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Does Lion’s Mane Help With Depression? 5 Surprising Benefits

| Reading time 5 Minutes

Lion’s Mane mushroom is renowned for its ability to enhance cognitive functions, including sharpening concentration. However, its potential in alleviating depression and mood-related issues remains a subject of interest. Can Lion’s Mane help with depression and feelings of depression? Emerging research shows interesting findings on its effects.

Signs of depression

lion's mane for depression

We all experience rough patches from time to time; life isn’t always smooth sailing. Feeling down might linger for a few days, but if it persists beyond a couple of weeks, it could signal something more serious, like depression.

Here are some indicators that your low mood might be evolving into depression:

  • You’ve lost interest in your usual activities, even those that used to bring you joy.
  • You find yourself easily agitated, and your emotions swing between anger and sadness.
  • Concentrating becomes a struggle, as if your mind is shrouded in fog.
  • Simple decisions feel overwhelming and burdensome.
  • You’re constantly fatigued, dragging yourself through the day.
  • Sleep patterns become disrupted, either with insomnia or excessive sleep.
  • Your appetite changes drastically, either leading to overeating or loss of appetite.
  • Negative thoughts dominate your mind, fostering a sense of hopelessness and despair.
  • Persistent feelings of sadness and restlessness plague you.

If any of these symptoms resonate with you, it’s essential to seek help sooner rather than later. Reach out to friends, family, your general practitioner, or a therapist. There are also reputable organisations in The Netherlands, such as MIND Korrelatie or De Luisterlijn (The Listening Line), that provide free support services.

Now, let’s talk about Lion’s Mane – a potential ally in the battle against depression.

Lion’s Mane to relieve depression or feelings of heaviness

Lion’s Mane, also known as Hericium erinaceus, has a long history in traditional Chinese medicine for its mental health benefits. This mushroom is prized in herbal medicine for its potential to address cognitive disorders like Parkinson’s disease, with scientific research supporting its efficacy.

In the realm of herbal medicine, Lion’s Mane mushroom emerges as a potent tool for addressing cognitive disorders like Parkinson’s disease. Extensive studies have highlighted its impressive array of properties, including antioxidants, anti-inflammatory agents, and antimicrobial capabilities.

One of Lion’s Mane’s remarkable features is its ability to trigger the production of nerve growth factors (NGF), crucial for sustaining a healthy brain. While scientific evidence hasn’t definitively linked Lion’s Mane to alleviating clinical depression, its unique attributes hold promise for enhancing mood and overall well-being.

5 Properties of Lion’s Mane that can help alleviate feelings of depression

lion's mane mushroom

1. By boosting NGF, Lion’s Mane can help with depression

Research suggests that Lion’s Mane fosters neuroplasticity, the brain’s capacity to adapt and recuperate, which could be pivotal in combating depression (2, 3). This is particularly relevant as alterations in the structure and function of neurons in specific brain regions are often observed in individuals grappling with depression.

Lion’s Mane harbours bioactive compounds like beta-glucans and hericenones, known to stimulate NGF production, thereby potentially influencing mood regulation and mental health positively.

NGF plays a vital role in nurturing neurons, aiding in their growth, maintenance, and survival. Its promotion fosters brain plasticity, a mechanism crucial for enhancing cognitive functions. Augmented neuroplasticity holds promise for not only bolstering cognitive abilities but also potentially uplifting mood.

2. Anti-inflammatory properties may reduce symptoms of depression

The anti-inflammatory properties of Lion’s Mane come into play here, as evidenced by a 2015 study showcasing reduced depressive behaviour in mice administered Lion’s Mane extract (4). Researchers attribute this effect to the mushroom’s anti-inflammatory properties.

While the precise connection between inflammation and depression warrants further investigation, there’s speculation that inflammation may disrupt neurotransmitter balance, neuroplasticity, and the HPA axis, all of which could contribute to depressive symptoms.

3. Lion’s Mane can possibly improve cognitive functions

Furthermore, Lion’s Mane shows promise in enhancing cognitive functions, which can indirectly impact mood. Depression often intertwines with cognitive difficulties such as impaired concentration and memory. Addressing these issues may have a ripple effect on mood.

