"Give with a free hand, but give only your own."
 -- J.R.R. Tolkien The Children of Hurin
- Lion's Mane Mushroom -

General Information:

Wikipedia entry:
Dr. Ray Shahelien entry: 


Lion's Mane Mushroom (a.k.a Bearded Tooth Mushroom, Hedgehog Mushroom, Bearded Hedgehog Mushroom, pom pom mushroom, or Bearded Tooth Fungus)

See also BDNF

From the Alz.org messag board thread "Anyone on Lion's Mane Mushroom?"

The Anti-Dementia effect of Lion's Mane mushroom and its clinical application - Hericium erinaceum - Lion's Mane
Townsend Letter for Doctors and Patients, April, 2004 by Hirokazu Kawagishi, Cun Zhuang, Ellen Shnidman

Our research on components of Lion's Mane mushroom (Hericium erinaceum) and their biological activities in cell culture is a case where positive antidementia results in the laboratory have been confirmed by analogous results in human use. In this article, we will introduce both the results from the laboratory and their clinical application... One of the major new approaches to the study of treatments for Alzheimer's disease concerns the search for agents that stimulate Nerve Growth Factor (NGF) production in the brain. NGF is part of a family of proteins that play a role in the maintenance, survival and regeneration of neurons during adult life... We have been engaged in a study to search for NGF synthesis-promoting agents in medicinal mushrooms since 1991. We discovered a class of benzyl alcohol and chroman derivatives in the fruit body of Lion's Mane mushroom called the hericenones C-H that stimulate NGF production from mouse astroglial cells in culture...


Here's a study about another mushroom with a very similar scientific name. Lion's Mane is Hericium erinaceum. Yamabushitake is Hericium erinaceus. Hmm...

Phytother. Res. 23, 367–372 (2009)
Published online 10 October 2008 in Wiley InterScience
(www.interscience.wiley.com) DOI: 10.1002/ptr.2634

Improving Effects of the Mushroom Yamabushitake (Hericium erinaceus) on Mild Cognitive Impairment: A Double-blind Placebo-controlled Clinical Trial

Koichiro Mori1*, Satoshi Inatomi1, Kenzi Ouchi1, Yoshihito Azumi1 and Takashi Tuchida2
1Mushroom Laboratory, Hokuto Corporation, 800-8, Shimokomazawa, Nagano, 381-0008, Japan
2Isogo Central and Neurosurgical Hospital, 1-16-26, Mori, Isogoku, Yokohama, 235-0023, Japan

A double-blind, parallel-group, placebo-controlled trial was performed on 50- to 80-year-old Japanese men and women diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment in order to examine the efficacy of oral administration of Yamabushitake (Hericium erinaceus), an edible mushroom, for improving cognitive impairment, using a cognitive function scale based on the Revised Hasegawa Dementia Scale (HDS-R). After 2 weeks of preliminary examination, 30 subjects were randomized into two 15-person groups, one of which was given Yamabushitake and the other given a placebo. The subjects of the Yamabushitake group took four 250 mg tablets containing 96% of Yamabushitake dry powder three times a day for 16 weeks. After termination of the intake, the subjects were observed for the next 4 weeks. At weeks 8, 12 and 16 of the trial, the Yamabushitake group showed significantly increased scores on the cognitive function scale compared with the placebo group. The Yamabushitake group’s scores increased with the duration of intake, but at week 4 after the termination of the 16 weeks intake, the scores decreased significantly. Laboratory tests showed no adverse effect of Yamabushitake.

The results obtained in this study suggest that Yamabushitake is effective in improving mild cognitive impairment.

Neurotrophic factors are essential to maintain and organize neurons functionally; thereby neurotrophic factor-like substances or their inducers are expected to be applied to the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's disease. In the present study, we firstly examined the effects of ethanol extracts of four edible mushrooms, Hericium erinaceus (Yamabushitake), Pleurotus eryngii (Eringi), Grifola frondosa (Maitake), and Agaricus blazei (Himematsutake), on nerve growth factor (NGF) gene expression in 1321N1 human astrocytoma cells. Among the four mushroom extracts, only H. erinaceus extract promoted NGF mRNA expression in a concentration-dependent manner. In addition, secretion of NGF protein from 1321N1 cells was enhanced by H. erinaceus extracts, and the conditioned medium of 1321N1 cells incubated with H. erinaceus extract enhanced the neurite outgrowth of PC12 cells. However, hericenones C, D and E, constituents of H. erinaceus, failed to promote NGF gene expression in 1321N1 cells. The enhancement of NGF gene expression by H. erinaceus extracts was inhibited by the c-jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) inhibitor SP600125. In addition, H. erinaceus extracts induced phosphorylation of JNK and its downstream substrate c-Jun, and increased c-fos expression, suggesting that H. erinaceus promotes NGF gene expression via JNK signaling. Furthermore we examined the efficacy of H. erinaceus in vivo. ddY mice given feed containing 5% H. erinaceus dry powder for 7 d showed an increase in the level of NGF mRNA expression in the hippocampus. In conclusion, H. erinaceus contains active compounds that stimulate NGF synthesis via activation of the JNK pathway; these compounds are not hericenones.

