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United States Pharmacopeia research study confirms lack of triterpenes and beta-glucans in many Reishi supplements

In August, 2017, Nature, the worlds most cited scientific journal, published in its Scientific Reports an important analytical study about Reishi medicinal mushroom products. United States Pharmacopeial Convention (USP) sponsored this project with a leading mushroom scientist from China, Dr. Li Shao-ping. In their research, 19 different Reishi mushroom products sold in the USA were tested for the compounds that characterize a real Reishi mushroom (fruiting body). They used scientifically identified and validated Reishi mushrooms as their standard.

In the USP study, they utilized various highly accurate testing methods including HPTLC, Colorimetric method, GC-MS, and High Performance Size-exclusion Chromatography. The results of their study demonstrated clearly that only 5 of 19 samples could be verified as genuine Reishi mushroom. Most of the other products lacked characteristic triterpenoids and also had a starch-like polysaccharide profile that was inconsistent with Reishi mushroom.

During the study, Jeff Chilton, founder of Nammex, was in contact with USP and alerted the researchers to quality control issues including mycelium products that are grown on grain. Many of the samples they had purchased, which were sold and labeled as mushroom, were in fact mycelium on grain. More importantly, because of his long-standing work with mushrooms, Jeff was allowed to submit some Nammex Reishi mushroom extract samples.

USP made the following statement in the abstract of their research.

“ The results showed that the measured ingredients of only 5 tested samples (26.3%) were in accordance with their labels, which suggested the quality consistency of G. lucidum dietary supplements in the U.S. market was poor, which should be carefully investigated.”

3 out of the 5 samples (60%) that passed USP’s testing standards were Nammex reishi mushroom extracts.

The USP research has now confirmed what Jeff Chilton has demonstrated in his published 2015 White Paper, Redefining Medicinal Mushrooms, and his presentation to the International Society for Mushroom Science symposium in 2016.

Nammex commends USP for initiating this study and assisting the supplement industry with the validation of quality standards for mushroom products.

USP Research Article: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-017-06336-3 (Nature Scientific Reports 7, Article number: 7792(2017)

Jeff talks immunity and mushrooms in Nutraceuticals World

In a recent article in Nutraceuticals World that focuses on immunity issues, author Alan Richman interviews Jeff about the role mushrooms play in keeping people healthy. Jeff believes that finding balance and reaching a state of homeostasis is the key to good health. When we are in harmony with our surroundings we are resonating in a functionally healthy manner. We live in a symbiosis with many other organisms and discovering the balance point brings benefits to all and creates a harmonious life. It is not a battle to stay well but a matter of positive choices and beneficial relationships. Medicinal mushrooms are the premier adaptogens, a term that expresses these concepts.
Jeff also clearly discusses the importance of analysis in quality control and how recent testing methods have revolutionized the medicinal mushroom market. Companies now have a clear choice that can be based on the active beta-glucans that medicinal mushrooms are famous for and that scientific research has validated.

Medicinal Mushrooms Still Have Quality Issues: Interview by NutraIngredients-USA Science Editor Stephen Daniels

The North American medicinal mushroom market is expanding and Nammex is at the forefront. Because most nutritional supplement companies understand green herbs but not mushrooms, much of what Nammex does is educational. Stephen Daniels discusses with Jeff the current issues facing the mushroom market and what role Nammex has played in the new trends in mushroom quality control.

After three years of detailed analysis of medicinal mushroom products, Nammex has developed a Fingerprinting Method for quality control of mushroom products. Our method is reshaping the current industry and helping drive awareness of the need for greater focus on defining product quality.

Jeff’s analytical initiative, starting with his groundbreaking White Paper, Redefining Medicinal Mushrooms, has rocked the industry all the way up to the American Herbal Products Association. AHPA, at the urging of new member companies, reviewed labeling claims and came up with a policy to help stem the confusion caused by mycelium on grain producers calling their products mushrooms. Stephen unpacks this policy initiative and other issues with Jeff and discusses what it ultimately means for businesses and end users.

We value the scientific basis for Stephen’s editorial focus and appreciate the time he took to discuss these issues with Jeff.

