Lion's Mane vs. Cordyceps: How Do They Compare?

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If you've ever added mushrooms to your favorite meal, you're on the right track. Sure, they might taste great, but here we're talking about their potential health benefits. The reality is that mushrooms have been used for countless centuries for their possible therapeutic and health benefits.

In today's climate, where natural, organic, and safe alternative remedies are becoming increasingly popular, the use of mushrooms as medicine is once again making a resurgence. That said, choosing the right types of mushrooms to assist you with your health and fitness goals is easier said than done.

There are plenty of beneficial mushrooms out there, and two of them are Lion's Mane and Cordyceps. These are two of the most common and popular mushrooms around when it comes to their purported health benefits.

Between enhancing physical performance, improving cognitive function, boosting immunity, and more, these mushrooms have many benefits that most of us just don't know about. Today, we'll do a side-by-side comparison of Cordyceps and Lion's Mane to see which one is best for you.

We want to take a look at their physical benefits, mental health benefits, their side effects, and what happens when you take them together. By the end of today's article, you'll know everything there is to know about both of these mushrooms to make an informed decision between them.

Key Takeaways

  • Lion's Mane and Cordyceps are both types of mushrooms that come in various forms such as powders, teas, pills, capsules, and in dried versions.
  • Both of these mushrooms are said to have a variety of health benefits including possibly increasing immune system functionality, increasing heart health, managing blood sugar, having neural benefits, cognitive benefits, and more.
  • Taking both of these mushrooms together daily should help increase the overall amount and efficacy of the benefits that they can provide you with.

Click here to see what some of the best mushroom coffee alternatives are!

What Is Lion's Mane?

Hericium erinaceus or simply known as Lion's Mane mushrooms are a specific type of mushroom that grows on dying and dead hardwood trees. This is a mushroom native to Asia, Europe, and North America, and has most commonly been used throughout history in Japanese and Chinese medicine.

Not only is this a tasty edible mushroom, but it also has many purported health benefits. These mushrooms feature a very unique appearance and shape, somewhat resembling the mane of a lion, hence its name.

There are many health benefits it is alleged to have, including aiding you with sleep and relaxation, boosting the power of your immune system, and improving your overall cognitive abilities such as memory and more. If you’re interested in improving your memory, click here!

Not only are these mushrooms popular for their health benefits, but also due to their amazing flavor. They're really popular to add to salads, so stir fries, soups, and many other popular dishes.

How Do They Work?

The Lion's Mane mushroom contains what is known as beta-glucans, which in itself is supposed to be beneficial for your health. These are specific types of polysaccharides, which are long-chain simple sugars connected together by length. When these are ingested, all of the compounds are broken down by the various enzymes in your intestines and stomachs, which then allows these compounds to be absorbed by your bloodstream.

Once these compounds are in your system, they start interacting with your immune system and should help to increase the production of macrophages. These are white blood cells, and as you might know, white cells are vital to the immune system, as they fight off disease and infection.

As you'll see further below, these mushrooms should also have various neural and cognitive benefits for your brain, and they may interact with various neurotransmitters in your brain, such as the serotonin neurotransmitter. They may also have a variety of health benefits for cardiovascular health, blood sugar, and so much more.

Lion's Mane Health Benefits

Lion's Mane mushrooms are said to have a wide variety of possible health benefits that everybody can reap from them. Let's find out just what these Lion's Mane mushrooms might be able to do for you.

Fighting Anxiety and Depression

One of the biggest potential benefits of Lion's Mane mushrooms is that they may help to decrease levels of depression and anxiety by increasing levels of serotonin.

Serotonin is a very important neurotransmitter as it is responsible for improving sleep, regulating mood, and just making you feel happy in general. Serotonin has the potential to make you feel much happier and elated, therefore relieving symptoms of anxiety and depression in the process. Another mushroom that can help you sleep is reishi.

There is some evidence to indicate that consuming Lion's Mane mushrooms daily helps to reduce feelings of anxiety and irritation. This study showed that menopausal women taking Lion's Mane extract for a full month helped reduce feelings of anxiety.

Immune Support

One of the biggest benefits associated with the Lion's Mane mushroom is the immune system boost that you get, which we discussed above. Thanks to those beta glucans and polysaccharides, these mushrooms should give your immune system quite a boost.

Various studies support the claim that Lion's Mane mushrooms along with other such mushrooms, can increase the function of your immune system, therefore allowing your body to better fight off diseases and illnesses.

