Lion's Mane vs. Reishi: Key Distinctions | Botanic Tonics

Lion's Mane vs. Reishi: Key Distinctions | Botanic Tonics

Reviewed by Jamal Bouie

Distinguishing Features: Lion's Mane vs. Reishi

If you keep up with the latest trends in the wellness scene, you likely know that functional mushrooms are all the rage—and for good reason. What are functional mushrooms, exactly? From enhancing cognitive performance to helping you feel cool, calm, and collected throughout the day, these fabulous fungi have the potential to keep your brain and body feeling good. 

Two of the most popular varieties of medicinal mushrooms include lion’s mane and reishi. Both are great mushrooms for cognitive function. From capsules to tonics (and even mushroom coffee blends), you can find these ingredients in a variety of products at your local health food store. 

Despite both being mushrooms, however, a breakdown of reishi vs. lion’s mane shows that these two mushrooms offer distinctly different benefits. So, what are the differences between these potent fungi, and which should you add to your self-care regime?

In this article, we’ll answer all your questions on these two functional mushrooms and explore easy ways to integrate them into your everyday wellness routine. 

Lion's Mane: The Brain-Boosting Powerhouse

Lion’s mane mushroom, or Hericium erinaceus, is a shaggy white adaptogenic mushroom that’s been used for centuries in Traditional Chinese medicine because of its range of benefits, including medicinal properties and cognitive support capabilities. 

This brain-boosting powerhouse has recently gained popularity in the West because of its potential to:

  • Stabilize mood
  • Support memory and cognitive function
  • Treat neurodegenerative diseases[1]
  • Improve gut health
  • Relieve mild symptoms of mood disorders like depression and anxiety

But what exactly does this fantastic fungi do for your brain? Here are some of the most recent findings from research on this medicinal mushroom:

Supporting Brain Health

One of the primary reasons lion’s mane is so sought after is because of its ability to stimulate nerve growth factor (NGF) production.[2] This is an essential compound when it comes to cognitive function and performance—so much so that researchers are now investigating whether lion’s mane may be an effective and natural treatment for conditions like depression and anxiety.[3]

While further research is needed for conclusive results, studies indicate that this mushroom has the ability to modulate the body’s stress response. This can lead to an improved mood and further suggests that lion’s mane may help you combat mood disorders like anxiety and depression.[4]

Studies on mice have also found that lion’s mane extract contains the anti-inflammatory properties required to treat the symptoms of both of these conditions.[5]

Maintaining Your Body’s Nervous System

Recent findings show that lion’s mane may boost the brain in more ways than one. Besides NGF production, studies also indicate that Hericium may help regenerate nerve cells. This is a crucial aspect of treating and preventing neurodegenerative diseases that impact the brain, like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.[6]

Aside from the brain, your nervous system also controls your spinal cord and other nerves throughout your body. Recent studies indicate that lion’s mane may be able to jump-start the repair and growth of nerve cells required to heal from spinal cord injuries, and may reduce brain damage caused by a stroke.[7] This can cut down on healing time and potentially help people make more significant recoveries.

While further investigation is required, it seems this powerful mushroom has serious capabilities, not only offering a brain boost but also speeding up recovery times and helping your brain and body heal from serious injuries.  

Reishi: Immune Support and Stress Relief

Another hot mushroom on the market is reishi, recently popularized for its potential to positively impact the immune system.[8] This fungus, also called Ganoderma lucidum, grows in hot and humid terrain across Asia. Used for centuries in China to treat and prevent illness, you can now find reishi in powders, capsules, and as an ingredient in a variety of your favorite health food items.

But what can reishi really do, and why should you add it to your wellness routine? Here’s an overview of the power of this potent mushroom according to the latest scientific research:

Aiding in Your Body’s Immunity

If you’re looking for new ways to level up your health, start by strengthening your body’s first line of defense: your immune system. Even if you’re used to popping zinc or Vitamin C at the first sign of a cold, you may want to integrate a new kind of capsule into your supplement regimen. 

Studies have found that Ganoderma has the ability to impact the genes in the body’s white blood cells, which are an integral part of healthy immune function.[9]

In 2006, scientists concluded that reishi effectively increased the number of white blood cells in individuals with colorectal cancer, suggesting that it can be a powerful tool in healing and recovery.[10]

Older research also found that this mushroom can boost the function of lymphocytes, which are essential for effective immune responses whether patients are fighting cancer or fighting infections.

Combatting Fatigue and Fighting Depression

Not only can reishi give your body an added immune boost, but it may also be able to help combat fatigue and mild depression symptoms. 

Research involving individuals with breast cancer found that consumption of reishi powder helped treat symptoms of depression, anxiety, and fatigue associated with the disease.[11] Additionally, one study found that after eight weeks of consuming Ganoderma supplements, people with neurasthenia (a condition that can cause aches, pains, headaches, and dizziness) had reduced feelings of fatigue and showed overall improvements in well-being.[12]

While most of the research has only been conducted on people with pre-existing conditions, reishi may nevertheless be able to provide a sense of calm and help fight fatigue in a variety of individuals. So, rather than reaching for a second cup of coffee or an energy drink the next time you’re feeling low, you may want to reach for this natural superfood solution instead.

Providing Potential Anti-Cancer Properties

Studies indicate that reishi may help individuals treat symptoms of cancer, like fatigue and depression. But studies also indicate that reishi may contain anti-cancer properties that help combat the disease itself.  

While more research is needed for definitive conclusions, recent findings suggest promising outcomes for this fungus and its ability to aid in fighting cancer, especially when used alongside more conventional treatment methods. 