Read the full interview over at NutraIngredient-USA.

China Adventures 2016

Every year, my son, Skye and I travel to China to meet with our mushroom producing partners. The fall is a perfect time due to mild temperatures in central China and the arrival of the mushroom harvest. During the trip we will perform an audit of processing facilities and mushroom farms. Because there are multiple farms and different mushroom species are grown naturally according to ambient temperatures, we will see some species being harvested whereas other farms are still waiting for the first mature mushrooms to form.

Shiitake Mushroom Farm

In 2015 we were able to view mature shiitake, maitake and auricularia farms and growing facilities. This year we were able to see shiitake, tremella and best of all, Cordyceps militaris. Most of the farms are clustered deep in the mountainous areas of Zhejiang and Fujian Province. These areas are the traditional heartland of Chinese mushroom growing. In fact, mushroom growing was first started in these areas in the 12th century and since then has grown into the largest agricultural crop in this part of China.

Today there are approximately a dozen mushrooms that are cultivated on a truly commercial scale. It is not an easy task to develop a mushroom cultivar that can economically produce a high quality yield of mushrooms. In fact, it takes decades of strain development and substrate testing to finally achieve positive results. That is why the cultivation of C. militaris is so special. As a mushroom grower, I am always very excited to see a new mushroom being cultivated. So to see C. militaris growing on a large scale with the substrate surface completely covered with fruiting bodies was a very satisfying experience for me.

But even more satisfying is the thought that for the first time, Cordyceps mushrooms are available in quantity at a price that completely eliminates the need for the overpriced, wildcrafted Caterpillar Fungus or even the 100% mycelium product called Cs-4. This is truly a revolutionary turn of events.

2016 International Conference of Ganoderma Research Group Photo

During our stay we traveled to the city of Fuzhou to attend the International Conference on Ganoderma Research. This was a gathering of top Chinese and International scientists presenting current research: analytical, in-vivo and in-vitro testing, and even historical reports. Of particular interest was the work on quality control in Ganoderma products. Utilizing an array of testing methods, fingerprints of the important active compounds were created and evaluated.

Jeff Chilton with Lin Zhi-Bin

Jeff with Dr. Lin Zhi-Bin

The conference was headlined by Dr. Lin Zhi-Bin, Professor of pharmacology at Beijing University and member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. With over 100 published papers, he is considered the premier Ganoderma scientist in China. I first met Dr. Lin in 1994 when I attended a ganoderma conference in Beijing. I was very happy to see him again and I shared with him my recent work on quality control, Redefining Medicinal Mushrooms.

Dr. Lin delivered a keynote on the benefits of Ganoderma (Reishi), highlighting the primary benefits of reishi to be disease prevention. This is directly related to immunological modulation and positive effects on the homeostasis of endocrine, cardiovascular, and nervous systems. This is also why reishi is considered a genuine longevity herb.

Skye and I value our yearly trips to China and view them as the best way to insure high quality mushroom products for our customers.

Until next year,

– Jeff

Reishi Mushroom Dragon Art

A Dragon on display at the International Conference on Ganoderma Research made entirely from Reishi.

Mushroom Growers Newsletter Weighs in on Beta-Glucan Testing

The Mushroom Growers Newsletter recently showcased the recent peer-reviewed paper from Dr. McCleary titled “Measurement of β-Glucan in Mushrooms and Mycelial Products”. Mushroom Growers Newsletter - Testing Beta-glucan Levels

In it they state the following:

A key medicinal compound in mushrooms is 1,3:1,6-β-glucan. It has been found in shiitake, maitake, reishi and other species and has been shown to have anticarcinogenic activity. Without a good test to measure the amount of β-glucan in a mushroom product, regulators and consumers have had no way to judge the quality of the product. Thus mycelial products may be composed of more α-Glucan (from starch in the substrate) than the active components of the mushroom or its mycelium.

As this technique becomes widely used, some of you will be challenged over the accuracy of your product descriptions and the actual utility of your products. You may wish to produce your extracts from fruit bodies and thus eliminate the impact of substrate residuals in your product. Careful selection of the substrate you use to produce the mushrooms can also affect the levels of the beneficial compounds.

