Agaricus blazei Murrill


Introduction


When surfing the internet for background on the Agaricus blazei Murrill (ABM) mushroom, one is confronted with fantastic stories, about isolated Brazilian rainforest Indians in the early 1960s, free from diseases and with unusual long lifespans, and a Japanese researcher named Takatoshi Furumoto who, intrigued by the unusually healthy Indians started an investigation. He discovers that the source of their good health must be in their diet, in particular a mushroom they eat often, a mushroom never seen before in the world.1a

This story is most likely made up by Japanese marketeers to create some background for the healing powers of this mushroom, a sister of the very common white button mushroom, the Agaricus bisporus. The Japanese scientist somehow never left a trace in scientific publications and the mushroom has never been eaten in the Piedade region, where, even nowadays, it is not commonly found.


History


In fact this mushroom was already known in the late 19th and early 20th century in the US, where it was very popular because of its excellent almond flavor and cultivated widely for the table – the almond mushroom. It was officially known as Agaricus subrufescens since 1893. After a few decades of success the white button mushroom (Agaricus bisporus) took over its place as the most popular edible mushroom.

In the late 1940s the American mycologist W.A. Murrill discovered an interesting mushroom growing on the lawn of his friend R.W. Blaze in Florida. He did not recognize the species and, in honor of his friend, named it Agaricus Blazei. And now the confusion starts…

To cut a long story short, the mycologists were mixing up very similar looking mushrooms and in the end had to use DNA-profiling to put an end to all the quarrels.
Here are the mycological facts:

  • The mushroom that received the name ‘Agaricus blazei Murrill‘ was in fact the ‘Agaricus silvaticus Schaeffer‘. It is not a medicinal mushroom.
  • The ‘Agaricus brasiliensis(another name given to the actual medicinal mushroom in 2002) turned out to exist already (classified in 1830) and is also not a medicinal mushroom.
  • The actual medicinal mushroom incorrectly named Agaricus blazei/Agaricus brasiliensis should in fact be called Agaricus subrufescens, the oldest taxonomical name. However, this medicinal mushroom and its derivatives are still researched, marketed and sold under the name Agaricus blazei Murrill (ABM) and Agaricus brasiliensis worldwide. Very confusing.

Research


This mushroom has mainly been studied in Japan. The main ABM based supplements and pharmaceuticals are also produced in Japan, until recently. In Japan the industry based on this medicinal mushroom is worth well over 600 million USD annually and over half a million people are consuming ABM supplements every day (2002 estimate). Right now ABM is the best selling medicinal mushroom in Japan.3a

In the past decades cultivating has been perfected. The majority is being grown in Brazil (keeping alive the marketing story, of course) and China, but the ABM is also found more and more in Europe and the USA. This mushroom, like all Agarics (including the button-mushroom) absorbs heavy metals like cadmium and lead very easily, therefore one should always verify the levels of these toxins before purchase. Never rely on the ‘organic’ label – this label does not guarantee the product is free from heavy metals, only pesticides. And since all mushrooms accumulate heavy metals from the soil and the air, high levels are very common. Only properly tested mushrooms should be considered.

Furthermore, all Agarics contain agaritine, a carcinogenic substance. However, despite the statements of some supplement producers, the chance agaritine is found in an extract of the mushroom is zero. It oxidizes very fast upon storage, and totally degrades after 48 hours in water with exposure to air. It also decomposes very fast upon cooking (up to 90% reduction) and freezing (up to 75% reduction).

Since these processes are part of the standard extraction procedures it is quite clear that no agaritine will be found in extracts. Non-extracted ABM products (powdered fruitbodies, myceliated biomass) can be a different story, though. We recommend to request a Certificate of Analysis from the supplier (not to be confused with a ‘spec sheet !).

For best therapeutic results Agaricus blazei mushrooms should be harvested and sun-dried before the cap opens

For best therapeutic results Agaricus blazei mushrooms should be harvested and sun-dried before the cap opens


Compared to the other medicinal mushrooms the ABM is a benjamin. The Japanese started researching the mushroom in the late 1960s and began isolating active components soon afterwards. No other medicinal mushroom has such a high percentage of polysaccharides – the Oriveda extracts e.g. contain between 60-70% of polysaccharides, of which over 60% are pure (1>3)(1>6)Beta-D-Glucans.

