During the last twenty years Western populations have witnessed an intensive progress in research on medicinal mushrooms and development of mushroom extract production facilities. A growing body of scientific evidence clearly supports the idea that mushrooms are a true superfood with more than a hundred suggested medicinal functions, including antioxidant, radical scavenging, cardiovascular, anti-hypercholesterolemia, antiviral, antibacterial, anti-parasitic, antifungal, detoxification, hepatoprotective, anti-diabetic, anti-inflammatory, immune boosting, cancer prevention and cancer fighting benefits. Dietitians all over the world emphasize the healing and antioxidant properties of edible mushrooms and point to the fact that regular intake of mushrooms and mushroom derivatives “keeps the doctor away” mainly thanks to their active beneficial ingredients: high-molecular-weight polysaccharides (mainly b-D-glucans), heteroglucans, chitinous substances, peptidoglucans, proteoglucans, lectins, RNA components, dietary fiber, low-molecular-weight organic substances, such as terpenoids, steroids, novel phenols, excellent antioxidants – selenium and germanium – that increase oxygen flow in the body and fight free radical damage, and also substances such as purine, which is beneficial for the diet of persons suffering from metabolic diseases (e.g., gout, rheumatism), and mannitol, which seems to be beneficial for diabetics. Robert Beelman, professor of Food Science at Pennsylvania State University, has stated that other crucial nutrients to be found in mushrooms include vitamin D, glutathione and ergothioneine. They all function as antioxidants that alleviate and prevent lifestyle diseases such as cancer, heart disease and dementia. Ergothioneine (or ergo) and glutathione need to be obtained from dietary sources, as the human body is not able to produce them by itself, and mushrooms are considered the richest existing source of both antioxidants.
Persistent market growt
Mushroom-infused products are becoming more popular globally thanks to celebrities, social media influencers and health-conscious consumers who are trying out various wellness trends like “functional foods”, “ancient eating”, Eastern medicine, “gut healthy” probiotics and anti-stress adaptogens. In fact, market research has indicated functional mushrooms as among the most anticipated food trends in the coming years. A report by Market Research Future estimates the compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of medicinal mushroom extract market during the forecast period 2017-2023 more than 6%(1). Mushroom varieties like Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum), Chaga (Inonotus obliquus), Cordyceps (Cordyceps sinensis) and Lion’s mane (Hericium erinaceus) can be found in such categories of products as bottled drinks, coffees, teas, smoothies, broths, soaps, shower gels, hair and skin care products. 24 million tonnes of edible mushrooms are being produced annually and the global mushroom industry for the three main categories (pharmaceutical industry/wild mushrooms, cosmetic industry/mushroom products, food industry/edible mushrooms) is valued at over US$ 60 billion and is expected to maintain this level in the next seven years due to increasing demand for functional foods among the growing health-conscious population.
Investment in R&D
The growth of the medicinal mushroom market is positively boosted by continuous R&D efforts of various industries. Mushroom growers are encouraged by governments and international agencies to develop newer farming technologies and to utilize small areas of cultivable land effectively in order to improve mushroom quality. The life cycle of mushrooms is different as compared to green plants, therefore they may be cultivated in lawns, woodlands, and variuos new bioreactor technologies with minimal land usage.
High potential for ImmunoPharma
For a company like ImmunoPharma, looking into establishing a product pipeline to enter and further exploits the trending market for functional mushrooms will be of the utmost interest.