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.March 23, 2023 8:25 pm March 22, 2023 8:24 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. It also contains triterpenoids and nucleotides
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 tumor 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.
Agaricus blazei: nutritional benefits
Agaricus blazei is a good source of potassium, which is an essential mineral that plays a role in regulating blood pressure, muscle function, and nerve impulses. It also contains other minerals such as zinc, copper, selenium and calcium. Like most mushrooms, agaricus blazei is also a fantastic source of nutrition. In particular, the fungus is rich in B vitamins, which assist with everything from energy production to cell development.(8) The fact that agaricus blazei contains vitamins B12 While some studies have reported the presence of vitamin B12 in mushrooms, including Agaricus blazei, the form of vitamin B12 found in mushrooms is not well-absorbed by the human body. Therefore, mushrooms are not considered a reliable source of vitamin B12 for humans, especially for those who follow a vegan or vegetarian diet that is devoid of animal products. and D is especially useful to those on a plant-based diet. That’s because it’s one of the few non-animal sources of these key nutrients.
In addition, mushrooms such as agaricus blazei can be a great source of fibre. This may help to keep your digestive system healthy, reduce blood sugar spikes, and support weight loss.
The antioxidant power of agaricus blazei
Agaricus blazei can further benefit your health through its status as an antioxidant. The mushroom is rich in flavonoids and compounds such as ergothioneine that help protect our cells from oxidative damage.(9) Experts have linked oxidative stress to a number of chronic health conditions and signs of ageing. As such, including antioxidants like agaricus blazei in your diet could be highly beneficial for wellness.
Interestingly, some studies suggest that its antioxidant properties may partly explain why agaricus blazei could be useful for diabetes. Research has found that the mushroom can improve insulin resistance in diabetic patients and assist with blood sugar management.(10)
Finally, like many medicinal mushrooms, agaricus blazei has adaptogenic qualities. This means that it may help your mind and body to cope with all kinds of stress more effectively. Chronic stress puts your mental and physical health at risk in a multitude of ways, making this another valuable benefit.
“From stimulating the immune system to supporting heart health and fighting free radicals, studies suggest agaricus blazei could have many positive effects on wellbeing.”
How to take agaricus blazei
Like most medicinal fungi, it’s possible to use both fresh and dried agaricus blazei mushrooms in your cooking. However, depending on where you live, it might be quite difficult to source them. As such, you’ll probably find it easier to take agaricus blazei in powder form.
To make our organic agaricus blazei powder, we first dry the fungus and then finely grind it. That means you’re getting all the same nutrients as you would if you ate fresh or dried mushrooms. They’re simply in a more concentrated form. It also makes powder an effective method of consuming agaricus blazei, as you don’t need to use very much. In fact, just half a teaspoon is plenty! So, let’s turn to the question of how to use it.
How to use agaricus blazei powder
One great thing about choosing agaricus blazei powder is that it’s a very versatile method of taking the mushroom. All you need to do is stir it into different drinks and dishes. In addition to the health benefits, it brings a delightfully earthy almond note to your recipes.
The most traditional way to take any kind of medicinal fungus is by making mushroom tea. Simply mix half a teaspoon into water that’s hot but not boiling, and let it steep for a few minutes. This helps to draw out the nutrients and ensure you get the maximum benefit from the agaricus blazei powder.
If you find that you’re not a fan of the taste of mushroom tea, don’t worry. You can always add some extra ingredients to improve the flavor. Honey, ginger, and lemon are all good options for balancing out the earthy astringency of the fungus.
Alternatively, you could use agaricus blazei powder to give your favorite hot drinks a nutritional boost. For example, it goes beautifully in both coffee and hot chocolate as the taste masks the earthiness of the fungus. Plus, the mushroom’s almond notes add a wonderful depth of flavor to the drinks. Moreover, coffee and cacao have some significant health benefits of their own to bring to the table (or cup!).
You’re by no means restricted to drinks either. You can also mix a teaspoon of agaricus blazei into a range of food dishes. Because hot water helps extract the nutrients, it’s best to use it in recipes such as stews, soups, and risottos. As well as the above-mentioned agaricus blazei benefits, the powder brings a gorgeous nutty flavor to meals that we’re sure you’ll love.
Agaricus blazei side effects and safe usage
As with any potent medicinal mushroom, it’s important to know how to take agaricus blazei safely. This helps ensure you can enjoy the benefits of the fungus without any side effects.
Firstly, be sure to always follow the guidelines on your chosen product. For instance, we recommend taking agaricus blazei up to twice a day for a period of 6-8 weeks. After this, it’s best to take a break. That’s because the mushroom stimulates your immune system, and you need to give your body time to rest and rebalance.
Agaricus blazei can have a powerful influence on the body. Therefore, if you have an existing health condition, such as cancer or liver disease, it’s advisable to avoid it. For example, some studies have found the fungus may have toxic effects on liver function in people with ovarian cancer.(11)
Similarly, if you are currently taking any medication, you should speak to your doctor before using medicinal mushrooms. This will help to make sure you don’t experience any unwanted interactions.
In line with this, you also shouldn’t take agaricus blazei if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. The reason for this is that there isn’t yet enough research to confirm whether it’s safe for you to do so. Likewise, you should not give medicinal mushrooms of any kind to children.