Lion’s Mane (Hericium erinaceus) is a type of edible mushroom. It grows as a clump of spines and is named for its similar appearance to the mane of a lion. It can be eaten cooked, and is also available in a range of supplements (including tablets and powders). It is used in traditional Asian medicine.
Studies have found that compounds in lion’s mane can stimulate the production of nerve growth factor (NGF). NGF is involves in the growth and maintenance of nerve cells in the brain. It is though that lion’s mane may be able to influence mood by increasing the amount of NGF in the brain.
There is very little scientific evidence on lion’s mane for the treatment of depression. One study treated women experiencing menopause symptoms with either lion’s mane or a placebo (sham treatment) for four weeks. The women who received lion’s mane experienced a reduction in depression symptoms. However, those who had the placebo experienced a similar reduction in symptoms. The size of the study was small, and it is unclear if any participants had clinical depression. More studies of better quality are needed to understand the effectiveness of lion’s mane for depression.
Like all dietary supplements, lion’s mane may have negative interactions with prescribed medications or other supplements. It should be taken under the supervision of a health care professional.
Lion’s mane supplements can be purchased online from supplement and health food retailers.
Given the lack of evidence on lion’s mane, it cannot be recommended as a treatment for depression.
Last reviewed and updated: 1 December 2016