Medicinal Mushrooms for Cold and Flu Season. Licorice Root for Skin

Anti-viral Medicinal Mushrooms for the Cold and Flu Season


by Brien Quirk

Director of R & D


Medicinal mushrooms:

  • Key ingredients for cold season support products.

  • Significant immune boosting effects

  • Potent anti-viral activity against flu viruses

  • Block 2 major pathways of viral infection

  • Heavy Hitters: Reishi, Shiitake, Phellinus, Turkey Tail, Oyster, Maitake, and Cordyceps

For the upcoming Cold and Flu season, there are many existing over-the-counter (OTC) and natural remedies that treat superficial or surface symptoms. There is still a need in the marketplace though for cold and flu remedies that can dig deeper, helping to knock out the causative virus.  Medicinal mushrooms have been found to be a source of anti-viral bioactives, in addition to their well known ability to boost immunity. An effective support product is especially important for the growing number of people who do not feel comfortable with getting flu shots.

One of the main pathways the flu virus causes illness is via two enzymes, one called neuraminidase (N), and the other hemagglutinin (H), which are large glycoproteins on the outside of the viral particle. Neuraminidase is involved in the release of virus offspring from infected cells, while hemagglutinin is a lectin that helps bind the virus to host cells. Neuraminidase also works to facilitate the mobility of viral particles through the respiratory tract mucus membrane.

Many immune support medicinal mushrooms have been found to inhibit the neuraminidase pathway, which is the same mechanism as Tamiflu®. The  mushrooms that have known neuraminidinase inhibitory effects include Reishi, Maitake, Shiitake, Cordyceps, and Phellinus baumii.

Studies done on medicinal mushrooms have had quite promising results. A recent study of Reishi found that 2 of the mushroom’s triterpenoids, ganoderic acid T-Q and TR are inhibitors of two different neuraminidases, H5N1 and H1N1 (Zhu, 2015).

Phellinus baumii, known as Song Gen in China, is used traditionally for the treatment of gastrointestinal cancer, liver and heart diseases, and stomach ailments. Five polyphenols (hispidin, hypholomine B, inoscavin A, davallialactone, and phelligridin) isolated from the fruiting bodies inhibited neuraminidase activity for viral types H1N1, H5N1, and H3N2. Phellinus reduced the amount of virally-induced cell damage as determined by a cell-based assay (Hwang 2015).

Cordyceps contains Cordycepin, which has antiviral activity against selected viruses, including influenza virus, (HIV), and Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) (Ryu, 2014).

A study of mushrooms with antiviral activity against influenza virus type A (serotype H1N1) determined that Oyster mushroom (Pleurotus ostreatus), Enokitake (Flammulina velutipes), and Turkey Tail (Trametes versicolor) were effective active inhibitors.  Turkey Tail mushroom was noted to have a high therapeutic index and was even suggested by the scientists as a “promising material for the pharmaceutical industry as an anti-influenza and antiherpetic agent with low toxicity” (Krupodorova).

A Russian study similarly found antiviral action for Reishi, Shiitake, Maitake, and Agaricus brasiliensis with their metabolites having a direct antiviral effect on influenza virus, and herpes simplex virus types I and II. In addition, the metabolites were found to work on a secondary pathway of increased immunity against the viruses (Avtononmova). Maitake mushroom has anti-viral activity through an increase in production of TNF-alpha, an antiviral cytokine responsible for the inhibition of viral growth (Obi, 2008).

Mice given an active compound from Shiitake and infected intranasally with influenza A2 (H2N2) virus, had an increase in survivor number, less lung involvement, and a decrease in viral titer in lung tissue. The actives in Shiitake protect mice against developing an infection and confer significant antiviral effects (Suzuki, 1979).

Several mushrooms have proven anti-viral activity against influenza virus and can be formulated into a wide array of products for seasonal support.  Other anti-viral botanicals to consider for your formulas are Isatis Root, Black Currant, and Elderberry.


Draco offers medicinal mushrooms as potent extracts – standardized to the important immune active polysaccharides. We can make seasonal support mushroom pre-blends, and we also offer custom formulation for your product development needs.


Licorice Root for Skin Tone and Pigmentation Lightening


  • Effective, low concentrations for skin lightening

  • Licorice root reduces skin inflammation


Licorice root has skin lightening effects and is used for reducing skin inflammation due to its powerful but safe steroid-like compounds.

In one study, five different flavonoids were isolated from licorice and found to have skin lightening effects through tyrosinase inhibition. The isolated flavonoids with this activity in the Glycyrrhiza uralensis species were identified as liquiritin, licuraside, isoliquiritin, liquiritigenin. The flavonoids had IC50 values of 0.072, 0.038, and 0.0258 mM, respectively.

The results suggest that the three flavonoids in licorice, licuraside, isoliquiritin, and licochalcone A, have very powerful effects for skin depigmentation or skin tone products (Fu, 2005).

Draco supplies a licorice extract for personal care formulations.


Please call us today at (408) 287-7871 for pricing and availability!

References for both articles are available upon request.

Draco Natural Products
539 Parrott Street
San Jose, CA 95112
Tel: 408-287-7871
Fax: 408-287-8838

Disclaimer: The contents of this document is intended as background information about botanicals as a compilation of historical, ethnobotanical, traditional uses and research studies which are widely available. No health claims are made or implied from this information, and any product use should be based on the independent evaluation of actual merits to make appropriate and accurate structure function claims. This information was compiled based on interest in the current state of research background for botanicals in general, does not necessarily imply the same effect would be found for the extract sold by Draco. This information is not intended to diagnose, cure, and treat diseases in the US. Usage and claims for these products should be evaluated and used in conformance to the particular regulatory laws and statutes of countries where it is to be marketed.

© Copyright 2017, Draco Natural Products. All rights reserved.