Jeff Chilton Presents Ground Breaking Research at ISMS 2016

On June 1st, 2016, Jeff presented his research that was published in Redefining Medicinal Mushrooms, which created a new testing protocol for qualifying functional mushroom products.

In one example, he highlights reishi to clearly demonstrate the differences in beta-glucans for whole reishi mushrooms and reishi mycelium grown on grain. The results were as follows:

Reishi Mushroom and Mycelium on Grain Test Results
Reishi Mushroom30.5%0.37%0.1%
Reishi Mycelium on Grain6.56%40.77%0.01%

The testing results illustrate that residual grain from mycelium products increases alpha-glucans (starch) and lowers the beta-glucans and ergosterol. Ergosterol is the sterol that is a prime indicator of degree of fungal presence in any material. It is also the pre-cursor to vitamin D2.

Full Presentation

Presentation Slides

ISMS Published Paper

Full Paper: A New Analytical Fingerprinting System for Quality Control of Medicinal Mushroom Products, Jeff Chilton, ISMS 2016

Follow Up Questions

At the end of Jeff’s presentation, there were 2 questions from Paul Stamets of Fungi Perfecti. This company sells mycelium on grain products.

1. Dr. McCleary’s recent paper on the Megazyme Beta-glucan test method found almost 2x more beta-glucans in reishi mushroom than previous test findings. How can this test method be accurate with such a wide variance of test results?

Jeff responded that Dr. McCleary’s paper was a detailed evaluation of the Megazyme beta-glucan method as well as a review of beta-glucan methods published by other mushroom researchers – Manzi and Molleken specifically. Dr. McCleary clearly elucidated the reasons why the methods used by Manzi and Molleken were not accurate.

When he re-evaluated his own Megazyme test method, he discovered that sulfuric acid was a better solvent than HCl for the procedure. Although sulfuric acid had no effect on most of the mushroom samples, it had a dramatic effect on reishi, increasing the beta-glucan result. Because of this finding, Dr. McCleary now recommends using sulfuric acid when running the Megazyme method.

This finding demonstrates why scientists such as Dr. McCleary publish in peer-reviewed journals and report their findings for the betterment of science. So the answer to Mr. Stamets’ question is that the method has been improved and best of all, reishi is actually higher in beta-glucans than originally believed.

Dr. McCleary’s paper was published in the peer reviewed Journal of the Association of Official Analytical Chemists International, the body that validates analytical methods used in scientific research and industry. So the Megazyme method has now been peer reviewed.

2. How does the Megazyme method differentiate between mould mycelium and basidiomycete mycelium?

The Megazyme method is not designed to differentiate fungal species. Microbiological testing can accomplish this if the microbes are alive. In order to discover if other fungal species are present, Nammex sends the sample out for DNA analysis. This accurately determines what organisms are in the sample, so if mold or other plants are present, they will show up in the DNA analysis. Likewise, if a product is spiked by yeast, grain starches, or other adulterants, they will also show up.

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 American Association of Agricultural Chemists, AOAC, the organization that sets and validates the testing standards for all analytical testing, confirmed the findings in Jeff’s Redefining Medicinal Mushrooms, and validated the Megazyme method for beta-glucan testing. The paper is titled “Measurement of β-Glucan in Mushrooms and Mycelial Products” and is written by Dr. Barry McCleary.

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
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


A recent article at Total Health Magazine, entitled “What’s In Your Medicinal Mushrooms?”, by Dallas Clouatre, PhD, highlighted quality control issues in the supplement market. In it, Dr. Clouatre discusses the current issues facing the medicinal mushroom industry such as product adulteration and product mislabelling and references Jeff’s “Redefining Medicinal Mushrooms white paper and article in HerbalGram on mushroom product labelling. 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), “Commercial Labeling of Medicinal Mushroom Products”, reveals how U.S. myceliated grain products are being sold as “mushroom”. These grainy products are not mushrooms, but actually a food product called Tempeh, yet they are being sold as mushroom supplements.

“Commercial Labeling of Medicinal Mushroom Products” is a very good primer into differences in mushroom products that are being sold in the marketplace.

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