The Great Mycelium Debate
If you’re a mushrooms fan (and, let’s face it — who isn’t?) you will have heard quite a lot about the benefits of mycelium. Mycelium, which is basically the roots of a mushroom, has many purported health benefits. Read on to discover why we opt not to include mycelium in our medicinal mushroom products.
What is mycelium?
Let’s start at the very beginning. Mushrooms, like all life forms, have a unique life cycle. When a mature mushroom (known as fruiting body) drops its spores, they take root and produce hyphae. These are thread-like roots that sprout from the spores. After a period of time, they form a network of mycelium, which ultimately produces mushrooms.
The problem is, there isn’t hard evidence to show that mycelium is overly beneficial to humans. Sure, there are unique compounds found in mycelium that aren’t found in the fruiting body, but nobody has been able to prove whether or not they make a difference to people.
Graham’s two bobs
If you asked Graham (owner of Touchwood Mushrooms) about why he doesn't include mycelium in his products, he’ll give you a couple of solid reasons.
Mycelium is full of salt and carbs and offers no proven medicinal benefits
It’s impossible to separate the mycelium from its growing medium (often rice or grain) — including mycelium in medicinal mushrooms powders inevitably introduces filler that definitely isn’t beneficial
People take shortcuts in every industry and the mushroom game is no different. The proliferation of the myth that mycelium is great for people has started a worrying trend in medicinal mushrooms. Because mycelium can be grown in vast quantities in rice or grain, there are growers who produce nothing BUT mycelium. They cut off the lifecycle before the fruiting body stage, grind up a heap of mycelium and filler, and sell it as medicinal mushrooms.
This misleads the public and means that mycelium growers can make money from selling a potentially useless supplement to thousands of consumers. It also undermines the growers (like Graham) who are doing the right thing.
The best way to protect yourself is to be educated. Read up on your medicinal mushrooms. Find out where they come from. If they contain mycelium, find out much filler they contain and (most importantly) how much actual fruit body they contain. Once something is ground up and in a jar, it can be very hard to tell what’s inside. If your seller is reluctant to tell you exactly what’s in the bottle, we recommend taking your business elsewhere.
The Touchwood Mushrooms 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 of information on our website. 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.