MEDSHROOM- LIFE ENHANCING MUSHROOMS
Medicinal mushrooms are not a new thing, in fact, they have been in existence and used for thousands of years. It is now gaining a lot of attention here in the western world. The health benefits of taking medicinal mushrooms keep surfacing every day, and there are a lot more benefits which are yet to be discovered. There are a lot of research studies that are going on around the world, and new discoveries are being made for the numerous uses of these mushrooms. The results from several studies and trials suggest that medicinal mushrooms are potentially effective in fighting cancer cells and relieving symptoms of radiation and chemotherapy. Besides the obvious health benefits, medicinal mushrooms are being used nowadays for environmental remediation purposes, helping oil spill cleanup efforts, remediating conventional and nuclear landfills.
There are literally hundreds of thousands of mushroom species, but only a few have been used, studied, tested, and made bioavailable. That is not to say that we will not see more research and availability of other mushroom species and mushroom health benefits in the future. There has been an increasing popularity and usage for medicinal mushrooms in the western world, simply because people have tried it, and have benefited from them.
The beneficial compounds of medicinal mushrooms are obtained from the fruiting bodies, the spores, or the fungal mycelia. Different mushroom species have different substances and compounds which are then used for medicinal purposes. But one common trait medicinal mushrooms have is that they have high concentrations of polysaccharides, and one type in particular is of significance: Beta Glucans. Polysaccharides are long chains of different carbohydrate molecules. Beta glucans have been studied extensively and are notable for stimulating, modulating, and optimizing the immune system. When combined with other compounds, beta-glucans may exhibit antitumor, antiviral, and anti-inflamatory properties among other benefits. Researchers around the world have found that medicinal mushrooms may have anti-cancer properties, and the ongoing studies are very promising.
HOW MEDICINAL MUSHROOM SUPPLEMENTS ARE MADE
Medicinal mushroom supplements can be in the form of liquid extracts, powdered extracts, or mushroom powder. They can be made from a full-spectrum mushroom (which includes the spores, mycelia, and fruiting bodies), or just each individual part alone. Let's take a look at each of these forms of mushroom supplements:
Liquid Extracts: In this form, the beneficial compounds and constituents are extracted from the dried mushroom and are left in liquid form. The most effective methods used to extract the compounds and constituents are through hot water, alcohol, or a combination of both. In the hot water method, the mushrooms are boiled and cooked for several hours to break down the mushroom cell walls which are made of chitin (which is virtually undigestible to humans), and this enables us to obtain the immunomodulating polysaccharides found inside these cells. In the alcohol extraction method, the mushrooms are soaked in ethanol alcohol for a long period of time, and this allows for the extraction of other compounds and constituents that are very beneficial to our health.
Powdered Extracts: In this form, the mushroom goes through the exact same process as the liquid extract, but at the end are made into powder. The powdered extract have the same compounds and constituents, but are made into a more convenient form which can be taken as a powder, capsule, or tablet. The main reason is that some people do not like the taste or hassle of liquid extracts, and prefer the convenience of capsules or tablets. The potency and effectiveness are not altered in this form.
Mushroom Powder: In this form, the entire mushroom is dried, and then ground into very fine powder directly, without undergoing any extraction or processing method. In this form, the mushroom can be taken as a powder, capsule or tablet. The main reason to make mushroom supplements into this form is that the entire life-cycle of the mushroom is left untouched and the beneficial compounds and constituents are not altered. There are many beneficial compounds that are not located inside the cells, but rather outside the cells, and these extra-cellular compounds offer numerous health benefits.
So which form is better and more effective? Well, this is a very good question, and there are opposing views to both. It is well proven and received that mushroom extracts have a higher potency than other forms of mushrooms. The majority of the studies and research have been performed using mushroom extracts, rather than the dried mushrooms. This is not to say that dried mushrooms are ineffective, but one would have to ingest a large amount of it in order to have the same medicinal benefits.
Why do the prices of the same mushroom supplement vary so much? The difference in prices has a lot to do with the amount of labor, the quality of the mushroom, and the potency of the final product. Making mushroom extracts is a very labor intensive and time consuming process, and extracts also vary by the ratio in which they are extracted, the higher the ratio, the more expensive it is to make. Whereas the mushroom powders are a more economical process, therefore a less expensive product.
A lot of medicinal mushrooms are imported, why? So many of the medicinal mushrooms that we find useful today are native to countries in Asia, Europe, South America, and have been growing there for thousands of years. Many of these countries have the ideal geography, climate, soil, and other factors that are perfect for these mushrooms to grow and thrive. A mushroom will only grow if specific conditions are met, otherwise it won't.