Pilot Study Finds Mushroom Extract Reduces Chronic Hepatitis B Serum Markers


Hsu CH, Hwang KC, Chiang YH, Chou P. The mushroom Agaricus blazei Murill extract normalizes liver function in patients with chronic hepatitis B J Altern Complement Med. 2008; 14(3):299-301.

Agaricus blazei is a mushroom used as food and as an extract in herbal medicine for the prevention of illnesses including cancer, diabetes, atherosclerosis, and hepatitis. This medicinal mushroom has been shown to possess antiviral effects, and the extract enhances the production of antibodies induced by hepatitis B vaccines. In this 12-month open-label follow-up to a shorter pilot study, the authors have evaluated the effect of Agaricus blazei extract on the liver function of chronic hepatitis B patients.

The study was conducted between August 1, 2004 and July 31, 2006 at the Taipei Hospital (Taipei, Taiwan). A total of 4 patients with chronic hepatitis B for more than 3 years, not taking drugs for hepatitis, and alanine aminotransferase (AA) levels above 100 IU/L were enrolled. For 1 year, the patients took 500 mg of Agaricus blazei extract (Eng Chiao Bio-Technology Co. Ltd, Taiwan) 3 times daily (1,500 mg total daily dose). AA serum level was the main outcome measure, and side effects and complications were monitored.

No major or minor adverse effects were observed, and the patients’ renal function ‘was within normal limits.’ AA levels decreased in all 4 patients to levels that were close to normalization. Case 1 (male, 38 years) had a 22-year history of hepatitis B and starting AA levels of 127 IU/L. The AA levels had dropped to 63 IU/L after 1 year of treatment. Case 2 (male, 22 years) had hepatitis B for 4 years and an initial AA level of 227 IU/L, which had decreased to 18 IU/L at the end of the study. Case 3 (male, 65 years) had a 30-year history of hepatitis B with abnormal liver function and an initial AA level of 156 IU/L, which had decreased to 97 IU/L after 1 year. Case 4 (female, 54 years) had been a hepatitis B carrier for 25 years. The patient had shown symptoms including general malaise, poor appetite, and abdominal fullness for 1 month at the start of the study. Soon after, these symptoms were relieved. After 1 year of treatment, AA levels had dropped from 414 IU/L to 67 IU/L. All of the patients also showed similar drops in aspartate aminotransferase levels following 1 year of treatment with Agaricus blazei extract.

The authors conclude, ‘This 1-year clinical observation shows the potential benefits of ABM [Agaricus blazei] extract as a supplement for normalizing liver function in subjects with chronic hepatitis B.’ A previous study by the authors has shown that Agaricus blazei extract can improve insulin resistance in type 2 diabetic patients taking oral hypoglycemic drugs.1 Therefore, the authors comment that Agaricus blazei extract may be a useful supplement for patients with comorbid type 2 diabetes and hepatitis B with abnormal liver function. However, placebo-controlled clinical trials with larger samples of patients are needed to confirm these initial findings.

Marissa N. Oppel, MS

1.Oppel M. Improvement in insulin resistance after 12 weeks of Agaricus blazei mushroom. HerbClip. November 30, 2007. (No. 030675-341) Austin, TX: American Botanical Council. Review of the mushroom Agaricus blazei Murill in combination with metformin and gliclazide improves insulin resistance in type 2 diabetes: a randomized, double-blinded, and placebo-controlled clinical trial by Hsu CH, Liao YL, Lin SC, Hwang KC, Chou P. J Altern Complement Med. Jan 2007;13(1):97-102.