Medicinal Mushrooms March 12, 2016 14:42

  1. What is Cracked Cell Wall?
  2. What is a Polysaccharide?
  3. What is Medicinal Mushroom Mycelium?
  4. What is a Medicinal Mushroom Fruiting Body?
  5. What is a Medicinal Mushroom Sclerotium?

1. What is Cracked Cell Wall?

Concerning medicinal mushroom supplements broken or cracked cell wall is the process whereby the tough fibers found in mushrooms are broken down into extractable parts. Most plants have fibers called cellulose that are digestible, but mushrooms have entirely different fibers, called chitin, that are indigestible by humans and are resistant to tincture extraction methods.

Because of these very hard fibers found in mushroom cell walls, an initial processing step of cracking these cell walls is required to make a fully efficacious medicinal mushroom supplement. The only proven method of cracking a cell wall, without harsh chemical enzymes, is by heat extraction. This is easily shown in the extensive TCM use of hot-water extraction. But prolonged heat extraction will render certain key constituents ineffective, such as triterpenes and mycelial acids, thereby reducing potency and requiring increasing dosages for full efficacy.

Heat Extraction is Required for Cracked Cell Wall of Medicinal Mushroom Chitin

Very Brief Flash Steaming of Medicinal Mushrooms is Applied for Cracked Cell Walls 

Therefore an advanced technique of flash steaming the mushroom chitin is applied. This flash-steaming method allows very brief time exposure of the mushroom chitin to high temperatures. Once the chitinous cell walls have initially been cracked many of the potent bioactive polysaccharides, like beta-glucan, may be released upon extraction and easily concentrated.

In Tonic Tinctures medicinal mushroom supplements, flash steaming is the second step of our multi-step concentrated extractions.

Step 1 – Powdering

Step 2 – Flash-steaming

Step 3 – Alcohol Extraction

Step 4 – Water Extraction

2. What is a Polysaccharide?

A polysaccharide, also known as a glycan, is a natural complex branched chain-like carbohydrate made up of numerous glucose molecules. Having been laboratory tested and clinically studied since the 1950's, these compounds are known to support immune function.

These massive molecules are found in lichens, bacteria, yeast and fungi. They are also found in tonic adaptogens and being similar in structure to these living invaders, they aggressively signal our immune response into action. But unlike the invaders, there is no threat from these benign high-weight heteropolysaccharides. Upon consumption our natural killer cells, T cells, macrophages and tumor necrosis factors launch a fully adaptive immune response.

A Polysaccharide 1,3 Alpha D Glucan Derived from a Medicinal Mushroom

There are hundreds of different types of polysaccharides found within many different tonic adaptogens, with the most research being done on the effective D-Glucan structures found in medicinal mushrooms.  Polysaccharides are water soluble and therefore can only be extracted naturally via water. When considering an supplement for the viability of the immune potentiating polysaccharides, choose a extraction that is high in water extractable constituents. Also of consideration; when selecting a medicinal mushroom, we must ensure that the very tough chitin (cells walls) have been cracked to release all the beneficial constituents. This will make a thick efficacious extraction that will contain all constituents for full potency.

High Polysaccharide Extractions Available from Tonic Tinctures:

Reishi Mushroom - Cracked Cell Wall - 75% concentrated water extractable constituents by volume

Chaga Mushroom - Cracked Cell Wall - 75% concentrated water extractable constituents by volume

Mushroom Master - 14 Medicinal Mushrooms - Cracked Cell Wall - 65% concentrated water extractable constituents by volume

Berry Blood Tonic - Contains Astragalus - 70% concentrated water extractable constituents by volume

Red Ginseng - 70% concentrated water extractable constituents by volume

What is Medicinal Mushroom Mycelium?

Mycelium is the feeding membrane and main body of a mushroom that grows underground or within its host plant, such as a tree. This is opposed to the fruiting body that grows on the outside we all easily recognize and commonly call mushrooms. They have intelligence, adaptability and commune synergistically with their environment to promote health and longevity in their ecology. This ability to communicate with the surrounding flora is a necessity to the organism of the entire planet Earth.

Mycelia gathers and distributes an incredible amount of nutrients by secreting enzymes into its host substrate to breakdown the decaying matter, like cellulose or lignin in trees. Then this absorbed food is transferred through the thread-like network of hyphae to nearby flora or across very long distances to feed and strengthen entire ecosystems. Scientific studies have revealed the profound computational capabilities of these grand networks in distributing nutrients the shortest distance across their near infinite maze like structures.

