In today's fast-paced world, maintaining focus can be a challenge. With so much going on around us, it's easy to become distracted and lose track of what we're trying to accomplish. ‘Brain fog’ – a term which describes symptoms such as poor concentration, a lack of mental clarity and thinking more slowly – is reported to be on the increase in the UK following the COVID-19 pandemic. With so many of us entering an everyday battle against mental fog and lack of focus, it comes as no surprise that there is increasing demand for a safe, natural solution. While there’s no instant, magic cure (sorry!), we do have good news for you and your cognition: there is a functional mushroom supplement that may help you ease brain fog, enhance mental clarity and regain focus when taken regularly: lion's mane mushroom (aka ‘the smart mushroom’).
In this article, we’re delving into the neuroprotective and healing benefits of lion’s mane mushroom, and why you need to add it to your wellbeing regimen to optimise your cognitive health, day after day.
What is Lion’s Mane Mushroom?
Lion's mane mushroom, scientifically known as Hericium erinaceus, is a medicinal mushroom with a furry, spherical, white fruiting body with pendant spines. It gets its name from its distinctive appearance, which resembles the mane of a lion.
Lion’s mane, an edible mushroom, has been used in traditional Chinese and Japanese medicine for centuries. It is increasingly recognised today as a potent nootropic with potential healing benefits that are supported by science. Lion’s mane fungus has a vitamin and nutrient-rich underground root network (known as the mycelium) as well as a fruiting body, both of which contain bioactive compounds with powerful neuroprotective effects. Lion’s mane also offers a number of additional benefits to health and wellbeing (more on these later).
Where is Lion’s Mane Found?
Wondering where you can find this fantastic fungus? Lion's mane mushroom is found in North America, Europe, and Asia, growing on hardwood trees like maple and oak. It is commonly cultivated in Japan, China and Korea, where it is prized for its medicinal properties.
Despite its unique appearance, novice mushroom foragers should seek the guidance of experienced foragers and exercise caution when collecting and consuming any wild mushroom, including lion's mane.
How Does Lion’s Mane Mushroom Affect the Brain?
Lion's mane functional mushroom is widely regarded as a nootropic (cognitive enhancer) and is an excellent choice of food or food supplement for optimal brain health. It contains compounds called hericenones (in the fruiting body) and erinacines (in the mycelium), which are believed to stimulate the synthesis of NGF (Nerve Growth Factor), and subsequently, the growth of nerve cells and new neural pathways in the brain. This can help to improve cognitive function, including memory, focus, creativity, productivity, mental clarity and concentration – in other words, it’s the archetypal brain food!
In addition to its nerve-growth properties, Lion's mane mushroom is also believed to reduce inflammation in the brain. Inflammation can lead to a host of neurological disorders, including Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease.
Learn More: Lion's Mane for Memory
Does Lion’s Mane Help You Focus?
Yes, lion’s mane mushroom can help your ability to focus. This functional mushroom possesses powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that enhance blood circulation to the brain. More oxygen to the brain, as a result of improved circulation, leads to better brain performance. Thus, cognitive function is enhanced, and brain fog is reduced.
One study published in the Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine found that participants who consumed lion's mane extract experienced improvements in cognitive function, including increased focus and attention. Another study published in the International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms found that lion's mane extract was able to improve cognitive function in older adults with mild cognitive impairment.
Additional Benefits of Lion’s Mane Mushroom
In addition to its cognitive benefits, lion's mane mushroom has a number of other health benefits with regular consumption. For example, while hericenones and erinacines promote the growth and repair of nerve cells, beta-glucans (a polysaccharide found in lion’s mane) boost immunity and promote gut health. Additional lion’s mane benefits include:
- Inflammation reduction
- Better digestion & digestive tract protection
- Gut microbiome support
- Improved immunity
- Anxiety relief
- Enhanced mood
- Blood sugar regulation
- Lowered cholesterol levels
- Anti-ageing properties
Read More: Lion’s Mane vs CBD for Anxiety
How to Take Lion’s Mane Mushroom
Lion's mane mushroom is available in a variety of forms, including capsules, powders, and extracts. It can be taken as a supplement or added to food and drinks.
The most convenient way to take lion's mane is in capsule form, where the recommended dosage can be easily consumed with a glass of water.
Alternatively, lion's mane powder can be added to food or beverages such as smoothies, coffee, or tea. It is recommended to follow the instructions on the packaging for the appropriate dosage and to ensure that the powder is mixed thoroughly to avoid clumping.
Find the Right Lion’s Mane Product for Focus
Always do your research before purchasing any medicinal mushroom supplement. Based on our personal experience, high-quality products are always worth the investment as low-quality products may lack the requisite beneficial compounds such as beta-glucans and erinacines. Poor-quality products may have added fillers and additives and contain lion’s mane that has not been organically cultivated. Check the brand’s reputation online and ensure the products are clearly labelled and independently lab-tested.
How Much Lion’s Mane to Take for Focus?
The optimal dose of lion's mane mushroom for focus and cognitive function is not yet clear, but most studies have used doses ranging from 500 to 3000 milligrams per day. Always follow the recommended dosage on your product packaging. Lion’s mane capsules often contain approximately 250 – 500mg per capsule, with manufacturers advising 2-3 capsules to be taken per day. Personally, we found that 700 – 1000mg of high-quality lion’s mane per day has had a noticeable impact on overall focus and concentration.
Other Ways to Boost Brain Health
In addition to lion's mane mushroom, there are a number of other ways to boost brain health, improve focus and maintain cognitive function. These include:
- Regular exercise
- A healthy, balanced diet
- Getting enough sleep
Other natural supplements that may help include:
- CBD oil
- Omega-3 fatty acids
- Ginkgo biloba
- Bacopa monnieri
Read More: CBD for Focus and Concentration
The Bottom Line
If you're seeking a natural way to improve your focus, clarity of mind, inner calm and memory or simply slow down the ageing process, look no further than the marvellous lion's mane mushroom. This amazing fungus has shown promising benefits for cognitive health in early studies, making it an exciting supplement to consider adding to your daily wellness routine.
Lion’s Mane and Mental Focus FAQs
Is lion’s mane good for brain fog?
Yes, there is evidence to suggest that lion's mane mushroom may be beneficial in reducing brain fog due to its potential ability to improve cognitive function and increase blood flow to the brain.
Does lion’s mane mushroom help with mental clarity?
Yes, some studies suggest that lion's mane may improve mental clarity by promoting nerve cell growth and repair in the brain. It has the potential to enhance cognitive function, which may lead to improved mental clarity.
Does lion’s mane help with motivation?
While there is currently no evidence to suggest that lion's mane mushroom directly affects motivation, its potential cognitive benefits may indirectly contribute to increased motivation. By enhancing cognitive function and reducing brain fog, lion's mane may improve overall mental energy and drive.
Does lion’s mane mushroom affect anxiety?
There is promising preliminary evidence to suggest that lion's mane may have anxiolytic properties, meaning it may help to reduce anxiety. This makes it a potentially beneficial natural supplement for those experiencing anxiety-related symptoms. However, more research is needed to fully understand its effects and to determine appropriate dosages.