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Uses of Ganoderma and other Mushrooms as Medicine in

Oshana and Ohangwena regions of Northern Namibia


Keywords:
Ganoderma lucidum, Medicinal uses, Ohangwena, Oshana.
ABSTRACT:

Basidiomycetes fungi, including Ganoderma lucidum, have a variety of uses
such as providing nutrition and medical remedies. The mushroom G. lucidum has
been used for a long time to cure liver problems, heart condition, asthma, cancer,
high blood pressure and arthritis. Recently, it has been associated with boosting
immune systems in HIV infected persons. It is for these reasons that the mushroom
has attracted a lot of attention leading to proposals of cultivating to increase supply
to the Southern African market. This study was initiated with the objective of
determining the uses of Ganoderma species and other mushrooms by local
communities in Oshana and Ohangwena Regions of northern Namibia. A survey was
conducted in the 10% households of each of the two northern regions of Namibia.
A questionnaire for face-to-face interviews was designed and applied to the two
Regions. The information survey has revealed that Ganoderma species have a variety
of other traditional uses including veterinary applications, while other five species of
mushrooms are used as nerve calming tonics and as treatment of skin infections. The
study found out that those interviewed in Ohangwena Region use more mushrooms
for medicinal purposes than those interviewed in Oshana Region.

146-151 | JRA | 2012 | Vol 1 | No 2

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Journal of Research in
Agriculture
An International Scientific
Research Journal
Authors:
Kadhila-Muandingi PN
1

and Chimwamurombe PM
1
.




Institution:
1. Department of Biological
Sciences, Faculty of Science,
University of Namibia.




Corresponding author:
Kadhila-Muandingi PN.





Email:
nmuandingi@unam.na









Web Address:
http://www.jagri.info
documents/AG0027.pdf.


Dates:
Received: 31 Jul 2012 Accepted: 28 Aug 2012 Published: 01 Nov 2012
Article Citation:
Kadhila-Muandingi PN and Chimwamurombe PM.
Uses of Ganoderma and other Mushrooms as Medicine in Oshana and Ohangwena
regions of Northern Namibia.
Journal of Research in Agriculture (2012) 1(2): 146-151
Original Research
Journal of Research in Agriculture
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An International Scientific Research Journal
INTRODUCTION
Mushrooms have long been valued as tasty,
nutritious food by different societies throughout the
world. In the developing world, including Africa,
mushrooms are used as food and medicine in many
societies. Mushrooms offer tremendous applications as
they can be used as food and medicines besides their key
ecological roles. They represent as one of the worlds
greatest untapped resources of nutrition and palatable
food of the future. Mushrooms as functional foods are
used as nutrient supplements to enhance immunity in the
form of tablets, (Wani et al., 2010). In addition, some
mushrooms promote good health and vitality and have
been tried with some success in the therapy of
cancer, viral diseases, diabetes, hypercholesterolemia,
impaired blood platelet aggregation and hypertension,
(Ambali et al., 2008). In Africa, however, the medicinal
and nutritional importance of mushrooms has not been
adequately studied and documented, (Munyanziza and
Oldeman, 1996). In the developed world, mushrooms
now occupy a central position in natural products
research such as medicine and food. For instance, there is
now an increasing evidence that mushrooms have a wide
range of medicinally important compounds that have
anticancer and antiviral activity; offering great hope for
the development of new drugs for ailments like
HIV/AIDS, Avian influenza and the many cancers that
afflict humanity today (Chang and Miles, 2004).
Indigenous peoples around the world have
sought knowledge of physical reality throughout the
ages. Their understanding of the physical universe is
codified in their indigenous knowledge systems. A major
component of these systems is ethnobotanical
knowledge, which refers to a cumulative body of
traditional knowledge about the interaction between
human societies and the plant kingdom, and, more
specifically, how indigenous people perceive, manage,
and utilize the plants around them (Suminguit, 2005).
Ethnobotanical knowledge can serve as an effective
development tool to improve the living conditions of
indigenous communities without degrading the
environment. It can be used to increase and enhance
livelihood options, revitalize agriculture, increase food
security, improve health and promote a sense of cultural
pride within the community.
In Namibia, the utilization of wild mushrooms as
food is very common, wild edible fungi provide two
main benefits to the people, as a source of food and
income. It is very common to see people, particularly
young women selling mushrooms by the roadside
just after the start of the rainy season.
Termitomyces schimperi, Terfezia pfeilii (Kalahari
Desert truffles) are some of the most hunted wild
mushrooms in rural areas of Namibia (Mshigeni and
Chang, 2000). The awareness on wild edible mushrooms
and their importance to people is generally poor and
many of the collections done are for personal use
(Mshigeni and Chang, 2000).
Ganoderma (Basidiomycota: Ganodermatales) is
a genus of wood-inhabiting fungus on monocots, dicots,
and gymnosperms. Some species are saprophytic, but
several are pathogens that cause decay in roots, butts,
and trunks of living trees. Ganoderma species contain
protein-bound polysaccharides known to have medicinal
properties (Dupler, 2001). In the last 20 years,
147 Journal of Research in Agriculture (2012) 1(2): 146-151
Muandingi and Chimwamurombe,2012
Figure1. Map of Namibia showing the study area
(Oshana and Ohangwena regions).
5 0 0 0 5 0 0 1 0 0 0
N
E W
S

Study
area
Namibia
Km
Oshana
Ohangwena
Study area
Ganoderma has been tested in human clinical studies and
is thought to be beneficial for a wide variety of disorders,
including neurasthenia, insomnia, rhinitis, and duodenal
ulcers (Ying, 1987).

