Among the general public, lion’s mane mushrooms have become a popular product for their numerous health benefits. From improving cognitive performance to decreasing the risk of brain decay due to age, lion’s mane is one of the most notable superfoods on the market. However, many wonder if you can use lion’s mane for ADHD?
You’d assume so based on all the claims people make for this mushroom. But what does the science say? Throughout this article, we’re going to take a deeper look at lion’s mane, its properties, and whether or not it can be used for ADHD. At the end, we invite you to ask further questions.
What is Lion’s Mane?
Lion’s mane (also known as hou tou gu or yamabushitake) are characterized by their white, shaggy appearance (which largely resembles the mane of a lion). While they’re found all over the world, they’ve been used for medicinal purposes in parts of Asia (such as China, Japan, and India) for centuries. ¹
Lion’s mane mushrooms are consumed raw, cooked, or dried for tea. However, lion’s mane extracts are also used as health supplements. If you’ve never tried lion’s mane before, many compare the taste to that of seafood, such as crab or lobster. ²
Since lion’s mane has many bioactive properties, researchers are studying whether or not they can help with varying health conditions.
How Does Lion’s Mane Work in the Brain and Body?
While lion’s mane contains many active compounds, the two most notable are hericenones and erinacines. These compounds can potentially cross the blood brain barrier and provide benefits for brain and nerve health. ³ More specifically, hericenones has shown to have a stimulating effect on nerve growth factor (NGF) which are responsible for pain and touch sensations. ⁴
Being as erinacines show neuroprotective activity, lion’s mane mushrooms may help with the following: ⁵
- Cognitive function
- Neurotrophic activity and myelination
Due to this combination of benefits, lion’s mane mushrooms may also be able to help in treating numerous health conditions. Most notably, conditions where brain activity decreases with age, such as Alzheimer’s Disease. ⁶
However, many Eastern civilizations have used lion’s mane for ulcers, inflammation, and to support the immune system.
Is Lion’s Mane a Stimulant?
In short, lion’s mane is NOT a stimulant. While it has brain-boosting effects, it does not over activate specific neurotransmitters (such as dopamine or norepinephrine) that other stimulant drugs do. In fact, preclinical trials have found that lion’s mane actually reverses the levels of these excitatory neurotransmitters. ⁷
Can You Use Lion’s Man for ADHD?
Since lion’s mane has shown to be effective in easing symptoms of anxiety and depression, ⁸ many wonder if it can help with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
While there’s very little scientific research concerning lion’s mane for ADHD specifically, many have claimed it to be effective. Furthermore, these claims hold some weight as research has shown lion’s mane may be effective for varying symptoms of ADHD.
However, it’s unclear how effective lion’s mane is in comparison to Adderall, the most common medication for ADHD. Even more so, ADHD severity varies from person-to-person. Therefore, someone with mild ADHD may find lion’s mane effective whereas a severe case will not.
Likely, lion’s mane can be an applicable therapeutic alternative alongside traditional medication. Since it has little to no side effects (see below), it’s worth giving a try. However, it should be mentioned that most won’t feel the benefits of lion’s mane until a few weeks after taking it daily.
What Does the Research Say?
Currently, there’s no research concerning ADHD and lion’s mane. Rather, the research we do have concerns different symptoms often found in ADHD, such a difficulty focusing.
For this reason, we’re going to divide the research we do have concerning lion’s mane into its three most prominent categories:
For Cognitive Health
While lion’s mane may be able to boost cognitive function, current research is limited to animal models:
- A 2017 study discovered that lion’s mane produced better object and memory recognition in mice. ⁹
- Researchers have found lion’s mane can help to treat and possibly prevent decline in cognitive health due to diseases that appear later in life, such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. ¹⁰
- An older study from Japan discovered that daily consumption of lion’s mane over a 16 week period allowed participants aged between 50 and 80 to score better on a cognitive function test compared to a placebo. However, scores dropped when participants weren’t given the supplement anymore. ¹¹
For Anxiety and Depression
People with ADHD are likely to struggle with another psychiatric disorder. In fact, up to 50% of people with ADHD also have anxiety. ¹² With that in mind, lion’s mane may also help with other conditions:
- A 2015 study discovered mice showed fewer depressive behaviors (and had less blood mark indicators for depression) when given lion’s mane extract. The researchers concluded this is due to the anti-inflammatory effects of the mushroom. ¹³
- In a 2018 animal study, it was concluded that various mushroom extracts, including lion’s mane, can be used in treating depressive disorders. ¹⁴
- A small study found that women with different health conditions (including menopause and sleep disorders) had lower levels of anxiety compared to a placebo after taking lion’s mane extract for 4 weeks. ¹⁵
Lion’s Man Dosage Recommendation
While you can simply incorporate lion’s mane into your diet, those looking for effective treatment should take an extract. You can buy these in powders, capsules, or tinctures. Personally, we found powders to be most effective as they allowed us to use them in our favorite beverages, such as coffee or a smoothie.
