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Pleurotus - The vital mushroom for a healthy intestine and healthy vessels

February 2, 2022
Dr. Dorothee Bös et al.

Pleurotus ostreatus is the vitamin bomb among the vital mushrooms. Also known as “oyster mushroom”, this mushroom is considered a nutritious as well as tasty meat substitute in cuisines around the globe. In addition to B vitamins, it contains many different health-promoting substances. That is why it is often used to improve metabolism and thus prevent diseases of civilization. Read here what other positive effects pleurotus can have on your health.

What is the pleurotus or oyster mushroom?

Due to its wide distribution around the globe, the vital mushroom Pleurotus ostreatus has many different names. In German, oyster mushroom or oyster mushroom are the most common. Here also already sounds its affiliation to the Seitlingen. This designation of the family of mushrooms is to be taken literally: The oyster mushroom grows preferably sideways out of tree trunks and branches. Because of this growth habit, the stem also attaches to the side of the cap. Other German names for Pleurotus allude to its main growing season: Christmas or winter mushroom. Others refer more to its culinary characteristics, such as “veal mushroom”. In fact, the taste of oyster mushroom reminds of tender veal. Since its ingredients also offer much of what is otherwise only found in meat, it is considered a high-quality meat substitute in the kitchen. The Japanese call the tasty vital mushroom Hiratake, the Chinese Ping Gu and in English it is usually called Oyster Mushroom.

Pleurotus: A vital mushroom full of healthy substances

If you take a closer look at the ingredients of Pleurotus, it quickly becomes clear why it is considered a vital mushroom. For example, for a mushroom, it is very rich in various vitamins, iron and amino acids. It also has an extremely healthy ratio between the macronutrients fat, protein and carbohydrates. In addition, there are various minerals and medically active substances, which we will present to you in more detail in a moment. After that, you will definitely understand why this mushroom, of all things, is now used in modern cuisine as a “functional food”. With its valuable ingredients, even staple foods such as flour or yogurt are enriched to make them true health boosters.

Pleurotus - The vitamin bomb

For a mushroom, the oyster mushroom has quite a respectable content of vitamin C, which is so important for the immune system. Vitamin D (calciferol) is similarly important for our immune system. It is also involved in the formation of bone and thus has a preventive effect against osteoporosis. Today’s foods are often low in vitamins. Therefore, vitamin B-rich vital mushrooms such as Pleurotus are an important component of a healthy diet. Namely, thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B5), biotin (B7), B6 and sometimes B12 are found in oyster mushroom. The exact amounts in the individual fungus depend, among other things, on its growth conditions. B vitamins are essential for our body, as they are involved in various bodily functions, including nerve cells, muscles and energy production from fat, carbohydrates and protein. Sometimes folic acid is also assigned to the B vitamins. Especially women who want to become pregnant and pregnant women should take this nutrient in larger quantities, because it is important for blood formation as well as the growth of young cells. The oyster mushroom is an excellent source of folic acid. Studies have shown that high levels of folic acid in the body can lower homocysteine levels. Too much homocysteine is considered a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia, among other things. In addition, an adequate intake of B vitamins as well as folic acid in combination with a low homocysteine level repeatedly proves to be a preventive factor against cardiovascular diseases.

Micro- and macronutrients in oyster mushrooms

Analyses show that, in addition to vitamins, the oyster mushroom also contains many different minerals. For example, copper, zinc, manganese and magnesium are found in it. Valuable for health also makes it its high iron content. Observations in different regions of the world show that where Pleurotus is consumed regularly, iron deficiency is unknown. The same applies to a lack of protein. This is because proteins make up about a quarter of the dry matter of this vital mushroom. All essential amino acids are represented, i.e. all those that the body needs but cannot produce itself. Here, however, mushrooms do not lead to a dangerous protein fattening, because they also have valuable fiber. Shot of fresh Pleurotus mushrooms held by a person, in the background a rustic wooden board with more Pleurotus mushrooms can be seenCompared to protein, oyster mushroom is rather low in fat, but still contains important unsaturated fatty acids. Carbohydrates are again abundant. Among them are various long-chain carbohydrates such as polysaccharides, which have a positive effect on the organism. Of particular note is beta glucan – a compound of polysaccharides and beta D-glucose. In research, it always surprises with various health-promoting properties. For example, it has antioxidant effects, hinders the spread of metastases and prevents Parkinson’s disease.

