If you're here, you might be one of the 1 billion humans worldwide who suffer from migraines.
According to the American Migraine Foundation, approximately 1 billion people worldwide experience migraines. In the United States, it is estimated that approximately 39 million people experience migraines, which is roughly 12% of the population.
While there is no known cure for migraines, some people are turning to ancient remedies to find relief from their pain. And one of those ancient remedies is Hericium erinaceus - more commonly known as lion's mane.
In this article, we'll cover some of the leading studies on using lion's mane for migraines and headaches. Plus, we'll talk about dosage, timing, and types of lion's mane supplements.
We hope you find this article helpful! Our goal here at Remeday is to make learning about medicinal mushrooms easy, fun, and free. We'd love to hear from you if you've seen success using lion's mane for migraines.
Let's dive in.
What are the common causes of migraines?
There are many reasons why you may be suffering from migraines. These may include your genetics, hormonal changes, environmental factors, dietary factors, stress, neurological factors, and certain medications.
But the causes of migraines can vary for each individual. And unfortunately, many of the 1 billion migraine sufferers aren't sure what triggers their migraines.
What are some of the most common migraine remedies?
If you open any migraine forum, you'll find them jam-packed with remedy after remedy for migraines. Your doctor can help you determine the best path for you.
Some of the most common migraine remedies include:
1. Over the counter & prescription medication
These include your run-of-the-mill NSAIDs like ibuprofen and aspirin, acetaminophen (Tylenol), triptans (like sumatriptan), and ergotamines (like dihydroergotamine). These medications can be found either over the counter or by prescription and may provide some relief.
2. Making certain lifestyle changes
For migraines that are triggered by stress and other environmental factors, certain lifestyle changes may be helpful. These can include avoiding triggers (like very bright lights or heavy scents), getting enough rest, prioritizing sleep, and reducing your stress levels.
3. Acupuncture & relaxation techniques
Meditation, yoga, stretching, deep breathing, controlled breathing, and acupunture may help to reduce the stress that causes migraines.
4. Herbal remedies and functional medicine
For those who haven't been able to find migraine relief from traditional medication, herbal and functional remedies might be a good fit. Some popular migraine herbs are already on your store shelves. These include feverfew and butterbur. But more recently, interest in functional mushrooms for migraine management has increased. We'll spend most of our time exploring this particular herbal remedy!
How to Use Lion's Mane Mushrooms for Migraines
If you're here, you're likely wondering whether there's any scientific and anecdotal merit to using lion's mane mushrooms for headaches.
One thing is clear: a good portion of the research done on lion's mane has been on rats and other animals. In order to determine whether lion's mane is a safe and effective migraine remedy, more human research is needed.
We feel it's also important to point out that not much is known about combining lion's mane with traditional NSAIDs. So if you're currently managing your headaches and migraines with NSAIDsa and other pain relievers, keep reading to learn about possible interactions.
Studies on lion's mane and migraines
Like we said, more research is needed in order to determine the effectiveness of lion's mane for migraines. But here is some of the research that's been completed to date:
In a study on rats, lion's mane extract was found to protect against ischemia-induced neuronal cell death in the brain, which could potentially help prevent migraines caused by reduced blood flow to the brain.
In a clinical trial on elderly participants with mild cognitive impairment, lion's mane supplementation was found to improve cognitive function, which could indirectly help reduce the impact of migraines on cognitive function.
Another clinical trial found that lion's mane supplementation reduced symptoms of depression and anxiety, which are commonly associated with migraines and may exacerbate migraine symptoms. However, it's important to note that this particular study was gendered and therefore limited.
Let's remember that the research above were either done on animals or in very small human trials. There is no direct evidence that lion's mane can mitigate migraines or headaches. But its affects on the brain continue to be researched.
- Speeding up nerve recovery: One study found that lion’s mane supplementation immediately following a nerve injury reduced recovery time by up to 41% in rats. It appeared to speed up this recovery by regenerating axons and stimulating nerve growth where nerve degeneration had occurred. [source]
- Reduces injury size: Remember: lion’s mane is a potential anti-inflammatory. In one animal study, supplementation at high doses reduced the size of a stroke-related injury by 44%. Erinacine, a key compound found in lion’s mane, seems to be the main culprit in reducing the brain’s inflammatory response, too: you might remember it from the Alzheimer’s section above. [source]
Learn more about the potential brain benefits of lion's mane mushrooms in our guide.
