Can Lion’s Mane Help To Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease?

  • Angus Sinclair Master's degree, Ethnopharmacology/ Ethnobotany, University of Kent


Alzheimer's Disease presents a significant challenge, its impact resonating far beyond the individuals it affects. This devastating neurodegenerative disease, which affects memory, cognitive function, and the ability to perform everyday tasks, has left many searching for answers. Amid this quest, the remarkable Lion's Mane mushroom emerges as a fascinating contender in the battle against Alzheimer's.

Imagine a jigsaw puzzle, each piece representing a cherished memory, a vital skill, or a piece of one's identity. Alzheimer's disease, a progressive and incurable brain disorder, starts stealthily stealing these puzzle pieces, leaving individuals and their loved ones to combat the resulting gaps. Alzheimer’s affects over 850,000 people in the UK alone, and its global impact is profound, affecting millions worldwide.

Enter the Lion's Mane mushroom (Hericium erinaceus) – an intriguing natural resource that has captured the imagination of both scientists and holistic health enthusiasts. This shaggy, snow-white fungus not only graces the forest floors but also our plates as a culinary delight. It's valued not only for its taste but for its potential healing properties.

Can lion's mane prevent alzheimer's disease?

So, can Lion's Mane help protect against the relentless march of Alzheimer's disease? It is important to consider this subject carefully. Many scientific investigations have been conducted recently to investigate the possibilities of this mysterious fungus. Our goal is to provide you with a thorough and easy-to-read explanation of what these studies show, offering a reliable response to the primary issue question. To ensure a comprehensive and fact-based viewpoint throughout this conversation, we will consult reliable sources such as clinical trial findings and scientific and medical publications. You will know more clearly after this voyage whether or not Lion's Mane may be a useful ally in protecting your cognitive (brain) health. Let's embark on this exploratory journey through the world of Lion's Mane and Alzheimer's Disease to empower you with knowledge and confidence.

Understanding alzheimer's disease

Alzheimer's Disease is a complex neurological disorder (impacting the brain and the nerves) that primarily affects the elderly but can also manifest in individuals under the age of 65, known as early-onset Alzheimer's.1 It is characterised by a progressive and irreversible decline in cognitive function, primarily memory, thinking, and reasoning. 

The key characteristics of Alzheimer's disease include:

  • Memory impairment: One of the hallmark symptoms of Alzheimer's is the gradual loss of short-term and long-term memory. Individuals may struggle to remember recent events, names, or faces 1 
  • Cognitive decline: As the disease advances, thinking abilities decline. Tasks such as problem-solving, decision-making, and abstract thinking become increasingly challenging.2
  • Behavioural changes: Alzheimer's often leads to shifts in behaviour and personality. Patients may become agitated, anxious, or exhibit aggressive behaviour 1
  • Language difficulties: Trouble finding the right words, following or joining in on conversations, and understanding written or spoken language is common.2
  • Impaired motor skills: As Alzheimer's progresses, basic motor skills may be affected, making daily activities a challenge.1

If you want to know which Alzheimer’s warning signs to be aware of, you can watch a video summarising ten signs here: 

Prevalence and impact on individuals and society

Alzheimer's Disease is a widespread and growing concern globally. In the UK, it is estimated that over 850,000 individuals are living with Alzheimer's or related dementia. The proportion of people affected by the disease  is expected to rise with an ageing population. Beyond the individuals with Alzheimer’s, the disease has a profound impact on society:

  • Emotional and psychological strain: Alzheimer's takes an emotional toll on both individuals with the disease and their caregivers. Witnessing and caring for a loved one with acognitive decline can be distressing and overwhelming
  • Financial burden: The cost of caring for individuals with Alzheimer's is substantial. It covers medical expenses, long-term care, and lost wages due to caregivers reducing work hours or leaving the workforce entirely
  • Healthcare system strain: Alzheimer's places significant demands on healthcare systems. From diagnosis to long-term care, the healthcare infrastructure must adapt to meet the needs of patients and their families
  • Social and community impact: Alzheimer's Disease also affects communities and society at large. As the number of individuals with Alzheimer's grows, the burden on community services, including support groups and respite care, increases.

Lion's mane mushroom

Lion's Mane, scientifically known as Hericium erinaceus, is a captivating member of the fungal kingdom. This unique mushroom derives its name from its striking resemblance to a lion's mane, with cascading, white, hair-like spines. It has a long history of use in traditional Chinese and Japanese medicine, where it earned the title of  "Yamabushitake" due to its belief to impart courage and mental clarity, much like the fearless mountain monks, or "yamabushi," who used it.1,15

Nutritional composition and bioactive compounds

Lion's Mane is not just a visual wonder but a nutritional source as well. It is rich in various bioactive compounds, including beta-glucans, which are water-soluble fibres helping to regulate blood sugar, cholesterol and the immune system.2 Lion’s mane mushroom offers a range of essential nutrients, such as protein, carbohydrates, dietary fibre, and minerals.3 The most intriguing components, however, are the hericenones and erinacines, which have shown potential neuroprotective properties, safeguarding the brain and nerves from trauma and chronic diseases.2

