08 Mar 2023
Lion’s mane is a striking mushroom that grows on dead hardwood trees in Asia, Europe, and North America. It gets its name from its multitude of cream-coloured tendrils, which hang together in shaggy clumps on the tree trunks. The resulting shape is reminiscent of a wise old man’s beard or a proud lion’s mane. As such, people also refer to it by names like the ‘bearded tooth fungus’ and ‘pom-pom mushroom’.
Similar to other medicinal mushrooms, the use of lion’s mane (Hericium erinaceus) is still relatively new in western medicine. However, practitioners of traditional medicine in countries like China and Japan have been using this fabulous fungus for centuries. The whole of the mushroom is edible, although you can also take it in supplement and powder form.
Traditionally, people have harnessed the power of lion’s mane to help with everything from improving digestion to boosting general vitality. It’s even said that some monks use lion’s mane to enhance their concentration when meditating.
What’s really interesting is that modern scientific research is now finding evidence to support this ancient wisdom. We’ll discuss this in more detail below, then get into the specifics of how and when to take lion’s mane.
Before talking about when to take lion’s mane, it’s important to know how the mushroom could benefit you. Evidence is emerging that suggests it could offer a wealth of different advantages. We have a whole article about the benefits of lion’s mane if you want more detail, but here’s an overview.
One of the key areas in which lion’s mane can be beneficial for us is our cognitive health. Studies indicate the mushroom could stimulate the growth of certain brain cells and protect against Alzheimer’s disease.(1) Likewise, research suggests that lion’s mane may ease symptoms of mood disorders such as anxiety and depression.(2)
There is also evidence that lion’s mane might enhance your body’s natural defences. For example, studies have found the fungus could promote the growth of good bacteria in the gut that strengthen immunity.(3) Speaking of the gut, research additionally suggests lion’s mane could protect against IBS and ulcers in the digestive system.
Similarly, lion’s mane is also effective at fighting inflammation and oxidative stress. This is key because experts have linked both to a range of chronic medical conditions. As an example, the mushroom helps protect the health of your heart by preventing cholesterol from becoming oxidised in your bloodstream.(4)
Research has additionally discovered that lion’s mane may have cancer-fighting properties. Early results suggest it could both slow the spread of the disease and kill cancer cells.(5) However, further study is required to clarify this.
And cancer isn’t the only condition lion’s mane could be useful in tackling. Evidence also indicates that the fungus may help with diabetes by aiding the body’s ability to manage blood sugar levels.(6)
Let’s move on to how and when to take lion’s mane, to help you get the maximum benefits from this potent mushroom.
Interested in giving lion’s mane a try? The best thing to do is to make it a part of your daily routine. You shouldn’t expect to see results overnight, so consistency is key.
Thinking specifically about when to take lion’s mane, there’s currently a lack of evidence regarding which time of day is most effective. Having said that, the consensus among many users is that it’s best to take the mushroom in the morning or afternoon rather than in the evening to see the greatest benefit.
One factor to bear in mind when deciding when to take lion’s mane is the results you’re hoping to get. As an example, you could have it early in the day to boost your brain health and productivity. Alternatively, some people like to take it after work as a way to reduce anxiety and improve their mood. Happily, there’s no caffeine in lion’s mane, so you don’t need to worry about it keeping you awake at night.
The answer to the question of when to take lion’s mane also depends on what suits your routine and how you’re consuming it. For instance, if you’re using powder, you could stir a teaspoon into your morning coffee or an afternoon hot chocolate. Meanwhile, those using fresh mushrooms might prefer to cook them in place of regular mushrooms for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
Whichever options you choose for how and when to take lion’s mane, try to use it regularly for optimum results.
As well as knowing when to take lion’s mane, you need to understand how to prepare it. The main factor to consider is whether you want to use fresh mushrooms or lion’s mane powder. Both have their advantages, and the best option for you will depend on factors like your routine and personal preferences.
To help you decide, we’ll now look at how to prepare lion’s mane both ways.
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