Lion’s Mane and Brain Fog – Can We Beat Brain Fog with Lion’s Mane?

There is exciting evidence that Lion’s Mane, a mushroom resembling its namesake, has incredible neurological benefits. If you’re struggling with brain fog, read on to see if Lion’s Mane may be a viable option to improve your quality of life.

Learn why so many people are turning to Lion’s Mane to combat brain fog and sharpen their cognitive abilities. In this article, we’ll explore common causes for brain fog, research surrounding Lion’s Mane, and other exciting health benefits.

lion's mane mushroom
Lion’s Mane mushroom gets its name from it’s “mane-like” appearance.

What is Brain Fog?

Although not an official medical term, brain fog may leave you feeling disoriented, confused, and disorganized. It’s a term often used to describe thinking that feels cloudy, muddled, or slower than normal. 

If you’re experiencing lapses in memory, difficulty summoning words or ideas, mental fatigue, or slow or sluggish thinking, you may be suffering from brain fog.

Several conditions may cause that brain fog feeling. Let’s take a look at the most common culprits for why you may be experiencing brain fog. This is not a complete list, and there may be no way to determine what is causing your brain fog without consulting a medical professional.

Often, people may experience brain fog with no obvious reason as to why. 

Pregnancy

One of the most common symptoms of pregnancy is what many women refer to as “pregnancy brain”. While medical professionals can’t point to one reason that pregnant women can experience foggy thinking, there are several reasons that may contribute. 

The first is a lack of quality sleep. There are seemingly endless reasons that can keep a pregnant woman awake. Heartburn, round ligament pain, muscle cramping, nausea, and insomnia are common culprits for a lousy night’s sleep while pregnant. 

The second reason that may cause brain fog is pregnancy hormones. Spikes in hormones such as progesterone and estrogen may have an effect on cognitive ability.

Depression

Cognitive dysfunction is a common symptom of depression. Cognitive dysfunction can manifest in your ability to think clearly, memory recall, and reaction times. Many of those who suffer from this mental illness report feeling brain fog. 

Experts think that cognitive dysfunction associated with depression may have something to do with brain chemistry, genetics, or hormone imbalances. 

If you are suffering from depression, make sure to speak with your healthcare provider to rule out the possibility of medications worsening cognitive dysfunction. 

Lack of Sleep

Are you getting the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep per night? Lack of sleep or poor-quality sleep can leave you feeling slow and foggy. It’s crucial to practice good sleep hygiene to ensure a good night’s sleep to keep you feeling refreshed and sharp. 

Limit distractions and avoid screens prior to bedtime. Don’t bring work or food into the bed, and don’t consume caffeine or sugar too close to bedtime. 

What is Lion’s Mane?

Lion’s Mane, an edible mushroom, can be found growing on dead logs in North America, Europe, and Asia. This mushroom belongs to the tooth fungus group and is characterized by its white color and long, skinny spines that droop downward and resemble a shaggy lion’s mane. 

lions mane mushroom
Lion’s Mane

Though most commonly known as Lion’s Mane, this fungus also goes by Mountain Priest Mushroom or Bearded Tooth Mushroom. Its Latin name, Hieracium Erinaceus, means hedgehog. No matter what name this mushroom is called, it is widely known for its medicinal uses. 

Lion’s Mane has been a medical staple and a food source for centuries in Asian cultures such as Japan, Korea, Indonesia, and China. Some traditional ways to enjoy Lion’s Mane in these cultures are steeped in tea, eaten raw, or cooked alongside meat and vegetables. 

Mushrooms have been used medicinally in many cultures for centuries. In China, mushrooms have been described as a “spirit plant” for their wide variety of uses and benefits to human health.

In China Lion’s Mane goes by hóu tóu gū or Monkey Head Mushroom. In Japan, it’s referred to as yamabushitake or Mountain Monk Mushroom. In these cultures, this fungus is most often used to promote healing in the spleen and other internal organs and aid with digestion. 

How Does Lion’s Mane Help Brain Fog?

Lion’s Mane boasts seemingly endless health benefits. Packed full of antioxidants, sterols, and neuroprotective properties, studies show Lion’s Mane contains several benefits for those struggling with brain fog. 

Researchers believe that two specific compounds help stimulate the growth of new brain cells. These compounds are known as hericenones and erinacines. 

Because scientists believe diminished cognitive ability with age has to do with our bodies not being able to repair and make new connections in the brain as easily, these compounds may slow the aging process. 

Studies in animals have shown that Lion’s Mane may also protect or slow the effects of Alzheimer’s disease. This disease is identified by the presence of plaques found in the brain that impair memory and cognitive function. 

In the study, mice with amyloid plaques in the brain were given Lion’s Mane supplements and then subjected to a cognitive abilities test. The study found that the mice with the Lion’s Mane supplements outperformed the mice that did not receive the supplement. 

What Does the Research Say?

In labs, tests have been done on mice to determine the mushroom’s effect on cognitive ability. After consuming Lion’s Mane, the mice scored significantly higher in spatial short-term and visual recognition memory. 

Lion's Mane growing on a tree
Lion’s Mane growing on a tree

In another study, Japanese adults that were previously diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment received 250 mg tablets three times a day for 16 weeks. At the end of this double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial, marked improvement was shown after the participants tested cognitive ability on the Hasegawa Dementia Scale compared to the control group. Interestingly enough, scores decreased within four weeks of eliminating the tablets from the participant’s diet.

According to the Association for the Advancement of Restorative Medicine, “it’s been found that this mushroom contains the most potent in vitro inhibitor of both low-density lipoprotein (LDL) oxidation and HMG Co-A reductase activity, suggesting therapeutic potential for the prevention of oxidative stress-mediated vascular diseases.”

