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Magic mushrooms are not something you want to dabble with as they can mess with your brain.

But if you, a friend or family member are looking for medicinal mushrooms to reorganise & rebuild your nervous system, as well as strengthen your immune system to protect your brain from invaders, look no further than Lion’s Mane (and read to the end).

If you're just interested in cooking up an earthy soup for a frosty lunchtime, here's the recipe for a delicious Mushroom & Thyme soup:-


1 tbsp olive oil

1 brown onion, finely chopped

1 stick of celery, chopped

3 garlic cloves, sliced

600g mixed mushrooms, wiped clean and sliced

3-4 sprigs of thyme, leaves removed from stalk

1.5L vegetable stock

75ml coconut milk (or you could use Rude Health Almond Milk if preferred)

For each person/serving - 1 tsp Organic Lion’s Mane powder (optional)


In a large, deep saucepan, add the olive oil and gently heat on a medium high heat.

Add the onions and celery and gently saute to lightly brown and soften (approx 6-8 mins).

Add the garlic, mushrooms and thyme and saute together until the mushrooms are lightly caramelised and become fragrant (about 8 minutes). Stir frequently to prevent the garlic burning. If desired, at this point, remove some browned mushroom slices for your soup garnish,

Pour in the vegetable stock and the coconut milk (or almond milk) and bring to a boil, then gentle simmer for 15 minutes.

Turn off the heat and allow the soup to cool a little before blending.

Pour the soup into a blender and press the soup setting or blend until smooth. Pour all the soup except one serving back into your saucepan.

Add 1 tsp of Lion’s mane powder to the one serving of soup in the blender and pulse until thoroughly mixed, then pour the soup into a serving bowl. For each serving/person, blend 1 tsp of Lion’s mane powder into their soup.

Serve with a swirl of coconut milk and a few caramelised mushrooms.

Reasons why you might want to incorporate Lion's Mane into your diet (or supplement programme):-

Lion's Mane (known as Yamabushitake, Satyr’s Beard or Monkey’s Head) is gaining traction as a well-known ‘neuroprotective’ agent that helps ‘remyelinate’ nerves and enhance nerve regeneration1. This means it’s able to stimulate the growth of the protective (fatty) myelin sheath surrounding nerve fibres (the myelin sheath is like cabling around electrical wires – it helps insulate electrical impulses so they can move speedily and smoothly along neurons, helping to transmit information between brain cells & nerves (co-ordinating our thinking, feeling and movement)2. Three conditions where demyelination (myelin damage) occurs include: Multiple sclerosis and Transverse Myelitis3, as well as Guillain-Barre Syndrome4

Small studies on Lion’s mane have also revealed its ability to reduce inflammation in the nervous system and stimulate the growth of brain cells, improving mild cognitive impairment and reducing the risk of dementia (NB: The effects wore off when supplementation was withdrawn)5.

Lion’s mane’s is also favoured for its ability to enhance learning and memory, as it’s been shown to increase the expression of ‘Nerve Growth Factor’ (NGF) - proteins that play a major role in the growth, development, maintenance and survival of neurons/nerves in the central and peripheral nervous system6 NGF also protects oligodendrocytes (myelin-producing cells); and the production of Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF), a growth factor protein that prevents the death of existing brain cells and regenerates damaged nerves or induces the growth of new neurons ('neurogenesis'). NB: Buddhist monks have long recognise Lion’s mane as a ‘brain tonic’.

Lion’s mane contains a valuable compound called ‘Erinacine A’, that reduces oxidative damage, inflammation and infarct volume after stroke, improving patient outcomes after brain injury7

Its ability to stimulate growth factors allow for brain ‘neuroplasticity’– helping the brain to reorganise its structure and function after brain damage.