These specific glucans are found in all medicinal mushrooms and according to research they are mainly responsible for the immune balancing, anti-allergic and cholesterol/blood-pressure lowering effects. They are also effective in lowering the side effects of heavy medication such as chemo and radio therapy, and might help in preventing metastasis. The development of NK cells, T cells and macrophages, to name a few, is improving.

ABM also inhibits the enzyme aromatase, which is associated with the development of breast cancer.

Mushroom tea, anybody ?

A great source for all you people that have a DIY approach towards medicinal mushrooms is this entry on ChagaHQ.com. Check it out !!

mushroom-tea-the-complete-guide-1020x510

Don’t overlook this entry on our blog about Chaga tea!

Rhodiola rosea extract may improve anxiety, stress and mood

Daily intake of a Rhodiola rosea L. extract may improve various measures of mood in people with mild anxiety, says a new study from England.

depressionData from 81 mildly anxious students indicated that 14 days of supplementation with a Rhodiola rosea extract significantly reduced self-reported anxiety and stress.

Improvements in self-reported anger, confusion, and depression were also reported by the researchers.

“Although Rhodiola rosea has been used traditionally to relieve a range of symptoms of stress related disorders, to our knowledge this is the first study to demonstrate the efficacy of Rhodiola rosea  in the treatment of mild anxiety,” wrote Mark Cropley, Adrian Banks, and Julia Boyle from the University of Surrey in Phytotherapy Research .

Study details

Cropley, Banks, and Boyle recruited 81 students with an average age of 21 to participate in their 14-day study. The participants were assigned to receive two 200 mg doses per day of the Rhodiola rosea extract or no treatment.

Self-reported measures indicated that Rhodiola group demonstrated a significant reduction in self-reported anxiety and stress. Secondary endpoints, including anger, confusion and depression, also improved over the 14 day trial. Self-reported “total mood” was also significantly improved in the Rhodiola group.

On the other hand, no changes to measures of cognitive function were reported by the researchers.

Apart from that, the safety and tolerability of the Rhodiola rosea supplements were found to be good.

rhodiola rosea, dried roots

Rhodiola rosea roots are chopped into slices and then dried. These dried raw slices as sold by ORIVeDA are used to prepare a tincture.

“Future research is needed to replicate the current findings, and it would be desirable to supplement the subjective nature of self-reports with more objective indices,” wrote Cropley, Banks, and Boyle. “Clinical interviews could be used to assess mood, and sleep could be assessed via wrist actigraphy or EEG.

“The lack of placebo control is another limitation of this study. It is unlikely that the findings were the result of placebo effects, as changes appeared gradual and were specific to certain measures. As this was a non-placebo RCT, however, we cannot determine a causal relationship, and we cannot exclude that some of the changes were because of time alone or other factors.”

“Overall the results demonstrated that Rhodiola rosea is effective in the treatment of mild anxiety and stress. It improved confusion, anger, and total mood, and was well tolerated.”

Source: Phytotherapy Research
“The Effects of Rhodiola rosea L. Extract on Anxiety, Stress, Cognition and Other Mood Symptoms”
Authors: M. Cropley, A.P. Banks, J. Boyle

An extensive review of Rhodiola rosea with an emphasis on human trials can be found here.

Clinical evaluation of purified Shilajit on testosterone-levels in healthy volunteers

Daily supplements of purified Shilajit, an Ayurvedic ingredient, may boost testosterone levels in healthy men by 20%, says a new study.


Shilajit, a herbo-mineral exudate, is derived from mountainous regions across Asia. It is also called mumijo. Ninety days of supplementation with purified Shilajit were associated with a 20% increase in total testosterone and a 19% increase in free testosterone levels, according to findings published in Andrologia .

Safety and efficacy

Sidney Stohs, PhD, Dean Emeritus at the Creighton University Medical Center in Nebraska, reviewed the scientific literature around Shilajit in 2014 in Phytotherapy Research (Vol. 28, pp. 475-9), and noted that: “The physiological and pharmacological effects of shilajit are attributed to the [dibenzo-alpha-pyrones] DBPs, DBP chromoproteins (DBPs conjugated to proteins), fulvic acid, and various polymeric forms of fulvic acid.

