Honey Mushroom

Armillaria mellea
(from Medicinal Mushrooms – A Clinical Guide by Martin Powell)

Chinese name – Mi Huan Jun
Japanese name – Naratake
English name – Honey Mushroom

A. mellea is a common fungus that produces edible fruiting bodies with a distinctive golden colour. A single example can grow to cover a vast area and it is reported that the largest living organism in the world is a related species of honey fungus covering an area of 2200 acres in Oregon, USA1.

Although responsible for the death of many trees and garden shrubs, A. mellea is essential for the growth of other plants, including the important Chinese herb Gastrodia elata (Tian Ma), which is used to treat conditions including vertigo, dizziness, headache, stroke and convulsions and whose medical properties A. mellea mirrors. Indeed A. mellea is considered the more potent of the two with an effective dosage half that of Tian Ma2.

Early reports indicated that A. mellea and G. elata shared the same active components but it is now known that they differ in their active metabolites3.

As well as being essential for the growth of G. elata, it has been shown that Armillaria species are involved in sclerotium formation in Polyporus umbelatus (see P. umbellatus section).

A. mellea mycelium contains high levels of polysaccharides with anti-ageing, immune modulating and anti-vertigo activity4. In addition, nucleoside analogues play a role in some of A. mellea’s functions5.

Several antibiotics, primarily sesquiterpene aryl esters, have been isolated from A. mellea and show strong action against gram-positive bacteria (Staphylococcus, Streptococcus, Enterococcus etc.), as well as yeasts and other fungi6,7,8.

Neurological – Tablets composed of A. mellea mycelium are prescribed in China for treating a variety of neurological conditions including Meniere’s Syndrome, vertigo, epilepsy, neurasthenia and hypertension2,9-11.

A. mellea fermentation extract showed anti-convulsant properties, raising the seizure threshold in PTZ-induced seizures in mice12 while an adenosine derivative from the mycelium abolished neurogenic twitch responses induced by electrical field stimulation with both pre- and post-synapse depression, as well as being found to be 1,000 times stronger than adenosine in its cerebral protecting activity8. In addition A. mellea polysaccharide extract was shown to benefit vertigo induced by machinery rotation13.


Main Therapeutic Application – Meniere’s Syndrome, Vertigo, Epilepsy
Key Components – Polysaccharides, nucleoside derivatives and sesquiterpene aryl esters
Dose – Mycelial tablets are used in China 3-4g/day 

1. Medicinal mushrooms – an exploration of tradition, healing and culture. Hobbs C. Botanica Press. 1986.
2. Modernizing chinese medicine – the case of armillaria as gastrodia substitute. Dharmananda S. www.itmonline.org/arts/gastrodia.htm
3. Tian ma, an ancient Chinese herb, offers new options for the treatment of epilepsy and other conditions. Ojemann L.M, Nelson W.L, Shin D.S, Rowe A.O, Buchanan R.A. Epilepsy & Behavior. 2006;8(2):376-383
4. The cultivation, bioactive components and pharmacological effects of Armillaria mellea. Gao L.W, Li W.Y, Zhao Y.L and Wang J.W. Afr J Biotech. 2009;8(25):7383-7390
5. A novel N6-substituted adenosine isolated from mi huan jun (Armillaria mellea) as a cerebral-protecting compound. Watanabe N, Obuchi T, Tamai M, Araki H, Omura S, Yang JS, Yu D.Q, Liang X.T, Huan J.H. Planta Med. 1990;56(1):48-52.
6. Armillaric acid, a new antibiotic produced by Armillaria mellea. Obuchi T, Kondoh H, Watanabe N, Tamai M, Omura S, Yang J.S, Liang X.T. Planta Med. 1990;56(2):198-201
7. Antimicrobial and antioxidant activities of mycelia of 10 wild mushroom species. Kalyoncu F, Oskay M, Sağlam H, Erdoğan TF, Tamer A.U. J Med Food. 2010;13(2):415-94
8. Antibacterial sesquiterpene aryl esters from Armillaria mellea. Donnelly D.M, Abe F, Coveney D, Fukuda N, O’Reilly J, Polonsky J, Prange T. J Nat Prod. 1985;48(1):10-6.
9. To use Armellaria fungus tablet to replace gastrodia tuber in treating 45 cases with syndrome of deficiency of yin and flourishing yang, Chinese Journal of Medicine, 1977;8:473-474.
10. Observation on curative effects of Armellaria mellea fungus tablet in treating 100 cases of neurasthenia and hypertension, etc. Zhou Linshen. Journal of New Medicine, 1978;10:13.
11. Curative effects of gastrodia tuber Armellaria fungus tablet in treating some diseases of the nervous system. Jiangsu Journal of TCM. 1980;1:35-37.
12. Pharmacological actions of gastrodia watery preparation and fermentation liquid of Armellaria mellea on nervous system. Chinese Journal of Medicine. 1977;8:470-472.
13. Study on the anti-vertigo function of polysaccharides of Gastrodia elata and polysaccharides of Armillaria mellea. Yu L. Shen Y.S, Miao H.C. Chin J Information, TCM. 2006;13:29-36

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