Can medicinal mushrooms have prophylactic or therapeutic effect against COVID‐19?

Medicinal mushrooms have documented effects against different diseases, including infections and inflammatory disorders. 

The related Basidiomycota Agaricus blazei Murill (AbM), Hericium erinaceus (HE), and Grifola frondosa (GF) have been shown to exert antimicrobial activity against viral agents, Grampositive and Gramnegative bacteria, and parasites in vitro and in vivo. 

Since the mechanism is immunomodulatory and not antibiotical, the mushrooms should be active against multidrug resistant microbes as well. Moreover, since these Basidiomycota also have antiinflammatory properties, they may be suited for treatment of the severe lung inflammation that often follows COVID19 infection. 


Immunomodulating βglucans constitute the main part of the cell wall in fungi, including Agaricus blazei Murill (AbM), Hericium erinaceus (HE), and Grifola frondosa (GF).

Such polysaccharides have been found to have anticancer and antiinfection effects when given in mouse models. 

Previously, it was proved that, yeast βglucan given orally can protect against systemic S. pneumoniae infection in mice.

In the current situation with a seemingly noncurable pandemic at hand and where candidate drugs and vaccines just are in the testing stage, one must look at alternative prophylactic and therapeutic principles.

One candidate is immune prophylaxis and/ or therapy by use of immunomodulatory mushrooms.

The Agaricomycota among the Bacidiomycetes mushrooms, AbM, HE and GF, are wellknown medicinal mushrooms that have been used worldwide for a range of diseases in traditional medicine.


In fact, many of those applications have been confirmed in preclinical and clinical studies. Focus has especially been on antitumour effects where cytotoxicity and apoptotic mechanism have been revealed. 

However, in addition to an antiinflammatory property, the mushrooms have also been found to induce enhanced Th1 cellular immune response, as demonstrated by increase in IFNγ, IL2 and IL12 cytokines.


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