Redefining Medicinal Mushrooms

A new scientific screening program for active compounds

Executive Summary

There is significant concern within the regulatory community regarding health claims made about nutritional supplements as well as about the identity and purity of the natural products themselves. Medicinal mushrooms are a category that has experienced high growth but few actual quality control standards. The following White Paper provides an analytical program that enables manufacturers to realize a higher level of product integrity and efficacy.

  • The proper identification and delineation of “plant part” is clarified. A basidiomycete organism has 3 main parts: a mycelium, mushroom and spore.
  • Key active compounds are identified as beta-D-glucans, triterpenoids and ergosterol. Starch is utilized as an indicator of adulteration. Analytical methods which can quantify the key active compounds are identified and used to test approximately 100 mushroom and mycelium samples.
  • Results of the analyses demonstrate that mushrooms are high in beta-D-glucans and very low in starch. Mycelium produced on cereal grains is low in beta-D-glucans and high in starch. Ergosterol analysis shows the actual amount of fungal material in the products.
  • Mushrooms grown on natural substrates have the precursors to produce important secondary metabolites such as triterpenoids whereas mycelium produced on cereal grains lack these precursors.