Lion’s Mane Mushroom for Alzheimer’s and Cognitive Health?
Updated: Apr 29
In the popular health media it seems clear that Lion’s Mane mushroom supplements are an elixir for brain health. Available to anyone, at a price, just take daily. With all the positive news it sounds almost too good to be true. What do the experts says?
A recent online post from Dr Ayesha Sherzai, neurologist and co-director of the Alzheimer’s Prevention Program at Loma Linda University, called out the hype. Apparently there is little research into the benefits of Lion’s Mane mushroom on cognitive decline. What we see in the media and in conversations with our friends doesn’t quite stack up to what the science says. We decided to follow up and see where the research led.
There are few published papers - less than 3 - on Lion’s Mane and brain health in humans; short term trials, on small groups. The results? That Lion’s Mane improved cognitive function (in the elderly) but only for the duration of the trial and a few weeks thereafter. There are no studies relating to long-term use. (see the published studies below)
So should we take a Lion’s Mane supplement daily? From the very limited evidence, probably not. However, a 2019 study from Singapore showed that mushroom consumption – whole food mushrooms - supports brain health in the elderly. So should we eat mushrooms? Yes. And for many reasons other than simply brain health; fighting cancer, supporting immune function and a healthy gut to name a few.
If you want brain health in the long-term, what can one do? Make mushrooms part of your diet, enjoy them twice a week or more. Eat a healthy plant rich diet, full of health promoting phytochemicals & antioxidant, low in saturated fat. Don’t smoke, limit alcohol. Get quality sleep. Exercise, ideally at a rate that gets you out of breath. And have a great social life. Yes, having fun with friends keeps you sharp.
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Feng, Lei et al. ‘The Association Between Mushroom Consumption and Mild Cognitive Impairment: A Community-Based Cross-Sectional Study in Singapore’. 1 Jan. 2019 : 197 – 203.
Saitsu Y, Nishide A, Kikushima K, Shimizu K, Ohnuki K. Improvement of cognitive functions by oral intake of Hericium erinaceus. Biomed Res. 2019;40(4):125-131. doi: 10.2220/biomedres.40.125. PMID: 31413233.
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 Mar;23(3):367-72. doi: 10.1002/ptr.2634. PMID: 18844328.
Industry funded trial: Li IC, Chang HH, Lin CH, Chen WP, Lu TH, Lee LY, Chen YW, Chen YP, Chen CC, Lin DP. Prevention of Early Alzheimer's Disease by Erinacine A-Enriched Hericium erinaceus Mycelia Pilot Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Study. Front Aging Neurosci. 2020 Jun 3;12:155. doi: 10.3389/fnagi.2020.00155. PMID: 32581767; PMCID: PMC7283924.