Mighty Mushrooms — Edible Immune Support
Functional mushrooms are all the rage. You might see them in trendy coffee shops, upscale supermarkets, and in a variety of supplements. They’re even added to everything from lattes and teas to smoothies and salads. But why all the fanfare for these fabulous fungi?
Mushrooms have gone mainstream primarily due to their immune-supportive properties, and each type of mushroom possesses a unique set of nutrients and bioactive compounds that bestow it with its own variety of health benefits.
It’s critically important to understand how mushrooms are grown in order to know 1) if they contain enough of the bioactive compounds associated with their health benefits and 2) to ensure they are pure and safe.
How Mushrooms Are Grown
In nature, mushrooms grow in a variety of places, like on dead logs lying on the forest floor. But these days, most mushrooms that we eat or use as supplements are cultivated. They’re often grown on grain-based substrates such as rye, rice, or sorghum, or on wood chips/logs, which can enrich them with additional nutrients and active compounds, just like the vegetables we eat absorb nutrients from the soil in which they’re grown.
For this reason, Pure Synergy® developed a completely new and innovative way to grow our mushrooms for Immune Health™. We cultivate them on organic turmeric rhizomes and organic heirloom black rice. As the mushrooms grow, their enzymes transform and absorb the beneficial compounds and antioxidants inherent in the growth substrate, absorbing and incorporating these bioactive compounds — curcuminoids, turmerones and anthocyanins — into their own already nutrient-dense structures. The result is a synergy of powerful immune support that’s more than the mushrooms could provide on their own.
The Mycelium—Fruiting Body Debate
Fungi are fascinating organisms that are neither plants nor animals. The vast majority of their “bodies” are underground in rootlike structures called mycelium. Beneath the forest floor lies a vast network of mushroom mycelia which play a critical role in recycling nutrients for the entire ecosystem. What we call the “mushroom” is actually the fruiting body of the fungus — much like an apple or a banana is the fruit of a tree.
There’s an ongoing debate in the dietary supplement industry over which portion of the mushroom is the most valuable — the mycelium or the fruiting body. Some claim that the fruiting bodies contain most of the nutrients and active compounds, while others argue the opposite, that it’s the mycelium that has the greatest potency.
The truth lies somewhere in the middle. And the real answer is: both are valuable. Certain compounds are more concentrated and bioavailable in the mycelium, while others are more potent in the fruiting bodies. We currently use mycelium in our Immune Health formula with the addition of a small amount of primordia (the “sprouts” of mushrooms).
Although there are thousands of known types of mushrooms, only a handful have been given the distinction of being labeled “functional”, meaning they have proven health benefits beyond nutrition. Here’s a breakdown of seven of the most studied mushrooms that are in Immune Health, and what makes each one so special.
Reishi — “Mushroom of Immortality”
Reishi are kidney-shaped mushrooms that grow at the base of deciduous trees. They’re known as the “mushrooms of immortality” in Traditional Chinese Medicine, where reishi has been used to promote health and longevity for more than 2,000 years.
Used as a wellness jack-of-all-trades, they’re packed with:
- immune-supporting polysaccharides
- triterpenes that support an optimal immune defense
- amino acids, vitamins, and minerals
Because of their tough, woody texture and bitter taste, reishi are usually used in a powdered or supplement form. Immune Health contains both reishi mycelium and reishi cracked cell spores — which are especially rich in triterpenoids, beta glucans, amino acids, and polysaccharides. That’s some serious immune supporting action.
Shiitake — The Fragrant Mushroom
A scrumptious mushroom popular in east Asian cuisine, shiitake also has a long tradition as a functional mushroom. Its name comes from the Japanese shii tree (related to the oak) on which it’s often found growing.
These fortifying fungi are full of:
- glycoproteins that promote a healthy immune system
- B vitamins
- bioactive polysaccharides that foster healthy immune function and a robust defense and support metabolic balance
Named for their beautiful colors and wavy shapes, turkey tail is one of the most well-researched mushrooms in the world. This one should really be called a super mushroom for its spectacular immune benefits.
Turkey tail has unique compounds including:
- unique polysaccharides that help nourish immune cells and foster healthy renewal
- some of the highest amounts of beta glucans of all mushrooms – famously proven immune-supportive compounds
Agaricus — Almond Mushroom
This cute round mushroom, related to the common button mushroom, has the aroma of almonds. Agaricus is native to Brazil where it was traditionally used to support overall health in many ways. It was brought to Japan in the 1960s, and today it’s widely used in east Asian countries as a functional food and as a natural supplement. Agaricus was found to contain immune fortifying polysaccharides and beta glucans.
Maitake — Dancing Mushroom
Maitake literally means “dancing mushroom” in Japanese. Legend has it that people danced for joy upon finding it in the wild (a mushroom is pretty special when it has its own mythology).
Like reishi, maitake mushrooms have been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for thousands of years, but in the last 20 years they’ve also become popular in the west. Maitake have been shown to nourish overall immune health and to act as an adaptogen.
Some of the health supporting compounds it contains are:
- powerful antioxidants like flavonoids, phenols, tocopherols, ascorbic acid, and beta-carotene
- vitamins B and C, minerals like copper and potassium, and amino acids
- immune-supportive beta glucans
Bionectria – Cordyceps Compadre
Bionectria ochroleucha is in a unique symbiotic relationship with the well-known Cordyceps species. In the wild, high in the Himalayan mountains, this mutualistic pair grows in the mummified carcasses of caterpillar larvae (but don’t worry, though, ours have been cultivated on turmeric — no insects included!). Bionectria, like other fungi, has a strong immune fortifying quality.
Chaga – Ruddy Resilience
Chaga doesn’t look anything like a typical mushroom. That’s because it isn’t one. It’s actually a fungus that grows on birch trees in cold, northern climates. Looking a lot like a dark clump of dirt coming out of the side of a tree, breaking it open reveals its vibrant orange interior.
Used traditionally for centuries in Russia, chaga has one of the highest antioxidant contents of any known food. It’s also extremely nutrient-rich, providing foundational support for health and optimal immune function.
You can experience this masterful symphony of mushroom synergy in Immune Health. Our mushrooms are all certified organic and grown using our exclusive, innovative methods that elevate these already beneficial, immune-supporting fungi to a whole new level of greatness. We have zero tolerance for chemical processing, toxic solvents, GMOs, or questionable additives. So, you can trust in their purity and potency to keep you well year-round.