And goes on to say:

This demonstrates that mycelial products grown on grain retain a lot of the starch from the grain. The bottom line is that if you want a product high in β-Glucans, you will need to produce it from mushrooms, not grain-based mycelium.

We couldn’t agree more.

Beta-glucan Paper Confirms Nammex White Paper Findings

A newly published research paper in the peer-reviewed  Journal of AOAC International titled “Measurement of β-Glucan in Mushrooms and Mycelial Products”, by Dr. Barry McCleary, CEO of Megazyme Ireland International, confirms testing results from the Nammex White Paper by Jeff Chilton, Redefining Medicinal Mushrooms, published in February, 2015.

Dr. McCleary’s paper examines different testing methods for measuring beta-glucans in basidiomycetes and utilizes whole dried mushrooms and off the shelf retail products as his sample material.

Table 2 shows the retail products tested:

Measurement of β-Glucan in Mushrooms and Mycelial Products - Table 2

Measurement of β-Glucan in Mushrooms and Mycelial Products – Table 2

Table 10 shows the testing results:

Measurement of β-Glucan in Mushrooms and Mycelial Products - Table 10

Measurement of β-Glucan in Mushrooms and Mycelial Products – Table 10

The alpha-glucan content (starch) in most of these products is extremely high.

Table 2 demonstrates that Product#2 is a mycelium on grain product which shows 66.4% alpha-glucan and 3.2% beta-glucan.

Product#3 also appears to be mycelium on grain with 72.5% alpha-glucan and 1.3% beta-glucan.

Product#8, which claims to be a “full spectrum” Cordyceps sinensis product, shows mostly alpha-glucan, 64.%, and 1.5% beta-glucan. This without question is mycelium on grain.

Product#9, which claims to be “100% organic ganoderma lucidum” shows 45.2% alpha-glucan and 7.3% beta-glucan.

Product#12, which is “Chaga mushroom (mycelium)” with other ingredients of “brown rice flour” shows 70% alpha-glucan and 0.0% beta-glucan.

In Redefining Medicinal Mushrooms we tested grains just to see what their alpha-glucan and beta-glucan content looked like. Our results are as follows:

Grain Tests from Redefining Medicinal Mushrooms
GrainAlpha-glucanBeta-glucan
Rice74%1%
Oats58%1%
Sorghum 64%2%

Our testing showed that even grain has a small amount of beta-glucans (1-2%). Pure mushrooms have very little amounts of starch, 1-5%.

So for the retail products listed above, how much is actually mushroom and/or mycelium?

The tests results would indicate that there is more grain than fungal tissue.

Measurement of β-Glucan in Mushrooms and Mycelial Products - Figure 2

This peer reviewed research by Dr. McCleary, confirms the test results reported in Redefining Medicinal Mushrooms and should be a wake up call for both companies and consumers. Genuine mushroom products are significantly different in quality, containing high levels of beta-glucans and low levels of alpha-glucans.  

As the results above demonstrate, the “mushroom” product you have purchased might be more grain than mushroom.

Full Paper: McCleary & Draga: Journal of AOAC International Vol. 99, no. 2, 2016

Total Health Magazine references Nammex white paper

ganoderma_lucidum_medicinal_mushrooms_dallas_clouatre-2A recent article at Total Health Magazine, entitled “What’s in Your Medicinal Mushrooms” by Dallas Clouatre, Ph.D, references our Redefining Medicinal Mushrooms white paper and our article in HerbalGram on mushroom product labelling. In it, Dr. Clouatre discusses the current issues facing the medicinal mushroom industry such as product adulteration and product mislabelling. It also references the FDA guidelines around proper labelling of fungal parts in a commercial product (CPG Section 585.525: Mushroom Mycelium – Fitness for Food; Labeling).

Read the full article here.

 

Commercial Labeling of Medicinal Mushroom Products

My recent guest contribution to HerbalGram (American Botanical Council) on Commercial Labeling of Medicinal Mushroom Products was recently posted in their October 2015 HerbalEGram (Volume 12, Issue 10), which is a peer reviewed publication. Read more