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Side Effects of Lion’s Mane Supplements

Lion's Mane

Lion’s mane mushrooms (Hericium erinaceus) may produce several health benefits, according to holistic practitioners of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). The potential health benefits of edible lion’s mane mushrooms may include support for brain function and overall brain health, cardiovascular health, nervous system function, and immune system support. Some research suggests these medicinal mushrooms may even help promote healthy cells due to antioxidant activity and support blood sugar levels already in the normal range.

You can enjoy the benefits of lion’s mane extract by taking it in a dietary supplement form. But do lion’s mane supplements cause side effects? Read on to find out.

Lion’s Mane Side Effects

Lion’s mane is considered mostly safe. However, some people have reported minor side effects or adverse effects, usually related to allergic reactions. They include:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Skin rashes
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal discomfort

It is also possible that lion’s mane may be unsafe for people who are pregnant, on blood thinners, and other medications. It may also worsen some medical conditions.

Can You Overdose on Lion’s Mane?

Due to limited research, there is no established dosage for lion’s mane. Most clinical studies use doses that range from 1,050-3,000 mg divided into three to four daily doses. However, the optimal dose remains uncertain.

Studies conducted so far show that lion’s mane does not produce adverse side effects, even when administered at higher doses. One animal study on rats administered doses of lion’s mane mushrooms as high as 2.3 per pound of body weight per day for one month and lower doses for three months with no negative effects.

Are Lion’s Mane Supplements Safe?

Consumers must exhibit caution when consuming any supplement. Supplements are not subject to U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval. Many supplement manufacturers take advantage of the lack of regulations by selling products that are less pure and potent than advertised.

You can reduce risk when taking lion’s mane supplements by purchasing them from a reliable company, such as Natural Healthy Concepts. NHC has several certified and registered dieticians on staff to help customers on their wellness journey. When shopping online or in store, look for a USP or NSF seal on any supplement you intend to purchase to ensure product testing. Look at customer reviews to learn satisfaction ratings as well.

Supplements are also more concentrated than food products. Consumers who have never taken lion’s mane mushrooms before should start with a food product to see how the mushroom affects them before trying a stronger supplement. This is especially true of people with conditions that may cause unfavorable reactions.

How do you know if the mushroom supplement you purchased is good quality? According to Angela Halderson, RDN, CMST, an integrative and functional nutritionist with Natural Healthy Concepts, “Some companies offer full fruiting body mushrooms, some are mycelia (the roots) of the mushroom, while others offer a blend. Be sure to always ask how the mushroom was grown.” 

Was the lion’s mane mushroom wild harvested or farm raised? “Farm raised is not necessarily a bad thing, but what was the mushroom grown on? Was it in rice/grain substrate, wood substrate or something else? Does it say this on the package, and what does this mean for the final product?,” Halderson asks. “Good quality medicinal mushrooms should offer high levels of beta-glucan, low levels of alpha-glucan, and low starch overall.”

Is It Safe to Forage for Lion’s Mane?

Lion’s mane is expensive. Most U.S. retail markets sell them for about $14-$16 per pound. Some people cut their expenses by foraging for lion’s mane. You may find these mushrooms at a local farmer’s market. But is foraging safe?

Foraging is generally safe, but you must know what you are doing. Here are some things to be aware of if you decide to forage your mushrooms.

  1. Foraging for lion’s mane mushrooms is illegal in some areas. Check with local laws to ensure you are foraging legally before setting out on your mission.
  2. Make sure you pick lion’s mane and not something else. Foragers may pick something that is not lion’s mane and could be harmful to health. Identify your mushroom carefully before consuming it.
  3. Wash thoroughly before eating. Mushrooms grow in the wild. You never know what contaminants are on it. Wash it before you eat it. You may eat lion’s mane raw, but you may want to cook it to ensure contaminants are removed.

How to Look for Quality Mushrooms

Put your mushrooms to the test! 

“Get a clear drinking glass. Fill with a little hot water, about 1/4 cup. Open enough capsules to equal 1 gram of mushroom, or place in 1 gram of mushroom powder. Stir until the mushroom is dissolved. Add about 10 drops of iodine to the water mixture and stir. High starch mushrooms will turn dark brown/black. A high quality medical mushroom with low starch and no fillers will stay about the same color,” Halderson adds.

Lion’s mane supplements are generally safe for most people. However, there is limited research in terms of dosage amounts and interactions. Mushroom extract supplements may also contain questionable ingredients and are not regulated by the FDA. 

Do not use lion’s mane if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Talk to your healthcare provider or a registered dietician to see if lion’s mane supplements and other medicinal mushrooms are right for you.

Now that you know what to look out for, you can decide if lion’s mane mushroom supplements are right for you. Click here to learn more about the best lion’s mane supplements. Good luck dosing safely.