How to Vet Your 🍄 Products: The Mycelium vs Fruiting Body Debate…
The content of this article summarizes key information about the difference between Fruiting Body and Mycelium from this article by Real Mushrooms. If you’re a mushroom fanatic and would like to learn more about the difference between Fruiting Body and Mycelium, we highly encourage you to read the original article.
There’s nothing more upsetting than thinking you’re doing something great for your body when you’re shopping for supplements, and later finding out that the quality of the product leaves it no better than a placebo pill.
So let’s chat fungi product efficacy…do mushroom supplements contain the health benefits they say they do?
Mushroom supplements can be divided into 3 types: (1) those that only use the fruiting body (the mushroom), (2) those that only use the mycelium (underground root structure of fungi) and (3) those that use a mixture of both. The fruiting body (the mushroom) provides the bulk of the claimed health benefits claimed by functional mushroom companies. And mycelium? Depending on the way fungi is extracted and removed from the surface on which it’s grown, you can end up with mostly “filler” in your supplements. The most common fillers are grain and rice, potentially harmful if you have a gluten intolerance, and overall not ideal when the purpose of the product is to reap the wonderful benefits that mushrooms have to offer.
Supplement companies often make incredible health claims, but it can be challenging to figure out which mushroom products you buy are actually beneficial to your health. The first step is to understand this key difference between fruiting body and mycelium.
Mushroom Life Cycle
What is the fruiting body and mycelium of fungi? Throughout its life cycle, fungi will develop into 3 distinct parts: the fruiting body (mushroom), spores, and mycelium.
The fruiting body is the part of fungi that you’re likely the most familiar with, often taking the shape of a cap and stem. It’s what supermarkets traditionally sell as “mushrooms.” They also serve as the reproductive structure for mushrooms, and when matured they release spores. Spores float around in the air until they find favorable conditions to germinate into hyphae. Hyphae eventually fuse together to form a network known as the mycelium, which completes the cycle to produce the fruiting body.
Why does this matter?
Mushroom supplements can contain any part of the various components of fungi, including the fruiting body, spores, and mycelium. However, the fruiting body produce far more beneficial compounds than the others.
The active compound that provides the vast majority of benefits in functional mushrooms are known as beta-glucans. Research has shown beta-glucans to be effective at boosting your immune system, supporting the treatment of inflammation and even cancer.
The fruiting body can contain over 30x the beta-glucans of mycelium, depending on the medium (also known as the substrate) the mushroom is grown on. Whether or not you receive the claimed health benefits of functional mushrooms depends on if the supplements uses the fruiting body versus mycelium.
How can I tell if my supplement uses fruiting body?
In the United States, the FDA requires brands to label when they use mycelium in their products. But in practice, this policy is loosely enforced, and many brands fail to label their products clearly.
Mushroom companies that are aware of the important difference between fruiting body and mycelium often include it in the ingredients of their nutrition label, and some will go as far as listing the exact percentage of beta-glucans in their product. However, there are still no clear guidelines as to whether or not this is a requirement, so it’s important to buy products from brands that you can trust.
Mycelium is magical in so many ways, and it’s being used to disrupt so many industries in innovative ways as a sustainable alternative to packaging, leather, and everything in between. BUT, based on our research, when compared to the fruiting body (the mushroom) for supplements, fruiting body comes out on top.
For the average consumer, this can be a lot to sift through when you’re wellness shopping.
We created The Multiverse to help you sort through the noise and make sure that the highest quality products are entering your body. We curate our brands following our Fung-YES and Fung-NO principles, which specify that all functional mushroom products on The Multiverse must only use the fruiting body. We vet products by what part of fungi they utilize, and how much they use to ensure you’re getting a viable dose (if you’re taking a product designed as a supplement).
If you would like to experience some of the amazing health benefits of mushrooms for yourself, check out some of our best fruiting-body sellers, including Rainbo 11:11, Shroomy Mushroom Gummies, Üphoric Urth Thrive Five 5 Mushroom Blend, and so mush more.
This article was written in collaboration with Tim Huang, Product and Operations Manager of The Multiverse