Laetiporus Sulphureus: A Medicinal Mushroom from Ethiopia

Laetiporus Sulphureus: A Medicinal Mushroom from Ethiopia Credit: Penn StateCreative Commons

Penn State Food Science visiting scholar Ashagrie Zewdu will present "Laetiporus Sulphureus: a Medicinal Mushroom from Ethiopia" from noon to 1 p.m. on Wednesday, March 13, in Foster Auditorium, first floor, Paterno Library on the University Park campus of Penn State. Zewdu, a doctoral candidate in the Center for Food Science and Nutrition, Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia, will describe a study conducted by the Huck Institute of Life Sciences at Penn State, which examined the properties of Laetiporus sulphureus.

Describing the presentation, Zewdu said, "Fungi have yielded some of the most widely sold products in the pharmaceutical marketplace including antibiotics, immunosuppressives and cholesterol-lowering agents. Additionally, some fungi, such as the ergot fungus (LSD) and psilocybin (magic) mushroom produce hallucinogens that are used ceremonially in traditional cultures and recreationally in contemporary societies.

"Wild mushrooms are used as both food and medicine by various ethnic groups in Ethiopia. The Kaffa people in southwest Ethiopia use the fruiting body of Laetiporus sulphureus to relieve stomach pain and to expel a woman's retained placenta following childbirth. However, no clinical studies have been conducted to validate the medical claims ascribed to this mushroom and no chemical compound contained in the mushroom has been identified as a possible agent responsible for the mushroom's metabolic effects."

The Huck Institute of Life Sciences comparative metabolomic (metabolite profiling) study of Laetiporus sulphureus was conducted on the basis of ethnomycological information obtained from the Kaffa. The goal of the study was to identify the therapeutic compound unique to this mushroom. Enoxolone (glycyrrhetinic acid) was found to be the compound unique to Laetiporus sulphureus. Enoxolone is the compound responsible for the antiviral, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of licorice. 

The event is free and open to the public and also can be viewed live online at: and search for the presentation date in the menu to bring up the direct link. (No log in is required.) It is part of an ongoing series highlighting the importance of indigenous knowledge and is sponsored by ICIK, the Interinstitutional Consortium on Indigenous Knowledge, and the Penn State Social Sciences Library. For more information on ICIK, go to online.

For more information, accessibility accommodations or questions about the physical access provided, call Helen Sheehy, at or 814-863-1347.

Last Updated March 04, 2013