Meet the Mushrooms

Lion's Mane Mushroom: The Brain Boosting Fungi


Lion’s Mane mushroom (Hericium erinaceus) looks like a white ball covered in shaggy spines. It is a functional mushroom, meaning that it has health benefits beyond its nutritional value, increasingly supported and backed by scientific studies. Due to its brain neurotrophic benefits, it is known to many, as the ‘smart mushroom’. So if you feel your brain deserves more power and focus plus a few extra added brain cells, keep reading. 


Lion’s Mane has been a part of East Asian cultures and has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries. In Chinese it is known as hóu tóu gū (“monkey head mushroom”) and in Japanese, yamabushitake (“mountain monk mushroom”). Once known as the “Mountain Priest”, Lion's Mane was reserved for royalty and cherished by Buddhist monks. Lion’s Mane was traditionally used to fortify the spleen, nourish the gut (our second brain), and for fighting cancer. Shaolin Buddhist monks took powdered Lion’s mane on account of its cognitive powers and ability to enhance deep meditation practice.



One of the most notable benefits of Lion’s Mane is its ability to stimulate the production of Nerve Growth Factor (NGF).(1) NGF is a protein that has the ability to stimulate the growth of new brain cells in the hippocampus, which is associated with thinking, learning and emotions (it also looks like a sea horse!). A number of studies have found that consistent consumption of Lion's Mane can help repair nerve damage,(2) improve memory recall,(3) have anti-depressive effects(4) and lift brain fog.(5) That sounds like enough miracles for one mushroom! It’s basically like taking your brain to the gym and giving it a good workout to keep it healthy and strong. But still, the benefits continue beyond the brain. Get your notepads out, as there are some gems we’re about to drop - your body will thank you for being introduced to the smartest mushroom!



As much as we don’t want to hear it, our brain health naturally declines over time. We all age. However, we can reduce symptoms of ageing when we take care of our brains. NGF is a protein that plays a crucial role in the growth and survival of nerve cells in the brain. A lack of NGF has been linked to cognitive decline and neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. NGF is important in the maintenance and development of neurons, a process known as neurogenesis. London Taxi Drivers provide a good example of the power of neurogenesis. Scans reveal the structure of their brain changes during the gruelling process of learning the quickest way around the capital, indicating that the brain could adapt to new tasks, even in adulthood.(6) Like cognitive exercises, Lion’s Mane can stimulate production of NFG and promote neurogenesis.(7) What would happen if one took Lion’s Mane to aid in the process of learning a new skill or honing in on a task?


@dirteaworld Could this mushroom help repair and regrow brain cells and eliminate brain fog? 🧠🍄 #lionsmane #brainhealth #brainfog #adhd #adhdsupport #mushroomfacts #mushrooms #anxiety ♬ Aesthetic - Gaspar



Do you ever wake up in the morning with brain fog or have days when it’s hard to focus? Perhaps Lion’s Mane can help. In one placebo-controlled trial, 30 men and women with mild cognitive impairment were randomised into two groups of 15. One half was given 250mg tablets containing 96% Lion’s Mane dry powder three times a day for 16 weeks, and the other group was assigned a placebo pill. The group that received the Lion’s Mane pill significantly increased scores on the cognitive function scale compared with the placebo group. Within four weeks after terminating the Lion’s Mane mushroom pill intake, the group scores dropped significantly.(8)

The takeaway here? We are all searching for that quick-fix pill. However, consistency is key. In the words of the famous leadership coach John Maxwell, “Small disciplines repeated with consistency every day lead to great achievements gained slowly over time.” 



Lion’s Mane has been found to offer protection against damage to the stomach’s lining by restricting the growth of h. pylori  – a bacteria associated with stomach ulcers.(9) In 2015, a study in Japan found that Lion’s Mane mushroom was able to reduce inflammation in fatty tissue which could significantly reduce bloating.(10) This is good news for… probably most of us!



Remember how we talk about the ‘gut’ feeling when things feel good or bad? That’s your other brain guiding you. Gut health is the foundation of a healthier life. Your gut is the site of much of your digestion and absorbs nutrients from the food you eat. Your gut bacteria manufacture 95% of your body's supply of serotonin, which is vital for not just boosting your mood, but regulating body temperature, hunger and sexual activity. Lion’s Mane contains prebiotics which feed the good bacteria in our guts. A rodent study showed that the probiotics increased rapidly within six hours of administering Lion’s mane.(11)



According to an article published by the World Economic Forum, a whopping 4% of the world population suffers from anxiety and about 3.7% from depression.(12) of the most promising benefits of Lion’s Mane mushrooms is their potential antidepressant effects. A number of studies suggest that Lion’s Mane mushrooms can help reduce depression and anxiety. In 2010, a study investigated the clinical effects of Lion’s Mane extract powder on menopause, depression, and sleep quality. The 30 randomly selected women were assigned either Lion’s Mane dusted on a cookie or a placebo cookie for four weeks. Their findings revealed that the consumption of cookies containing 0.5 g of Lion’s Mane fruitbodies powder alleviated the symptoms of depression, anxiety, frustration, and palpitation compared to those on the placebo.(13)



According to the Alzheimer's Research UK Dementia Statistics Hub, This could increase by close to a million by 2030. Lion’s Mane might help in the early stages of cognitive decline. A double-blind, parallel-group, placebo-controlled study examined the effects of Lion’s Mane on Japanese patients with mild cognitive impairment. The people ranged from 50 to 80 in age. Half of the participants were given Lion's mane supplements for 16 weeks, while the other half were given a placebo. The participants who were taking Lion’s Mane extract powder showed increased scores in their cognitive functioning. These significant increases suggest that Lion's Mane supplements have the potential to improve mild cognitive impairment and aid in neuronal health and functioning. (14)



Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) affects around 5% of children globally. Symptoms include short attention span, being easily distracted, appearing forgetful or losing things — and impulsivity, for instance, being unable to sit still and concentrate. Even for those who have not been diagnosed with ADHD, focus states can be hard to attain: We are constantly confronted with information designed to distract us. At the same time, on average, we have about 12-60,000 thoughts racing through the mind daily. Given the ability of Lion’s Mane to support cognitive functioning, we have been interested to receive a significant volume of anecdotal feedback from DIRTEA customers diagnosed with ADHD that Lion’s Mane helps to reduce the intensity of their symptoms. These reports have not yet been validated in studies, but the number of reports is striking and we are excited to support future research into this subject.


@dirteaworld Try Lion’s Mane a powerful brain boosting Mushroom that can regrow Braincells #brain #braincells #lionsmane #mushroom #healing #mushroomhealth #medication #ritalin #adhd ♬ original sound - dirteaworld



Lion’s Mane mushrooms naturally lower blood sugar. A 2-15 study showed the ability of Lion’s mane in lowering blood sugar by blocking the activity of the enzyme alpha-glucosidase, which breaks down carbs in the small intestine. Blocking alpha-glucosidase disrupts carb absorption and helps lower blood sugar levels, in response to the body's inability to digest and absorb carbs efficiently.(15)



Lion’s Mane can be consumed in many forms, including powder extract, dietary supplements or whole mushrooms. For those who have yet to try it, our DIRTEA Lion’s Mane powder has a mild flavour that’s a bit like miso soup and when the whole mushroom is cooked it has a texture that is stringy/meaty, and it tastes mildly sweet. It can be cooked and added to various dishes.



