Immune Benefits of Mushroom Mycelium & Fermented Substrate

Immune Benefits of Mushroom Mycelium & Fermented Substrate

Mycologist and author Paul Stamets celebrates groundbreaking research on the health benefits of Turkey Tail mushroom mycelium.

Fungi Perfecti, LLC (manufacturer of Host Defense® Mushrooms™) has partnered with third-party immunology experts at Natural Immune Systems, Inc. to investigate the health-enhancing benefits of mushroom mycelium and its fermented substrate. Together they have published new peer-reviewed research in the journal BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

Mushrooms are undergoing a tremendous surge in popularity, especially for use as dietary supplements in supporting immunity and overall health. Mushroom supplements may include ingredients from various parts of the mushroom lifecycle, such as mycelium, fruitbodies or spores.

When mushroom mycelium is grown for use in supplements, grains such as brown rice are commonly used as a food source. Mushroom mycelium digests the rice, increasing the mass of mycelium while reducing the presence of grain. During the growth process, the grain substrate becomes enmeshed with and inseparable from the mycelium. Removing what is left of the grain substrate is not practical at production scale, and so some fermented substrate is generally included with pure mycelium in mycelium-based mushroom supplements.

Because some fermented substrate remains in the final mycelium-based product, some distributors of mushroom ingredients have suggested that mycelium-based products are inactive or largely composed of fillers. However, newly published peer-reviewed research in BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine verifies that:

  • Mushroom mycelium is “very potent in terms of triggering immune cell function.”
  • Fermented substrate, even when separated from pure mycelium, is highly active in supporting natural immune function.
  • Pure mycelium and fermented substrate each offer unique yet complementary health benefits.
  • The immune-enhancing benefits of mushrooms are generated from a very wide range of constituents, not just beta-glucans.

In contrast to mushroom mycelium and its fermented substrate, the same immune assays were performed on brown rice substrate that was not fermented by mushroom mycelium. With the plain, unfermented rice, no significant immune activity was detected.

Co-author Paul Stamets notes, “In my scientific opinion, mushroom products not incorporating mycelium are at a decided disadvantage, given the results of recent research.”

This research further validates mushroom mycelium, along with its fermented substrate, as a uniquely valuable and efficacious nutritional support for healthy immune functioning. Beyond the conclusions of the research itself, the method of review and publication are noteworthy for being open and transparent to readers and the health industry in general.

In addition to providing open access to the final publication, BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine creates further transparency through an open peer review process. This process includes:

  • Unbiased expert review: peer reviewers were specifically screened for relevant expertise as well as any conflicts of interest regarding mushroom products.
  • Publicly available peer review comments: Readers have direct access to the expert peer review commentary. With regards to the impact of this research, one reviewer commented that “the possibilities seem a bit underestimated by the authors. The study is well done, its subject is new and original and the results are relevant.”
  • Quality design and documentation: for this journal, submissions normally require up to 10 revisions prior to publication. This research was accepted with very few revisions at version 3, indicating a high level of skill and care on the part of the authors.

Renee Davis, R&D Director, states, “We’ve long known of the exceptional biotransformational qualities of mushroom mycelium—the enzymes and novel small molecules are capable of significantly altering the chemical character of its substrate. This is the first study to examine the immunological effects of rice substrate separated from mycelium. The results are incredibly exciting to us as a research team, and we are proud to contribute to the scientific community in a way that moves the conversation forward.”

This study once again confirms that not only the mycelium but the substrate on which it is grown becomes profoundly immune enhancing.

The full research article may be viewed in BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine at the following link: https://doi.org/10.1186/s12906-019-2681-7

Founder, owner and Chief Scientist of Fungi Perfecti, Paul Stamets has been recognized for decades as a leading innovator in the field of mycology, with a focus on revealing the health-supporting properties of mushrooms. As a renowned researcher and author of six books and numerous peer-reviewed scientific papers, Stamets’ Host Defense® mushroom formulations have long been the most sought-after and highly valued within the dietary supplement industry.