What is an Appropriate Dose of Lion’s Mane?

Most adults that use Lion’s Mane as a supplement take about 250 to 750mg a day. Typically, Lion’s Mane is sold as a dry powder to mix into coffee or tea. It’s also commonly taken in capsule form. 

It has also been a staple in foods for centuries. It’s often a tasty addition to soups, stir fry, or pasta. Some people report that Lion’s Mane has a savory, seafood-like taste. 

Because of its seafood-like taste, many vegans incorporate Lion’s Mane into vegan-friendly seafood dishes. Check out this popular recipe for Lion’s Mane “Crab Cakes.” 

Does Lion’s Mane taste like Crab meat?

Unfortunately, no human studies have yet been conducted to find the ideal dosage for people. However, most experts agree that Lion’s Mane is considered very safe, and very few side effects have been reported. After all, it has been used in positive ways for years, as described above!

Where Can I Buy Lion’s Mane?

Supplements of Lion’s Mane are found widely online. You can purchase on various health websites and even buy in bulk on Amazon. This supplement is also fairly easy to find in person. Popular places to buy Lion’s Mane are GNC, Walmart, and many health food stores.

It may be the safest option to purchase a Lion’s Mane mushroom fresh from a grocery store. Follow recipes online to prepare a tasty dish. If you have no adverse reactions, talk to a pharmacist, health care provider, registered dietician, or another reputable source to determine a safe supplier and appropriate dosage.

What Should I Look For When Purchasing Lion’s Mane?

With so many retailers eager to sell you on Lion’s Mane health benefits, it can be tough to distinguish the reputable source from the knock-offs. Be sure you are ordering supplements from only highly reputable sources, as ordering tablets off the internet can be risky. Here are some tips to help distinguish a high-quality product.

  1. Research what part of the mushroom is used to make the supplement. It may sound silly, but not every part of the mushroom contains equal health properties. To get the highest quality product, make sure the supplement is made from the fruiting part of the mushroom. Cheaper products will be made with the entire product, or worse, fillers like starches and grains that will dilute the health benefits. 
  2. Research the company’s extraction process. Knowing what’s involved can tell you a lot about the quality of a company. A reputable company will harvest at the appropriate time when the mushroom has peak potency.
  3. Look into the company’s farming and sustainability practices. The best growers will grow semi-wild mushrooms and be transparent in their processes. 

Other Lion’s Mane Benefits

While easing brain fog may be one of the most popular benefits of taking Lion’s Mane as a supplement, there are other benefits that may come from this mushroom. Lion’s Mane’s impressive chemical makeup has led to a wealth of other reported benefits. Let’s take a look at some studies that point to other health benefits. 

Depression and Anxiety

There are many possible reasons why one may experience depression and anxiety. However, chronic inflammation may be one of the culprits. Because Lion’s Mane can reduce inflammation, it may help those experiencing depression or anxiety. 

A study showed that mice who ingested a Lion’s Mane supplement had reduced inflammation-related anxiety symptoms.  

Another reason why Lion’s Mane may help reduce anxiety and depression may be due to its regenerative abilities within the brain, specifically the Hippocampus. The Hippocampus is a region of the brain associated with anxiety and depression. 

May Aid in Digestion and Improve Gut Health

Animal studies have shown that Lion’s Mane may help prevent ulcers, and research suggests it may help ease the symptoms of bowel diseases like Crohn’s Disease and ulcerative colitis. 

Due to the anti-inflammatory properties of Lion’s Mane, researchers say it might help reduce inflammation and tissue damage in the intestines. 

May Aid in Diabetes Management

Lion’s Mane has been used in multiple animal studies that have revealed it can help regulate diabetes and improve some symptoms. Studies have shown that both diabetic and normal mice responded positively to Lion’s Mane. Blood sugar levels were properly regulated in both groups. 

How does Lion’s Mane regulate blood sugar? Properties of Lion’s Mane inhibit the activity of an enzyme called alpha-glucosidase. When this enzyme is inhibited, the body is slower to digest carbohydrates in the small intestine. This results in lower blood sugar levels. 

Diabetic nerve pain is a symptom of diabetes that many people suffer from. Another animal study found that Lion’s Mane regulated blood sugar levels and reduced pain from nerve damage. 

FAQ Regarding Lion’s Mane

Is taking Lion’s Mane proven to help my brain fog?

Human trials are limited. However, several animal studies point to Lion’s Mane being a beneficial supplement to improve cognitive function. The chemical compounds of Lion’s Mane also point to a wide array of health benefits that may include easing brain fog.

I’m pregnant and experiencing brain fog. Is it safe to take Lion’s Mane?

There are no studies to prove the safety of Lion’s Mane while pregnant. While Lion’s Mane is generally considered a safe supplement to take, it’s important to always discuss it with your doctor before taking any supplement while pregnant. 

Does Lion’s Mane help or harm libido?

There are claims that Lion’s Mane does help libido and other claims that it harms libido if one takes too much. Currently, there are not enough reputable sources to back either claim. Please discuss with your health care provider to determine if Lion’s Mane may be a good option for you and to help you determine an appropriate dosage.

Sources:

https://www.webmd.com/brain/ss/slideshow-brain-fog
https://www.healthline.com/health/pregnancy/is-pregnancy-brain-real
https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/lions-mane-mushroom
https://restorativemedicine.org/journal/neurological-activity-lions-mane-hericium-erinaceus/
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21383512/
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26150007/
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24302966/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3852124/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4415746/
https://aubreyskitchen.com/lions-mane-mushroom-recipes/