Mushrooms are an emerging niche crop with many benefits, including improving farmer stewardship of forested lands, utilization of old buildings and barn space, and the ability to offer a unique and highly desired product. With a bit of practice, mushrooms can be easily grown almost anywhere (woods, old buildings, gardens) and on many different materials (logs, wood chips, straw, shredded paper)
Mention fungi and most people’s minds go to fungal infections like ringworm, Athlete’s foot, Jock itch, Candidiasis etc. But not all fungi are bad; there are some good guys in the family, supplying nutrition and medicine to man and animals. In this chat with Dr (Mrs) Lauretta Ofodile, Head of Department, Biological Science, Yaba College of Technology, she speaks on her researches on mushrooms and medicinal plants, saying that it’s high time Africans woke up from their slumber. Excerpts:
According to Dr. (Mrs) Ofodile who studied Mycology pathology, most of her researches are in biotechnology, medicinal plants and mushrooms technology.
“In 2004, I isolated antibiotics from mushroom and in my PhD research work, I carried out the characterisation of the components of some mushrooms from Nigeria, 11 were characterised which included four different species of Ganoderma and three antibiotics were isolated from Ganoderma colossum.
They are; *23-hydroxycolossolactne E; *Colossolactone B; *Colossolactone E.23-hydroxycolossolactne E was identified as novel at the time. It is a lipophylic antibiotic ie lipid-soluble antibiotic that could control some bacteria especially the bacteria that could cause allergy; those that grow on walls and yam barns, leptospora species and both Gram-negative and Gram-positive bacteria.
Ganoderma lucidum was also characterised using chromatographic methods,” she said.
Using waste to produce food:
She said her research on medicinal aspects of mushrooms continued until about three years ago when they started growing mushrooms. “We have been able to grow mushrooms on palm bunch because the cultivation of mushroom is all about utilising waste to produce edible protein; it is an aspect of waste management.
We grow edible Oyster mushroom and we also grow the medicinal mushroom called Ganoderma,” she stated. Continuing, Ofodile described the Oyster mushrooms as nutritive and medicinal. “They have balanced amino acid content; they can control diabetes and hypertension.
“We are actually working on Ganoderma lucidum now and we have been able to produce the seed which is the stem. We are right now inoculating our waste to suit Ganoderma which is very, very important.
“Ganoderma can be used to control cancer and tumour. One of our students worked on the effects of Ganoderma lucidum extract on female rats fed with sodium mono-glutamate which has been known to contain chemicals that induce tumour and fibroids.
Results show that the extract was able to bring down cholesterol level because when the rat was fed with sodium mono-glutamate, the cholesterol level rose, the protein was a little higher than normal and some other components that indicate that the rat could have started developing some abnormal growths in the uterus.
“We plan to work more on that, to be able to induce fibroid proper. Now, there is indication that the extract can control tumours.”
On what led to her interest in fibroids, Ofodile said; “I had a young girl who told me she had been diagnosed of fibroid and we had an exhibition sometime this year and the remaining Ganoderma powder (Gano tea) that we prepared, I gave her to use.
She was always complaining of pains but after using the Gano tea for about five days, the pains disappeared. This is an indication that Ganoderma is effective in stopping whatever impact sodium mono-glutamate could have on the female rat.
“You can add some other medicinal plant extracts to Ganoderma extract to make products that Nigerians can use to prevent diabetes, hypertension, cancer etc., not just for curative purposes but preventive purposes as well because I did a research that shows that Ganoderma can hinder the growth of some micro-organisms, stop them from coming in and can also control them if they have come in.
So you have both curative and preventive attributes. That means that if we can add both the edible and the medicinal mushrooms into our diet, then most of these ailments – cancer, diabetes, hypertension etc., will be reduced in Nigeria.”
Many imported supplements are chaff:
“It’s high time we stopped buying all these imported supplements.
I once bought one of these products, I wanted to use it as a standard to check the components of our own Ganoderma. I didn’t get to do it but recently, I was in Namibia and a Namibian student brought the same product, (the capsules), and used the crude extract of Ganoderma isolated from their wild and ran the chromatography tlc, he found that there is nothing in the product they were selling, no components! So they are selling chaff to Africans.
That was one of the things we decided, that we as Africans have to wake up. Namibia is about to set up a Ganoderma park in the country because they have a big pharmaceutical company producing these medicinal products but they import the Gano from China and these researchers in the University of Namibia came together and said; ‘No, this cannot continue.’
The UN funding agency for South-South, decided they were going to sponsor the project in Namibia to see that they take up this market. Nigeria also needs this. We need more mushroom farms and people have to be trained to understand how it is done. It is a full-fledged technology that must be transferred as skills acquisition and knowledge.”
It has been reported that Ganoderma lucidum also improves the functioning of the circulatory, respiratory, nervous and digestive systems, prevents cancer, supports immune system, protects the liver, increases energy levels and metabolism, improves cardiovascular health, contains antioxidants, antibacterials and antivirals.
“We are also working on some other plants like moringa oleifera.
The recent work we have done on moringa shows that it will suppress malaria parasite and we went further, going through animal feeding, we found that while chloroquine has 100 per cent suppressive impact, moringa seed oil has about 75 per cent.,” she said.