Hericium Erinaceus

Hericium Erinaceus

Monograph:  Hericium Mushroom

Botanical Scientific Name: Hericium Erinaceus

Common Names: Lion’s Mane; Monkey’s Head; Sheep’s Head; Bear’s Head; Old man’s Beard; Hedgehog Mushroom; Satyr’s Beard; Pom Pom

Chinese Name: Hóu Tóu Gū

Japanese Name: Yamabushitake

The Hericium mushroom grows mainly in Asia on ancient or dead trees.

The mushroom is referred to as: “Nature’s food for the neurons and memory” due to its ability to increase the level of NGF – Nerve Growth Factor in the brain and in the nervous system which protects the neurons from the processes of degeneration, aging, and injury.

The reason it received its most popular nickname, Lion’s Mane, is because the mushroom has what resembles white hair like the mane of a lion.

For hundreds of years in Asia, people ate the Hericium mushroom in order to develop “nerves of steel and the memory of a lion”.

In Japan, male Buddhist monks drank tea from the mushroom in order to improve the sharpness of the mind as well as the ability to focus during meditation.

The Japanese name of the mushroom is Yamabushitake, which means mountain monk mushroom.  This refers to the faction Shugendu, who are reclusive monks that wear flowing robes.

The meaning of the name in Chinese – Hóu Tóu Gū, is monkey head mushroom.

In traditional Chinese and Japanese medicine, the Hericium mushroom was used to strengthen the spleen, to nourish the colon, and also as a cancer remedy.  According to their tradition the mushroom provided nourishment to five internal organs: liver, lungs, spleen, heart and kidneys, and advanced proper digestive performance. They believed the mushroom provided energy and strength and was recommended for the treatment of ulcers in the stomach and duodenum as well as chronic gastritis.

Parts of the mushroom for use:

All parts of the mushroom:

  • Mycelium
  • Fruiting Body

Route of Administration:

  • Oral

TCM Characteristics:

Temperature: neutral

Moisture: neutral

Taste: spicy, sweet, dull

Meridians: spleen, stomach, heart (according to some sources, also liver, kidneys or all circuits)

Bioactive Ingredients:


  • HEP-1, HEP-2, HEP-3, HEP-4, HEP-5
  • HPA, HPB
  • HPI
  • HPP
  • AF2S-2, BF2S-2
  • FI0-a, FI0-a-α, FI0-a-β, FI0-b, FII-1, FIII-2b


  • Xylose
  • Ribose
  • Glucose
  • Arabinose
  • Galactose
  • Mannose

Terpenoids – sesquiterpenes and diterpenoids:

  • Erinacerins A–L
  • Erinacines A–I
  • Erinacine P, Q
  • Erinaceolactams A–E
  • hericenone A
  • hericenone J
  • phenylethylisohericerin
  • hericerin

Phenolic compounds:

  • Hericenone B


  • Ergosterol
  • Ergostan
  • stigmasten


  • Vitamins from the B-complex family


  • Potassium
  • Barium
  • Boron
  • Calcium
  • Chromium
  • Magnesium
  • Manganese
  • Iron
  • Molybdenum
  • Phosphorus
  • Zinc
  • Sulfur
  • Sodium

Fatty Acids:

  • Oleic acid
  • Linoleic acid
  • Linolenic acid
  • Arachidic acid
  • Palmitic acid
  • Nervonic acid
  • Lignoceric acid
  • Stearic acid
  • Trans-vaccenic acid
  • Behenic acid
  • Cis-11-Eisosenoic acid
  • Docosadienoic acid

Amino Acids:

  • Cysteic acid
  • Aspartic acid
  • Methionine
  • Threonine
  • Serine
  • Glutamic acid
  • Proline
  • Glycine
  • Alanine
  • Valine
  • Isoleucine
  • Leucine
  • Tyrosine
  • Phenylalanine
  • Lysine
  • Histidine
  • arginine


Studied Activities:

Immunomodulatory (balances the immune system), antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, anticancer, neuroprotective (balances and restores the nervous system), cardioprotective, gastroprotective, hypoglycemic, hypocholesterolemic, hepatoprotective, anti-aging, antiplatelet, analgesics, and prebiotic.


Uses supported by clinical research:

Weakened immune system, cancer, memory loss, cognitive impairment, dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, neuropathy, protection against Age-related hearing loss (Presbycusis), nerve pain, bacterial infections (Helicobacter pylori, Enterococcus, Streptococcus, Staphylococcus, MRSA), gastritis, type II diabetes, hypercholesterolemia, excessive blood coagulation, hepatitis, depression, and prebiotic.


