History of Tiger Milk Mushroom

Tiger milk mushroom is a medicinal mushroom with the scientific name of Lignosus rhinocerus (Cooke) which belongs to the Polyporaceae famly.

It is known by a variety of local names: cendawan susu harimau, betes kisas, hurulingzi, and hijiritake. It has been used in natural medicines to treat numerous ailments, including cough, fever, indigestions and inflammation. This Malay’s national treasure is said to grow on the spot where tiger milk falls to the ground when a mother is feeding her cubs.

Figure below shows structure of tiger milk mushroom.

In 1664, John Evelyn recorded an evet in his book (The Dairy of John Evelyn) that the rare and important medicinal product name “Lac tygridis” (or Tiger’s milk) was given by Jesuits of Japan and China to their Order at Paris as repository’s collection. Besides that, Mordecai Cubitt Cooke first recorded this mushroom (fungus) scientifically, naming it as Polyporus rhinocerus using a specimen from Penang Island, Malaysia. While in 1890, Sir Henry Nicholas Ridley, the founder of Malaysian rubber industry, attempted (albeit unsuccessful) to cultivate this important medicinal mushroom. Tiger milk mushroom was listed as a mushroom with important economic value in “A Dictionary of the Economic Products of the Malay Peninsula”.

Sir Henry Nicholas Ridley

In 2002, the forth and seventh Prime Minister of Malaysia, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad mentioned his keynote address at the International Biotechnology Convention in Kuala Lumpur that tiger milk mushroom is the cure for his chronic cough that had plagued him for years.

Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad

Tiger milk mushroom can be found in the rain forests of Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, Southern China, Papua New Guinea and Malaysia. In the wild, tiger milk mushroom grows solitary, only one stalk within a radius of 5km. It can only be identified when it has sprouted out from the ground and produced a stem and cap. Yet, the medicinal properties will have been depleted in the sclerotium when the stem and cap have been produced.

Furthermore, tiger milk mushroom has been used in traditional medicine as a health tonic by Aborigines and indigenous populations to treat more than 15 medical ailments, including cough, asthma, bronchitis, joint pain, fever, breast cancer, stomach cancer, food poisoning, healing wounds, indigestion and gastritis. Chinese family in the 1950s and 60s used as a handy medicine for cough, cold and asthma. The Malays used it to treat various ailments including breast, liver and lung cancer.

Let’s not forget about the benefits that it possesses. The tiger milk mushroom itself has a variety of benefits. It can help us with immunomodulatory actions, anti-asthmatic activity, anti-inflammatory properties, anti-tumor activity and antioxidant properties.

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