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    Host Defense Information

    Beta-Glucan Analysis and the Seven Pillars of Immunity

    Beta-Glucans

    Currently, there seems to be a lot of confusion about beta-glucans and their contribution to the beneficial properties of mushrooms. In order to shed more light on the subject, Paul Stamets has written a new article, "Beta-Glucan Analysis and the Seven Pillars of Immunity".

    Q: Why don’t you list beta-glucan content on your products?

    A: Because we want to be accurate. The testing methods used to determine beta-glucan content are highly inaccurate.

    Over the years, Fungi Perfecti LLC has spent thousands of dollars on product testing for beta-glucan content at various laboratories. The reported beta-glucan values from several independent laboratories vary greatly even though identical assays were performed. The most commonly employed assays for determination of beta-glucan content can only detect soluble beta-glucans; the insoluble beta-glucans remain undetected. Beta-glucans differ in their solubilities depending on their size, functionality, and interaction with other molecules. In agreement with other organic chemists specializing in beta-glucan analysis, we have concluded that the currently employed methods are unreliable! Deciding to place a percentage on our labels gives us sufficient pause, as we know each methodology and each laboratory would yield a different result. There is no standard, accepted,  validated methodology in the industry. This fact makes us reluctant to make any such claims on our product labels, and makes any purported beta glucan levels listed for any mushroom product dubious.

    Analytical laboratories have admitted that some mushroom companies use chitinase to convert otherwise water-insoluble sugars (chitin) into beta-glucans so their analyses falsely meet their desired marketing goal; a technique that simply embellishes the beta-glucan content in order to mislead the customer. Another trick some companies employ is to use beta-glucans isolated from yeast, such as Saccharomyces cerevisiae and list them as ‘mushroom beta-glucans’ on their product label—more than a bit of a stretch of logic, truth and reason. Yeasts are the simplest forms of fungi: many yeasts do not form mycelium and lack the cellular complexity of higher fungi, The other, non-beta-glucan constituents embedded into the cellular architecture of mushroom mycelium distinguishes the immunological activity of mushrooms from yeasts..

    Here at Fungi Perfecti, we are addressing this problem. Dr. Regan Nally, who directs our chemical analytical division, is leading this research effort by writing for publication an article for peer-reviewed journal exploring numerous inaccuracies in beta-glucan analyses.

    So I ask: what would you do? What is the scientifically accurate and ethical response? If you had one identical product tested at several laboratories but whose results ranged from Non Detectable to 40%, which would you put on the label? This is why Fungi Perfecti is different: if we are not confident in the scientific method being used by the industry, we refuse to pass on what we consider to be misinformation.

    The immune system is activated multifactorially by many components in mushrooms. Beta-glucans are just one. Other constituents include but are not limited to alpha-glucans, ergothioneines, antioxidants, anti-inflammatory sterols, lipids, glycosides, and mycoflavonoids—many of which work synergistically to optimize health. The efficacy of a multi-constituent approach has been positively confirmed in the scientific literature. Many of these active ingredients are not water soluble, meaning that they are not pulled out by hot water extraction. The inclusion of these beneficial co-ingredients enhances their protective effects. These constellations of complementary constituents are the foundation of our Host Defense mushroom product line.

    For educational purposes only. © 2013 Paul E. Stamets and Fungi Perfecti, LLC, All rights reserved.

    The Mushroom Renaissance

    The Mushroom Renaissance

    Mushrooms have been used cross-culturally for centuries as food, clothing, tools and medicinals. Examples include:

    • 7,000 year-old Tassilli cave paintings
    • Mushrooms found on 5,300-year-old Neolithic Otzi the Iceman
    • The ancient writings on mushrooms in the Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Traditional Chinese Herbal, dated 1644

    humans-plants.png

    The Genetic Connection

    • Humans and fungi share more DNA than humans & plants
    • Fungi and humans share in common infections from the same microbial pathogens. However, fungi, after millennia of evolution, are infinitely more adept at manufacturing compounds to combat these pathogens.

    Because of the similarities between fungi and animals, we can digest, assimilate and utilize these fungi as functional foods. Most everyone is familiar with the fruitbody (or mushroom cap), which is the end stage of the fungal life cycle.

