Agaricus Mushroom extract supplement health benefit and side effects, dosage and review
April 22 2014 by
Ray Sahelian, M.D.

There are different varieties of agaricus mushroom, the more common ones are agaricus bisporus, campestris, and blazei. Agaricus bisporus is the most common edible mushroom in Western countries. The campestris variety has the common name Meadow Mushroom and known in French as Champignon.

Benefit
Over the last couple of decades, Agaricus blazei has been studied and developed as a novel functional food in Japan, Korea, China, and Taiwan. Traditionally known as "God's Mushroom," it contains polysaccharide-protein complexes that have been researched for their immune system activity.

Buy Agaricus blazei mushroom extract 90 Veggie Caps - Doctor's Best
Agaricus blazei is a medicinal mushroom that contains a special class of polysaccharides known as beta glucans. Studies show beta glucan stimulates activity of natural killer cells, which are an important part of the immune system. The agaricus in this product is extracted with the preferred hot water/alcohol method to increase its digestibility and enhance bioavailability of the polysaccharides. Originally discovered in Brazil, it is widely consumed in many countries, where it is regarded as a health food due to its medicinal properties.

Suggested Use and dosage: Take 1 agaricus capsule no more than 3 times a week or as recommended by your health care provider. Until we learn more about the long term benefit and side effects, taking a full week off each month is a good idea. I have heard that agaricus liquid extract is sold, but have not seen any research why this form would be any better than regular oral capsules or tablets.

 

Buy Agaricus extract, cordyceps, or maitake
Supplement Facts:
Agaricus blazei extract 400 mg (fruiting body)
Supplies polysaccharides 160 mg
Black pepper extract 5 mg (fruit)

Mushroom Information
The group of mushrooms in the Agaricus family are probably some of the best known mushrooms in the Western world. The white buttons sold in stores as mushrooms are a cultivated variety of Agaricus bisporus now called Agaricus brunnescens. The wild Crimini and Portabella mushrooms are also cultivars of this species. A cultivar is defined as a variety of a plant that has been created or selected intentionally and maintained through cultivation.

Int J Med Mushrooms. 2013. Royal sun medicinal mushroom, Agaricus brasiliensis Ka21 (higher Basidiomycetes), as a functional food in humans. The Royal Sun medicinal mushroom, Agaricus brasiliensis, is used as a natural health product. In Japan, however, the quality control of some of these mushroom products has been viewed as a safety problem. Focusing on the quality control of A. brasiliensis KA21, we have performed several safety studies. To date, we have established evidence that this mushroom can be used safely as an immunostimulant and to mediate biochemical parameters associated with obesity or diabetes. Furthermore, to improve the manufacturing process of this mushroom, we have studied the relationship between its pharmaceutical actions and the conditions of its cultivation and thermal management.

Cancer
Isolation of an anti-angiogenic substance from Agaricus blazei its antitumor and antimetastatic actions.
Cancer Sci. 2004.
We previously found that ergosterol isolated from Agaricus blazei inhibited tumor growth through the inhibition of tumor-induced neovascularization. In the present study, we isolated further anti-angiogenic substances (A-1 and A-2). This is the first report showing that sodium pyroglutamate as an anti-angiogenic substance has potent antitumor and antimetastatic actions, as well as immune-modulatory activity, in tumor-bearing mice.

Chemotherapy and gynecological tumors
Natural killer cell activity and quality of life were improved by consumption of a mushroom extract, Agaricus blazei Kyowa, in gynecological cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy.
Int J Gynecol Cancer. 2004.
One hundred cervical, ovarian, and endometrial cancer patients were treated either with carboplatin plus VP16 (etoposide)) or with carboplatin plus taxol every 3 weeks for at least three cycles with or without oral consumption of agaricus extract. Chemotherapy-associated side effects such as appetite, alopecia, emotional stability, and general weakness were all improved by the mushroom treatment.

Which agaricus mushroom extract is most effective for cancer treatment.?
   Since such human trials are very limited, it is difficult to guess which extract is better, what dosages are ideal, and how often one should take them and for how long. All these questions about its role in cancer prevention and treatment are still not answered by the research. We need several more studies by different research teams to have more answers.

Diabetes and blood sugar benefit
The mushroom Agaricus Blazei in combination with metformin and gliclazide improves insulin resistance in type 2 diabetes: a randomized, double-blinded, and placebo-controlled clinical trial.
J Alternative Complement Med. 2007.
Of a population of 536 registered diabetes patients with 72 subjects (1) aged between 20 and 75 years, (2) being Chinese, (3) having type 2 diabetes for more than 1 year, and (4) having been taking gliclazide and metformin for more than 6 months were enrolled in this study. The enrolled patients were randomly assigned to either receiving supplement of Agaricus blazei extract or placebo (cellulose) 1500 mg daily for 12 weeks. The mushroom extract improves insulin resistance among subjects with type 2 diabetes. The increase in adiponectin concentration might be the mechanism that brings the beneficial effect.

Sarcoma agaricus research
Oral administration of Agaricus blazei (H1 strain) inhibited tumor growth in a sarcoma 180 inoculation model.
Exp Anim. 2003.
Agaricus blazei (H1 strain) was tested for its anti-cancer activity using a sarcoma 180 (S180) inoculation model. The growth of S180 was significantly inhibited in the treated groups.

Ulcerative colitis
There is some early research regarding its influence on ulcerative colitis.

Substances, chemical, ingredients
There are many different substances in agaricus mushroom that have potential medicinal properties including polysacharides such as beta glucan, ergosterol, sodium pyroglutamate, laccase, lectin, and blazeispirane derivatives.

What is the percentage of beta glucans in the Agaricus Blazei extract 400 mg capsule? Polysaccharides are 160 mg according to the bottle, does that equal out to 25% beta glucans?
   There are a number of different polysaccharides within the agaricus mushroom extract, beta glucans are not the only ones. Furthermore, different polysaccharides have different health effects, and it is not necessarily clear at this time whether a higher percentage or lower percentage of beta glucans within a particular extract product would offer more health benefits. We don't know exactly the portion of beta glucan within the polysaccharides of this supplement.
Doctor's Best is the manufacturer of this product and their website would have the contact number if you have a strong interest in finding out the exact beta glucan content.

Agaricus side effects, risk, safety, toxicity
Up to 2014, few agaricus side effects had been reported in Japan, where it has been in use as a dietary supplement since the mid 1990s. There is now a report in the medical literature that three cancer patients taking an agaricus supplement had liver damage.

An Alternative Medicine, Agaricus blazei, May Have Induced Severe Hepatic Dysfunction in Cancer Patients.
Japan J Clinical Oncology. 2006..
We report three cases of patients with advanced cancer who showed severe hepatic damage, and two of whom died of fulminant hepatitis. All the patients were taking Agaricus blazei extract, one of the most popular complementary and alternative medicines among Japanese cancer patients. In one patient, liver functions recovered gradually after she stopped taking it, but she restarted taking it, which resulted in deterioration of the liver function again. The other patients who were admitted for severe liver damage had started taking it several days before admission. Although several other factors cannot be completely ruled out as the causes of liver damage, a strong causal relationship between the Agaricus blazei extract and liver damage was suggested and, at least, taking the Agaricus blazei extract made the clinical decision-making process much more complicated.
   Comments by Dr. Sahelian: For the time being, limit your intake to maximum 3 times a week and a full week off each month. It is not clear at this time whether the problem was with the particular agaricus supplement these patient were using, i.e, Himematsutake as it is called in Japan, or whether the problem of liver harm applies to all brands. Was the Himematsutake product these Japanese cancer patients were taking contaminated with something else? It is also not clear whether the liver problem is dose dependent. Sometimes patients with cancer will take a very high amount of a supplement thinking more is better. It is also not clear whether the liver damage occurred due to the fact that these patients may have been on chemotherapy drugs which weakened their liver and immune system.

Lack of subchronic toxicity of an aqueous extract of Agaricus blazei Murrill in F344 rats.
Food Chem Toxicol. 2005.
As a part of its safety assessment, the present 90-day subchronic toxicity study was performed in F344 rats. In conclusion, A. blazei Murrill extract even at 5% in the diet did not cause remarkable adverse effects in F344 rats.

Use by cats, pets
My veterinarian has suggested that I give my cat, who has been diagnosed with an inflammatory mass in the bladder, possibly early stage transitional cell carcinoma, agaricus Blazei. He said he has used it in two cats that had mammary tumors, seeing some positive anti tumor action. Have you had any experience with using this product on cats?

    We don't have any knowledge of its use in cats.

Health claims
2008 - The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has approved health claims for Agaricus blazei mushroom dietary supplements. The health claims now allowed throughout the EU are: "Helps the natural defences / contributes to a normal immune response;" "helps the body to resist biologic insults;" "support the immune system," and "is rich in beta glucans that contributes to the immune activity."

I am a health food store manager and received this promotional material, can you tell me if the benefits are true? "Research indicates Agaricus Blazei stimulates the following Immune System Cells Macrophage NK Cells Leukocytes T-Cells. It stimulates the following Immune System Cytokines TNF-alpha Interferons - (α, β, and γ) Interleukins - (1β, 6, 8, 12, and 23α). It limits damage from radiation and mutagens. Human trials have shown it lowers blood sugar levels and supports healthy liver function. Agaricus is a rare vegetable source of both conjugated linoleic acid CLA and vitamin D and is a highly popular supplement which is regularly used by over a half million people in Japan."
    Although early research has shown some benefits, it is too early to recommend these pills to be taken on a daily basis for prolonged periods.

Different varieties:
Agaricus bisporus is a common edible cultivated mushroom also known as white mushroom. The lectin from this common mushroom, the most popular edible species in Western countries, has potent antiproliferative effects on human epithelial cancer cells, without any apparent cytotoxicity. This property confers to it an important therapeutic potential as an antineoplastic agent.
   This mushroom comes in different varieties, and most of the research has been done with agaricus blazei. Therefore, it is difficult to say how similar bisporus is to blazei in terms of its effects on the human immune system or cancer treatment. In addition, it is possible to have an extract from one company that could be slightly or moderately different than an extract from a different company since there is no standardization in agaricus mushroom extract products. Different fractions can be present in a supplement depending whether it is extracted by water, heat, ethanol, hexane, and other methods of extraction.

Alberti
Agaricus blazei is an edible and medicinal mushroom. Agaricus blazei is also known as the Brazilian sun mushroom or himematsutake.
californicus is a North-American species
Agaricus campestris - also known as meadow mushroom
ciuperci
macrosporus
muscarius
Agaricus subrufescens Peck was cultivated first in the late 1800s in eastern North America. Once a popular market mushroom, this agaricus species faded from commerce in the early 20th century. More recently, a mushroom species growing wild in Brazil has been introduced into cultivation in Brazil, Japan and elsewhere. This Brazilian mushroom has been referred to by various names, most commonly as Agaricus blazei Murrill (sensu Heinemann) and most recently as A. brasiliensis Wasser et al.
xanthodermus is not edible

Emails
Q. I'd like to point out that the scientific and medical research quoted in this article is not applicable to the Doctor's Best products or certain other brands. The reason is that all this research was performed using highly concentrated polysaccharide extracts, not Doctor's Best products or quite a number of other brands sold over the counter. Doctor's Best is not even selling extracts, but simple mushroom powder. No hot water / ethanol extraction process was used to make the active ingredient (polysaccharides, ergosterol) digestible. They do call it 'extract' but if you have a look at their Certificate of Analysis (COA) you will see that there is no percentage of polysaccharides listed. In un-extracted mushroom powder the polysaccharide level cannot be determined using UV absorbtion or HPLC. The polysaccharides also cannot be digested by humans. The reason being mushrooms are made of chitin, which is 90% undigestible by humans (lacking the enzyme chitinase). The consumer will not benefit from eating Doctor's Best Agaricus capsules, since most of it will simply pass through his / her body, undigested. Quality extracts like JHS (45% polysaccharides) or ORIVEDA (60% polysaccharides) is preferable in my opinion.
   A. I appreciate reading your viewpoint. I was wondering whether the two products you mention are guaranteed not to cause hepatic dysfunction since that has been the case as reported. I was wondering if perhaps a more potent extract may cause more problems. What are your thoughts on this issue? Also, without clinical trials, how can you be sure the product mentioned is or is not of benefit? And what studies do you have that indicate the contents of this product will pass undigested?