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Is lion's mane a psychedelic

Is Lion’s Mane a Psychedelic? A Deep Dive Into the Evidence

Lion’s Mane mushroom, also known as Hericium Erinaceus, has been generating quite a buzz in recent years in the world of holistic health and wellness. The mushroom, which gets its name from its unique, shaggy appearance that resembles a lion’s mane, is lauded for its health-promoting properties. Among the many claims about Lion’s Mane mushroom, one of the more intriguing ones is its association with psychedelic effects. But is there any truth to these claims? Is Lion’s Mane really a psychedelic?

Understanding Psychedelics

Before delving into Lion’s Mane and its purported psychedelic properties, let’s take a moment to define what we mean by “psychedelics.” Psychedelic substances, such as psilocybin (found in “magic mushrooms”) or lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), are known for their ability to alter cognition, mood, and perception, often causing users to experience hallucinations or “trips.” They function by disrupting communication patterns between different areas of the brain, specifically by acting on the serotonin receptors (1).

Lion’s Mane Mushroom: An Overview

Lion’s Mane mushroom, native to North America, Europe, and Asia, has a long history of use in traditional Chinese medicine. It is revered for its potential cognitive benefits, including improving memory and concentration, reducing anxiety and depression, and even promoting nerve growth. The primary bioactive compounds behind these effects are hericenones and erinacines, which can stimulate the synthesis of nerve growth factor (NGF) (2). NGF is a protein that plays a key role in the maintenance, survival, and regeneration of neurons in the brain.

Is lions mane a psychedelic

Is Lion’s Mane a Psychedelic?

Now that we have a basic understanding of psychedelics and Lion’s Mane, let’s address the central question: Is Lion’s Mane a psychedelic? The straightforward answer is no. Lion’s Mane does not contain compounds known to cause the characteristic psychedelic effects associated with substances like LSD or psilocybin.

Instead, the cognitive benefits associated with Lion’s Mane are related to its neuroprotective and neuroregenerative properties, primarily driven by the stimulation of NGF synthesis (2). NGF can lead to improved neural health and cognitive function, but it doesn’t alter perception or cause hallucinations.

However, it’s worth mentioning that many individuals who consume Lion’s Mane report subjective experiences of mental clarity, enhanced focus, and improved mood. These effects might be interpreted by some as “mind-altering,” but they are not psychedelic in the scientific sense of the term.

Is Lion’s Mane Psychoactive?

A psychoactive substance is one that can alter one’s mental state by affecting the brain and the nervous system. As discussed, Lion’s Mane does not have the same psychoactive properties associated with substances like psilocybin or LSD. It does not induce hallucinations or substantially alter consciousness or perception.

However, Lion’s Mane does have effects on the brain, primarily through its support for cognitive function and neural health. Users often report subjective experiences such as increased mental clarity, focus, and mood improvements, but these should not be mistaken for psychoactive effects.

Misunderstandings and Clarifications

So where does the association between Lion’s Mane and psychedelics come from? Two possible explanations could be the mushroom’s popular use in the nootropic community and something called the “Stamets Stack” we will discuss in the next section. Nootropics are substances that aim to improve cognitive function, and while Lion’s Mane is a popular nootropic, so too are certain micro-dosed psychedelics.

Moreover, both Lion’s Mane and psychedelics share a focus on promoting brain health, albeit in different ways. While Lion’s Mane promotes neurogenesis and protects nerve health, psychedelics have been studied for their potential to enhance brain plasticity and treat mental health disorders (3). Therefore, the confusion may simply arise from their shared space in discussions about cognitive enhancement and mental health treatment.

Lion's Mane for ADHD And Non-Pharmacological ADHD Treatment Paul stamets

Psilocybin and Lion’s Mane (Stamets Stack)

The “Stamets Stack” is a nootropic regimen proposed by mycologist and author Paul Stamets. The stack includes a combination of psilocybin, Lion’s Mane, and niacin (vitamin B3). While psilocybin and Lion’s Mane each have their purported benefits, it’s important to understand that the two substances act in fundamentally different ways.

