‘Shroom School: Supporting Whole-Body Harmony with Functional Mushrooms
You may have noticed some interesting terminology on the labels of mushroom supplements. What are polysaccharides, anyway? We decided it was time to get in-depth about the bioactive compounds that make functional mushrooms so powerful. From gut health to memory, their effects on our bodies and minds are holistic – bringing everything back into balance.
Disclaimer: This blog is for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice. Please consult your health care practitioner before adding any new herbs to your wellness routine.
Understanding the Bioactive Compounds in Mushrooms
Polysaccharides are a type of long-chain carbohydrate. Some examples include beta-glucans, cellulose and chitin. Chitin makes up the cell wall of the mushroom and keeps the beta-glucans locked inside. Using the right extraction method for each mushroom allows us to break down the cell wall and access those beneficial compounds.
Beta-glucans are a type of polysaccharide that contain soluble fibre. This means they slow the passage of food through the intestine, contributing to good digestion and overall gut health. Beta-glucans are high in antioxidants and stimulate our immune system to combat fatigue, infection and stress.
Triterpenes are a chemical compound found in plants and fungi. They are a key benefit of mushroom medicine due to their anti-inflammatory, antiviral and antimicrobial properties. Reishi, for example, contains over 140 triterpenes including Ganoderic acid. Betulin is a triterpene found in Chaga, known for its ability to heal wounds.
How to Extract Bioactive Compounds
Hot Water Extraction
Hot water extraction involves heating mushrooms in large vats of hot water and simmering them for a long period of time. This is also known as a “decoction.” This type of extraction is necessary to release the water-soluble polysaccharides within the mushrooms, including beta-glucans.
Each of the top 5 mushrooms we use (Reishi, Chaga, Lion’s Mane, Cordyceps and Turkey Tail) must go through hot water extraction.
For mushrooms that are woodier and denser in texture, alcohol extraction is necessary to free up beneficial triterpenes. This is accomplished by saturating fruiting bodies in alcohol for several weeks and pressing the liquid afterwards.
Our Chaga and Reishi mushrooms undergo a process that involves both hot water and alcohol, creating a combined full spectrum of bioavailable polysaccharides and triterpenes.
How Mushrooms Nourish the Body
Immune System Support
Our top 5 mushrooms all contain polysaccharides that boost immune function. Turkey Tail contains a polysaccharide called PSP. It’s shown to increase white blood cells, allowing our bodies to fight infection and strengthen immunity (1). Reishi gently modulates the immune system over time, helping to boost its natural defenses (2).
The PSP in Turkey Tail is a prebiotic fiber. This promotes healing and diversity within the gut microbiome (3). Lion's Mane may inhibit the growth of H. pylori and protect the stomach lining from damage (4).
As a functional mushroom, Cordyceps is prized for supporting the respiratory tract. It improves oxygen uptake, helps move oxygen into the cells and increases endurance and stamina as a result (5). Cordyceps supports energy through the generation of cellular ATP (6).
How Mushrooms Support the Mind
Resilience to Stress
Reishi is a relaxing and revitalizing mushroom with the longest record of medicinal use, dating back over 2,000 years. Reishi can regulate cortisol levels, creating a more balanced nervous system. This polypore is a potent adaptogen that helps us build resilience to stress and combat anxiety (7).
Focus & Memory
Lion’s Mane is known for its ability to sharpen memory, boost concentration and inspire creativity. It stimulates the synthesis of Nerve Growth Factor (NGF) (8). This is a protein that helps to maintain healthy neurons. It’s been shown to improve symptoms of dementia (9), as well as improve spatial and visual recognition (10).
Shop our Mushrooms
We’ve created a line of functional mushroom products to suit every wellness need, no matter your lifestyle. Our Concentrated Mushroom Powders, Capsules and Tinctures support whole-body harmony with bioavailable compounds at high extract ratios. We source our functional mushrooms from farms that prioritize sustainability and organic cultivation to ensure the best quality and most potent medicine. Choose between Chaga, Cordyceps, Lion’s Mane, Reishi, Turkey Tail, or our synergistic 5 Mushroom Blend.
We've recently evolved our Mushroom Line to include Mushroom Capsules. They offer a convenient way to enjoy our best-selling powders. Capsules are vegan, gluten-free, and easy to add to your daily supplement routine. Extracted from 100% fruiting body.