“In spite of the use of shilajit (mumijo, mumie) for many years, relatively few peer-reviewed, human, controlled, and published research studies have been conducted,” noted Dr Stohs. “Studies in both animals and humans indicate that the use of shilajit is safe and generally free of adverse effects. Published human and animal studies have indicated that shilajit increases spermatogenesis in infertile males. A human study demonstrated that shilajit when given at high (2000 mg/day) doses has beneficial effects with respect to blood lipids.

“It should [also] be noted that a plethora of products exist on the market that do not conform to the chemical composition of  ‘standard’  shilajit and may be either adulterated or counterfeit, which are both very common” wrote Dr Stohs. “As a consequence, caution must be taken with respect to shilajit acquisition, and only properly processed, authenticated and standardized products should be used. A need exists for further studies in animals and humans with processed and standardized shilajit preparations.”

Purified Shilajit-Mumijo resin

Purified Shilajit-Mumijo resin

Study details

The researchers recruited 75 healthy men aged between 45 and 55 to participate in their randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled study. The men were randomly assigned to receive either placebo or 500 mg of Shilajit per day for 90 days.  The Shilajit was standardised to contain not less than 60% w/w of total bioactives, which include not less than 50% w/w of fulvic acids, not less than 0.3% w/w of dibenzo-alpha pyrones (DBPs) and not less than 10% w/w of dibenzo-alpha pyrone chromoproteins (DCPs).

Results showed that supplementation with this Shilajit lead to a 20% increase in total testosterone levels and a 19% increase in free testosterone levels after 90 days. 

“The significant betterment of DHEAs [the main precursor of testosterone] with the treatment of purified Shilajit signifies its role on testosterone synthesis,” they wrote. “Other two gonadotropic hormones, viz. luteinising hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH)], were studied in this present work, to rationalize the hypothalamo-pituitary–testicular axis, where both of these hormones were in maintained levels indicating their initial role of triggering of testosterone production. This was followed by downregulation of LH and FSH on one hand and maintenance of the hypothalamo-pituitary–testicular axis by means of elevated level of testosterone on 30, 60 and 90 days on the other hand.

“All these modus operandi of purified Shilajit on synthesis and stimulation of testosterone are found to be better than placebo-treated group in healthy male volunteers in age group of 45–55 years, who may undergo andropause in normal course.”

ORIVeDA is selling standardized Shilajit-Mumijo resin in 25 grams containers. The fulvic acid content is 11-12%.  The product has been authenticated by a patented process and meets the requirements of the Russian Pharmacopeia for Mumijo and the GOST standards for safety and quality.

ORIVeDA is selling purified natural Shilajit•Mumijo resin in 25 grams containers. The fulvic acid content is 11-12%.

This product is unique because it has been authenticated by a patented process and meets the requirements of the Russian Pharmacopeia for pure Mumijo and the GOST standards (equal to GMP) for safety and quality.

Sexual health category

Dr Kalidindi told us that the male sexual health supplement industry is growing as the baby boomer generation is now reaching retirement age. “More older adult males are turning to nutritional supplements to support and maintain their lifestyles. According to the Nutrition Business Journal, the natural supplement market for promoting sexual health products is poised to reach an estimated worth of $905 million by 2020.”

While the sexual health market has received a lot of attention from the regulators, it is not the only category to have suffered from criticism, said Dr Kalidindi.

“Solid science is critical in every category of the dietary supplement industry especially after what happened with the NYAG. Natreon, the company that supplied the Shilajit used in the study has achieved a reputation within the industry as a company that backs up every ingredient with multiple efficacy and safety studies.”

More details about Shilajit and its history and background can be found here.

FDA Approves Bastyr Turkey Tail (Coriolus versicolor) Trial for Cancer Patients

FDA Approves Bastyr Turkey Tail Trial for Cancer Patients

Researchers study how a traditional Chinese mushroom helps cancer patients strengthen their immune systems in a $5.4 million investigation.

It’s been brewed for thousands of years as a Chinese medicinal tea. Now Bastyr University researchers are closer to discovering whether the turkey tail mushroom (Trametes versicolor / Coriolus versicolor) can help cancer patients boost their immune systems during chemotherapy.

