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Lion's Mane for ADHD: Does It Really Work?

Written by Sarah Norman

Tagged in

  • adhd


Mar 27, 2024, 9 min read

In recent months there has been a national shortage of medication for ADHD in the UK, which has led to further interest in complementary and alternative medicines for managing symptoms. From nutrition to lifestyle changes to supplements, there are many theories as to what might work for some people, and we aim to find out if there is any truth in one of the supplements often mentioned when discussing ADHD treatments; Lion’s Mane.

What is Lion's Mane for ADHD?

Here, we are taking a closer look at what this is, how it is taken, dosage recommendations, risks and possible side effects, supposed benefits, and whether or not there is any science to back up claims that it can help people with ADHD. We will also look at how this compares to standard ADHD treatments and how to access these if you think you need them. 

At Augmentive, we aim to provide holistic, tailored mental health support to everyone so they can live their life to the fullest, so if you have questions about ADHD treatment options, we can help. 

What is Lion’s Mane? 

Lion's Mane is an edible mushroom often touted as having medicinal properties. It grows in certain areas of Asia, Europe and North America, and has become a popular health supplement in recent years, mostly due to its connection to brain health.

Erinacines and hericenones are components of this fungi which are thought to offer protective properties for the brain by guarding against plaques and decreasing the deterioration of brain cells. It is important to note, however, very little research has been done in this area. 

Hundreds of Lion’s Mane supplements exist on the market today, many of which boast a number of brain health benefits, and some that even boldly claim to help tackle things like Alzheimer’s disease and other serious conditions. The reality is, there are very few studies researching the true benefits of this mysterious mushroom, and anyone with ADHD should remain sceptical about the effectiveness of any supplements that claim to help manage ADHD symptoms and promote focus.

What is ADHD and what are the symptoms? 

ADHD stands for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, which is a type of neurodivergence that causes a difference in how a person’s brain is hard-wired compared to neurotypical individuals. The main symptoms that tend to occur in adults are things like:

  • Trouble focusing for long periods of time
  • Impulsivity
  • Inattentiveness

Dealing with these symptoms on a daily basis can interrupt everyday functions like learning, studying, working, organising, remembering, following through on instructions, managing time, and more. 

In children, ADHD may cause slightly different symptoms, such as:

  • Hyperactive behaviours
  • Difficulty playing quietly
  • Difficulty following simple instructions without becoming distracted

You may find more of our guides around ADHD helpful, such as:

How is ADHD normally treated? 

Treatments usually depend on what type of ADHD you have and what specific symptoms you are experiencing, however these usually include a mix of medication and therapy. 

There are 5 medications licensed for ADHD treatment in the UK, which are; methylphenidate, lisdexamfetamine, dexamfetamine, atomoxetine and guanfacine. While they do not cure ADHD, they can help people who struggle with particular symptoms to manage these effectively, such as being able to focus more, manage impulsive behaviours, and feel less anxious. You may find more useful information on ADHD medication in our guide to ADHD medication in the UK.

Several therapy options can also be recommended for those with ADHD, including psychoeducation, in which the person is encouraged to discuss ADHD and its effects to understand their condition and better cope with symptoms. Another therapy often recommended for ADHD is cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), in which the person will tackle the issues they face by addressing the way they think and behave. If you are unsure which type of therapy may be best for you, our free 15 minute consultation could assist you in finding the most relevant therapist to help you manage your ADHD in daily life.

Outside of traditional, science-backed therapies, many people also turn to alternative options to handle their symptoms. Studies suggest a growing interest in the use of natural products for addressing ADHD symptoms, and a 2022 study found the highest reported alternative options used were dietary modifications and natural products. 

How is ADHD usually treated?

At Augmentive, we believe advice and support for those with ADHD should be bespoke and individualised so each person receives the care and support that will work best for their circumstances. Your doctor or specialist can provide you with more information about treatments that may work for you, and can let you know if there are any complementary or alternative options worth looking into.

How do I take Lion’s Mane, and can it be used as a treatment? 

It is important to note that no supplement should be used to treat, cure or prevent disease, as they are not the same as medicine – if you suspect you have any medical condition or mental health condition, you should always consult your doctor or a professional who can properly diagnose you and recommend appropriate treatments. 

Lion’s Mane is available in many supplement stores and online in the form of capsules, powders, teas, coffees and tinctures, as these mushrooms are considered safe to ingest. While you can take Lion’s Mane, it is not officially recommended as a treatment for ADHD as not enough research or clinical trials have been done to conclusively prove it can help with this, and no trials have yet been done on children with ADHD.

Is there any science behind Lion’s Mane for ADHD at all? 

Although the overall recommendation is to seek proper ADHD treatments in the form of medication and other therapies – rather than using Lion’s Mane – certain studies in adults with mild memory loss have found some possible benefits in improving cognition. As a result, these studies have suggested this could provide benefits for those with ADHD who struggle with focus. 

However, there is doubt over this potential since Lion’s Mane is not thought to have any connection to dopamine – the main neurotransmitter involved in ADHD. It is also important to keep in mind Lion’s Mane has not been directly studied for ADHD, so there is no way of knowing exactly how this natural supplement will interact in those with the condition. 

In the few clinical trials looking at cognitive benefits of Lion’s Mane in adults, three studies found it could improve cognition in the areas of typical mental function as well as mild memory loss. This is certainly promising, but would require further study to confirm results. 

