A mushroom dish is always a delight for your taste buds and this delectable item will not only be a hot favourite of food buffs, but will soon adorn the shelves of your local chemist if studies at the National Research Centre on Mushroom, Solan, are any indication.
A research project 'Medicinal mushrooms, their evaluation and cultivation' undertaken by R D Rai at NRCM, Solan has revealed that doctors are now prescribing the fungal sprout and its by-products with other medicines for different types of cancers and various diseases.
Rai said, "The project's duration was from 1997 to 2002. But since the technology was not commercially viable, the project got extended till 2004."
The project was funded by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research at a cost of nearly Rs 37 lakh.
Elaborating the medicinal value of mushroom, Rai said, "Mushrooms have been used as medicines by Chinese and East Asian people since time immemorial. Extracts of mushrooms are there in homoeopathy. The way we use herbs in Ayurveda,
mushrooms are used in Chinese and Japanese systems of alternative medicine."
A mushroom variety, which is known most for its medicinal value in the world, is Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum), whose annual world trade figure is of Rs 128,550,000 (USD three billion) while in India the annual figures stand at Rs 150 crore.
Other mushroom varieties like Shiitake, Maitake, Coriolus, Hericum, Cordyceps also have medicinal values, Rai said.
"Many scientists in the world have done pharmacology including clinical trials of the mushroom extracts. But I went for DNA fingerprinting for authentic Ganoderma lucidum and quality testing based on principal component analysis (total polysaccharides and Ganodermic acid)," he said.
On whether he has been able to market his research and products, Rai said, "Two firms have taken up this technology and one of them has launched capsules. Of course, it is the beginning, but I think bigger Ayurvedic firms should evince interest in this."