1-carboxy-2-[2-mercaptoimidazole-4-(or 5)-yl]ethyl]-trimethyl-ammonium hydroxide, 2-Mercaptohistidine Trimethylbetaine, Ergothionéine, Ergotioneina, Erythrothioneine, ET, L-Ergo, L-Ergothioneine, S-alpha-carboxy-2,3-dihydro-N,N-N,-trimethyl-thioxo-1H-imidazole-4-eth-anaminium hydroxide, Sympectothion, Thiasine, Thiazine, Thiolhistidinebetaine, Thioneine, Thionéine, Thiozine.


Overview Information

Ergothioneine is an amino acid that is found mainly in mushrooms, as well as red and black beans. It is also found in animals that have eaten grasses containing ergothioneine. Ergothioneine is sometimes used as medicine.

People use ergothioneine for joint pain, liver damage, cataracts, Alzheimer disease, diabetes, heart disease, wrinkles, and other conditions, but there is no good scientific evidence to support these uses.

How does it work?

Researchers are investigating ergothioneine to determine if it can reduce swelling (inflammation) in the lungs and damage in the liver, kidneys, and brain.


Uses & Effectiveness?

Insufficient Evidence for

  • Heart disease. Some research suggests that higher levels of ergothioneine in the blood are linked to a lower risk of heart disease and death from heart disease. But it isn't clear if eating more foods containing ergothioneine or taking ergothioneine supplements will prevent heart disease or death.
  • Joint pain.
  • Liver damage.
  • Cataracts.
  • Alzheimer disease.
  • Diabetes.
  • Preventing wrinkles and reducing signs of aging, when applied to the skin.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of ergothioneine for these uses.

Side Effects

Side Effects & Safety

When taken by mouth: Ergothioneine is LIKELY SAFE when used in amounts found in foods. There isn't enough reliable information to know if ergothioneine is safe when used in larger amounts as medicine, or what the side effects might be.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: There isn't enough reliable information to know if ergothioneine is safe to use when pregnant or breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.



We currently have no information for ERGOTHIONEINE Interactions.



The appropriate dose of ergothioneine depends on several factors such as the user's age, health, and several other conditions. At this time there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for ergothioneine. Keep in mind that natural products are not always necessarily safe and dosages can be important. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels and consult your pharmacist or physician or other healthcare professional before using.

View References


  • Ey, J., Schomig, E., and Taubert, D. Dietary sources and antioxidant effects of ergothioneine. J Agric Food Chem 8-8-2007;55(16):6466-6474. View abstract.
  • Smiles, K. A., Dong, K. K., Canning, M. T., Grimson, R., Walfield, A. M., and Yarosh, D. B. A hydroquinone formulation with increased stability and decreased potential for irritation. J Cosmet.Dermatol 2007;6(2):83-88. View abstract.
  • Urban, T. J., Yang, C., Lagpacan, L. L., Brown, C., Castro, R. A., Taylor, T. R., Huang, C. C., Stryke, D., Johns, S. J., Kawamoto, M., Carlson, E. J., Ferrin, T. E., Burchard, E. G., and Giacomini, K. M. Functional effects of protein sequence polymorphisms in the organic cation/ergothioneine transporter OCTN1 (SLC22A4). Pharmacogenet.Genomics 2007;17(9):773-782. View abstract.
  • Benson KF, Ager DM, Landes B, Aruoma OI, Jensen GS. Improvement of joint range of motion (ROM) and reduction of chronic pain after consumption of an ergothioneine-containing nutritional supplement. Prev Med. 2012;54 Suppl:S83-9. View abstract.
  • Cargnoni A, Bernocchi P, Ceconi C, et al. In vitro administration of ergothioneine failed to protect isolated ischaemic and reperfused rabbit heart. Biochim Biophys Acta 1995;1270:173-8. View abstract.
  • Cheah IK, Tang RM, Yew TS, Lim KH, Halliwell B. Administration of pure ergothioneine to healthy human subjects: Uptake, metabolism, and effects on biomarkers of oxidative damage and inflammation. Antioxid Redox Signal. 2017;26(5):193-206. View abstract.
  • Deiana M, Rosa A, Casu V, et al. L-ergothioneine modulates oxidative damage in the kidney and liver of rats in vivo: studies upon the profile of polyunsaturated fatty acids. Clin Nutr 2004;23:183-93. View abstract.
  • Electronic Code of Federal Regulations. Title 21. Part 182 -- Substances Generally Recognized As Safe. Available at:
  • Forster R, Spézia F, Papineau D, et al. Reproductive safety evaluation of L-Ergothioneine. Food Chem Toxicol. 2015;80:85-91. View abstract.
  • Franzoni F, Colognato R, Galetta F, et al. An in vitro study on the free radical scavenging capacity of ergothioneine: comparison with reduced glutathione, uric acid and trolox. Biomed Pharmacother 2006;60:453-7. View abstract.
  • Grundemann D, Harlfinger S, Golz S, et al. Discovery of the ergothioneine transporter. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2005;102:5256-61. View abstract.
  • Guijarro MV, Indart A, Aruoma OI, et al. Effects of ergothioneine on diabetic embryopathy in pregnant rats. Food Chem Toxicol 2002;40:1751-5. View abstract.
  • Jang JH, Aruoma OI, Jen LS, et al. Ergothioneine rescues PC12 cells from beta-amyloid-induced apoptotic death. Free Radic Biol Med 2004;36:288-99. View abstract.
  • Mitsuyama H, May JM. Uptake and antioxidant effects of ergothioneine in human erythrocytes. Clin Sci (Lond) 1999;97:407-11. View abstract.
  • Moncaster JA, Walsh DT, Gentleman SM, et al. Ergothioneine treatment protects neurons against N-methyl-D-aspartate excitotoxicity in an in vivo rat retinal model. Neurosci Lett 2002;328:55-9. View abstract.
  • Nishida K, Takeuchi K, Hosoda A, et al. Ergothioneine ameliorates oxaliplatin-induced peripheral neuropathy in rats. Life Sci 2018;207:516-24. View abstract.
  • Rahman I, Gilmour PS, Jimenez LA, et al. Ergothioneine inhibits oxidative stress- and TNF-alpha-induced NF-kappa B activation and interleukin-8 release in alveolar epithelial cells. Biochem Biophys Res Commun 2003;302:860-4. View abstract.
  • Sakrak O, Kerem M, Bedirli A, et al. Ergothioneine modulates proinflammatory cytokines and heat shock protein 70 in mesenteric ischemia and reperfusion injury. J Surg Res 2008;144:36-42. View abstract.
  • Smith E, Ottosson F, Hellstrand S, et al. Ergothioneine is associated with reduced mortality and decreased risk of cardiovascular disease. Heart 2019. pii: heartjnl-2019-315485.View abstract.

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CONDITIONS OF USE AND IMPORTANT INFORMATION: This information is meant to supplement, not replace advice from your doctor or healthcare provider and is not meant to cover all possible uses, precautions, interactions or adverse effects. This information may not fit your specific health circumstances. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your doctor or other qualified health care provider because of something you have read on WebMD. You should always speak with your doctor or health care professional before you start, stop, or change any prescribed part of your health care plan or treatment and to determine what course of therapy is right for you.

This copyrighted material is provided by Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Consumer Version. Information from this source is evidence-based and objective, and without commercial influence. For professional medical information on natural medicines, see Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Professional Version.
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