Not all mushroom supplements are created equal. Here are some important things to look for.
Make Sure It Actually Contains Mushrooms
The front of your bottle of supplements might say the word mushroom, but you also need to check the fine print on the nutritional facts label on the back of it.
Some products will say they contain mushroom. Others just contain mushroom mycelium.
Some manufacturers will intentionally make it vague and simply list the Latin name Ganoderma lucidum without saying one way or the other. In the last case, I would always assume it contains mycelium.
Mycelium has a much lower potency than actual mushrooms (also known as fruiting bodies.) It’s also much cheaper for companies to produce. Which is why so many supplement sellers may have the word “mushroom” all over their product label and website to hide the fact that they’re actually selling a low potency mycelium product.
If a company is honest, they’ll list grain or myceliated grain in the “other ingredients” section of the label.
It’s an FDA requirement that herbal products and supplements specifically say what part of the plant it’s made from, as well as any other unrelated materials that are also included.
What Is Mycelium On Grain?
Mycelium On Grain (MOG) is what commercial mushroom growers refer to as grain spawn.
Mycelium is the vegetative state of the fungi before it establishes itself and gets enough nutrients to actually start producing mushrooms.
MOG is cheap and easy to produce. And it takes less time than waiting weeks or months for actual mushroom fruit bodies to grow.
The downside is that mycelium on grain contains little or no beneficial compounds that you want to consume mushrooms to get in the first place.
What If A Product Says “Mycelium And Mushrooms”?
Some supplement or extract companies will try to use the fact that their product contains both mushrooms and mycelium as a selling point.
They might make claims that their product contains all stages of the mushroom life cycle, and therefore is more “full spectrum.”
“Full spectrum” might sound like a really powerful claim, like it contains a wide range of everything you need! But what does it really mean? Just that their product contains all different components of the mushroom like caps, stems, and mycelium.
By definition, mycelium grown on rice or grain can’t be full spectrum.
So you know a product making this claim at least isn’t pure MOG. But some products that claim to be full spectrum may only actually use 10% mushroom or less in their products!
So in my opinion, products that claim to be full spectrum or contain a unique blend of mushrooms and mycelium are simply trying to market an inferior product. What you really want is just the mushrooms, and they’re cutting their product with grains and mycelium which offer little to no health benefits.
Does The Product Give Any Specific Statements Regarding Medicinal Compounds?
Honest companies with high-quality products will tell you exactly what you’re going to get from your products.
They’ll give you guaranteed potency that confirms their product contains a certain percentage of beta glucans, triterpenoids, and other important compounds that you’re looking for.
Make sure the company you buy your product from can back their numbers up with actual testing documentation.
There’s a difference between listed or quantified compounds, and some companies may simply list the active compounds of a mushroom without actually doing any testing on their own product.
Don’t be fooled by the generic word “polysaccharide” on your label. While beta glucans and other important mushroom ingredients are polysaccharides, there are plenty of other polysaccharides that could be included that don’t have any benefit.
For example, starch is a polysaccharide and is a major ingredient in grain. So even MOG powders can claim to be high in polysaccharides. It’s a very general statement that doesn’t really mean anything.
Are You Buying A Powder Or An Extract?
An authentic mushroom powder is still vastly superior to a mycelium on grain powder and you will get some health benefits. But it’s much less potent than a concentrated mushroom extract, which can be 8x or more potent.
Extracts have been used in traditional medicine for thousands of years. Making tea is a simple hot water extract where the beneficial ingredients are drawn out of the mushroom so that you don’t have to consume all the fiber and other content along with it.
Today, hot water extracts are still used in preparing supplements, but alcohol extracts are also used to draw out important compounds like triterpenoids that aren’t water soluble.
Are You Buying Organic Supplements?
If you’re putting anything highly concentrated into your body, it’s a good idea to make sure it has been certified organic.
Just because a label says that a product is natural doesn’t mean it’s organic and they may have used all kinds of pesticides and other ingredients while growing it.