But the big dogs — the most scientifically studied and health promoting compounds — are polysaccharides called beta-glucans (β-glucan), more specifically beta-D-glucans.
And here’s where the mushroom sleight of hand comes in.
Most “medicinal mushroom” products on the market in Australia don’t come from actual mushrooms
In fact, most medicinal mushroom sellers that we know of have never grown a single mushroom. Instead, they grow mycelium, which is basically the roots of the mushroom. Mycelium is grown on a carrier material, typically rice, millet, rye, or wheat.
And for lots of sellers, the process stops there. They grind up the mycelium of, say Lion’s Mane
, with the carrier material — but the resulting product contains few (if any) of the beta glucans associated with that species of mushroom. In fact, what the customer ends up with is a jar full of (mostly) starch.
by Jeff Chilton found that grain-grown mycelium contains significantly fewer beta glucans than the actual mushrooms, as well as significantly higher starch levels.
Medicinal mushrooms or starch?
As you can see, Cordyceps mushrooms (the actual fruiting body) contain high levels of beta glucans — around 30-40%. On the other hand, Cordyceps mycelium grown on grain contains much lower levels of beta glucans, and much higher starch levels.
When you’re buying medicinal mushroom products, it’s important to read the label. Be sure that you understand exactly what’s inside the product you’re buying. If you see something like starch or grain, we recommend stepping away. Also, be wary of the term full spectrum, which is marketing-speak for this isn’t pure mushrooms. Look for the words “100% fruit body” to make sure you’re buying the good stuff.
The Touchwood Difference
With 40 years as a mushroom grower, including five years as the Director of the Australian Mushroom Growers Association, Graham Upson knows his stuff. Touchwood Mushrooms is one of a handful of medicinal mushroom growers in Australia, and Graham makes it all happen in pristine conditions in his Class-100 laboratory. If you’d like to know more about Graham or his facility, there’s heaps more information on our blog. And if you’d like to get your hands on some Australian grown medicinal mushrooms (with no filler!) visit our shop.
And hey — if you’re a mycologist who has solid evidence of the benefits of consuming mycelium-based products, we’d love to hear from you. Give us a yell on our contact page