Is Lion's Mane Safe During Pregnancy?
The lion’s mane is a peculiar mushroom that grows on dead hardwood all over Asia and Europe. Its light and fluffy appearance does resemble a lion’s mane in some ways, and what’s under the hood is even more impressive.
Indeed, this fungus has been consumed for centuries in various societies for its nutritional value and its numerous health benefits. This makes it one of the most ancient medicinal mushrooms and a foundational herb in many traditional medicine practices worldwide.
While the effects of lion’s mane on our health and well-being are impressive, they raise a particular question: is this mushroom safe to eat during pregnancy? After all, the complex relationship between various drugs and fetal health is often a very sensitive one.
Let’s take a long good look at the health benefits of lion’s mane mushrooms and how they are relevant to those currently expecting.
Safe Types to Eat
First, we need to take a good step back and ask, what kinds of mushrooms are generally safe to eat during pregnancy? The good news is that the short and simple answer is: most of them.
However, it does get more complicated than that, and you need to learn to distinguish between at least two basic types of mushrooms that are safe to eat during pregnancy.
Culinary fungi, such as oyster or chestnut mushrooms, are the kind that you are most likely already most familiar with. They’re the most often used as key ingredients in international cuisine and are mainly chosen for their taste and aroma.
However, they do exhibit some notable health effects, most of which they share with other types of fungi as well. For example, culinary mushrooms can lower blood pressure to some extent, and they have an antioxidant effect when consumed regularly.
In studies, there has been no discernible correlation between consuming culinary mushrooms during pregnancy and negative health outcomes. By and large, you can trust culinary mushrooms to be safe to eat while pregnant.
Some mushrooms have elevated medicinal properties. The lion’s mane is among them, but others, such as cordyceps, chaga, reishi, and turkey tail, are equally notable examples of this category.
Medicinal mushrooms can affect our health in various ways, and making generalized statements about their effects is difficult. However, it’s safe to say that the vast majority of medicinal mushrooms, including lion’s mane, can reduce cholesterol levels, boost our immune system, and help fight ulcers and tumors, and infections within the body.
In that sense, they help keep the fragile immunological state of the body during pregnancy intact, and no negative side effects have been reported so far.
It’s worth noting that the research in this area is still somewhat lacking, and there haven’t been so many studies specifically examining the bodily interactions of medicinal mushrooms as they relate to pregnant women.
However, all we can tell is that medicinal mushrooms seem to be relatively safe and unproblematic during pregnancy. We recommend a proper consultation with your physician before taking any kind of medicinal mushrooms, including lion’s mane.
Types to Avoid
We should also clarify which types of mushrooms are definitely not a good idea to consume during your pregnancy. These have known negative health effects, often not merely for expecting women but also for the general population. You should only consume them under medical supervision and in minimal doses.
You might not have heard of the term psilocybin before, but this little-known chemical compound is the secret sauce behind so-called “magic” mushrooms. Yep, those kinds of magic mushrooms famous for their psychoactive effects.
Psilocybin mushrooms are generally quite risky to take for the uninitiated. The hallucinations and “trips” they can cause can be quite disorienting and have often caused unfortunate accidents in the past. People with latent psychosis, such as schizophrenia or depression, can cause seizures, dangerous mood swings, and other adverse side effects.
The particular effects of psychedelic mushrooms on fetal development have not yet been established with accuracy. However, several negative side effects in addition to the above are known. These include nausea, vomiting, and sudden weight loss, among others. For pregnant women, these risks only multiply.
Wild Foraged Mushrooms
Mushrooms of the medicinal and culinary variety are an excellent addition to your diet. When used in moderation and following the right safety guidelines, they can even be safe during pregnancy. However, some might want to experiment with the kind of “wild” mushrooms you might find in the nearby forests of your surrounding area.
In this case, we want to issue a strong warning against such ideas. Both for pregnant women and everyone else, wild foraged mushrooms present enormous risks. Correctly picking fungi is a skill that few truly master, and it requires a very dedicated education into the subtle differences between species.
A simple mistake can lead you to accidentally ingest poisonous types of fungi, which can not only endanger your pregnancy but even be fatal!
Lion’s Mane Benefits
Now, let’s take a closer look at some of the proven health benefits of consuming lion’s mane. In particular, we’ll be listing those bonuses that are of greater importance to expecting mothers.