Typically, you want to take between 2 to 5 grams of lion’s mane powder daily. 2 grams usually equates to 2,000mg of extract – however, this may vary depending on the company. In terms of capsules and tinctures, you’ll find your dosage on a product’s label.
Lion’s Mane Side Effects and Safety
While there is little research concerning lion’s mane’s side effects, most people don’t report experiencing any. However, some have reported experiencing aggravated symptoms of allergies and asthma. Due to this, you should consult your doctor before taking lion’s mane.
Furthermore, if you are pregnant or lactating, you should avoid lion’s mane altogether. As of this time, there just isn’t enough research to confirm its safety.
Can I take Lion’s Mane with Adderall?
While it’s best to speak to your doctor before taking lion’s mane with Adderall, there have been no reports of negative drug interaction. With that, most agree it’s safe to make apart of your daily regimen.
Since ADHD isn’t an easy disease to treat, we understand many are looking for alternative medications. Lion’s mane has showed a lot of promise in increasing focus and overall cognitive performance. However, there have been no studies concerning ADHD itself – rather, research has only sought out its application for other health conditions.
Still, since lion’s mane has little to no side effects and many claim it helps with their ADHD symptoms, it’s worth the try. If you plan to take lion’s mane extract, we recommend speaking with your doctor first.
Still have questions concerning lion’s mane for ADHD?
We invite you to ask them in the comments section below. If you have any further knowledge to share – whether personal or professional – we’d also love to hear from you.
¹ Journal of agriculture and food chemistry: Chemistry, Nutrition, and Health-Promoting Properties of Hericium erinaceus (Lion’s Mane) Mushroom Fruiting Bodies and Mycelia and Their Bioactive Compounds
² Applied microbiology and biotechnology: Medicinal properties of Hericium erinaceus and its potential to formulate novel mushroom-based pharmaceuticals
³ Behavioural Neurology: Neurohealth Properties of Hericium erinaceus Mycelia Enriched with Erinacines
⁴ Food & function: Hericium erinaceus (Bull.: Fr) Pers. cultivated under tropical conditions: isolation of hericenones and demonstration of NGF-mediated neurite outgrowth in PC12 cells via MEK/ERK and PI3K-Akt signaling pathways
⁵ Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine (Elsevier): Neuronal Health – Can Culinary and Medicinal Mushrooms Help?
⁶ frontiers in Aging Neuroscience: Prevention of Early Alzheimer’s Disease by Erinacine A-Enriched Hericium erinaceus Mycelia Pilot Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Study
⁷ International Journal of Molecular Sciences: Therapeutic Potential of Hericium erinaceus for Depressive Disorder
⁸ Biomedical research: Reduction of depression and anxiety by 4 weeks Hericium erinaceus intake
¹⁰ International Journal of Molecular Sciences: The Neuroprotective Properties of Hericium erinaceus in Glutamate-Damaged Differentiated PC12 Cells and an Alzheimer’s Disease Mouse Model
¹¹ Phytotherapy research: Improving effects of the mushroom Yamabushitake (Hericium erinaceus) on mild cognitive impairment
¹² CNS spectrums: ADHD symptoms in non-treatment seeking young adults
¹³ Pharmacology, biochemistry, and behavior: Effects of amycenone on serum levels of tumor necrosis factor-α, interleukin-10, and depression-like behavior in mice after lipopolysaccharide administration
¹⁴ International Journal of Molecular Sciences: Erinacine A-Enriched Hericium erinaceus Mycelium Produces Antidepressant-Like Effects through Modulating BDNF/PI3K/Akt/GSK-3β Signaling in Mice
¹⁵ Biomedical Research: Reduction of depression and anxiety by 4 weeks Hericium erinaceus intake