The Upsurgence of the Sun Mushroom

Though widely cultivated in Japan and called "Himematsutake", in its native habitat Brazil it is best known as "Cogumelo de Sola". Sin…

Agaricus Blazei Murill, to be more historically accurate, is actually called ‘Agaricus Subrufescens’.

Among traditional folk medicine (especially Chinese), mushrooms have been documented to be in use against disease for over 2 millennia, perhaps much longer. Modern science has allowed for increased research into their use as nutraceuticals. Several groups have been testing for the effectiveness of a variety of mushrooms for decades on everything from the immune system and tumors to erectile dysfunction.

Scientific Information about Agaricus Blazei Murill:

* Kingdom: Fungi * Subkingdom: Dikarya * Phylum: Basidiomycota * Subphylum: Agaricomycotina * Class: Agaricomycetes * Order: Agaricales * Family: Agaricaceae * Genus: Agaricus * Species: A. Subrufescens

The genus Agaricus of fungi is probably the most well-known and has been in common use throughout the world, both in the wild and on our pizzas. Some of the most famous members include the ‘button’ and the Portobello; however, an African relative (Agaricus Aurantioviolaceus) is poisonous. Be safe and know your mushrooms.

Though widely cultivated in Japan and called ‘Himematsutake’, in its native habitat Brazil it is best known as ‘Cogumelo de Sola’ (Mushroom of the Sun). Since the 1970’s (perhaps even earlier) it has been marketed using a variety of names purporting its greatness, though Agaricus Blazei Murill has only been artificially cultivated in commercial farms in Asia and South America since the early 1990’s (which has drastically lowered its price).

Agaricus Blazei Murill has been especially noted for reducing the levels of blood pressure, cholesterol, and glucose and the effects of arteriosclerosis. The potential benefits of helping to fight off the cell metastasis of uterine cancer by way of increasing the production of interferon and interleukin is too impressive to overlook and warrants further testing. It is known to contain at least 3 beta-glucans (polysaccharide-protein complexes).

Advocates of medicinal mushrooms claim that these polysaccharides have potent compounds that both stimulate and boost the immune system. Polysaccharides can be found in the cell walls of mushrooms which are composed of chitin. In its natural form chitin is unfortunately not easily digestible by humans.

Heating has been the only way to release the active compounds into a form that is properly concentrated and digestible. Thusly, Agaricus Blazei Murill mushrooms up until now, were only prepared with water and heat (as in a tea or a concoction) and were neither used in the un-extracted form (like dried mushroom powder) nor as a tincture soaked in alcohol without heat.

Many companies offer dehydrated mushroom supplements (some even combined with black pepper extract) that are activated by being heated in water or alcohol. It has a semi-sweet flavor and an odor similar to almonds (due to benzaldehyde, benzyl alcohol, benzonitrile, and methyl benzoate). Most suggest not more than 3 times weekly and skipping the 3rd week of every month or only as often as recommended by your health care provider.

The hybridization of mushroom species is not a new concept, though a US patent has recently been issued to a company for a cross-breed with increased potency. If you haven’t already, soon you will likely see more medicinal mushroom supplements on the market.