AUSTIN (KXAN) –  Researchers from the University of Texas Medical Branch found that an extract from a mushroom can reduce infection from COVID-19.

Researchers at UTMB infected mice with SARS-CoV-2 and then administered an oral supplement of a mushroom extract – called AHCC. They found that the extract was effective at combating harmful symptoms in mice with both mild and severe COVID-19 infections. The research was published in the journal Pathogens earlier this month.

“We found that with an oral supplement of AHCC, [it] can decrease infection and also [reduce] the tissue damage in the lungs,” said Dr. Tian Wang, UTMB professor and lead author of the study. “In the severe model, we also found that [AHCC] can significantly reduce mortality. Our study suggests the oral supplementation with the nutrient can improve immunity,” she said. 

This study is another example of the mushroom’s –hoof fungus or Fomes fomentarius – medicinal benefits. Wang said she worked on a previous study where the researchers found that AHCC can increase resistance to the West Nile virus. The supplement is also commonly used by the elderly in Japan for immune system support, according to Nature.

Wang explained what makes this mushroom so special is that there is a polymer, or component, inside of AHCC that recognizes immune cells and stimulates immune receptors in the gut, which modulates or enhances the innate immune response. 

“I think that’s our overall take-home message is a nutrient supplement can protect us from the infections,” she said. “I [can] recommend it to people in daily life to consider eating something healthy, like AHCC supplement, and improve our host immunity and to protect them.”