Lion's Mane: Triterpenoids vs Polysaccharides

Lion's Mane: Triterpenoids vs Polysaccharides

Lion’s Mane, scientifically known as Hericium erinaceus, is a unique mushroom that has been used in traditional Chinese and Japanese medicine for centuries. It is known for its potential health benefits, particularly its cognitive-enhancing properties. Two of the most important bioactive compounds found in Lion’s Mane are triterpenoids and polysaccharides. But what are these compounds, and how do they contribute to the health benefits of Lion’s Mane? Let’s dive in.

Triterpenoids in Lion’s Mane

Triterpenoids are a class of chemical compounds composed of three terpene units. They are known for their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. In Lion’s Mane, triterpenoids are believed to reduce lipids in the bloodstream, protect the liver, and curb histamine release.

However, it’s important to note that Lion’s Mane contains very few triterpenoids, and there is no research linking them to anything therapeutically useful. Therefore, while triterpenoids are present in Lion’s Mane, they are not considered a quality marker for this mushroom.

lions mane mushroom growing outdoors


Polysaccharides in Lion’s Mane

Polysaccharides are complex, long-chain carbohydrates. They are difficult to digest and are therefore broken down through extraction. The polysaccharides with some of the greatest importance in Lion’s Mane Mushroom extracts are known as Beta-Glucans.

Beta-Glucans are a type of sugar that is found in the cell walls of bacteria, fungi, yeasts, algae, lichens, and plants, such as oats and barley. They are known for their immune-enhancing effects.

A good Lion’s Mane Mushroom extract will rarely contain more than 35% total polysaccharides, and even less as a dual-extract, since some Beta-Glucans are lost during the secondary alcohol extraction.


While both triterpenoids and polysaccharides are found in Lion’s Mane, it appears that polysaccharides, specifically Beta-Glucans, play a more significant role in the health benefits associated with this mushroom. However, more research is needed to fully understand the therapeutic potential of these compounds. As always, it’s important to consult with a healthcare provider before starting any new supplement regimen.

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