Psilocybin, a psychedelic compound found in certain mushroom species, acts directly on serotonin receptors in the brain, causing profound alterations in consciousness and perception (1). On the other hand, Lion’s Mane, as discussed earlier, exerts its effects primarily through promoting neurogenesis and protecting nerve health.

The addition of niacin is intended to facilitate the delivery of psilocybin and Lion’s Mane’s neurogenerative compounds to the furthest regions of the nervous system. Niacin is a vasodilator that can help increase blood flow throughout the body, including to the brain.

Is Lion’s Mane Mushroom Legal?

Lion’s Mane mushroom is completely legal to purchase, consume, and possess in most countries, including the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. Unlike substances such as psilocybin, Lion’s Mane is not classified as a controlled substance. It is widely available for purchase online and in health food stores in various forms, including whole-dried mushrooms, powders, and dietary supplements.

Lion’s Mane for Depression

Recent research suggests that Lion’s Mane mushroom may have potential benefits for those suffering from depression. It’s believed that its neurotrophic effects – particularly its ability to stimulate NGF – could play a role in alleviating symptoms of depression (4).

One study conducted in 2010 found that Lion’s Mane consumption resulted in reduced levels of depression and anxiety in a group of menopausal women (5).

Additionally, research into Lion’s Mane’s potential benefits for Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is still in its early stages. However, the mushroom’s ability to support neural health and cognitive function, particularly its effects on focus and concentration, has led some to consider its potential in managing ADHD symptoms. In the context of holistic wellness, Lion’s Mane could serve as a complementary approach to conventional ADHD treatments, although more targeted research is required to fully understand its effectiveness. As always, any treatment adjustments should be made in consultation with a healthcare provider.

Lion’s Mane and Neurogenesis

Lion’s Mane is of particular interest in the world of neuroscience because of its potential to stimulate neurogenesis, the process by which new neurons are formed in the brain. The hericenones and erinacines in Lion’s Mane are believed to stimulate the synthesis of NGF, a protein crucial to the survival and function of nerve cells.

In animal studies, Lion’s Mane mushroom has been shown to stimulate the growth and repair of nerve cells, which in turn improves cognitive function (2). Though these results are promising, it should be noted that human studies are still limited, and further research is necessary to establish its efficacy and safety conclusively.


Lion’s Mane mushroom, with its potential to support cognitive function, is undoubtedly a fascinating focus of study in the realm of natural wellness. While it doesn’t qualify as a psychedelic based on our current understanding of these substances, its ability to improve neural health sets it apart as a unique, natural nootropic.

The world of holistic health is full of exciting frontiers, and as researchers continue to explore substances like Lion’s Mane and psychedelics, who knows what we’ll discover next?


  1. Nichols, D. E. (2016). Psychedelics. Pharmacological Reviews, 68(2), 264–355. https://doi.org/10.1124/pr.115.011478
  2. Lai, P. L., Naidu, M., Sabaratnam, V., Wong, K. H., David, R. P., Kuppusamy, U. R., Abdullah, N., & Malek, S. N. A. (2013). Neurotrophic properties of the Lion’s mane medicinal mushroom, Hericium erinaceus (Higher Basidiomycetes) from Malaysia. International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms, 15(6), 539–554. https://doi.org/10.1615/intjmedmushr.v15.i6.30
  3. Carhart-Harris, R. L., & Goodwin, G. M. (2017). The Therapeutic Potential of Psychedelic Drugs: Past, Present, and Future. Neuropsychopharmacology, 42(11), 2105–2113. https://doi.org/10.1038/npp.2017.84
  4. Vigna, L., Morelli, F., Agnelli, G. M., Napolitano, F., Ratto, D., Occhinegro, A., … Di Iorio, C. (2019). Hericium erinaceus Improves Mood and Sleep Disorders in Patients Affected by Overweight or Obesity: Could Circulating Pro-BDNF and BDNF Be Potential Biomarkers? Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2019, 1–12. https://doi.org/10.1155/2019/7861297
  5. Nagano, M., Shimizu, K., Kondo, R., Hayashi, C., Sato, D., Kitagawa, K., & Ohnuki, K. (2010). Reduction of depression and anxiety by 4 weeks Hericium erinaceus intake. Biomedical Research, 31(4), 231–237. https://doi.org/10.2220/biomedres.31.231

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