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Agaricus (Agaricus blazei, Agaricus subrufescens) has traditionally been used for the prevention of cancer, diabetes, hyperlipidemia, arteriosclerosis, and chronic hepatitis. It has anticancer, antioxidant, anti-diabetes, hepatoprotective, and immune-stimulating activity.

Extracts of beta-glucan from Agaricus blazei murill has show potent anti-cancer activity. One study showed that this extract was cytotoxic to human ovarian cancer cells, suppressed cell proliferation, increased apoptosis, and decreased metastasis in mouse models.48 The constituent ergosterol, a vitamin D precursor, has been shown to inhibit tumor growth through the inhibition of tumor-induced neovascularization. An additional constituent, sodium pyroglutamate, has shown similar activity as an antiangiogenic substance with potent antitumor and antimetastatic actions, as well as immune-modulatory activity, as shown in tumor-bearing mice.49 In a human study with 100 gynecological cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy, an extract of Agaricus was shown to increase NK cell activity, as well as improve chemotherapy-associated side effects such as alopecia, appetite, emotional stability, and general weakness.50 In addition to increasing NK cell activity, Agaricus extracts also enhanced the induction of antigen-specific cytotoxic T lymphocytes and interferon-gamma production.51 Polysaccharide fractions of Agaricus have also been evaluated for antioxidant activity. Research has shown potent antioxidant and free-radical scavenging activity in vitro.52

A study using diabetic rats showed that beta-glucans extracted from Agaricus showed antihyperglycemic, antihypertriglyceridemic, antihypercholesterolemic, and antiarteriosclero-tic activity indicating overall anti-diabetic activity.53 A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled human trial with diabetic individuals evaluated the efficacy of Agaricus blazei Murill extract. Supplement of Agaricus extract improved insulin resistance in individuals with type 2 diabetes. It was suggested that the increase in adiponectin concentration after taking Agaricus extract for 12 weeks may be the mechanism of action for improving insulin resistance.54

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