Posted on: February 23, 2020 at 4:52 pm
Last updated: October 15, 2020 at 3:09 pm

Anxiety disorders affect forty million adults in the United States every year, making them the most common form of mental illness in the country. Anxiety can often lead to depression, and depression itself is the leading cause of disability worldwide [1].

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Since anxiety and depression have become so endemic in societies across the globe, scientists, psychologists, and mental health researchers have been searching tirelessly for an effective treatment or solution.

Mounting research has shown that lion’s mane, a medicinal mushroom, may be an effective, natural solution to help combat anxiety and depression [2].

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Mushrooms and Mental Health

A placebo-controlled clinical study of lion’s mane mushrooms found that after four weeks, participants who consumed two grams of lion’s mane mushroom per day experienced a reduction in depression and anxiety compared with those who took a placebo [2].

Lion’s mane mushroom, or Hericium erinaceus, is often used in both food and supplement-form to support brain health. It does this by inducing Nerve Growth Factor (NGF) synthesis in the nerve cells of your brain. NGF is essential for the maintenance and development of the neurons in your brain and can improve your memory, focus, clarity, and recall [3,4].

Read: Mushrooms For Depression: FDA Approves Psilocybin for Clinical Trials

Two Competing Theories

For the last fifty years, many scientists have prescribed to the “serotonin hypothesis”, which proposes that the cause of depression is diminished activity of serotonin pathways in your brain [5].

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This newer study, however, supports the growing belief that the “neurogenic theory of depression and anxiety” provides a better explanation as to the cause of depression and anxiety. The basis of this theory is that neurogenesis (the growth and development of nerves) is impaired in the brains of adults with depression, and can actually be accelerated by antidepressant treatment [6].

This theory has led scientists and researchers to believe that the restoration of neurogenesis in adults is an effective form of treatment for depression and anxiety [6].

Other Health Benefits of Mushrooms

Lion’s mane mushroom offers a host of other health benefits outside of helping to treat anxiety and depression. It contains two compounds, hericenones and erinacines, which help stimulate the growth of brain cells. This can help prevent degenerative brain diseases like dementia [7]. 

The mushroom could also help increase recovery rate after nervous system injuries, such as strokes. This, again, is due to its ability to help stimulate the growth and repair of nerve cells [8,9].

Lion’s mane mushroom has been shown to protect against ulcers in the stomach, the small intestine, and the large intestine as well. This is because ulcers in the digestive tract are often caused by an overgrowth of the bacteria H. pylori. Lion’s mane mushroom has been shown to inhibit the growth of this bacteria and therefore protect the lining of the stomach and the intestines [10,11].

Additionally, lion’s mane mushroom has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, manage symptoms of diabetes, and may even help to fight cancer [12,13,14].

It is important to note, however, that all of these benefits have primarily been observed in animal studies, and so more work is needed to understand whether the effects of the mushroom are the same in humans.

How to Take Lion’s Mane Mushroom

Because there have been very few human studies done on the effects of the mushroom, no optimal dosage standard has been set, however, 500-3000mg per day is the typical recommended dose [15].

Lion’s mane mushroom can be purchased in supplement form as a capsule, liquid, tablet, or powder. The dosages of these supplements may vary widely depending on the manufacturer, so it is important to read and follow the directions on the label carefully, and of course, discuss any new supplement you are taking with your doctor [16].

Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and is for information only. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions about your medical condition and/or current medication. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking advice or treatment because of something you have read here.

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Brittany Hambleton
Team Writer
Brittany is a freelance writer and editor with a Bachelor of Science in Foods and Nutrition and a writer’s certificate from the University of Western Ontario. She enjoyed a stint as a personal trainer and is an avid runner. Brittany loves to combine running and traveling, and has run numerous races across North America and Europe. She also loves chocolate more than anything else… the darker, the better!

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