The global medicinal mushroom market has grown rapidly on a global scale, at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 9.2% during the period 2018 - 2020. Five years ago, there were only a handful of exotic mushroom growers in Australia. It is now estimated there are about 70 nationwide. How do we choose a good mushroom supplement, when more and more products are discovered? Let's start by looking into what sets some brands apart.
They have high beta-glucans content
Functional mushroom benefits come from their active compounds, found in abundance in the fruiting body. Of the compounds, the most important in fungi are called beta-glucans, which offer notable health benefits. Current research shows us that the most valuable health benefits of beta-glucans are to modulate the immune system and reduce inflammation. They can also help control blood sugar levels, improve feelings of fatigue, and increase overall personal endurance. On top of that they have shown to benefit those with cardiovascular issues and Type II diabetes. Always choose a product that displays the beta-glucans content clearly. Ignore the polysaccharide numbers, for it also measures starches.
Dr.Noel's concentrated reishi powder label
Transparency of how beta-glucans are collected from the mushrooms
The bioactive components in medicinal mushrooms are all locked up in the cells of the mushroom. The cell walls are made of chitin, the compound that makes up the external body of crabs, prawns and lobsters. Humans don't have the ability to decompose this chitin by ourselves, but they can be broken through using certain methods. For example, Dr.Noel's boils the mushrooms in water, steams them, grills them, or brews them. Extraction with alcohol, or dual extraction, a combination of hot water and alcohol extraction are other methods that are used. These processes extract the beta-glucans and polysaccharides from the mushrooms and improve a product's bioavailability.
The mushroom powders are made of real mushrooms
Another point is to find out if the mushroom supplements are made of the fruiting body or the mycelium of the mushroom. When we purchase mushrooms, we want to benefit from the bioactive compounds of the mushrooms. Both scientific research and experienced practitioners in the field confirm that the efficacy of mushroom extracts is dependent on the fruiting body being used, rather than the mycelium. See master herbalist Dr.Terry Willard talk about the issue here.
Potent powders like Dr. Noel's, contain the whole fruiting body of a mushroom, which includes the vast majority of the beta-glucans. Other mushroom powders can be made by just grinding up mushroom mycelium that has been growing in brown rice, which leaves the powder mixed in with the grains. Dr.Noel's ensures the whole mushroom is dried, screened, granulated, milled and steam sterilised at a minimum of 110 degrees Celsius for forty minutes. The extract is screened again before being packaged. Each stage of preparation is tested for heavy metals, pesticide residues and microbial contamination. Check out the entire process at his farm where he shows us the difference.
Diagram showing the fruiting body of a mushroom
Research is key to finding honest brands
There are many brands calling their products with claims of being pure mushroom extracts, when the product could be any combination of the mushroom fruiting body, mycelium, sclerotium, spore, and substrate matter. It may be hard to notice some packaging and labels obscure its contents to make it difficult for the consumer to know what they're getting.
However, researchers have discovered reliable testing methods for identifying compounds of reishi mushrooms in supplements sold online on ebay and amazon in 2017. This study of quality consistency of medicinal mushroom supplements conducted by six researchers in partnership with US Pharmacopoeia, shows that only five of the 19 supplements contained genuine reishi. This means that only 26.3% of what was sold online at the time contained what consumers expected. It's a bit scary imagining what the percentage is like now, with many new brands added to the market.
Despite the difficulty of identifying whether brands are honest and products are real, we can always look into how brands document their sources, processes and contents to make a good judgement. So research, research, research!
Dr.Noel's powders stands out from the rest
Dr Noel’s pure concentrated mushroom powders are made from the fruiting body of organically certified mushrooms. Each batch of mushrooms used to make the mushroom powders are ensured to have a guaranteed level of beta-glucans— four times more than average powders. These powders are exactly what they say they are: the best quality organic powders on the market, rich in bioactive compounds, supported by independent research and trusted certifications, that are available for review.
Dr. Noel with his organically grown mushrooms
We are so excited to share these powders made of real mushrooms, and want you to experience the actual benefits of turkey tail, reishi, lion's mane, chaga and more! Have a browse through the health benefits of each variety to find one that suits you. You’ll find a pure and organic product that’s not watered down.