Just as its name implies, folklore tales and Indigenous people believe that the mushroom grows whenever drops of tiger’s milk fall to the ground. The mushroom grows on soil deep in the tropical jungles; they thrive in areas with humidity levels over 80% and grow mainly in Genting Highland and Kuala Lipis in Pahang and in Perak (3).
Tiger Milk Mushroom and its Benefits
The tiger milk mushroom consists of three parts: its cap (pileus), stem (stipe), and tuber (sclerotium). The sclerotium is a compacted mass of fungal mycelium containing food reserves, while the cap and stem are woody. The sclerotium, or tuber, is the part where most of its medicinal properties are stored. The sclerotium is white and yields a milk-like solution that tastes like milk (3).
Since ancient times, tiger milk mushrooms have been used by the indigenous community in Malaysia to treat common colds, coughs, flu, and asthma. A study on rats with asthmatic symptoms found that the usage of tiger milk mushroom extract can improve asthmatic rats TH2 cells, which are important in producing Immunoglobulin E (Ig E). IgE is the antibody that will help to recognise a foreign body or allergen that will cause a reaction in the body and chase it away (3).
Tiger milk mushroom is also found to have some natural anti-coagulant properties. Anticoagulant properties are important during thrombolysis treatment. Thrombolysis is the treatment that is used to dissolve blood clots, either in the brain or an artery. Some of the natural anticoagulant and fibrinolytic agents are also used to treat thrombolytic conditions. Certain studies also found out that ‘wood ear fungus’ (a type of mushroom) is able to produce protease-like fibrinolytic enzymes, which could serve as thrombolytic agents to dissolve blood clots. Since the study found out that tiger milk mushroom also has the same protease enzyme, with this property demonstrated by tiger milk mushroom, it is presumed that it is able to be used for cardiovascular diseases (3).
There are also studies showing the comparison between wild tiger milk mushrooms and cultivated tiger milk mushrooms for their antioxidant properties. The study found that both wild and cultivated tiger milk mushroom extracts are able to scavenge free radicals; hence, it was concluded that they have anti-cancer properties, though the nutritional content of wild and cultivated tiger milk mushrooms differs (4). Wild tiger milk mushrooms contain more insoluble fibre and soluble fibre as compared to cultivated tiger milk mushrooms; cultivated tiger milk mushrooms also have more carbohydrate as compared to wild tiger milk mushrooms (4).
There are many other studies on tiger milk mushroom, and it is found that it can give various health benefits to the human body; however, as tiger milk mushroom is a herb-based ingredient, its effects may differ from individual to individual, and some individuals may have different experiences with it. The takeaway message with regards to taking tiger milk mushroom supplements is that they have to go hand in hand with healthy lifestyles, such as exercise, since the symptoms you are experiencing need to be alleviated with lifestyle modifications such as exercise and stop smoking as well.
- The Star. Health benefits of Tiger Milk Mushroom (2011). Wong Li Za. https://www.thestar.com.my/lifestyle/features/2011/03/15/health-benefits-of-wild-tigers-milk-mushroom (Accessed on September 8, 2020).
- Nutraceutical Business Review. Tiger Milk Mushroom: Malaysia Lost Its National Treasure (2015). https://www.nutraceuticalbusinessreview.com/news/article_page/Tiger_milk_mushroom_Malaysias_lost_national_treasure/104531 (Accessed on September 8, 2020).
- Nallathamby N, Phan CW, Seow SL, Baskaran A, Lakshmanan H, Abd Malek SN, Sabaratnam V. A status review of the bioactive activities of tiger milk mushroom Lignosus rhinocerotis (Cooke) Ryvarden. Frontiers in pharmacology. 2018 Jan 15;8:998.
- Yap HY, Aziz AA, Fung SY, Ng ST, Tan CS, Tan NH. Energy and nutritional composition of Tiger Milk Mushroom (Lignosus tigris Chon S. Tan) sclerotia and the antioxidant activity of its extracts. International journal of medical sciences. 2014;11(6):602.