The Health Benefits of Agaricus Blazei Mushroom

Folk remedy may help treat diabetes, IBD, hepatitis, and cancer

Dried agaricus blazei murill on white plate

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Agaricus blazei Murill (also known simply as Agaricus blazei) is a type of medicinal mushroom grown in Brazil, Japan, and China. It has been used in folk medicine for centuries to prevent or treat a wide range of diseases, including infections, allergy, and cancer.

Agaricus blazei is related to both the common mushroom and field mushroom but contains compounds that some believe can exert antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, anti-tumor, and hypoglycemic effects.

In the West, Agaricus blazei is typically sold as a dietary supplement but is also available as a whole dried mushroom for culinary purposes. It has an aroma and smell that is vaguely reminiscent of almonds.

Also Known As

Health Benefits

According to regional lore, Agaricus blazei was first believed to have medicinal properties when outsiders noted that the people of Piedale rainforest of Brazil, who consumed the mushroom as part of their diet, had lower rates of aging-related disorders like cancer and heart disease.

Alternative practitioners believe that many of the compounds in the mushroom (including isoflavonoids and plant-based steroids) can prevent or treat certain health conditions, including:

  • Asthma
  • Atherosclerosis
  • Cancer
  • Dermatitis
  • Diabetes
  • Hepatitis
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)

The current evidence supporting these claims is weak. With that being said, several studies have hinted at benefits that may warrant further investigation.

Diabetes

Agaricus blazei mushrooms may have a place in the treatment of type 2 diabetes, says a 2017 review of studies in the World Journal of Diabetes. According to the researchers, Agaricus blazei contains beta-glucan (a type of dietary fiber) and oligosaccharides (a type of carbohydrate). Both are known to improve blood glucose levels by reducing the inflammatory stress on the pancreas (the body's primary source of insulin).

When used in combination with the anti-diabetes drug metformin, a daily 1,500-milligram dose of Agaricus blazei was able to improve insulin resistance and cut blood sugar levels by half compared to people given metformin alone.

Despite the promising findings, there has yet to any evidence that Agaricus blazei can control diabetes on its own or prevent the onset of diabetes in people with prediabetes.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Agaricus blazei mushrooms appear to exert potent anti-inflammatory effects that may benefit people with inflammatory bowel diseases, including ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease.

According to a 2011 study in the Scandinavian Journal of Immunology, adults with Crohn's disease experienced a significant reduction in intestinal inflammation when prescribed an oral Agaricus extract called AndoSan for 12 days.

At the end of the study period, people given AndoSan had between an 18% and 78% reduction in 17 different inflammatory proteins (called cytokines) in blood and stool tests. These effects are considered indicative of an improvement in IBD symptoms.

Further research is needed to determine how effective Agaricus blazei is in either sustaining IBD remission or treating an acute flare of symptoms.

Hepatitis

In the same way that Agaricus blazei helps reduce inflammation in the pancreas and intestines, it may help alleviate the inflammation that drives chronic hepatitis infections.

A small study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine reported that adults with chronic hepatitis B experienced a steep drop in liver enzymes (indicative of improved liver function) after being prescribed a daily 1,500-milligram dose of Agaricus blazei.

After 12 months, the participants experienced no less than a three- and four-fold drop in their alanine aminotransferase (ALT) and aspartate aminotransferase (AST) levels, respectively. This suggests a significant slowing in the disease progression.

On the flip side, a 2013 study in the Clinical Journal of Gastroenterology reported that a man and woman sustained severe liver damage after taking an Agaricus blazei extract as a complementary therapy for stage 4 lung cancer and stage 3 thymus cancer, respectively.

Neither disclosed the use of the extract to their doctors, and it can only be presumed that high doses may have contributed to the effect. According to the researchers, the damage appeared autoimmune in nature, suggesting that the mushroom may have in some way triggered an abnormal immune response.

Cancer

Several preliminary studies have suggested that Agaricus blazei has anti-tumor properties. While the mechanism of action is unclear, Agaricus blazei appears to "switch on" apoptosis (programmed cell death) in certain cancer cells, including those involved in multiple myeloma, leukemia, fibrosarcoma, prostate cancer, ovarian cancer, and lung cancer.

According to a 2011 review published in Advances in Pharmacological Sciences, Agaricus blazei was able to prevent the spread (metastasis) of ovarian and lung cancer, inhibit the growth of fibrosarcoma and myeloma tumors, and reduce the size of prostate tumors in animal and test-tube studies. However, not all of the results have been consistent.

At present, it is impossible to say if any of these effects can be replicated in humans. Further research is needed.

Possible Side Effects

Little is known about the safety of Agaricus blazei when taken regularly or in high doses. While the supplements are generally well-tolerated, they may cause side effects, including nausea, stomach ache, and diarrhea. This is especially true with higher doses.

More concerning is the fact that Agaricus blazei may affect liver enzymes, an increase of which may signal liver toxicity and increase the risk of liver injury.

Agaricus blazei should be avoided in people with liver disease, including those with chronic hepatitis B or hepatitis C. There is simply too little known about the toxic effects of Agaricus blazei to risk its use as an alternative therapy.

Agaricus blazei should be used with caution in people on diabetes medications, including insulin. Take these together may trigger an abnormal drop in blood sugar (hypoglycemia), causing fatigue, trembling, dizziness, nausea, and fainting.

There have also been suggestions that Agaricus blazei may trigger a flare of symptoms in people with autoimmune diseases such as lupus, psoriasis, and rheumatoid arthritis.

Due to the lack of research, Agaricus blazei should not be used by children, pregnant women, and nursing mothers.

Warning

A 2012 report in Microbiological Research also found that Agaricus blazei has estrogen-like properties and may stimulate the growth of hormone-sensitive cancers (including estrogen-sensitive breast cancer). The mushroom also contains agaritine, a substance known to be carcinogenic in animals.

Agaricus blazei should not be used for the complementary or alternative treatment of any form of cancer. The fact that it caused liver damage in people with cancer should sway you from pursuing it as an option.

Dosage and Preparation

Agaricus blazei is typically sold in the United States as a dietary supplement, either as a capsule, gelcap, tablet, tincture, or extract. It is also available in certain Asian and natural food stores as a powder, tea, or freeze-dried whole mushroom.

Most oral capsules are available in 400-milligram (mg) to 500-mg doses, taken once or twice daily. Although studies have used up to 1,500 mg per day for 12 months, that shouldn't suggest that such doses are safe or effective. In the end, there are no guidelines for the appropriate use of Agaricus blazei for medicinal purposes.

As a rule of thumb, always start with the smallest dose, increasingly incrementally if desired. Never exceed the recommended dose on the product label.

You should advise your doctor if you are taking or planning to take Agaricus blazei so that your liver enzymes can be occasionally monitored.

Dietary supplements are not strictly regulated in the United States. Sadly, few Agaricus supplement manufacturers submit their products for quality testing. To better ensure quality ad safety:

  • Always buy organic. Choose brands certified organic by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
  • Read the product label. Check that Agaricus blazei Murill is printed on the label. In the end, there are over 300 types of Agaricus mushroom. Unless the mushroom type is specified, you may be getting a fake product.
  • Avoid imported remedies. This is not to suggest that all imported goods are dangerous or unreliable. It is simply that there is no way to tell if a product has been tainted or contains the ingredients listed on the product label. Even the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health warns against such practices.

Other Questions

Can you get fresh Agaricus blazei mushrooms?

Fresh Agaricus blazei mushrooms are hard to find in the United States, even in Asian markets. With that said, many Asians actually prefer dried mushrooms, which they can reconstitute with boiling water. Reconstituted mushrooms have a meatier taste and texture, while the soaking liquid can be used as a tonic or the base of a soup.

Agaricus powder can be used to make tea by steeping one level teaspoon in one cup of boiling hot water for 10 minutes. The powder can also be stirred into protein shakes, coffee, tea, and cup-of-soup mixes.

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Article Sources

Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial policy to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Hetland G, Eide DM, Tangen JM, et al. The Agaricus blazei-Based Mushroom Extract, Andosan™, Protects against Intestinal Tumorigenesis in the A/J Min/+ Mouse. PLoS One. 2016;11(12):e0167754. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0167754.

  2. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Traditional Chinese Medicine: What You Need To Know. Bethesda, Maryland; updated October 2013.

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