushrooms contain powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds that may help reduce the impact of these illnesses (47Trusted Source).
In fact, one study examining the antioxidant abilities of 14 different mushroom species found that lion’s mane had the fourth highest antioxidant activity and recommended it be considered a good dietary source of antioxidants (48Trusted Source).
A strong immune system protects the body from bacteria, viruses and other disease-causing pathogens.
On the other hand, a weak immune system puts the body at a higher risk of developing infectious diseases.
Animal research shows that lion’s mane mushroom can boost immunity by increasing the activity of the intestinal immune system, which protects the body from pathogens that enter the gut through the mouth or nose (52Trusted Source).
These effects may partly be due to beneficial changes in gut bacteria that stimulate the immune system (53Trusted Source).
One study even found that supplementing with lion’s mane extract daily nearly quadrupled the lifespan of mice injected with a lethal dose of salmonella bacteria (54Trusted Source).
The immune-boosting effects of lion’s mane mushrooms are very promising, but this area of research is still developing.
SUMMARYLion’s mane mushrooms have been shown to have immune-boosting effects in rodents, but much more research is needed.
However, anyone who is allergic or sensitive to mushrooms should avoid lion’s mane, since it is a species of mushroom.
There have been documented cases of people experiencing difficulty breathing or skin rashes after exposure to lion’s mane mushrooms, likely related to allergies (58Trusted Source,59Trusted Source).
SUMMARYAnimal studies suggest that lion’s mane mushroom and its extracts are very safe, even at high doses. However, allergic reactions in humans have been reported, so anyone with a known mushroom allergy should avoid it.