This study showed that when mice were injected with the least full dose of the salmonella bacteria, thanks to Lion's Mane main extract, their lifespan was nearly quadrupled.

Anti-Cancer Properties

According to various pieces of research, when used in mice, Lion's Mane extract appears to be more effective at slowing the growth of tumors than traditional cancer medicines. It also appeared to have fewer side effects.

It appears that there are various compounds contained in the Lion's Mane mushroom that can help to stop or slow down the growth of cancer cells. In some cases, it was even shown to induce apoptosis in cancer cells, which means that the cancer tumor cells died. It should be noted that this was in a lab setting, not in a living creature. 

Cardiovascular Benefits

Lion's Mane mushrooms contain many different compounds, and some of them are shown to reduce levels of inflammation in the body, which then in turn may help to prevent cardiovascular diseases from developing.

There are a variety of studies out there that show that Lion's Mane mushrooms can improve blood pressure and decrease cholesterol levels, therefore improving your overall cardiovascular health and reducing the chances of suffering a heart attack or stroke.

 It may be the case that Lion's Mane extract can help prevent cholesterol from oxidizing in the bloodstream, therefore preventing it from attaching to your artery walls, and ultimately preventing that cholesterol from hardening and increasing the risk of a stroke or heart attack.

Lion's Mane mushrooms also contain a compound known as hericenone B, which can slow down blood clotting and lower the overall risk of strokes and heart attacks. There is also another study that was performed on rats which showed that when given a Lion's Mane extract on a daily basis, triglyceride levels lowered by 27%, combined with 42% less weight gain.

Improving Cognitive Abilities

Lion's Mane mushrooms are also thought to help improve concentration, memory, and other cognitive functions. There are a few studies out there that show that consuming up to 350 milligrams of Lion's Mane daily for up to 49 weeks could possibly lead to various improvements in brain health.

This is especially the case in people who are suffering from early stages of neural diseases such as Alzheimer's disease. There is also some evidence, based on animal research, which indicates that Lion's Mane mushrooms can help improve the functioning of the hippocampus while also regenerating brain cells, therefore allowing for better memory processing and emotional responses.

Lion's Mane mushrooms also contain a variety of compounds that are shown to help stimulate the growth of brain cells, including erinacines and hericenones.

Managing Blood Sugar and Diabetes

It may also be the case that Lion's Mane mushrooms could be beneficial for diabetes management. It has the potential to improve blood sugar management and reduce the number of side effects.

 It is thought that the Lion's Mane mushroom has the ability to lower blood sugar levels by blocking the enzyme alpha-glucosidase from functioning, which helps break down carbs in the small intestine. If this enzyme is blocked, your body cannot absorb and digest carbs effectively, therefore lowering blood sugar levels.

There are also various other studies that show that the Lion's Mane mushrooms have the ability to lower blood sugar levels.

Managing Inflammation – Gut Health

The other big benefit that the Lion's Mane mushroom may have is that it could help reduce inflammation in the body.

There are pieces of research that show that the Lion's Mane mushroom contains various antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds which can reduce the symptoms or likelihood of various illnesses from occurring. Lion's Mane mushrooms actually have some of the highest levels of antioxidants of all beneficial mushrooms.

There are also some animal studies that have been performed that show that oxidative stress and inflammation markers were reduced thanks to these mushrooms. This lower level of inflammation has been specifically related to gut health such as IBD.

Lion's Mane Dosage

Before we talk about dosing Lion's Mane mushrooms, you first want to consult a healthcare practitioner to see what they say. The best amount of Lion's Mane mushrooms for you will depend on your overall health, age, and other factors, hence there is no standard dosage.

For instance, the study which showed that people with Alzheimer's disease benefited from Lion's Mane mushrooms showed that a dose of 350 milligrams per day was effective. When it comes to improving overall cognition, the official research indicates that 5 grams per day of Lion's Mane mushroom extract could be ideal.

Another study from 2019 showed that taking 1200 milligrams of Lion's Mane capsules daily for eight weeks relieved anxiety, depression, and sleep disorders. Therefore, there is no standard dosage, and it appears as though how much you should take depends on what you are looking to achieve.

Possible Side Effects

Lion's Mane mushrooms are usually tolerated fairly well by the human body, but there are some mild side effects that may occur when taking supplements containing this mushroom. These include a skin rash, nausea, and abdominal discomfort such as stomach pains and diarrhea. 

