Ötzi the Iceman is a well-preserved mummy from 3300 BC. His body was found on the border of Austria and Italy. Among many interesting things, two species of mushrooms were found in Ötzi’s possession. Both mushrooms were polypores but they were probably used for two different purposes. One was a tinder fungus, which was found with a fire-starting kit. The other species was a medicinal birch polypore. An examination of Ötzi’s body showed that he had an intestinal parasite known as a whipworm. Interestingly, birch polypores are now known to contain polyporenic acid, which has been shown to be especially effective at killing whipworm parasites.
What is most amazing is that man possessed this knowledge of mushrooms over 5,000 years ago, but today we are just rediscovering some of the very same benefits of mushrooms. How did we lose touch with some much knowledge? Today, we are witnessing a movement that is reconnecting us with our food source and bringing us back to our roots. Based on the fast growing popularity of gourmet mushrooms, we can see that mushrooms are a part of this movement. Clearly, there is a lot we can learn from Ötzi the Iceman.
For more information, view this fascinating documentary on Ötzi: