Pleurotus Pulmonarius: Phoenix Oyster Mushroom Identification & Benefits

Pleurotus pulmonarius is commonly known and recognized as a therapeutically-valuable mushroom. Its binomial name is Pleurotus pulmonarius (Fr.) Quél. It is also referred to as the Indian Oyster, Italian Oyster, Phoenix Mushroom, or the Lung Oyster. These names are used interchangeably in the article. The production of Pleurotus pulmonarius worldwide is increasing due to the ease of its cultivation, high yield and, its high nutritional value [1.].

The aqueous extract of Pleurotus pulmonarius contains vitamins B1, B2 and C, and calcium; it is also low in calories [1.]; low in cholesterol and high in protein [2.] making it nutritionally rich. Pleurotus pulmonarius extracts have also been shown to have anti-inflammation, anti-cancer, anti-diabetes, anti-hypertension and anti-oxidant properties. Bioactive molecules in edible mushrooms are a potential therapeutic alternative when considering the reduced toxicity and side-effects [1.].

Other popular Oyster Mushrooms include:

Pleurotus djamor: Pink Oyster Mushroom
Pleurotus eryngii: The King Oyster Mushroom
Pleurotus citrinopileatus: The Golden Oyster Mushroom
Pleurotus ostreatus: The Tree Oyster Mushroom
Pleurotus Dryinus: The Veiled Oyster Mushroom

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Pleurotus pulmonarius Identification and Description

Cap: 3 – 20cm diameter; convex; pale – white; fan-like or oyster shaped.
Gills: Extend down the stem.
Stem: 1-4 cm in length; up to 1cm thick.
Smell: Distinctive.
Taste: Mild.
Spore color: Off white – white.
Edibility: An edible mushroom.
Habitat: Grows on most hardwoods in shelf-like clusters from Spring to early fall.
Ecology: Saprobic.
Phylum: Basidiomycota.
Class: Agaricomycetes.
Order: Agaricales.
Family: Pleurotaceae.
Genus: Pleurotus.

Pleurotus Pulmonarius Gills
The underside of the Pleurotus Pulmonarius

Pleurotus Pulmonarius Benefits

Anti-cancer

  • Liver cancer

Natural bioactive compounds from mushrooms and their use in conventional chemotherapy is a growing field in cancer treatment. Isolation of a polysaccharide-protein complexes from Pleurotus pulmonarius using hot-water extraction was performed and the effects in cancerous liver cells observed. The results showed that exposure of liver cancer cells to Pleurotus pulmonarius both significantly reduced cancer cell proliferation in vitro and invasion, but it was also able to improve the drug-sensitivity of the cells to the chemotherapeutic drug Cisplatin [3.]. In a mouse model, oral administration (200mg/kg) showed inhibition of cancer cell growth [4.].

  • Leukaemia

Worldwide, leukaemia is one of the major causes of cancer-related death and is a cancer of the blood or bone marrow. Using a leukaemia-induced rat model [5.] metabolites from extracts of Pleurotus pulmonarius were shown to increase the haemoglobin concentration and number of erythrocytes (red blood cells), this is important in combating anaemia, a symptom of leukaemia.  Leukocytosis (increase in white blood cells) also occurs in leukaemia but in these rats, it was prevented or restored when the Pleurotus pulmonarius metabolites were administered before, during or after exposure to the leukaemia-inducing agents. They also reported on the immunomodulatory effects of Pleurotus pulmonarius with its ability to increase the total leukocyte counts (including non-cancerous) – the highest counts observed were when the highest dose was administered at 80 mg/ml.

  • Colon cancer

Extracts of Pleurotus pulmonarius, from either mycelium grown in liquid culture or the fruiting bodies, was applied to several lines of colon cancer cells in vitro. The study showed that both types of extracts may contribute to the anti-proliferative effect (growth) that was seen; this effect was identified in colon cancer cells expressing high levels of galectin-3 and this led to the down-regulation of the ability to adhere to other cells – important for the progression of, and metastasis of cancer cells [6.].

Editors Note: Do not use any supplements in place of treatments recommended by your doctor. This is simply the author expressing an opinion.