Also make sure that you consult your health care practitioner before taking it, particularly if you are taking diabetes treatments or are on any type of blood clotting medication. It may have negative interactions with some of these medications.

What Is Cordyceps?

We then have Cordyceps, which is a mushroom or type of fungus that is known to grow on the larva of various insects. This type of mushroom has been in use in traditional Chinese medicine for many centuries and has just recently become popular in the Western world due to the many alleged health benefits.

These mushrooms can be found mostly in very high altitudes in countries such as Tibet, Nepal, and China. Cordyceps or Cordyceps extracts are now available in various forms such as tea, powder, capsules, and more. You can also find them dried in many places. These Cordyceps are also set to have a wide variety of health benefits, which we are about to look at below.

How Do They Work?

In a certain sense, Cordyceps work in much the same way as Lion's Mane, mainly because they contain what are known as polysaccharides. This is very similar to those beta-glucans that are found in Lion's Mane mushrooms.

Those polysaccharides help to regulate your immune system so you have an improved ability to fight off diseases and infections. It is thought that once these mushrooms enter your bloodstream, or specifically the polysaccharides contained in them, they help to stimulate the production of cytokines, which in turn assist in the regulation of the human body's immune response system.

Cordyceps may also work to stimulate the production of adenosine triphosphate or ATP for short, which is a main source of energy for your cells, and can therefore help improve athletic performance and energy levels. As you'll see further below, Cordyceps may also have a variety of other interactions with the human body related to antioxidants and more.

Health Benefits Of Cordyceps

There are many supposed health benefits that Cordyceps can provide you with, and most of them are backed up by legitimate science, so let's take a look at what they might be.

Improving Physical Performance

As mentioned above, these mushrooms are thought to help increase the production of adenosine triphosphate, which should therefore help provide your muscles with more energy.

There is a certain study which was performed that showed that participants who took synthetic Cordyceps on a daily basis for a total of six weeks showed their blood oxygen levels increased by up to 7%.

There is another study that showed that Cordyceps was able to increase blood oxygen levels by up to 11%. Cordyceps may also help improve the rate of oxygen uptake and energy production, therefore increasing overall exercise performance, endurance, and aerobic capacity.

Anti-Aging Benefits

It is shown that these mushrooms also have great potential as antioxidants. Here we have a study performed on rats which showed that the antioxidative and anti-aging effects of Cordyceps were able to help improve overall brain function and memory as well as sexual function.

Although there is more research required on this front, here we have a study that showed that mice that were given Cordyceps lived much longer than mice that were not, and here we have a study that had the same result for fruit flies.

Anti-Tumor Properties

In recent years, there has been a lot of interest shown in Cordyceps on the front of preventing or slowing down the growth of tumors. 

There are a variety of research studies and pieces of evidence which show that Cordyceps were able to slow down the growth of many types of cancer cells including those in the colon, skin, lung, and liver.

There are also many studies and pieces of research which show that Cordyceps mushrooms could have antitumor effects on lung cancer, melanoma, and lymphoma. 

It is also shown that Cordyceps may be able to reverse a condition characterized by low white blood cells that are caused by chemotherapy treatments.

Immune System Benefits

It is also believed that the polysaccharides contained in Cordyceps mushrooms can help to improve the function of the immune system. They may help improve the human body's immune system response to a variety of invaders, therefore possibly helping you increase your ability to fight off various infections and diseases.

Diabetes Benefits

Although there is more research required on this front, it is shown that Cordyceps may be able to help control blood sugar levels. 

There are a variety of studies that were performed on mice, where Cordyceps were indeed shown to decrease overall blood sugar levels, therefore assisting in diabetes management.

Other studies were performed on human beings with chronic kidney disease, which showed that cordyceps were able to help improve overall kidney function.

Heart Health Benefits

Cordyceps may also have benefits for your heart. Interesting to note is that in China, Cordyceps is an officially approved treatment for arrhythmia, which is where your heartbeat is irregular, too fast, or too slow. 

Furthermore, there are other studies that show that Cordyceps were able to reduce the severity and occurrence of heart injuries in rats that suffer from chronic kidney disease.

There is also research to indicate that Cordyceps may be able to help decrease bad cholesterol levels, therefore improving overall heart health. It's also been shown that cordyceps can help to decrease triglyceride levels, therefore also assisting in heart health.

Fighting Inflammation

Cordyceps may also serve as a powerful anti-inflammatory. There are many pieces of research that show that when Cordyceps are exposed to human cells, the rate of production of proteins that cause inflammation to occur greatly decreases.

