Medicinal Mushrooms: From Traditional to Alternative and Complementary Medicine
Medicinal Mushroom Use in Traditional Medicine and The Safety and Efficacy of their Long-Term Use
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, and their contraindications and side effects, were discovered through trial and error. The experiences of traditional medicines, mainly 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 in many conditions and diseases.
Medicinal Mushrooms in Modern Science: Research and Clinical Trials
Irrespective of our scientific methods and statistical analysis (which are indispensable), modern drugs cannot even compare with the amount of experience of using mushrooms medicinally, especially regarding long-term effects and general safety. More recent drugs never underwent testing over the same extended time or scale of population.
Traditional medicine practitioners prescribed medicinal mushrooms to treat cancer, viruses (such as hepatitis, flu, and herpes), bacterial and fungal infections, to speed up wound healing, lower cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and blood sugar, slow down aging, improve sexual function, and strengthen the body’s resistance against disease.
The scientific research on the medicinal benefits of mushrooms used in traditional medicine started in the first half of the 20th century. Researchers have published 50,000+ research papers and conducted 400 clinical trials on medicinal mushrooms, which prove their many benefits.
Therefore, 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 mushroom experts and scientists now favor the more accurate term evidence-based complementary and natural medicine.
Although the potential benefits of medicinal mushrooms are vast, they remain largely unrecognized, and we are a long way from reaching the limits of their usefulness in clinical practice.