Traditional uses that have yet to be supported by clinical evidence:

Multiple sclerosis, insomnia.


Effects according to Traditional Chinese Medicine:

Neurishes the stomach Qi and spleen, promotes digestion, strengthens the Nutrient Qi (Ying Qi), moves the blood, strengthens and nourishes the heart Qi, and sharpens the awareness.

Nourishes the tissues and internal organs.

Moves the blood.

Nourishes the Jing and the brain, sharpens awareness.


Manners of use and recommended dosage according to the literature:

Liquid extract (tincture): at a concentration of 1:2, 50% alcohol, 5-20 ml per day.

Dry extract: standardized extract at a concentration of 30% polysaccharides, 300-5,000 mg per day.

Decoction: 5-15 grams per day.

As part of a formula: 30-40%


Safety, Toxicity, Interactions, and Side Effects:

The Hericium mushroom is safe to use.

People allergic to mushrooms should avoid eating the mushroom or consuming the mushroom as a food supplement.

Due to its immunostimulant activity, transplant patients should not use the mushroom.

Seven days before undergoing a surgical procedure, the use of the mushroom should be discontinued and may be resumed two days following the procedure.

Since the mushroom may prolong the duration of clotting indexes INR, PT, PTT, and APTT, it is recommended to exercise caution when consuming Hericium with anti-coagulant blood thinners from the Coumadin, Clexane, Xarelto, Eliquis, Pradaxa and Lixiana families.

Caution is advised during chronic use of the morphine medications family (MCR, MIR, MCR-UNO), or with morphine-based narcotics, such as oxycodone, oxycontin, precoset, percodan, oxycode syrup, fentanyl patches (Dorgzic, Fanta), hydromorphone (Dilaudid, Palladone), methadone, due to the analgesic activity of the active ingredient in the mushroom Erinacine E.

With the exception of forbidding pregnant women who receive blood thinners such as Clexane to use the mushroom, there is lack of data to support the safety of use during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

Stop use if hypersensitivity/allergy occurs.



  1. I-Chen Li, Li-Ya Lee, Tsai-Teng Tzeng, Wan-Ping Chen, Yen-Po Chen, Young-Ju Shiao,  Chin-Chu Chen. Neurohealth Properties of Hericium erinaceus Mycelia Enriched with Erinacines Behav Neurol. 2018; 2018: 5802634. Published online 2018 May 21. doi: 10.1155/2018/5802634.
  2. Liu PS, Chueh SH, Chen CC, Lee LY, Shiu LY. Lion’s Mane Medicinal Mushroom, Hericium erinaceus (Agaricomycetes), Modulates Purinoceptor-Coupled Calcium Signaling and Murine Nociceptive Behavior. Int J Med Mushrooms. 2017;19(6):499-507. Doi: 0.1615/IntJMedMushrooms.v19.i6.20
  3. Hobbs C. Medicinal Mushrooms, 3rd edn. Santa Cruz: Botanica Press; 1995. 2. Zhou J, Xie G, Yan X. Encyclopedia of Molecular Structures, Pharmacological Activities, Natural Sources and Applications Traditional Chinese Medicines Vol. 5: Isolated Compounds T–Z. Berlin Heidelberg: SpringerVerlag; 2011.
  4. Kwagishi H, Shimada A, Shirai R, et al. Erinacines A, B and C strong stimulators of nerve growth factor (NGF)- synthesis from the mycelia of Hericium erinaceum. Tetrahedron Lett. 1994;35:1569–72. 
  5. Shen JW, Yu HY, Ruan Y, et al. Hericenones and erinacines: stimulators of nerve growth factor (NGF) biosynthesis in Hericium erinaceus. Mycol Int J Fungal Biol. 210;1:92–8.
  6. Mizuno T, Wasa T, Ito H, et al. Antitumor-active polysaccharides isolated from the fruiting body of Hericium erinaceum, an edible and medicinal mushroom called Yamabushitake or Houtou. Biosci Biotechnol Biochem. 1992;56:347–8.
  7. He X, Wang X, Fang J, et al. Structures, biological activities, and industrial applications of the polysaccharides from Hericium erinaceus (Lion’s Mane) mushroom: a review. Int J Biol Macromol. 2017;97:228–37.
  8. Cheng JH, Tsai CL, Lien YY, et al. High molecular weight of polysaccharides from Hericium erinaceus against amyloid beta-induced neurotoxicity. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2016;16:170.
  9. 8. Cui F, Gao X, Zhang J, et al. Protective effects of extracellular and intracellular polysaccharides on hepatotoxicity by Hericium erinaceus SG-02. Curr Microbiol. 2016;73(3):379–85.
  10. 9. Liu J, Du C, Wang Y, Yu Z. Anti-fatigue activities of polysaccharides extracted from Hericium erinaceus. Exp Ther Med. 2015;9(2):483–7.
  11. 10. Thongbai B, Rapior S, Hyde KD, et al. Hericium erinaceus, an amazing medicinal mushroom. Mycol Progress. 2015;14:91.
  12. Wang K, Bao L, Qi Q, et al. Erinacerins C-L, isoindolin1-ones with alpha-glucosidase inhibitory activity from cultures of the medicinal mushroom Hericium erinaceus. J Nat Prod. 2015;78(1);146–54.
  13. Moldavan MG, Gryganski AP, Kolotushkina OV, et al. Neurotropic and trophic action of lion’s mane mushroom Hericium erinaceus (Bull.: Fr.) Pers. (Aphyllophoromycetideae) extracts on nerve cells in vitro. Int J Med Mushrooms. 2007;9:15–28.
  14. Li JL, Lu L, Dai CC, et al. A comparative study on sterols of ethanol extract and water extract from Hericium erinaceus. Zhongguo Zhong Yao Za Zhi. 2001;26:831−4.
  15. Abdullah N, Ismail SM, Aminudin N, et al. Evaluation of selected culinary-medicinal mushrooms for antioxidant and ACE inhibitory activities. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2012 (2012), Article ID 464238, 12 pages. http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2012/464238.
  16. Gershenzon J, Dudareva N. The function of terpene natural products in the natural world. Nat Chem Biol. 2007;3(7):408–14.
  17. Chappell J. The genetics and molecular genetics of terpene and sterol origami. Curr Opin Plant Biol. 2002;5(2):151–7.
  18. Guillamón E, García-Lafuente A, Lozano M, et al. Edible mushrooms: role in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases. Fitoterapia. 2010;81(7):715–23.
  19. Rahman MA, Abdullah N, Aminudin N. Inhibitory effect on in vitro LDL oxidation and HMG Co-A reductase activity of the liquid-liquid partitioned fractions of Hericium erinaceus (Bull.) Persoon (lion’s mane mushroom). BioMed Res Int. 2014;2014:828149. doi:10.1155/2014/828149.
  20. Lee KF, Chen JH, Teng CC, et al. Protective effects of Hericium erinaceus mycelium and its isolated erinacine A against ischemia-injury-induced neuronal cell death via the inhibition of iNOS/p38 MAPK and nitrotyrosine. Int J Mol Sci. 2014;15(9):15073–89.
  21. Yaoita Y, Kakuda R, Machida K, et al. Ceramide constituents from five mushrooms. Chem Pharmaceut Bull. 2002;50(5):551–3.
  22. Mori K, Obara Y, Hirota M, et al. Nerve growth factor-inducing activity of Hericium erinaceus in 1321N1 human astrocytoma cells. Biol Pharm Bull. 2008;31:1727–32.
  23. Mori K, Obara Y, Moriya T, et al. Effects of Hericium erinaceus on amyloid beta(25–35) peptide-induced learning and memory deficits in mice. Biomed Res. 2011;32(1):67–72.
  24. 23. Tzeng TT, Chen CC, Lee LY, et al. Erinacine A-enriched Hericium erinaceus mycelium ameliorates Alzheimer’s disease-related pathologies in APPswe/PS1dE9 transgenic mice. J Biomed Sci. 2016;23:49.
  25. Trovato A, Siracusa R, Di Paola R, et al. Redox modulation of cellular stress response and lipoxin A4 expression by Hericium erinaceus in rat brain: relevance to Alzheimer’s disease pathogenesis. Immun Ageing. 2016;13:23.
  26. Zhang J, An S, Hu W, et al. The neuroprotective properties of Hericium erinaceus in glutamate-damaged differentiated PC12 cells and an Alzheimer’s disease mouse model. Int J Mol Sci. 2016;17(11);1810.
  27. Kuo HC, Lu CC, Shen CH, et al. Hericium erinaceus mycelium and its isolated erinacine A protection from MPTP-induced neurotoxicity through the ER stress, triggering an apoptosis cascade. J Translat Med. 2016;14:78.
  28. Wong KH, Naidu M, David RP, et al. Neuroregenerative potential of lion’s mane mushroom, Hericium erinaceus (Bull.: Fr.) Pers. (higher Basidiomycetes), in the treatment of peripheral nerve injury (review). Int J Med Mushrooms. 2012;14(5):427–46.
  29. Mori K, Inatomi S, Ouchi K, et al. Improving effects of the mushroom Yamabushitake (Hericium erinaceus) on mild cognitive impairment: a doubleblind placebo-controlled clinical trial. Phytother Res. 2009;23:367–72.
  30. Nagano M, Shimizu K, Kondo R, et al. Reduction of depression and anxiety by 4 weeks Hericium erinaceus intake. Biomed Res. 2010;31:231–7.
  31. Operational guidance: Information needed to support clinical trials of herbal products. http://www.who.int/tdr/ publications/documents/operational-guidance-eng.pdf.
  32. Lai PL, Naidu M, Sabaratnam V, et al. Neurotrophic properties of the Lion’s mane medicinal mushroom, Hericium erinaceus (Higher Basidiomycetes) from Malaysia. Int J Med Mushrooms. 2013;15(6);539–54.
  33. Chinese pharmacopoeia. Beijing: Chinese Medicine Science and Technology Publishing House; 2010.
  34. Wong KH, Naidu M, David P, et al. Peripheral nerve regeneration following crush injury to rat peroneal nerve by aqueous extract of medicinal mushroom Hericium erinaceus (Bull.: Fr) Pers. (Aphyllophoromycetideae). Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2011;2011:580752.
  35. Tanaka A, Matsuda H. Expression of nerve growth factor in itchy skins of atopic NC/NgaTnd mice. J Vet Med Sci. 2005;67:915–9.
  36. Nakatsugawa M, Takahashi H, Takezawa C, et al. Hericium erinaceum (yamabushitake) extract-induced acute respiratory distress syndrome monitored by serum surfactant proteins. Intern Med. 2003;42:1219–22.
  37. Kawagishi H., Ando M., Sakamoto H., et al. Hericenones C, D and E, stimulators of nerve growth factor (NGF)-synthesis, from the mushroom Hericium erinaceumTetrahedron Letters. 1991;32(35):4561–4564. doi: 10.1016/0040-4039(91)80039-9.
  38. Kawagishi H., Ando M., Shinba K., et al. Chromans, hericenones F, G and H from the mushroom Hericium erinaceum. Phytochemistry. 1992;32(1):175–178. doi: 10.1016/0031-9422(92)80127-Z.
  39. Kawagishi H., Shimada A., Shirai R., et al. Erinacines A, B and C, strong stimulators of nerve growth factor (NGF)-synthesis, from the mycelia of Hericium erinaceumTetrahedron Letters. 1994;35(10):1569–1572. doi: 10.1016/S0040-4039(00)76760-8.
  40. Kawagishi H., Shimada A., Hosokawa S., et al. Erinacines E, F, and G, stimulators of nerve growth factor (NGF)-synthesis, from the mycelia of Hericium erinaceumTetrahedron Letters. 1996;37(41):7399–7402. doi: 10.1016/0040-4039(96)01687-5.
  41. Kawagishi H., Simada A., Shizuki K., et al. Erinacine D, a stimulator of NGF-synthesis, from the mycelia of Hericium erinaceumHeterocyclic Communications. 1996;2(1) doi: 10.1515/HC.1996.2.1.51.
  42. Lee E. W., Shizuki K., Hosokawa S., et al. Two novel diterpenoids, erinacines H and I from the mycelia of Hericium erinaceumBioscience, Biotechnology, and Biochemistry. 2000;64(11):2402–2405. doi: 10.1271/bbb.64.2402.
  43. Mori K., Inatomi S., Ouchi K., Azumi Y., Tuchida T. Improving effects of the mushroom Yamabushitake (Hericium erinaceus) on mild cognitive impairment: a double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial. Phytotherapy Research. 2009;23(3):367–372. doi: 10.1002/ptr.2634.
