vl blog featured agarikon

Laricifomes officinalis

Ganoderma lucidum

In ancient Greece and Rome, the mushroom was widely-known under the name of “agarikon” or “agaricum.” Nicknames for its fruiting bodies are “ghost bread” and “tree biscuits.” [23]

Natural History

(Ecology, Where and How it Grows)

Laricifomes officinalis is a wood-rotting, tree-dwelling arboreal fungus belonging to the Fomitopsidaceae family of the Polyporales order. It is commonly found in old growth forests in the northwest region of the United States, southwest region of British Columbia, China’s northern regions [16], and in various countries throughout Western, Central  [13], Eastern, and Northern Europe. [12] In 2003, it was documented as “most common in Siberia,” [6] especially the Ural mountains, and present in small populations in Morocco, Japan, and Korea.

The popularity of L. officinalis led to it being overharvested for commercial purposes and the subsequent threat of species extinction. [23]


(The Cultural and Sociological Impact of this Species)

A number of indigenous tribes of North America have considered Agarikon an indispensable element in certain rituals, believing the fungus serves as a holistic and spiritual agent, capable of “facilitating contact with spirits.” One tradition includes making figurines, i.e. grave sentinels, from the mushroom’s fruiting body and placing them on the graves of shamans upon their death, the belief being that the ghost of the shaman would reside within the sentinel and protect the grave. Numerous grave sentinels made of Agarikon can be found in museums. [23]   

Agarikon is also documented as a folk medicine in the literature of Mongolia, Nigeria, various Arabic countries, and Iran. [23]

In Europe, Agarikon has been regarded as a panacea and used to treat an array of ailments including night sweats, dizziness, menstrual cramps, hemorrhoids, rheumatism, respiratory, digestive and excretory diseases, and cancer. Large doses were used to induce vomiting while lower ones were used as diuretics, to help the body release water and sodium via urination. [23]

Dating back to antiquity, Agarikon has been used to treat pain, fever, inflammation, insect bites, jaundice, muscular diseases, sciatica, rheumatism, bladder problems, and hemorrhoids, and “potentiate menstrual bleeding.” The earliest mention of Agarikon dates to the first century AD when the Greek physician and philosopher, Dioscorides, referred to it as a cure for consumption. The ancient Arabic physician, Ahwazi, who “defined cancer as a disease resulting from the accumulation of black bile,” recommends that the fungus should be consumed as a laxative to rid the body of bile. [23]

Historically, Agarikon has been regarded as an immunity boosted and highly effective anti-inflammatory agent possessing anticoagulant, antiparasitic, and diuretic effects. [23]


  • The coumarin compounds isolated from L. officinalis have shown an inhibitory effect on Candida albicans, a cause of diaper rash and yeast infections, and carries other antithrombotic, anti-inflammatory, and vasodilatory properties. [26]
  • Both crude extracts and the compounds isolated from L. officinalis have been shown to have a wide spectrum of therapeutic effects, including anti-inflammatory, cytotoxic, and antimicrobial effects.
  • Contains two rare chlorinated coumarins. Chlorination is correlated with increased antimicrobial activity [13]
  • Contains flavonoids, which are antioxidants.
  • Contains immunomodulatory, anticancer, and anti-inflammatory polysaccharides.
  • Contains anti-inflammatory compounds such as polysaccharides, Eburicoic acid, and Officimalonic acids A–H.
  • Contains anticancer compounds:3-Keto-dehydrosulfurenic acid, Dehydrosulfurenic acid, Dehydroeburicoic acid, Fomitopsin C, Triterpenoid lactone (fomefficinin), Sesquiterpenoid (fomeffic acid), 3-Acetyl Oxylanostane-8, 24-dien-21-oic acid, Pinicolic acid, Trametenolic acid B, Officimalonic acids A–H.
  • Dehydrosulfurenic acid is also shown to be a neuroprotective agent.
  • Officimalonic acids A–H are also cytotoxic.
  • Contains antimicrobial compounds 6-Chloro-4-phenyl-2H-chromen-2-one, 4-phenyl-2H-chromene-3-carboxylate.
  • Contains antiviral Fomitopsin D, E, F, eight lanostane-type terpenoids, and triterpenoids of lanostane type.
  • May help prevent “neuropathies associated with infections caused by the herpes viruses or hepatitis C.”