MATERIALS AND METHODS
All the two regions are situated in the northern
part of Namibia. They share the borders, but the
vegetation types, soil types and the annual rainfall differ
(Mendelsohn et al., 2000). Ohangwena region has an
area of about 10,582 km
2
and a population of 227,728;
while Oshana region is about 5,290 km
2
and a population
of 161,977 (Central Bureau of Statistic and National
Planning Commission of Namibia, 2003). The people
living in Oshana and Ohangwena region speak the same
dialect which is Oshiwambo.
A questionnaire was used to get information on
indigenous knowledge on the uses of Ganoderma
mushrooms. This questionnaire was administered
face-to-face to community members from 10% of
households in the selected villages. This means, if there
are 100 households in the village, only 10 of these
households were interviewed. The face-to face method
was used because of illiteracy and communication gap
within the targeted communities, the questions needed to
be explained clearly to the respondents. In each
interview, direct questions were used and, on several
occasions, fresh or dry Ganoderma mushrooms were
shown as stimuli. At the household level only elders
were asked, this is done to make sure that the
information collected will be trustworthy. The interviews
were done in Oshiwambo, the language which is spoken
in both Ohangwena and Oshana regions. The
questionnaire was meant to get information on the uses
of Ganoderma species only, but any other information on
the use of other mushrooms was also recorded.



RESULTS
The above figure shows that male respondents
were more than females and this demonstrates that men
know more about the medicinal use of mushrooms than
their female counterparts.
According to the people interviewed in this
study, more than six mushroom species are used for
medicinal purposes in Oshana and Ohangwena regions as
shown in the figure above. Ganoderma is at the third
position and the Amanita species which are poisonous
mushrooms, used on arrows when hunting.
In total, 51 questionnaires were completed during
the study, 26 in Oshana and 25 in Ohangwena. The
interviews were done in the villages whose fields
samples for Ganoderma species were collected. In both
the regions, interviews were also done in some villages
which were not sampled but accessible. All the people
Journal of Research in Agriculture (2012) 1(2): 146-151 148
Muandingi and Chimwamurombe, 2012
Figure 2. Positive response according to gender on
the use of mushrooms for medicinal purposes from
both the regions.
R
e
s
p
o
n
d
e
n
t

(
%
)

Male Female
Figure 3. Positive responses on the use of mushrooms
for medicinal purposes as per region.
R
e
s
p
o
n
d
e
n
t

(
%
)

Oshana Ohangwena


interviewed in both the regions know mushrooms
especially the most edibles ones, but knew less about the
medicinal value of the mushrooms.
In Oshana, only the people who relocated from
Ohangwena to Oshana knew the medicinal value of
mushrooms, including the Ganoderma species, while in
Ohangwena most people interviewed during the study
knew the medicinal value of more than one mushroom.
Among all the people interviewed in Oshana, only 34%
use mushrooms for medicinal purposes compared to 62%
in Ohangwena region. In most of the households, only
men were willing to respond, as a result most of the
answers were given by men. The questionnaire also
revealed some of the mushrooms which were not known
or considered to be of medicinal value by the researcher
as shown on figure 3.

DISCUSSION
Indigenous knowledge of medicinal mushroom
use is linked to local culture and history. It should
therefore be regarded as a body of knowledge that has
continually developed without the outside interference of
formal science (Opige et al., 2006).
The main component of this study was to
determine the use of Ganoderma species as a medicinal
mushroom in Ohangwena and Oshana regions of
Northern Namibia. No studies have been conducted to
measure the cultural significance of fungi in Namibia.
For this reason this study was carried out to learn more
on the traditional mushroom knowledge of the people
living in Ohangwena and Oshana regions. Mushroom
knowledge in both the regions was extensive.
This study was designed to document the
traditional knowledge on the use of Ganoderma
mushrooms but it also generated more information on the
uses of other mushroom species. The study obtained
detailed information about several aspects of traditional
mushroom knowledge as can be seen on table-1.
According to the information obtained from the
questionnaire, it can be said that Ganoderma mushrooms
have been playing a role in the daily lives of the local
communities for a very long time, because it is reported
149 Journal of Research in Agriculture (2012) 1(2): 146-151
Muandingi and Chimwamurombe, 2012
Local name Scientific name Edibility Substrate Medicinal
properties
Purpose
Owowa/Oova Termitomyces
schimperi
Yes Termite mound Yes