    • The Mycelium holds the crucial life functions of the mushroom organism
    • The Fruitibody is the reproductive stage
    • The Spores represent seed-like capsules for complete regeneration

    Thousands of Compounds
    Compounds found in the fruiting body are just one piece of the full constituent offerings of mushrooms. Novel compounds exclusive to mycelium and the substrate (or food source), are used in combination to create a broader range of available health-promoting constituents.
     
    Functional Food Everyday
    Mushrooms have been used throughout history as functional foods.  Across the globe they provide macro- & micro-nutrients, while simultaneously conferring benefits to multiple systems in the body.

    Optimal Host Defense

    • Functional food mushrooms support the body’s immune system.
    • Cultural and traditional use, along with current scientific research, has shown mushrooms have positive correlation with certain functional systems and pathways in the body.

    We see this with:
    Reishi and the cardiovascular system
    Chaga and antioxidant support
    Turkey Tail and immune support
    Lion’s Mane and brain/nervous system support

    Mushrooms Offer Support for a Multitude of Body Systems 
    Examples include support for:
    •  Cardiovascular System  •  Digestive System  •  Neurological System  •  Immune System  •  Reproductive System  •  Integumentary (Skin) System  •  Skeletal System  •  Muscular System

    Multiple Mushroom Species As a Wellness Strategy

    • Research by Paul Stamets demonstrates that a combination of mushroom species increased immune activity compared to single mushroom species.
    • In 2003, a study was published in the International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms, “Potentiation of Cell-Mediated Host Defense Using Fruit Bodies and Mycelium of Medicinal Mushrooms.”         
    • This 7 mushroom blend, Stamets 7, is highly active in immune markers, and can be taken everyday like a multiple.

    For educational purposes only. © 2013 Paul E. Stamets and Fungi Perfecti, LLC, All rights reserved.

    Books by Paul Stamets

    Books by Paul Stamets

    Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save The World

    Mycelium Running
    This book is a manual for the mycological rescue of the planet. Setting the stage for the mycorestoration revolution, Mycelium Running unveils new methods for growing mushrooms, generating mycelium, and implanting mushroom colonies into the environment. Capitalizing on the digestive power of mycelium, this pioneering book shows how to strengthen sustainability of habitats while providing a multitude of biological benefits. Based upon the premise that habitats and humans (animals) have immune systems, and that mushrooms are the beneficial bridges for both, Mycelium Running marks the dawn of a new era: the use of mycelial membranes for ecological health. Linking mushroom cultivation, permaculture, ecoforestry, bioremediation and soil enhancement, Stamets makes the case that mushroom farms can be reinvented as healing arts centers, steering ecological evolution for the benefit of humans living in harmony with its inhabitants. Four components of mycorestoration are described in detail:

    • Mycofiltration: the filtration of biological and chemical pathogens as well as controlling erosion
    • Mycoforestry and mycogardening:the use of mycelium for companion cultivation for the benefit and protection of plants.
    • Mycoremediation: the use of mycelium for decomposing toxic wastes and pollutants.
    • Mycopesticides: the use of mycelium for attracting and controlling insect populations.

    Moreover, Mycelium Running has chapters on nutrition, medicinal properties, log and stump culture, natural culture, using easy to use and low-tech techniques, and much more. In total, 28 species are fully described. Heavily referenced and beautifully illustrated, this book is destined to be a classic reference for generations to come. Softcover, 356 pages, with over 360 color photographs.  

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    Growing Gourmet and Medicinal Mushrooms
    After years of living in awe of the mysterious fungi known as mushrooms-chefs, health enthusiasts, and home cooks alike can’t get enough of these rich, delicate morsels. With updated production techniques for home and commercial cultivation, detailed growth parameters for 31 mushroom species, a troubleshooting guide, and handy gardening tips, this revised and updated handbook will make your mycological landscapes the envy of the neighborhood.  

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    The Mushroom Cultivator
    by Paul Stamets and J.S. Chilton
    This book details the cultivation of 16 edible (including the Button/Portobello mushrooms) and health-promoting species and control measures for 40 genera of contaminants. 415 pages, with 249 black and white photographs, diagrams and scanning electron micrographs, this book is highly reviewed and used throughout the world as a mycological textbook. Known throughout the world as “The Grower’s Bible."

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    MycoMedicinals®: an Informational Treatise on Mushrooms
    Written by a mycologist and mushroom cultivator with more than 30 years of experience in the field, this full-color resource guide describes and documents the health benefits of 17 different species of mushrooms. Newly updated and expanded, MycoMedicinals includes answers to frequently asked questions and an extensive bibliography. 96 pages, softcover.  

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    Mushrooms and Mycelium Help the Microbiome

    Mushrooms and Mycelium Help the Microbiome

    Few 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

    Mycelium'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 support 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

    Seven Pillars of Immune Benefits from Mushrooms

    Seven Pillars of Immune Benefits from Mushrooms

    Seven primary constituent classes, or “pillars” buttress the immunity enhancing effects of mushrooms.

    1. Polysaccharides (ex. Alpha & Beta-glucans): Immunomodulating
    2. Glycoproteins (ex. PSK): Immunomodulating
    3. Triterpenes (Sterols, ex. sistosterols, stigmasterols, campesterols)
    4. Lipids: Cholesterol modulating
    5. Proteins (Enzymes): Antioxidants
    6. Cyathane Derivatives (ex. erinacines & hericenones, nerve growth stimulant factors)
    7. Secondary Metabolites

    Mushrooms have approximately 12,000 genes controlling the production of more than 200,000 compounds. Each mushroom species has a unique genetic identity and molecular architecture. This is what defines a species. After thousands of years of experimentation by our ancestors, we now know which are some of the most beneficial of the tens of thousands of mushrooms in existence. From this set, we have selected the best-documented, scientifically-studied and safest functional mushrooms in nature that can be cultivated. We have successfully developed methodologies to sustainably cultivate these species.

    We can now benefit from the natural host defenses of not just mushrooms, but also their precursor living mycelium, an opportunity that was not accessible to the ancients. Embedded within this highly integrated molecular matrix of fungal cells are beneficial active ingredients. Our bodies are able to utilize these active ingredients, provided the mycomaterial is pure, genetically potent and bioavailable.

    Much has been written about extraction methods for isolating single classes of constituents. Extraction necessarily excludes other derivatives. Hot water, for example, has been used for centuries in teas and soups. Hot water isolates soluble sugars, including certain beta-glucans, glycoproteins and triterpenoids. Alcohol extraction, also proven effective for more than two millennia, on the other hand, can solubize many sterols, ergothioneines, glycosides and flavonoids. Ethyl acetate is yet another solvent often used. Each solvent fractionates out only a few of the Seven Pillars of Immunity from Mushrooms.

    By combining water and alcohol extraction methods, and retaining the insoluble matter that precipitates, we benefit from capturing all Seven Pillars. By consuming properly prepared mushroom products, the acids and enzymes of our digestive system carry out the extractions for us, selecting what it needs most from the panoply of constituents. A less comprehensive method of extraction employs a singular solvent, excluding the many benefits of the solvent-insoluble active ingredients. Knowing mushrooms offer a wide range of beneficial compounds, which work together, but whose solubilities greatly differ, choosing one solvent over another becomes difficult.

    Simply put, what benefits do you not want?

    The classic model of how beta-glucans work is that they are recognized by the immune system as an invasive organism, activating the body’s immune defenses as if to fight an infection. The mushroom mycelium’s ability to defend itself from infectious diseases by staving off invasive organisms can offer us shields of protection not only through direct anti-microbial activity but also from the production of our host-mediated immune cells. Other extracellular compounds, such as antioxidants, have more indirect influences. Antioxidants protect DNA from oxidative stress damage and detoxify the body of free radicals. Mushrooms also modulate the inflammatory response from causing collateral oxidative damage to surrounding healthy tissue. This makes them especially useful as adjunct therapies to conventional medicine. Knowing the particular attributes of each mushroom species provides us with the ability to develop targeted approaches to many categories of disease.

    In the view of the FDA, the isolation, concentration, and purification targeting a single active ingredient from mushrooms can designate them as pharmaceuticals. Using the mushrooms and mycelium in their natural forms make them functional foods. With mushrooms, the adage that “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts” seems particularly descriptive. For the majority of us, mushrooms are a whole system tonic, benefitting overall human health, fortifying and readying your host defense of immunity.


    Paul Stamets, Director of Research, Fungi Perfecti Laboratories
    For educational purposes only. © 2013 Paul E. Stamets and Fungi Perfecti, LLC, All rights reserved.