Lion’s Mane Mushroom is one of the most powerful natural nootropics in the world right now.
Lion’s Mane has long been a mainstay of traditional Chinese medicine, which has used it as an immunity booster, and anti-inflammatory, an anxiolytic, and a cognitive enhancer for millenia.
Today, Lion’s Mane is a popular nootropic used in most of the best daily nootropic stacks; it is a key ingredient in Mind Lab Pro for example. It is also used in isolation for various purposes, from enhancing memory function to improving mood.
Thanks to recent research, we know that Lion’s Mane Mushroom is a highly effective brain supplement. Clinical trials have shown that Lion’s Mane supplements are effective for improving multiple aspects of cognitive performance, particularly memory function among people with mild memory impairment, as well as reducing anxiety and improving mood.
But Lion’s Mane’s effect on mood and anxiety have led some people to wonder about the possibility of Lions Mane addiction.
After all, other anti-depressants, mood boosters and anxiolytics are highly addictive. So is Lions Mane Mushroom addictive?
To answer that question, we need to look at what Lion’s mane mushroom does and how it works.
Benefits of Lion’s Mane: What does it do?
Lion’s Mane Mushroom’s main benefit is enhanced memory function.
Clinical trials have demonstated that Lion’s Mane Mushroom can significantly improve memory across multiple measures, including retention and recall speed.
Interestingly, Lion’s Mane appears to be particularly effective for people experiencing mild memory impairment, although it is also highly effective for otherwise healthy people looking for improved memory.
One of the major benefits of Lion’s Mane above other memory boosters is that its effects are long-term. That’s right; Lion’s Mane produces almost permanent improvements in memory function, with beneifts lasting long after you stop taking Lion’s Mane.
So what about anxiety and mood?
Does Lion’s Mane improve mood?
Lion’s Mane is a fantastic nootropic for combatting anxiety, improving mood and bolstring stress resistance.
Studies show that supplementing with Lions Mane Mushroom noticeably improves mood and reduces symptoms of anxiety. The effect seems to be particularly strong in people experiencing low mood or chronic anxiety, which is typical of natual anxiolytics and mood boosters.
A secondary effect of these reductions in stress and anxiety is improved sleep quality. People supplementing with Lions Mane Mushroom on a daily purpose report better and longer sleep; this is usually accompanied by a reduction in sleep-ruining anxiety.
So how does Lions Mane do this exactly?
How does Lions Mane work?
Unlike many natural nootropics, we actually understand exactly how Lion’s Mane Mushroom works, and there is little debate over which mechanism of action underlies its nootropics effects.
Lions Mane works by stimulating the release of neurotrophic factors in the brain; these are neurochemicals which control the growth, proliferation and maintenance of brain cells, including neurons, dendrites, and synapses. Specifically, Lions Mane stimulates the production of Nerve Growth Factor (NGF) and Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF), although it definitely stimulates NGF more strongly.
By triggering the synthesis and release of these neurotrophic factors, Lions Mane promotes the proliferation, growth and maturation of neurons and related tissues. Obviously, this leads to a dramatic improvement in cognitive function. It also has a somewhat unsuspected effect on mood and anxiety.
Research demonstrates beyond doubt that increasing BDNF levels actively reduces anxiety and improves mood. So by triggering a modest release of BDNF in the brain, Lions Mane effectively reduces anxiety, lowers stress, and improves mood.
Does Lions Mane cause addiction?
So does Lions Mane cause addiction or dependence?
The answer is no, Lions Mane Mushroom is not addictive, nor does it cause dependence. Lions Mane reduces anxiety and boosts mood by increasing BDNF in the brain. Its effects are mild and subtle, and it doesn’t cause any kind of high.
Lions Mane has been studied extensively in clinical trials lasting several weeks. None of the papers published to date note any kind of addiction risks. No study participants ever report building a tolerance to Lions Mane, and none show any signs of developing dependence on the nootropic mushroom.
So judging by all the available clinical and anecdotal data, Lions Mane does not appear to be addictive in the slightest. Its effects are not of the sort to cause addiction.
Can you become dependent on Lions Mane?
There is no evidence suggesting that you can become dependent on Lions Mane Mushroom. This herbal nootropic supplement has powerful cognitive enhancing abilities, but these effects manifest over long periods of consistent use. Lions Mane does not have any immediate effects at all, so it is very difficult for anybody to become dependent on it. Dependency usually happens when a substance produces powerful, immediate effects leading to severe comedowns. Lion’s Mane does not have any such effects so there is no comedown to trigger the dependency vicious cycle.
What happens when you take too much lion’s mane?
Lions Mane overdoses are effectively unheard of. Lion’s Mane Mushroom is an edible mushroom; people in China frequently eat several whole Lions mane mushrooms cooked into a meal. There is no mention in any of the clinical literature of an overdose on Lion’s Mane Mushroom.
There are some reports of people experiencing difficulty breathing and skin rashes after exposure to lion’s mane mushrooms. However, this is unlikely to be a typical response to overdoses, and is instead probably the result of an allergic reaction.
Lions Mane Withdrawls
One of the best things about Lion’s mane mushroom is that you won’t experience any withdrawal symptoms once you stop taking it. In fact, because of the way Lion’s Mane increases neurotrophic factors in the brain, the benefits of Lion’s Mane should continue long after you stop taking it. Because the effects are so long to come on and so long-lasting, there is no mechanism by which Lions Mane Mushroom would cause withdrawals.
By contrast, several other nootropics are known to cause withdrawals. Many nootropics are addictive, and several widely-used nootropics do cause withdrawal symptoms when you stop taking them.
Brian Johnson is current Editor of Vagarights.com and a long-time writer for VAGA. A former psychologist, Brian is passionate about improving mental health and finding ways to stave off cognitive decline. He is an expert on nootropics, cognitive enhancement and biohacking more broadly. You can see his work on Google scholar.