Everything You Need To Know When Buying Lions Mane Mushroom

Everything You Need To Know When Buying Lions Mane Mushroom
  1. What is Lion's Mane Mushroom?
  2. Types of Lion’s Mane Mushroom Available
  3. What is Organic Lion’s Mane 12:1 Standardised Fruiting Body Extract?
  4. Can I Eat Lions Mane Mushroom?
  5. Lion’s Mane Mushroom Uses and Benefits
    1. Does Lions Mane Improve Memory and Cognitive Function?
  6. Is Lions Mane Safe?
  7. What to Look for When Buying Lions Mane Mushroom?
    1. Fruiting Body vs Mycelium
    2. Lions Mane Iodine Test
    3. What Should Lion's Mane Be Grown On?
    4. Heavy Metals and Testing
    5. Hot Water vs Ethanol Extraction Lions Mane
    6. What are Polysaccharides and Beta-Glucans?
  8. When to Take Lions Mane?
  9. How Much Lions Mane Should I Take? Lions Mane Dosage
  10. Where to Buy Organic Lions Mane Fruiting Body 12:1 Extract
  11. Lions Mane Reviews for 12:1 Extract
  12. Summary

1. What is Lion's Mane Mushroom

Lions Mane Mushroom (scientific name: Hericium Erinaceus) is an edible mushroom (it tastes akin to Lobster) that is part of the tooth fungus group. You may have also heard it referred to as (satyr’s beard, bearded hedgehog mushroom, pom pom mushroom, and bearded tooth fungus).

The most identifiable feature of Lions Mane Mushroom may be its long white "mane", that can grow longer than 10mm.

In the wild, Lions Mane grows on hardwood trees and logs such as beech or oak. Around 85% of the worlds medicinal mushrooms are native to and still grown in China and other parts of Asia.

Lions Mane even has protected status in certain countries such as Poland due to their rarity in the wild.

Lions Mane has long been historically prized for its medicinal qualities, which have now been verified by a variety of scientific studies.

2. Types of Lion’s Mane Mushroom Available

  • Plain Lion’s Mane: Pure, powdered mushroom. Often freeze-dried, and the cheapest form available. Available in powder or capsules.
  • Lions Mane Standardised Extracts: Standardised extracts are the most potent form of Lions Mane. Contains specific high levels of beneficial actives. Available in powder or capsules at different concentrations from 8:1 up to 12:1.
  • Lion’s Mane Tea: Since this is a popular edible mushroom, you can also make tea with it. The taste is acceptable, but it’s hard to get a handle on how much actual active ingredient you’re getting.
  • Raw Lions Mane Mushroom: The edible fruiting body can be used as an ingredient to cook with. Again, gauging the number of actives is hard when eaten.
  • Amycenone®/PLM-Fraction: This “branded” product is standardized to Hericenones 0.5%, Amyloban 6%. It seems to target a lesser-known Lion’s Mane active ingredient–Amyloban–which is positioned as a mushroom compound that fights beta-amyloid plaques. Originating in Japan, it is extremely expensive and may be found in a supplement called Amyloban®3399.

3. What is Organic Lion’s Mane 12:1 Standardised Fruiting Body Extract?

Our Standardised 12:1 Organic extract is dually extracted. Some beneficial compounds within the Lions Mane, are only soluble in water, others are only soluble in ethanol. So we use dual extraction, using both ethanol and hot purified water to liberate both of them from the mushroom.

One of these compounds, “Hericenones”, which are believed to promote cognitive, mitochondrial and cardiovascular health, are only ethanol soluble.[7]

It is called a 12:1 extract as it takes 12Kg of raw Organic Lions Mane Mushroom fruiting body, to produce 1kg of Organic Lions Mane 12:1 Extract.

We have partnered with Soil Association Organic Mushroom growers deep in the Chinese mountains, far from pollution, to bring you the world’s finest quality Lions Mane Mushroom product.

Our Soil Association certified Lions Mane Mushroom is grown on hardwood logs and extracted from only the whole fruiting body (no mycelium, aka roots).

