Oyster Mushroom Fruitbody

Pleurotus eryngii is a large, edible mushroom native to Europe and Asia[i]. While it is rare in the wild, it is cultivated world-wide and popular for its buttery flavor and eggplant-like texture, especially in certain Asian cuisines. The species has many common names, including king oyster mushroom, French horn mushroom, king trumpet mushroom and trumpet royale—using the scientific name helps avoid confusion. The name “king oyster” does hint at its close genetic relationship to the popular, and also edible, oyster mushrooms (including Pleurotus ostreatus), a group of species native to North America, but the king does not look much like its relatives. P. eryngii has a thick, vertical, white stem (or “stipe”) and a relatively small tan or gray cap, rather than the big white cap and all-but-absent horizontal stipe familiar to American mushroom hunters.

Other popular Oyster Mushrooms include:

Pleurotus djamor: Pink Oyster Mushroom
Pleurotus ostreatus: Tree Oyster Mushroom
Pleurotus citrinopileatus: The Golden Oyster Mushroom
Pleurotus Pulmonarius: The Phoenix Oyster Mushroom
Pleurotus Dryinus: The Veiled Oyster Mushroom

The Truth About Medicinal Mushrooms

Medicinal Mushrooms
Medicinal Mushrooms are great. One of the few supplements I feel confident taking that actually has benefits. Most of the supplement industry is selling you on placebo, but I don’t feel that’s the case with medicinal mushrooms. HOWEVER; a large portion of the Mushroom Industry is corrupt. Come read this article if you want to find out the Dirty Secret in the Mushroom Industry and how to choose an Authentic Mushroom Supplement.

Pleurotus eryngii Benefits and Uses
eryngii is used in Traditional Chinese Medicine, along with other mushroom species, and is sometimes recommended by other alternative practitioners, although these uses have not been fully researched scientifically[ii]. Research does suggest that some substances in the mushroom do have potential in medicine, including in the following areas[iii]:
Treatment of certain cancers
Antiviral activity
Antimicrobial activity
Immune system support
Hormonal support
The reduction of fats, such as cholesterol, in the blood
Colon Health
An anti-inflammatory protein found in P. eryngii called PEP has been shown to reduce the proliferation of colon cancer cells in both cultures of human tissue and in living mice, without damaging normal cells[iv]. In a separate study, a polyphenol-rich extract from the same mushroom species was shown to also combine anti-inflammatory properties with the ability to kill colon cancer cells without harming normal cells[v]. In both cases, the effect is dose-dependent, meaning higher doses have a stronger effect. Both substances have at least some potential in the treatment of both colon cancer and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
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Other Cancers
“Cancer” is not a single disease but, rather, a large group of maladies; all involve uncontrolled and disruptive cell growth, but have different patterns of disease progression and different causes and risk factors, and require different treatments. It is incorrect to say that a substance can “cure cancer,” as a blanket statement, simply because it proves helpful against one or more diseases. That being said, substances extracted from P. eryngii have shown promise against multiple cancers in both cell cultures and animal models, including cancers of the liver and lungs[vi] and breast[vii].

Although the mushroom as a whole has not been tested as a cancer treatment, it’s worth noting that multiple substances derived from this species are being investigated—suggesting that study of the whole mushroom could be interesting.

Antiviral activity
One study looked at the ability of several different types of fungus, including P. eryngii, to attack certain strains of influenza virus and herpes virus; P. eryngii was not the most powerful of those tested, but it does have potential as an antiviral agent[viii]. The study used mycelium (net-like or thread-like fungal tissue), not mushroom, but it was whole tissue, not a single-substance extract.

Antimicrobial activity
A whole-tissue extract of P. eryngii was tested against multiple types of bacteria and yeast that had been grown in Petri dishes; the extract killed some of the microorganisms but not others, showing limited, but real, potential as an antimicrobial agent[ix].

Immune system support
Many reputedly medicinal mushrooms contain β-glucans, a group of related polysaccharides that show both anti-tumor and immune-supportive activity. One study compared hot-water extracts from multiple mushroom species in order to estimate which would be a better source of β-glucans when cooked and eaten; P. eryngii proved the best of those tested[x]. The same study also showed that cultured cells treated with the extract showed changes consistent with greater immune and anti-tumor activity. Another study showed an additional group of immune-related changes in cultured cells treated with β-glucan derived from P. erygii.

Other studies give less direct evidence of P. eryngii’s potential for immune support.

Humans in a double-blind, placebo-controlled, study taking an extract of P. cornucopiae, a related mushroom species, showed modest but real increases in several immunity-related factors in their blood[xi]. Catfish raised under experimental conditions grew better and resisted infection more successfully when fed diets containing P. eryngii.

Hormonal support
eryngii is sometimes sold as a testosterone booster, among other possible benefits[xii]. Research does suggest a link with hormone levels of various kinds.
One study tested the use of spent mushroom substrate from P. eryngii cultivation as a component in feed for elk[xiii]. That is, the plant matter on which mushrooms had been grown, together with remaining mycelium, was added to the diets of several captive bull elk, but not to the diets of similar control animals. The researchers hoped to find an additional use for the spent substrate, which presents a major disposal problem in mushroom-growing areas. The substrate proved successful as elk feed, and the test elk showed improvements in several markers of health—they also had higher testosterone levels than the control animals.

