Lawyer’s Wig – Coprinus comatus

Japanese name – Sasakure Hitoyotake
Chinese nameJi Tui Mo / Mao Tou Gui San
English nameShaggy Inkcap / Lawyers Wig

A delicious culinary mushroom, especially when young, C. comatus is commonly found in woods and fields in the northern temperate zone. It gets its name from the maturing spores, which trigger deliquescence causing the gills to disintegrate into a black spore-rich mass1. Containing up to 25% protein when young, it is also rich in triglycerides of which linoleic acid is the most prominent2. It is traditionally used in Chinese medicine to treat piles and improve digestion3.

CANCER – As well as possessing broad polysaccharide-mediated immuno-modulatory activity, organic solvent extracts of C. comatus have been shown to possess anti-androgenic activity and to inhibit androgen-dependent prostate cancer cell proliferation through multiple mechanisms including inhibition of androgen receptor (AR)-mediated reporter activity, reduction in levels of AR and prostate-specific antigen (PSA) transcription and inhibition of Akt-mediated AR phosphorylation and binding of AR to the PSA enhancer region4-6.

HEPATOPROTECTIVEC. comatus has been shown in animal studies to have a marked hepatoprotective effect with daily administration of 50mg/kg of C. comatus polysaccharide extract producing significant reduction in the negative effects of alcohol on liver structure and function10,11.

DIABETES – Several studies have examined the action of C. comatus in diabetes with C. comatus grown on media enriched with vanadium showing significant hypoglycaemic activity12-17. However, evaluation of the trace element content of C. comatus from different sites in China found no vanadium in any of the wild-harvested specimens and it remains to be determined whether C. comatus grown on unenriched substrate would be of any greater benefit in cases of diabetes than other mushrooms18.

Main Therapeutic Application – Prostate cancer, alcohol-induced liver damage.
Key Component – Polysaccharides, triglycerides.
Dose – 3g/day polysaccharide and/or ethanolic extract.

1. Rogers R: The Fungal Pharmacy. Berkeley, CA : North Atlantic Books, 2011. pp. 110–114.
2. Isolation and biological activity of triglycerides of the fermented mushroom of Coprinus comatus. Ren J, Shi JL, Han CC, Liu ZQ, Guo JY. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2012;12:52.
3. Ying JZ: Icons of Medicinal Fungi from China. Beijing : Science Press, 1987.
4. Coprinus comatus and Ganoderma lucidum interfere with androgen receptor function in LNCaP prostate cancer cells. Zaidman BZ, Wasser SP, Nevo E, Mahajna J. Mol Biol Rep. 2008;35(2):107–117.
5. The culinary-medicinal mushroom Coprinus comatus as a natural antiandrogenic modulator. Dotan N, Wasser SP, Mahajna J. Integr Cancer Ther. 2011;10(2):148–159.
6. Inhibition of the androgen receptor activity by Coprinus comatus substances. Dotan N, Wasser SP, Mahajna J. Nutr Cancer. 2011;63(8):1316–1327.
7. The shaggy ink cap medicinal mushroom, Coprinus comatus (O.F.Mull.: Fr.) Pers. (Agaricomycetideae) substances interfere with H2O2 induction of the NF-κB pathway through inhibition of IκBα phosphorylation in MCF7 breast cancer cells. Asatiani MD, Wasser SP, Nevo E, Ruimi N, Mahajna J, Reznick AZ. Int J Med Mushrooms. 2011;13(1):19–25.
8. Inhibitory effect of ethyl acetate extract of the shaggy ink cap medicinal mushroom, Coprinus comatus (higher Basidiomycetes) fruit bodies on cell growth of human ovarian cancer. Rouhana-Toubi A, Wasser SP, Fares F. Int J Med Mushrooms. 2013;15(5):457–470.
9. In vitro effects on proliferation, apoptosis and colony inhibition in ER-dependent and ER-independent human breast cancer cells by selected mushroom species. Gu YH, Leonard J. Oncol Rep. 2006;15(2):417–423.
10. Curative effect of crude exopolysaccharides of some macrofungi on alcohol-induced liver damage. Uyanoglu M, Yamac M, Canbek M, Senturk H, Kartkaya K, Oglakci A, Turgak O, Kanbak G. Ultrastruct Pathol. 2013;37(3):218–226.
11. Consumption of Coprinus comatus polysaccharide extract causes recovery of alcoholic liver damage in rats. Ozalp FO, Canbek M, Yamac M, Kanbak G, Van Griensven LJ, Uyanoglu M, Senturk H, Kartkaya K, Oglakci A. Pharm Biol. 2014;52(8):994–1002.
12. Hypoglycemic activity of fermented mushroom of Coprinus comatus rich in vanadium. Han C, Yuan J, WangY, Li L. J Trace Elem Med Biol. 2006;20(3):191–196.
13. The co-effect of vanadium and fermented mushroom of Coprinus comatus on glycaemic metabolism. Zhou G, Han C. Biol Trace Elem Res. 2008;124(1):20–27.
14. Vanadium uptake by biomass of Coprinus comatus and their effect on hyperglycemic mice. Han C, Cui B, Wang Y. Biol Trace Elem Res. 2008;124(1):35–39.
15. A comparison of hypoglycemic activity of three species of Basidiomycetes rich in vanadium. Han C, Liu T. Biol Trace Elem Res. 2009;127(2):177–182.
16. Comparison of vanadium-rich activity of three species Fungi of Basidiomycetes. Han C, Cui B, Qu J. Biol Trace Elem Res. 2009;127(3):278–283.
17. Comparison of hypoglycemic activity of trace elements absorbed in fermented mushroom of Coprinus comatus. Lv Y, Han L, Yuan C, Guo J. Biol Trace Elem Res. 2009;131(2):177–185.
18. Determination of trace elements in three mushroom samples of basidiomycetes from Shandong, China. Wang C, Hou Y. Biol Trace Elem Res. 2011;142(3):843–847.