If we go to a fruit shop and ask for apples and the grocer takes out a bag for us, full of apple-tree wood shavings mixed with leaves and crushed root (the apple plant), even if he tells us that is an excellent product, healthy and with lots of vitamins, we’d surely say he must be crazy. This is because we all know that a bag of apples (the fruit of the tree) is not the same as the bag full of apple tree (the plant) pieces. Well, believe it or not, this is what happens when we ask for reishi (the fruit of the fungus) in a store and they sell us mycelium of Ganoderma lucidum (reishi fungus), saying it is the same. They are different parts of the fungus and therefore they are enormously different.
Cultivation of mycelium in the laboratory. The white part is mycelium that grows on the glass, out of the growth medium. The immersed brown part are "balls" of mycelium. This is what is sold as reishi by different trademarks. The cultivation is conducted in huge tanks, not in Erlenmeyer flasks as in this case.
To show the differences, we will summarize a couple of scientific documents (references at the end of the article).
The first one compares several active substances contained in the mushroom and in the mycelium of Ganoderma lucidum. Among others, it speaks of the total content of polyphenols, which are molecules that provide reishi with most of its antioxidant power. Whereas in the reishi mushroom the content was 7.82%, in the mycelium of Ganoderma lucidum these plyphenols were not detectable! To ignore this is to ignore dozens of reishi’s protective molecules. The publication also studied polysaccharides, the molecules that include the immunomodulating beta-glucans, so important in good reishi. In this case, the mycelium had only 1.1%, while the reishi mushroom reached 29.7% 1, that is:
The equivalent in polysaccharides of 1kg of reishi is 27 kg of mycelium! Does anyone still think they are the same?
In case the previous scientific publication did not clarify the differences between both products, in 2016 Bhardwaj2 compared tens of molecules in reishi and in the mycelium. For this purpose, he used the ultra-performance convergence chromatography technique together with a Quadrupole mass spectrometer equipment. The result: regarding the different chemical composition, it can be concluded that, yes, the difference between them is like comparing an apple and the apple tree wood. Do not let yourself be deceived at the fruit shop!
Reishi mushrooms from our experimental crops, ready to be analyzed at the faculty of Medicine at the UVA University. Notice that one thing has nothing to do with the other, although they all come from the same Ganoderma lucidum organism.
1- S. T. Chang and J. A. Buswell, "Safety, quality control and regulational aspects relating to mushroom nutriceuticals," Proceedings of 6th International Conference in Mushroom Biology and Mushroom Products. GAMU Gmbh, Krefeld, Germany, 2008.
2- Bhardwaj, A., et al., Screening of Indian Lingzhi or Reishi Medicinal Mushroom, Ganoderma lucidum (Agaricomycetes): A UPC2-SQD-MS Approach. J Pharmacopuncture, 2016. 18(2): p. 177-89