Other health-promoting substances

If we take a look at the positive effects that taking Pleurotus powder can have on the human body, you will come across a few more substances. These include the triterpenes, which, among many other health-promoting properties, also have an anti-inflammatory effect. Lectins from Pleurotus support the immune system, while fat-lowering drugs inhibit the formation of cholesterol. Other physiologically relevant substances in oyster mushroom are nucleosides, ergosterol, polyphenol and various antioxidants. In addition, the vital mushroom is rich in enzymes. To these it owes its ability to thrive on very different substrates. They also enable it to break down environmentally harmful substances such as waste oil and other hydrocarbon compounds. Researchers suspect that these enzymes could do similar work in the human intestine, where they render polluting hydrocarbon compounds harmless.

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What is the effect of pleurotus?

For a long time, the vital mushroom Pleurotus ostreatus has been used in alternative medicine. Experience from traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) shows that it has an anti-inflammatory effect and has a particularly soothing effect on pain in the musculoskeletal system. In addition, the following effects of the ingredients have been studied:

  • cholesterol lowering
  • antimicrobial (antibiotic and anti-mycotic)
  • antiviral
  • immunomodulating
  • antiallergic
  • anti-cancer and -preventive

Improvement of the metabolism

Today’s widespread form of nutrition with lots of simple carbohydrates, few nutrients and an excess of animal products leads to metabolic problems for many people. The consequences can include cardiovascular disease, diabetes and metabolic syndrome. For this reason, vital mushrooms such as Pleurotus are extremely valuable, as they have a positive effect on fat metabolism in particular. Studies have shown that regular consumption of oyster mushrooms reduces the level of lipoprotein in the blood. Both total cholesterol and triglyceride levels decrease. In this process, the “bad” cholesterol LDL becomes less, while the “good” cholesterol HDL increases. However, medicinal mushrooms cannot replace a healthy diet! However, the effect on fat metabolism can be seen not only in the blood: 3-D illustration of a human heart with a clogged bloodstream against a blue background with implied plateletsEven the fat deposits in the heart, aorta and muscles can be reduced with the help of the oyster mushroom. This is especially helpful for people who want to transition to a healthier lifestyle and lose weight. Because the fat in the muscle cells makes it enormously difficult to lose weight. It interferes with the cellular power plants (mitochondria) that are responsible for converting fat or sugar into usable energy.

Prevent high blood pressure and arteriosclerosis

In addition, a positive development of blood lipid levels is the ideal prevention of plaque formation and thus of arteriosclerosis and high blood pressure. The ACE-inhibiting effect of oyster mushroom works in the same direction. ACE is an enzyme in the body that affects vascular resistance. If it is inhibited, the vessels automatically dilate. The vascular resistance therefore decreases and the blood can flow better. Researchers were even able to demonstrate a lowering effect on blood pressure in a study with diabetes patients. For this purpose, they administered two capsules of oyster mushroom powder to the test subjects three times a day for three months. At the end of the intake period, they noted not only an improvement in blood pressure values, but also better long-term and fasting blood glucose levels. It can therefore be assumed that Pleurotus also has a positive effect on sugar metabolism. In general, the risk of atherosclerosis increases when homocysteine levels are too high. Homocysteine damages vascular walls and promotes oxidative processes by triggering the generation of free radicals and suppressing antioxidant enzymes. B vitamins, in turn, have a restraining effect on homocysteine. That is why the vitamin B-rich vital mushroom Pleurotus also prevents the development of arteriosclerosis in this way.

Taking care of the gut with oyster mushrooms

The oyster mushroom supports a healthy metabolism. Another positive aspect for our health is that its ingredients nourish and strengthen the intestines. Various studies in the past proved its prebiotic effect: Medical 3D illustration of a section of intestineBy taking vital mushroom powder, good intestinal bacteria such as lactobacilli, enterococci and bifidobacteria measurably increase. The immune system also benefits from this, as many cells important for the body’s defenses are formed in the intestines. It is therefore advisable to consume the oyster mushroom regularly as an adjunct to, or at the latest following, antibiotic therapy. Namely, while it supports the antibiotic effect, it simultaneously alleviates the damaging effect of the antibiotic on the intestinal flora. A healthy intestinal environment is always accompanied by a strong nervous system. Good intestinal bacteria form short-chain fatty acids, which are enormously important for our nerves. People suffering from chronic inflammatory bowel disease may also benefit from taking Pleurotus. They are helped especially by the combination of prebiotic and anti-inflammatory effects. In both humans and animals, oyster mushroom has also proven to be a therapeutic remedy for diarrheal diseases.

