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The Ultimate Guide to Mushroom Quality

7 Signs Your Mushroom Extract Is Garbage

Not all functional/medicinal mushroom extracts are created equally. With various mushroom supplement companies, it can be difficult to choose the right one.

After having had countless customers reach out to us trying to understand what makes a mushroom supplement good quality and often comparing us to companies where the information on the site as well as the mushroom extracts are lacking the most important and fundamental components to create a good quality product, we wanted to create an overview so you can easily identify whether you are purchasing a quality or rubbish mushroom product.

There are in fact various factors that affect the quality of a medicinal mushroom extract. This includes the extraction process, testing, cultivation, strains and more.

We have broken down 7 key factors to consider when choosing your mushroom extracts.

 

1) The Gold Standard - Does your product have a lab report and what are the safety tests?

First and foremost, you want to ensure that you are able to review lab reports which show the active ingredient testing of the mushrooms. The active ingredients are where the mushrooms medicinal properties lie.

Different mushrooms contain different active ingredients. The most important ones are Beta D Glucans, Cordycepin, Hericenones Erinacines & Triterpenes.

Unfortunately, many mushroom suppliers do not show their lab reports at all, or you have to request them. We searched through countless of competitors trying to review their lab reports and none had theirs listed on their website.

We list all of the lab reports for the individual mushrooms directly on the product pages  - fully transparent – breaking down every part of the test.

Unfortunately, many also only test for the polysaccharide content. This doesn’t actually tell you anything about the mushroom’s quality. You will see a high degree of polysaccharide such as >50% and assume that this must be a good mushroom extract. Beware of this as the actual and true quality lies in the active ingredient testing and not the polysaccharide testing.

*See the next section regarding polysaccharide content for more information on this.

Lastly, look out for the type of test done.

The megazyme Test (the one we use to test for the Beta D Glucan content) is one of the most expensive but best tests especially when testing for Beta D Glucan content. It is also what is used in current scientific research to accurately test for beta-D-glucans in mushrooms.

Here is an example of our Turkey Tail Lab Report showing the active ingredients testing as well as purity testing:

 

 

2) My product is 80% polysaccharide but nothing else, is that good?

Let’s clear up the confusion behind a mushroom’s active ingredients.

Some polysaccharides like starch or gluten help store the energy we gain from consuming food and are commonly found in foods like oats, potatoes, and legumes. Now did you know that Beta-glucans are not the only type of polysaccharide found in mushrooms. Alpha-glucans are another type of polysaccharide found in mushrooms that have no medicinal properties. Mushrooms that have a high listed polysaccharide count (over 50%) and do not test for the beta d glucan and alpha glucan content commonly contain high levels of alpha-glucans. These products are often drawing their nutrients from the starchy substrate they are grown on and contain residual starch that isn't filtered out during processing.

We specifically break down our test in the form of polysaccharides and then again between beta d glucans and alpha glucans which can also be seen on our lab reports on the individual product pages. See an example of our lab report above.

Which active ingredients should my mushrooms extract contain?

Mushrooms are unique and so are their active ingredients that give them their medicinal properties.

See a breakdown below of the individual mushrooms and their unique active ingredients that give them their medicinal properties.

 

Mushroom

Active ingredient

Quality 

Antioxi Quality

Turkey Tail

Beta D Glucan

>30%

>30%

Chaga

Beta D Glucan

>30%

>30%

Maitake

Beta D Glucan

>30%

>30%

Cordyceps

Cordycepin

>0.5%

>0.5%

Lion’s Mane

Hericenones Erinacines

>1%

>1%

>1%

>2%

Reishi

Triterpenes

>2%

>2%

 

What are Beta D Glucans?

Functional Mushrooms contain many different forms of polysaccharides but the most important one is beta-D-glucans, found in the cell walls of mushrooms.

Beta-glucans come in various forms. The main one has what is known as 1-3,1-6 branching, or (1-3) (1-6) beta-D-glucans. The term beta-glucan refers to the beta-linked glucose molecules that form the fungal polysaccharide.