It was found that an exo-biopolymer (M.W. 1,000,000, molar ratio of 1.5:1.7:1.2:0.6:0.9, glucose:galactose:xylose:mannose:fructose, purity 99%) purified from the liquid culture broth of Hericium erinaceus mycelium enhanced the growth of rat adrenal nerve cells. The polymer also improved the extension of the neurites of PC12 cell. Its efficacy was found to be higher than those from known nerve growth factors such as Nerve Growth Factor (NGF) and Brain-Derived Nerve Factor (BDNF). The effect of two standards has not been observed above 0.1 (mg l(-1)) of supplementation; however, the polymer did show the effect of cell growth and neurite extension at up to 1.0 (mg l(-1)) of addition. While the polymer improved both cell growth and neurite extension, NGF and BDNF did only outgrowth of the neurites. Maximum cell density and length of the neurites were observed as 1.5x10(5) (viable cells ml(-1)) and 230 mum, respectively in adding 0.8 (mg l(-1)) of the biopolymer for 8 days cultivation. The control growth was observed only as 1.2x10(5) (viable cell ml(-1)) of maximum cell density and 140 mum of maximum length, respectively. It was also confirmed that the polymer reacted with the nerve cells within 30 min after adding the sample, compared to 80 min in adding two other growth factors. Number of neurite-bearing cells remained relatively steady in adding the polymer even when the cell growth started to be decreased. It was interesting that the polymer effectively delayed apoptosis of PC12 cells by dramatically reducing the ratio of apoptotic cells to 20% from 50% of the control.

Here's a couple of links to websites that sell the mushroom either in powdered or extract form. This is information only, no endorsement should be inferred.  I don't know enough yet about which is better. The clinical trials mentioned above used 5 grams of the whole dried mushroom once a day, in a soup for the patients so I imagine either way is good. The real erinacine extract isn't available yet and with that patent lock on it, may never be as an over the counter drug.


Here's a website that explains the difference in water vs alcohol extract.


Known sources:

Natural sources:


Lion's Mane: A Mushroom That Improves Your Memory and Mood?
Posted: 08/08/2012 8:28 am

Hericenone C, D and E, stimulators of nerve growth factor (NGF) synthesis from the mushroom Hericium erinaceum.
Kawagishi, H., Ando, M., Sakamoto, H., Yoshida S., Ojima, F., Ishiguro, Y., Ukai, N., Fukukawa, S.
1991. Tetrahedron Lett 32, 4561-4564.

Hericenones and erinacines: stimulators of nerve growth factor (NGF) biosynthesis in Hericium erinaceus.
Ma, Bing-Ji , Jin-Wen Shen, Hai-You Yu, Yuan Ruan, Ting-Ting Wu & Xu Zhao,
2010. Mycology: An International Journal on Fungal Biology. 1(2): 92-98.

Improving effects of the mushroom Yamabushitake (Hericium erinaceus) on mild cognitive impairment: a double blinded, placebo controlled clinical trial.
Mori, K., Inatomi, S., Ouchi, K. Azumi, Y and Tuchida T.
2009. Phytother Res. 23:367-372.

Effects of Hericium erinaceus on amyloid β(25-35) peptide-induced learning and memory deficits in mice.
Mori, K., Obara, Y., Moriya, T., Inatomi, S., Nakahata, N.
2011. Biomed Res. 32(1):67-72.

Reduction of depression and anxiety by 4 weeks Hericium erinaceus intake.
Nagano, M., Shimizu, K., Kondo, R., Hayashi, C., Sato, D., Kitagawa, K., Ohnuki, K.
2010. Biomed Res. 31(4):231-7.

Notes on nutritional properties of culinary-medicinal mushrooms.
Stamets, P.,
International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms. 2005; 7:109-116.

The role of biomarkers in clinical trials for Alzheimer disease.
Thal, L.J., Kantarci, K., Reiman, E.M., Klunk, W.E., Weiner, M.W., Zetterberg, H., Galasko, D., Praticò, D., Griffin, S., Schenk, D., Siemers, E.
2006. 20(1):6-15.




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Updated: July 2, 2012
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