Ancient Greeks were aware of the medical benefits of the agarikon mushroom. According to Pedanius Dioscorides, an author who wrote in the year 65 AD, it was used as a cure for tuberculosis by the Greeks and against smallpox by others. Many cultures have used the agarikon mushroom in various medical mixtures since the dawn of history, due to its content of agaric acid. It might have been a very important species, since it was found in old graves. Agarikon was even considered an elixir for long life, in the book Materia Medica written by Greek physician Dioscorides in 65 AD. Greeks used it against night sweats, tuberculosis and respiratory problems. Agarikon mushroom was known to be an effective natural anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-inflammatory agent. The already mentioned Materia Medica of Greek physician Dioscorides in 65 AD is also the first known mention of agarikon. The famous Roman philosopher Pliny the Elder mentioned agarikon mushroom in his works as well and later English herbalist John Gerard in the 17th century. It enjoyed a solid reputation as an elixir for longevity and general panacea, able to treat any disease. Agarikon mushroom was especially used as a cure for pneumonia, tuberculosis and other breathing-related disorders, as well as a poultice for external use against any type of inflammation or pain of the muscles and bones. It was also said to be a poison antidote, according to one legend, king Mithridates preventively consumed a potion prepared from it as protection against poisoning. He later tried to commit suicide during a period of depression and took a strong poison that had no effect, due to the agarikon that he consumed for so many years. North Coast First Peoples of North-western North American also used the agarikon in medicine. It had a religious significance for Haida First Peoples of the Queen Charlotte Islands, where it was part of their creation myth. When European colonists introduced new viral diseases to the continent, such as smallpox, the natives might have used agarikon as a treatment against them. Primitive humans also employed it against infections and it might have been important for their survival, according to recent ethnobotanical studies. Modern researchers have been able to validate the ancient claims that agarikon is effective against various pathogens. It has been tested against a variety of bacteria, for example salmonella, E. coli, Staphylococcus aureus, Candida albicans, Agrobacterium tumefaciens, Bacillus cereus and B. subtilis. Besides killing germs, the agarikon mushroom also boosts immunity of both types: innate and specific. It is also able to kill viruses, which resist most types of drugs. The agarikon and the polypore, which is another ancient species of mushroom related to it, have also been found to be active against tumours.
The agarikon is only found in the wild, in old-growth conifer forests. The Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga) and the larch (Larix) seem to be the best trees for this species. The destruction of ancestral forests threatens this wild mushroom with extinction. Some strains can be cultivated in labs but their genetic structure is very hard to conserve, so it is very important to save the wild populations of agarikon mushroom.
One capsule per day is the recommended dose as a diet supplement. It is not necessary to take it with food but ask for the advice of your doctor if you want more details about the usage.
Like many other natural products, its effects are not tested properly for pregnant and nursing women, who should not take it without medical advice.