Traditional Chinese Medicine
In Europe, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has been known since about the mid-20th century. However, the individual TCM therapies are based on findings and concepts that date back thousands of years. TCM originated in the Stone Age, during which various natural treatments and even acupuncture were already being applied. The theory of the five elements (wood, fire, earth, metal, water) is based on Confucius’ teachings. At about 80% of all applications, pharmacotherapy plays the biggest role in TCM. In TCM, pharmacotherapy is based on natural substances with specific properties.
Some of the most valuable and effective pharmaceuticals in TCM are medicinal mushrooms. The c. 2000 year old Chinese pharmacopoeia “Shen Long Ben Tsao“ classifies and groups all herbs known at that time. Members of the most valued group - also called “God’s Own Herbs” - include ginseng and Reishi mushrooms. Within this group, Reishi is considered the “queen of all medicinal plants” and is placed above all other plants at the uppermost position.
Reishi, which is extremely rare in nature and could not even be cultivated until about 1970, was considered to be so precious that Chinese emperors sent out expeditions to search for it and had temples built in its honour. They hoped that sorcerers in the Chinese mountains would appreciate the temples enough to gratefully place the valued mushrooms in them. Reishi, by the way, is also said to prolong life or even grant immortality. It is, therefore, also called the “Mushroom of Eternal Life”.
In the meantime, TCM is - of course with less dramatic claims - also recognised as therapy in the Western world. In particularly in mycotherapy, numerous international studies have served to verify its efficacy in preventive health care and in the treatment of various ailments and disorders.
The Ötzi find
Not least, the spectacular Ötzi find proves that medicinal mushrooms have been highly appreciated in Europe since ancient times. As early as 5200 years ago, Ötzi carried a fungus related to Coriolus versicolor (turkey tail) in his first aid kit. This medicinal mushroom commonly used in Eastern Asia for generations reinforces, for instance, the body’s defence system in counteracting viruses.
Thus, one could rightly call Traditional Chinese Medicine a universal natural medicine.