Cordyceps may also serve as a therapy for asthma, as studies show that Cordyceps may increase lung function by decreasing inflammation in the airways, although this same research also showed that traditional asthma medications worked best. There is also a study that showed that skin inflammation could be reduced by Cordyceps.

Cordyceps Dosage

Unfortunately, there is not enough research that has been performed on dosage in relation to humans, specifically in relation to various diseases or issues. However, when research has been performed on humans, the most common dosages range between 1000 milligrams and 3000 milligrams on a daily basis.

Possible Side Effects

Although the research into the safety of these mushrooms is quite limited, at this time, there are no indications that they are toxic or life-threatening. There may be some minor side effects such as headaches, gastrointestinal upset, and diarrhea, but nothing severe or very commonly occurring.

Lion's Mane Vs. Cordyceps: What Do They Have In Common?

First and foremost, what these two things have in common is that they are both types of mushroom or fungi, and moreover, they've both been used in traditional medicine for centuries, particularly in Asia.

Another commonality shared by both of these mushrooms is that they have many of the same supposed benefits, specifically in relation to inflammation, being anti-cancerous, controlling blood sugar, having immune health benefits, heart benefits, and more. Even better is that quite literally all of these benefits have in some way or another been backed by official scientific research.

Yet another commonality shared by Cordyceps and Lion's Mane mushrooms is that they come in various forms. You can get these mushrooms dried, in the form of teas, powders, capsules, and more.

Lion's Mane Vs. Cordyceps: Key Differences

Although there are some big similarities between these mushrooms, there are also some big differences worth noting. There are three main differences to consider here, including taste, uses, and overall effects.


Cordyceps generally feature a very savory, earthy, and nutty flavor characterized by a hint of mommy. Most people say that these mushrooms taste similar to chestnut mushrooms. The earthy and mildly sweet mushrooms make for a great tea and for a good addition to any dish.

We then have the Lion's Mane mushroom, which has a very sweet and mild flavor, almost like a combination of nuts and seafood. These also have an earthy taste, although there is also an element of wood.


In terms of their overall benefits, they share many of the same ones. However, Cordyceps are most commonly used as a tea, but may also be taken in a powder, capsule, or pill form. On the other hand, Lion's Mane is most commonly used as a dietary supplement in the form of a capsule, pill, or powder, although many people also brew it into their teas.


One important note here is that the effects of both of these mushrooms can vary from one person to another, as not everyone reacts in the same way. In terms of a difference in effects, one of the biggest differences here is that Cordyceps is known for treating fatigue, improving physical performance, and boosting energy, which is something that Lion's Mane mushrooms are not known for.

On the other hand, Lion's Mane mushrooms are known for being better at improving cognitive health such as memory. However, both of these mushrooms are known to help boost the immune system, protect against cardiovascular issues, slow down cancer growth, help control blood sugar, and more.

Can You Take Them Together?

The reality is that you don't just have to take Lion's Mane mushrooms or Cordyceps mushrooms separately. There is no reason why you cannot stack them together. If one of these mushrooms has so many benefits, then it stands to reason that combining more than one of these mushrooms would therefore provide you with much greater benefits. Let’s move on and take a look at the various benefits you might be able to reach by stacking these mushrooms together.

Stacking Mushrooms: Benefits of Taking Lion's Mane & Cordyceps Together

Let's take a quick look at the variety of benefits that you might be able to enjoy thanks to a combination of Cordyceps and Lion's Mane mushrooms.

Boosts Your Immune System

As discussed above, both of these mushrooms contain compounds that are said to help improve the function of the immune system, mainly those beta glucans and polysaccharides. Although both of these mushrooms may work in different ways to help boost the function of your immune system, they both achieve relatively the same result on this front. Taking these mushrooms together should provide your immune system with a massive boost.

Possible Cancer Benefits

According to the various studies that we covered in the above sections on the individual benefits of these mushrooms, it was shown that both mushrooms were able, in laboratory settings, to in one way or another slow down or stop the growth of various cancer cells. The antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antitumor properties of these mushrooms could very well be extremely beneficial for anybody suffering from cancer. Double the mushroom produces double the benefit.

Adaptogen Benefits

Another big point here is that both of these mushrooms can serve as adaptogens, which are a type of natural substance that helps the body improve overall health, improve energy levels, and adapt to stress. Both of these mushrooms are known for being very popular adaptogens, and this is generally what they are marketed as.

