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Products labeled as reishi and their differences with the real reishi (micro ground mushroom)

Apples are produced by cultivating apple trees. In the same way, reishi is produced by cultivating Ganoderma lucidum mushrooms. Would it be the same to eat an apple tree instead of an apple? It is clear that it would not. This is what frequently happens with reishi: some people eat fungi parts that are not the mushroom.

Which products are sold as reishi? In the market we might find mushrooms that are not the Ganoderma lucidum one,  we find Ganoderma lucidum parts such as mycelium and spores and there are also the extracts of certain parts of the Ganoderma lucidum mushroom. Learn here the differences of all this products.

polvo-reishi

Pure micro ground reishi mushroom powder, by MundoReishi©

Index:

 

Reishi mushroom: differences between the mushroom and an extract of it.

In order to explain the differences between these products, an example with bread may help you to understand them:

You can take a loaf of whole wheat bread and cook it in boiling water. Once the bread is well cooked, take it out of the pot and let the water boil until it evaporates completely, leaving a brown solid remain. Technically speaking, such process would be the extract making process.

Since water has been used as extractant, the resulting product will have concentrated amounts of vitamins B1 and B2. Even though B6 vitamin is present in whole wheat bread, such vitamin will not be present in the extract, due to the fact that vitamin B6 molecules are destroyed by high temperatures. The resulting product (remains) of the extraction will have concentrated amounts of starch (carbs), gluten ( proteins) and minerals (selenium, calcium, potassium, magnesium. Etc.

Having this into account, do you think is better to eat this product rather than a whole loaf of bread? 

For a person with a B6 deficiency, no benefit will be obtained from an extract.

For a person with a B2 vitamin deficiency, the extract will be better than the loaf of bread, due to the higher concentration of the vitamin present in such extract.

When there is gluten intolerance, the extract could potentially provoke serious damage to the intestine, since a few grams of extract will concentrate all the gluten contained in a loaf of bread.

In conclusion, the extracts have pros and cons. Whether we are talking about bread extracts or reishi extracts, they present positive and negative qualities.  When you want to take advantage of all the nutrients contained in a product, you have to eat the whole of it, not an extract of it. Only Pure micro ground reishi mushroom contains ALL reishi mushroom molecules.

 

Do you think that the images below are the same?

reishi-micromolido-microscopio extracto-reishi
Microphotography of reishi mushroom powder (400X): the mushroom cells are seen chopped by grinding. Microphotography of reishi extract (400X): agglomerations of concentrated chemical compounds are observed.

Reishi extracts. What do they lack?

Practically, almost all the extracts in the market are made to concentrate the most active molecules of the reishi mushroom: betaglucans and triterpenes. To maximize the extraction of betaglucans and obtain a bigger profit, many companies use highly reactive substances to extract these molecules. Such substances are able to tear off betaglucan chains from the mushroom cellular walls. However, since 2015 it is widely known that this extraction process damages the reishi betaglucans, which therefore loose a great part of its activity over organisms. You can find a more detailed explanation in this external article.

It is clear that this extraction process concentrates higher amounts of betaglucans, but  such betaglucans  have been degraded in the extract making, ergo their activity over organisms will be inferior or inexistent.

If we study the triterpenes and triterpenoids, we realize that there are more than 100 different molecules of this type. Due to their big chemical diversity, these molecules dissolve differently, some of them in hot water, some others in cold water. Others cannot be dissolved in water, but in non-polar solvents. Therefore, a reishi extract cannot have all the reishi triterpenes contained in pure micro ground reishi mushroom.  

Other active molecules of the mushroom are the immunomodulatory proteins. In the extracting processes, the product suffers strong PH changes, so Immunomodulatory proteins (LZ-8 and LZ-9) precipitate and get denatured. By losing their tertiary structure, proteins lose all its biological activity.

It goes without saying that in all the reishi extracts the fiber f the mushroom gets discarded, and as a consequence, all this properties are lost:   

  • Nutrients for our intestinal flora and our intestine: the bacterial degradation of the reishi mushroom fiber in the colon generates butyric acid (among other nutrients), which is very important for the health of the intestine. Butyric acid lack is related to inflammatory diseases.
  • When the fiber is retired from the product, some antioxidant properties are lost.
  • The fiber removes, by absorption and entrainment, carcinogenic substances of the colon: the fiber is considered preventive of colon tumors. Discarding it implies losing this virtue.
  • The betaglucans, a type of fiber, help to reduce high cholesterol levels. ( This has been clinically proved in yeast betaglucans. These collect bile juices, which are composed mostly of cholesterol, and allows them to be excreted via feces
  • They facilitate intestinal transit, so they come as a great deal of help in poop-prompting

Besides:

When a person consumes reishi extract, it is possible that the consumed extract may not contain the specific molecules this person needs. Should this be your case, the consumption of an extract might not be recommended.

We have given an example of an extract making process with whole wheat bread, and explain how, by using water as an extractant, B type vitamins, gluten and certain minerals were concentrated.

Now, supposing that we used ethylic alcohol as an extractant. The resulting process would be an alcoholic whole wheat bread extract. Such extract would contain bread oils, fat soluble vitamins and other substances.

  • The chemical composition of the result of the extraction of bread in alcohol is totally different from the extraction in water and therefore the activity in the organism will be very different.