1. Boosts cognitive function

2. Provides focus and mental clarity

3. Helps reduce anxiety and depression

4. Stimulates the production of Nerve Growth Factor, which is vital for the development and survival of nerve cells

5. Great for digestion 



      1. Kawagishi, H., Shimada, A., Hosokawa,S., Mori, H., Sakamoto,H.,  Ishiguro,Y., Sakemi, S., Bordner, J., Kojima, N.,and Furukawa, S., (1996). ‘Erinacines E, F, and G, Stimulators of Nerve Growth Factor (NGF).Synthesis, from the Mycelia of Hericium erinaceum, Tetrahedron Letters, 37(41), pp. 7399-7402
      2. Wong, K.-H., Naidu, M., David, P.R., Bakar, R., Sabaratnam., (2012). ‘Neuroregenerative potential of lion's mane mushroom, Hericium erinaceus (Bull.: Fr.) Pers. (higher Basidiomycetes), in the treatment of peripheral nerve injury (review)’. Int J Med Mushrooms,14(5), pp.427-46. doi: 10.1615/intjmedmushr.v14.i5.10
      3. Ratto, D., Corana, F., Mannucci, B., Priori, C. E., Cobelli, F., Roda, E., Ferrari, B., Occhinegro, A., Di Liorio, C., De Luca, F., Cesaroni, V., Girometta, C., Bottone, G. M., Savino, E., Kawagishi, H., and Rossi, P., (2019). ‘Hericium erinaceus Improves Recognition Memory and Induces Hippocampal and Cerebellar Neurogenesis in Frail Mice during Aging’, Nutrients, 11(4), pp.715. doi:3390/nu11040715 
      4. Chong, P. S.,  Fung, M.-L., Wong, K. H., and Lim, L.W., (2020). ‘Therapeutic Potential of Hericium erinaceus for Depressive Disorder Int J Mol Sci. 21(1), pp.163. doi: 3390/ijms21010163
      5. Sabaratnam,V., Kah-Hui, W., Naidu, M., and  David P.R., (2013). ‘Neuronal Health – Can Culinary and Medicinal Mushrooms Help?’ J Tradit Complement Med. 3(1), pp.62–68. doi: 10.4103/2225-4110.106549
      6. Woollett, K.,and  Maguire, E. A., (2011). ‘Acquiring “the Knowledge” of London's Layout Drives Structural Brain Changes, Current Biology. 21(24-2), pp. 2109–2114. doi: 1016/j.cub.2011.11.018
      7. Li, I.-C., Chang, H.-H., Lin, C.-C., Chen, W.-P., Lu, T.H., Lee, L.-Y., Chen, Y.-W., Chen, Y.-P., Chen, C.C., and Lin, D.P.-C., (2020). ‘Prevention of Early Alzheimer’s Disease byu Erinacine A- Enriched Hericium erinaceus Mycelia Pilot Double- Blind Placebo- Controlled Study, Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience. 12 (155). doi: 10.3389/fnagi.2020.00155 
      8. Mori , K., Inatomi, S., Ouchi,K., Azumi, Y., and Tuchida, T., (2009). ‘Improving effects of the mushroom Yamabushitake (Hericium erinaceus) on mild cognitive impairment: a double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial’, Phytother Res. 23(3), pp.367-72. doi: 10.1002/ptr.2634.
      9. Shang , X., Tan, Q.,  Liu, R., Yu, K., Li, P., and Zhao G.-P., (2013). ‘In vitro anti-Helicobacter pylori effects of medicinal mushroom extracts, with special emphasis on the Lion's Mane mushroom, Hericium erinaceus (higher Basidiomycetes)’, Int J Med Mushrooms.15(2), pp.165-74. doi: 10.1615/intjmedmushr.v15.i2.50.
      10. Mori , K., Ouchi,K.,  Hirasawa, N., (2015). ‘The Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Lion's Mane Culinary-Medicinal Mushroom, Hericium erinaceus (Higher Basidiomycetes) in a Coculture System of 3T3-L1 Adipocytes and RAW264 Macrophages, Int J Med Mushrooms. 17(7), pp.609-18. doi: 10.1615/intjmedmushrooms.v17.i7.10.
      11. Yang, Y.,  Zhao, C.,  Diao, M.,  Zhong, S.,  Sun, M.,  Sun,B.,  Ye,H., and Zhang, T., (2018). ‘The Prebiotic Activity of Simulated Gastric and Intestinal Digesta of Polysaccharides from the Hericium erinaceus’, 23(12), pp.3158. doi: 10.3390/molecules23123158
      12. Fleming, S., (2019). ‘This is the world’s biggest mental health problem – and you might not have heard of it’, World Economic Forum.
      13. Nagano,, M., Shimizu,K.,  Kondo, R., Hayashi, C.,  Sato, D.,  Kitagawa, K., and Ohnuki, K., (2010). ‘Reduction of depression and anxiety by 4 weeks Hericium erinaceus intake’, Biomed Res. 31(4), pp. 231-7. doi: 10.2220/biomedres.31.231.
      14. Mori , K., Inatomi, S., Ouchi, K., Azumi, Y., and Tuchida T., (2009). ‘Improving effects of the mushroom Yamabushitake (Hericium erinaceus) on mild cognitive impairment: a double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial’, Phytother Res. 23 (3), pp.367-72. doi: 10.1002/ptr.2634.
      15. Wu , T., and Xu, B., (2015). ‘Antidiabetic and antioxidant activities of eight medicinal mushroom species from China’, Int J Med Mushrooms. 17(2), pp. 129-40. doi: 10.1615/intjmedmushrooms.v17.i2.40.



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