Another interesting finding from the initial studies was the possibility that when regular consumption is halted, Lion’s Mane may cease to have any benefits. One study found mental function declined after the supplement was stopped, suggesting that effects may only be possible with consistent, long-term use.

Is there any clinical backing to Lion's Mane for ADHD?

Are there any general benefits to Lion’s Mane as a supplement?

Although Lion’s Mane has not yet been studied enough to show definitive benefits for ADHD, there are a number of broader benefits the supplement could offer to the general population. For example, Lion’s Mane could:

  • Reduce symptoms of depression: Studies in mice have found Lion’s Mane could provide significant improvements in depressive disorders by monoaminergic modulation, neurotrophic and anti-inflammatory pathways. This suggests Lion’s Mane could become a future treatment option for depression, however more studies are needed to establish dosage and specifics of how this would work in reality.
  • Reduce stress: One 2023 trial suggests Lion’s Mane has the potential to reduce stress after it was found to have this effect in a study involving young adults. 
  • Alleviate sleep issues: One study found sleep issues and depression symptoms were reduced in study participants with menopause who took Lion’s Mane 80% mycelium extract and 20% fruiting body extract daily for 8 weeks. Not only does this offer potential in the area of alleviating depression symptoms, but it also suggests potential benefits for sleep disturbances. 
  • Provide long-term protection against dementia: The compounds hericenones and erinacines have been found to be neuroprotective, so it is believed Lion’s Mane could generate new brain cells and protect against ​​the neurodegeneration that affects conditions like Alzheimer’s disease. Research on this is still in the early stages, but three studies have shown there is potential for the cognitive benefits of Lion’s Mane in adults to improve memory loss in those with mild Alzheimer's. 
  • Improve nerve cell recovery: Although no studies have been done on humans, an initial 2015 study on rats showed ingesting Lion’s Mane over a 6 week period led to a number of positive results, including reduced feelings of nerve pain.
  • Boost the immune system: Animal studies from 2017 have shown Lion’s Mane could help to boost the immune system by increasing the intestinal immune system activity to provide further protection against pathogens entering the gut.
  • Reduce inflammation: Some research suggests Lion’s Mane contains anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds, which have the potential to help reduce the effects of inflammation-based illnesses such as autoimmune disorders. 

No one with any of the aforementioned health conditions should rely on Lion’s Mane as a form of treatment, as very few studies have been done on this supplement, and even fewer human studies. However, it is clear there is potential for Lion’s Mane, so as more studies emerge, we could start to see it being looked at more closely as a treatment for a number of health conditions.

How much should I take?

If you would like to take Lion’s Mane as a general supplement, you should always go by the dosage instructions on the packaging of the product you buy. As there are few studies on Lion’s Mane, there is not much information on how much an individual should take based on their age, health, mental health, goals and more. 

As a rough guide, some clinical trials have used a dosage of around 3 grams per day in adults when looking at its cognitive effects. However, another trial gave participants a dose of 10 grams per day, so information on how much of this supplement to take is varied – always stick with what is recommended on the packaging of products as this will give a guide based on the strength of that particular product. 

If you are taking other supplements or medications for a health condition – including for ADHD – always consult your doctor or your prescribing healthcare practitioner to check that taking Lion’s Mane will not interact in a negative way with what you are already taking. 

Risks and benefits of Lion's Mane for ADHD

Are there any risks or side effects I should know about?

As with all supplements, it is important to know of any possible risks so you can be aware of the signs to watch out for. For Lion’s Mane, these may include:

  • Symptoms such as nausea, stomach pains or skin rashes: One clinical trial found around 12% of study participants experienced these side effects from Lion’s Mane, causing them to stop taking it.
  • Interactions with certain medications: You should not take Lion’s Mane if you are taking blood thinners or diabetes medication as this could interact in a negative way. You should also let your doctor know if you are planning to take Lion’s Mane in case they recommend not doing so while taking another type of medication. 
  • Allergic reactions: Avoid Lion’s Mane if you think you might be allergic to it or any of its components, or if you have a mushroom allergy. If you experience itching, hives, or have trouble breathing, seek immediate medical attention. 
  • Unsuitability for certain people: You should avoid taking Lion’s Mane during pregnancy or while breastfeeding, as no studies have been done on the possible effects of this. Also, do not give Lion’s Mane to young children, as again, there are no studies on its effects in children. Lion’s Mane is also thought to be unsuitable for anyone who has received an allograft (organ or tissue donated from another person)

How can I access proper ADHD treatment and support?

Although there are many potentially exciting benefits to Lion’s Mane, we do not recommend relying on this to manage your ADHD symptoms. At Augmentive, we believe advice and support for those with ADHD should be bespoke to the individual. This may include medications, but these will always be recommended based on approved studies with evidence to support their effectiveness. 

As mentioned above, your doctor or private ADHD specialist can provide you with more information about the treatments that may work for you, and discuss any questions you have about using complementary supplements such as Lion’s Mane. 

Getting proper treatment and support for ADHD

You may find useful information on ADHD treatments and more in some of our other guides:

Whether you’re feeling off-kilter or want to shake up your routine, our state-of-the-art mental wellbeing platform gives you quick and seamless access to world-class support on your terms, from a private ADHD assessment or review, to broader options like helping you to find a psychiatrist for support on your journey.

If you have a question about mental health, like what ADHD burnout is, we’re here to assist on your journey. Our free 15 minute consultation can guide you to the most relevant specialists to answer your questions and discuss next steps.

Not sure where to start?

We offer a free 15 minute consultation so that we can guide you to the most relevant professionals