Wounds in childrens
heads (used in a cream
form mixed with oil)
Uuhilili/
Okahauhwilili
Termitomyces
sagittiformis
Yes Humus in cultivated or
open field
Yes Wounds in childrens
heads (used in a cream
form mixed with oil)
Omatumbula Terfezia pfeilii Yes Not known, but grow
underground in the soil
Yes Eye treatment (rushed
and mixed with water)
Oshaamuya/
Oshihamuya
Termitomyces
reticulatus
Yes Surrounding termite
moulds
No Food
Kakalahambo Panaeolus
papilionaceus
Yes Manure/cow dung No Food
Omapakululu Ganoderma species No Tree stumps and poles
of houses and fences
(dead wood)
Yes Stress (used in
powder form)
Okapaka Hexagonia tenuis No Poles and stumps of
different trees
Yes Shock and trauma or
stress (used in liquid
form)
Omagege Amanita species No Mostly found
everywhere
(field and poles)
Not known On arrows used for
hunting
Table 1. Types of mushrooms found in Oshana and Ohangwena region and their uses
to have been used in relieving stress when sniffed as ash
mixed with tobacco, calming of nerves when put in
water, used as a drink and healing of cold and flu
symptoms when its smoke is inhaled and applied to
infected skin to treat the wounds on childrens heads.
The latter has also been confirmed in another study
in Cameroon where they mix the crushed
Ganoderma lucidum with oil to be used as ointment to
treat skin infections (Yongabi et al., 2004).
This mushroom is also said to have history in
treating animal diseases, especially cattle when suffering
from lung diseases and goats when having skin rush. It is
said that the cattle herders crush the fruiting bodies of
these mushrooms, add water and mix well before giving
the animals to drink. The animals are said to stop
coughing after taking the mixture for some days of which
the caretaker could not specify as to how many.
Unfortunately, no previous studies were done to confirm
this information.
Opige et al., 2006 reported that most of the
mushrooms for medicinal use in Uganda are identified
localy with their association to particular tree species
were they grow from, this was not the case in this study
here in Namibia, the local people here refere to them
according to how they look like omapakululu
something looking like the elephant ear. They also
reported that it is normally found growing on either the
roots or tree stumps which is the same case in the two
regions. They stated that the patients are treated by
inhaling the smoke or steam in a boiled mixture of water
and the mushrooms are used to treat measeles and body
pain, our finding was the same in Ohangwena region
where people inhale smoke for the relief of flu and body
aches.
Traditional knowledge from Oshana and
Ohangwena regions show that until today, in different
places of the country, the indigenous people in these
regions use other mushrooms also both for food and for
medicinal purposes. It is not known how important
mushrooms use as medicine is, as it appears to be
important and known by the people included in this study
from Ohangwena region, and not known how important
to those included in this study from Oshana region
(figure 3).
Although Ganoderma mushrooms did not make
it to the top of the six listed mushrooms used for
medicinal purposes in the two regions as expected
(figure 4), this study confirmed that it is used for
medicinal purposes in Namibia as reported by previous
authors in other countries (Munyanziza and Oldeman
1996, Mshigeni and Chang, 2000; Stamets and Wu Yao,
1999). These findings prove that there is a need for more
research to be done on all indigenous mushrooms in
order to document all essential information about
mushrooms found in Namibia, something not done to
date.

CONCLUSION
The documentation of medicinal mushrooms and
the social as well as cultural practices associated with
their use as medicine practice is a necessity. It is from
such fundamental information where applied research
can be carried out to develop the cultivation and improve
on the use of both the medicinal and edible mushrooms
in Namibia. This study revealed that Ganoderma species
are used for medicinal purposes in Oshana and
Ohangwena regions. These mushrooms are not only used
Journal of Research in Agriculture (2012) 1(2): 146-151 150
Muandingi and Chimwamurombe, 2012
Figure 4. Types of mushrooms used for medicinal
purposes. (n=51)
U
s
a
g
e

(
%
)

Types of mushrooms used for medicinal purpose


in treating human ailments, but also used in treating
animals, for example in cattle, goats and chickens. To
unleash the potential of their ethnobotanical knowledge
as a tool for development with some sense of ownership
and self-identity, there is a need to enhance the
communities skills educating them about mushrooms to
create employment opportunities in their communities.
They need both short-term and long-term skills
enhancement.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT
The authors acknowledged the ZERI Project for
funding the research, without the assistance from this
office, it could have been impossible to get the
Ganoderma mushrooms. The authors also wish to thank
the Government of the Republic of Namibia, specifically
the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, for giving
permission to access the fields for the collection of the
mushrooms. And thanks to everyone for the support
during the duration of this work.

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Muandingi and Chimwamurombe, 2012
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