Lions Mane: Health Benefits and Cooking

In the realm of functional foods and medicinal mushrooms, lion's mane (Hericium erinaceus) stands out as a nutritional superstar. With its unique appearance resembling fuzzy cream pom poms and its rich history in traditional Chinese and Japanese medicine [1], lion's mane has garnered increasing attention from scientists, health enthusiasts, and culinary enthusiasts.  

Health Benefits 

Rich in Bioactive Compounds

Lion's mane mushrooms are a treasure trove of bioactive compounds that contribute to their health-promoting properties. Notably, these mushrooms contain erinacines and hericenones, which are unique compounds with neuroprotective effects. These compounds have been studied for their potential to stimulate nerve growth factor (NGF) production, a protein critical for the growth, maintenance, and survival of nerve cells in the brain and peripheral nervous system [2].

Neurological Health

  • Enhanced Cognitive Function: Several studies have demonstrated that Lion's Mane consumption may improve cognitive function and memory. A 2009 study found that Lion's Mane extract supplementation improved cognitive function in individuals with mild cognitive impairment [3].
  • Neuroprotection: Lion's Mane mushrooms possess neuroprotective properties due to their ability to stimulate NGF production. This effect may have implications for neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimers and Parkinson’s, as suggested by a 2018 litterature review [4].
  • Cancer Therapy: Lion’s Mane’s neuroprotective properties suggest it would be effective in cancer therapy [4]. Promising in-vivo studies show that the erinacines, found in Lion’s Mane, can inhibit the growth of DLD-1 tumours [11].

Gut Health

Lion's Mane mushrooms have prebiotics properties, meaning they are a beneficial source of food that nourish gut bacteria. A balanced gut microbiome has been linked to improved digestion, immune function, and even mental health [5].

  • Improved Digestion: There is a long tradition of lion’s mane use in East Asian medicine. This mushroom is known for its anti-inflammation properties and in its ability to promote healthy digestion. [6] A 2015 mice study indicates that Lion's Mane extracts may protect the stomach lining and reduce the risk of stomach ulcers [7].
  • Immune Support: A robust gut microbiome can enhance the immune system's ability to defend against pathogens. Lion's mane's prebiotic potential may indirectly support immune health [8].
  • Anti-Inflammatory Effects: Chronic inflammation is a driver of many chronic diseases. Lion's mane anti-inflammatory properties may aid in the management of these ailments [6].

Antioxidant Properties 

  • Antioxidant Properties: Lion's Mane mushrooms are a rich source of antioxidants, compounds that combat oxidative stress and neutralize free radicals. Antioxidants, like phenols, found in Lion's Mane contribute to its overall health benefits [9].
  • Multi-targeted therapeutics: A 2021 study highlights the practical application of Lion’s Mane and Lion’s Mane extracts. The findings indicate the mushroom’s potential in the development of multi-targeted therapeutics, including oxidative stress related disorders [10].

Culinary Delight

Flavor Profile

Lion's mane mushrooms have a flavor profile that sets them apart from other fungi, making them a prized ingredient in various culinary traditions.

  • Taste: Lion's mane mushrooms are celebrated for their sweet and slightly nutty taste. When cooked, they develop a subtle umami flavor, often compared to seafood like lobster or crab. This unique combination of flavors adds depth and complexity to dishes.
  • Texture: What truly distinguishes Lion's Mane is its texture. When sliced and cooked, the mushroom's long, thin strands resemble shredded meat or seafood. Perfect for mushroom steaks or shredded protein recipes. The texture is tender yet firm, making it a versatile ingredient for various dishes.
  • Aroma: While Lion's Mane mushrooms have a mild aroma when raw, cooking them releases a delightful, earthy scent that adds to their overall appeal. The aroma complements their sweet and nutty taste.

Pairing Ideas

Spices: Lion's Mane mushrooms pair beautifully with a range of spices and seasonings. Consider using garlic, shallots, thyme, or rosemary to enhance their savory notes. For more spice, try cumin, paprika, cayenne, Old Bay seasoning, or your favourite seasoning mix. .

