Lion’s Mane, a frilly, white medicinal mushroom that’s popular for its nootropic benefits is becoming more widely available every day. We know that this “mind mushroom” may help to improve memory, focus, and other cognitive abilities, but just how far do its brain-boosting benefits go? Is Lion’s Mane a psychedelic?
Psychedelics are substances that produce profound alterations in perception, mood, and thought. These substances have been used for thousands of years in various cultural and spiritual practices, and are currently being studied for their potential therapeutic applications.
Among the many substances that have been classified as psychedelics are LSD, psilocybin, and mescaline. So, the question is, does Lion’s Mane contain any of these (or other) psychoactive compounds?
The answer is yes, but it’s not traditionally held as a psychedelic mushroom. The Lion’s Mane experience is mind-boggling in another unique way–by promoting neurogenesis. Before we dig in, though, let’s start with the basics:
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What is Lion's Mane Mushroom?
Lion’s mane is a white, delicate mushroom that grows on hardwood trees in temperate regions across the globe. It’s characterized by its white, full, hair-like appearance that resembles a lion’s mane.
Lion’s Mane is commonly used in traditional Chinese medicine as a remedy for various ailments, including digestive issues, inflammation, and cognitive impairment. The mushroom itself can be eaten, but it’s hard to find fresh varieties of the mushroom because it spoils quickly, so most people use it in supplement form.
Luckily, a high-quality lion’s mane extract delivers more therapeutic benefits than other forms of the mushroom, which explains why so many people turn to Lion’s Mane extract and other mushroom products as opposed to fresh Lion’s Mane mushroom. It's currently considered one of the best combination nootropics for focus, hence why many people use it to support studying, work, and creative endeavors.
Effects of Lion's Mane Mushroom
While Lion's Mane mushroom is not a psychedelic in the traditional sense, it has been reported to produce a variety of cognitive and neurological effects. These effects include increased focus and mental clarity, improved memory and learning, and reduced symptoms of anxiety and depression. Some users also report experiencing a mild euphoria or "buzz" after consuming Lion's Mane mushroom.
Generally speaking, the primary benefits associated with Lion’s Mane include:
Improves cognition: Human evidence is limited, but one study concluded that daily consumption of the mushroom improved cognitive performance in older adults.
Increase growth of nerve cells: Research has also confirmed that Lion’s Mane extract may encourage the growth of new nerve cells and may stimulate faster healing within the nervous system. Another study found that daily doses of Lion’s Mane extract resulted in faster nerve regeneration in rats with nerve damage compared to control subjects.
- Mood support: One study suggests that Lion’s Mane was able to reduce the incidence of anxiety of depression in animal models. Another study concluded that Lion’s Mane could potentially be useful for treating depressive disorders.
Psychedelic Properties of Lion's Mane Mushroom
Although Lion's Mane mushroom is not considered a traditional psychedelic, it does contain a number of compounds that have been shown to have psychedelic properties. One of these compounds is ergothioneine, which has been found to modulate the activity of serotonin receptors in the brain.
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that plays a key role in mood regulation, and is the target of many traditional psychedelic substances. Researchers believe that ergothioneine may be useful for managing depression in a similar manner to psilocybin, the psychedelic compound found in “magic mushrooms,” which is currently being researched regarding its potential for depression therapy.
Another compound found in Lion's Mane mushroom is hericenones and erinacines, which are known to stimulate the production of nerve growth factor (NGF) in the brain. NGF is a protein that is essential for the growth and survival of neurons, and is believed to play a role in the neuroplasticity that underlies learning and memory.
The stimulation of NGF production by Lion's Mane mushroom could therefore be seen as a form of psychedelic enhancement of cognitive function. NGF production helps the brain to create new neural pathways to enhance all aspects of cognitive function and brain health. This is also very similar to the action of psilocybin.
However, the psychedelic compounds found in Lion’s Mane do not cause psychoactivity in the traditional sense. You won’t be seeing sounds and tasting colors, so to speak. However, Lion’s Mane’s mild psychedelic properties may make it useful for promoting brain health, balancing and boosting mood, and improving overall well-being–and this brain boosting mushroom is known to do just that.
