Mushrooms on prescription? It’s not that absurd. The mushrooms contain substances that have medicinal properties. Scientists are working on being able to use them in a targeted manner. Mushroom lectins, or ABL for short, are the goal of their efforts.
AB stands for the scientific name of the mushroom Agaricus bisporus and L for lectin. The term lectin denotes large molecules that have the ability to attach to cell walls. They are made up of a protein and a carbohydrate group attached to it. There are an incredible number of them. Some are dangerous, others are packed with good qualities like mushrooms.
Antiproliferative is the word that describes the action of the ABL. This means that the mushroom lectins inhibit excessive cell and tissue growth (proliferation), which makes cancer cells so dangerous, for example.
The mushroom lectins have a particular effect on the epithelial cells, i.e. the cells that form the surface of organs or the skin. They are often the site where cancer cells form. The special thing about the mushroom lectins: They neither damage cells nor do they permanently suppress cell division.
This means that they have no influence on the natural regeneration of the cells. Scientists like Lugang Yu put it this way: “The lectin of Agaricus bisporus appears to be a reversible, to be a non-cytotoxic inhibitor of epithelial cell proliferation” (quoted from American Association for Cancer Research). Yu concludes that ABL could one day be used as an anti-cancer drug.
But inhibiting cancer cells is only one side. A positive effect was also observed in skin diseases such as psoriasis or hyperkeratoses. There, too, the lectin from the mushrooms dampens the excessive cell reaction.
Researchers are therefore trying to incorporate ABL into creams, ointments or gels that inhibit excessive cell formation in the skin, smooth it and relieve itching and inflammatory reactions. A first patent has been applied for.
The ABL are also helpful for people whose wound healing is accompanied by severe scarring. Here, too, the mushroom lectins can assume a control function. This finding is of particular importance for glaucoma operations.
Their success is often nullified by subsequent severe scarring. M. Batterbury, University of Liverpool, assigns important key characteristics to the cultivated mushroom to control this scarring. “This makes Agaricus bisporus possibly an important substance for subtle wound healing modification, although further studies are needed.”
It will take some time before all these facets of the mushroom are explored and it will be available “on prescription”. Of course you don’t have to wait that long. Anyone who frequently indulges in the delicious mushrooms provides their body with the helpful lectins and is only good for their health.