Although the first reports of this mushroom date from the forties, only after its discovery in Brazil, in 1965, l – for Mr. Furumoto, a Japanese farmer from Piedade/SP -, a larger interest of the scientific community was aroused, mainly in Japan (country that received the first samples), United States and China. Since then, several researches have been accomplished, demonstrating the qualities and benefits of Agaricus.
In Brazil, the production of Agaricus blazei in commercial scalei just begun in 1989, when the Iwade Laboratory of Japan, signed a cultivation contract with SB Cristal (Kazumasa Abe). Finally, more than 20 years after, the mushroom was back to its homeland.
Considering the nutricional and physiologic importance of the Agaricus mushrooms, Kazumasa Abe requested in 1998, through National Biosciences and Human Technology Institute from the Industrial Technology Agency of the Ministry of International and Industrial Trade of Japan, the patenting of Agaricus blazei BM8, in the Budapeste Agreement about the International Recognition of Micrrorganism Deposit, with the number FERM BP-6480.
Agaricus in natura contains 85 to 87% of water. After the dehydration, it is rich in proteins and carbohydrates and it contains considerable amounts of vitamins – B1, B2, B3 and ergosterol, that it is transformed in D2 vitamin after exhibition to light and cooking -, lipeds (represented mainly by poli-insaturated greasy acids), minerals – potassium (about 2%), phosphorous, magnesium, calcium, sodium, copper, zinc, iron and molibdenium.
In chemical composition, besides the mentioned nutrients, we can found glycoproteins, steroids and polysaccharides complexes with proteins that, when analyzed in laboratory cavies, present properties that potentialize the immune system, the homeostasys and improve the physical conditions of the organism, besides producing pronounced antitumor activity.
Agaricus originates from Piedade, which is located in the suburbs of Sao Paulo, Brazil. The climatic conditions in Piedade include temperatures that soar to 35º during the day and dip to between 20º and 25º at night, with a humidity that averages 80 %. The place also experiences regular squall toward evening. Agaricus thrives only under these conditions, suggesting that its survival is significantly affected by these external conditions.
Some 30 years ago, a US researcher noted that the rate of occurrence of adult diseases in the Piedade region is extremely low, and found that it was because of the Agaricus that was a part of the regular diet of the inhabitants of this area.
Around the same time, Agaricus was introduced to Japan. Dr. Shoji Shibata, who at the time was a professor in the Pharmacological Department of Tokyo niversity, and Dr. Tetuo Ikegawa of the National Cancer Center, jointly researched the pharmacological effects of Agaricus. The research results were released at the general convention of the Japan Pharmacological Association and the Japan Cancer Association. The experience with mice verified that the polysaccharide Beta-glucan contained in Agaricus significantly activated the immune system.
As Agaricus grows only in certain conditions, its production in Brazil remained unstable. Moreover, Agaricus was mostly consumed locally, and importing it into Japan was extremely difficult. Despite efforts in Japan over many years to cultivate Agaricus under artificial conditions, it proved extremely difficult, and failed to guarantee a stable production output. However, in 1992, kyowa Engineering achieved a world first when it successfully mass-produced Agaricus by taking advantage of the company’s biotechnological expertise. Consequently, the company was able to provide a stable supply of Agaricus to the health food market.