The hericenones contained in Lion's Mane mushrooms should help improve cognitive function, and memory, while also reducing stress, whereas cordyceps, all of the polysaccharides in them, should help boost the immune system and reduce inflammation, which is also part of the adaptogenic spectrum.

Pre-Workout Energy Boost

Although Cordyceps are generally regarded as being a bit better than Lion's Mane for providing an energy boost, both still appear to have their benefits on this front. If you're looking for something other than caffeine or harsh chemicals to give you a boost prior to your workout, combining both of these mushrooms might be your next best bet.

Protection Against Cardiovascular Diseases

As we discovered above, both Cordyceps and Lion's Mane mushrooms may be extremely beneficial for your heart health, specifically in relation to triglycerides and cholesterol levels. In general, these mushrooms individually should help to reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke, and when combined, these benefits should increase exponentially.

Improves Concentration And Cognitive Functions

These mushrooms are thought to have great benefits for your overall cognitive abilities, especially when it comes to focus, concentration, and memory. As shown above, these mushrooms may also help to regulate your mood by alleviating symptoms associated with depression and anxiety.

Choosing Which One Is The Best For You

Of course, you have to choose which of these mushrooms is right for you. However, based on what we just discussed above, it is safe to say that you don't have to choose, you can take them both together if you want.

It appears that if you stack these mushrooms together, the benefits increase nearly financially. If what you are looking for are benefits for your immune system, cardiovascular health, and cognitive functions, Lion's Mane is probably the better choice.

However, if you are looking to boost energy levels and athletic performance, along with some other benefits, then Cordyceps appear to be the best.

However, there is really no reason why you cannot combine these two to reap more benefits. Just make sure that you always consult a healthcare practitioner before starting any new supplement or treatment to make sure that it is the right path for you to follow.

Final Thoughts

The bottom line here is that Cordyceps and Lion's Mane mushrooms are two of the best mushrooms you could possibly take for your mental and physical health. 

These adaptogenic mushrooms are proven to have a wide variety of health benefits, and if you combine them, you should become a much healthier person.

If you are interested, it is also possible to take CBD with adaptogens. Our own Botany Farms CBD Gummies and our Live Resin CBD Tincture are two great products to consider taking along with these fantastic adaptogenic mushrooms.  

Lion's Mane vs. Cordyceps: Frequently Asked Questions

Before we call it a day, let's just answer some of your most frequently asked questions about Cordyceps and Lion's Mane mushrooms.

What Does Lion's Mane Do To Hormones?

Lion's Mane mushrooms may increase testosterone levels in men, therefore supporting better energy levels, libido, and muscle mass.

What Does Lion's Mane Do To The Brain?

Lion's Mane mushrooms may be able to slow down the degeneration of the brain and the onset of various neurodegenerative brain diseases. At the same time, it may also be able to regulate various neurotransmitters, such as serotonin and dopamine, to help relieve society and depression. These mushrooms may also help improve overall cognitive function.

Who Should Not Take Lion's Mane?

People who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not take this mushroom. Since this mushroom may also slow down blood clotting, anybody who is on blood thinners or similar medications should take great care.

Who Should Not Take Cordyceps?

It is recommended that if you have a bleeding disorder or diabetes, or if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, you should avoid these mushrooms. Children should also avoid them.

Do Cordyceps Work Immediately?

The effects of these mushrooms should be felt within about a week of taking them regularly.

How Does Cordyceps Make You Feel?

These mushrooms should improve your overall health in general, and specifically, you should feel stronger, you should have a bigger sex drive, and you should feel less fatigued.

Are Lion's Mane and Cordyceps Legal?

Yes, at this time these mushrooms are perfectly legal.

Should you take Lion's Mane or Cordyceps every day?

Yes, you can take both types of mushrooms on a daily basis, as there's currently no research to indicate that doing so is dangerous.

What mushroom is best for brain health?

When it comes to overall brain health, Lion's Mane mushrooms are set to be the best.

Does Lion's Mane increase dopamine?

By interacting with various neurotransmitters in the brain, Lion's Mane mushrooms may be able to help increase dopamine levels. This in turn may help to relieve symptoms associated with anxiety, depression, and general sadness.

Does cordyceps increase testosterone?

As noted above, there are some indications that Cordyceps may be able to help increase testosterone levels, which could therefore also have many other benefits for men.

What mushroom is best for anti-aging?

It is believed that Cordyceps are some of the best mushrooms for anti-aging benefits.

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