Mushroom Extracts: Mycelium vs. Fruiting Body - Which One Is Better for Optimal Health?

Mushroom Extracts: Mycelium vs. Fruiting Body - Which One Is Better for Optimal Health?

Posted by Troy Cosky, Founder FunGuy Grow Supply on 3rd May 2023

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Mushroom supplements have become increasingly popular in recent years as people search for natural and effective ways to support their overall wellness. However, with so many options available, it can be difficult to determine which type of supplement is best suited to your individual needs.

One of the biggest debates within the mushroom supplement industry is whether mycelium or fruiting body extracts are more beneficial. Mycologists, industry experts, and even the layperson all have strong opinions on this topic.

In this article, we'll dive into this debate and explore the benefits and drawbacks of each type of extract. We'll also take a closer look at some of the most popular mushroom supplements available and outline important factors to consider when choosing a supplement that's right for you. So sit back, relax, and get ready to learn everything you need to know about mushroom supplements!

Mycelium Mushroom Extracts: Benefits and Drawbacks

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Choosing between mycelium and fruiting body extracts is a debatable topic among mushroom extract users. The process used to create mycelium extracts is faster compared to that of fruiting body extract, which makes it cost-effective. Furthermore, mycelium has an impressive growth rate that enables commercial growers to propagate efficiently. By planting/inoculating with pure cultures, growers can ensure quality control over their final product; this gives them a competitive edge against profit-driven vendors who produce cheap quality fruiting body extracts. Another benefit of using mycelium extracts is protein concentration as they contain a high anthocyanin presence. This makes them a reliable source of protein.

As much as there are benefits to using mycelium extracts, it is also essential to consider their drawbacks. The major drawback is the high concentration of grain remnants in mycelium extracts. To cultivate mycelium, growers need to use grains such as rice, oats, or wheat, which contribute significantly to starch remnant concentrations in these extracts. This can be unhealthy for some individuals and unnecessary in some cases.

Another vital factor to consider when choosing between mycelium and fruiting body mushroom supplements is that the latter has beneficial compounds that are absent or may only be present in lower quantities within the former. Polysaccharides, ergothioneine, and antioxidants remain present only on a low scale or totally absent altogether within the mycelial extract due to its growth process.

There are reasons why individuals may still prefer the use of mycelium extracts over fruiting body extractions. For instance, those who value speed, low cost, and higher protein concentrations may opt for mushroom extracts derived from pure cultures, because they could be a better fit depending on their health goals. However, it’s crucial to remember that regardless of personal preference, it's not easy drawing an accurate comparison without first analyzing individual needs since both have inherent drawbacks and advantages.

Fruiting Body Mushroom Extracts: Pros and Cons

Fruiting Body extracts refer to extracts derived from the fruiting bodies of mushrooms, which are the visible parts that emerge from the substrate during the fungi's reproductive process. These extracts offer numerous benefits over mycelium extracts, primarily due to their higher concentration of bioactive compounds. Fruit bodies contain a wide range of beneficial nutrients, including:

  • Antioxidants
  • Polysaccharides (found in Chaga)
  • Triterpenoids (found in Reishi)
  • Ergothioneine (found in Turkey Tail)

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Unlike regular button mushrooms or mycelium extracts, fruiting bodies are rich sources of these nutrients and can provide up to 156% more available antioxidants than regular button mushrooms.

Another benefit of fruiting body extracts is that they don't contain any grain remnants, which are often present in mycelium extract supplements. Since fruiting bodies grow independently from the ground up, they are not usually mixed with any foreign substances and contain only high concentrations of beneficial compounds.

When it comes to selecting the right mushroom supplement, weighing both the benefits and drawbacks of using fruiting body extracts is crucial for informed decision-making. The first issue is that fruiting body extracts tend to be more expensive compared to mycelium extracts on the market. This is because they take longer to grow, requiring specific environmental conditions that can be unpredictable at times. As such, the increased cost is usually due to the long span required for growing them.

The second drawback is the difficulty of sourcing reliable suppliers who use natural organic processes for growth. The increasing demand for supplements drives some suppliers to prioritize quantity over quality and not consider maintaining organic growing processes resulting in substandard supplements.

Mycelium vs. Fruiting Body Mushroom Extracts: The Ongoing Debate

Choosing between consuming mycelium or fruiting body extracts isn't a new debate. This conversation has been ongoing with laypeople, industry experts, and mycologists alike. While advocates of mycelium argue that grain's high quantity of starch carries valuable health compounds and amino acids not present in fruiting body extracts, proponents of fruiting body extracts contend that only they contain the most beneficial compounds vital for optimal wellness.

However, current research indicates that both types of extract have benefits and drawbacks — comparisons based on subjective testing conducted by researchers who took care to source quality substances. Some manufacturers are combining both types of extract to provide a wide range of benefits available.

Arguments For And Against Using Mycelium vs. Fruiting Body Extracts

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Mycelium Extracts:

  • Advocates claim that mycelium is more potent because it uses the growing part of the fungus itself. The hypha is the filamentous structure with a dendritic pattern responsible for absorbing nutrients from the soil or organic material from which all fungi grow.
  • It's cheaper to produce since it grows faster than the fruiting body.
  • Some companies fail to specify their products, referring to them as generalized terms like "mushroom powder" or "mushroom extract," which can mislead customers.
  • Proponents against mycelium use state that while they might have valuable components themselves; there's an extremely high concentration of starch remaining from the grain since it needs food to grow during its' manufacturing process.
  • Some also raise concerns about the potential negative environmental impact of industrial-scale production.

Fruiting Body Extracts:

  • Fruiting bodies develop as a result of the mycelium's nutrition storage and reproduction efforts.
  • Some of the benefits linked to taking mushroom extracts are attributed to beta-glucans, triterpenoids, ergosterol, and statins.
  • These benefits make them a preferred option for Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practitioners.
  • While they do contain more beneficial compounds and nutrients than mycelium extract counterparts themselves; fruiting body extract production is more expensive since it takes longer to grow.

Potential Compromises

With current research highlighting both types of extract's strengths and weaknesses - some manufacturers opt to combine both types in their products. When combining both fruits' different parts into one supplement, we can get the most out of this fantastic fungal organism.

Popular Mushroom Supplements and How to Take Them

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  • Shiitake Mushrooms - Shiitake mushrooms are well-documented in Traditional Chinese Medicine for their immune-boosting properties. They contain beta-glucans that activate white blood cells to combat different ailments and infections, such as cancer. In addition, they are rich in essential amino acids, thus making it an excellent plant-based protein source.
  • Chaga - Chaga is an antioxidant powerhouse known for its immune-enhancing capabilities. It comes from the birch tree and liverworts containing high levels of antioxidants that could minimize oxidative stress on cells. Aside from that, Chaga aids in regulating inflammatory responses in chronically ill patients.
  • Reishi - Often called “the queen of mushrooms,” Reishi contains triterpenoids, which have anti-inflammatory effects. Additionally, this medicinal mushroom can improve overall wellness by reducing blood sugar levels and boosting mental clarity.
  • Turkey Tail - Turkey tail mushrooms are named as such due to their impressive multi-color patterns referring to "tail-like" form circles that resemble bristle feathers. They’re loaded with polysaccharide peptides that contribute to immune system function by modulating enzymes within the body's lymphatic tissues.
  • Maitake - This mushroom boasts high levels of beta-glucans responsible for activating macrophages (immune system cells), resulting in improved immunity against infections and certain cancers.
  • Cordyceps - There’s evidence that cordyceps extract can reduce inflammation in the body as a pre-workout supplement if you want to boost athletic performance. Furthermore, they exhibit antiviral properties effective against respiratory illnesses like bronchitis, and asthma while supporting kidney function and reducing triglycerides' accumulation in the liver.
  • Lion’s Mane - Like other medicinal mushrooms, lion's mane contains a group of unique compounds called beta-glucans that stimulate the immune system. However, this mushroom has additional bioactive components that may contribute to its cognitive enhancement properties. It is popular for promoting nerve growth in the brain and body.

Choosing the Best Mushroom Supplement: Factors to Consider

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Choosing the right mushroom supplement involves evaluating health benefits, assessing quality and purity, deciding on dosage and form, and considering factors such as price and availability of mycelium or fruiting body extracts. Selecting a trustworthy supplier can help ensure purity while minimizing risks related to any side effects: allergic reactions, digestive issues/drug interactions, especially at overdosage levels. You can evaluate suppliers’ reputations with quality-driven goals through third-party certifications like Organic Certification or Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) guidelines. Also, stick to recommended dosages and ensure compatibility with any preexisting medical conditions before taking any new supplement.

Health Benefits Sought

  • Before choosing a mushroom supplement, it's important to identify your specific health needs. Various types of mushrooms have unique levels of biologically active compounds, like beta-glucans, triterpenoids, ergosterol, and statins.
  • For instance, Reishi is known for its immune-boosting properties while Lion’s Mane enhances cognitive function.
  • Depending on your specific needs or concerns such as improved digestion, cardiovascular health, or reduced inflammation and stress levels, certain types of mushroom extracts may be more effective than others.