If you know someone with Alzheimer’s then consider Lion’s mane for its potent antioxidant capacity and ability to minimise ‘neurodegeneration’ - this is the harmful effects associated with free oxidative radical-induced cell damage in the brain and nerves8. 'Hericenones' and 'erinacines' extracts in Lion’s Mane can also prevent neuronal damage caused by amyloid-beta plaques, which accumulate in the brain during Alzheimer’s disease9

In animal studies, Lion’s Mane helped restore function to the hippocampus — the part of the brain most responsible for managing emotions and memory. It produced a gradual, positive change in thinking, emotional regulation, memory, and verbal fluidity, and exerted anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) and anti-depressant type effects10. A small study in menopausal women found that eating cookies containing lion’s mane mushrooms daily for one month helped reduce self-reported feelings of irritation and anxiety11 (was this solely down to the mushrooms?….or a combined 'comfort-effect' of the cookies?:)

Lion's mane doesn't just work on the brain. It appears to benefit the digestive system too. For anyone with a stomach ulcer due to the presence of Helicobacter Pylori bacterium or long-term NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) usage, in vivo (test tube) studies show Lion's Mane inhibits the growth of H. Pylori12. It also contains properties that protect mucosal linings (from H. Pylori induced damage), soothing and preventing ulcers in the stomach, small intestines and large intestines13.

But importantly for everyone, Lion’s Mane enhances immune activity in our intestinal linings, by increasing secretions of Secretory IgA antibodies (immune cells that tag foreign invaders), boosting macrophage phagocytosis (immune cells that engulf foreign invaders) and increasing Natural Killer Cell activity (white blood cell that destroys invaders)14. Studies also reveal Lion’s mane plays a ‘prebiotic’ role, encouraging the growth of beneficial gut bacteria, helping to further strengthen immunity, and reduce the risk of Irritable Bowel Syndrome/IBS, Inflammatory Bowel Disease/IBD and gastrointestinal cancers15.

Is it time for you to make room for this mushroom in your life?

If you’d like advice on supplementation, please email me at:

Warning: Please do NOT self-prescribe supplements. Always seek advice from a doctor or qualified nutritionist. It is important you do NOT take Lion’s Mane if you are taking anti-coagulant/blood-thinning medication as Lion's mane mushroom extract was shown to slow down blood clotting time. Lion’s mane should also be avoided if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding.



2.Kolotushkina EV et al (1994) Fiziol ZH 49 1 38-45 The influence of Hericium erinaceus extract on myelination process in vitro


4.Gagarkin DA et al (2021) Acute inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy or Guillain-Barré syndrome associated with COVID-19: a case report J Med Case Rep 15(1):219.


6. and Lai PL et al (2013) Neurotrophic properties of the Lion's mane medicinal mushroom, Hericium erinaceus (Higher Basidiomycetes) from Malaysia Int J Med Mushrooms 15(6):539-54.

7.Lee KF et al (2014) Protective effects of Hericium erinaceus mycelium and its isolated erinacine A against ischemia-injury-induced neuronal cell death via the inhibition of iNOS/p38 MAPK and nitrotyrosine Int J Mol Sci 15(9):15073-89.

8. Trovato A et al (2016) Redox modulation of cellular stress response and lipoxin A4 expression by Hericium Erinaceus in rat brain: relevance to Alzheimer's disease pathogenesis Immun Ageing 9;13:23.

9. Cheng JH et al (2016) High molecular weight of polysaccharides from Hericium erinaceus against amyloid beta-induced neurotoxicity BMC Complement Altern Med. 16: 170.

10.Ryu S et al (2018) Hericium erinaceus Extract Reduces Anxiety and Depressive Behaviors by Promoting Hippocampal Neurogenesis in the Adult Mouse Brain J Med Food 21(2):174-180 and 11.Nagano M et al (2010) Reduction of depression and anxiety by 4 weeks Hericium erinaceus intake Biomed Res.31 4 231-7

12.Liu JH et al (2016) Anti-Helicobacter pylori activity of bioactive components isolated from Hericium erinaceus J Ethnopharmacol 183:54-58.

13. Wang M et al (2015) Anti-Gastric Ulcer Activity of Polysaccharide Fraction Isolated from Mycelium Culture of Lion's Mane Medicinal Mushroom, Hericium erinaceus (Higher Basidiomycetes) Int J Med Mushrooms 17(11):1055-60.

14.Sheng X et al (2017) Immunomodulatory effects of Hericium erinaceus derived polysaccharides are mediated by intestinal immunology Food Funct 8(3):1020-1027

15. Diling C et al (2017) Immunomodulatory Activities of a Fungal Protein Extracted from Hericium erinaceus through Regulating the Gut MicrobiotaFront Immunol. 2017; 8: 666.

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