Interested in diving a little deeper into the world of medicinal mushrooms? In this article, we introduce you to the fabulous agaricus blazei fungus. We’ll cover its potential health benefits, plus give you some inspiration on how to include the mushroom in your diet.May 02, 2023 1:53 pm March 22, 2023 7:36 pm
What is agaricus blazei?
Agaricus blazei is a medicinal mushroom that’s native to Brazil. A Japanese researcher called Takatoshi Furumoto discovered it in 1960, near the small mountain village of Piedade in Sao Paulo. He sent it back to Japan for investigation, and in 1967 a Belgian botanist defined it as agaricus blazei Murrill.(1)
In addition to this scientific classification, agaricus blazei has plenty of more evocative names. For example, in Brazil people refer to it as ‘cogumelo do sol’, meaning ‘mushroom of the sun’ or ‘cogumelo de deus’, meaning ‘mushroom of god’. Whereas in the US, the fungus’s nutty flavour and scent has earned it the name ‘almond mushroom’.
These days, farmers cultivate agaricus blazei across the world. Whichever name you use for it, the mushroom has a short stem and large cap that ranges in colour from white to brown. It has an earthy, nutty taste with notes of almond, making it popular for culinary purposes as well as medicinal ones.
Speaking of medicinal use, practitioners of traditional medicine have long used agaricus blazei to enhance wellbeing. They believe it can help boost immunity, combat stress, and treat all sorts of illnesses. What’s interesting is that modern scientific research is now finding evidence to support some of these claims.
So let’s take a look at the potential health benefits of agaricus blazei, before talking about how to use it.
How agaricus blazei benefits your immune system
One reason people value agaricus blazei so highly is because of its positive impact on our immune system. This is in large part thanks to the beta-glucans the mushroom contains. Studies indicate that these polysaccharides may work to activate certain immune cells, including macrophages and natural killer cells.(2) The latter could help to prevent the spread of tumours and viruses by getting rid of infected cells.
Interestingly, beta-glucans can further assist in supporting the immune system through their status as a prebiotic. This means that they promote the growth of good bacteria in your gut. So, how does that affect immunity?
Well, the gut is actually one of the most important locations in the body when it comes to immunity. The condition of your gut microbiome directly influences the ability of your immune system to protect your wellbeing. This is both in terms of it successfully responding to threats and not mistakenly attacking healthy tissue.(3)
On top of which, agaricus blazei contains several key secondary metabolites with powerful anti-inflammatory properties. These include sterols such as ergosterol and ergosterol peroxide, which studies suggest can help to fight inflammation.(4) This is hugely beneficial because experts have linked inflammation to a range of harmful conditions, including arthritis, diabetes and obesity.
Agaricus blazei may boost cardiovascular health
Another way the anti-inflammatory properties of agaricus blazei can improve your wellbeing is by supporting the health of your heart. That’s because inflammation also increases your risk of cardiovascular disease. However, this isn’t the only method by which agaricus blazei benefits your heart.
Research has additionally discovered that the mushroom could help to lower blood pressure.(1) This is key because high blood pressure increases the likelihood of suffering heart attacks and strokes. Similarly, studies indicate that agaricus blazei may work to reduce levels of cholesterol.(5) High cholesterol clogs your arteries and raises the risk of stroke and heart disease, so this is an important benefit.
Agaricus blazei might have anti-cancer properties
One area that’s attracted a lot of research interest is the potential of agaricus blazei to fight cancer. Part of this is thanks to its positive influence on the immune system, as discussed above. In addition, studies suggest that the fungus might be able to induce apoptosis (cell death) in tumour cells.(6)
Moreover, evidence indicates agaricus blazei could improve quality of life for cancer patients and reduce some of the unpleasant side effects of chemotherapy.(7) However, further research is required to clarify all of these findings.