Budget

When considering purchasing a mushroom supplement, it's essential to stay within a preferred budget without compromising quality. Investing in high-quality ingredients from reputable suppliers who test their products for purity and potency can ensure that you get the desired benefits from your supplement.

Quality of the Product

When picking between mushroom extracts made from mycelium or fruiting bodies, it's crucial to consider quality and purity. Selecting the right form can make a significant difference in achieving optimal health results. Look for products that source organically grown or wild-harvested mushrooms. Choose suppliers who are transparent about their cultivation and extraction methods.

Dosage & Precautions

It's essential to follow the dosage instructions while taking mushroom supplements as some might cause adverse effects such as allergic reactions, digestive issues, or interactions with other medications. Also, take note of any precautions required like avoiding some types of mushroom supplements during pregnancy or if you have a pre-existing medical condition.

Risks and Side Effects of Mushroom Supplements

It is important for individuals to understand possible risks and side effects before trying any dietary supplement. While mushroom supplements have a reputation for safety, certain individuals may still experience allergic reactions or digestive discomfort. Some mushroom supplements contain statins that could lead to muscle damage as well.

To mitigate potential risks, it is suggested that before introducing any new dietary supplement to one's routine, individuals seek advice from a healthcare professional. This is especially important if they are currently taking any medication. It’s also essential to follow the recommended dosage instructions provided by the manufacturer.

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Possible allergic reactions associated with mushroom supplements could include:

  • Skin rash
  • Itching
  • Hives
  • Swelling of the lips, tongue, or throat

Digestive issues like bloating, gas, stomach upset or diarrhea could also occur due to high doses of mushroom extract being consumed. Consumers should take note of the ingredient lists presented by different manufacturers. Those who have an allergy history toward fungi must avoid it altogether while those with mild allergies can pick an extract containing components from species that have had no adverse effect on them previously.

Future Research on Mushroom Supplements

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Research into mushroom supplements is burgeoning with potential avenues for study. One critical focus area will be identifying new bioactive compounds found in mushrooms and understanding their mechanisms of action within the body. This research could lead to a better understanding of both the physiological effects associated with consuming various types of mushroom supplements as well as an increased awareness concerning how they interact with different systems in our bodies.

In addition to understanding new bioactive compounds in fungi, another important direction for research is testing their efficacy in clinical trials with humans. While many animal studies have shown promising results regarding the use of mushroom supplements for specific later-life conditions, translation into human subjects has been limited because further investigation is needed. Future clinical trials should focus on establishing dosage guidelines that could boost overall wellness and improve specific health conditions.

Potential Applications

  • Treating specific health conditions such as diabetes, cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease
  • Integrative therapies that incorporate the benefits of these natural substances into traditional medical practices
  • Supporting immune function and reducing inflammation by studying certain species of mushrooms

Conclusion:

The debate on whether to choose mycelium or fruiting body extracts can be resolved by examining your unique requirements, such as nutritional content or budget constraints. The benefits and drawbacks of each extract allow consumers to make informed decisions based on their individual needs.

To choose the right product, it is essential to purchase from reputable sources with quality-driven goals. Conducting due diligence guided by research will make you more confident in any purchasing decision. Consumers should always consider personalized requirements when selecting a suitable mushroom supplement.

It is no secret that medicinal mushrooms offer significant health benefits for individuals seeking to improve overall wellness. The beta-glucans, triterpenoids, ergosterol, statins, and other biologically active compounds found in these extracts offer numerous benefits. Mushroom supplements can help individuals:

  • Boost their immune system
  • Aid in cancer prevention and management
  • Reduce inflammation associated with chronic diseases
  • Provide anti-aging benefits

As ongoing research continues to identify new bioactive compounds found in medicinal mushrooms, it is evident that mushroom supplements will play an essential role in the future of preventative healthcare.

In conclusion, by being well-informed about the mycelium and fruiting body extracts' differences, consumers can make wise decisions when choosing between them. By doing so, they can reap the numerous benefits offered by medicinal mushrooms and take steps towards maintaining optimal health through natural remedies.


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References

  • Powell, M. (1600). Medicinal Mushrooms: The Essential Guide. Mycology Press. ISBN-10: 0956689817
  • Rogers, R., & Wasser, S. P. (2011). The fungal pharmacy: The complete guide to medicinal mushrooms and lichens of North America. North Atlantic Books. ISBN-10: 1556439539