Pleurotus against allergies

In addition to all the health-promoting properties already mentioned, scientists also attribute an anti-allergic effect to pleurotus. On the one hand, this is probably due to the beta-glucan pleuran, which has a balancing effect on the immune system. On the other hand, the vital mushroom reduces the release of histamine, which plays a supporting role in many allergic reactions. Ultimately, a healthy intestinal flora itself is a preventive factor against allergies. Therefore, at this point, the prebiotic properties of the oyster mushroom also come into play. In the alternative medicine field, the combination of Pleurotus, Reishi and Hericium has proven to be effective in relieving allergies and even atopic dermatitis.

Antioxidant and oncoprotective effects

Free radicals often play a major role in the development of tumors. That is why a high level of antioxidants in the body means at the same time a certain protection against cancer. Scientists have now been able to show that the oyster mushroom activates various antioxidant systems in the body: superoxide dismutase, catalase and glutathione. In animal studies, these enzymes/antioxidants were even shown to protect the organism when it was exposed to chemicals. In expert circles, there is therefore a presumption that the pleurotus can prevent chemically induced colon cancer.

Activation of the antioxidant glutathione system and consequent increase in the level of glutathione peroxidase in the liver represents a protective factor for this organ. A deficit of glutathione peroxidase can, for example, be due to the intake of certain painkillers and means a burden for the liver. By stimulating glutathione peroxidase, Pleurotus does something good for the liver. At the same time it relieves them through its positive regulation of cholesterol levels.

During chemotherapy and radiation treatment, oyster mushroom can be taken concomitantly to somewhat cushion the side effects on the bone marrow and support the intestinal immune system. Breast cancer patients showed significantly better levels regarding tumor-relevant immune cells under the administration of pleuran from Pleurotus. In animal studies, an anti-leukemic effect of the ingredients was shown. In vitro, the ingredients from the vital mushroom could even damage cancer cells, but it is not possible to transfer this mechanism 1:1 to the body, here it is different mechanisms of action.

A benefit for the musculoskeletal system

In TCM, the oyster mushroom is the first choice when it comes to complaints relating to the musculoskeletal system. The reason for this is, among other things, its ability to relax muscles and lower uric acid levels. Thus, it is often used for tension, myogelosis, arthritis and tendon problems. Due to its analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties, it also provides relief from inflammatory and neurological pain, as present in fibromyalgia and arthritis. In practice, the combination with other vital mushrooms such as shiitake, reishi and cordyceps has proven successful here. Other helpful natural remedies for the aforementioned complaints are, for example, the green-lipped mussel and frankincense. Even pet owners appreciate the gentle but lasting effect of Pleurotus. The vital mushroom relieves pain in animals without causing side effects. In fact, many of the effects mentioned are studied in the laboratory primarily in animals and can therefore be readily transferred to others.

Defense against pathogens and parasites

Modern medicine has an increasing interest in finding more antibiotics of natural origin. In the meantime, there is often no antibiotic medication that is effective against resistant bacteria. Great hope in the fight against resistant germs therefore rests on remedies from nature, such as the oyster mushroom has to offer. 3-D illustration of parasitesBesides its antibiotic effect, the vital mushroom inhibits the spread of candida in the body. So it is generally considered to be antimicrobial. We have already addressed its antiviral effects. Scientists believe that the ingredients of the oyster mushroom both act directly on the viruses and trigger various immune mechanisms. Its overall antiviral power has already been demonstrated in widespread viruses such as herpes simplex.

