Lion’s Mane, Hericium erinaceus (bearded tooth mushroom, satyr’s beard, bearded hedgehog mushroom, pom pom mushroom, or bearded tooth fungus), is an edible and medicinal mushroom belonging to the tooth fungus group. Native to North America, Europe and Asia it can be identified by its long spines (greater than 1 cm length), its appearance on hardwoods and its tendency to grow a single clump of dangling spines. In the wild, these mushrooms are common during late summer and fall on hardwoods, particularly American Beech.
Hericium erinaceus contains a number of polysaccharides, such as B-glucan, heteroglucans, heteroxylans, as several cyanthane derivative triterpenes known as hericenone and erinacine. These latter compounds, found in the fruitbody and mycelium respectively, are considered to be responsible for the neuroregenerative effects of this species. Hericium erinaceus has long a history of use in traditional Chinese medicine. A 2005 rat study showed some compounds in the mushroom, like threitol, D-arabinitol, and palmitic acid, may have antioxidant effects, regulate blood lipid levels and reduce blood glucose levels. A 2012 study on rats that had suffered brain injury showed that “daily oral administration of H. erinaceus could promote the regeneration of injured rat peroneal nerve in the early stage of recovery.” More recently and more relevant to human use, is a 2013 review of scientific studies, which asserted the medical benefits of the mushroom by saying “This mushroom is rich in some physiologically important components, especially β-glucan polysaccharides, which are responsible for anti-cancer, immuno-modulating, hypolipidemic, antioxidant and neuro-protective activities of this mushroom. H. erinaceus has also been reported to have anti-microbial, anti-hypertensive, anti-diabetic, wound healing properties among other therapeutic potentials.” A 2014 scientific review on the therapeutic effects of H. erinaceus concluded that “it is helpful to various diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, immunoregulatory, and many types of cancer.”