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Lion's Mane Mushroom

Scientific Name(s): Hericium erinaceus
Common Name(s): Bear's head mushroom, Bearded hedgehog mushroom, Bearded tooth fungus/mushroom, Hog head fungus, Hou tou gu (Chinese), Lion's mane mushroom, Monkey head mushroom, Old man's beard mushroom, Pom pom mushroom, Satyr's beard fungus, White beard mushroom, Yamabushitake (Japanese)

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Dec 1, 2018.

Clinical Overview


Lion's mane mushroom may possess neuroprotective effects, suggesting benefit in neurodegenerative disease as well as in the management of nerve injury. Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities have been demonstrated. However, clinical trials are lacking to support use of lion's mane mushroom for any indication.


Few clinical studies have been reported in the literature. Lion's mane mushrooms have been consumed in traditional folk medicine and medicinal cuisine. In clinical studies evaluating effects on cognitive function, the following dosages have been used: 750 mg/day of Yamabushitake (administered as a 250 mg tablet [containing 96% Yamabushitake dry powder] 3 times a day) for 16 weeks; H. erinaceus in tablet form was administered as 3 g/day for 16 weeks; and 5 g/day of the fruiting body was consumed in soup.


Information is lacking.


Avoid use. Information regarding safety and efficacy in pregnancy and lactation is lacking.


None well documented.

Adverse Reactions

Information is limited. GI disturbances have been reported.


No data.

Scientific Family

  • Hericiaceae (teeth fungus)


H. erinaceus is an edible fungus native to North America, Europe, and Asia. It is characterized by its long spines and beard-like appearance. The whitish mushroom spines lack a distinct cap, and the fleshy body grows in a semi-spherical shape, gradually changing to a yellowish-brown color over time. Devoid of chlorophyll, the mushroom is a saprotroph living mostly on dead wood. It can be found during late summer, particularly on American beech hardwood trees.Friedman 2015, He 2017 Synonyms of H. erinaceus include Clavaria erinaceus, Dryodon erinaceus, and Hydnum erinaceus.

Artificial cultivation has been described. The fungus is able to absorb minerals from the cultivation media, including heavy metals.Jiang 2014


Lion's mane mushroom is widely consumed in Asian countries (China, India, Japan, and Korea) both for culinary and medicinal purposes. H. erinaceus has been named "hou tou gu" and is listed as one of the "four famous cuisines" of China, together with bear's paws, trepang, and shark's fin. While the health benefits of H. erinaceus have been known, scientific studies regarding physiological and pharmacological functions only started appearing in the literature in the 1990s, mostly from Chinese researchers.Jiang 2014, Wang 2014 It is believed to have multiple health-promoting properties, including anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and immune-stimulating properties. According to a traditional Chinese medicine text, lion's mane mushroom is capable of "fortifying the spleen, nourishing the stomach, and tranquilizing the mind."Friedman 2015, He 2017, Khan 2013 H. erinaceus has also been used as a fermentation substrate for production of mushroom wine and vinegar.Friedman 2015


Bioactive organic compounds have been identified in H. erinaceus fruiting bodies and mycelia, and include erinacines, other aromatic compounds (such as hericerin compounds), steroids, alkaloids, and lactones.Friedman 2015, Li 2015 Aromatic compounds produce the characteristic flavor and odor of H. erinaceus mushrooms, which have been described as seafood-like.Jiang 2014

The main polysaccharides identified include beta-glucans, alpha-glucans, and glucan-protein complexes. Medicinal properties have been attributed to these bioactive compounds.Friedman 2015, Jiang 2014, Wang 2014

Although some mushrooms contain vitamin B12, H. erinaceus contains a biologically inactive lactone form of the vitamin, and therefore is not a suitable dietary source for vegetarians.Friedman 2015 Similarly, low concentrations of ergosterol have been identified in H. erinaceus. Ergosterol is transformed to vitamin D when exposed to UV-B light, a process used in commercially marketed vitamin D–containing mushrooms.Friedman 2015

Uses and Pharmacology

Antimicrobial activity

In vitro data

In vitro, extracts of H. erinaceus have shown activity against human pathogenic bacteria, including some antibiotic-resistant strains,Friedman 2015 and against Helicobacter pylori.Friedman 2015, Liu 2016


Animal and in vitro data

Enhanced apoptosis and antiproliferative effects, including inhibition of angiogenic factors, have been demonstrated using human cancer cell lines and rodent models.Friedman 2015, He 2017, Jiang 2014, Li 2014

