• Learn about what makes good quality products  



    Misleading Marketing



    Non-extracted mushrooms are indigestible for 80% of people.

    This is because the marker compounds are ‘locked’ inside the cell walls by Chitin - an extremely hard and difficult to digest substance that makes up the exoskeleton of crustaceans.


    To release the active compounds, there must be an extraction process.

    In traditional medicine preparations, mushrooms such as Reishi were boiled for hours to release the active compounds. As science and technology have evolved we have a more refined method of hot water extraction to optimise the active compounds such as Beta-Glucans.


    For some medicinal mushrooms, (eg. Lion's Mane, Reishi and Chaga), a second extraction must take place involving a solvent such as ethanol in order to release other beneficial compounds such as triterpenes.  



    The most important and abundant active compounds in mushrooms are beta-glucans. Depending on the type of mushroom, beta-glucan levels can be over 50%.


    This makes beta-glucans a good "marker compound" to judge the objective quality and price of a mushroom supplement. Do not confuse ‘polysaccharides’ with ‘beta-glucans’ - although all beta-glucans are polysaccharides, not all polysaccharides are beta-glucans. Polysaccharides are not a reliable quality marker – 20% polysaccharides can also mean 20% of e.g. starch, dextrin, maltitol, cellulose or chitin! None of these polysaccharides are useful for health.


    Secondary metabolites as high quality markers

    Secondary metabolites in medicinal mushrooms include a variety of bioactive compounds such as terpenoids, phenolics, steroids, and alkaloids. Each class of these compounds contributes uniquely to the health benefits of the mushrooms. For instance, terpenoids are known for their anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer activities.


    Companies which specify the secondary metabolites as well as the Beta glucan content usually offer premium quality product in relative market comparison.

  • 1:1, 10:1, 20:1... what is best ?

    This is an indication of a ratio. “10:1” means that 10 units of raw materials were used to produce 1 unit of the final product.
    Extract ratios are deceiving. They suggest that the supplement is more concentrated and therefore more potent. But an extract ratio does not translate linearly to an active compound concentration. What it really means is that some stuff was filtered out.
    Unfortunately, there’s no way to verify an extract ratio claim unless there’s also a specification of the main marker compound(s). An extract ratio like ‘10:1’ is just a claim, a specification of a marker compound -like 50% beta-glucans- however is a fact, at least when it’s supported by a lab test report.
    The most important marker compound is beta-glucan, which is present in all mushrooms. Beta-glucan should be specified on the label.

    However, it is so, that some mushrooms, (in particular Lion’s Mane) are rich in insoluble marker compounds. In that case a concentrated (‘10:1’ means 90% of contents was filtered out) extract will be weaker than a 1:1 extract.



    Liquid mushroom products & tinctures 


    In a liquid product / tincture the main ingredient is the liquid. There is no such thing as a liquid mushroom.

    Roughly 95% of the bottle contents is useless liquid and around 5% is dissolved mushroom matter, floating around in that liquid. The liquid is usually a mix of water and alcohol, but it is a substance that has no value in itself. It is only a carrier.

    Dissolved in the carrier are soluble compounds, including -hopefully- active ingredients.


    With this knowledge, it’s easy to understand why liquid products have little to nothing to offer.


    Keep in mind that all extract powders are in fact liquid products minus the liquid. After the extraction process a hot water extract is freeze dried, spray dried or air dried, resulting in a residue / powder.

    When dried out the remaining residue of 30 ml tincture is maybe 1 or 2 grams of dry matter, which is equal to maybe 2 - 5 capsules. One daily dosage at best.

    Yes, you read that correctly: a 30ml bottle with “mushroom tincture” contains at best one or maybe two daily dosages!


    Liquid extracts also do not have better bioavailability.


    Some companies claim taking a mushroom liquid sublingually is faster and more directly absorbed, but this only reveals the ignorance of the seller.Here’s why: the main bioactives in mushrooms are beta-glucans, and these are very large macro-molecules. Way too big to be absorbed sublingually.


