· By Rashmi Parkhya
The Immune-Supporting Benefits of the Agaricus Blazei Mushroom
The Agaricus blazei is an edible medicinal mushroom species native to Brazil. Although the mushroom is now cultivated across the world for culinary purposes, its main benefits lie in the numerous effects it has on human health.
Packed with an incredible array of nutrients, the most prominent reason for these benefits lies in its polysaccharide content, which the scientific community has credited for the mushroom’s ability to powerfully influence the immune system in a manner unique to the Agaricus blazei.
So why wait?
Let’s jump into the role the Agaricus plays in immune function.
Beta-glucans: the power behind the mushroom
Since the 1960’s, the Agaricus blazei has generated a massive amount of research in the scientific community, with teams delving into everything from its ability to support normal cholesterol levels and healthy arteries to its potential to promote natural killer cell activity, which is of particular importance in the field of oncology.
And the power behind this well-researched mushroom lies in its high amount of polysaccharides, specifically a highly-structured class of polysaccharides known as beta-glucans, including beta-1,3-D-glucan and beta-1,6-D-glucan.
There is growing body of evidence that these beta-glucans “aid host defense against pathogens by modulating inflammatory and antimicrobial activity of neutrophils and macrophages.” Put simply, they work to “train” the body’s innate immune cells, such as monocytes and macrophages, to mount a more effective immune response.
Because of this, the beta-glucans found in the Agaricus blazei are often called "biological response modifiers" or "host defense modifiers.”
In addition to the powerful beta-glucans found in the mushroom, the Agaricus blazei also contains numerous other beneficial polysaccharides, such as alpha-glucans, riboglucans and glucomannans.
The research behind Agaricus blazei’s immune benefits
While all of that sounds great, does the research into the Agaricus blazei actually back it up?
The answer is a resounding YES and we’ll take a look at a handful of these studies.
#1 – Enhancing cell-mediated immune response
In a study which delved into the immune-modulating abilities of the Agaricus blazei, the researchers found that the mushroom’s beta-glucans, alpha-glucans and protein-polysaccharide complexes had the ability to “enhance in vivo and in vitro cell-mediated immune responses and act as biological response modifiers."
#2 – Immune modulation tailored to an individual’s needs
Another review of the evidence for the Agaricus mushroom also pointed to an extremely important benefit. The researchers found that Agaricus extract had the power to exert either an immuno-stimulatory or an immune-suppressive effect in response to the specific needs of the immune system. This is impressive and means that the Agaricus blazei could be beneficial to those needing to shore up their immune systems, as well as those dealing with autoimmune issues.
#3 – 14 more studies back up the benefits
An additional review found fourteen in vitro and in vivo studies that verified the mushroom's influence on the immune system.
#4 – Improving adaptive immunity
Another study in mice found that an extract of Agaricus blazei enhanced innate and adaptive immune activity, with a positive influence on both humoral and cellular immune response.
Who should take Agaricus blazei?
Because of these benefits, taking Agaricus blazei could offer hope for those who are looking to improve their immune system, whether to help fight off seasonal illnesses or due to a compromised immune system. Additionally, because the mushroom can help modulate immune function, it can also be used by those with autoimmune problems, wherein the immune system is overactive.