The phrase, “You get what you pay for,” is almost always true, but in the health field, there always seems to be a gray area, being that it is ultimately the most money and most worth it. In newer, more progressive areas of health supplements it’s a lot easier to cut corners because of the limited education as compared to conventional treatments that have been more thoroughly overviewed. Interestingly enough, the world of medicinal mushrooms has been around for thousands of years before our time, and the Western world has just recently caught on, and naturally found a way to dilute and cheapen the process for optimal profit.
My goal with this article is to enlighten you on the BEST, and to the Eastern world ONLY, way to prepare medicinal mushrooms for human intake. I will explain what it is you are paying for and why some bottles of Reishi supplements are six dollars as opposed to thirty. We will explore the details and history of the medicinal mushroom processes and what exactly to look for when making purchases for specifically Reishi products, but with any other medicinal mushroom as well. A good place to start is to identify what exactly you are taking, how it is cultivated, and lastly, how it is prepared for you.
WHAT THE HECK AM I TAKING?
If you’ve even done light research on medicinal mushrooms, I’m sure you’ve come across the term, Mycelium.
Mycelium is the stage between the spore and the mature mushroom. Although mycelium may still harbor some nutrients, the overwhelming majority of the scientific research administered on mushroom supplements has been done on the mature fruiting body of the mushroom. This is because at this stage, the mushroom possesses the maximum amount of phytonutrients, which are plant-derived medicinal agents. The fruiting body of mushrooms takes SIX TO EIGHT MONTHS additional time under extremely specific and pain-staking growing conditions. In this case, time=money. It is important to know your product before purchasing, and though mycelium has health benefits, it shies in comparison to the products of the mature mushroom. Both China and Japan, where medicinal mushroom use has the longest history, refuse to use mycelium products.
HOW DID THEY GROW MY SHROOMS?
Okay, so for some people, this question may not have crossed your mind, and if so, may not have seemed that important. Just as when you’re buying produce, you’d like to skip the chemical icing or pray that they hold the growth hormones in your meat, mushrooms have feelings too! It is important to separate the good from the bad, the lazy from the manicured and the con artists from the artists. Growing herbs in the Eastern world is a highly regarded process, considered only after years of study and apprenticeship. Bringing a mushroom into adulthood is a delicate process, which should be handled with the upmost of care and regard. I’d like to revisit mycelium and explain the cultivation of it in comparison to a mature mushroom. Mycelium is grown for a maximum time of 3-5 months, usually in a box of grain slurry of rice or soy or even woodchips. Nutrient rich soil is not required for the lifespan of mycelium growth, and is therefore unnecessary for production. This is one of the reasons why the phytonutrients are considerably lower in mycelium.
A fruiting body takes up to 8 months of additional time in larger, more shaded greenhouses to come into existence. This requires hardwood logs embedded within nutrient rich soil to feed the mushroom with the proper diet it needs to become a strong mature body.
Your mushroom is what it eats (just like us!)
Within this process, it is extremely important to monitor the conditions in regards to temperature, humidity, light-intensity, carbon dioxide and even the nutrient content in the soil. The beds even have to be sanitized everyday to prevent bacterial infection. This process requires more time, more sophisticated facilities and actual human care, which is an inevitably more costly growing method than throwing mushroom spores in a box of grains untouched for three months.
HOW DID THEY PREPARE THEM FOR ME? … OR DID THEY AT ALL?
This may be the million-dollar question of this educational thrill-ride we’re on. Now, all information leading up to this is also, and obviously, vital for optimal health benefit, but this one could make or break it. There are two popular ways of preparing your mushrooms- Powdered or hot water extracted, also noted as spray-dried. If you see powdered or ground on your mushroom label, you are getting ground mushroom and what it was growing on. No big deal? Well, The polysaccharides that contain the beta glucans, the immuno-modulating compounds that define a mushroom as medicinal, are found inside the cell walls, and they are completely surrounded by an indigestible fiber called “chitin”. Chitin is what lobster and crab shells are made from and our digestive system cannot break it down. When mycelium colonizes the grain, only about half of the grain mixture is consumed because of the metabolic waste that builds, to which the mycelium stops digesting it. This makes most, if not all of the powdered mushroom or mycelium products less than a 1:1 ratio because almost half is the undigested rice or wood left by the mushroom.
To re-state that, Mycelium biomass, in the unextracted form, is basically a 1:1, or more accurately, 1/2:1, because that supplement is still half undigested rice.
Hot water extraction requires the dried mature mushroom or mycelium to boil for several hours, possibly for three terms. Once the bio-available nutrients have been extracted, a low temperature vacuum condenser and air-spray dryer is utilized to turn the liquid to powder. The chitin is left with the bones and you are now presented with the optimal bioavailability of the mushroom. It is also extremely important that you are getting at least an 8:1 ratio. That means that eight pounds of actual mushroom nutrient will be condensed into one pound of extract, creating the most fundamentally concentrated supplement available.
Put that in your water and extract it!
This is again a more timely and cost-imposing process, which concludes the reasoning for “getting what you pay for.”
Reishi, for example, was the founding father of this shroom technology. When Japanese Dr. Yoshi discovered that reishi had chemical components to administer a cure for cancer, the government funded his journey to find the best reishi mushroom and most bio-available form of human intake. In result of his journey through China, it was found that Duanwood Reishi was the most potent, and as explained above, hot water-extraction was the most effective preparation. Duanwood simply specifies certain kinds of hardwood trees indigenous to certain regions of China. Duanwood Reishi is actually government-regulated organic, as it is forbidden to use any chemicals or pesticides while growing. When buying reishi, you want to make sure it is a dark, reddish brown color, it is hot-water extracted and not ground or powdered, and it tastes bitter! (bitter=better)
I hope that you have learned how to protect your health and wealth in regards to medicinal mushrooms and can now see the vast difference between the myriad of products on the market.
I wanted to write this article for awhile now because I’ve gotten so many questions about this issue and just really wanted to clear the air. Lastly, I’ve been consuming medicinal mushrooms pretty much every day for the last seven years and I have tried just about every single product that’s available.
Based on my own personal experience with what works, the countless hours of research I’ve done, as well as the myriad of conversations I’ve had with other health professionals and researchers, concentrated hot water extracts are the only form of medicinal mushroom product that I personally consume and recommend.
Also note that, I personally hand select, research, and test every single product on this site because I want the best. I want the best for the simple reason that I consume these amazing herbs myself on a daily basis.
On top of that, many researchers regard concentrated hot water extracts of the mature fruiting bodies to be 70 – 80 times more potent than unextracted mycelium supplements.
For that reason, all of the medicinal mushroom products you will find on Hyperion Herbs are at least 10:1 concentrated hot water extracts.
This includes Chaga, Reishi, and Cordyceps.
Check out the new videos and information I have posted on all of these by clicking the link below:
Thanks for reading this far, I appreciate your time, energy, and support! Hopefully this article has been helpful.
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