Erinacines are groups of cyathia diterpenoids that can solely be found in the Lion’s mane mushroom, Hericium erinaceus. These erinacines show biological activities, such as stimulating the NGF synthesis in the brain. To date, 15 erinacines have been identified, of which at least 8 have various neuroprotective properties. Some of these properties include enhancing NGF release, reducing amyloid-B deposition and managing neuropathic pain.

In Lion’s mane, several erinacines are present. For example, it contains erinacine A which was shown to protect against stroke, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, depression and neuropathic pain. Moreover it contains erinacine S, so far known to have been produced only in Hericium erinaceus mycelium. It has just recently been discovered and it is able to reduce amyloid plaque growth and improve neurogenesis in the aged brain of rats.

Erinacine A and erinacine S have been verified to cross the blood-brain-barrier, suggesting a greater likelihood of them targeting the central nervous system. The neuroplasticity effects of erinacine A have been proven in rats, as scientists found elevated levels of NGF (Nerve Growth Factor) in the rats’ central nervous system after 4 weeks of administering Lion’s mane.