UNVEILING THE POWER OF MUSHROOMS
Many scientific studies have proven the legendary effects of mushrooms on the improvement of health, vitality and the body’s resistance against chronic diseases. Mushrooms contain a variety of phytochemicals which have powerful immune system enhancement properties. .
Agaricus blazei Murrill (ABM)
Amongst the edible mushrooms which are found to have medicinal properties, Agaricus Blazei Murill (commonly known as Agaricus Brazil Mushroom) has become increasingly popular because of its ability to not only boost, but also balance immunity. ABM is originated from Piedade, a small village in the highland areas of Atlantic forest in the province of Sao Paolo, Brazil. The people from this rural area are known to live longer and healthier lives than the average population in the whole of Brazil. When the Government studied the demographics of this region, they found that ABM is a common part of the villagers’ diet.
Over the last decade, ABM (also known as Himematsutake in Japan), is widely used in Japan, United states, Korea, China and Taiwan as a nonprescriptive alternative remedy for the prevention of a wide range of health challenges including cancer, diabetes, atherosclerosis, hypercholesterolemia and chronic hepatitis. In addition to heightening the immune system, ABM is also believed to elicit positive effects on inflammatory bowel syndromes.
Health Benefits of ABM
Beta Glucans & Immune system
ABM is one of the most potent medicinal mushrooms discovered to-date. ABM is packed with a plethora of phytonutrients (approximately 192 types), essential vitamins, antioxidants, and it is exceptionally rich with polysaccharides particularly the β-glucans 1,3⁄1-6.
Scientific findings significantly suggest that the beta-glucans in ABM are notably powerful in combating cancer cells, viral and bacterial infections. The β-glucans 1,3⁄1-6 activates the immunity response and simulates the production of mutation-fighting cells e.g. Natural Killer (NK) cells, Lymphocyte T-cells, Helper T-cells, interferon and interleukin, that strengthen and maintain a healthy immune system. In a human-based study, ABM has been shown to increase NK cell activities in cancer patients 
Due to their low molecular weight, beta-glucans from ABM can be absorbed into the body faster than beta-glucans from yeast and other mushrooms, and thus, this prompt absorption rate confirms their unrivalled effectiveness. In a clinical study presented at a convention by the Japanese Cancer Association in 1980, ABM was reported to have higher levels of beta-glucan and to have shown more antitumor activities more than maitake, shiitake, or reishi mushrooms.
Antidiabetic & Insulin-resistance
In a clinical trial conducted in Taipei Hospital in Taiwan, 72 selected patients with type 2 diabetes patients were each asked to take one capsule containing 500 mg of either ABM or placebo three times each day for 12 weeks. The capsule was taken with gliclazide 30 minutes before eating and metformin was taken 30 minutes after eating. At the end of the study, it was demonstrated that subjects who received the ABM supplement showed a significant improvement in insulin resistance, with significant reduction in HOMA-IR index [Homeostasis model assessment for insulin resistance] from 4.8 to 3.6, which was much lower than that observed among the controlled subjects from 6.3 to 6.6.
When compared to the placebo group, it was interesting to note that the subjects who had taken an ABM supplement for 12 weeks showed a significant increase in plasma Adiponectin concentrations. Many past studies reported that the Adiponectin level may be a major modulator of insulin resistance  and a predictor in the development and progression of type 2 diabetes [5-7]. Circulating Adiponectin levels in human is positively correlated with insulin sensitivity. The level of adiponectin appeared to play an important role in regulating insulin acting and energy homeostasis [8-9]. After the 12 weeks of ABM treatment, scientists observed a 20% increase in adiponectin level . Thus, this accounts for the improvements in insulin resistance in the group that consumed the ABM supplement.
Adiponectin "The missing link"
Clinical studies suggest that the adipose tissue does not only store energy but also secretes Adiponectin, an important signalling protein derived from the adipose tissue and that is abundantly present in the human plasma . Adiponectin production is inversely correlated with adipose tissue mass  and there is a growing number of evidence that shows Adiponectin regulating both lipid and carbohydrate metabolism.
Low Adiponectin levels are found in subjects with obesity, diabetes mellitus and cardiovascular disease (CVD) [12-13]. Subjects with low Adiponectin levels fail some of the protective actions of Adiponectin, including the stimulation of fatty acid oxidation and the improvement of glucose metabolism. In addition, adiponectin inhibits the inflammatory process and possibly atherosclerosis too by suppressing tumour necrosis factor-α-induced adhesion molecule expression, the adhesion and migration of monocytes/macrophages, and prevents their transformation into foam cells .
Adiponectin has also been reported to directly and indirectly modulate plasma lipid levels. Several studies have reported a negative correlation of Adiponectin levels with serum triglycerides (TGs) and low density lipoprotein (LDL), and a positive correlation with high density lipoprotein-cholesterol (HDL) . ABM boosts Adiponectin levels in the body, thus, contributing to its cardiovascular protective benefits.
Potential Liver protection
ABM also offers potential benefits for patients with hepatitis B by normalizing liver function. Supplementation of 1500mg / day of ABM for 12 months showed decrease levels of aspartate aminotransferase from 246.0 (± standard deviation [SD] 138.9) to 61.3 (± SD 32.6) IU/L and alanine aminotransferase decreased 151.0 (± SD 86.9) to 46.1 (± SD 22.5) IU/L, respectively in patients with hepatitis B. Controlled studies with larger samples should be conducted in the future to further conclude the hepatoprotective benefits of ABM .
The results of a clinical pilot study conducted on patients with inflammatory bowel diseases, ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease not only showed a significant decrease in plasma levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines after consuming ABM but also decreased levels of the inflammatory marker calprotectin in faeces of ulcerative colitis patients. These anti-inflammatory properties of ABM may also contribute to the mushroom’s therapeutic effect on allergy, and it may potentially be used against autoimmune diseases .