They are thoroughly tested to verify low starch and standardised to the highest level of beneficial constituents. Our extract consistently contains 30%+ Polysaccharides, and 30%+ Beta-Glucan content.

4. Can I Eat Lions Mane Mushroom?

You can eat the mushroom whole, powdered, or in tea. It has been part of the Asian diet for thousands of years. We recommend ones organically grown in remote regions to avoid pollutants and pesticide residue.

If you want to eat the mushroom whole, you should eat circa 5.4 grams. This is equivalent to 450mg of 12:1 Extract. Although it is worth noting, it is much harder to know how many Polysaccharides, Beta-Glucans, and Hericenones you will actually get unless you go for a standardised extract.

You also need to consume far larger amounts of the mushroom to get the same Beta-Glucan content as you would if you took only around 450mg of the extract in capsules.

Ultimately, if you like to cook and may want to include some Lions Mane as part of a recipe, then we suggest using the whole mushroom. If you want to take Lions Mane as a Nootropic for its benefits, then extract powder or capsules is the way to go for convenience and efficacy.

5. Lion’s Mane Mushroom Uses and Benefits

5.1 Does Lions Mane Improve Memory and Cognitive Function?

At least a dozen peer-reviewed studies have been published on Lion’s Mane benefits to brain health since 1991. Dr Kawagishi of Japan was first to identify Nerve Growth Factor properties in Lion’s Mane Mushroom. [8]

In one double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, researchers in Japan worked with 50 – 80-year-old men and women. All suffered from mild cognitive impairment.

The trial subjects received four 250 mg tablets containing 96% of Yamabushitake (Lion’s Mane) dry powder three times a day for 16 weeks. The men and women were tested at 4, 8, 12 and 16 weeks.

At each of the testing periods, the subjects who had used Lion’s Mane showed a significant improvement in cognitive scores. And their scores were increasing while on Lion’s Mane supplementation.

The researchers concluded that Lion’s Mane Mushroom is effective in improving mild cognitive impairment. [8]

Other studies have identified several benefits;

  • Increases NGF levels in the brain – enhanced neuronal growth, regeneration and synaptic plasticity [1]
  • Improves myelination – enhanced neuronal communication and nerve regeneration[2]
  • Increases long-term synaptic potentiation – improved memory[3,4]
  • Decreases glutamatergic transmission – decreased neuronal excitability and excitotoxicity [3,4]
  • Protects neurons from endoplasmic reticulum stress [3,4]
  • Anxiolytic [5]
  • Anti-inflammatory effects [6]

6. Is Lions Mane Safe?

People have been safely consuming Lions Mane Mushroom in moderate quantities as part of their diet in Asia for a very long time.

In animal studies, even high doses of Lions Mane did not produce adverse effects in rodents.

The majority of preclinical data strongly suggests that it is safe and offers much-needed neuroprotective applications. [7]

7. What To Be Careful Of When Buying Lions Mane Mushroom

Lions Mane Fruiting Body and Mycelium being grown on a grain/rice substrate.
Picture above. Lions Mane Fruiting Body grown on a grain and rice substrate with the Mycelium.

7.1 Fruiting Body vs Mycelium

This is very important when looking for a Lions Mane Mushroom product that will perform as you hope. Some brands, in an attempt to cut costs, do not provide the fruiting body of the mushroom, they sell what is referred to as Mycelium.

Mycelium is the root system of the mushroom. Some growers will produce what is known as Myceliated grain, which is Mycelium grown on a grain substrate. This method was invented in the 1930s as a way to produce seed for fresh mushrooms. This seed grain is called spawn by mushroom growers.

The process is the following; 

1. They put cooked grain inside a plastic bag. They sterilise the bag with an autoclave (pressure cooker).
2. Mycelium are injected into the grain
3. Inside the plastic bag, the Mycelium will grow and form an inseparable white mass
4. Once growth is complete, the mycelium and grain substrate are blended, dried, then powdered
5. The Myceliated grain will go on to be sold as a “Mushroom” product (even though it contains no actual mushrooms) and over half is grain.

