Lion's mane – Good for the brain? article image

Lion's mane – Good for the brain?

Lion's mane is a mushroom that got its fantastic name thanks to its unusual appearance, it looks like a white lion's mane! The Latin name for Lion's mane is Hericium erinaceus and is also known as Igelkottstaggsvamp in Swedish.

Where does Lion's mane grow?

Lion's mane mushroom grows wild in forests around the world and is known to grow on dead or dying trees, especially hardwoods such as oak and maple. It also grows in Sweden but is unfortunately rare and therefore also protected here. It is also possible to grow Lion's mane for commercial use, such as for dietary supplements and food production, or for personal consumption. Cultivation enables control over environmental conditions and promotes reliable and sustainable production of the mushroom.

Lion's mane nutritional content

Lion's mane contains compounds and various active substances that have caught the attention of researchers due to their potential health benefits. Below are some of the main active substances that have been identified in the Lion's mane mushroom:


Lion's mane contains several different so-called polysaccharides such as beta-glucans. Polysaccharides are a group of complex carbohydrates important components of fungal cell walls and have been shown to have immunomodulating properties, i.e. influence on the immune system.


Erinacins are a group of compounds found in Lion's mane and which, according to some studies, can affect the body's production of NGF, which stands for "nerve growth factor" or nerve growth factor in Swedish). NGF is a protein factor involved in nerve cell growth, survival and differentiation.


Hericenones are another group of compounds (also acting as antioxidants) that have also been linked to NGF.


Lion's mane also contains sterols, which are chemical compounds similar to steroids. These compounds possess a range of properties and have been studied for their potential health benefits.


The mushroom contains peptides, which are short chains of amino acids. Some peptides in Lion's mane may have biological activity and may be involved in its special properties.

Vitamins and minerals:

Lion's mane contains a range of B vitamins but also several minerals.

Long-term traditional use

Lion's mane has a long history of use in health and cooking in some cultures, especially in East Asia. In China and other East Asian countries, Lion's mane has been used in traditional Chinese health philosophy to support various health conditions. It is said to have been used to promote the immune system, nervous system and mental ability, among other things.

The mushroom has traditionally been used as part of the diet as it is felt to promote general well-being. Its nutritional profile and potential health benefits have made it a valued supplement.

Lion's mane has a long history of being used in cooking. In some Asian cuisines, the mushroom has been used to add flavor and texture to various dishes. Its mild and delicate taste makes it a popular addition to soups, stir-fries and other dishes.

Does Lion's Mane Affect the Brain?

Lion's mane has been of interest in research due to its potential positive effects on the brain. What has been investigated is, among other things, whether substances found in the mushroom can improve memory, cognitive function and focus, but also their potential impact on the immune system.

Cognitive function, memory and focus:

Lion's mane contains, as described above, various compounds including erinacins and hericenones. These substances appear in studies to be able to have an impact on the body's production of NGF, which in turn affects the nervous system and the binding of new nerve cells.

Many mushrooms and plants contain various substances that have been studied for their potential anti-inflammatory effects. Even subjects in Lion's mane have proved interesting in this context. Reducing inflammation in the body in different ways can have positive effects on brain health.

Taking substances that have an impact on nerve growth and cognitive functions can also be linked to positive effects on depression and anxiety as they affect the release of signaling substances in the brain.


Nootropics is a term used to describe substances that can potentially improve cognitive functions, including memory, concentration, focus, learning and creativity, without having significant side effects. The term originates from the Greek, where "nous" means mind and "tropos" means turning, thus "mind-turning" or "mind-improving".

Nootropics are often advocated for their purported positive effects on brain performance and mental function. These substances can be natural, such as certain herbs and mushrooms, or synthetic, such as certain drugs. Lion's mane is often classified as a so-called nootropic.