Cooking: Lion's Mane's versatility shines through different cooking methods. Sautéing in butter or olive oil brings out its rich flavor, while roasting or grilling caramelizes its edges, adding a smoky dimension. Frying Lion's Mane mushrooms until crispy mimics the texture of fried calamari, offering a delightful contrast. As most mushrooms, they are great dried/dehydrated. Perfect technique to preserve bountiful fresh Lion's Mane harvests and perfect for quick recipes on a pinch.

Quick Tip: How to dry mushrooms
Preheat oven to 175 degrees or lowest setting. Arrange mushroom pieces in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake 1 hour. Flip, then continue baking for another hour or until completely dry and crisp. Store in an airtight container for up to three months. They do not require regrigeration.

Recipes: Here are two delectable Lion's Mane mushroom recipes to whet your appetite. 

Lion's Mane BBQ Pulled Sandwich

Lion's Mane BBQ pulled Sanwich Recipe
Lion's Mane Montreal Smoked Sandwich
Lion's Mane Smoked Sandwhich
Lion's Mane Caramel Corn

Drink: Lion's Mane mushroom can also be used in beverages like teas and smoothies for a healthful boost. The mushroom's mild flavor blends when uncooked work well with herbal teas or fruit smoothies, providing an extra layer of nutrition and earthy richness.



[1] Mizuno , T. (1999) . Bioactive substances in Hericium erinaceus (Bull.: Fr.) Pers. and its medicinal utilization. International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms, 1:2, 105–119.

[2] Bing-Ji Ma , Jin-Wen Shen , Hai-You Yu , Yuan Ruan , Ting-Ting Wu & Xu Zhao. (2010). Hericenones and erinacines: stimulators of nerve growth factor (NGF) biosynthesis in Hericium erinaceus. Mycology, 1:2, 92-98,

[3] 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, 23:3, 367-372.

[4] Li, I. C., Lee, L. Y., Tzeng, T. T., Chen, W. P., Chen, Y. P., Shiao, Y. J., & Chen, C. C. (2018). Neurohealth Properties of Hericium erinaceus Mycelia Enriched with Erinacines. Behavioural Neurology2018, 5802634.

[5] Rinninella, E., Raoul, P., Cintoni, M., Franceschi, F., Miggiano, G. A. D., Gasbarrini, A., & Mele, M. C. (2019). What is the Healthy Gut Microbiota Composition? A Changing Ecosystem across Age, Environment, Diet, and Diseases. Microorganisms7:1, 14.

[6] Spelman, K., Sutherland, E., Bagade, A. (2017). Neurological Activity of Lion’s Mane (Hericium erinaceus). Journal of Restorative Medicine, 6:1, 19-26.

[7] Wang, M., Konishi, T., Gao, Y., Xu, D., & Gao, Q. (2015). Anti-Gastric Ulcer Activity of Polysaccharide Fraction Isolated from Mycelium Culture of Lion's Mane Medicinal Mushroom, Hericium erinaceus (Higher Basidiomycetes). International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms17:11, 1055–1060.

[8] Jayachandran, M., Xiao, J., & Xu, B. (2017). A Critical Review on Health Promoting Benefits of Edible Mushrooms through Gut Microbiota. International Journal of Molecular Sciences18:9, 1934.

[9] Jeng-Leun Mau, Hsiu-Ching Lin, Si-Fu Song. (2002). Antioxidant properties of several specialty mushrooms. Food Research International,

35:6, 519-526

[10] Ghosh, S., Nandi, S., Banerjee, A., Sarkar, S., Charkraborty, N., Acharya, K. (2021). Prospecting Medicinal Properties of Lion’s Mane Mushroom. Journal of Food Biochemistry, 45:8, e13833.

[11] Lu C.-C., Huang W. S., Lee K. F., Lee, K-C., Hsieh, M-C., Huang, C-Y., Lee, !-Y., Lee, B-o., Teng, C-C., Shen, C-H., Tung, S-Y., Kuo, H-C. (2016). Inhibitory effect of erinacines A on the growth of DLD-1 colorectal cancer cells is induced by generation of reactive oxygen species and activation of p70S6K and p21. Journal of Functional Foods, 21, 474–484.

Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.