Use our Store Locator to find a Harmonic Arts retailer near you and shop our highly requested Mushroom Capsules!
Concentrated Mushroom Powders
Our Mushroom Powders support whole-body harmony and immune system intelligence. Feel the benefits of the world's top 5 mushrooms, extracted from 100% fruiting body. Add to your coffee, tea, or favourite recipe.
Explore our range of therapeutic Mushroom Tinctures. Formulated by Clinical Herbalists, and convenient to add to your daily wellness routine. Extracted from concentrated fruiting body.
Elixirs provide a tasty, convenient way to add nourishing mushrooms, herbs, and superfoods to your daily routine! Find Reishi in Activate, Lion’s Mane in Matcha Mind, and a blend of the top 5 mushrooms in our 5 Mushroom Chocolate.
Infuse your day with the slow ritual of our Artisan Tea blends. With their compostable packaging, they are good for your body, and for the planet. Find Reishi in our grounding Adapt Artisan Tea.
- Sekhon, B. K., Sze, D. M.-Y., Chan, W. K., Fan, K., Li, G. Q., Moore, D. E., & Roubin, R. H. (2013). PSP activates monocytes in resting human peripheral blood mononuclear cells: Immunomodulatory implications for cancer treatment. Food Chemistry , 138 (4), 2201–2209. doi: 10.1016/j.foodchem.2012.11.009
- Gao, Y., Zhou, S., Jiang, W., Huang, M., & Dai, X. (2003). Effects of Ganopoly®(A Ganoderma lucidum Polysaccharide Extract) on the Immune Functions in Advanced-Stage Cancer Patients. Immunological Investigations , 32 (3), 201–215. doi: 10.1081/imm-120022979
- Pallav, K., Dowd, S. E., Villafuerte, J., Yang, X., Kabbani, T., Hansen, J., … Kelly, C. P. (2014). Effects of polysaccharopeptide from Trametes Versicolor and amoxicillin on the gut microbiome of healthy volunteers. Gut Microbes , 5 (4), 458–467. doi: 10.4161/gmic.29558
- Jiang, S., Wang, S., Sun, Y., & Zhang, Q. (2014). Medicinal properties of Hericium erinaceus and its potential to formulate novel mushroom-based pharmaceuticals. Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology,98 (18), 7661-7670. doi:10.1007/s00253-014-5955-5
- Yi, X., Xi-Zhen, H., & Jia-Shi, Z. (2004). Randomized double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial and assessment of fermentation product of Cordyceps sinensis (Cs-4) in enhancing aerobic capacity and respiratory function of the healthy elderly volunteers. Chinese Journal of Integrative Medicine , 10 (3), 187–192. doi: 10.1007/bf02836405
- Holliday, J. C., & Cleaver, M. P. (2008). Medicinal Value of the Caterpillar Fungi Species of the Genus Cordyceps (Fr.) Link (Ascomycetes). A Review. International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms , 10 (3), 219–234. doi: 10.1615/intjmedmushr.v10.i3.30
- Zhao, H., Zhang, Q., Zhao, L., Huang, X., Wang, J., & Kang, X. (2012). Spore Powder of Ganoderma lucidum Improves Cancer-Related Fatigue in Breast Cancer Patients Undergoing Endocrine Therapy: A Pilot Clinical Trial. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine , 2012 , 1–8. doi: 10.1155/2012/809614
- Thongbai, B., Rapior, S., Hyde, K. D., Wittstein, K., & Stadler, M. (2015). Hericium erinaceus, an amazing medicinal mushroom. Mycological Progress,14 (10). doi:10.1007/s11557-015-1105-4
- Mori K, Inatomi S, Ouchi K, et al. (2009) Improving effects of the mushroom Yamabushitake (Hericium erinaceus) on mild cognitive impairment: a double- blind placebo-controlled clinical trial. Phytother Res ;23:367–72.
- Lai PL, Naidu M, Sabaratnam V, et al. (2013) Neurotrophic properties of the Lion’s mane medicinal mushroom, Hericium erinaceus (Higher Basidiomycetes) from Malaysia. Int J Med Mushrooms . 15(6);539–54.