Mycological Progress

, 14:91 | Cite as

Hericium erinaceus, an amazing medicinal mushroom

  • Benjarong Thongbai
  • Sylvie Rapior
  • Kevin D. Hyde
  • Kathrin Wittstein
  • Marc StadlerEmail author


Medicinal mushrooms have become a compelling topic because the bioactive compounds they contain promise a plethora of therapeutic properties. Hericium erinaceus commonly known as “Houtou” or “Shishigashira” in China and “Yamabushitake” in Japan, has commonly been prescribed in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), because its consumption has been shown to be beneficial to human health. The species is found throughout the northern hemisphere in Europe, Asia, and North America. Hericium erinaceus has been firmly established as an important medicinal mushroom and its numerous bioactive compounds have been developed into food supplements and alternative medicines. However, the correspondence of the active components that cause the observed effects is often not clear. The mushroom as well as the fermented mycelia have been reported to produce several classes of bioactive molecules, including polysaccharides, proteins, lectins, phenols, and terpenoids. Most interestingly, two classes of terpenoid compounds, hericenones and erinacines, from fruiting bodies and cultured mycelia, respectively, have been found to stimulate nerve growth factor (NGF) synthesis. In this review we examine the scientific literature to explore and highlight the scientific facts concerning medicinal properties of H. erinaceus. We provide up-to-date information on this mushroom, including its taxonomy and a summary of bioactive compounds that appear related to the therapeutic potential of H. erinaceus.


Hericium erinaceus ß-glucans Erinacines Hericenones Medicinal mushroom Nerve growth factor (NGF) 



We are grateful to Samantha Chandranath Karunarathna and Komsit Wisitrassameewong (Mae Fah Luang University) for their help and discussions. Our warmest thanks go to Bettina Haberl, Eduard Löwen, Harry Andersson, Peter Karasch and Vivien Bedregal for providing excellent photographs. This study was financially supported by the Thai Royal Golden Ph.D. Jubilee-Industry (RGJ) program (Ph.D/0138/2553 in 24.S.MF/53/A.3) and the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and joint TRF-DAAD PPP (2013–2014). K.D.Hyde would like to thank the Thailand Research Fund for a grant on the taxonomy, phylogeny and biochemistry of thai basidiomycetes (BRG 5580009).


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© German Mycological Society and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center of Excellence in Fungal ResearchMae Fah Luang UniversityChiang RaiThailand
  2. 2.Laboratory of Botany, Phytochemistry and Mycology, Faculty of PharmacyCNRS / Université de Montpellier / Université Paul Valéry Montpellier / EPHEMontpellier cedex 5France
  3. 3.Department Microbial DrugsHelmholtz Centre for Infection Research GmbHBraunschweigGermany

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