Agaricus Blazei Murill
By suppressing tumorous cancer cells, stimulating the immune system, and demonstrating significant benefits for atopic dermatitis, hay fever, and the like the agaricus blazei murill mushroom has been in the spotlight recently. In particular, in mouse experiments it was found to result in tumor suppression of 99% due to its β-D-glucans. Even compared to mushrooms in the past, its significant medicinal effects have generated high hopes. The agaricus mushroom takes the shape of an umbrella, like a common mushroom, and features a long, thick stalk as well as a strong smell and sweet-tasting flesh. With a firm texture that is said to suit any cuisine including Japanese, Western, and Chinese, it brings a variety of benefits both when eaten and when drunk as an infusion. Commonly called the agaricus mushroom and bearing the scientific name Agaricus blazei (Japanese name kawariharatake), the mushroom originated in Brazil, in South America, right on the other side of the Earth from Japan. Native to the mountain district of Piedade on the outskirts of Sao Paulo in southeastern Brazil where it has long been used as food by the inhabitants, and also apparently found on the plains of Florida and South Carolina in the United States, the agaricus mushroom will only grow under weather conditions of 35℃ temperatures during the day, 20-25℃ at night, and regular evening showers, and being wild it was thought that it could only be harvested in such locations. There were wild horses in the Piedade area for ages, and their manure became compost, leading to the development of soil that agaricus mushrooms can grow in, but now those horses are no longer there, and agaricus mushrooms have stopped appearing even in Piedade. Due to the severe constraints of these natural conditions, agaricus mushrooms are extremely difficult to grow by artificial methods, and in the past, only about 10 tons could be harvested each year because they were relying on production in its native habitat. Since most of that would either be consumed locally in Piedade or exported for consumption in the United States, the mushroom had not been introduced into Japan. The mushroom first arrived in Japan in 1965 and was identified in 1967 as Agaricus blazei of the family Agaricaceae and genus Agaricus by the Belgian scientist Dr. Heinemann as a result of incubation experiments. Its Japanese name is kawariharatake, and as a product being developed and sold (registered trademarks) it is known by the names himematsutake (princess matsutake), shinsentake (mountain wizard mushroom), and agaricus mushroom, but in terms of classification these are all the same Agaricus blazei originating in Brazil. Later, in 1992, it was successfully cultivated on a large scale in greenhouses by Kyowa Engineering Group (Okinoerabujima, Shikoku, etc.) with the use of biotechnology, and it appeared as a functional food ingredient under the common name "agaricus mushroom." Eventually they were able to produce up to 10 tons per year (dried agaricus mushrooms, 1995). As the agaricus mushroom has gained popularity, reports have followed one after another that, "the mushroom has an effect on cancer," "drinking an infusion lowers blood pressure and blood sugar levels," and "relieves atopy," and these benefits have been proven. Originally harvested as food, its medicinal benefits were first noticed in the United States. Dr. W. J. Sinden, a professor at Pennsylvania State University, and Dr. E. B. Lambert of the Lambert Research Institute published a study on "Cancer suppressing action and other medicinal effects," and interest in the agaricus mushroom rose overnight. Then, awareness grew when it became known that former US President Reagan was taking it on an ongoing basis, and now it is utilized as food for its anticancer action as well as for strengthening immunity and even as a treatment for AIDS. Those medicinal benefits were first published in Japan in 1980 at the 53rd General Meeting of the Japanese Society for Bacteriology where the agaricus mushroom’s anticancer action and benefits to an organism’s natural healing ability were presented. The research group of Dr. Ito et al. from the medical faculty at Mie University presented the anti-cancer properties of agaricus mushroom extract and showed that it has effects on solid tumors, ascites cancer, etc. at the Japanese Cancer Association in 1980. It was unclear at this stage which substances in the agaricus mushroom were coming into play, but the following year research on polysaccharides with antitumor properties was presented to the Japanese Pharmacological Society, which quickly attracted attention. Next came reports in medical journals and biology journals in 1984 on the activation of endothelial function by antitumor polysaccharides, followed the next year by polysaccharides with antitumor properties in macrophages (phagocytes that swallow up foreign matter and waste matter inside the body and excrete it outside the body) in the abdominal cavities of mice, and in 1986 by antitumor properties and macrophage activity of the lipid fraction contained in agaricus mushrooms. In this way, reports have been published one after another by academic societies on the benefits for many users in a large number of medical cases in actual cancer treatment. Agaricus mushrooms have some surprising benefits when compared to those functions found in mushrooms generally. Please have a look at our agaricus blazei and other medicinal mushroom products.