Background info and tips for buying Pleurotus ostreatus

As you have now learned, taking the vital mushroom Pleurotus is useful for various health complaints and risks. However, it is not enough to prepare a delicious mushroom dish with oyster mushrooms every week. It is certainly healthy and tastes good, but for noticeable effects on health, a certain amount of the mushroom must be taken daily. Learn here how to recognize the vital mushroom, where to buy it and how best to take it. In case of ambiguities and further questions about individual dosage and combination with other medicinal mushrooms, please feel free to contact our experts.

How do I recognize oyster mushrooms in the wild?

Typical for Pleurotus ostreatus is its appearance Close up of Pleurotus growing in naturein tufted colonies. These protrude laterally from thick branches as well as tree trunks and may well grow several meters above the ground. A weakling parasite, Pleurotus also thrives well on stumps of dead trees. It can feed on conifers, but clearly prefers deciduous trees. In our latitudes, his absolute favorite tree is the copper beech. The cap of the young oyster mushroom is usually smooth, has a whitish-bluish to slate-gray color and resembles the shape of a tongue. With age, the hat develops into a semicircle, the diameter of which can reach 25 centimeters. It also changes to a brownish color. The lamellae, spores and flesh always remain white. When you find an oyster mushroom, it is best to check the texture and smell of the flesh: while a young mushroom is soft and pleasantly fragrant, the flesh of the old mushroom is hard and musty. The white stalk is usually less than four centimeters long, sometimes only rudimentary. There are other species of seitlings that look similar to Pleurotus, but are poisonous. Therefore, if you collect specimens yourself, you should always be absolutely sure that you are looking at the real oyster mushroom before eating it. In addition to its appearance, a distinctive feature of the edible mushroom is that it forms its fruiting body in late autumn or even in winter. Only when the thermometer drops below 5° for a certain time, the pleurotus begins to grow.

Where does the oyster mushroom grow?

Mushrooms of the genus Pleurotus are found all over the world. The oyster mushroom in itself grows preferentially in forests of the temperate, subtropical zone. Theoretically, it thrives on quite a variety of substrates, with hardwood being its preferred medium in the wild. In breeding facilities, however, coffee grounds, straw, wheat grains, and even paper have also proven successful as a food source. Recording of cultivated Pleurotus fungi on a bag with substrate.In any case, it is important that no chemicals are used. These accumulate first in the fungus and later in the consumer. Vital mushrooms from a cultivation according to German organic guidelines are therefore safest. Since Pleurotus is both a useful vital mushroom and a nutritious and tasty edible mushroom, it enjoys great popularity among cooks. After the mushroom and shiitake, it is the third most cultivated in the world. After harvesting, the mushroom ideally dries at temperatures below 40 ° Celsius. In this way, it is preserved for a long time and its valuable ingredients are retained. Since the health substances are distributed throughout the mushroom, then the whole mushroom should also be ground into powder. By filling the powder into capsules, an even longer shelf life can be achieved. Moreover, capsules are relatively easy to dose.

How do I take Pleurotus ostreatus?

We would like to note here that vital mushrooms have no side effects. Therefore, you cannot harm yourself by using the wrong dosage. If you initially consume a lot of mushroom powder, it can only affect their digestion, as the metabolism and especially the detoxification of the organism are stimulated. However, in order to meet your individual health constitution, exact dosage and perfect combination with other measures is indispensable. Therefore, be sure to consult with your naturopath, mycologist, or our experts before taking Pleurotus. This way you are on the safe side that the desired effects will actually occur over time.

For mushroom powders there are many suppliers

You will find trustworthy suppliers with controlled organic cultivation in Germany, but unfortunately also less recommendable importers of cheap goods. Read what is important when buying.


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Every person is unique!

Our experienced team will be happy to advise you in detail and free of charge on all matters relating to your health.

Scientific studies / sources

  • Prof. Dr. med. Ivo Bianchi: “Modern Mycotherapy”; Hinckel Druck, 2008
  • Stamets, P.: “MycoMedicinals: An Informational Treatise on Mushrooms,” Myco Media, 2002.
  • Hobbs, C.: “Medicinal Mushrooms”, Botanica Press, 1995.
  • Lelley, Prof. Dr. J.: “The healing power of mushrooms”, GAMU, Krefeld, 2003
  • Komarkova E. et al: “Prebiotics from Pleurotus ostreatus and P. eryngii”; Int. Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms, Vol. 9, 2007.
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