For example, multiple studies conducted using test tubes found that the mushroom contributed to the death of cancer cells, while other studies showed that its anti-inflammatory properties aided in halting cancer development.[13] As studies continue to emerge, this little mushroom could have a big impact on the world of science, especially regarding cancer treatment and prevention.

Lion’s Mane vs. Reishi: Choosing the Right Mushroom for Your Health Goals

If you’re deciding which of these medicinal mushrooms to integrate into your diet, you’ll want to keep your lifestyle and health goals in mind. Since each functional mushroom contains different bioactive compounds, it’s important to choose the mushroom that will give your mind and body the specific support they need.

Here’s a guide to help you get started:

  • If you’re looking for a tool to help alleviate mood swings, maintain mental clarity, and support the health of your brain and nervous system, lion’s mane may be the way to go. Its ability to help you feel calm and focused is why you may have heard that lion’s mane can be a caffeine replacement, making it a smart addition to your morning routine (and a cost-effective alternative to your daily $7 latte). 
  • Reishi may be the all-natural ingredient you’re missing if you’re interested in supporting your immune system or benefitting from anti-cancer compounds. To boost your body’s first line of defense against viruses and bacteria, Ganoderma can help with white blood cell production, kickstarting your immune system and helping you stay healthy.

Of course, there’s also no harm in choosing both!

Integrating Lion's Mane and Reishi into Your Wellness Routine

When you’re ready to reap the health benefits of powerful medicinal mushrooms, it’s important to find a sustainable way to add them to your wellness routine. While many vegan and vegetarian recipes use various kinds of fantastic fungi as meat substitutes, it can be hard to eat enough of each mushroom regularly to experience the effects of their medicinal properties.

Instead, you may consider adding them to your supplement routine and taking capsules containing reishi and lion’s mane extract. This can help ensure you receive the right amount on a daily basis. Not to mention, capsules have a particularly longer shelf life than raw mushrooms. 

Some wellness enthusiasts also opt for adding mushroom powder to smoothies, juices, or even coffee. However, if the texture of powder isn’t for you or if you prefer to combine several potent ingredients at once, you may want to sip on a mushroom tincture or tonic instead. Research more on reishi or lion’s mane extract vs. powder to choose the supplement best suited for your preferences. 

Experience Mushroom with Botanic Tonics

With so many medicinal mushroom products on the market, it can feel overwhelming to figure out where to begin. Fortunately, Botanic Tonic’s line of products makes it easy to get a small dose of health-enhancing fungi, whether you prefer capsules or tonics. 

Our plant-based energy drink contains lion’s mane and other high-quality ingredients, so you can rest assured that you’re making a smart choice. 

When you’re ready to take your wellness routine to the next level, consider adding functional mushrooms to your diet with help from Botanic Tonics.


  1. Forbes Health. Health Benefits of Lion’s Mane.,of%20Agricultural%20and%20Food%20Chemistry 
  2. Taylor and Francis Online. Hericenones and erinacines: stimulators of nerve growth factor (NGF) biosynthesis in Hericium erinaceus. 
  3. Healthline. 9 Health Benefits of Lion’s Mane Mushrooms.
  4. National Library of Medicine. Therapeutic Potential of Hericium erinaceus for Depressive Disorder. 
  5. National Library of Medicine. Erinacine A-Enriched Hericium erinaceus Mycelium Produces Antidepressant-Like Effects through Modulating BDNF/PI3K/Akt/GSK-3β Signaling in Mice. 
  6. National Library of Medicine. Neuroregenerative potential of lion's mane mushroom, Hericium erinaceus (Bull.: Fr.) Pers. (higher Basidiomycetes), in the treatment of peripheral nerve injury (review). 
  7. National Library of Medicine. Lion's Mane, Hericium erinaceus and Tiger Milk, Lignosus rhinocerotis (Higher Basidiomycetes) Medicinal Mushrooms Stimulate Neurite Outgrowth in Dissociated Cells of Brain, Spinal Cord, and Retina: An In Vitro Study. 
  8. National Library of Medicine. Immunomodulating Effect of Ganoderma (Lingzhi) and Possible Mechanism. 
  9. National Library of Medicine. The effects of two different ganoderma species (Lingzhi) on gene expression in human monocytic THP-1 cells. 
  10. National Library of Medicine. Monitoring of immune responses to a herbal immuno-modulator in patients with advanced colorectal cancer. 
  11. National Library of Medicine. Spore Powder of Ganoderma lucidum Improves Cancer-Related Fatigue in Breast Cancer Patients Undergoing Endocrine Therapy: A Pilot Clinical Trial. 
  12. National Library of Medicine. A randomized, double-blind and placebo-controlled study of a Ganoderma lucidum polysaccharide extract in neurasthenia. 
  13. Healthline. 6 Benefits of Reishi Mushroom (Plus Side Effects and Dosage). 

About The Author

Jamal Bouie Botanic Tonic

Jamal Bouie

Jamal Bouie is an accomplished professional with a Bachelor’s Degree in Chemistry from Lemoyne-Owen College in Memphis. Currently, he is pursuing his PhD in Biomedicine at Salus University. Jamal has worked in several industries; he began his career in pharmaceutical manufacturing and transitioned to the cannabis industry, where he specialized in analytical testing and manufacturing, playing a vital role in ensuring product safety and compliance. Now, Jamal has turned his attention to the dietary supplement field, combining his scientific acumen with his passion for health and wellness.

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