Medicinal mushrooms are mushrooms used in the practice of medicine. Many species of mushrooms have been used in folk medicine for thousands of years. The use of mushrooms in folk medicine, is best documented in the East. Medicinal mushrooms are now the subject of study for many ethnobotanists and medical researchers. The ability of some mushrooms to inhibit tumor growth and enhance aspects of the immune system has been a subject of research for approximately 50 years. In the span of this time, preclinical studies have shown 200 species of mushrooms that demonstrated the ability to markedly inhibit the growth of different kinds of tumors, however dosage and effects on humans is mostly unknown. More extensive information regarding the toxicology of some medicinal mushrooms is also needed.
Research with mushrooms and fungi in the past, has led to the discovery of important pharmaceuticals. For example, research with fungi is how the statin drugs were developed. Dr. Akira Endo isolated the first statin, mevastatin, from the fungus Penicillium citrinum in 1976. Later the pharmaceutical company Merck & Co. isolated lovastatin from the fungus Aspergillus terreus. Recent research has found that the oyster mushroom naturally produces lovastatin, mushrooms produce large amounts of vitamin D when exposed to UV light, and that certain fungi may be a future source of taxol. In the past, research conducted with fungi has also led to the discovery of penicillin, ciclosporin, griseofulvin, cephalosporin, and ergometrine. International mushroom research continues today, with a focus on mushrooms that may have hypoglycemic activity, anti-cancer activity, anti-pathogenic activity, and immune system enhancing activity.
Mushrooms are now being added to coffee