'Shroom School: What to Look for When Purchasing Mushroom Supplements
Beyond their culinary use, mushrooms are quickly gaining attention for their ability to support focus, immunity, energy, and stress resilience. Considered a key to good health in many traditional healing modalities, functional mushrooms are experiencing a revival in North America.
If you’re reading this article, you may have noticed that the supplement market has become flushed with medicinal mushroom products - including mushroom powders, tinctures and capsules. With so many choices available, it’s easy to get overwhelmed.
Before you invest in a mushroom product, it’s important to know what to look for to ensure optimal health support. In order to determine the quality and potency of a mushroom supplement, we recommend looking at a few key factors to guide your decision.
Read on to learn how to choose the highest quality mushroom supplement to support your daily wellness needs.
Tip #1: Look for a Mushroom Supplement Crafted with Fruiting Body
Begin by looking at what the mushroom supplement is made of. Broadly speaking, most medicinal mushroom products are crafted with fruiting body mushrooms, mycelium or both.
- Mycelium is the root-like structure that serves as the vegetative part of the mushroom. It is responsible for sending vital nutrients up to the fruiting body.
- The fruiting body is what is referred to as the “mushroom.” This is the visible part of the fungus that produces spores and carries on the mushroom life cycle.
For thousands of years, people have consumed fruiting body mushrooms to support longevity and vitality. Today, a significant body of modern scientific research further validates the therapeutic potential of fruiting body mushrooms. While both mycelium and fruiting body contain active polysaccharides, recent research shows that the concentration of active compounds and beta-glucans is highest in fruiting body mushrooms as opposed to mycelium.
Another important consideration is how the mushroom was grown. 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 as filler, limiting its potency. While fruiting body mushrooms involve a longer cultivation process, they are often grown on wood to replicate the natural environment in which wild mushrooms thrive. This growing method ensures the mushroom can produce a wide variety of active compounds and phytochemicals needed to nourish human health.
Tip #2: Research the Supplement’s Extraction Method
Extraction unlocks all the healing properties within the mushroom. This vital step breaks down indigestible fibre and chitin within the cell walls, creating a final product that is bioavailable and potent. Proper extraction will yield concentrated levels of fungal polysaccharides, triterpenes and beta-glucans that are easy for your body to absorb. There are two main types of extraction:
Hot Water Extraction
Hot water extraction is the most common type of extraction method. It involves heating the mushrooms in large vats of hot water and simmering them for a long period of time as a “decoction.” This type of extraction is necessary to release the water-soluble polysaccharides within the mushrooms, including beta-glucans. Each of our mushrooms undergoes a hot water extraction to unlock these active compounds.
For mushrooms that are woodier in texture and density, an alcohol extraction is necessary to free up beneficial triterpenes. This is accomplished by saturating fruiting bodies in alcohol for several weeks, and then pressing the liquid afterwards.
Without proper extraction, the mushroom supplement is inferior in terms of bioavailability and potency.
Tip #3: Explore Concentration and Dosing
After learning more about the extraction method utilized by a mushroom company, the next step is to check the extraction ratio, or concentration, of the product. This will give you a great idea of the amount of mushroom medicine you receive per serving. For example, our Reishi Concentrated Mushroom Powder has an extraction ratio of 12:1. This means that every 1 gram (¼ tsp) of Reishi Mushroom Powder consumed is equivalent to 12 grams of whole, fruiting body Reishi.
If the extract ratio is not found on the packaging, reach out to the company to ask for more information. Working with a mushroom supplement that has a high extraction ratio means that it will be more potent and easier to digest, giving you a high concentration of wellness benefits in a small amount of product.
Tip #4: Opt for Organically Sourced Mushrooms
For all the reasons listed above, it's equally important to look for fruiting body mushrooms that are certified organic. This certification ensures your mushroom supplement is free of any pesticides, herbicides or chemicals that could pose harm to your health. Organically grown mushrooms are also more likely to contain a broader spectrum of polysaccharides and beta-glucans to benefit human health.
We’re proud to source our fruiting body mushrooms from Certified Organic farms located in the pristine, mountainous regions of Zhejiang, China. We partner with farmers who practice sustainable and ethical growing and harvesting practices. Because our mushrooms are cultivated on controlled farms that mimic their natural environment, they are high quality and contain potent therapeutic benefits.
China supplies over 85% of the world’s functional mushrooms because of a deep commitment to organic, traditional growing and harvesting methodologies. If a company is advertising 100% fruiting body mushrooms that are made in North America, dig deeper. It is more likely that they are sourcing their mushrooms from China and then packaging the product locally.
A great way to check the quality and potency of the mushroom supplement is to ask for a Certificate of Analysis. These certificates will show exactly what the mushrooms were tested for and what the findings were. Our mushrooms go through multiple rounds of testing before they are packaged and shipped to you. We look for chemical characteristics, such as polysaccharide content, as well as microbiological characteristics to make sure they are free from harmful bacteria and heavy metals.
Learn more about how we source, test and produce our mushroom supplements here.
The Harmonic Arts Difference
Here at Harmonic Arts, we have combined ancient herbal tradition with modern scientific research. Our collection of high-quality Concentrated Mushroom Powders and Mushroom Tinctures meet the demands of today’s wellness needs.
Our Concentrated Mushroom Powders feature organic, 100% fruiting body mushrooms that have been extracted for potency and purity. Our Mushroom Tinctures are formulated by Clinical Herbalists and include both fruiting body and mycelium.
Please don’t hesitate to reach out to our Help Desk with any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org. Curious for more information about fungi? Yarrow Willard, Co-Founder of Harmonic Arts shares all about the worlds top 5 mushrooms in our latest webinar, Modern Mushroom Medicine. Watch the replay here.