Traditional and contemporary uses of lion’s mane

Traditionally, the Lion's Mane was employed in Asia for its believed cognitive benefits, with herbalists using it to enhance memory and focus.1 Nowadays, Lion's Mane has earned attention for its potential in the realm of cognitive health and neuroprotection. It is available in various forms, including supplements, teas, and even as a culinary delight, adding a unique texture and flavour to dishes.4

Scientific studies and findings

The connection between Lion's Mane’s healing properties and Alzheimer's Disease has captured the attention of the scientific community. Numerous studies have delved into the potential cognitive benefits of Lion's Mane. These investigations aim to uncover whether this unique mushroom can indeed stand as a beacon of hope in the fight against alzheimer's.

Among the array of studies, some noteworthy research has shown promising results. One such study explored the effects of Lion's Mane extract on cognitive impairment in mice. The study found that Lion's Mane supplementation led to significant improvements in cognitive function and memory in mice.6 It is worth noting that even though rodents are precious in advancing brain research, the study results may not apply to humans and need to be further checked in clinical research.14

Another research project examined the neuroprotective properties of Lion's Mane extract. This study suggested that Lion's Mane may stimulate nerve growth factor (NGF) production, a substance  vital for the growth, maintenance, and survival of neurons (brain cells) in the brain.5

Mechanisms of action - how lion's mane may impact Alzheimer's disease

The intriguing question is how Lion's Mane exerts its potential benefits in the context of Alzheimer's Disease. Lion's Mane is believed to impact Alzheimer's through several mechanisms:

  • Stimulating nerve growth factor (NGF) production: As mentioned earlier, Lion's Mane may stimulate the production of NGF, a protein crucial for neuronal health and function. By promoting NGF, Lion's Mane could potentially support the growth and maintenance of nerve cells5
  • Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects: Some studies suggest that Lion's Mane possesses antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.1 These features are essential in combatting the oxidative stress and neuroinflammation (inflammation of the brain) associated with Alzheimer's Disease.
  • Neuroprotection and cognitive enhancement: Lion's Mane's bioactive compounds, such as hericenones and erinacines, may play a role in neuroprotection and cognitive improvement. These compounds are thought to influence neural pathways (connections between the brain cells) that impact memory and learning.6

While these findings are promising, it's crucial to remember that the road to a reliable Alzheimer's treatment is complex and filled with challenges. However, Lion's Mane has opened up a unique avenue for exploration and offers a glimmer of hope for the future.

Lion’s Mane supports processes that may have an impact in preventing the development of Alzheimer’s Disease and its progression. One of the key features of the disease is losing brain cells (neurons), leading to so-called brain atrophy (shown in the picture of the brain on the top right). Credit: Antonina Swierkowska, created in Biorender. 

Safety and side effects

A lion's Mane is generally considered safe for consumption.8 It has a long history of use in traditional medicine, as well as research studies, where it's been consumed without significant safety concerns.1,11 The safety of Francine, one of the substances found in Lion’s Mane, has also been confirmed in preclinical studies on rats.9,10

Possible side effects or contraindications

While Lion's Mane is well-tolerated, some individuals may experience mild digestive discomfort, including bloating or loose stools. Allergic reactions are rare but possible, so individuals with known mushroom allergies should exercise caution.7


Is there a mushroom that prevents alzheimer's disease?

There is ongoing research into Lion's Mane mushroom for its potential in Alzheimer's prevention, but it's not yet proven as a definitive preventive measure.13

Does lion's mane actually improve memory?

Initial research on the mushrooms' effect on cognition showed an improvement in a Japanese study of people with mild cognitive impairment, as well as the speed of performance and reduced stress levels in healthy young adults.11,12 Lion's Mane may have cognitive-enhancing properties, potentially improving memory, but more research is needed to confirm its effects. 

Is lion's mane anti-ageing?

Lion's Mane has shown neuroprotective, anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory potential, important in preventing the ageing process. However, it's not a standalone anti-ageing solution, and its broader anti-ageing effects require further study.1, 2, 5, 6

Who should avoid lion's mane?

People with known mushroom allergies or those taking medications should consult a healthcare professional before using Lion's Mane.7


Investigation into the potential of Lion's Mane for Alzheimer's Disease prevention reveals promising scientific evidence. Lion's Mane exhibits cognitive-enhancing properties , neuroprotective effects, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory potential , and the ability to promote nerve growth factors. These findings suggest that it could serve as a valuable natural ally in the fight against Alzheimer's. However, it's essential to highlight the need for more research to conclusively establish Lion's Mane's effectiveness and safety. Alzheimer's treatment remains a complex challenge, and while Lion's Mane offers promise with many studies, anecdotal stories and traditional wisdom findings in favour of its claimed benefits, it's not a definitive solution for the disease. For individuals intrigued by the potential benefits of Lion's Mane, it is advisable to consult with healthcare professionals before incorporating the mushroom into their routine, particularly if they have underlying health conditions or are taking medications. Additionally, maintaining a balanced diet, staying physically and mentally active, and leading a healthy lifestyle are fundamental to Alzheimer's prevention. Lion's Mane might be a piece of the puzzle, but it's just one part in the complex picture of Alzheimer's prevention and management.