Cardiovascular effects

Animal data

Antioxidant effects have been described.Friedman 2015, He 2017, Jiang 2014, Wang 2017 Studies in rodents suggest anti-ischemic effects of an H. erinaceus polysaccharide, with a decrease in serum urea nitrogen and serum creatinine compared with the control.Friedman 2015 Extracts of a mycelial culture of H. erinaceus positively influenced the lipid profile of dietary-induced hyperlipidemic and streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats.He 2017, Hiraki 2017, Jiang 2014, Khan 2013, Liang 2013 The chemical constituent hericenone B has demonstrated antiplatelet aggregation in vitro (in human and rabbit platelets) via inhibition of arachidonic acid release.Friedman 2015, Jiang 2014, Khan 2013 Lion's mane mushroom extract has also demonstrated angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitory activity in vitro.Khan 2013

CNS effects

Animal data

Neuroprotective effects of lion's mane mushroom have been demonstrated in vitro and in animal studies.Friedman 2015, He 2017, Khan 2013, Li 2018 In studies in mouse models of Alzheimer disease, dietary administration of H. erinaceus powder reduced spatial short-term and visual recognition memory impairment; inhibition of plaque growth, diminished activation of glial cells, and hippocampal neurogenesis have also been demonstrated.Brandalise 2017, Cheng 2016, Khan 2013, Tsai-Teng 2016, Tzeng 2018, Zhang 2016

In studies using mouse models of Parkinson disease, protective effects of H. erinaceus on neuronal cell cytotoxicity and apoptosis were reported to reverse motor deficits.Kuo 2016, Trovato 2016

The ethanol extract of H. erinaceus promoted nerve growth factor in vitro,Khan 2013, Zhang 2017, Zhang 2018 and in one study, peripheral nerve regeneration after injury was enhanced in rats.Wong 2016 When an extract of H. erinaceus was used in cultivated cerebellar cells, a regulatory effect on myelin genesis was reported.Jiang 2014, Khan 2013 Inhibition of cell senescence and accelerated wound healing in rats has also been demonstrated.Friedman 2015

Stress testing in mice has demonstrated antidepressant effects, including changes in proinflammatory cytokines and decreased levels of the neurotransmitters norepinephrine, dopamine, and serotonin.Chiu 2018 Decreased wakefulness occurred in a study of behavioral rhythm in mice.Furuta 2016 In a study using the forced swimming test in mice, H. erinaceus extract was protective, as evidenced by biochemical parameters related to fatigue.Liu 2015

Clinical data

Limited clinical studies have been conducted. Reductions in depressive symptoms and anxiety occurred in a study of perimenopausal women (N=30) consuming 2 g/day of powdered fruiting body over 4 weeks.Nagano 2010

In a clinical study conducted in Japanese men and women with mild cognitive impairment (N=30), oral administration of 1 g of lion's mane mushroom 3 times a day over 16 weeks increased cognitive function scores. There were no adverse effects according to laboratory tests.Khan 2013, Mori 2009 A case series of 10 patients provided limited data regarding effects in patients with schizophrenia.Inanaga 2014


Animal data

Limited studies have been conducted in rodents with induced diabetes. Decreased serum glucose and increased insulin have been demonstrated with aqueous extracts of H. erinaceus.Friedman 2015, Lakshmanan 2016, Liang 2013 Other studies have shown an improved lipid profileHiraki 2017 and relief from diabetic neuropathic pain.Yi 2015

GI effects

Animal data

Lion's mane mushroom polysaccharides diminished induced colitis and gastric mucosal lesions in rodents due to a combination of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity, as well as alteration in gut microbes.Diling 2017, Qin 2016, Ren 2018, Wang 2018, Wang 2018 In a study of ducklings infected with a retrovirus, H. erinaceus extract enhanced small intestinal mucosa repair and restored intestinal mucosal barrier functions.Wu 2018

Clinical data

A 1985 clinical study evaluated H. erinaceus extract in 50 patients with chronic atrophic gastritis over 3 months. Upper abdominal pain and inflammatory indices were reduced in the treatment group.Xu 1985

Hepatoprotective effects

Animal data

Antioxidant activity of H. erinaceus polysaccharides may explain hepatoprotective effects observed in rodent studies.Cui 2016, Hao 2015

Immunomodulatory effects

Animal and in vitro data

Lion's mane mushroom polysaccharides and H. erinaceus extracts have demonstrated immune-enhancing effects in vitro.Friedman 2015, Ren 2017 Immune function is theorized to increase via activation of macrophages, with a resulting increase in release of proinflammatory cytokines and interleukins, as well as by regulation of intestinal microbiota.Diling 2017, He 2017, Jiang 2014, Khan 2013, Sheng 2017