A Nevada TV news channel toured Aloha Medicinals, a major "mushroom" ingredient supplier to North America. The video very clearly shows the full process.

No mushrooms were present at any point, despite the word mushrooms being used regularly.

When buying, look out for phrases that may imply the product contains mycelium, not a fruiting body like;

  • Mycelium
  • Myceliated Grain
  • Mycelial Biomass
  • White Milo

You need to ensure the brand states “Fruiting Body”. The Fruiting Body of a fungus is typically produced above ground or on its food source.

The reason you want to avoid mycelium is that Myceliated grain contains far less active compounds, like Beta-glucans, which is where the benefits are derived from. It is the beneficial compounds in the fruiting body that have been the subject of the vast majority of the scientific studies.

7.2. Lions Mane Iodine Test

You can easily test your mushroom product for the presence of grain at home. It can be done with Lions Mane, or any other Mushroom you would like to test.

Mix around 500mg of Lions Mane or other mushroom powder into water, then apply 10 small droplets of iodine onto the mixture. If it turns purple/black, there is starch present, if it stays the same brownish colour there is no/low starch present.

This is reliable, but with one caveat where you can end up producing a false positive. For example, if Organic Brown Rice Flour has been used during the manufacturing process as a natural Organic manufacturing aid to prevent clumping and provide accurate dosages, the Iodine will detect the starch from that Organic Rice Flour. It does not mean that the Mushroom Extract contains mycelium or was grown incorrectly. It’s just picking up the starch from the Organic Brown Rice Flour.

So if you do want to do the Iodine test, read the product label and check no other ingredients like Brown Rice Flour are present, otherwise, the test will show a false positive. If it only shows Lions Mane, it should be an accurate test.

Our product contains Organic Brown Rice Flour, so it is not eligible for the Iodine test. We do perform it on the raw material when we receive each batch before it has been mixed with Organic Rice Flour, and we ensure it passes or we do not use that batch.

7.3 Should Lions Man Be Grown On Rice or Hardwood?

This brings us to the next point, what should mushrooms be grown on?

The answer is hardwood logs, as they would naturally in the wild.

A Lions Mane mushroom fruiting body growing naturally on a tree trunk
Picture above. A Lions Mane mushroom growing naturally on a tree trunk.

7.4 Heavy Metals & Constituent Testing

We follow the stringent European Pharmacopeia Method’s to ensure all our Organic Mushroom Extracts are free from heavy metals or other pollutants.

Brainpower Nootropics® is adamant about ONLY providing certified Organic, whole fruiting body (no mycelium) Lion's Mane, that is grown on hard-wood (not grain or rice), and contains every constituent it should. We test every batch to ensure these exacting standards are met.

Our minimum standards for every batch:

Beta-Glucan (β-Glucan):  30%
Polysaccharides: 30%

7.5 Hot Water vs Ethanol Extraction Lions Mane

There is some contention about which method of extraction is best, hot water only, ethanol only or a dual extraction (both).

Here are the facts;

Hot water extraction is done by applying hot purified water to the mushroom which breaks down the cell wall (chitin) and therefore increases bioavailability as all of the favourable polysaccharides (such as Beta 1,3/1,6 D Glucan) is imprisoned in the cell wall.

The following components of the Lions Mane are only soluble in water;

  • HEF-AP Fr II:  Contributes to healthy immune function via Nitric Oxide signalling
  • HEP80: Contributes to healthy oxidation levels and liver health. 
  • HEO-A: Contributes to healthy oxidation levels 
  • HEP3: Contributes to reducing inflammation plus as a prebiotic for gut microbiota health and immune function.

There are some components left that are only soluble in ethanol. The following components of the Lions Mane are only soluble in ethanol;

  • 3-Hydroxyhericenone F: Contributes to mitochondrial health
  • Hericenone B: Contributes to cardiovascular health
  • Hericenone C, D & E: Contributes to memory and learning

Based on this evidence, we believe that a dual extraction is the best method as it appears to be the most comprehensive method of releasing the beneficial compounds from the mushroom.