Paul Stamets, the foremost expert of fungi, believes mycelium to be "the neurological network of nature" and "Earth's natural internet".

Fungal Mycelium Spreading its Thread-Like Hyphae Throughout its Host Hardwood

Mycelium Benefits

Medicinal mushrooms, when harvested from the host wood or brown rice biomass, must consist of the mycelium to contain all the enzymes, nutrients and chemicals for fullest efficacy and potency. It is in the mycelium that the benefits of the entire mushroom are concentrated to make it a potent tonic adaptogen. For example, it is here that we find that highest concentration of polysaccharides. Scientific studies conclusively prove the benefits of medicinal mushrooms are most recognizable in the mycelium. Some countries, such as Japan and Russia, have created potent drugs from these magic fungi; many of the healing and adaptogenic properties of mycelium have been shown to have antiallergic, antitumor, antibiotic, antiviral, and immunostimulating properties, as well as the ability to lower blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol and other blood lipids.

Lastly, to ensure the most benefit of the mycelium, which has very tough cell walls, called chitin, we must initially apply flash-steaming for cracked cell wall. This is to ensure full the full-spectrum of constituents will be available for extraction and absorption. After this second extraction step, we must use a hydroalcoholic process, in its multiple step process to create a very potent and viable extraction that we can easily consume consistently for the multitude of health benefits. Doing these labor intensive steps imbues us with the intelligence, protection, and adaptogenic capacities of mycelium.

Please visit our collection of medicinal mushroom liquid extractions and choose your ally of fungi.

What is a Medicinal Mushroom Fruiting Body?

What we generally call a mushroom is the fruitbody. It is the fleshy spore bearing part of fungi that grows above ground or upon its food source host, such as a tree. The fruiting body is what we reference, with stem, cap and gills, as it is what is commonly experienced and eaten in culinary dishes. Being the reproductive part of a mushroom its main purpose it to disperse spores to inoculate new hosts for continued survival. The fruiting body is above ground or upon the host while the mycelium is below ground or inside the host. Some mushrooms do not have fruiting body such a Chaga Mushroom which is a sclerotium - a mass of mycelia.

The Fruiting Body of Reishi Mushroom in Hardwood Cultivation 

Benefits of Medicinal Mushroom Fruitbody

Within the fruiting body of mushrooms one will find the full-spectrum of important constituents, but in comparison to the mycelium there are greater amounts of nutritional constituents. They are terrific trace mineralizers, especially those that are grown on hardwood, and contain plentiful amounts of copper, zinc, potassium, phosphorus, and germanium. High concentrations of vitamins are also found within the fruit-body of medicinal mushrooms; vitamin C, vitamin D, beta-carotene and several B vitamins, including thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, and biotin.

Choose a Supplement with Fruitbody and Mycelium

To ensure proper potency of your medicinal mushroom supplement, it is best to choose one that is produced with both fruitbody and the mycelium. For instance, we must include the mycelium as it contains the higher amounts of polysaccharides and other enzymes and acids. Both parts are necessary in combination for the complete desired adaptogenic effects of medicinal mushrooms.

Please visit our collection of medicinal mushroom liquid extractions and choose your ally of fungi.

What is a Medicinal Mushroom Sclerotium?

Some fungi develop a compacted mass of mycelia that grows on the outside of their host. It is specifically known as a sclerotium and contains a bountiful amount of food reserves that strengthen the vitality of both the mushroom and its host. This tonic action is imbued to us after harvesting and extracting it for the beneficial properties. The mycelium itself is known to have high amounts of polysaccharides, enzymes and acids, but the sclerotium, being a dense mass of mycelia, additionally concentrates vitamins, minerals and oils. Although these types of fungi develop a fruitbody, with stem, cap, and gills, they are harvested before this reproductive phase to ensure maximum potency.

A Chaga Sclerotium with its Hard Woody Exterior

In the case of Chaga Mushroom one can simply harvest the sclerotium without having to harm the host tree. This allows the mushroom to grow back and to keep the symbiotic relationship alive. With Cordyceps Mushroom, after the mycelium has fully developed within the host, it will extend its own sclerotium. One must be patient, but be certain to harvest before fruitbody phase to ensure full potency of this tonic adaptogen

Cordyceps with Sclerotium at Prime Harvest Time