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  • Whole Fruiting Bodies vs Mycelium on Grain in Medicinal Mushrooms

  • The interest in medicinal mushrooms is increasing ten folds and people want to know what is most effective for health benefits: the whole fruiting body or the mycelium on grain.

    Let’s first get clear on what the difference is.

  • What is Mycelium?

    Mushroom spores always surround us as they are present in the air we breathe. When these spores end in the right conditions, they start germinating and create tiny multi-branched filaments called hyphae. These hyphae continue to grow and eventually develop into a fused mass which forms the mycelium.

    Mycelium is the spider-like membrane feeding the mushrooms. It is not visible on the surface around the mushroom as it is located underground or within the texture of the hosting plant (tree, log, etc).

    This complex structure is vital to the growth of the mushroom and the entire ecosystem. Mycelium produces special enzymes that break down the decaying substrate of wood, leaves, logs, etc and provides nutrients that are absorbed by the mushroom. This substrate is tightly interlinked in an inseparable tangle of underground matter and the mycelium itself.

    In the right environmental conditions, the mycelium will produce its fruiting body, the mushroom.

  • What is Mushroom Fruiting Body?

    So, now we know that the mushroom is the fruiting body of the mycelium.

    The mushroom is the reproductive of this complex organism. When the mushroom is mature, it produces spores that are released into the surrounding air space, thus distributes and spread across. The spores will end up in the suitable environment and when the conditions are right, they will germinate and start the process of creating the hyphae which in turn will develop into mycelium and will produce more mushrooms. This is the continuous cycle that takes place in the fungi world.

    It is very important to understand that mycelium is NOT a mushroom and mushroom is NOT a mycelium. These two organisms are totally separate and are NOT to be synonymously interlinked or interchanged.
    The pain parts of the mushrooms that contain the incredibly high nutritional value are the cap and the stem.
    Now we know the difference between the whole mushroom body and the mycelium.

  • Nutritional benefits of Whole Mushroom Fruiting Body compared to Mycelium


    Whole Mushroom Fruiting Body extraction

    Medicinal mushrooms are extensively used worldwide in the form of extracts.

    These extracts are made from the whole mushrooms fruiting body or from the mycelium.

    The fruiting body extracts are primarily done via hot water extraction process when the entire mushroom is placed into hot water. This causes the breakdown of the chitin in the cell walls.

    We as humans lack the enzyme required to break down the chitin. The extraction process enables the release of the nutrients from the mushroom’s fruiting body and pull out the beta-glucans which are the active compounds held inside the cell walls of the mushrooms.

    The hot water extraction goes through the purifying process and dried into pure powder containing a concentrated form of glyconutrients and all the bio-active components needed.

  • Mycelium extraction

    Mycelium is usually grown on sterilised grain, most commonly brown rice, oats or sorghum.

    This is then dried and gets ground into a powder.

    In this case you are mostly getting nothing more than ground up grains that the mycelium is grown on and not getting any beneficial nutrients that are found only in the fruiting body of the mushrooms.

    All the grain used as the growing substrate becomes inseparable from the mycelium and remains in the final product, leading to nothing more than a high amount of starch.

    In other words, all you are getting is a very expensive ground up grains sold as mushroom extract.

    If on a label it says “freeze-dried myceliated brown rice” it means that you are, without a doubt, paying for an extract of the ground up brown rice with roots of mushroom mixed in it. There are no nutritional benefits in this extract.

    Mycelium extracts contain alpha-glucans, which is simply a polysaccharide from the grain (brown rice or other growth substrate) on which the mycelia is grown and offer hardly any nutritional value.

  • The whole fruiting body mushroom extracts provide the high potency and effectiveness as they offer the huge spectrum of nutritional value:

    - minerals, such as potassium, selenium, zinc, copper, iron, phosphorus, magnesium, sulphur, manganese, calcium, sodium, etc
    - amino acids, such as Arginine, Leucine, Lysine, Phenylalanine, Valine, Glutamic acid, etc
    - vitamin B complex (thiamine, riboflavin, folic acid and niacin)
    - vitamins, such as B, B12, D, etc
    - complete proteins
    - polysaccharides
    - beta-glucans

  • In comparison, mycelium contains very little of the compounds that would qualify as nutritious.

    The mycelium extracts are produced as a cheep alternative because it is much cheaper and quicker to produce it instead of producing the full mushroom body extract.

    Mycelium is prohibited from being considered a mushroom by the FDA.

    Unfortunately, many mushrooms extract producers hide the fact that the base of the extract is mycelium and use elaborate false descriptions of their products. For example, they would say that the extract contains high amount of polysaccharide, which is true because polysaccharides are a class of carbohydrates, and the brown rice used in mycelium extracts is essentially a carbohydrate. This means that the high amounts of polysaccharides mainly come from the starch, gluten and other non-mushroom components of the brown rice.

    But they would not state that the extract does not contain the beta-glucans, the most important nutritious component found only in the mushroom fruiting body.

    The health benefits of medicinal mushrooms are derived from their active compounds that are stored in the fruiting body of the mushroom and not in the mycelium.

  • The key compound is called beta-glucan and it provides enormous functional benefits to our health, for example,
    - regulate the function of the immune system,
    - reduce the inflammation,
    - enhance macrophages,
    - improve the natural killer cell function,
    - help fight the cancerogenic cells,
    - help control the blood sugar levels (type II diabetes),
    - improve the functions of the cardio-vascular,
    - regulate the function of the digestive systems,
    - provide help with hormonal disbalance,
    - help reduce stress,
    - increase endurance
    and so much-much more.

    So, to summarise, mycelium extracts essentially give you the ground up brown rice with low nutritional potency mycelium.

    Fruiting body mushroom extracts offer the effective, highly potent bio-active properties needed to get the health benefits.

  • MediMushrooms range of products, Cordyceps, Lion’s Mane, Maitake, Reishi and Shiitake are extracted from 100% whole mushroom fruiting body and contain no mycelium or substrate matter.