Articles by Paul Stamets

Mushrooms and Mycelium Help the Microbiome

HostDefense Mushrooms MyceliumFew people know that we are more closely related to fungi than to any other kingdom. 650 million years ago, we split from fungi. We evolved to encircle our nutrients within a cellular sack, a stomach, and digested nutrients within. Fungi evolved to externally digest its nutrients, and projected a fine filamentous, cobweb like cellular networks known as mycelium. In both cases, over millions of years, choosing beneficial bacteria to aid in this process became essential for good digestion. By selecting commensal bacteria to help digest food, both humans and mushroom mycelium created complex communities -- microbiomes -- to help digestion, prevent disease, and extend longevity. Not only do we benefit from a healthy microbiome, but so too does the mycelium.

The mushroom is a fruit of the mycelium, like an apple is to an apple tree. Mushrooms are made of compacted mycelium but are materially different than mycelium. Mushrooms are nutritionally dense, packed with polysaccharides, proteins, minerals, vitamins (B, D), are low in fat (5%, mostly linoleic acids) and are free of cholesterol. The cobwebby mycelium exudes enormous suites of enzymes, antimicrobial agents, antiviral compounds, as it grows in the ground beneath our feet and in the forests around us. Mycelium is the cellular foundation of our food webs, creating the rich soils so necessary for life. Mycelium is a digestive membrane that also destroys many environmental toxic wastes, and has spawned a new science -- called "Mycoremediation." Promoting mycelium in your garden and yards helps neutralizes many of the toxins that challenge our immune systems. Partnering with mycelium improves environmental health -- outside and inside our body

tv stump armstrong woodsMycelium's selection of bacteria, in the creation of guilds of microbes, is essential for the mycelium's survival. The mycelium chooses suites of bacteria that not only helps it digest food, and stave off predators, but also helps the plant communities that give rise to the ecosystems in which the mycelium resides, so fruits (mushrooms) can be produced. This means that mycelium based products can aid digestion and help promote beneficial bacteria in our microbiomes.

The nutritious and delectable mushrooms are very temporary, typically up only for a few days, attracting us and many other animals. Of great interest is that we know now mushrooms are prebiotics for the micrbiome -- augmenting the growth of beneficial bacteria such as Acidophilus and Bifidobacterium. Recent research now shows the consumption of Reishi and Turkey Tail mushrooms, not only boost the immune system, but also balance the microbiome in favor of these beneficial bacteria, resulting in better digestion, and, amazingly, potential weight loss!

Consuming mushrooms and mycelium adds many benefits in our pursuit of good health. Just make sure the products you consume are Certified Organic, US grown (better inspections), and that you know where they are grown and who is growing them. This is so important because there is a lot of deceptive advertising motivated by maximizing profits by minimizing costs, which jeopardizes quality. Adding mushrooms to your diet is probably one of the most important additions to the foods you can ingest that will improve your health!


References

On Opisthokontahttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opisthokont

Kumar Pallav, Scot E Dowd, Javier Villafuerte, XiaotongYang, Toufic Kabbani, Joshua Hansen, Melinda Dennis,
Daniel ALeffler, David S Newburg and Ciarán P Kelly. "Effects of polysaccharopeptide from Trametes versicolor and amoxicillin on the gut microbiome of healthy volunteers: A randomized clinical trial." Gut Microbes. 2014 Jul 1;5(4):458-67. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.4161/gmic.29558

Nathalie M. Delzenne & Laure B. Bindels. "Gut microbiota: Ganoderma lucidum, a new prebiotic agent to treat obesity?" Nature Reviews Gastroenterology & Hepatology. 12, 553–554 (2015). http://www.nature.com/nrgastro/journal/v12/n10/full/nrgastro.2015.137.html

Vanessa Moser. "The Human Microbiome: The Brain-Gut Axis and its Role in Immunity." Graduate Research Projects. Paper 7. 12-2014. http://knowledge.e.southern.edu/gradnursing/7

Raw Mushrooms

With the increased use of mushroom products, I feel a personal responsibility to inform the public about safety issues regarding mushroom preparations. Misleading marketing causes consumer confusion, risk, and damage to our industry, which is always under scrutiny. At Host Defense we are dedicated to providing the best, evidence-based, scientific information concerning safety and optimum use of mushrooms for health benefits.

Should you consume raw mushrooms and/or mushroom mycelium?

  • No, absolutely not! Raw mushrooms are largely indigestible because of their tough cell walls, mainly composed of chitin.
  • Dr. Andrew Weil advises, in agreement with other experts, that mushrooms must be cooked! “Mushrooms have very tough cell walls and are essentially indigestible if you don't cook them. Thoroughly heating them releases the nutrients they contain, including protein, B vitamins, and minerals, as well as a wide range of novel compounds not found in other foods,” (Prevention, Feb 1, 2013).
  • Raw mushrooms and raw mycelium may pose health hazards from harmful pathogens and heat-sensitive toxins—potentially causing red blood cell damage1, gastrointestinal irritation and allergic reactions, such as skin rashes2.

How can one safely use mushrooms?

  • By consuming mushrooms or mushroom products that have been cooked, or heat-treated.*
  • Proper heat treatment denatures toxins, softens fungal tissues, and allows our natural digestive enzymes to access and utilize the inherent benefits of both culinary mushrooms and mushroom supplements: Edible mushrooms should be tenderized by heating to at least 140 ˚F —over many hours— more preferably over 180˚F, most preferably above 200 ˚F to release their nutrients and render them digestible and safe.3

Are Host Defense® Mushrooms raw or cooked?
Host Defense® encapsulated products have been heated to proper temperature levels to maximize nutritional benefit and safety. Our process includes:

  • Growing mycelium (the root-like life stage) on Certified Organic, cooked, and sterilized brown rice.
  • At peak performance, we harvest and immediately freeze-dry material, to preserve nutrients and prevent oxidation. (Air-drying, a cheaper and inferior processing method, does not achieve maximum constituent levels nor reduce toxin levels, and is vulnerable to contamination and oxidation.)4
  • We heat-treat the mushroom mass after freeze-drying, to activate and unlock the nutritional compounds and ensure their bioavailability. Host Defense products are assayed a minimum of four times for quality and purity.

Thank you for your continued support on the path to help people and planet.

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1Shibata, T., M. Kudou, Y. Hoshi, A. Kudo, N. Nanashima, K. Miyairi, 2010. “Isolation and characterization of a novel two-component hemolysin, erylysin A and B, from an edible mushroom, Pleurotus eryngii.” Toxicon 56: 1436–1442.

2Kopp, T., P. Mastan, N. Mothes, S. Tzaneva, G. Stingl, A. Tanew, 2009. “Systemic allergic contact dermatitis due to consumption of raw shiitake mushroom.”Clinical and Experimental Dermatology 34: e910–e913.

3Choi Y., S.M. Lee, J. Chun, H.B. Lee, J. Lee, 2006. “Influence of heat treatment on the antioxidant activities and polyphenolic compounds of Shiitake (Lentinus edodes) mushroom.” Food Chemistry 99(2): 381–387. doi:10.1016/j.foodchem.2005.08.004.

4Ma, L., H. Chen, W. Zhu, Z. Wang, 2013. “Effect of different drying methods on physicochemical properties and antioxidant activities of polysaccharides extracted from mushroom Inonotus obliquus.” Food Research International 50:633-640.

[Additional references available upon request]

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