If you are looking to get the most out of your medicinal mushrooms, learning about how they are produced is vital. Are the medicinal mushroom products you consume cultivated on natural, organic materials, or are they grown in a laboratory under artificial conditions? Since the quality of your medicinal mushrooms is a direct result of it’s method of cultivation, it is important to be aware of these different methods.
Are your Mushrooms Grown Naturally or in a Laboratory?
Similar to other plants or any living thing for that matter, mushrooms are a product of their environment. They depend on their substrate or host material to provide them with minerals, water and other building blocks that allow them to thrive and eventually produce medicinal compounds. Therefore, the host material plays an important role in the overall quality of the mushroom and the future effectiveness of it’s medicinal content.
Since there are so many different varieties of mushrooms that grow in different ways in the wild, the proper method of cultivation depends directly on the species. So, what are the differences between lab grown mushroom and those developed on natural materials or in greenhouses.
The Benefits of Naturally Grown Mushrooms.
As mentioned above, mushrooms absorb minerals and other compounds directly from their host material. For instance, chaga mushrooms primarily feed off of birch trees, which contain triterpenoid betulin. The chaga mushroom draws out this betulin along with other properties from its birch tree host and turns them into inotodiol, trametenolic acid and betulinic acid.
These various compounds along with vitamins and minerals flourish in mushrooms grown in conditions similar to their natural habitat. Generally speaking, research show us that mushrooms grown on natural materials, in natural light as nature intended, possess the proper vitamins, minerals, and naturally produced compounds necessary for an effective medicinal product.
The most important compound that medicinal mushrooms contain is active beta-D-glucans. Unfortunately, most US lab-grown mushrooms are mycelium grown on grain, which typically low levels of beta-glucan and very high levels of starch. Naturally, mushrooms do not contain any starch, nor does is have any medicinal value.
Lab Grown Mushroom Deficiencies
When mycelium based mushrooms are produced in a laboratory, the grain that it is grown on is sterilized inside a plastic bag for hours in a temperature of 100 degrees Celsius. While wild grown mushrooms can divulge in rich nutrients from their environment, the lab grown mycelium only has a nutritionally void starch to draw from.
The lab grown mycelium lives and grows inside this sterile plastic bag, devoid of any natural light, fresh air, or outside nutrients. The process is quite unnatural and consequently, it creates an unnatural product. Without a natural and appropriate environment to derive vitamins and minerals, the lab grown mushroom will ultimately create an inferior medicinal product.
As with all health related supplements and products, it is extremely important to perform due diligence and educate yourself on the company producing it. Sadly, some US companies claim that their products are grown local forests, however, this is usually impossible considering most mushrooms are only cultivated in very specific areas like East Asia. Unfortunately a lot of these misleading companies are also selling lab grown mycelium.
As a final note, always make sure to carefully read product labels before investing in a supplement. Specifically, look for “mushroom” listed under the supplement facts and avoid any products that list mycelium as a component.