Anti-hypertensive

Hypertension, also referred to as high blood pressure, is a leading cause of death. Angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) is a natural biological molecule that leads to constriction of the arteries. The pharmaceutical industry has developed drugs that inhibit ACE, and they are used as a treatment for hypertension. Pleurotus pulmonarius mycelium protein extracts have been explored in vitro for their use as an ACE inhibitor. Using Pleurotus pulmonarius mycelial water extracts, three proteins were identified as having ACE inhibitory effects. This provides the platform for further research and therapeutic developments using Phoenix Mushroom extracts and their biologically active components to treat hypertension [7.].

Anti-oxidant

Everyday processes in the human body produce free radicals or reactive oxygen species (ROS) capable of oxidizing biological molecules such as including lipids, proteins and DNA. They play a critical role in disease development (e.g. arthritis, asthma, atherosclerosis, cancer, dementia, and Parkinson’s disease). Natural anti-oxidants are important to modify these effects and methanol extract of the fruiting bodies of Pleurotus pulmonarius have been shown to have antioxidant effects [8.]. There was a dose-dependent increase in the ability of Pleurotus pulmonarius to fight against free radicals and lipid peroxidation. The optimal concentration was observed at 2mg/ml. The most potent antioxidant activity of Pleurotus pulmonarius was against scavenging for ROS (hydrogen peroxide).

Anti-inflammatory

In vitro application of methanol-induced extraction of the fruiting bodies of Pleurotus pulmonarius to RAW cells showed a significant reduction in nitric oxide (NO) produced by the induction of an inflammatory response [8.]. RAW cells are used as they are the precursor to cells in our immune system that are responsible for an inflammatory response. The decrease in the presence of NO was produced in a dose-dependent manner (range 5mg/kg – 50mg/kg). NO is a molecule that can mediate pro-inflammatory responses and needs to be well controlled to avoid excessive inflammation that can cause disease or damage to tissue.

Anti-diabetic

It has been shown in vitro that protein extracts from Pleurotus pulmonarius have antidiabetic properties. The assays employed in this study monitored enzymes in the presence of protein extracts from Pleurotus pulmonarius. The enzymes are involved in carbohydrate metabolism and the study provides good evidence for the Pleurotus pulmonarius protein extracts as a method to inhibit these enzymes [1.]. A diabetic mouse model (alloxan treated) was used to examine the effect of aqueous Pleurotus pulmonarius extract and the results showed strong antihyperglycemic effects [9.]. These studies show that the use of Phoenix Mushroom could significantly reduce blood glucose elevations after food; therefore, it deserves consideration for its properties and potential use in the management of blood glucose levels, in particular in Diabetes Type II.

Anti-rhinitis

Allergic rhinitis is the most common atopic disease [10.], atopy refers to the genetic predisposition to allergies. Allergic rhinitis is characterized by sneezing, itching and congestion of the nose and rhinorrhea.  The administration of Pleurotus pulmonarius at a single dose of 500 mg/kg did not have a significant effect on mice with antigen-induced nasal rubbing and sneezing, but inhibition was observed following two weeks of treatment at 500 mg/kg; furthermore, after four weeks of administering the mice a dose of 200 mg/kg, a significant inhibition in symptoms were observed [10.]. Indicating that repeated doses of Pleurotus pulmonarius in this mouse model was suitable for treatment of the symptoms associated with Allergic rhinitis.

Anti-viral

The cause of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) is the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). The HIV (HIV-1 RT) inhibition ratio of Pleurotus pulmonarius extract was tested at the concentration level of 1 mg/ml and showed HIV-1 RT inhibition of 70.8% [11.]. This provides good evidence in vitro for the potential anti-viral properties of Pleurotus pulmonarius.

Pleurotus Pulmonarius Dosage

The research provides varied indications in animal and in vitro models. The dose varies between models and the effectiveness against different conditions. In the alloxan-induced diabetic mouse model, the optimum dose was 500 mg/kg when it was compared with a dose of 250 and 1000 mg/kg [9.]

Furthermore, types of extraction show variability with a comparison between the Pleurotus pulmonarius mycelial and broth extracts showing that the mycelial water has an IC50 value (a measure of effectiveness) of 720µg/mL when testing between 0-3mg/mL, this was about two times high than the effect of the broth [7.].

Pleurotus Pulmonarius Side-effects

When considering side-effects, in mice 200mg/kg of Pleurotus pulmonarius administered for two weeks showed no side effects or histological abnormalities [4.]. Toxicity assessments showed no mouse mortality was observed after acute administration of 5000 mg/kg [9.].

Pleurotus Pulmonarius Look-a-Likes

Pleurotus pulmonarius is similar to the Pleurotus ostreatus known also as the pearl oyster; however, despite having similar tastes the Pleurotus pulmonarius tends to be thinner, paler, generally smaller but, with a more developed stem than Pleurotus ostreatus. Pleurotus ostreatu may grow in Winter in contrast, Phoenix Mushroom does not as it prefers warmer climates. Pleurotus pulmonarius can also be mistaken for Pleurotus sajor-caju by both mycologists and cultivators [7.]. The actual Pleurotus sajor-caju is a different species of mushroom, now known as  Lentinus sajor-caju [12.].

Pleurotus Pulmonarius Cautions

Whilst there is substantial scientific evidence for the health benefits provided by Phoenix Mushroom, it should not be used as a replacement for conventional therapy as prescribed by a physician. Always take medical advice before administering for therapeutic purposes or when pregnant.

References:

  1. Wahab, N.A.A., N. Abdullah, and N. Aminudin, Characterisation of potential antidiabetic-related proteins from Pleurotus pulmonarius (Fr.) Quél. (grey oyster mushroom) by MALDI-TOF/TOF mass spectrometry. BioMed research international, 2014. 2014: p. 131607-131607.
  2. Khatun, S., et al., Nutritional qualities and antioxidant activity of three edible oyster mushrooms (Pleurotus spp.). NJAS – Wageningen Journal of Life Sciences, 2015. 72-73: p. 1-5.
  3. Xu, W., J.J.-h. Huang, and P.C.K. Cheung, Extract of Pleurotus pulmonarius suppresses liver cancer development and progression through inhibition of VEGF-induced PI3K/AKT signaling pathway. PloS one, 2012. 7(3): p. e34406-e34406.
  4. Xu, W.W., et al., Water Extract from Pleurotus pulmonarius with Antioxidant Activity Exerts In Vivo Chemoprophylaxis and Chemosensitization for Liver Cancer. Nutrition and Cancer, 2014. 66(6): p. 989-998.
  5. Olufemi, A.E., A.O.A. Terry, and O.J. Kola, Anti-leukemic and immunomodulatory effects of fungal metabolites of Pleurotus pulmonarius and Pleurotus ostreatus on benzene-induced leukaemia in Wister rats. The Korean journal of hematology, 2012. 47(1): p. 67-73.
  6. Lavi, I., et al., Chemical characterization, antiproliferative and antiadhesive properties of polysaccharides extracted from Pleurotus pulmonarius mycelium and fruiting bodies. Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology, 2010. 85(6): p. 1977-1990.
  7. Ibadallah, B.X., N. Abdullah, and A.S. Shuib, Identification of Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme Inhibitory Proteins from Mycelium of Pleurotus pulmonarius (Oyster Mushroom). Planta Med, 2015. 81(02): p. 123-129.
  8. Nguyen, T.K., et al., Evaluation of Antioxidant, Anti-cholinesterase, and Anti-inflammatory Effects of Culinary Mushroom Pleurotus pulmonarius. Mycobiology, 2016. 44(4): p. 291-301.
  9. Badole, S.L., et al., Interaction of Aqueous Extract of Pleurotus pulmonarius (Fr.) Quel-Champ. with Glyburide in Alloxan Induced Diabetic Mice. Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine: eCAM, 2008. 5(2): p. 159-164.
  10. Yatsuzuka, R., et al., Effect of Usuhiratake (Pleurotus pulmonarius) on sneezing and nasal rubbing in BALB/c mice. Biological & pharmaceutical bulletin, 2007. 30(8): p. 1557-1560.
  11. Wang, J., H.X. Wang, and T.B. Ng, A peptide with HIV-1 reverse transcriptase inhibitory activity from the medicinal mushroom Russula paludosa. Peptides, 2007. 28(3): p. 560-565.
  12. Shnyreva, A., A. Sivolapova, and A. Shnyreva, The commercially cultivated edible oyster mushrooms Pleurotus sajor-caju and P. pulmonarius are two separate species, similar in morphology but reproductively isolated. Russian Journal of Genetics, 2012. 48.

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