Another study tested the use of several substances isolated from P. eryngii as a treatment for certain estrogen-dependent breast cancers[xiv]. Reducing estrogen levels is an accepted treatment for some types of breast cancers, but researchers want to find a new way of controlling estrogen that has fewer side effects. Some of the P. eryngii compounds successfully inhibited the action of aromatase, an enzyme that converts androgens (including testosterone) into estrogens. While the focus of the study was on the reduction of estrogen, that there would be a corresponding increase in testosterone levels seems reasonable. The study involved chemical samples, not human subjects.

The reduction of fats, such as cholesterol, in the blood
Rats bred to have high cholesterol were given powdered P. eryngii in their diet to test the mushroom as a possible treatment for high cholesterol and obesity[xv]. The rats receiving the mushroom showed significant decreases in cholesterol and an improvement in the ratio of “good” to “bad” cholesterol, as well as a reduction in total body weight. Apart from being killed by researchers at the end of the study, the animals were healthy. Other studies, both in rats and in cultured cells, showed similar results[xvi].

Diabetes treatment
High-cholesterol rats were also used in a study of P. eryngii as a possible treatment for diabetes[xvii]. Diabetes was artificially induced in the test subjects. While the mushroom-fed animals did not show a significant decrease in total cholesterol, their ratios of “good” to “bad” cholesterol improved, their body weight dropped, and, more to the point, their blood glucose levels dropped significantly. The mushroom did not cure the rats, but does show promise as a way to help control diabetes in concert with other treatments.

Prevention of food poisoning
Not all health benefits involve taking medicine. A serious problem in agriculture is the contamination of corn and, to a lesser extent, other crops, with fungus that produces aflatoxin B1, a dangerous poison. The contaminated corn must usually be discarded, a great waste. However, one study[xviii] shows that P. eryngii can not only grow in the contaminated corn, it can also break down the toxin. The resulting mushrooms are entirely safe to eat, and after one month of growth, the corn-based growth medium also no longer contains toxins and could be safely used for something else.

Pleurotus eryngii Dosage
Since P. eryngii as a medicine has not yet been tested extensively in humans, dosage must depend on the educated guesses of practitioners.
King Oyster Mushroom Nutrition
If we take a look at oyster mushrooms nutritional benefits[iii], here are some of the stand-out qualities:

Very good source of riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, phosphorus, potassium, copper, and dietary fiber
A good source of protein, thiamin, vitamin B6, folate, iron, magnesium, zinc and manganese
Very low in saturated fat and cholesterol
King oyster mushroom calories are only around 35 per 100g[iv]
Because king oyster mushrooms provide a decent source of protein, they’re a good addition to a vegan or vegetarian diet. They’re not a complete source of protein so be sure to include a variety of different protein sources in your eating plan if you are vegetarian or vegan. This will help ensure you’re getting all your essential amino acids.

King oyster mushrooms can also be considered a low-carb food. At around 5g per 100g they’re suitable for low carb diets such as paleo and keto.

Health Benefits of Oyster Mushrooms
Now that you’ve got a good idea about the nutritional content of king oyster mushrooms, let’s take a look at how that transfers over to benefits for health.

king oyster mushrooms – oyster mushrooms nutritional benefits

Anti-inflammatory properties
Studies on mice have identified anti-inflammatory properties of oyster mushrooms[v] [vi]. This suggests that they could be a useful inclusion as part of a diet focused on reducing inflammation. Conditions such as arthritis, fibromyalgia, and muscular pain are usually characteristic of misdirected inflammation[vii] and could all potentially benefit from a dietary regime that’s high in anti-inflammatory foods such as oyster mushrooms.

May aid in the lowering of cholesterol
Rats have also provided some insight into the potential for oyster mushrooms to help with lowering cholesterol[viii]. In one study, six week old rats with elevated cholesterol were supplemented with king oyster mushrooms. Their total cholesterol, triglycerides, “bad” cholesterol, total lipids and body weight all reduced with the intervention[ix]. These results offer promise for king oyster mushrooms as a cholesterol lowering substance to be used in the human diet.

Other potential health benefits of king oyster mushrooms
Animal studies have suggested that oyster mushrooms have a notable level of antioxidants[x] and could therefore help to keep body cells healthy. They may also have the potential to “boost” the immune system[xi] and help ward off sickness.

Anti-cancer properties are also being uncovered. A study investigating the effects of various types of mushrooms on the growth of breast and colon cancer cells highlighted favorable results with oyster mushrooms. When compared with the effects of portbella, enoki and shitake varieties, oyster mushrooms came out on top. They suppressed the growth of both breast and colon cancer cells more notably than the other varieties of mushrooms[xii].

There is plenty to love about king oyster mushrooms. Not only are they super healthy but they’re also very tasty. Time to get onto figuring out what to do with them!