Medicinal Mushrooms in Modern Medicine

Medicinal Mushrooms: From Traditional to Alternative and Complementary Medicine

Traditional medicine has recognized many health benefits of medicinal mushrooms for thousands of years. In all of history, hundreds of millions of people have used mushrooms medicinally.

The safety, efficacy and benefits of using medicinal mushrooms, as well as contraindications and side effects, were discovered directly, through trial and error. The experiences of traditional medicines, especially traditional Chinese medicine, prove that medicinal mushrooms:

  • are very safe to use,
  • cause very few side effects, which occur rarely and are very mild,
  • used long term may be very beneficial for certain conditions.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)
Traditional Chinese Medicine Shop in Shanghai, China, sells thousands of preparations.

Irrespective of our scientific methods and statistical analysis (which are indispensable), modern drugs cannot really compare with the amount of experience of using mushrooms medicinally. This is especially true regarding long-term effects and general safety. Modern drugs have never been tested on such a large population and time span.

In traditional medicine, medicinal mushrooms were prescribed for treating cancer, various viral infections (especially hepatitis (jaundice), flu and herpes), bacterial and fungal infections, wound healing, reducing problems caused by elevated cholesterol levels, high blood pressure and blood sugar, to slow ageing and reduce the problems of old age, improve sexual function, strengthen resistance to diseases and more.

The scientific research of medicinal benefits of mushrooms used in traditional medicine started in the first half of the 20th century. So far, more than 50,000 research papers and 400 clinical trials with medicinal mushrooms have been published and the results conclusively support their many benefits.

Taking the above into account, calling medicinal mushrooms an alternative medicine is incorrect. While it does originate from (thousands of years of) traditional medicine, it is also extensively verified using modern scientific research. Medicinal mushrooms experts and scientists now favor the more accurate term evidence-based complementary and natural medicine.

Unfortunately, the full potential of medicinal use of mushrooms is mostly unrecognized and we are still very far from finding, let alone reaching, the limits of their usefulness in clinical practice.