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Mushroom (Khumbi): Uses, Benefits, Side effects By Dr. Smita Barode

By Dr Smita Barode +2 more

Introduction: 

“A meal without mushrooms is like a day without rain”. Mushrooms or Agaricus bisporus is neither a vegetable nor fruit, instead a type of edible fungus. There are different varieties (fresh and dry) available in the market; oyster, porcini and button being the most common. Generally, mushrooms have a stem covered with a fleshy rounded cap with gills underneath (umbrella-like appearance). They were first cultivated in Japan and China in 600 CE. Although, now they are cultivated across the globe all year round. In India, it is widely cultivated and is economically important in states like Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh. Mushrooms have an umami flavour (similar to meat); thus, they’re also called vegetarian meat. The health benefits of mushrooms are innumerable. Let us learn more about their nutritional and medicinal value.1-3 

Nutritional Value of Mushrooms: 

Mushrooms are packed with the goodness of protein, dietary fibre, minerals and vitamins (B1, B2, B12, C and E), terpenes, quinolones, steroids, flavonoids, antioxidants like carotenoids and polysaccharides like beta-glucan, etc.  The nutritional components of mushrooms are mentioned in the table below.  


Nutritional components Value per 84 g 
Energy 18.5 kcal 
Carbohydrates 3.2 g 
Protein 2.1 g 
Dietary fibre 0.8 g 
Fats 0.2 g 
Potassium 316.0 mg 
Phosphorus  87.9 mg 
Choline 17.0 mg 
Calcium 6.7 mg 
Sodium 5.6 mg 
Niacin 3.3 mg 
Folate 19.6 μg 
Selenium 15.1 μg 

Table 1: Nutritional value of mushroom (dry basis)4 

Blood pressure issues and sodium consumption frequently coexist. Researchers believe that blood pressure might rise because sodium tends to make the body retain more fluid. I recommend considering adding mushrooms to your meals to cut back on your salt consumption. The sodium content of mushrooms is naturally low. They have a savoury flavour, so you don’t need to add as much salt to maintain healthy blood pressure.

Dr. Siddharth Gupta, MD

Properties of Mushrooms: 

Scientifically proven properties of mushrooms include: 

  • It may have anti-proliferative properties. 
  • It may have antioxidant properties. 
  • It may suppress or stimulate the immune system. 
  • It may have antimicrobial properties. 
  • It might have neuroprotective properties i.e., protection against nerve injury. 
  • It may show anti-inflammatory properties. 
  • It might be beneficial to the functioning of liver. 
  • It may have a protective action towards the heart. 
  • It may have hypoallergic properties.5 

From my knowledge, the nutrients in mushrooms, such as selenium, vitamin D and B6 may help maintain a healthy immune system. Selenium may help your body produce antioxidant enzymes that cope with cell damage. Vitamin D may promote immunological health, lower inflammation, and make cells thrive. Vitamin B6 may aid in the formation of proteins, DNA, and red blood cells in your body.

Dr. Rajeev Singh, BAMS

Potential Uses of Mushroom for Overall Health: 

Some of the potential benefits of mushroom are described as follows: 

Potential uses of mushroom in cancer  

Mushrooms (Khumbi) are rich in phytochemicals like alkaloids, flavonoids, phenolic acids, carotenoids, selenium, vitamins, polysaccharides and antioxidants like glutathione and ergothioneine, which may reduce the risk of cancers. Djibril et al. conducted a review in 2021, which stated that people consuming mushrooms were at a lower risk of developing cancers than the non-consumers. This indicates that consuming mushrooms may help reduce the risk of cancers. However, scientific evidence supporting this claim is limited, which requires further research.6 

Potential uses of mushroom in Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease 

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is the accumulation of more than 5% fat in the liver without any underlying hepatitis C, alcohol consumption or medications. It may progress to a chronic liver disease characterized by cirrhosis, fibrosis and hepatic cancers. Inflammation and oxidative stress are the major risk factors for NAFLD. Zhang et al. conducted a study in 2020 to assess the effect of mushroom intake on NAFLD. The findings of this study showed that a high intake of mushrooms was associated with a lower risk of NAFLD due to the presence of potent antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties of mushrooms. Thus, the consumption of mushrooms may reduce the risk of NAFLD. However, more studies should be conducted to ascertain these claims.7 

Potential uses of mushroom on Alzheimer’s disease 

Alzheimer’s disease is a neurodegenerative disease characterized by progressive damage of neurons (functional units of the nervous system), which results in dementia and a decrease in cognition. Oxidative stress plays an important role in the pathogenesis of these diseases. Djibril M et al. conducted a review in 2022; the findings indicated that mushroom contains antioxidants like glutathione and ergothioneine, which have a protective effect on brain. This suggests that consuming mushrooms may help manage neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s. However, scientific evidence supporting these claims is limited, and that warrants the need for more clinical studies to support these claims.8 