Other Quick Facts were derived from Muszyńska, Bożena et al. “Fomitopsis officinalis: a Species of Arboreal Mushroom with Promising Biological and Medicinal Properties.” Chemistry and Biodiversity (2020). [23]

Health Benefits

Antimicrobial Activity

Far beyond the ethnomycological uses of Agarikon, aka Laricifomes officinalis, the bioactive molecules isolated from the fungus in recent years have “proved to show remarkable antimicrobial effect.” [13] 

Agarikon contains chlorinated coumarins. In their simplest form coumarins are heterocyclic compounds basically constituted by a benzene ring and a pyrone one (benzopyrone). Chlorination is generally regarded as factors that increase antimicrobial activity as a whole. This suggests that the chlorinated coumarins of L. officinalis may demonstrate a more robust antimicrobial inhibiting effect than other coumarins. [13] 

Many experiments have shown the antimicrobial properties of L. officinalis, indicating its potential use as a raw material to produce antiviral, antibacterial, and antiparasitic drugs. [23]

While much is still being studied and learned, two specific L. officinalis’ secondary metabolites: 2H-6-chloro-2-oxo-4-phenyl-1-Benzopyran-3-carboxylic acid ethyl ester and 6-Chloro-4-phenyl-coumarin, have both have been shown to demonstrate antimicrobial activity. [13]

Antiviral Activity

A study based on the use of L. officinalis in Iranian medicine confirmed its antiviral efficacy against smallpox, influenza subtype H5 N1, and hepatitis C. A different study, published in 2019, indicated L. officinalis’ inhibitory action against herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) and against B. cereus, attributed to chemical compounds fomitopsin D and fomitopsin F, respectively.

A study of the fruiting bodies of L. officinalis showed that its antiviral properties extend to influenza virus types A/chicken/Kurgan/05/2005 (H5N1) and A/Aichi/2/68 (H3N2). L. officinalis has also shown “direct antiviral activity” against the Orthopoxvirus genus which can affect both humans and domestic and wild animals. [23]

Antibacterial Activity

One especially notable property is the antibacterial activity of the species’ mycelium against both gram positive and gram negative bacteria.

Gram Negative Bacteria

The coumarin compounds isolated from L. officinalis have shown an inhibitory effect on an array of various gram negative bacterial strains, including the following: 

Acinetobacter baumannii an ESKAPE pathogen classified as a “number one critical priority pathogen” for which the World Health Organization says “new therapeutics are urgently required.” 

Agrobacterium tumefaciens, a cause of crown gall disease in plants.

Bacillus cereus and Bacillus subtilis are both commonly associated with food poisoning. B. cereus may be fatal. 

Enterobacter aerogenes is an “opportunistic and multiresistant bacterial” pathogen, with outbreaks commonly seen in hospital wards in Europe. E. aerogenes can cause “urinary tract infections (UTI), respiratory infections, soft tissue infections, osteomyelitis, and endocarditis.” It is resistant to first and second-generation cephalosporin antibiotics, and treatment with third-generation cephalosporins is not recommended due to the likelihood it will result in multiresistant infection. “Polymyxins, tigecycline, fosfomycin, and carbapenems” antibiotics are currently deemed appropriate for treatment of E. aerogenes infections.[25] 

Enterococcus faecalis, a bacterium of the human gut microbiota that, in the presence of alcoholic liver disease, can become pathogenic and contribute to liver damage. 

Escherichia coli, aka E coli, a cause of diarrheal illness.

Mycobacterium smegmatis, a rapid-growing mycobacteria.[23]  

Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a pathogen highly prevalent to antibiotic resistance and capable of “causing a variety of infections in both immunocompetent and immunocompromised hosts.” Common infections include puncture wounds leading to osteomyelitis (bone infection), pneumonia, otitis externa (swimmer’s ear), and nosocomial (in-hospital) infections: “ventilator-associated pneumonia, catheter-associated urinary tract infections, and others.”[33] 

Salmonella typhimurium, the causing agent of Salmonella infection.

