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Medicinal Mushrooms

What are medicinal mushrooms?


Although certain mushrooms have been used in traditional medicine, probably since pre-history, the ability to identify beneficial properties and then extract the active ingredient started with the discovery of penicillin by Alexander Fleming in 1928. Since that time, many additional compounds have been discovered and the potential for fungi to synthesize biologically active molecules useful in a wide range of clinical therapies has been extensively exploited. Pharmacological research has now isolated antifungal, antiviral, and antiprotozoan, isolates from fungi. The fungus with probably the longest record of medicinal use, Ganoderma lucidum (Red Reishi), is known in Chinese as líng zhÄ« ("spirit plant"), and in Japanese as mannentake ("10,000 year mushroom"). In ancient Japan, Grifola frondosa (Black Hoof) was worth its weight in silver. Inonotus obliquus (Chaga) was used in Russia as early as the 16th century, and is featured in Alexandr Solzhenitsyn's 1967 novel Cancer Ward.

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