Agaricus blazei is a medicinal mushroom postulated for numerous health benefits and thus garnered much research interest. Of note is its ability as an antioxidant. The mechanism of action of Agaricus blazei is that of a free-radical scavenger due to the properties of certain chemical compounds that are present in the mushroom extract (phenolics). Secondly, adenosine and other compounds also offer protection to the cells by activating antioxidant enzymes. Lastly, the β-glucans, which are present in Agaricus blazei extracts also have an antioxidant function.
In a recent study, researchers looked into a rat model to access the oxidative nature of the animals’ brain and liver as it ages. Essentially, starting from 7 months, rats were given either freeze-dried extract mixed in water or water alone to drink. Analyses commenced at age 12, 18, and 23 months. The brains and liver of the rat were examined for various oxidative parameters such as reactive oxygen species level, total antioxidant capacity, lipid perioxidation, and many others.
Results from the rat study showed that animals fed the Agaricus blazei extract was better able to adjust to the oxidative stresses of aging. However, the researchers also wondered about the effectiveness of continuous intake versus a pulsed intermittent therapy where the mushroom extract would be taken, then stopped for a period of 10 or 20 days prior to resuming intake. The theory behind this schedule is to avoid the body from being resistant to the therapy, thus rendering the medicine ineffective.
While the study certainly highlighted some benefits of the medicinal mushroom in animals, its effectiveness and efficacy in for its antioxidative property is still needed before any conclusions can be drawn to its effects in people.
Sá-Nakanishi, A.B.; Soares, A.A.; Comar, J.F.; Peralta, R.M.; Bracht, A. Effects of treating old rats with an Agaricus. blazei extract on oxidative and functional parameters of the brain tissue and brain mitochondria. Oxidative Med. Cell. Longev. 2014.
Carvajal, A.E.S.S.; Koehnlein, E.A.; Soares, A.A.; Eler, G.J.; Nakashima, A.T.A.; Bracht, A.; Peralta, R.M. Bioactives of fruiting bodies and submerged culture mycelia of Agaricus brasiliensis (A. blazei) and their antioxidant properties. LWT–Food Sci. Technol. 2012, 46, 493–499.
Oliveira, A.L.; Eler, G.J.; Bracht, A.; Peralta, R.M. Purinergic effects of a hydroalcoholic Agaricus brasiliensis (A. blazei) extract on liver functions. J. Agric. Food Chem. 2010, 58, 7202–7210.