Medicinal mushroom

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Clitocybe nuda

Medicinal mushrooms are mushrooms used in medicine or medical research.

In folk medicine and fiction[edit]

Mushroom artwork by Chen Hongshou, Hiroshige II, and Lang Shining (left) Mesoamerican mushroom stones (right)
Ganoderma cultivation (left, Hokkaido) Cordyceps store (right, Lhasa)

Mushrooms, fermentation molds, mycelia, sclerotium, and lichens, have a history of medicinal use spanning millennia. The mushroom with the longest record of medicinal use Ganoderma lucidum, is known in Chinese as líng zhī ("spirit plant"), and in Japanese as mannentake ("10,000 year mushroom"). In ancient Japan, Grifola frondosa was worth its weight in silver.[1]

A Hadith states, "Truffles are manna which Allah sent to the people of Israel through Moses, and its juice is a medicine for the eyes."[2] Ötzi the Iceman was found carrying Fomes fomentarius and Piptoporus betulinus.[3] Inonotus obliquus was used in Russia as early as the 16th century, and it featured in Alexandr Solzhenitsyn's 1967 novel Cancer Ward.[4] Ancient Egyptians considered mushrooms food for royalty.

Fungi that do not produce mushrooms, have made large contributions to medicine being the source of immunosuppressants ciclosporin, mycophenolic acid, mizoribine, antibiotics penicillin, cephalosporins, fusafungine, usnic acid, fusidic acid, fumagillin, brefeldin A, verrucarin A, alamethicin, antifungals griseofulvin, echinocandins, strobilurin, azoxystrobin, caspofungin, micafungin, and statins lovastatin, mevastatin (pravastatin precursor), and monacolin J (simvastatin precursor).

Medical applications and research[edit]

Antimicrobial isolates and derivatives[edit]

Ling Zhi-8, an immunomodulatory protein isolated from Ganoderma lucidum

Antibiotics retapamulin, tiamulin, and valnemulin are derivatives of the mushroom isolate pleuromutilin. Plectasin, austrocortilutein, austrocortirubin, coprinol, oudemansin A, strobilurin, illudin, pterulone, and sparassol, are antibiotics isolated from mushrooms. Researchers have isolated a number of antifungal, antiviral, and antiprotozoan, isolates from mushrooms.[5]

Anticancer research[edit]

Some countries have approved Beta-glucan mushroom extracts lentinan, polysaccharide-K, and polysaccharide peptide as immunologic adjuvants.[6] There is some evidence of this use having effectiveness in prolonging and improving the quality of life for patients with certain cancers, although the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center observes that "well designed, large scale studies are needed to establish the role of lentinan as a useful adjunct to cancer treatment".[7] According to Cancer Research UK, "there is currently no evidence that any type of mushroom or mushroom extract can prevent or cure cancer".[8][9]

Contamination hazards[edit]

Mushrooms can accumulate, even hyper-accumulate, particular heavy metals and radionuclides.[10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Maitake Mushroom". Complementary and Alternative Medicine : Diet and Nutrition. American Cancer Society. 2008. Retrieved 2011-03-08. 
  2. ^ Muhammad. "Book 23, Chapter 27". Hadith. Sahih Muslim. pp. 5084–9. ISBN 0-7045-0303-4. 
  3. ^ Peintner, U; Poder, R; Pumpel, T (1998). "The iceman's fungi". Mycological Research 102 (10): 1153–62. doi:10.1017/S0953756298006546. 
  4. ^ Zheng, Weifa; Miao, Kangjie; Liu, Yubing; Zhao, Yanxia; Zhang, Meimei; Pan, Shenyuan; Dai, Yucheng (2010). "Chemical diversity of biologically active metabolites in the sclerotia of Inonotus obliquus and submerged culture strategies for up-regulating their production". Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology 87 (4): 1237–54. doi:10.1007/s00253-010-2682-4. PMID 20532760. 
  5. ^ Engler M, Anke T, Sterner O (1998). "Production of antibiotics by Collybia nivalis, Omphalotus olearis, a Favolaschia and a Pterula species on natural substrates.". Z Naturforsch C 53 (5-6): 318–24. PMID 9705612. 
  6. ^ Ina, K; Kataoka, T; Ando, T (2013). "The use of lentinan for treating gastric cancer". Anti-cancer agents in medicinal chemistry 13 (5): 681–8. doi:10.2174/1871520611313050002. PMC 3664515. PMID 23092289. 
  7. ^ "Lentinan". Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. 27 February 2013. Retrieved August 2013. 
  8. ^ "Mushrooms and cancer". Cancer Research UK. Retrieved August 2013. 
  9. ^ Gao, Y; Xu, H; Lu, Z; Xu, Z (2009). "Quantitative determination of steroids in the fruiting bodies and submerged-cultured mycelia of Inonotus obliquus". Se pu = Chinese journal of chromatography / Zhongguo hua xue hui 27 (6): 745–9. PMID 20352924. 
  10. ^ Uptake of Radionuclides by Some Fungi (

External links[edit]