A lion’s mane to prevent memory loss

3 min readPublished On: 29. May 2024By Categories: forms of treatment, plant substances, Prevention

Monkey’s head does not refer to the hairy head of a monkey, but to an edible mushroom called
Hericium erinaceus
. The mushroom owes its unusual nickname to its shape and the long white threads, which are reminiscent of a monkey’s head or a lion’s mane. The mushroom has long been used in Chinese medicine to treat digestive disorders in particular and is now increasingly becoming the focus of dementia research due to its numerous bioactive substances. Particular attention is paid to two secondary plant substance groups that are extracted from the mycelium or the fruiting body:
. These have shown neuroprotective effects, particularly in animal and molecular studies.

According to animal and molecular studies, these plant substances can influence the disease in various ways. They inhibit amyloid deposits, counteract oxidative stress, reduce inflammation in the brain, promote the growth of nerve cells and regulate signal transmission between nerve cells [1].

Clinical study provides new findings

A study from 2020 was able to demonstrate the neuroprotective efficacy of
Hericium erinaceus
in early-stage Alzheimer’s patients. The study is a one-year, double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled pilot study. The researchers divided 41 test subjects, 17 men and 24 women (> 50 years), who had been diagnosed with a mild form of Alzheimer’s disease, into an intervention group and a placebo group. The latter served as a control group, while the intervention group received three capsules of Hericium erinaceus-powder. One capsule contained 350 mg
Hericium erinaceus
each containing 5 mg/g erinacin A, which is considered one of the most important neuroprotective ingredients of the mushroom.

Before the intervention, cognitive tests such as CALI, MMSE, AIDL and NPI were carried out and various biomarkers were determined in the blood. During the intervention, the cognitive tests and biomarkers were repeated at weeks 13, 25 and 49 in order to record possible changes.

Study results

Compared to the intervention group, the placebo group already showed a deterioration in the CALI test after 25 weeks, indicating that supplementation with
Hericium erinaceus
can reduce memory loss, loss of attention, problem-solving behavior, visual and spatial perception and language loss, which typically occur in Alzheimer’s disease.

Furthermore, a significant improvement in the MMSE test was observed in the intervention group from the 49th week onwards. This in turn means an improvement in memory, retention, attention, calculation skills, language skills and spatial orientation.

In addition, from week 49 there was also a significant difference between the intervention group and the placebo group in the score achieved in the IADL test. This test measures the independence of Alzheimer’s patients in everyday situations such as telephoning, shopping, cooking, housekeeping, laundry, using transportation or taking medication. Supplementation with Hericium erinaceus was thus able to give patients more independence in their everyday lives. This is particularly important as people with progressive dementia become increasingly dependent and in need of care, which has a significant impact on their lives and therefore their quality of life.

In the intervention group, blood markers such as calcium, albumin, hemoglobin, homocysteine, superoxide dismutase, BDNF, APOE4 and α-ACT were also improved. These changes indicate positive changes in the brain that may slow down cognitive decline and thus the progression of dementia [2].

The study proves that
Hericium erinaceus
can counteract the constant forgetting and increasing need for care in Alzheimer’s patients, thus confirming the results of two other studies conducted in 2009 and 2010 [3, 4].

If you want to find out more about this promising mushroom, its origin and its effect on dementia, click here.


  1. Brandalise, F., Roda, E., Ratto, D., Goppa, L., Gargano, M. L., Cirlincione, F., Priori, E. C., Venuti, M. T., Pastorelli, E., Savino, E., & Rossi, P. (2023). Hericium erinaceus in Neurodegenerative Diseases: From Bench to Bedside and Beyond, How Far from the Shoreline? Journal of Fungi, 9(5), Article 5. https://doi.org/10.3390/jof9050551
  2. Li, I.-C., Chang, H.-H., Lin, C.-H., Chen, W.-P., Lu, T.-H., Lee, L.-Y., Chen, Y.-W., Chen, Y.-P., Chen, C.-C., & Lin, D. P.-C. (2020). Prevention of Early Alzheimer’s Disease by Erinacine A-Enriched Hericium erinaceus Mycelia Pilot Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Study. Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, 12. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnagi.2020.00155
  3. Mori, K., Inatomi, S., Ouchi, K., Azumi, Y., & Tuchida, T. (2009). Improving effects of the mushroom Yamabushitake (Hericium erinaceus) on mild cognitive impairment: A double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial. Phytotherapy Research, 23(3), 367-372. https://doi.org/10.1002/ptr.2634
  4. Saitsu, Y., Nishide, A., Kikushima, K., Shimizu, K., & Ohnuki, K. (2019). Improvement of cognitive functions by oral intake of Hericium erinaceus. Biomedical Research, 40(4), 125-131. https://doi.org/10.2220/biomedres.40.125

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