How to choose the best medicinal mushroom product
How to get best value for money in mushrooms?
If you have ever seen and held a piece of Chaga mushroom or Reishi mushroom, for example, you have noticed how hard, woody and fibrous the texture is. Do you think it would be appealing to start chewing on it? Do you feel that it would be beneficial for you at all? Well, the fact is that it wouldn’t do much good for you if you didn’t first expose the mushroom to heat. Lots of heat.
Since the beginning of time, the medicinal qualities of mushrooms have been concentrated by boiling them into a tea. It has been common sense to extract the benefits out of them instead of trying to eat the hard, indigestible mushrooms as whole.
Thanks to modern science and advances in processing techniques, these extraction methods have gone huge leaps forward. But even though it is nowadays possible to go get the best ever mushroom products ready made for you, there are also some options available that are not that good at all. Let’s open the Pandora’s Box below and find out how to choose the best mushroom products!
Potency first (not that kind…)
I believe we all agree that a food supplement must have therapeutic potency for it to be worth any money. Well, it is a common misbelief that all dietary supplements, that including all mushroom preparations, have potency. The biggest problem that is often not considered is bioavailability – what can one actually absorb from the product?
The traditional way of consuming the woody and hard medicinal mushrooms has always been to brew them into a tea. This is the simple hot-water extraction that melts down the mushroom’s cell walls, made of chitin. On top of that, it is important to extract the mushrooms with alcohol to dissolve important fat-soluble compounds also. Dual-extraction is a combination of hot-water and alcohol-extraction, thus giving us the best bang for the buck.
Where are your mushrooms coming from?
Not all “mushrooms” are equal. Nobody is regulating the use of the word ‘mushroom’, thus some companies are calling their mycelium products also mushroom preparations. The mycelium is only the “roots” of the mushrooms, growing normally underground among the soil. I bet you wouldn’t be eating any of that out in the forest! Let the nature do its job and concentrate all the good stuff into the mushrooms that pop out of the ground.
Make sure that your mushrooms products are made from the actual mushrooms, also known as fruiting bodies. With the mycelium products another problem is the excipient. When the mycelium is grown in rice, they have to grind it all together to get the mycelium. That results in at least 50% rice powder in the final product!
To know you are getting your money’s worth, you want to get a standardized amount of the active ingredients. With medicinal mushrooms extracts, make sure the product states at least 30% polysaccharide content. But remember that even the best potency is not enough if you only consume a below the threshold dose of it. To get the therapeutic effects, you need to consume big enough dose of the mushrooms. Traditional use, and science, backs up that 500-1500 mg is the optimal amount per dose.
Most companies encapsulate their mushrooms, which requires fillers and lubricants to get the equipment running smoothly. These unwanted extra ingredients are not added there for the consumer, but for the machines. When the mushroom extract powders are packed in their loose form into individual packages, it allows one not to use any fillers or lubricants. It is also much more fun to consume good tasting drink that has the potency of a handful of capsules. In liquid, everything is more fast-acting too.
In short, keep in mind these simple points when shopping for medicinal mushroom preparations:
Make sure you get a dual-extract made of the actual mushrooms (fruiting bodies) instead of mycelium. Have a big enough dose. Enjoy it!
P.S. To read a more comprehensive article about the bioavailability of medicinal mushrooms supplements with references, check this out (http://supplement-facts.org/2012-6.php#.VVHQQa2eDGd).
P.P.S. In many countries around the world, the Four Sigma Foods products are being sold as food items, but with the exceptional quality and effectiveness of food supplements. This is possible thanks to the special invention of Mushroom Drinks :) Because of that, we don’t put the Supplement facts label in our products, but we do state the amount of bioavailable polysaccharides in all our products!