Book Review

The Fungal Pharmacy
The Complete Guide to Medicinal Mushrooms & Lichens of North America

by Robert Rogers

Cover: The Fungal Pharmacy

Rogers is a retired clinical herbalist and an amateur mycologist. He has written several books and teaches plant medicine at Grant MacEwan University and the Northern Star College of Mystical Studies in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. He is chair of the medicinal mushroom committee of the North American Mycological Association and on the editorial board of the International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms.

While on the same topic, The Fungal Pharmacy is the polar opposite of Ken Babal's book Mushrooms For Health and Longevity. It is broad and deep, addressing a huge array of mushrooms in 170 genera and including just about everything known about their medicinal properties. In addition, it provides a great deal of additional information about each species. That's just the first 440 pages of the book. "The Lichens" starts on page 441. Rather than including seemingly random citations like Babal, it seems that Rogers has included every citation. The information is so deep that some genera require more than 20 pages of description.

As an example, let's look at Ganoderma. The book address two major species: G. applanatum (8 pages) and G. Lucidum (13 pages) and several related species. Each of the two main species begins with a list of synonymous and closely related species with both scientific and common names and a discussion about how the mushroom got each of its names. Further discussion includes: Traditional Uses, Medicinal Use, Mycoremidiation, Food Industry, Textile Industry, Insecticide, Recipes and Dosage, Bits and Pieces (miscellaneous factoids), Cultivation, Culture and Folklore, Spore Oil, and Cosmetics. This section also includes three pages of color photographs. The description of medicinal uses is basically a one paragraph summary of the research on each aspect of the mushroom - like we do with our "Research Notes" section of the newsletter. Each links to the 55 page list of references at the back of the book. The more research that has been done on a species, the longer the discussion.

Relative to cultivating G. lucidum, Rogers says: "Reishi in now cultivated in fifteen countries worldwide with annual production of up to fifteen thousand tons. This compares with only two hundred tons just fifteen years ago. The polypore is not native to my region, but under controlled conditions, reishi can be easily cultivated anywhere. Solomko et al. (2005) found the husks of sunflower seeds a good alternative substrate for cultivating reishi, as well as shiitake, lion's mane, oyster mushrooms, and others. Potato malt peptones help to stimulate fruiting." You won't find detailed cultivation information in this book, but you may find ideas that can help your production process.

The book includes a series of appendices that present the various properties of mushroom species in a table format. The tables address: Medicinal Properties, Anticancer Activity, Antiviral Activity and Antimicrobial Activity. If you are looking for mushrooms to address a particular need, these tables will lead you to the right ones. There is also a 20-page index to help you find anything else in the book.

This probably isn't a book you will want to buy in bulk for your customers, but you should have a copy in your library. Suggested retail is $29.95 in the U.S. and $34.00 in Canada, but you can get it cheaper here: