Taking care of our immune health is essential for protecting us from bacteria, viruses, and other infections. Overall, a healthy immune system comes from a healthy diet and lifestyle. When you give your body the nutrients it needs and take proper care of your health, your immune system can function at its best
However, many natural herbs also contain compounds with immune-boosting properties. One of the best immune-boosting herbs is a mushroom native to Brazil called Agaricus blazei.
More and more people are learning about the fantastic health benefits of medicinal mushrooms like reishi, lion’s mane, turkey tail, and Chaga mushrooms, among others. Unfortunately, Agaricus has not made it into the limelight yet. Still, it is one of the world’s most potent mushrooms for boosting immunity. It even helps the body produce critical immune cells like natural killer cells (NK) and disease-fighting cytokines.
In this article, we will explore Agaricus blazei in-depth and show why it is our all-time favorite medicinal mushroom to work with.
What Is Agaricus Blazei?
Agaricus blazei (Agaricus subrufescens), also called Agaricus blazei Murrill (ABM), is a medicinal mushroom native to Brazil. It is popularly known as ‘Cogumelo do Sol’ or “Mushroom of the Sun” in Brazil. It has even been called “the mushroom of the Gods” for its fantastic health benefits and belief in supporting longevity.
This mushroom has also been cultivated and used extensively in traditional Japanese medicine, where it has been given the name ‘Himematsutake’ or “princess mushroom.” It has also been given other prestigious names like “the mushroom of life” and “royal sun mushroom.” It appears that whatever culture has traditionally used this mushroom has regarded it as a powerful natural medicine that is highly revered and respected.
Though used traditionally for many years, the mushroom was discovered by Takatoshi Furumoto in 1960, a grower and researcher who sent the mushroom to Japan in 1965 for investigation. It was later identified as Agaricus blazei Murrill by the Belgian botanist Heinemann in 1967.
The mushroom is traditionally believed to fight both physical and emotional stress, stimulate the immune system, reduce cholesterol, prevent osteoporosis, prevent peptic ulcers, treat circulatory and digestive problems, and fight off various diseases and infections like hepatitis, dermatitis, hyperlipidemia, atherosclerosis, and diabetes.
In vitro and in vivo studies have shown that Agaricus blazei has powerful immunomodulatory and antimutagenic properties. These immune-boosting benefits are primarily attributed to the polysaccharides found in the mushroom.
There are various Agaricus mushrooms, such as Agaricus bisporus, Agaricus Augustus, Agaricus campestris, Agaricus arvensis, and Agaricus Macarius. However, Agaricus blazei (synonymous with Agaricus subrufescens) is the type of Agaricus mushroom we are referring to exclusively in this article and our supplement line.
This is also not to be confused with the agarikon mushroom (Fomitopsis officinalis), another tremendous medicinal mushroom often promoted by expert mycologist Paul Stamets.
Agaricus blazei is a medicinal mushroom that stands in its own category. After studying the compounds in this mushroom and their benefits, it is understandable why it has been given such great praise and respected names as “the mushroom of the Gods.” It is truly a unique and powerful mushroom.
What Are the Health Benefits of Agaricus Blazei Mushroom?
Agaricus blazei has many impressive health benefits. Some of the top Agaricus mushroom benefits include:
Agaricus May Improve Immune System Health and Function
Among the most well-known use for this medicinal mushroom is its ability to stimulate the immune system and fight off various infections and diseases. Researchers have found that the Agaricus blazei mushroom is loaded with nutrients that support the immune system. Proteoglycans and β-glucans10-12, in particular, appear in significantly high quantities within the Agaricus blazei species.
Proteoglycans are compounds consisting of a protein bonded to glycosaminoglycan groups that may have benefits for the immune system. For example, according to a study published in the National Library of Medicine, “Water-soluble proteoglycan (WSPG) of Agaricus blazei Murill has been known to stimulate the non-specific complements and humoral immune functions to act as polyclonal activators of B cells and to inhibit tumor growth and metastasis.”
β-glucans are a heterogeneous group of natural polysaccharides commonly found in mushrooms and bacterial or fungal cell walls. Studies on β-glucans have found that they play a beneficial role in tumor inhibition, insulin resistance, hypertension, obesity, and dyslipidemia.
One study on the β-glucans in Agaricus blazei stated that it “protected against DNA damage caused by B[a]P in every protocol tested.” B[a]P stands for benzo[a]pyrene, a part of a class of chemicals with carcinogenic effects often found in car exhaust, smoke from wood fires, tobacco, oil, and gas. The data suggest that β-glucans act through binding to B[a]P or the capture of free radicals produced during its activation. In addition, the research shows that Agaricus also has excellent antioxidant effects that protect cells from the damage of oxidative stress caused by free radical exposure.
β-glucans are polysaccharides of d-glucose monomers. A polysaccharide is a large molecule made of many smaller monosaccharides. Monosaccharides are simple sugars, like glucose.
The medicinal benefits of certain mushrooms are primarily attributed to their polysaccharides, particularly the type of polysaccharides known as beta-glucans or “β-glucans.” For example, Agaricus blazei is notably high in β-glucans, which is one of the primary reasons it has outstanding immune-enhancing benefits.
As if this wasn’t significant enough, Agaricus blazei also contains various triterpenoids. These compounds have a variety of pharmacological activities, including anti-inflammatory and antidiabetic, as well as supporting the regulation of immune function.
These potent compounds in Agaricus blazei have been shown to promote the production of natural killer (NK) cells in the body. Natural killer cells are white blood cells that play an essential role in our immune systems. In addition to promoting NK cells, research shows that Agaricus blazei is a potent activator of other immune cells like interferon, interleukins, tumor necrosis factor (TNF), T lymphocytes, and tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes.
Agaricus blazei is genuinely a one-of-a-kind immunity tonic, and the impressive profile of medicinal compounds within it is why it stands out as one of the most potent medicinal superfoods in the world. Agaricus May Help Reduce Stress and Support Healthy Stress Levels
Agaricus blazei also has adaptogenic properties that make it helpful in reducing physical and emotional stress. Adaptogens are a class of herbs that help the body better adapt to stress. Adaptogens work at a molecular level by regulating a stable balance in the hypothalamic, pituitary, and adrenal glands—all of which are involved in the stress response.
Traditionally, the Agaricus mushroom was often used to fight off physical and emotional stress, which has since been attributed to the adaptogenic properties of the mushroom. Research shows that Agaricus blazei supports cardiovascular health and may be able to help lower cholesterol. In one study on mice, oral administration of dried fruiting body hot-water extracts showed anti-hypercholesterolemic activity, meaning the extract helped lower cholesterol levels in mice. However, human studies are still needed to verify that the same effects work for the human body, though the research is promising. Agaricus May Help in the Prevention and Treatment of Diabetes Diabetes is a chronic health condition that affects how your body turns food into energy, resulting in high glucose levels or too much sugar in the blood. Studies on Agaricus in diabetic mice found that Agaricus blazei extract showed “anti-hyperglycemic, anti-hypertriglyceridemic, and anti-arteriosclerosis activity indicating overall antidiabetic activity in diabetic rats.”
Still, more research is needed to verify the same effects in humans. However, Agaricus blazei does have an extended traditional use for diabetes. Agaricus May Reduce Inflammation and Support Joint Health
Agaricus blazei mushroom exerts potent anti-inflammatory effects that may help to reduce inflammation in the body. As a result, it may help with various inflammatory conditions. Inflammation is often a contributor to swelling and pain in the joints. So, the anti-inflammatory effects of Agaricus blazei may also support overall joint health and reduce associated joint pain caused by inflammation.
What Are the Active Compounds Found in Agaricus Blazei?
The medicinal benefits of herbs are primarily attributed to the active compounds found within them. Agaricus blazei has several beneficial active compounds, including polysaccharides, β-glucans, phenolic compounds, lipophilic molecules, agarol, and triterpenoids. According to research, these compounds found in Agaricus blazei have been shown to support “antioxidant activity, immunomodulation, and cell signaling, anti-inflammatory activity, antiparasitic actions, antimicrobial activity, tumor growth-inhibiting effects, antimutagenic activity, hepatoprotection against chemical or viral infection and antidiabetic activity.”
Are There Any Side Effects or Risks to Taking Agaricus?
Agaricus blazei has been used for years as a traditional and tonic remedy for longevity. It is considered a safe herb for most people, especially in the short term. There have been no reports of dangerous long-term effects. However, there is a lack of modern clinical research in humans on the long-term effects of Agaricus mushrooms. Agaricus mushroom side effects are rare, though some people may experience nausea, diarrhea, or upset stomach, especially if taken in large doses. Agaricus mushroom can also cause blood sugar to go too low (hypoglycemia) in some people with diabetes, so it is recommended to consult your doctor before using Agaricus if you have diabetes.
There is also something to be said about the quality of the mushroom and the way it is processed and ingested. Here at Zuma Nutrition, we source our Agaricus blazei from an exclusive source in the mountains of Japan. We also use a therapeutic extraction process and only extract the fruiting body of the mushroom, not the mycelium on grain, as many mushroom supplement companies do. We also third-party lab test all of our products to verify that there are no contaminations of pesticides, harmful chemicals, or other toxins.
Agaricus blazei is a powerful medicinal mushroom native to Brazil but has spread throughout the globe. It has been used traditionally in Japan and China as well and has been given such names as “the mushroom of the Gods,” “the mushroom of the Sun,” “the mushroom of life,” and “princess mushroom.”
It seems that wherever this mushroom has been used, it has been treated as royalty. However, studies on the active compounds of this mushroom and their benefits reveal why this is. Agaricus mushroom is a powerful immune-booster with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity and adaptogenic properties and helps lower cholesterol levels and fight off various diseases and infections.
It is truly a one-of-a-kind medicinal mushroom for immunity and one that should have a special place in everyone’s home medicine cabinet.