A Japanese study focusing on individuals aged 50 to 80 with mild cognitive impairment sheds light on Lion’s Mane’s cognitive benefits. The experimental group, receiving Lion’s Mane supplementation, demonstrated superior cognitive function compared to the control group given a placebo (5).

Moreover, after the discontinuation of Lion’s Mane for the control group, their cognitive scores declined, highlighting the mushroom’s potential in sustaining cognitive prowess.

4. Possible influence on the balance of neurotransmitters, such as serotonin

Several studies show that Lion’s Mane can improve depressive disorders via “monoaminergic modulation, neurogenic/neurotrophic and anti-inflammatory pathways”.

Monoaminergic modulation means that it affects the monoamines (neurotransmitters, such as serotonin and dopamine, which are involved in regulating mood). Many antidepressants also work this way; they slow down the re-uptake of serotonin, keeping it available in the brain for longer.

5. Lion’s Mane can promote gut health

Like other medicinal mushrooms, Lion’s Mane contains prebiotic fibres, such as beta-glucans, which serve as a food source for ‘good’ gut bacteria. These good bacteria contribute to a healthy gut flora.

Why is maintaining a healthy gut flora crucial in combating depression? It’s because your digestive system and your endocrine (hormonal) system are intimately connected. Your gut takes the lead in serotonin production, with approximately 90% originating there.

Chronic inflammation in your gut can increase the production of cytokines (inflammatory mediators) and lead to an imbalance in your hormone balance. This can also lead to problems in the absorption of nutrients, including vitamins and minerals that are essential for the production and regulation of hormones.

Your gut plays a crucial role in supporting your immune system, impacting both your physical and mental well-being significantly. Lion’s Mane can make a valuable contribution to enhancing this vital aspect of your health.

Choose pure, premium quality organic Lion’s Mane

Beware, not every Lion’s Mane supplement is the same! To get the best quality, choose pure, organic, rigorously tested Lion’s Mane supplements. Check out our quality control or discover our mushrooms now.

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Supplements should not be used as a replacement for a diverse diet, a healthy lifestyle, or as a treatment for any medical condition. Keep this product out of the reach of children. If you are ill, pregnant, or in doubt, always consult with your healthcare provider. The information provided on this website is intended for general informational purposes and should not be considered as medical advice. While traditional Chinese medicine has a history spanning thousands of years and has been tested on numerous individuals, MushPeak does not make claims indicating the proven medicinal properties of herbs or mushrooms, in accordance with current EU legislation. Detailed information about mushrooms is available from publicly accessible sources on the Internet. Please feel free to contact us with any questions.


  1. Chong P. S., Fung M. L., Wong K. H., & Lim L. W. (2019). Therapeutic Potential of Hericium erinaceus for Depressive Disorder. International journal of molecular sciences, 21(1), 163.
  2. Ryu S., Kim H.G., Kim J.Y., Kim S.Y, & Cho K-O. (2018. Hericium erinaceus Extract Reduces Anxiety and Depressive Behaviors by Promoting Hippocampal Neurogenesis in the Adult Mouse Brain. Journal of Medicinal Food. 21(2).
  3. Wong, K. H., Naidu, M., David, P., Abdulla, M. A., Abdullah, N., Kuppusamy, U. R., & Sabaratnam, V. (2011). Peripheral Nerve Regeneration Following Crush Injury to Rat Peroneal Nerve by Aqueous Extract of Medicinal Mushroom Hericium erinaceus (Bull.: Fr) Pers. (Aphyllophoromycetideae). Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine: eCAM, 2011, 580752.
  4. Yao W., Zhang J. C., Dong C., Zhuang C., Hirota S., Inanaga K., & Hashimoto K. (2015). Effects of amycenone on serum levels of tumor necrosis factor-α, interleukin-10, and depression-like behavior in mice after lipopolysaccharide administration. Pharmacology, biochemistry, and behavior, 136, 7–12.
  5. Mori K., Inatomi S., Ouchi K., Azumi Y., & Tuchida T. (2009). Improving effects of the mushroom Yamabushitake (Hericium erinaceus) on mild cognitive impairment: a double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial. Phytotherapy research : PTR, 23(3), 367–372.

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