Lion’s mane is a great source of probiotics, which are compounds that nourish and encourage the growth of your natural gut biome. Imbalances in gut bacteria are some of the more common causes of health issues both for pregnant mothers and the fetus.
Therefore, lion’s mane and similar medicinal mushrooms help ward off some key natal complications.
You might know vitamin D as the “sun hormone,” an elusive chemical essential to our health yet impossible to synthesize within our bodies and mostly absorbed through sunlight. While this is true, some organic foods also contain vitamin D–lion’s mane is one of them.
It has been known for many years that levels of vitamin D in the blood can significantly affect the overall outcome of your pregnancy. Vitamin D deficiency, which has only become more widespread over the years, is one of the leading causes of miscarriages!
Thus, supplementing your existing diet with vitamin D-rich mushrooms such as the lion’s mane could make a night-and-day difference in your health outcomes throughout pregnancy.
Chronic inflammation is another one of those nasty all-too-common health problems that most of us don’t even know we have. Unfortunately, it also affects gestational health to a great degree, even when you’re not aware of it. Gestational diabetes and other conditions have been directly linked to inflammatory responses within the body.
The good news is that lion’s mane is an excellent antioxidant and an adaptogen, meaning that its active ingredients can lessen the severity of stress’ effects on the body.
Blood Sugar Control
High blood sugar levels are a major health indicator correlated with type II diabetes, among other conditions. During pregnancy, in particular, diabetes can wreak havoc on our immune system and fetal health, so prevention is key.
Thanks to its ability to lower blood sugar and cortisol levels, the lion’s mane mushroom is an excellent fit for this purpose. Of course, it is not just expecting mothers who will benefit from this – research shows that the average person could only gain from lower blood sugar levels, as they promote longevity and help ward off various chronic conditions!
Best Lion’s Mane Supplements
If all this sounded enticing to you and you wanted to add some lion’s mane to your diet, you’ve come to the right place! Below, we’ve listed some of the best lion’s mane supplements for pregnant mothers.
Uphoric Urth's Lion’s Mane Extract is an excellent liquid mushroom tincture that is easy to ingest, powerful in its effects, and affordable to buy. Uphoric Urth is one of the most trusted young names in the mushroom supplement scene, and their liquid extracts are all of supreme quality, including this one.
If you prefer more of an all-in-one solution, the Lion’s Mane Mushroom Complex by Humavit might be just up your alley. This supplement combines five mushrooms, including lion’s mane, chaga, reishi, shiitake, and maitake, into easy-to-swallow capsules.
Each dose contains 1,000 mg of extra-concentrated lion’s mane extract and a combined 400 mg of the other mushrooms.
For those who want something organic, Om is the way to go. Om is a notable name in mushroom supplements, and for a good reason. They tread a fine line in offering some of the highest-quality extracts around without succumbing to the limitations of low-volume production, and still maintaining a low price point at the end of the day.
Coming in a large 7-ounce bag, this organic lion’s mane mushroom extract is some of the purest we know of that’s currently available at major retailers.
This is because Om does not process its lion’s mane beyond grinding it into powder and sealing it into packaging throughout production, which all happens at their local farms in sunny California.
Some might simply want a no-nonsense lion’s mane supplement that is not just true to nature but also trustworthy in its nutritional content. For them, there’s Qin Shan Tang’s Organic Lion’s Mane Mushroom Capsules.
Coming in small, handsomely-crafted bottles, this supplement isn’t just great to look at – it also shines in the manufacturer’s dedication to transparency by certifying the number of beta-glucans on each bottle.
Beta-glucans are some of the most important active ingredients in lion’s mane and other medicinal mushrooms. They are responsible for many of their antioxidant and immune-boosting effects. Qin Shan Tang’s supplements regularly score over 30% in beta-glucan content.
For sheer value, you can’t go wrong with Double Wood Supplements and their Lion’s Mane Mushroom Capsules. Packing 120 caps of 500 mg each into a neatly-sized bottle, this supplement wins hands down in the price-performance contest.
But also in terms of extraction quality, Double Wood is no slouch. Using a unique double extraction process, taking nutrients from lab-grown mycelial cultures and wild lion’s mane fruiting bodies, these mushroom capsules retain more important health-boosting ingredients than most others on the market.
Like some other premium brands, Double Wood also chooses to certify all their supplements individually through third-party lab testing, which gives you an added layer of peace of mind.