Other examples of substances classified as nootropics include:

  • Caffeine: Known to improve alertness and concentration
  • Ginko Biloba: An herb that is classified as herbal medicine in Sweden and that promotes memory and improved cognitive function.
  • L-theanine: An amino acid found in green tea that is said to have relaxing and concentration-enhancing properties.
  • Bacopa Monnieri: A plant that has been shown to improve cognitive functions such as memory, concentration and focus.
  • Racetam family: A group of synthetic compounds that includes piracetam and aniracetam and which have been investigated for their possible cognitive benefits.
  • Modafinil: A prescription drug used to treat sleep-related disorders and sometimes used to support cognitive function.

Mushrooms that often appear together with Lion's mane

There are a bunch of healthy mushrooms that are good to take together in dietary supplements, food or powder form. Mushrooms that often appear together with Lion's mane are Cordyceps, Maitake, Reishi, Shiitake and Chaga. Below we describe these in a little more detail.


Cordyceps is a group of fungi that includes several species, of which Cordyceps sinensis is one of the most studied and used in health contexts. Cordyceps is called Larvvamp in Swedish, as it is a parasitic fungus in above all larvae. Cordyceps sinensis has been used in Chinese health philosophy for over 2000 years. It is considered an adaptogen and contains active compounds such as polysaccharides, proteins, vitamins and minerals.


Maitake ( Grifola frondosa ), called Korallticka in Swedish, is a fascinating mushroom with interesting properties and a rich history in traditional Chinese health philosophy. Maitake, also known as the "dancing mushroom" in Japanese, got its name from the historical anecdotes of people dancing for joy when they found the mushroom in the forest. Originally, the mushroom comes from Japan, China and North America.

Maitake, like several other health mushrooms, has a high content of active compounds such as polysaccharides and beta-glucans and is considered an adaptogen.

Also Reishi and Chaga often appear together with Lion's mane. Read more about these mushrooms here .

Frequently asked questions and answers about Lion's mane:

What dosage is good if you want to try Lion's mane in food supplements?

Answer: There is no stated dose that suits all purposes but a common range in supplements is 500mg of extract per day if the product only contains Lion's mane. If taking a multi-ingredient supplement, Lion's mane may make up a smaller portion. In Elexir Mushroom Complex with Lion's mane, we have for example mixed with Cordyceps, Maitake and Bacopa which can improve cognitive function, concentration, focus and memory.

Can Lion's mane help with different types of diseases?

Answer: Lion's mane is not a drug or medicinal preparation. If you suffer from an illness and want to try Lion's mane, you should consult your doctor first.

Has Lion's mane been used in traditional Chinese medicine in Asia?

Answer: Yes, it is true that Lion's mane (and many other mushrooms) is widely used in traditional Chinese medicine.

What are the active substances in Lion's mane called?

Answer: There are several active substances in Lion's mane ( Hericium erinaceus ), including a group of substances called polysaccharides. There are many different types of polysaccharides such as beta-glucans. Lion's mane also contains erinacins, hericenones, sterols, peptides, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

Elexir Pharma has two different supplements that contain mushrooms, what makes them different?

Answer: We have developed two different mushroom complexes. One is called Mushroom Complex with Lion's mane and is developed for focus, memory and concentration. It contains Lion's mane, cordyceps, maitake and the plant extract Bacopa monnieri. The other is called Mushroom Complex with Reishi and is developed to support the immune system. It contains Reishi, Lion's mane, Chaga and Shiitake.

How to take Lion's mane?

Answer: As a dietary supplement, you can take Lion's mane in different ways. It is available as a powder, capsule or tablet but can also be eaten as edible mushrooms. Some products contain extracts while others have pure powder. Mushrooms can be a way to support the body in a natural way.

Do you do a lot of research on Lion's mane?

Answer: Lion's Mane has proven to be very interesting for research. Many studies have been done on Lion's mane (also known as hedgehog mushroom) and more studies will probably be done in the future, both on Lion's mane but also on other mushrooms with a focus on their interesting nutritional content. They have in common that they contain compounds that seem to be able to affect the body in different ways.

Can Lion's Mane Have Side Effects?

Answer: Lion's Mane ( Hericium erinaceus ) is considered safe for most people when consumed as food and dietary supplements. If you take medication or suffer from an illness, it is always good to consult your doctor before using food supplements.