Turkey tail, named for its colorful stripes, is the humble fungus at the center of a $5.4 million collaboration between Bastyr, the University of Washington and others, funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The mushroom grows widely in forests around the world, but its health potential has never been fully measured in scientific trials.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved a clinical trial for a turkey tail extract, allowing patients with advanced prostate cancer to take it in combination with conventional chemotherapy. Another trial pending FDA approval will test the effects of taking the extract along with a vaccine treatment in women with breast cancer. These will help researchers gather safety data and continue their development of potentially transformative cancer therapy.

“We didn’t discover turkey tail,” says lead investigator Leanna J. Standish, PhD, ND, LAc, FABNO, medical director of the Bastyr Integrative Oncology Research Center. “It’s been used in Asia for thousands and thousands of years, and it turns out to be a really potent immune therapy. The significance, I think, is that we’re bringing a new medicine to cancer patients in the U.S.”

Previous research by Bastyr and the University of Minnesota found a turkey tail supplement may support conventional breast cancer therapies by strengthening a patient’s immune system. That study was published recently in the peer-reviewed journal ISRN Oncology.

Now that researchers have approval from the FDA, they plan to begin prostate cancer clinical trials in early 2013. The ultimate goal is to develop a cancer therapy without the debilitating side effects of pharmaceutical drugs.

“One of the things chemotherapy does is suppress the immune system, so our question is whether patients taking the extract can maintain healthier immune function,” says Masa Sasagawa, ND, a senior project manager at the Bastyr University Research Institute.

Strengthening Immunity

Study participants recruited at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance will take oral doses of a Japanese turkey tail extract along with docetaxel chemotherapy. Others will take a placebo and chemotherapy. Along with determining safety, lab researchers will measure the levels and activity of natural killer (NK) cells and other immune cells, which protect the body from tumors and viruses. NK cell counts and activity typically plummet after chemotherapy, leaving the body vulnerable to new diseases.

“Our hope is that docetaxel plus the turkey tail extract can create a strong enough immune response to lead to significant tumor regression,” says lead investigator Cynthia A. Wenner, PhD, a Bastyr research associate professor. “That’s what happened in our previous mouse trial.”

Participants in the breast cancer study will also take a cancer vaccine under development.

Nature’s Complexity


Bastyr University Researchers Masa Sasagawa, ND, and Cynthia Wenner, PhD, are helping lead a $5.4 million collaboration on the immune-boosting potential of PSK, a mushroom derivative.


Gaining FDA approval — required for federally funded clinical trials — proved challenging because of the complexity of a natural product. Unlike a synthetic drug, a mushroom contains thousands of elements, each with a potential effect on the immune system.

“The FDA wants to know what the ‘mechanism of action’ is,” says Dr. Sasagawa. “But it’s very difficult to determine, because turkey tail is a natural product and not a single compound.”

More challenges: Natural products vary slightly from harvest to harvest, in the same way wines from the same vineyard vary year to year. Precise research requires consistency. Also, mushrooms grown in contaminated soil collect toxins and heavy metals, making safety a concern.

To search for consistency and safety, the research team looked to a pharmaceutical-grade turkey tail product made in Japan, where turkey tail has been a widely used cancer treatment for more than 30 years. They found a solution in protein-bound polysaccharide K (PSK), a powdered turkey tail derivative produced in Japan using a hot-water extraction method.

Turkey tail’s traditional use means derivatives are probably not patentable, which has dissuaded pharmaceutical companies from funding clinical trials. It’s a research dilemma that NIH seeks to address through its National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM). NCCAM has helped fund research, such as the Bastyr/UW collaboration, that integrates traditional naturopathic medicine with modern empirical standards.

“There is a lot of knowledge accumulated by naturopathic doctors over the years, and with the help of NCCAM we’ve been able to investigate howsome of these medicines operate,” says Mark Martzen, PhD, CIP, senior director of research development at Bastyr. “It’s given us critical insight into how things work at the molecular level.”