Beta-D-glucans are biological response modifiers. They can up-regulate and down-regulate the response of biological systems and hence help to regulate our immune health. They can stimulate an increased immune response that in turn enables a more effective reaction for fighting off infections. In contrast, they can also turn down an overactive immune response via anti-inflammatory cytokine modulation.

Beta D Glucans can stimulate the host immune response to defend against bacterial, viral, fungal, or parasitic infections.

What is Cordycepin?

Cordycepin is a nucleoside analogue and is the core active ingredient found in cordyceps. Cordycepin possesses various biological activities including immunomodulatory, lung health and anti-bacterial effects.

What are Triterpenes?

Triterpenes are a class of naturally occurring compounds and structurally highly oxidized lanostanes. The core active ingredient for Reishi are triterpenes - ganoderic acids. This compound contains incredible therapeutic properties such as assisting with inflammation, allergies, and improved sleep.

What are Hericenones Erinacines?

The active ingredients in Lion’s mane are called Hericenones and Erinacines. Hericenones and erinacines are low-molecular weight compounds that easily cross the blood–brain barrier. The two natural compounds isolated from the fruiting body and mycelium of Lion’s mane exhibit the activity of promoting the nerve growth factor.

 

3) My extract ratio is 5:1 or 7:1 or 100:1 does that make it good?

An extract ratio such as the above for example simply means that 5kg of raw material (raw mushroom) was used to create 1kg of mushroom extract.

Something to look out for, is that you will at times see medicinal mushroom supplements that are labelled as having extraction ratios of 50:1 or even 100:1. Now this sounds like it is way more concentrated and more powerful, but this is in fact not the case at all.

The quantity of raw mushroom material to create an extract depends more on density and other physical characteristics of the mushroom than the quality and potency of the extraction.

A 100:1 extract would unfortunately mean there were a lot of mushrooms wasted, hence it was not sustainably made and in fact more realistically, it means nothing other than it looks great on the package which can of course be quite misleading to the consumer!

Which Extraction ratio do we use?

We use an extraction ratio of 15:1. We have thus used 15kg of mushrooms to create 1kg of mushroom extract.

 

4) How important is Organic?

 The mushroom extracts should be Organic and tested for heavy metals and pesticides.

Mushrooms are a product of their environment and absorb from their surrounding environment, which if your extracts aren't organic, could result in the mushrooms containing a high level of unwanted toxins and contaminants.

Are Antioxi functional mushrooms Organic?

We source our medicinal mushrooms from farms that are certified organic within the EU and USDA Organic Certification Programs. We also perform multiple lab tests on all mushrooms for purity, heavy metals, and pesticides. The lab reports are all readily available to review on the individual product pages.

Our Testing Process

1. Double Testing of Raw Materials

The raw mushrooms undergo 2 rounds of pesticide testing.

  • We test the raw mushroom that is harvested
  • After the mushroom has been powderised (before extraction takes place) we test again

2. Quality Testing of the Extract

  • Microbial Testing: Tests performed for the identification or enumeration of microorganism in the fungi material.
  • Active compounds: To ensure the mushroom extract meets our desired active ingredient benchmark.

3. Safety Testing

To ensure our products are safe to consume and ensure they meet the international standards they are tested for both Heavy Metals and Ethylene oxide.

We perform batch tests as well as third party tests.

 

Certificates 


5) Fruiting Body VS Mycelium: Which is better?

The mycelium is a mass of tangled threads that form the vegetative part of a fungus. It’s similar to a plant’s roots in how it grows beneath the mushroom's surface. The mycelium can grow and develop for years, competing in a hostile environment of bacteria, viruses, and other fungi ready to consume it. It creates and produces compounds that directly harm its predators to protect itself.  

 

Mushroom Mycelium

The fruiting body is the most recognizable part of the mushroom. It grows above the surface and is what we recognise a mushroom to be.