7.6 What are Polysaccharides and Beta-Glucans?

Polysaccharides are one of the key actives in nootropic mushrooms. Whilst important, looking at polysaccharide percentage alone can be misleading as they are not an absolute measure of quality.

Polysaccharides are long-chain carbohydrates made up from monosaccharides connected by glycosidic bonds. They range from simple to rather complex carbohydrates.

The cell walls of fungi contain polysaccharides such as beta glucan and chitin. Plant cell walls are made from cellulose which is also polysaccharides, so are sugars such as fructose and glucose.

Polysaccharides are found in most nootropic mushrooms in high quantities, such as Lions Mane (Hericium Erinaceus), Reishi (Ganoderma Lucidum), Maitake (Grifola frondosa), and turkey tail (Trametes Versicolor).

Now you know what polysaccharides are in general, let us look at the ones in Fungi specifically. The primary polysaccharides in mushrooms are beta-D-glucans, the main one is known as 1-3,1-6 branching.

Oats for example also contain beta-glucans too, but they have a different branching structure, i.e (1-4) beta-d-glucans.

The reason I am explaining the difference is that the research showing the benefits of Lions Mane is based on Lions Manes beta-glucan structure.

This is why it is important to know both the polysaccharide content along with the beta-glucan content of your Lions mane mushroom extract.

Many brands will tell you the polysaccharide content but leave out the beta-glucan levels.

We test for both soluble and insoluble (1-3)(1-6) beta-D-glucans and identify alpha-glucans such as starch.

8. When to take Lions Mane?

Lions Mane can be effectively taken at any time of day. If you would like to know a specific time, you can take it in the morning around breakfast time. This should work well throughout the day.

9. How much Lions Mane to take? Lions Mane Dosage

The studies done on Lions Mane, all used between 250 - 500mg of Lions Mane 12:1 Standardised Extract taken daily. [7][8] 

10. Where to buy Organic Lions Mane Fruiting Body 12:1 Extract

Brainpower Nootropics® offer Organic Lions Mane 12:1 Standardised Extract (90 Capsule’s) grown on hardwood logs. It is dually extracted with Purified Hot Water and Ethanol from the fruiting body of the Lions Mane Mushroom. It has a guaranteed minimum Polysaccharide content of 30% and a minimum B-Glucan content of 30%.

11. Lions Mane Reviews for 12:1 Extract

To read reviews, please see the reviews from buyers below. You can also read our reviews on Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0795RKD2N

12. Summary

Check that the company lists where it was grown. It is best for the Mushroom to be grown Organically in China but Manufactured into the finished product in the UK (or Europe/US) under GMP law.

We believe in educated consumers, total transparency, and continuous industry improvement. Which is why at Brainpower Nootropics, we walk the talk. We are committed to;

* 100% Organic Lions Mane (Soil Association Certified)
* Fruiting Body ONLY
* Verified for Minimum 30% Beta-Glucans & minimum 30% polysaccharides
* Dual Hot Purified Water & Ethanol Extraction
* Grown Naturally On Hardwood Logs
* Grown in China and Manufactured to GMP Standards in the UK
* Dosing in-line With Scientific Studies (450mg 12:1 Extract)
* Vegan, Soy, Dairy, and Gluten Free
* A Clean Product With No Inorganic Fillers, Binders or Magnesium Stearate

Wherever you decide to buy your Lions Mane from, please ensure they follow the exacting standards above to get the most possible benefits from your Lions Mane product.

If you have any questions, please comment below or email us at info@brainpowernootropics.com


[1] https://europepmc.org/abstract/med/24266378
[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12675022
[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24654802
[4] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24716157
[6] http://www.dl.begellhouse.com/journals/708ae68d64b17c52,4c99b516238143af,0b6528d9687446ed.html
[7] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5987239
[8] https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0040403900767608

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published