Streptococcus pneumoniae, the bacterium that causes Community-acquired pneumonia (CAP) which commonly afflicts children and adults over age 65.[23]

Gram Positive Bacteria

L. officinalis has been shown to inhibit the following gram positive bacterial strains: 

Staphylococcus aureus (Staph). Although commonly found in “normal human flora” and in “the mucous membranes (most often the nasal area) of most healthy individuals,” this bacteria can cause an array of potentially serious infections when it enters the human body’s internal tissues or bloodstream. [30] Staphylococcus aureus is a common cause of hospital-acquired infections. [4] 

L. officinalis has been shown to inhibit another gram positive bacterial strain, Bacillus thuringiensis, which is commonly used in soil for insect control and deemed harmless to humans.   

L. officinalis has also been shown to inhibit the gram negative bacterial strains Klebsiella pneumoniae and Enterobacter aerogenes. [23]  

Klebsiella pneumoniae is a known cause of infections including pneumonia, bloodstream infections, wound or surgical site infections, and meningitis, and is resistant to antibiotics. L. officinalis’ inhibitory properties might therefore fill the need for an effective agent against K. pneumoniae.

Trypanosoma congolense, one of the most pathogenic parasites causing disease in livestock, currently found in Mongolia. A study of eight lanostane-type terpenoids which were isolated from L. officinalis demonstrated an “inhibitory effect” on T. congolense. [23]


In 2016, a phytochemical investigation of the methanolic extract of L. officinalis, which utilized “spectroscopic data, single-crystal X-ray diffraction, and electronic circular dichroism,” revealed that officimalonic acids D, E, G, H, and fomitopsin A “showed potent inhibitory effects” when tested via anti-inflammatory assay.[15]

Respiratory Function


Known for almost 9000 years[16], Mycobacterium tuberculosis’s increasing resistance to antibiotics makes it imperative to find suitable medicinal substances for effective treatment of what the World Health Organization has deemed “the leading cause of death from a curable infectious disease” worldwide.[9]

Specifically, two coumarin compounds found in the mycelium of Laricifomes officinalis,  2H-6-chloro-2-oxo-4-phenyl-1-Benzopyran-3-carboxylic acid ethyl ester and 6-Chloro-4-phenyl-coumarin, have been shown to “exhibit activity against Mycobacterium tuberculosis.”

The coumarins found in Agarikon may also inhibit pseudotuberculosis, and bacteria of the genus Pseudomonas.[23]

Agarikon is often consumed in supplement form for both humans and pets alike. View Verdant Leaf’s Agarikon mushroom products for the whole family.

Agarikon for Pets & Animals

L. officinalis has demonstrated an “inhibitory effect on Trypanosoma congolense (nagana trypanosome),” a highly pathogenic parasite which causes fatal diseases in animals, mainly farm livestock. Currently, the parasite is found in Mongolia. This finding has been called “extremely valuable” in establishing the potential medicinal use of this species, however, further detailed study is required.

L. officinalis has also shown “direct antiviral activity” against the Orthopoxvirus genus which can affect both humans and domestic and wild animals. [28]

Medicinal Compounds

(Beta-Glucans, Phenols, etcetera)

  • Eburicoic acid
  • Sulfurenic acid
  • Versisponic acid D
  • 7 Fomefficinic acid A
  • Fomefficinic acid D
  • Fomefficinic acid F
  • Fomefficinic acid G
  • Dehydroeburicoic acid
  • Dehydrosulfurenic acid
  • Dehydroeburiconic acid
  • 3-Ketodehydrosulfurenic acid
  • 6 α-Dihydroergosterol
  • 3 Ergosterol
  • 2H-6-chloro-2-oxo-4-phenyl-1-Benzopyran-3- carboxylic acid ethyl ester
  • 6-Chloro-4-phenyl-coumarin

Medicinal compounds sourced from Ulrike Greinke.“European medicinal polypores – A modern view on traditional uses.” Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 2014. [14]


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