'Shroom School: The Mushroom Life Cycle
Functional mushrooms are quickly becoming popular for their vast array of health benefits. Their potent chemistry supports whole body harmony, mental wellness, and immune system intelligence.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the use of medicinal mushrooms dates back over 2,000 years. Fruiting body mushrooms, such as Reishi or Ling-Zhi, are seen as invaluable in this traditional medicine system. They are often enjoyed to boost vitality while supporting a wide spectrum of health imbalances.
In order to get the most benefit out of a mushroom, it’s helpful to understand what stages of fungal growth offer the most therapeutic support. Let’s dive into the mushroom life cycle!
Stages of the Mushroom Life Cycle
Much like a seed, a spore is the first stage of the mushroom life cycle. Once a spore lands on a favourable substrate, it germinates and begins to sprout hypha. These are the microscopic roots of the fungi.
Once the hyphae sends out its tendrils, they begin to form mycelium underground or in rotting wood. This is the vegetative part of the fungus. With thread-like branches, the mycelium absorbs nutrients from its environment, such as phosphorus, nitrogen, and carbon. As it grows, it sends them upwards to form a healthy fruiting body.
The fruiting body is typically what is referred to as the “mushroom.” This is the visible part of the fungus that can take on many different shapes and sizes. It’s the reproductive organ, producing spores and continuing the mushroom’s life cycle.
Mycelium vs. Fruiting Body
Today, a large body of scientific research has been done on fruiting body mushrooms. Both mycelium and fruiting body mushrooms contain therapeutic properties. However, some of the beneficial compounds found in fruiting body cannot be produced by mycelium.
Most mycelium supplements are typically cultivated in a lab and are grown on grain-based substrates, such as rice. Much of that substrate ends up in the final mycelium product. Fruiting bodies on the other hand, take longer to grow, especially when cultivated in their natural environment. This allows the mushrooms to receive vital nutrients and minerals, creating the active compounds needed to nourish human health.
At Harmonic Arts, we use 100% fruiting body mushrooms in our Concentrated Mushroom Powders. Our Mushroom Tinctures are formulated by Clinical Herbalists using both fruiting body and mycelium. To ensure you receive the highest quality and potency, we only source from Certified Organic farmers who can guarantee sustainable, ethical growing and harvesting practices. Learn more about how we source our mushrooms here.
Need some inspiration for adding more fungi to your routine? Check out the recipe category of our blog, where we share various ways to work with medicinal mushrooms in the kitchen.
Have questions? Contact us HERE