Few clinical studies have been reported in the literature. Lion's mane mushrooms have been consumed in traditional folk medicine and medicinal cuisine. In clinical studies evaluating effects on cognitive function, the following dosages have been used: 750 mg/day of Yamabushitake (administered as a 250 mg tablet [containing 96% Yamabushitake dry powder] 3 times a day) for 16 weeksMori 2009; H. erinaceus in tablet form was administered as 3 g/day for 16 weeksWang 2014; and 5 g/day of the fruiting body was consumed in soup.Wang 2014

Pregnancy / Lactation

Avoid use. Information regarding safety and efficacy in pregnancy and lactation is lacking.


Information is lacking. Antiplatelet aggregation has been demonstrated in vitroFriedman 2015; however, no clinical data regarding any potential implications are available in the literature.

Adverse Reactions

Few clinical studies have been reported in the literature.

In one clinical study in which lion's mane mushroom 1 g was taken 3 times a day over 16 weeks, mild stomach discomfort and diarrhea were reported.Mori 2009 One case of hypomenorrhea was reported in another clinical study in which participants consumed 2 g of powdered fruiting body per day over 4 weeks; no other adverse reactions were reported.Nagano 2010


Information is limited. The few studies conducted report no adverse hematological or morphological changes based on subchronic rodent toxicity tests, and no mutagenicity or genotoxicity based on standard reverse mutation, chromosomal aberration, and micronuclei tests.Lakshmanan 2016, Li 2014, Li 2014

Studies in rodents have reported "no-observed-adverse-effect levels" of greater than 1 g/kg and greater than 3 g/kg body weight per day of erinacine A–enriched H. erinaceusLakshmanan 2016, Li 2014; the no-observed-adverse-effect level of greater than 1 g/kg equates to approximately 11.3 g/day for a 70 kg adult.Lakshmanan 2016