  1. Friedman, M. (2015). Chemistry, nutrition, and health-promoting properties of Hericium erinaceus (Lion’s Mane) mushroom fruiting bodies and mycelia and their bioactive compounds. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 63(32), 7108-7123.
  2. Paterson, R. R. (2006). Ganoderma—a therapeutic fungal biofactory. Phytochemistry, 67(18), 1985-2001.
  3. Wang, M., Konishi, T., Gao, Y. Q., & Xu, D. (2016). The undersurface ultrastructure of Hericium erinaceus (Bull.: Fr.) Pers. International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms, 18(9), 763-770.
  4. Trovato, A., Monforte, M. T., Rossitto, A., & Forestieri, A. M. (2020). The nutraceutical and pharmaceutical market of functional foods. Current Drug Delivery, 17(8), 633-642.
  5. Kolotushkina, O. V., Moldavan, M. G., Voronin, K. Y., Skibo, G. G. (2003). The influence of Hericium erinaceus extract on myelination process in vitro. Fiziologicheskii Zhurnal, 49(1), 38-45.
  6. Mori, K., Obara, Y., Hirota, M., Azumi, Y., Kinugasa, S., Inatomi, S., ... Nakahata, N. (2009). Nerve growth factor-inducing activity of Hericium erinaceus in 1321N1 human astrocytoma cells. Biological & Pharmaceutical Bulletin, 32(8), 1353-1359.
  7. Spagnuolo, C., Russo, G. L., Orhan, I. E., Habtemariam, S., Daglia, M., Sureda, A., ... Nabavi, S. F. (2020). Genistein and cancer: Current status, challenges, and future directions. Advances in Nutrition, 11(6), 1547-1568.
  8. Lion’s Mane. In: LiverTox: Clinical and Research Information on Drug-Induced Liver Injury [Internet] [Internet]. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases; 2024 [cited 2024 Feb 9]. Available from:
  9. Hu JH, Li IC, Lin TW, Chen WP, Lee LY, Chen CC, et al. Absolute bioavailability, tissue distribution, and excretion of erinacine s in hericium erinaceus mycelia. Molecules. 2019 Apr 24;24(8):1624
  10. Tsai PC, Wu YK, Hu JH, Li IC, Lin TW, Chen CC, et al. Preclinical bioavailability, tissue distribution, and protein binding studies of Francine a, a bioactive compound from Hieracium erinaceus mycelia, using validated lc-ms/ms method. Molecules. 2021 Jul 27;26(15):4510.
  11. 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.
  12. Docherty S, Doughty FL, Smith EF. The acute and chronic effects of lion’s mane mushroom supplementation on cognitive function, stress and mood in young adults: a double-blind, parallel groups, pilot study. Nutrients [Internet]. 2023 Nov 20 [cited 2024 Feb 9];15(22):4842. Available from:
  13. Brandalise F, Roda E, Ratto D, Goppa L, Gargano ML, Cirlincione F, et al. Hericium erinaceus in neurodegenerative diseases: from bench to bedside and beyond, how far from the shoreline? J Fungi (Basel) [Internet]. 2023 May 10 [cited 2024 Feb 9];9(5):551. Available from:
  14. Ellenbroek B, Youn J. Rodent models in neuroscience research: is it a rat race? Dis Model Mech [Internet]. 2016 Oct 1 [cited 2024 Feb 9];9(10):1079–87. Available from:
  15. Park, Hye-Lim, et al. “Traditional Medicine in China, Korea, and Japan: A Brief Introduction and Comparison.” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, vol. 2012, 2012, pp. 1–9,,
This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

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Angus Sinclair

Master's degree, Ethnopharmacology/ Ethnobotany, University of Kent

With a focus on medical writing, I bring a background in Ethnopharmacology and a Master's degree from the University of Kent. As a Medical Writing Intern at Klarity Health, I specialize in translating complex clinical data into accessible articles for diverse audiences. My skills include medical writing, research, and regulatory knowledge. I've previously held roles in engineering and marketing, showcasing my versatility. Committed to professional development, collaboration, and fostering inclusivity, I thrive in environments that value continuous learning and employee well-being. presents all health information in line with our terms and conditions. It is essential to understand that the medical information available on our platform is not intended to substitute the relationship between a patient and their physician or doctor, as well as any medical guidance they offer. Always consult with a healthcare professional before making any decisions based on the information found on our website.
Klarity is a citizen-centric health data management platform that enables citizens to securely access, control and share their own health data. Klarity Health Library aims to provide clear and evidence-based health and wellness related informative articles. 
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