The same thing happens with the reishi mushroom: each reishi extract in the market has a different composition that will vary according to the laboratory that makes the extracts and its extraction technique. Is the extract you are taking good for you? 

Finally, of the hundreds of medical publications of reishi mushroom, there is only one product that presents the properties of all the mushroom extracts that exist: the pure micro ground reishi mushroom, free from any extracting method.

Reishi mushroom and its differences with the reishi spores

Firstly, it is necessary to bear in mind that a spore is something similar to a plant seed. Fungi reproduction is made through spores. As seeds, when spores are set in ideal conditions, they germinate and produce fungi that eventually will produce mushrooms, like the reishi mushroom.   

esporas reishi en seta

Cultivation of reishi in our facilities (Ganoderma lucidum mushroom). Note the edge of the hat with hanging spore dust. The spores are like "the seeds of the fungus", a very different product in chemical composition and properties than the mushroom.

Being seeds and spores reproductive structures, they accumulate lots of energy inside in a very little volume. This happens due to the fact that once they germinate, they need to be able to feed the germinated organism during its first development stages. In nature, the most effective substance to store energy are oils and fats, ergo seeds and spores contain a very high quantity of oils or fats. That is the reason why we extract oil from sunflower seeds, pumpkin, rape or almond seeds, etc. and not from other parts of the plants. The same thing happens with fungi:

Reishi spores have a lot of oil inside and therefore are chemically very different from the reishi mushroom.

To get a better idea about how chemically different the mushroom and the spores are, We will continue with the example of the apple, previously used in other texts of this web: we know well that apples are not only tasty but very healthy, with lots of vitamin C, sugars of rapid assimilation, pectins that favor intestinal transit, water, etc. However, the seeds are toxic: eating some grams of apple seeds can kill a person! This happens because apple seeds contain a high amount of cyanogenic glycosides, substances that in contact with the stomach release hydrogen cyanide, which is very poisonous. 

Reishi mushroom and reishi spores are also very different:

  • Reishi spores have a chemical composition so different from the reishi mushroom that, for example, taking into account the results of this research should not be consumed in patients affected with stomach tumors: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24282100 
  • While the reishi mushroom could be considered, according to the researchers of this other study, as an aid against stomach tumor cells http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24892846

In many internet pages is wrongly indicated that reishi spores have the same properties as reishi mushrooms, even multiplied, but this is totally incorrect. 

reishi spores

Microphotography of spores of Ganoderma lucidum of our crops (400x). They are like microscopic seeds.

Of course, it is important to say that spores have virtues as food. However, they have to be studied (and are being studied) to determine in which ways they are beneficial for, as well as when they shouldn’t be consumed.

Finally, it is important to bear in mind that most of the research made on Ganoderma Lucidum are made from reishi mushroom, spores and mycelium are different and consequently have different properties.

Reishi mushroom and its differences with Ganoderma Lucidum mycelium

Imagine that you go to a fruit shop asking for apples, and the clerk gives you a bag of apple wood chips, mixed with leaves and crushed root. He says that this product is excellent, healthy and full of vitamins, but clearly, this bag has no apples inside, this is just a completely different thing!Well, the same thing happens whenever you go to buy reishi mushroom, and you are offered reishi mycelium instead. Many clerks say it is the same. Now that you get the point, you see that it is definitely not the same.

The reishi mushroom is the fruit of the fungus, and the mycelium is the fungus itself. 

micelio-ganoderma-bioreactor

Laboratory mycelium cultivation. The white part is mycelium that grows on the glass, outside the culture medium. The submerged brown parts are "balls" of mycelium. This is what is sold as reishi by different commercial brands. The culture is done in huge tanks, not in Erlenmeyer flasks. 

In order to appreciate the differences, we compare the active ingredients that have a mushroom with respect to those that have the mycelium. (Research paper is quoted below).       

  • Total Poliphenols: These are molecules that provide most of the antioxidant capacity of a mushroom. Its function in the body is considered protective against cellular aging. They are molecules that block free radicals. Poliphenols represent up to 7,82% of a reishi mushroom composition. Poliphenols in reishi mycelium are NOT detected.
  • Polysaccharides: the publication also studied the polysaccharides, molecules where the beta-glucans of immunomodulatory action can be found. An important feature in good reishi mushroom. While the reishi mushroom is composed up to   29.7% by polysaccharide content, the mycelium possessed only 1.1%, that is to say that the amount of polysaccharides in 1kg of reishi mushroom is the equivalent to the amount of polysaccharides in 27 kg of reishi mycelium. It is clear: mushroom and mycelium are not the same product.

As if the previous scientific publication did not make clear enough the differences between both products, in 2016 Bhardwaj2 compared dozens of molecules between reishi mushroom and mycelium. For this he used the advanced technique of ultra convergence chromatography coupled to a quadrupole mass spectrometry device. The result: Considering the different chemical composition, it can be concluded that affirmatively, the difference between the two is as to compare apple and apple wood, so don’t be fooled at the fruit shop!

Tipos de reishi y diferencias. Reishi en polvo, lo mejor.

cepas-reishi-cultivo-experimental

Reishi mushrooms of our crops, ready to be analyzed in the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Valladolid. Note that the mycelium does not resemble the mushroom at all, although everything comes from the organism Ganoderma lucidum.

Other bibliografy:

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