Index Terms

  • Clavaria erinaceus
  • Dryodon erinaceus
  • Hydnum erinaceus


Brandalise F, Cesaroni V, Gregori A, et al. Dietary supplementation of Hericium erinaceus increases mossy fiber-CA3 hippocampal neurotransmission and recognition memory in wild-type mice. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2017;2017:3864340.2811597310.1155/2017/3864340
Cheng JH, Tsai CL, Lien YY, Lee MS, Sheu SC. High molecular weight of polysaccharides from Hericium erinaceus against amyloid beta-induced neurotoxicity. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2016;16:170.27266872
Chiu CH, Chyau CC, Chen CC, et al. Erinacine A-enriched Hericium erinaceus Mycelium produces antidepressant-like effects through modulating BDNF/PI3K/Akt/GSK-3β signaling in mice. Int J Mol Sci. 2018;19(2).29364170
Cui F, Gao X, Zhang J, et al. Protective effects of extracellular and intracellular polysaccharides on hepatotoxicity by Hericium erinaceus SG-02. Curr Microbiol. 2016;73(3):379-385.27262461
Diling C, Chaoqun Z, Jian Y, et al. Immunomodulatory activities of a fungal protein extracted from Hericium erinaceus through regulating the gut microbiota. Front Immunol. 2017;8:666.28713364
Diling C, Xin Y, Chaoqun Z, et al. Extracts from Hericium erinaceus relieve inflammatory bowel disease by regulating immunity and gut microbiota. Oncotarget. 2017;8(49):85838-85857.29156761
Friedman M. Chemistry, nutrition, and health-promoting properties of Hericium erinaceus (lion's mane) mushroom fruiting bodies and mycelia and their bioactive compounds. J Agric Food Chem. 2015;63(32):7108-7123.26244378
Furuta S, Kuwahara R, Hiraki E, Ohnuki K, Yasuo S, Shimizu K. Hericium erinaceus extracts alter behavioral rhythm in mice. Biomed Res. 2016;37(4):227-232.27544998
Hao L, Xie Y, Wu G, et al. Protective effect of Hericium erinaceus on alcohol induced hepatotoxicity in mice. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2015;2015:418023.25960751
He X, Wang X, Fang J, et al. Structures, biological activities, and industrial applications of the polysaccharides from Hericium erinaceus (Lion's Mane) mushroom: A review. Int J Biol Macromol. 2017;97:228-237.28087447
Hiraki E, Furuta S, Kuwahara R, et al. Anti-obesity activity of Yamabushitake (Hericium erinaceus) powder in ovariectomized mice, and its potentially active compounds. J Nat Med. 2017;71(3):482-491.28181079
Inanaga K, Matsuki T, Hoaki Y, et al. Improvement of refractory schizophrenia on using Amyloban 3399 extracted from Hericium erinaceum. Personalized Medicine Universe. 2014;49-53.
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Khan MA, Tania M, Liu R, Rahman MM. Hericium erinaceus: an edible mushroom with medicinal values. J Complement Integr Med. 2013;10.23735479
Kuo HC, Lu CC, Shen CH, et al. Hericium erinaceus mycelium and its isolated erinacine A protection from MPTP-induced neurotoxicity through the ER stress, triggering an apoptosis cascade. J Transl Med. 2016;14:78.26988860
Lakshmanan H, Raman J, David P, Wong KH, Naidu M, Sabaratnam V. Haematological, biochemical and histopathological aspects of Hericium erinaceus ingestion in a rodent model: A sub-chronic toxicological assessment. J Ethnopharmacol. 2016;194:1051-1059.27816657
Liang B, Guo Z, Xie F, Zhao A. Antihyperglycemic and antihyperlipidemic activities of aqueous extract of Hericium erinaceus in experimental diabetic rats. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2013;13:253.24090482
Li G, Yu K, Li F, et al. Anticancer potential of Hericium erinaceus extracts against human gastrointestinal cancers. J Ethnopharmacol. 2014;153(2):521-530.24631140
Li IC, Chen YL, Chen WP, et al. Genotoxicity profile of erinacine A-enriched Hericium erinaceus mycelium. Toxicol Rep. 2014;1:1195-1201.28962329
Li IC, Chen YL, Lee LY, et al. Evaluation of the toxicological safety of erinacine A-enriched Hericium erinaceus in a 28-day oral feeding study in Sprague-Dawley rats. Food Chem Toxicol. 2014;70:61-67.24810469
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Li QZ, Wu D, Chen X, et al. Chemical compositions and macrophage activation of polysaccharides from leon's mane culinary-medicinal mushroom Hericium erinaceus (Higher Basidiomycetes) in different maturation stages. Int J Med Mushrooms. 2015;17(5):443-452.26082983
Liu J, DU C, Wang Y, Yu Z. Anti-fatigue activities of polysaccharides extracted from Hericium erinaceus. Exp Ther Med. 2015;9(2):483-487.25574220
Liu JH, Li L, Shang XD, Zhang JL, Tan Q. Anti-Helicobacter pylori activity of bioactive components isolated from Hericium erinaceus. J Ethnopharmacol. 2016;183:54-58.26364939
Mori K, Inatomi S, Ouchi K, Azumi Y, Tuchida T. Improving effects of the mushroom Yamabushitake (Hericium erinaceus) on mild cognitive impairment: a double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial. Phytother Res. 2009;23(3):367-372.18844328
Nagano M, Shimizu K, Kondo R, et al. Reduction of depression and anxiety by 4 weeks Hericium erinaceus intake. Biomed Res. 2010;31(4):231-237.20834180
Qin M, Geng Y, Lu Z, et al. Anti-inflammatory effects of ethanol extract of lion's mane medicinal mushroom, Hericium erinaceus (Agaricomycetes), in mice with ulcerative colitis. Int J Med Mushrooms. 2016;18(3):227-234.27481156
Ren Y, Geng Y, Du Y, et al. Polysaccharide of Hericium erinaceus attenuates colitis in C57BL/6 mice via regulation of oxidative stress, inflammation-related signaling pathways and modulating the composition of the gut microbiota. J Nutr Biochem. 2018;57:67-76.29677563
Ren Z, Qin T, Qiu F, et al. Immunomodulatory effects of hydroxyethylated Hericium erinaceus polysaccharide on macrophages RAW264.7. Int J Biol Macromol. 2017;105(pt 1):879-885.28729219
Sheng X, Yan J, Meng Y, et al. Immunomodulatory effects of Hericium erinaceus derived polysaccharides are mediated by intestinal immunology. Food Funct. 2017;8(3):1020-1027.28266682
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Tsai-Teng T, Chin-Chu C, Li-Ya L, et al. Erinacine A-enriched Hericium erinaceus mycelium ameliorates Alzheimer's disease-related pathologies in APPswe/PS1dE9 transgenic mice. J Biomed Sci. 2016;23(1):49.27350344
Tzeng TT, Chen CC, Chen CC, et al. The cyanthin diterpenoid and sesterterpene constituents of Hericium erinaceus Mycelium ameliorate Alzheimer's disease-related pathologies in APP/PS1 transgenic mice. Int J Mol Sci. 2018;19(2).29463001
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