The mushroom Agaricus blazei was first discovered in 1960 in a small, remote village of Piedade. This is located in the mountainous region of the Brazilian Atlantic rainforest near Sao Paolo. It was discovered by Takatoshi Furumoto. It is known by many names.
In Brazil, where the mushroom originated, it is called cogumelo de Deus, da Vida or de Sol (mushroom of God, Life or of the Sun). In Japan, where it was exported and widely used as a traditional medicinal mushroom, it is known as princess matsutake or Himematsutake.
What does it look like?
Agaricus blazei looks like a typical mushroom. It has a cap and a stalk. The cap begins as a hemispherical shape that later turns convex as the mushroom matures. The diameter is 2 to 7.1 inches (5-18 cm). Silk-like fibers cover the cap. As the cap matures, small scales called squamulose develop. The color ranges from white to grey. Some develop dull reddish-brown colors. The margin of the cap splits as the mushroom ages.
The flesh of the mushroom is white. Its taste is reminiscent of “green nuts” and smells like almonds. The gills are free, meaning these are not attached to the mushroom’s stalk. The gills are narrow and closely packed together. The color starts white and turns pinkish then black brown when the spores within the gills mature.
Where can it be found?
It can be found growing in rich soil, among leaf litter. It grows in Canada and the northeastern portion of the United States. It also grows in Brazil (where it was originally used for medicinal purposes), the Philippines, Taiwan, the Netherlands, Hawaii, California and Great Britain.
Agaricus blazei smells like almonds and has a sweet taste. It is traditionally used as a cure as diabetes, cancer and chronic hepatitis. People near the area where the mushroom naturally grow used it for overall health and longevity.
The medicinal properties were confirmed when the mushroom was brought to Japan for scientific studies. Numerous studies were able to confirm that the mushroom does contain immune-modulating compounds that can help alleviate certain conditions.
The active compounds in Agaricus blazei are:
- Proteoglycans and other polysaccharides
- Ergosterol or pro-vitaminD2 derivatives
- Linoleic acid
- 46 different enzymes
- 10 different amino acids
- 10 minerals
- 16 vitamins
- 18 amino acids
These compounds promote numerous benefits.
Benefits of Agaricus Blazei
Agaricus blazei has long been used by the villagers of Piedade to promote longevity and health. When Furumoto brought the mushroom to Japan for scientific evaluation, the results were astounding. The active compounds were identified and the benefits were confirmed. Agaricus blazei can:
Activate and improve the activities of the immune system
This is one of the most amazing benefits from this mushroom. It activates and strengthens the immune system. This produces a long list of health benefits, such as better defense against infections. It has even shown promise as a powerful treatment against cancer. Research has seen that this mushroom can be effective in preventing and treating cancers such as leukemia.
The active compounds also help in modulating immune responses such as systemic swelling and redness. The leading bioactive compound for the benefits on the immune system is called polysaccharides. One type of polysaccharide that has a profound effect on the immune system is beta-glucan.
This is abundant in the mushrooms. Studies were able to demonstrate how beta-glucan can suppress inflammatory responses. This is a vital step towards cancer cure and prevention. Cancer tends to proliferate and develop rapidly in the presence of chronic inflammation.
Studies have found that the mushroom can produce noticeable improvements in just 12 days of intake.
Improves liver function
This mushroom has shown abilities to improve the functioning of the liver, even in people who suffer liver damage from hepatitis B. This disease has long been considered as among the most difficult to treat and can produce extensive liver damage. One recent year-long study found that extracts of the mushroom can return liver function to normal.
Studies have also shown that Agaricus blazei extracts can help improve insulin resistance in some people who suffer from diabetes.
Also, extracts have been shown to be able to help protect the liver from further damage. Protection is specifically against the damaging effects of oxidative stress on the tissues of the liver.
Removes toxic metals and chemicals
Beta-glucans in Agaricus blazei assist the body’s cells in detoxification. It helps remove chemical toxins and metals that have accumulated within the cells. It also promotes the growth of cells in the body that have protective and assistive functions in the detoxification process.