One of the most common causes of death for people who suffer from breast cancer is venous thrombosis, which occurs when veins are blocked by blood clots. It is so dangerous that patients are given anticoagulants all their life, as a method of prevention. Stinkhorn extracts were found to decrease platelet aggregation, greatly reducing the risk of this condition. Stinkhorn could be used in nutrition, as a supportive therapy. The species has a long history of medical use. During medieval times, it was included in love potions due to its shape but also used as a treatment for gout. People in the German province of Thuringia dried and powdered young stinkhorns and added them to alcoholic beverages in order to prepare an aphrodisiac, according to a report of reverend John Lightfoot from 1777. The immature eggs were called ghost eggs or demon eggs. Stinkhorn was used in bull fights in Northern Montenegro. Peasants from the area believed it could make bulls stronger and rubbed mushrooms on their necks before fights. Since they were said to be aphrodisiacs, mushrooms were fed to young bulls. Like many other fungi, stinkhorns have the ability to boost the immune system. They are known to reduce inflammation and stress, as well as fight tumours. Stinkhorn also speeds up wound healing and can cure female genital cancer.
The species is edible and can even be consumed raw, if parts of the inner receptaculum are sliced with a knife during the egg phase. Their taste is similar to the one of radishes, with a crunchy texture. In some areas of Germany and France it is a popular delicacy that can be consumed fresh or pickled, sometimes included in sausages. Stinkhorn is also eaten in China.
Stinkhorns are common all across Europe and North America but also grow in other parts of the world. They are found in India, China, Taiwan and locations as diverse as Iceland, Australia, Costa Rica or Tanzania. Stinkhorn inhabits the entire USA but is more common in the areas west of the Mississippi River. East of the river is the territory of another related species, Phallus ravenelii (popular name Ravenel's stinkhorn). It lives on decaying wood, so the fruiting bodies can be found during the summer and autumn in deciduous forests. Other habitats include parks, gardens and other areas covered by grass, as well as conifer woods. Stinkhorn can live in a mycorrhizal relation with a number of tree species. It is a saprobic species that grows both isolated and in large clusters. Stinkhorn is often encountered during the summer and fall in North America, in wood chips, cultivated areas, flowerbeds, meadows and lawns.