Is Lion's Mane Mushroom Legal?
In most countries, Lion's Mane mushroom is legal and can be bought and consumed without restriction. However, it is important to note that the legal status of Lion's Mane mushroom may vary depending on the country or region. In some countries, Lion's Mane mushroom may be classified as a dietary supplement, while in others it may be considered a food or a medicine.
In the United States, Lion’s Mane can both be sold as a food and as a dietary supplement. If you plan to buy supplemental Lion’s Mane, keep in mind that supplements are not as well regulated as prescription medications in the U.S., so you should do your due diligence to ensure that you buy a clean, high quality product. Here’s what that looks like:
Lion’s Mane Supplement Quality
When it comes to Lion’s Mane supplements, you have many options, and the quality of the supplement will directly impact the effects you experience. Of course, when you really dig into the details, there are two primary factors that separate high-quality Lion’s Mane supplements from the rest. They are
Whole vs Extracted
When considering any mushroom formula, you should consider whether you’re purchasing a whole mushroom formula or a mushroom extract. Many people may argue that a whole mushroom formula is better or “more natural” because it contains all of the fiber, nutrients, and other beneficial compounds found in the whole mushroom.
However, the beta-glucan content of a mushroom is locked inside chitin–the same polymer that makes up an insect’s exoskeleton. For the human digestive system, that’s a problem. In order to “unlock” these beta-glucans from the chitin layers, you need to “extract” them. This can be done with regular hot water extraction, like when making tea.
A mushroom extract, like the one used in our Lucid Coffee, is already biologically active, and the extraction process is superior to what you can do in your own kitchen at home. When mushrooms are properly extracted, they are introduced to hot water at the perfect temperature to melt away chitin while keeping the beta-glucans intact, and the entire process is done in a pressurized atmosphere so that no beneficial compounds are lost to steam.
Mycelium vs Fruiting Bodies
Mushroom supplements can be made from either the mycelium or the mushroom’s fruiting body (or sometimes a combination of both). The fruiting body is the stem and cap portion that most people associate with mushrooms. The mycelium is the underground network of cell-signaling “roots” that help the mushroom sustain life.
There’s some argument surrounding which is best, but the science is clear–fruiting bodies contain a beta-glucan content of around 30 to 40 %, while the beta-glucan content of the mycelium is much lower–around 5-7 %.
Plus, mycelium is grown in grain blocks, and the entire block is ground up with the mycelium during manufacturing. That means that mycelial products contain a large portion of grain and are severely degraded compared to fruiting body supplements.
Our Lucid Coffee uses a fruiting body mushroom formula that is much more pure and potent than mycelial supplements.
If you want to take full advantage of the "functional" side of functional mushrooms, consider a mushroom super-blend like our Lucid Coffee, Chai, or Matcha powders. It takes full advantage of the benefits of these superfood mushrooms by pairing Cordyceps, Maitake, Tremella, and Lion's Mane, plus powerful nootropics, like BCAA's, L-Theanine, Alpha-GPC, and more.
Conclusion: Will Lion’s Mane Make You Trip?
So, to answer the question “is Lion’s Mane psychedelic?” we say this:
While Lion's Mane mushroom is not traditionally considered a psychedelic, it does contain compounds that have been shown to have psychedelic properties. These compounds may contribute to the cognitive and neurological effects reported by users of Lion's Mane mushroom, including increased focus and mental clarity, improved memory and learning, and reduced symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Will it take you on a wild trip? Maybe…if you were to consume copious amounts of Lion’s Mane, but nobody has ever done it before and managed to record the results. So, more than likely, Lion’s Mane doesn’t belong in the magic mushroom hall of fame, rather it belongs in the medicinal mushroom medicine cabinet.
If you decide to try Lion’s Mane benefits for yourself, keep in mind that the quality of the supplement you buy is incredibly important. If you’re looking for a high quality mushroom nootropic blend that’s made from 100% fruiting body extract, we recommend you give Lucid a shot. Check out one of our three flavor varieties to get started: