Medicinal fungal research in China
Zhu, Ping Key Laboratory of Systematic Mycology and Lichenology, Institute of Microbiology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China.
Wen, Hua-An Key Laboratory of Systematic Mycology and Lichenology, Institute of Microbiology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China.
- Pharmacological research
- Chemical research
- Other applications
- Challenges and prospects
- Links to Primary Literature
- Additional Readings
Medicinal fungi are those that are used mainly for medical purposes. These fungi are an important part of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). Generally, medicinal fungi are macrofungi that produce a fruit body or sclerotium. Most of these macrofungi are species of Basidiomycetes, whereas others are species of Ascomycetes. These fungi are commonly known as medicinal mushrooms. However, there are other medicinal fungi, including some molds and yeasts, that belong to the microfungi. For example, shenqu (massa medicata fermentata), a well-known TCM to treat maldigestion that has been in use in China for thousands of years, was prepared through the natural fermentation of several kinds of microorganisms, including yeasts. (It is now made mainly by using a single species of yeast.) Similarly, molds grown on tofu (bean curd) have been utilized to cure furuncles (small cutaneous abscesses; also known as boils). In fact, many medicinal herbs, including Ganoderma lucidum, Wolfiporia extensa, Polyporus umbellatus, Cordyceps sobolifera, and Ophiocordyceps sinensis, were recorded and depicted in the earliest Chinese medical literature and in other succeeding Chinese medicinal books. These traditional Chinese herbs have gone through long periods of clinical verification and are even utilized in contemporary hospitals in China. In the past decades, modern science and technology have been applied in the research and development of medicinal mushrooms. Meanwhile, dozens of medicinal mushrooms have been developed into Chinese pharmaceutical products.
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