When it comes to medicinal mushrooms, not all fungal products are created equal!
If you are interested in taking mushroom supplements, for whatever reason that may be, it's important that you know the specifics, especially when it comes to the mycelium versus the fruiting body.
When we look at functional mushroom products, they typically contain either the fruiting body of the mushroom or the mycelium. To benefit from the bio-compounds that are found in mushrooms, you need to know more about the differences in both. Don't be misled by the naming of mushroom products, or the packaging and labeling of the many products that are out there. You need to know the specifics.
In this article, we discuss the key differences and a few other facts that you need to be aware of.
First up, what exactly is a mushroom?
A mushroom is a type of fungus, and they come in all shapes and sizes. They can be found growing both on land and in water. Mushrooms, many of which are edible, can also be used to make medicines and other products.
When we look at the two main parts of a mushroom fungus, we focus on the fruiting body (above-ground) and the mycelium (generally underground).
We discuss each of these in more detail further below.
Let's first look at the mushroom anatomy
Above ground, you will find the fruiting body or sporophore. This is the part of the fungus that you see and identify as a mushroom. The fruiting body is made up of the cap, stem, and gills. The cap is usually round or conical in shape and can be either smooth or covered in scales. The stem is usually very thin and is either solid or hollow. The gills are the part of the mushroom that catches the spores, and these can be either smooth or hairy.
Below ground, you will find the mycelium. This is the main body of the fungus and is made up of a mass of fine, branching threads known as hyphae. The mycelium is responsible for the growth and reproduction of the fungus.
Now that you know a little bit about the anatomy of a mushroom, let's take a look at the differences between mycelium and the fruiting body.
What is mycelium?
Mycelium is the part of the fungus that grows underground. It is made up of a mass of thin threads, called hyphae. The mycelium grows and spreads through the soil, feeding on organic matter like dead plants and animals.
What is the mycelial network?
The mycelial network is the web of hyphae that make up the mycelium. This network is responsible for the growth and spread of the fungus. The mycelium network can grow quite large and can cover a lot of ground.
What is the fruiting body?
The fruiting body is the part of the mushroom that you can see above ground. It is usually round or cone-shaped, and it can be of different colours depending on the type of mushroom. The fruiting body contains spores, which are tiny reproductive cells.
When these spores fall to the ground, they start new mushrooms growing.
Why is the distinction between mycelium vs fruiting body important?
It is important to note that just as mycelium is not a mushroom, a mushroom is not mycelium.
The distinction between mycelium and fruiting body is important because the two parts have different functions. The mycelium grows and spreads through the soil, feeding on organic matter.
It is responsible for the growth of the mushroom fungus. The fruiting body is what you can see above ground, and, as mentioned above, it contains the spores that start new mushrooms growing.
Read on to find out more about the importance of this distinction.
Is mycelium or the fruiting body more beneficial when it comes to medicinal mushrooms?
This is a highly debated topic. Some people believe that the mycelium is more beneficial, as it extracts more nutrients from the soil than the fruiting body can. However, other people believe that the fruiting body is more beneficial, as it contains more active ingredients.
While it is argued which part of the mushroom contains more bioactive compounds and offers the most potent benefits, our research indicates that consistent cultivation and analysis are more important than whether or not you are using mushroom fruiting bodies or mycelium. At Mojo, we've specifically dialed in a ratio that is developed to deliver benefits that are optimal.
Are mushroom extracts superior to other mushroom products?
There are many medicinal mushroom products on the market, so it can be difficult to navigate around which one might be best for you. Here we answer the question: Are mushroom extracts superior to other mushroom products?
We recommend that you opt for a medicinal mushroom extract over the likes of a non-extracted or whole powdered medicinal mushroom. Such whole powdered mushrooms generally don't have bioavailable active compounds. This means there is no real benefit for your health.
To go into a bit more detail here, active compounds like phytosterols, triterpenes, proteins, sterols, beta-d-glucans, and polyphenols are what make a medicinal mushroom, well, medicinal. Whereas with whole ground mushrooms, these beneficial compounds are unable to be digested as they are encased in a fibrous chitin barrier.
To make the active compounds accessible to our bodies, we need to remove the chitin barrier of the mushroom, by dissolving its tough cell walls. This is exactly what happens with extracted medicinal mushrooms.
It's getting technical, we know.
How to choose an effective mushroom product
An age-old question. How do you choose an effective mushroom product?
We recommend that you look for a medicinal mushroom extract that is made with a dual-extraction process. This type of extraction yields the most beneficial compounds, as it breaks down the cell walls of the mushroom.
What are the benefits of medicinal mushrooms?
When it comes to the benefits of medicinal mushrooms, there are many. Here are a few of them:
- Antioxidant: Medicinal mushrooms are high in antioxidants, which help to protect our cells from damage.
- Blood sugar regulation: Some mushrooms have been shown to help regulate blood sugar levels.
- Brain health: Some studies suggest that the compounds found in medicinal mushrooms can help improve brain function.
- Cancer prevention and treatment: Certain medicinal mushrooms have been shown to help prevent and treat cancer.
- Cholesterol reduction: Mushrooms can help reduce cholesterol levels.
- Boost your immune system: As mushrooms are rich in compounds that boost the immune system, they can help keep you healthy during the winter season.
When it comes to choosing medicinal mushrooms, you need to first have done your research to understand the benefits of mushroom extracts versus other mushroom products. It's also important that you source your medicinal mushrooms from a trusted supplier, who is both passionate and knowledgable about the various products out there.