Lion's Mane

How To Eat and Process Lion’s Mane For Its Amazing Health Benefits

by | Jun 27, 2024

Lion's Mane

Written by Amy Donohue

Amy Donohue, a former high school Spanish teacher turned stand-up comedian and radio DJ, transitioned into the cannabis industry after realizing the value of social media for building relationships. Leveraging her expertise in social media, she co-founded Hybrid Social, Arizona's first all-cannabis marketing and social media agency. She is a prominent figure in the Phoenix chapter of Women Grow, consulted on the Prop 205 campaign, and co-founded Cannafriends, a cannabis networking group in Arizona. She has been featured in various cannabis publications and contributed to Dope Magazine in 2016.

I’ve become the MushroomGrrl in my circle of friends after growing them and talking about them for the past eight years. What I’m finding, though, is a lot of misinformation on the internet about how to get the benefits from Lion’s Mane. 

There are hundreds of products of lion’s mane powder and capsules, but are people really getting the benefits they’re expecting?

Sadly, the answer is, most likely, no. 

What is Lion’s Mane? 

Hericium erinaceus can be distinguished from other mushrooms with its icicle-like spines, which produce the spores of Lion’s Mane. Hericium is the generic name pertaining to a hedgehog because of its spines. Lion’s Mane was first described by Christiaan Hendrik Persoon in 1797.

What are the potential medical benefits of Lion’s Mane?

From past research, there are health-promoting properties of lion’s mane, such as:

  • Antibiotic
  • Anti-carcinogenic
  • Antidiabetic
  • Lowering blood pressure
  • Cholesterol regulation
  • Stomach inflammation counteracting, such as with gastritis
  • Antioxidant
  • Anti-inflammatory

What are the most recognized Active Compounds in Lion’s Mane?

Diterpenes: bioactive compounds with diverse structures

Triterpenes: similar to diterpenes

Beta-glucans: polysaccharides renowned for boosting the immune system, exhibiting anti-cancer properties, and improving overall health by enhancing immune responses and reducing inflammation.

Fatty acids: these include linoleic and oleic acid, and can contribute to cardiovascular health, possess anti-inflammatory properties, and support overall wellness.

GABA: a neurotransmitter that promotes relaxation, reduces anxiety, and enhances sleep quality by inhibiting nerve transmission in the brain.

Lab Studies and Clinical Trials:

So far, many of the studies and trials on lion’s mane have focused on Parkinson’s, Alzheimers, depression, early dementia, neuropathic pain, and gastric ulcers. Many of these can be seen on the PubMed website, as well as the CNKI, which is the Chinese database for biomedical research. 

In these studies, the daily dosage for participants varied from 1 gram of dried lion’s mane powder, to 1.6 grams. 

These studies included:

  • 30 male volunteers in a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. The men ranged in age from 50 to 80, who had mild cognitive impairment. After 16 weeks, those who consumed the lion’s mane capsules had a significant increase in their cognitive functioning. 
  • 30 women were in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. The lion’s mane reduced their symptoms of anxiety and depression. 

How to Know You’re Getting the Good Stuff

With so many products for lion’s mane on the market, there can be great ones with activated diterpenes and beta-glucans, or there can be bunk because the processing wasn’t done correctly.

Simply dehydrating the fruiting body of lion’s mane won’t do anything but waste good mushrooms. There has to be a process to activate the helpful compounds in the mushrooms. 

If you’ve bought commercial powdered lion’s mane, grab a bottle of iodine. First, open a few capsules of lion’s mane and put the powder in a small glass with ¼ cup of water. It will be amber to light brown. Add a dropper of the iodine and stir. If the mixture stays brownish in color, it’s high-quality with beta-glucans activated. 

If the mixture stays brown, it has activated compounds. But, if it starts to turn blue and stays that way, it’s likely there’s too much starch from how the lion’s mane was grown, and less of the activated compounds that make lion’s mane a medicinal mushroom.

When purchasing the dried powder, look at the label to be sure there is at least 10% – 30% beta-glucans. Unfortunately, there isn’t much regulation or standardization when it comes to mushrooms. 

Cooking & Eating Lion’s Mane

Lions Mane

You can get the same great benefits from lion’s mane by eating it. First, slice or chop the mushrooms, place on a tray, and put in the sun for 30 minutes. This activates the Vitamin D in the lion’s mane (and most other edible mushrooms), which we all need for health and wellness. It boost our immune systems, and plays a large role in metabolism. 

After you’ve exposed them for 30 minutes to sunlight, you’re ready to cook them. They’re more delicate in flavor than most, with a seafood-like taste and texture. Simple slice or chop, and sautee with some olive oil and butter (I like using both for full flavor), salt, and pepper. Cook until brown, with the edges starting to get crispy. Eat as is, or put on a bun with some mayo or your favorite dressing. 

Processing Lion’s Mane to Make Your Own Powder

To get the full benefits of lion’s mane powder, cooking to activate the beta-glucans is crucial. Don’t skip this step! 

  1. Rinse the mushrooms
  2. Add mushrooms to a large pot and over with water, about ten times as much water as mushrooms.
  3. Simmer for 2 – 3 hours, or pressure cook for 45 minutes.
  4. Cool and blend into a creamy texture.
  5. Pour onto dehydration trays and dehydrate at 95 degrees. 
  6. Once dried, simply put in a food processor or coffee grinder (make sure you use one separate from your coffee grinder), and grind to a powder.
  7. Add to capsules. 
  8. Store for up to 3 years in a dry, dark place.
Lion's Mane

And, lastly, here are some fun names for Lion’s Mane:

  • Tree Hedgehog
  • Bearded Tooth
  • Monkey head mushroom
  • Old man’s beard

As with all products that tout themselves as being great for our health and wellness, it’s best to read the labels and understand what’s really in the products we buy.