 

Mushroom fruiting Body

So, which is actually better?

You will see many mushroom supplements companies advertising that they only sell the fruiting body because the mycelium does not provide medicinal properties and vice versa - this is simply not true, and the clinical trials and research show this.

In essence, both mycelia and the fruiting body provide you with health benefits. Hence, one is not actually better than the other. It all comes down to the mushroom and the benefit being sought. Some mushrooms (depending on the active ingredient) benefit from a fruiting body extract and some from the mycelium.

In fact, in some instances, it is important to use a formula that utilizes both the mycelium and the mushroom’s fruiting body for a more complete supplement. This is for example the case with Lion’s mane. This is as hericenones are found in the fruiting body, whereas Erinacines is found in the mushroom's mycelium – hence both the mycelium and fruiting body are needed to fully benefit from both compounds.

You can find out more about which mushrooms benefit from the fruiting body, Mycelium or a dual extract here.

Are Antioxi medicinal mushrooms the fruiting body, mycelium or both?

We follow the clinical literature when it comes to choosing between the 3 options. As mentioned above, some medicinal mushrooms benefit from the fruiting body, others from the mycelium and some from a dual extract.

See a breakdown below of our individual Mushrooms and the Extract type.

 

Mushroom

Extract

Turkey Tail

Fruiting Body

Chaga

Sclerotium (a mass of Mycelium)

Maitake

Fruiting Body

Cordyceps

Fruiting Body

Lion’s Mane

Fruiting Body & Mycelium

Reishi

Fruiting Body


6) Which Mushroom Extraction process is best?

Extraction affects both the quality AND effectiveness of your functional mushroom. The optimal extraction method once again depends on the mushroom itself. Different methods are used to promote and dissolve the unique active ingredients in the mushroom extracts and hence create a high spectrum medicinal mushroom extract.

There are 3 different extraction methods:

 

Extract Type

Explanation 

Best for this Mushroom Type

Alcohol (ethanol)

This extraction is used to draw out the fat-soluble compounds in the mushrooms, such as the triterpenes from Reishi.

Lion’s mane

Hot Water

This extraction is used to extract the water-soluble compounds, the polysaccharides, and the immunomodulating Beta-D-glucans.

Cordyceps

Turkey Tail

Maitake

Dual extraction

Dual extraction refers to a combination of water and alcohol. The dual extraction process ensures you’re getting the full spectrum of compounds when it comes to a mushroom where the active ingredients benefit from both alcohol as well as a water extract.

Reishi

Chaga

 

The Extraction Process

The process is just as important as the extraction method used. The process refers to the temperature used during the extraction process, how many rounds of extraction took place and how impurities were removed from the final extract.

What does Antioxi’s Extraction process look like?

Our mushroom extraction process is designed to optimize the levels of active ingredients.

1. The mushrooms are harvested at their peak potency.

Different mushrooms reach maturity at different stages. To harvest the best quality mushrooms, it is important to do this at the most optimum time.

See an overview of our mushrooms and their Harvesting Periods:

 

Mushroom

Harvesting Periods

Turkey Tail

Usually collected in the Autumn (August to October period)

The turkey Tail is collected after rainy days and usually picked by Farmers when putting cattle out to pasture or to collect other wild herbs.

Chaga

Can be harvested in all seasons.

We only harvest Chaga that is more than five years old with a minimum size of 15cm.

Maitake

Harvested twice a year but just on one log.

 

1. December to next May. Logs are put on the ground or shelf

 

2. Logs will be used again, buried under ground for the next batch and the fruiting body can grow again from the logs in October

Cordyceps

Cordyceps is harvested manually using scissors. We harvest from December to April

Lion’s Mane

Harvesting has one season in a year.

 

1. Logs preparation (making a log, sterilize it by heating, cooling down) and inoculation in the beginning of October

 

2. 50 days fermentation and Hyphae growing

 

3. Fruiting body grows from December to next April (This usually means we are able to harvest 3-4 batches)  

Reishi

Reishi Spore are sprayed persistently in dark condition. The spores are usually collected in September to October.

 

The fruiting body will be harvested after the spores have been collected. Collection and harvesting are done manually.

 

1. The Logs are prepared (making a log, sterilize it by heating, cooling down) and inoculation in the middle of February

 

2. About two months of fermentation and Hyphae growing

 

3. Fruiting body grows from May to September

 

We do not use the stem for our extracts as they contain higher content of heavy metals than the caps.

 

 

2. The whole dried mushrooms are ground, and the mushroom powder is extracted in hot water, ethanol or in a dual extraction process. This process takes several hours.

3. 2 rounds of 90-minute extractions take place at 80 degrees heat (from our research many companies only do 1)

4. 1 stage of purification to increase solubility and remove impurities – this last step is unfortunately often skipped by other mushroom supplement companies.

 

7) Are they transparent about the Mushrooms Origin?

A good mushroom supplement company will be transparent about their sourcing and proud of the extensive research and testing that went into finding quality farms! If the origin is not listed on the website and/or they are not willing to share their origin with you, this is a big red flag!

Where are Antioxi’s Medicinal mushrooms sourced from?

All of our origins can be found directly on the product pages.

We actually go the extra mile of sourcing specific mushrooms from specific sources around the world based on their growing conditions, experience, altitude and access to natural recourses. There are farms in the world that have generational experience of farming specific mushrooms and have become absolute experts at farming them. We thus have chosen to work with a variety of farms who specialise in farming specific mushrooms.

Our mushrooms Origin

Our functional mushrooms, apart from Chaga which is sourced from Siberia, are sourced from various regions in China. China has the longest history in mushroom cultivation, dating back thousands of years, and their knowledge and experience is superior to anywhere else. China is estimated to provide over 70% of the world’s mushrooms. We work with a variety of farms in different regions who specialise in growing different types of medicinal mushrooms.

Our farmers facilities are regularly tested, and all our mushroom products are thoroughly tested with lab reports available to view on the product pages.

An overview of our Mushrooms and their exact Origin 

 

Mushroom

Origin

Turkey Tail

JiLin Province

 

Turkey tail is not rare in Northeast of China. So, the people who collect it and pack it are the most important factor in ensuring quality of the final product. This is why we only work with a select few farmers who have been doing this for centuries.

Chaga

Siberia, Russia

 

Chaga grows naturally on Birch wood trees in Siberia.

 

We select a region far away from farmland and industry park for avoiding contaminants and pesticides.

 

Maitake

ZheJiang province – Huang Tian Town

 

From various tests, the HuangTian town has appeared to be the only place where one can harvest good quality Maitake fruiting body.

People in YunNan, the HeBei province tried to plant Maitake, but the colours where a lot lighter and the size of Maitake was smaller.

Cordyceps

JiangSu province

 

Cordyceps militaris needs a high-tech cultivation and persistent management for strains and substrates. They are grown artificially to closely manage the process and quality.

 

Lion’s Mane

FuJian Province – GuTian county

 

The GuTian County is famous for Lion's mane as well as Tremella. These mushrooms have been grown there for generations.

 

Our sheds containing Lion's mane are kept a distance away from Farm and Industry parks to manage and reduce heavy metals and pesticides.

 

Reishi

ZheJiang Province

 

Geographical conditions are very important for Reishi cultivation. Farmers usually change the location every two- or three-years dependent on their experience. Usually the location is in the boundary of the ZheJiang and FuJian provinces.

 

As you can see, there are various aspects to consider when choosing your medicinal mushroom supplement. At the end of the day making an informed decision with all information at hand is important, especially as so many people use functional mushrooms to treat serious health conditions, not just for themselves but for their pets too!

We hope that this guide will be helpful in you choosing a mushroom supplement company you can trust but if you did have any more questions, we do have a dedicated online specialist team in our chat function that is always happy to help! 😊

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