So, can lion's mane help with migraines?
The reality is, we simply don't know. Lion's mane has lots of incredible brain benefits. But like all functional mushrooms, more clinical, human research is needed. With that said, lion's mane has been used functionally for thousands of years for a number of head ailments. And many users may experience relief from their migraines or cluster headaches by trying lion's mane supplementation.
Always speak to a doctor before incorporating a new supplement into your routine. And be sure to check out our guide to lion's mane interactions and side effects.
Does lion's mane cause headaches?
If you've been on Reddit recently, you may have seen some nootropics threads popping up in popularity that lion's mane supplementation may actually cause headaches in some people.
Here's one thread on lion's mane causing headaches.
Some users suggest that user headaches could be from increased sensitivity due to nerve regeneration in the brain. But of course, this is completely anecdotal and is not based on any scientific evidence.
With that said, headaches can be a symptom of any medicinal mushroom supplement. In fact, headaches are a common side effect of many functional supplements.
This article author (hi, I'm Kate!) has taken high-quality lion's mane supplements almost daily for three months and I've yet to experience headaches as a side effect.
How to reduce the liklihood of lion's mane giving you a headache
Some people may experience headaches after taking lion's mane. But there are ways to mitigate your risk of experiencing headaches. Here are some common sense tips to reduce your risk.
1. Choose a trusted brand
Not all lion's mane products are created equal. Mushrooms are like sponges. Unless you're sourcing your mushroom supplement from a trusted grower AND seller, there is a chance that there are toxins or even heavy metals in your supplement. Always look for 3rd-party lab testing for quality and safety.
Here at Remeday, we don't sell any products. But we've done extensive market research on some of the top mushroom brands out there. We only ever recommend products we've tried ourselves AND would suggest to friends and family. While we certainly can't promise these brands won't cause headaches for you, you can take the worry about quality and safety off your brain!
If you're looking to add some lion's mane to your morning brew, you'll love FreshCap. Their focus on quality and safety is only matched by their passion for the industry. FreshCap regularly produces highly-educational content so you can learn while you try.
If you're like us and are more of a tincture person, we seriously cannot recommend LifeCykel enough. As avid users ourselves, we simply love the quality of this product. And as a smaller brand, they are able to zero in on sourcing, extraction methods, and more.
2. Start with a very low dosage
Everybody is different -- and every body is different. If headaches are a concern, we highly recommend you start with a fraction dosage. This is easy to do if you're using powders, capsules, or tinctures to take lion's mane. But it's harder to do with some commercial products (like mushroom coffee). Start with a low dose and gradually increase the dosage over days or even weeks. This can help your body adjust to the supplement more easily and may reduce the risk of headaches. You might also consider keeping a journal of the days you experience headaches. What else did you consume? When did you take your supplement? What did you take with it?
If you're not sure where to start, check out our complete lion's mane dosage guide.
3. Try taking your lion's mane with food
Any time you're taking a concentrated supplement on an empty stomach, you run the risk of GI upset or headaches. So consider nibbling on a snack before, during, or shortly after taking your supplement.
Did you know? Lion's mane is also a gourmet mushroom. In fact, you may be able to find it on your supermarket shelves. And while proper extraction is required to get the most medicinal benefit from lion's mane, you can still whip up a tasty dish and get some great functional benefits.
Check out our top lion's mane recipes if you want to try some tonight!
4. Drink lots of water to stay hydrated
We probably don't need to remind you that dehydration can sometimes cause headaches. It's critical that you drink plenty of water throughout the day -- but especially if you're taking lion's mane and are concerned about headaches as a side effect.
We're so thankful you took the time to check out our article on lion's mane for headaches. If you want to learn more, there's a few places you can go!
We put together a 100% free and easy lion's mane learning center where you can explore our top lion's mane mushroom content.
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We hope to see you around soon!
The Team at Remeday