Agaricus blazei (Agaricus blazei Murrill) is a low-calorie and high-nutrient edible fungus. It is used as a fresh food, processed in tea or extract, and also used as a food additive in Japan. It belongs to the Agaricaceae family commonly known in Hungary, but it differs greatly from its composition.
Agaricus blazei comes from a small Brazilian village, Piedade, but is now grown in China, America and Japan. The climatic conditions in Piedade, i.e. 35-38 ° C during the day and 20-25 ° C at night and 80% average humidity provide excellent conditions for the its growth.
It is extremely sensitive to its environment, so its cultivation fails in the absence of perfect climatic conditions – hence the consumer price is higher. It grows between October and April, and unlike other mushrooms, it is a very sun-intensive variety. Its average size is 10-15 cm, its colour is orange-brown.
It was discovered in 1960 by a Japanese researcher, Dr. Takatoshi Furumoto. People in Piedade and its immediate surroundings enjoyed this delicious mushroom. Dr. Takatoshin realized that the prevalence of cancerous and aging disease among the population were remarkably low. At the same time, he sent the mushroom to Japan so that its ingredients and effects could be examined.
What it contains
It is rich in vital minerals, especially in iron, calcium, phosphorus, copper, zinc, potassium and sodium. It contains niacin, folic acid, biotin and all vital amino acids. Vitamin B complex vitamin group, vitamin D and vitamin E also play significant role. It is extremely important that it contains large amounts of fibres and antioxidant beta-glucan; it has an outstanding immune enhancing effect primarily due to these components.
The special almond smell (named after it in Hungarian) is due to its compounds (benzaldehyde, benzoate, benzyl alcohol).
85-87% of fresh Agaricus blazei is water. If the large amount of liquid in the mushroom evaporates, a protein-rich mushroom will remain, 40-45% of which is protein. Carbohydrates account for 38-45%, it also contains 6-8% fibres and only 3-4% fats.
Its effects are considered promising in the following areas:
Paramount immune enhancer
One of the best-known advantages is enhancing the body’s defence capability. Studies found that it contains a variety of preferred polysaccharides. In fact, this type of fungus has the highest polysaccharide content, the (beta) 1,6-D glucan and (beta) 1,3-D glucan concentrations are outstanding compared to other mushroom types, including Shitake, Maitake and Reishi.
Against virus and bacteria
Beta-glucan polysaccharides also play a role in the fight against viral and bacterial infections. According to a study, Agaricus blazei extracts can protect against pneumonia and bacteria and viruses that cause meningitis. In another study published in 2013, researchers found that polysaccharide isolated from the fungus is effective against herpes simplex virus.
It is rich in vitamins B1 and B2 and also contains a significant amount of ergosterol which is converted to vitamin D2 by sunlight. Vitamin D2 has a positive effect on reducing the risk of bone loss.
Liver protection effect
The question arises as to whether it has beneficial effect on liver function in hepatitis B patients. The Chinese Department of Medicine at Taipei Hospital conducted a one-year study to answer the question. The observations pointed out that the extract is able to normalize liver function in patients with hepatitis B infection.
Reduces glucose level in blood
Preliminary research and direct therapeutic observation highlighted that it may be useful in reducing blood glucose levels and avoiding diabetes. This is also due to its outstanding polysaccharide content. Clinical trials found that consumption of the extract may improve insulin resistance in some diabetics and help alleviate oxidative stress damage.
Pohleven, J., Korosec, T., Gregori, A. (2016): Medicinal mushrooms. Published by MycoMedica
Biedron, R, Tangen J., M., Maresz, K., Hetland G., (2012): Agaricus blazei Murill – immunomodulatory properties and health benefits. Functional Foods in Health and Disease 2012, 2(11):428-447. p.
Hsu CH, Liao YL, Lin SC, Hwang KC, Chou P. The mushroom Agaricus Blazei Murill in combination with metformin and gliclazide improves insulin resistance in type 2 diabetes: a randomized, double-blinded, and placebo-controlled clinical trial. J Altern Complement Med. 2007 Jan-Feb;13(1):97-102.
Di Naso FC, de Mello RN, Bona S, Dias AS, Porawski M, Ferraz Ade B, Richter MF, Marroni NP. Effect of Agaricus blazei Murill on the pulmonary tissue of animals with streptozotocin-induced diabetes. Exp Diabetes Res. 2010;2010:543926. doi: 10.1155/2010/543926. Epub 2010 May 26.