Lion's mane

Our rating
 Question mark: This treatment has not been properly researched. It is not possible to say whether they are useful or not.


The rating system

  • 3 smiliesThese treatments are very useful. They are strongly supported as effective by scientific evidence.
  • 2 smiliesThese treatments are useful. They are supported by scientific evidence as effective, but the evidence is not as strong.
  • 1 smileyThese treatments are promising and may be useful. They have some evidence to support them, but more evidence is needed to be sure they work.
  • No smiley On the available evidence, these treatments do not seem to be effective.
  • Question markThese treatments have not been properly researched. It is not possible to say whether they are useful or not.
  • Exclamation MarkSafety or other concerns have been raised for the use of these treatments.

What is it?

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.

How does it work?

Studies have found that compounds in lion’s mane can stimulate the production of nerve growth factor (NGF). NGF is involved 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. 

Is it effective?

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. Both the women who received lion’s mane and those who received the placebo experienced a reduction in depression symptoms. The size of the study was small, and it is unclear if any participants had clinical depression.

A second small study looked the use of lion’s mane in people with obesity, some of whom had depression. This study found that participants who took lion’s mane had improvements in depression symptoms, however there was no placebo comparison group and the size of the study was small.  

More studies of better quality are needed to understand the effectiveness of lion’s mane for depression.

Are there any disadvantages?

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. 

Where do you get it?

Lion’s mane supplements can be purchased from supplement stores and health food retailers.


Given the lack of evidence on lion’s mane, it cannot be recommended as a treatment for depression.

Key references

  • Nagano M, Shimizu K, Kondo R, Hayashi C, Sato D, Kitagawa K, et al. Reduction of depression and anxiety by 4 weeks Hericium erinaceus intake. Biomedical Research. 2010; 31(4): 231-7.
  • Vigna L, Morelli F, Agnelli GM, Napolitano F, Ratto D, Occhinegro A, et al. Hericium erinaceus Improves Mood and Sleep Disorders in Patients Affected by Overweight or Obesity: Could Circulating Pro-BDNF and BDNF Be Potential Biomarkers? Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2019: 7861297-12.

Last reviewed and updated: 7 September 2023