    Only active ingredients specified on the label are acceptable as proof of quality, not ‘full spectrum tincture’ or ‘liquified for fast absorption’.




    Dual-extraction as quality marker


    Since most mushrooms / fruiting bodies don’t contain noteworthy alcohol-soluble bioactives (such as triterpenes) the often seen claim ‘dual extracted for improved quality/potency!’ can be misleading.


    Only some mushrooms such as Chaga and Reishi would benefit from dual extraction.

    Mushroom blends

    Some blends contain up to 15 or 20 different mushrooms. Many people assume you’ll get the beneficial effects of all those mushrooms for the price of only one, but this is not correct.


    Mushroom-specific effects are always dose-dependent.

    Taking e.g. 150mg of Reishi -as part of a blend- will not have any noteworthy effect, but 1000mg will, assuming the extract has good specifications.


    When taking a blend the best you can expect is some immune support – that is where all mushrooms overlap. For that reason, make sure to check the beta-glucan level of the blend. If that is not specified don’t buy the supplement. Don’t be fooled.


    Forget about mushroom-specific effects, unless the extracts used in the blend are of exceptional quality and very pure. Check the specifications on the label for marker compounds such as ganoderic acids (in Reishi) or cordycepin (in Cordyceps).


    There is a misconception that the fruiting body is always preferable over mycelium. However, this is not true.


    There is a difference between mycelium-on-grains/rice (biomass) and pure mycelium.

    When choosing a supplement, mycelium grown on grain should be avoided.


    When mycelium is grown on grains, it is impossible to separate the hyphae (tiny strands that make up the mycelium) from the grain substrate afterwards, so the final product is impure, contaminated mycelium. The grain residue (in the form of starch) often ends up being 60-70% of the finished “mycelium” product!


    The added problem here is the substrate is usually a grain, which is a form of polysaccharide. Companies then claim their product has a high percentage of polysaccharide - but it is not a Beta-Glucan polysaccharide... it's starch.


    Mycelium grown in a liquid substrate in large bioreactors is able to be extracted in its pure form, resulting in pure mycelium and no contaminants. This approach is currently only used in Asia.


    For some 'medicinal mushrooms', the most important active compounds are found in the mycelium. This includes Lion’s Mane (for the erinacine compounds), Turkey Tail (PSP/PSK), Cordyceps sinensis (no fruiting body extracts exist!) 



    The only way to be sure that a mushroom product has been extracted, and that the key active compounds are bioavailable, is through lab test reports.


    Companies should test their mushroom extracts through an independent testing company and share the reports of the percentage of active compounds found in each product with the public, so consumers can be sure of what they are purchasing and consuming.


    Be sure to look at the back of the medicinal mushroom package for the 'supplements fact label' as companies are legally obliged to state the truth on it.


    There are different legal obligations on websites, so companies can make grand claims on their website, which the product does not match.


    The label should include the extraction method and the percentage of active compounds.

  • Mushrooms & Heavy metals

    Mushrooms are known to have a unique ability to accumulate heavy metals from their growing environment, which includes the soil, substrate, or even the air.


    Mechanism of heavy metal accumulation:


    Mycelium Network: The mycelium has a large surface area that comes into contact with soil or substrate. This extensive network increases the chances of absorbing heavy metals.

    Cellular Mechanisms: Fungi have specialised cellular mechanisms that allow them to uptake, transport, and sequester heavy metals. They can bind metals to cell walls, sequester them in vacuoles, or transform them into less toxic forms.


    Common heavy metals accumulated by mushrooms


    • Cadmium (Cd)
    • Lead (Pb)
    • Mercury (Hg)
    • Arsenic (As)
    • Copper (Cu)
    • Zinc (Zn)
    • Nickel (Ni)


    To make sure the mushroom supplement you are consuming do not have an unsafe quantity of heavy metals, be sure to review the heavy metal test reports.

  • Misleading practices by suppliers