Does Lion’s Mane Actually Improve Memory? Here's What The Research Says

Does Lion’s Mane Actually Improve Memory? Here's What The Research Says

Does lion’s mane actually improve memory? 

Or is it just the next overhyped supplement doing the rounds?

Well, there is good amount of scientific and anecdotal evidence suggesting that lion’s mane can indeed improve memory. 

In this article, we delve into the science behind lion’s mane mushroom, explaining how it might enhance memory, promote neuroplasticity, and support overall brain health. 

Lion’s mane explained

Lion's mane is a type of edible mushroom known for its unique, shaggy appearance that resembles a white lion's mane as it grows. 

It's often used in cooking for its seafood-like flavour, similar to crab or lobster. 

Beyond its culinary uses, lion's mane is also popular in traditional Chinese medicine for its potential health benefits. 

Studies suggest that it might help improve memory and cognitive function, support the nervous system, and offer some protection against certain neurological diseases. 

This is thought to happen because compounds in the mushroom may stimulate the production of nerve growth factors, which are proteins that help maintain and grow brain cells.

Research on lion’s mane and memory 

Lion's mane mushroom (Hericium erinaceus) has been well studied for its potential neuroprotective and cognitive benefits, including memory enhancement. 

Here’s a summary of some key studies and findings:

Impact on cognitive function

In a study published in "Phytotherapy Research", researchers reported that elderly subjects suffering from mild cognitive impairment showed significant improvements in cognitive function after consuming lion’s mane mushrooms for 16 weeks.

Neurogenesis and neuroprotection

Sabaratnam, V., Kah-Hui, W., Naidu, M., Rosie David, P. (2013) explored the potential of lion's mane mushroom in inducing nerve growth factor (NGF) synthesis.

Their work suggested that extracts from this mushroom could stimulate NGF synthesis which is crucial for promoting neural growth and protecting against neurological diseases.

A recent study from 2023 found that nerve cells exposed to compounds isolated from lion’s mane mushrooms could promote neuron growth.

Animal studies

Various animal studies have suggested that lion's mane can enhance memory and cognitive functions. 

For instance, researchers gave mice supplements of lion’s mane mushroom and tested their memory in a maze test. They found that dietary supplementation with lion’s mane extracts significantly enhanced mice’s recognition memory.

In another study, to explore the impact of lion’s mane on memory impairment, researchers developed a model of Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) in mice. 

Once the mice exhibited AD characteristics, they were split into different groups, with one group receiving daily doses of lion’s mane mushroom extract.

In the mice treated with lion’s mane, they saw a significantly reduced time taken to complete the maze, indicating improved memory and learning abilities.

Mechanisms of action

The cognitive enhancing and neuroprotective effects of lion's mane are attributed primarily to its ability to enhance NGF synthesis in the brain. 

NGF is essential for the growth, maintenance, and survival of neurons. The mushroom contains hericenones and erinacines, compounds known to stimulate NGF production.

Another mouse study discovered that a compound in lion’s mane, called Hericene A, promotes neuron projections, extending and connecting to other neurons, ultimately increasing the size of growth cones, which play a crucial role in brain cells sensing their environment and establishing new connections with other neurons in the brain.

Put simply, this has a significant impact on the growth of brain cells and improving memory.

In healthy adults 

This pilot study explored both the immediate and long-term effects of lion’s mane on cognition and mood in healthy young adults. 

In a controlled setup where 41 participants aged 18 to 45 were randomly given either 1.8 g of Hericium erinaceus or a placebo, the results were promising. 

A single dose seemed to enhance performance on a cognitive task within 60 minutes. 

Also, after taking the supplement daily for 28 days, there appeared to be a slight decrease in how stressed participants felt. 

However, these outcomes need to be taken with caution due to the limited number of participants. 

How lion’s mane improves memory 

Lion's mane mushroom is thought to boost memory and cognitive functions in a few interesting ways:

  • Promoting new brain cells: Lion’s mane contains special compounds that can stimulate the growth of new brain cells. This process is crucial for maintaining good brain health and enhancing memory.
  • Enhancing neuroplasticity: Neuroplasticity is the brain's ability to reorganize itself by forming new neural connections. This adaptability helps your brain to stay sharp and can improve learning and memory skills. Lion's mane boosts this process, making it easier for the brain to change and adapt.
  • Increasing NGF (Nerve Growth Factor): Lion’s mane helps increase levels of NGF, which is a protein that plays a critical role in the survival and growth of nerve cells. Higher NGF levels can lead to better brain function and improved memory because it helps keep the brain's neurons (nerve cells) healthy and functioning well.
  • Mood enhancing properties: Besides helping with memory and brain function, lion’s mane can also influence mood. Its impact on brain health can lead to reduced anxiety and depression, which in turn can improve cognitive function and overall well-being.

Other benefits of lion’s mane 

Lion's mane mushroom is celebrated not only for its cognitive benefits, but also for its various health-enhancing properties. 

It has been shown to boost the immune system, fight inflammation, reduce oxidative stress, and support gut health by promoting beneficial gut bacteria. 

These attributes make it helpful in managing chronic diseases and improving overall health.

Research also indicates that lion's mane may assist in managing diabetes symptoms by lowering blood sugar levels and alleviating diabetic nerve pain. 

Its impact on brain health suggests potential antidepressant effects, which could help alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety. 

Some studies even suggest it might possess anti-cancer properties, although more research is needed in this area. 


There you have it. Lion’s mane can improve memory. 

While there isn’t a wealth of studies in healthy human subjects, there is plenty of evidence that compounds in the mushroom can support brain health and memory by promoting the growth of new brain cells, NGF, and improving mood. 

Of course, not everyone will get the same benefits from lion’s mane, but there is good amount of scientific and anecdotal evidence suggesting that lion’s mane can indeed improve memory. 

If you are looking for a natural supplement to help improve your memory and support your overall brain health, lion’s mane could be well worth giving a go. 

Click here to buy our high strength lion’s mane extract capsules. 

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