In 2010 NCCAM awarded the $5.4 million grant, known formally as the U19 Bastyr/UW Oncomycology Translational Research Center. A portion of the funding has allowed Bastyr to offer research training to students. Naturopathic medicine student Joshua Goldenberg published turkey tail-related research in the Journal of Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Naturopathic medicine student Katie Strobe won a $24,000 scholarship for her work on PSK immune responses.

Mushroom-Human Relations

Finding a disease-fighting agent growing on trees, stumps and fallen logs may sound unlikely. But it wouldn’t have surprised our ancestors, who relied on plants for their health-giving properties. Mushrooms were particularly important, says Dr. Standish.


Co-lead investigator Leanna Standish, PhD, ND, LAc, FABNO, helped build a research collaboration among Bastyr, UW and the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance.


“They’re incredibly important as nutrition and also medicine,” she says. “Humans co-evolved with mushrooms. They are probably far more important in our biology than we imagine. North America is kind of fungi-phobic, and it may be contributing to our lousy health.”

Dr. Standish believes the modern focus on disease-fighting drugs will ultimately give way to a return of plant-based medicine.

“The difference between natural medicine and conventional medicine is the dependence of conventional medicine on the single-molecule approach,” she says. “Drugs are typically very potent, but quite deadly in the end, because nature doesn’t work like that.

“Natural products have multiple mechanisms of action, and it is very difficult scientifically to figure out all those mechanisms. But our bodies have evolved to rely on them.”

Bringing clarity to time-tested but little-understood medicines requires combining traditional wisdom and modern science, says Hailing Lu, MD, PhD, research assistant professor of oncology at UW. That’s the point of the turkey tail study.

“We’re excited about this,” Dr. Lu said recently. “Japan and many other Asian countries have been using this [mushroom extract] for a long time. For me, it’s a great combination. I come from China, so the use of herbal products is not new for me. This is a bridging of Eastern and Western medicine.”


Extensive background about Coriolus versicolor and its PSP compound can be found here.


More information: “Polysaccharopeptide enhanced the anti-cancer effect of gamma-tocotrienol through activation of AMPK.” Liu J, Lau EY, Chen J, Yong J, Tang KD, Lo J, Ng IO, Lee TK1, Ling MT. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2014 Aug 16;14:303. DOI: 10.1186/1472-6882-14-303.

PSP – mushroom compound with vitamin E suppresses prostate cancer tumors

Mushroom compound with vitamin E suppresses prostate cancer tumors

A QUT research team has discovered that two naturally occurring compounds, one from mushrooms and the other from palm oil, when used together can significantly reduce the growth of tumours in prostate cancer models.

Dr Patrick Ling from QUT’s Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation and the Australian Prostate Cancer Research Centre-Queensland said the two compounds induced a drastic activation of the cancer fighting protein, AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK).

“AMPK is a key player in suppressing cancer cell growth – and the mushroom compound works together with the Vitamin E to activate AMPK to much higher levels,” said Dr Ling, who is based at Brisbane’s Translational Research Institute.

Dr Ling’s previous research confirmed that the compound, polysaccharopeptide (PSP), found in the turkey tail mushroom, or yunzhi as it’s known in China, prevented prostate cancer development in pre-clinical investigations.

“In China people have put the mushroom in soups to boost health and immunity for millennia and in the past few decades have been studying its effects on cancer,” he said.

“We then studied the effects on of a form of natural Vitamin E called gamma-tocotrienol or gamma-T3 which is extracted from .

“There has been interest in gamma-T3 for the past 20 years and a rapid increase in research on its anti-cancer effects for the past five years.

“This natural form of gamma T-3, which can also be extracted from rice bran oil is much more potent than the synthetic form at reducing .”

Dr Ling said the team’s latest research also indicated that PSP actually sensitised the cancer cells to gamma-t3 cytotoxicity in models

He said the two compounds’ synergistic effect could potentially enhance chemotherapy and mitigate its side effects.


Extensive background about Coriolus versicolor and its PSP compound can be found here.


More information: “Polysaccharopeptide enhanced the anti-cancer effect of gamma-tocotrienol through activation of AMPK.” Liu J, Lau EY, Chen J, Yong J, Tang KD, Lo J, Ng IO, Lee TK1, Ling MT. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2014 Aug 16;14:303. DOI: 10.1186/1472-6882-14-303.