  44. Mori K., Obara Y., Hirota M., et al. Nerve growth factor-inducing activity of Hericium erinaceus in 1321N1 human astrocytoma cells. Biological & Pharmaceutical Bulletin. 2008;31(9):1727–1732. doi: 10.1248/bpb.31.1727.
  45.  Chen C.-C., Tzeng T. T., Chen C. C., et al. Erinacine S, a rare sesterterpene from the mycelia of Hericium erinaceusJournal of Natural Products. 2016;79(2):438–441. doi: 10.1021/acs.jnatprod.5b00474.
  46. Lu C.-C., Huang W. S., Lee K. F., et al. Inhibitory effect of erinacines A on the growth of DLD-1 colorectal cancer cells is induced by generation of reactive oxygen species and activation of p70S6K and p21. Journal of Functional Foods. 2016;21:474–484. doi: 10.1016/j.jff.2015.12.031.
  47. Tzeng T. T., Chen C. C., Chen C. C., et al. The cyanthin diterpenoid and sesterterpene constituents of Hericium erinaceus mycelium ameliorate Alzheimer’s disease-related pathologies in APP/PS1 transgenic mice. International Journal of Molecular Sciences. 2018;19(2) doi: 10.3390/ijms19020598.
  48. aito T., Aoki F., Hirai H., et al. Erinacine E as a kappa opioid receptor agonist and its new analogs from a basidiomycete, Hericium ramosumThe Journal of Antibiotics. 1998;51(11):983–990. doi: 10.7164/antibiotics.51.983.
  49. Lee K. F., Chen J. H., Teng C. C., et al. Protective effects of Hericium erinaceus mycelium and its isolated erinacine A against ischemia-injury-induced neuronal cell death via the inhibition of iNOS/p38 MAPK and nitrotyrosine. International Journal of Molecular Sciences. 2014;15(9):15073–15089. doi: 10.3390/ijms150915073.
  50. Ma B. J., Shen J. W., Yu H. Y., Ruan Y., Wu T. T., Zhao X. Hericenones and erinacines: stimulators of nerve growth factor (NGF) biosynthesis in Hericium erinaceusMycology. 2010;1(2):92–98. doi: 10.1080/21501201003735556.
  51. Krzyczkowski W., Malinowska E., Herold F. Erinacine A biosynthesis in submerged cultivation of Hericium erinaceum: quantification and improved cultivation. Engineering in Life Sciences. 2010;10(5):446–457. doi: 10.1002/elsc.201000084. 
  52. Li I. C., Chen Y. L., Lee L. Y., et al. Evaluation of the toxicological safety of erinacine A-enriched Hericium erinaceus in a 28-day oral feeding study in Sprague-Dawley rats. Food and Chemical Toxicology. 2014;70:61–67. doi: 10.1016/j.fct.2014.04.040.
  53. Wolters N., Schembecker G., Merz J. Erinacine C: a novel approach to produce the secondary metabolite by submerged cultivation of Hericium erinaceusFungal Biology. 2015;119(12):1334–1344. doi: 10.1016/j.funbio.2015.10.005.
  54. Kuo H. C., Lu C. C., Shen C. H., et al. Hericium erinaceus mycelium and its isolated erinacine A protection from MPTP-induced neurotoxicity through the ER stress, triggering an apoptosis cascade. Journal of Translational Medicine. 2016;14(1):p. 78. doi: 10.1186/s12967-016-0831-y.
  55. Tsai-Teng T., Chin-Chu C., Li-Ya L., et al. Erinacine A-enriched Hericium erinaceus mycelium ameliorates Alzheimer’s disease-related pathologies in APPswe/PS1dE9 transgenic mice. Journal of Biomedical Science. 2016;23(1):p. 49. doi: 10.1186/s12929-016-0266-z.
  56. Chiu C.-H., Chyau C. C., Chen C. C., et al. Erinacine A-enriched Hericium erinaceus mycelium produces antidepressant-like effects through modulating BDNF/PI3K/Akt/GSK-3β signaling in mice. International Journal of Molecular Sciences. 2018;19(2):p. 341. doi: 10.3390/ijms19020341.
  57. Liu P. S., Chueh S. H., Chen C. C., Lee L. Y., Shiu L. Y. Lion’s mane medicinal mushroom, Hericium erinaceus (Agaricomycetes), modulates purinoceptor-coupled calcium signaling and murine nociceptive behavior. International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms. 2017;19(6):499–507. doi: 10.1615/IntJMedMushrooms.v19.i6.20.
  58. Li I. C., Chen W. P., Chen Y. P., Lee L. Y., Tsai Y. T., Chen C. C. Acute and developmental toxicity assessment of erincine A-enriched Hericium erinaceus mycelia in Sprague-Dawley rats. Drug and Chemical Toxicology. 2018:1–6. doi: 10.1080/01480545.2017.1381110.
  59. Li I. C., Chen Y. L., Chen W. P., et al. Genotoxicity profile of erinacine A-enriched Hericium erinaceus mycelium. Toxicology Reports. 2014;1:1195–1201. doi: 10.1016/j.toxrep.2014.11.009.
  60. Chen C.-C. In the 14th Asian Consortium for the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Microbial Resources. National Taiwan University Hospital International Convention Center; 2017. Neurohealth manifestations rendered by erinacine-A enriched Hericium erinaceus mycelia. 

You may also like View all