Source of Information: Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, the oldest and largest private cancer center, located in New York, founded in 1884.
Scientific Name: Agaricus blazei Murrill
Common Name: Himematsutake, Agarikusutake, Kawarihiratake, Cogumelo do Sol, Sun mushroom
Bottom Line: Agaricus extract may benefit patients with certain cancers. But more studies are needed to confirm these observations.
Agaricus blazei is an edible mushroom grown in
Brazil and Japan. It is used to treat arteriosclerosis,
hepatitis, hyperlipidemia, diabetes, dermatitis, and cancer.
Laboratory studies and experiments done in mice have shown
that Agaricus can stimulate the immune system and has
anticancer effects. Compounds present in Agaricus prevent
formation of blood vessels needed for tumor development.
Agaricus may cause liver damage and death.
There are no clinical data to support this use.
- Cancer treatment
One study showed that Agaricus extract taken orally, improved the quality of life in patients with gynecological cancers.
- Chronic hepatitis
Agaricus is used in traditional medicine to treat hepatitis and a small clinical study showed that Agaricus helps improve liver function in patients with hepatitis B.
There are limited in vitro and animal data suggesting that Agaricus mushroom has antidiabetic effects. One small clinical study showed that Agaricus reduced blood glucose levels in healthy subjects.
One small clinical study showed that Agaricus reduced cholesterol level in healthy subjects.
There are no clinical data to support this use.
Hundred patients with cervical, ovarian, and endometrial cancers were treated with either carboplatin plus VP16 (etoposide), or carboplatin plus taxol every 3 weeks for at least three cycles. They were divided into two groups that received oral Agaricus extract or placebo along with the treatments. Based on blood tests, researchers found that the Agaricus group had a significantly higher natural killer cell activity compared to those on placebo. In addition there was a reduction in chemotherapy associated side effects such as emotional instability, alopecia, general weakness, and decrease in appetite. However, there was no difference in lymphokine-activated killer and monocyte activities between the two groups.
Type 2 diabetes:
Because anti-diabetic activities of Agaricus have been previously reported, 72 participants diagnosed with type 2 diabetes for more than 1 year and currently taking gliclazide and metformin for more than 6 months received with Agaricus extract or placebo. After 12 weeks, improvements in insulin resistance were detected in the Agaricus-treated group.
- You are allergic to agaricus or other mushrooms.
- You are taking drugs that are substrates of Cytochrome P450 3A4 (agaricus may increase the risk of side effects of these drugs).
- May cause liver damage in cancer patients.
- Cheilitis (swelling of the lip) has also been reported.
Agaricus blazei is an edible mushroom native to Brazil and is cultivated in Japan for medicinal uses. It has been used to treat arteriosclerosis, hepatitis, hyperlipidemia, diabetes, dermatitis, and cancer. The polysaccharides and anti-angiogenic compounds present in Agaricus are thought to be responsible for its antitumor properties. Agaricus was also shown to have antidiabetic effects in vitro and in animal studies (8) (9).
Results from a study done in human subjects with type 2 diabetes suggest benefits of Agaricus extract in improving insulin resistance (10) (11), and a pilot study indicates that Agaricus extract may reduce weight, body fat, and serum glucose and cholesterol levels in healthy individuals (12).
The antitumor and immunomodulatory effects of Agaricus are due to immunopotentiation or direct inhibition of angiogenesis (3) (4) (6) (21) (22). An Agaricus extract enhanced doxorubicin-induced apoptosis against drug-resistant human hepatocellular carcinoma (24). Oral administration of the extract improved the natural killer cell activity and quality of life in gynecological cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy (7), but no such effects were seen in a study of elderly females (25). Large scale studies are needed.
While a small pilot study reported that Agaricus extract may improve liver function in patients with hepatitis B (13), liver damage and deaths (14) along with cheilitis (15) have been reported following consumption of Agaricus. Due to its immunopotentiating effects, Agaricus can potentially interfere with immunomodulating drugs although such interactions have not been reported.
Agaricus is an edible fungus. It is available as freeze-dried mushroom or as concentrated liquid extracts, teas, or capsules. The whole mushroom is often added to soups, sauces, or hot teas.
- Cancer treatment
- Polysaccharides: beta-1, 6-D-glucan
- Sterols: Ergosterol
- Linoleic acid
- Anti-angiogenic compounds: Sodium pyroglutamate (A-1) and A-2
A recent study suggests that Agaricus extract has estrogen-like activity and may help prevent atherosclerosis via dual roles in cell signaling, macrophage development suppression and endothelial cell recovery from vascular damage (16). A major constituent of Agaricus, ergosterol, was found to inhibit tumor growth in mice via direct inhibition of tumor-induced angiogenesis (6). Other studies demonstrated that polysaccharides present in Agaricus extract caused activation of macrophages (5) or natural killer cells (17) and induced cytotoxic T-lymphocyte activity in tumor-bearing mice. Specifically, activation of natural killer cells was mediated through IL-12-induced IFN-gamma expression (18). Both aqueous and organic extracts of Agaricus offered protection to cells exposed to methyl methanesulphonate, a mutagenic agent. The stimulus produced by linoleic acid on beta-DNA polymerase, an enzyme involved in repair mechanism following exposure of DNA to alkylating agents, is thought responsible for such an effect (19). Furthermore, Agaricus extract stimulates caspase 3 activation and reduces telomerase activity (19) possibly through regulation of Akt signaling (20) thereby inducing apoptosis in cancer cell lines. Blazeispirol A, produced by Agaricus fermentation, causes both caspase-dependent and -independent cell death in human Hep 3B cells (21). Agaritine, a hydrazine-containing constituent exhibits anti-tumor activity toward U937 leukemic cells mediated through apoptosis (22).
- An in vitro study suggests that Agaricus extract has estrogen-like activity (16) and therefore should be used with caution. Patients with hormone-sensitive cancer should discuss its use with their physician.
- Hypersensitivity to Agaricus.
- Consumption of Agaricus has been associated with hepatic dysfunction in cancer patients (14).
- Cheilitis has also been reported (15).
- Cytochrome P450 substrates: Agaricus inhibits CYP3A4 and can affect the intracellular concentration of drugs metabolized by this enzyme (23).