There is a lot of confusion today from all the marketing claims on the internet about what form of mushroom product is the best to use. Some say it is the fruitbody, or the mycelium, or a hot water extract standardized for some particular compound. There is a lot of complex bio-chemistry going on in the mushroom kingdom that can be valuable for its health giving potential. We have addressed these issues here so you can decide which health supplement raw materials are the best for your use.
‘Fruitbodies’ are the mushrooms you see growing out of the ground or off of trees or organic debris. They are the reproductive part of the fungal organism, like the flower of a plant. Just like flowers will only bloom during a certain season, fruitbodies will only form in response to some stress in the environment, such as heat or cold, fire or flood, running out of food, or some other stress that forces the organism into a “reproduce or die” stage. The mushroom fruitbodies that you see are strictly the reproductive portion of the fungus at the end of its life cycle.
‘Mycelium’ is the growth form of the fungal organism. This is the state in which all of the life processes other than reproduction occur, such as growth, feeding, and competing for survival (including antibiotic, antifungal and antiviral compound production). In cultivated mushroom products, the mycelium can be grown on a solid substrate of some organic material that it would naturally grow on. For production of most mushroom-derived drugs, the compounds are extracted not from the mycelium, but from the broth or substrate the mycelium is grown in.
‘Extract’ is a word that covers a lot of possibilities. Extracts are usually made from either mushrooms or mycelium, which are extracted with some type of solvent with the intention of concentrating some desirable portion and eliminating or reducing some non-desirable portion of the fungus. There are a number of solvents which are used, depending on which type of compounds the extractor is hoping to concentrate. The two most common solvents used are Alcohol and Water. Extracts tend to be more expensive than raw materials and they may be either more potent or less potent than the raw material, depending upon which compounds are being concentrated and the desired end use of the material. The following section should clarify how extracts are made, what their uses are, and why there is so much misunderstanding about them.
‘Full Spectrum Myco-Products’ are the complete fungal material consisting of all the biologically active components, including the mycelium, primordia, fruitbodies, and most importantly, the extra-cellular compounds produced throughout the entire life cycle of the organism. It is these extra-cellular compounds (compounds that are excreted outside of the cell and into the surrounding environment) that are responsible for the main medicinal properties known from the fungal kingdom, such as all the antibiotic properties, antiviral properties, antifungal properties and all the other ‘survival’ compounds that the fungus produces to give itself an advantage over the competing bacteria and microbes in the highly competitive environment in which it lives. These secondary metabolites
have opened up the frontiers of medicine, with such breakthroughs as antibiotics and cholesterol lowering drugs.
While medicinally active mushrooms have certainly been collected from nature and used for a long time, the cultivation of mushrooms specifically for the production of medicinal compounds is a new practice, dating only from the late 1970's. Since that time there have been a number of bio-active ‘compounds of interest’ identified from mushrooms, including compounds from the fruitbodies, from the mycelium and from the residual culture broth or solid substrate residue.
The Process in Detail
Mushrooms belong to the Kingdom of Fungi. It has been known for a long time that fungi produce potent bioactive compounds with medicinal properties. Classic examples of this fungal-derived class of medicines are antibiotics, such as Penicillin.
Other examples of the production of fungal bioactive compounds are the beer and wine industries. In those cases the substrate is fruit juice, malt extract, or some other source of sugars, vitamins and minerals, and the fungus species used is a brewer’s yeast called Saccromyces cerevisiae. As the fungus grows (just like mushrooms, all yeasts are fungi) it secretes into its immediate environment (the tank full of juice or malt, called the ‘substrate’) all of the bioactive ‘compounds of interest’, which are the alcohols, the colors and flavorings. These are all found in the substrate and not in the yeast. Similarly with mushrooms, the mushroom fruitbodies typically have the lowest concentration of bioactive compounds present, while the mycelium is the growing portion and thus contains a much higher proportion of extra-cellular bioactive metabolites.
In developing our production processes, Aloha Medicinals looked at the chemistry of the wild collected fruitbodies, of the mycelia and of the extra-cellular compounds, and all that was known about the bioactivity of each in the human body. We then developed special growing methods including custom made growing chambers, strictly defined growth substrates (no sawdust, straw or compost is used) and specially modified growth parameters such as climate control for temperature, light cycle, air quality and composition to maximize the production of targeted medicinal compounds. By controlling each aspect of the growth cycle, Aloha Medicinals is able to produce the highest quality and the most consistent medicinal mushroom products available anywhere today, while ensuring against all possible contamination of pesticides, herbicides or other residues.
If you want the highest quality medicinal mushroom products available today, Aloha Medicinals is your best choice. 100% Certified Organic by the USDA and EU. Whether you need Full Spectrum Myco-products, or a concentrated extract.