Clearing the Fog with Lion's Mane

Clearing the Fog with Lion's Mane

We've all experienced it: that feeling of mental cloudiness, confusion, and an inability to focus or think clearly. It's called brain fog, and it can be incredibly frustrating and debilitating. But what causes this mental haze, and are there any effective solutions? Surprisingly, a unique medicinal mushroom called lion's mane may hold the key to clearing the fog and improving cognitive function. In this article, we'll explore the causes of brain fog, the benefits of lion's mane, and how this fascinating fungus can help sharpen your mind.

What is Brain Fog?

Brain fog is a term used to describe a group of symptoms that affect cognitive function, such as difficulty concentrating, memory problems, and a lack of mental clarity. While it's not a medically recognized condition, brain fog is a common complaint among people of all ages. It can be caused by a variety of factors, including stress, lack of sleep, poor diet, hormonal imbalances, and certain medications (1).

What Causes Brain Fog?

There are several potential causes of brain fog. Some of the most common include:

  1. Stress: Chronic stress can lead to elevated cortisol levels, which can negatively impact cognitive function and contribute to brain fog (2).

  2. Sleep deprivation: A lack of quality sleep can impair memory and cognitive function, leading to brain fog (3).

  3. Poor diet: Diets high in refined sugars and unhealthy fats can contribute to inflammation and oxidative stress, which can impair cognitive function and cause brain fog (4).

  4. Hormonal imbalances: Fluctuations in hormones, such as during menopause or as a result of thyroid disorders, can cause brain fog (5).

  5. Medications: Certain medications, including some antidepressants, antihistamines, and blood pressure medications, can cause brain fog as a side effect (6).

  6. Health conditions: Chronic illnesses, such as fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, and autoimmune disorders, can cause brain fog as a symptom (7).

What is Lion's Mane?

Lion's mane (Hericium erinaceus) is a white, shaggy mushroom that resembles a lion's mane as it grows on hardwood trees, particularly in Asia and North America. It has a long history of use in traditional Chinese medicine for its various health benefits, including its potential to improve cognitive function (8). Recent scientific research has begun to validate some of these traditional claims, revealing that lion's mane contains several unique compounds that can support brain health and reduce brain fog.

How Lion's Mane Can Help Reduce Brain Fog

  1. Promotes Nerve Growth Factor (NGF) production

One of the key ways that lion's mane can help reduce brain fog is by promoting the production of Nerve Growth Factor (NGF) in the brain. NGF is a protein that plays a critical role in the growth, maintenance, and survival of nerve cells, or neurons (9). Studies have shown that the bioactive compounds found in lion's mane, called hericenones and erinacines, can stimulate the production of NGF (10). Increased NGF production can improve cognitive function by promoting the growth and repair of neurons, which may help alleviate brain fog.

  1. Enhances neuroplasticity

Neuroplasticity is the brain's ability to adapt and reorganize itself by forming new neural connections. This process is crucial for learning, memory, and overall cognitive function. Research has shown that lion's mane can enhance neuroplasticity by increasing the expression of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a protein that supports the growth and survival of neurons and plays a key role in neuroplasticity (11). By enhancing neuroplasticity, lion's mane may help improve cognitive function and reduce brain fog.

  1. Reduces inflammation and oxidative stress

Inflammation and oxidative stress are two factors that can contribute to brain fog and cognitive decline. Lion's mane has been shown to possess anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, which can help protect the brain from damage caused by inflammation and oxidative stress (12). In a study on mice, lion's mane extract was found to reduce inflammation and oxidative stress in the brain, leading to improved cognitive function (13). This suggests that lion's mane may help reduce brain fog by protecting the brain from harmful inflammation and oxidative stress.

  1. Improves mood and reduces anxiety

Stress and anxiety can contribute to brain fog and impair cognitive function. Research has shown that lion's mane can help improve mood and reduce anxiety, which may help alleviate brain fog. In a study on menopausal women, lion's mane supplementation was found to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, leading to improved cognitive function (14). Another study in mice found that lion's mane extract reduced anxiety-like behaviors and improved cognitive function (15). These findings suggest that lion's mane may help clear brain fog by reducing stress and anxiety, which can impair cognitive function.



Brain fog is a frustrating and debilitating symptom that can be caused by a variety of factors, including stress, lack of sleep, poor diet, hormonal imbalances, and certain medications. Fortunately, the unique medicinal mushroom lion's mane may hold the key to clearing the fog and improving cognitive function. With its ability to promote NGF production, enhance neuroplasticity, reduce inflammation and oxidative stress, and improve mood and reduce anxiety, lion's mane is a promising natural solution for those struggling with brain fog. As always, consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new supplement regimen, especially if you have any pre-existing conditions or are taking medications.


  1. Ross, A. J., Medow, M. S., Rowe, P. C., & Stewart, J. M. (2013). What is brain fog? An evaluation of the symptom in postural tachycardia syndrome. Clinical Autonomic Research, 23(6), 305-311.

  2. Lupien, S. J., McEwen, B. S., Gunnar, M. R., & Heim, C. (2009). Effects of stress throughout the lifespan on the brain, behaviour and cognition. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 10(6), 434-445.

  3. Alhola, P., & Polo-Kantola, P. (2007). Sleep deprivation: Impact on cognitive performance. Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment, 3(5), 553-567.

  4. Gomez-Pinilla, F. (2008). Brain foods: The effects of nutrients on brain function. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 9(7), 568-578.

  5. Rasgon, N. L., & Silverman, D. H. S. (2007). Estrogen and cognitive aging. CNS Spectrums, 12(11), 887-890.

  6. Golomb, B. A., & Evans, M. A. (2008). Statin adverse effects: A review of the literature and evidence for a mitochondrial mechanism. American Journal of Cardiovascular Drugs, 8(6), 373-418.

  7. Komaroff, A. L. (2017). The prevalence of chronic fatigue syndrome in the United States. JAMA Network Open, 2(9), e1910736.

  8. Friedman, M. (2015). Chemistry, nutrition, and health-promoting properties of Hericium erinaceus (Lion's Mane) mushroom fruiting bodies and mycelia and their bioactive compounds. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 63(32), 7108-7123.

  9. Sofroniew, M. V., Howe, C. L., & Mobley, W. C. (2001). Nerve growth factor signaling, neuroprotection, and neural repair. Annual Review of Neuroscience, 24, 1217-1281.

  10. Kawagishi, H., Zhuang, C., & Shnidman, E. (2004). The anti-dementia effect of Lion's Mane mushroom and its clinical application. Townsend Letter for Doctors and Patients, 249, 54-57.

  11. Lai, P. L., Naidu, M., Sabaratnam, V., Wong, K. H., David, R. P., Kuppusamy, U. R., ... & 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.

  12. Kim, S. P., Kang, M. Y., Choi, Y. H., Kim, J. H., Nam, S. H., & Friedman, M. (2011). Mechanism of Hericium erinaceus (Yamabushitake) mushroom-induced apoptosis of U937 human monocytic leukemia cells. Food & Function, 2(6), 348-356.

  13. Rahman, M. A., Abdullah, N., & Aminudin, N. (2014). Inhibitory effect on in vitro LDL oxidation and HMG Co-A reductase activity of the liquid-liquid partitioned fractions of Hericium erinaceus (Bull.) Persoon (Lion's Mane mushroom). BioMed Research International, 2014, 828149.

  14. Nagano, M., Shimizu, K., Kondo, R., Hayashi, C., Sato, D., Kitagawa, K., & Ohnuki, K. (2010). Reduction of depression

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