Have you ever looked at a mushroom and said to yourself "wow, that's absolutely beautiful"?
Unless you're a mushroom aficionado, probably not.
Lion’s mane mushroom is one of the exceptions to the rule here – its flowing white shag is actually super pretty.
(The bold colors in reishi make it a pretty stunning sight too if you were wondering.)
Lion’s mane isn't just another pretty face. Lion’s mane mushroom powder is filled with unique antioxidants and powerful bioactive compounds that stimulate nerve growth factor (NGF)in your brain and support a healthy immune system.
Here's everything you need to know before adding lion’s mane extract to your repertoire.
What is Lion's Mane Mushroom Powder, Anyway?
Lion’s mane goes by several names including Hericium erinaceus in the scientific world and "hou tou gu", or "yamabushitake" in parts of Asia. (1)
While this medicinal mushroom is a staple in traditional Chinese medicine, it's native to parts of North America and Europe as well.
Newbie mushroom hunters love lion’s mane because it's easy to spot in the wild and even if you mistake another species of Hericium for lion’s mane, you don't have to worry because all North American species are edible and safe to consume.
(CAUTION: Even though it is easy to identify, still, use caution and only eat wild mushrooms if you are 100% sure of the identification)
Lion’s mane powder, on the other hand, is a highly concentrated, dried, and powdered form of lion’s mane mushroom.
People include lion’s mane extract powder in their smoothies, coffees, and recipes because it has medicinal properties to support the nervous system, cognitive function, immune health, and much more.
What Makes a High-Quality Lion's Mane Mushroom Extract Powder?
Not all mushroom supplements are created equal.
In other words, don't buy the cheapest lion’s mane mushroom powder supplement you find on Amazon...
When a fungus starts to grow, it doesn't look anything like a mushroom you'd recognize.
The actual mushroom (called the "fruiting body") requires some kind of host to grow like hardwood, compost, trees, grain, and sometimes even caterpillars (in the case of C. Sinensis)!
When you find a cheap lion’s mane extract, read the ingredients, because it is probably mostly just grain starch, or mycelium on grain.
Mycelium is essentially the beginning stages of mushroom growth – it looks like roots. Companies don't wait for the fungus to grow and develop into what's called the whole fruiting body – that's the part of the fungus you'd recognize as a mushroom.
Unsurprisingly, the fruiting body is also the part of the fungus that contains all the important medicinal compounds!
Yes, you're reading that right. Most cheap mushroom extracts are nothing more than ground-up brown rice and mycelium (mushroom roots) without very limited medicinal benefits.
At FreshCap Mushrooms, we only use the whole fruiting body for our extract powders. Always read the ingredients before choosing your medicinal mushroom extracts.
What are the Health Benefits of Lion’s Mane Extract Powder?
When it comes to brain health, lion’s mane mushroom powder is the obvious choice.
It Functions as a Nootropic and May Improve Brain Health on Multiple Levels
Research shows the potential this mushroom has for reducing mild cognitive impairment and memory loss, healing from brain injuries, boosting cognitive function, and even reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety – lion’s mane mushroom is the ultimate dietary supplement for brain health. (4, 5, 6, 7)
Lion’s Mane Mushroom Powder May Reduce Inflammation
If you have a lot of unexplained health issues, chronic inflammation may be the culprit.
Thanks to its antioxidants from polysaccharides and beta-glucans, it's also a top-choice for supporting the immune system. (13)
How Are You Supposed to Use Lion’s Mane Powder?
Unlike many medicinal mushrooms, lion’s mane doesn't have a bitter or unpleasant taste.
People compare the taste of lion’s mane mushroom to crab or lobster – so it has a delicate meaty flavor.
You can cook with fresh lion’s mane if you find it. However, you can also add medicinal lion’s mane extract powder to your soups, stews, sauces, and salad dressings.
Since the flavor isn't overpowering, you can also add a scoop of lion’s mane mushroom powder to your smoothies, coffees, and other sweet treats.
Don't worry, it won't make your smoothie taste fishy.
Does Lion’s Mane Mushroom Powder Trigger Any Side Effects?
In animal studies on rats, lion’s mane mushroom didn't trigger any adverse effects even in extremely high doses. (14)
Lion’s mane supplements and other medicinal mushroom powders are some of the safest (and most effective) supplements you can take with minor risk of side effects or interactions. (15)
Of course, there are a few exceptions here.
Pregnant or breastfeeding women should talk to a doctor before taking any dietary supplement, including lion’s mane.
Since lion’s mane mushroom powder could be helpful for reducing blood sugar and boosting blood flow, anyone with diabetes or bleeding-related medical condition should talk to a healthcare professional before including this fungus in their routine.
How Can You Choose the Best Lion’s Mane Mushroom Powder?
Start by choosing an extract powder made from certified organic lion’s mane mushroom to ensure your dietary supplement is free from harmful pesticides.
Next, check the beta-glucan content and read the ingredients to make sure the mushroom powder is only made from the whole fruiting body and not mycelium on grain.
At FreshCap Mushrooms, we list the beta-glucan content on our label because we know that's the part that matters – that's why you buy the mushroom extract in the first place!
Look for signs on the package that the mushroom extract powder is non-GMO, vegan (it definitely shouldn't contain animal products), and gluten-free.
The Bottom Line
Lion’s mane mushroom powder is one of nature's most potent nootropics: it has shown potential to improve cognitive health, stimulate NGF, and defend against memory loss.
Not only is it packed with antioxidant activity, but lion’s mane powder is one of the safest dietary supplements you can add to your diet as long as you aren't allergic to mushrooms.
Grab some lion’s mane and enjoy the benefits today!