Potential uses of mushroom in gut health 

A diet rich in fibre and non-digestible carbohydrates is important for a healthy gut. Hess et al. conducted a study in 2018 to assess the effect of mushrooms on gut health. The findings of this study show that the consumption of mushrooms may improve laxation and increase stool frequency, weight, and may benefit gut microbiota. High fibre content in mushroom helps achieve satiety and some fibres can also act as prebiotics. This indicates that mushrooms may help improve gut health, but we need more scientific evidence to support these claims.9 

Potential uses of mushroom for diabetes 

Diabetes is a metabolic disorder characterized by increased glucose levels in the blood. Jelena et al. conducted a systematic review in 2021, which states that the polysaccharides in mushrooms exert an anti-diabetic effect by increasing number of cells of pancreas (beta-cells) and inhibiting glucose absorption. Beta cells of pancreas produce insulin and may help in controlling glucose. Therefore, mushrooms may have the potential to manage diabetes. However, more studies should be conducted to ascertain these claims.10 

Researchers have found that mushrooms may significantly help in weight reduction when combined with physical activity and other lifestyle modifications, such as opting for a healthy diet. In my opinion, mushrooms are rich in antioxidants that may lower the incidence of hypertension and other metabolic diseases such as obesity.

Dr. Smita barode, BAMS

Other potential uses of mushroom:11 

  • Mushrooms are rich source of Vitamin D, which makes the bone strong and aids calcium absorption and thus, may help improve bone health. Additionally, Vitamin D reduced inflammation and assists cell growth. 
  • They are rich in selenium which may help in fighting against infections and boost immunity. 
  • They contain a chemical compound, eritadenine which inhibit cholesterol production and absorption and may help in reducing total body cholesterol. 
  • The presence of Vitamin C, selenium and glutathione may have a positive effect on skin. 

Though there are studies that show the benefits of mushroom in various conditions, but these are insufficient and there is a need for further studies to establish the true extent of the benefits of mushroom on human health.  

How to Use Mushrooms? 

  • Mushrooms can be consumed raw, diced into salads or soups. However, it is best to cook them before eating. 
  • They can also be roasted, tossed into curries or sautéed as a side dish. 
  • Mushrooms can be used as a stuffing, topping or making mushroom duxelles, a traditional French dish.2 

You must consult a qualified doctor before taking any herbal supplements. Do not discontinue or replace an ongoing treatment of modern medicine with an ayurvedic/herbal preparation without consulting a qualified doctor.   

Also Read: Benefits of Mushroom Coffee: A Complete Research-Based Guide

Side Effects of Mushroom: 

Few side effects related to the consumption of mushroom include: 

  • Hess et al. conducted a study in 2018 which showed that consuming mushrooms in excess can result in flatulence.9 
  • Mushroom poisoning following consumption of poisonous mushroom species like grifola frondosa (greyish brown in colour), oyster mushrooms and sulphur shelf mushrooms. Amanitin, is a toxin present in mushrooms that can cause neurologic, liver and kidney manifestations.12 

However, if you experience any adverse reactions to mushroom, it is advised to discontinue its intake and immediately contact a doctor or your Ayurvedic physician who has prescribed it. They will be able to guide you appropriately for your symptoms. 

Precautions to take with Mushroom: 

Eating mushrooms is not harmful if taken in moderate amounts. However, general precautions must be followed in the following conditions: 

  • Like other fruits and vegetables, washing mushrooms before using them is always advised. As mushrooms are delicate, place them gently under running water or use a damp paper towel to wash the dirt off. 
  • It is advised to store mushrooms in a brown paper bag that is open on the top. This will help in absorbing moisture and will prevent mushrooms from spoiling.1 

Also Read: Cordyceps Benefits: A Deep Dive into Research-Backed Advantages

Interactions with Other Drugs: 

Mushrooms contain psilocybin, a psychedelic compound which may interact with the following drugs: 

  • Serotonergic drugs like antidepressants, MAO-inhibitors etc. and mushrooms together can cause unwanted side effects like cardiac problems, seizures, etc. 
  • Stimulant drugs like cocaine and amphetamines with mushrooms can result in hypertension and cardiac problems. 

 Therefore, you must always seek the advice of your Ayurvedic physician about the possible interaction of mushroom with other drugs and follow the prescription thoroughly, as they will know your health condition and other medications you are taking.13 

Also Read: Lion’s Mane: Health Benefits, Uses, Side Effects & More! 

Frequently Asked Questions: 

1) What is the scientific name of mushroom? 

The scientific name of mushroom is Agaricus bisporus.1 

2) Is mushroom (Khumbi) a vegetable? 

Mushrooms or Agaricus bisporus is neither a vegetable nor fruit, instead a type of edible fungus.1 

3) Can mushroom help in managing constipation?  

Yes, mushroom may help manage constipation; this effect is attributed to a high content of dietary fibre in them. However, more studies are needed to support these claims. Therefore, it is advised to consult a doctor for a proper treatment in case you have constipation.9 

4) Can consumption of mushroom improve bone health? 

Yes, mushrooms are rich in Vitamin D which makes the bones strong and aids in calcium absorption. These features may help improve bone health. However, scientific evidence supporting this is limited and we need more studies to support these claims.11 

5) What are the side effects of mushroom consumption in excess? 

Hess et al. conducted a study in 2018 which showed that consuming mushrooms in excess can result in flatulence and bloating. Also, mushroom poisoning following the consumption of poisonous mushroom species can occur.12 

References: 

  1. Mushrooms (2022) The Nutrition Source. Available at: https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/food-features/mushrooms/ (Accessed: December 7, 2022).  
  1. Mushrooms (2019) FoodPrint. Available at: https://foodprint.org/real-food/mushrooms/ (Accessed: December 7, 2022).  
  1. Mushroom cultivation; farming; planting in India, Agri Farming. Available at: https://www.agrifarming.in/mushroom-cultivation (Accessed: December 7, 2022).  
  1. Fulgoni, Victor L 3rd, and Sanjiv Agarwal. “Nutritional impact of adding a serving of mushrooms on usual intakes and nutrient adequacy using National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2011-2016 data.” Food science & nutrition vol. 9,3 1504-1511. 12 Jan. 2021, doi:10.1002/fsn3.2120. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7958531/ 
  1. Valverde, María Elena et al. “Edible mushrooms: improving human health and promoting quality life.” International journal of microbiology vol. 2015 (2015): 376387. doi:10.1155/2015/376387. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4320875/ 
  1. Ba, Djibril M et al. “Higher Mushroom Consumption Is Associated with Lower Risk of Cancer: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Observational Studies.” Advances in nutrition (Bethesda, Md.) vol. 12,5 (2021): 1691-1704. doi:10.1093/advances/nmab015. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8483951/ 
  1. Zhang, Shunming et al. “Association between edible mushroom intake and the prevalence of newly diagnosed non-alcoholic fatty liver disease: results from the Tianjin Chronic Low-Grade Systemic Inflammation and Health Cohort Study in China.” The British journal of nutrition vol. 123,1 (2020): 104-112. doi:10.1017/S0007114519002605. Available at: https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/british-journal-of-nutrition/article/association-between-edible-mushroom-intake-and-the-prevalence-of-newly-diagnosed-nonalcoholic-fatty-liver-disease-results-from-the-tianjin-chronic-lowgrade-systemic-inflammation-and-health-cohort-study-in-china/41408B18659A8BB5E903800398C8D8D6 
  1. Ba, Djibril M et al. “Mushroom intake and cognitive performance among US older adults: the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2011-2014.” The British journal of nutrition, vol. 128,11 1-8. 4 Feb. 2022, doi:10.1017/S0007114521005195. Available at: https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/british-journal-of-nutrition/article/mushroom-intake-and-cognitive-performance-among-us-older-adults-the-national-health-and-nutrition-examination-survey-20112014/C28993998C223626CD7D42C748ACD47B 
  1. Hess, Julie et al. “Impact of Agaricus bisporus Mushroom Consumption on Gut Health Markers in Healthy Adults.” Nutrients vol. 10,10 1402. 2 Oct. 2018, doi:10.3390/nu10101402. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6213353/ 
  1. Aramabašić Jovanović, Jelena et al. “The Effects of Major Mushroom Bioactive Compounds on Mechanisms That Control Blood Glucose Level.” Journal of fungi (Basel, Switzerland) vol. 7,1 58. 16 Jan. 2021, doi:10.3390/jof7010058. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7830770/pdf/jof-07-00058.pdf 
  1. Health, written by N. (2022) Health benefits of Mushroom, Narayana Health Care. Available at: https://www.narayanahealth.org/blog/health-benefits-of-mushroom/ (Accessed: December 7, 2022).  
  1. Tran HH, Juergens AL. Mushroom Toxicity. [Updated 2022 Aug 8]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK537111/ 
  1. Psilocybin: Overview, uses, side effects, precautions, interactions, dosing and reviews  WebMD. WebMD. Available at: https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-1654/psilocybin (Accessed: December 9, 2022).  

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