Why Does Lion’s Mane Look (and Smell) Like Cocoa Powder?

Image courtesy of Nutritional Outlook

Have you been wondering whether a lion’s mane mushroom supplement is a good idea for your lifestyle? Although it’s been in use in Chinese cooking and medicine for hundreds of years, the west has just recently caught on to this strange looking mushroom. There are many potential benefits that lion’s mane can offer, but the reason many people decide to make this supplement a part of their daily routine is due to its powerful nootropic abilities. 

If you’ve tried out a few lion’s mane supplements, you might notice that some of them have the look, and smell, of cocoa powder. Not to worry, this is completely natural, and in this article we’ll explain:

  • Benefits and uses of lion’s mane mushroom
  • Why its appearance and aroma is similar to cocoa powder
  • Is lion’s mane for you?

Benefits of Lion’s Mane Mushroom

This odd looking mushroom is packed full of potential benefits

lion's mane mushroom
Although they look odd, these mushrooms pack a real, beneficial punch. Image courtesy of Medical News Today

Don’t be fooled by the pom-pom like appearance of this mushroom, it packs a sizable amount of potential benefits into its long tendrils. Lion’s mane mushroom, although it can be used in cooking and as a tea, is typically taken as a supplement, in capsule, powder, or tincture form. If you’re curious as to what this supplement could offer you, we’ve rounded up some of the common benefits people who do take lion’s mane can experience. 

  • Increased cognitive abilities. One of the most touted benefits of lion’s mane mushroom is that it is a powerful nootropic. This means that it can increase cognitive ability, improving memory, focus, and mental clarity. We’d all like to be a little more on top of things, and adding a nootropic to your daily routine could be just what you need to stay alert and allow the brain to form new connections.
  • Reduce memory loss. We all experience a little memory loss as we age, but when you add a nootropic like lion’s mane, you’re increasing your chance of fighting against age-related memory loss. There have been animal studies that have shown lion’s mane can act as a protector against dementia and Alzheimer’s. This is due to its ability to prevent damage caused by amyloid beta plaques.
  • Boost the immune system. Staying healthy means ensuring your immune system is in top shape. Lion’s mane may help you in this way by increasing the activity of the intestinal immune system, which is responsible for protecting the body from harmful bacteria and viruses. 
  • Reduce mild anxiety/depression symptoms. Lion’s mane naturally reduces inflammation, which can be a potential cause of anxiety/depression. In animal studies it has shown that it can also improve the functions of the hippocampus, the area of the brain responsible for emotional responses. 
  • Speed nervous system injuries. Because lion’s mane can stimulate the growth and repair of nerve cells, it can help those with a nervous system injury and may even contribute to reducing brain inflammation after a stroke. 

Key takeaways:

  • Lion’s mane mushroom is easily found in supplement form, although you can use it raw, dried, or as a tea.
  • Lion’s mane is a powerful, natural nootropic.
  • There are many potential benefits to using this supplement, although further research and more human studies are needed.

Why Does Lion’s Mane Look and Smell like Cocoa Powder?

What should lion’s mane look and smell like?

cocoa powder
Wondering why your lion’s mane mushroom supplement looks and smells similar to cocoa powder? Well, there’s a reason for that!

So now you’re aware of the potential benefits of lion’s mane, you might still be wondering, why can it look (and smell) like cocoa powder? First things first, this is totally normal, and it doesn’t mean that there’s something wrong with your supplement! Many people report the bitter smell--similar to dark chocolate--associated with lion’s mane mushroom. In order to understand why, it’s helpful to know how lion’s mane is extracted and turned into an easy to use supplement.

Hot Water Extract

When obtaining lion’s mane supplements in this manner, it undergoes a 1:1 extraction that results in a lighter colored powder in your capsule. The aroma is considered neutral, although it can smell and taste similar to the mushroom it comes from.

Dual Extract 

Lion’s mane can also be extracted with a dual extract method, that results in a darker powder. During this process, ethanol is used to dissolve and isolate terpenes present in the mushroom, causing it to not only change to a darker color (like cocoa powder) but also changes the aroma. The smell of lion’s mane with a higher extraction ratio is similar to cocoa powder, bitter and rich but not unpleasant. 

The color and aroma of your lion’s mane mushroom will depend on the method used by the supplement company, and which one you decide to use, is up to you. Regardless of the extraction method, lion’s mane is still a great addition to your wellness routine, and should be something you seriously consider adding.

Should You Include Lion’s Mane Mushroom Supplement to your Routine?

If you’re looking to increase cognitive function, the answer is yes!

Dr. Emil Nutrition's lion's mane supplement
Adding a lion’s mane supplement to your day is a great way to boost your mental clarity, and your immune system!

Lion’s mane, whether a darker or lighter color, is one way to help not only fight back against age-related cognitive decline, but to help boost your immune system, reduce memory loss, and decrease inflammation. As a nootropic, it has the ability to pass through the blood-brain barrier to repair cells and help the brain form new connections. This means you’ll experience more mental clarity and better focus. And when you take a high quality supplement like Dr. Emil’s Lion’s Mane capsules that include BioPerine for absorption, you’re ensuring that all the lion’s mane gets absorbed by your body--and goes exactly where it needs to.

Regardless if your lion’s mane looks and smells like cocoa powder, or if it is lighter with the aroma of mushrooms, adding this supplement might be a good idea for your lifestyle. If you want to stay sharp, while boosting your immunity, this could be a good choice for you!

@dremilnutrition