How to ensure you’re buying high-quality medicinal mushroom raw materials

Not all medicinal mushroom raw materials on the market are the same. There is a lack of standardized procedures and processes in the market, which results in varying quality of products.

This variability, or sometimes lack of quality, is often not apparent to the buyer. They are left to compare different suppliers who may all grow, produce and analyze their medicinal mushrooms differently.

It’s not easy for someone unfamiliar with medicinal mushrooms to figure out what makes a high quality, or an effective and safe, medicinal mushroom product.

Through our decades of experience, we’ve found that the quality of a medicinal mushroom product is determined by a few very important factors. Let’s take a closer look at them below.

Quality check for medicinal mushroom raw materials: What to look for before buying

We can divide the quality factors into two categories: what happens in the mushroom farm, what happens in the production phase and how these two are analyzed and controlled.

Quality begins at the mushroom farm with experienced farmers and specific growing conditions

The quality of a medicinal mushroom is largely determined at the growing stage by the following aspects:

1. Farmers need to be aware of all the requirements of different mushroom species for them to develop to their full potential.

The choice of farm and farmer is therefore crucial. For example, many medicinal mushrooms originate from China. It makes sense to grow them there with the help of local farmers who are experienced in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).

They have the necessary experience with these mushrooms and know what they need to develop to their full potential. In addition, studies have shown that mushrooms grown in their natural habitat in China are of higher quality than mushrooms grown in countries with no experience in TCM, such as the United States.

Experienced farmers can also more easily ensure that the other important quality factors are met:

2. The mushrooms are grown in their natural habitat, away from pollution from factories or cities.

3. Each mushroom is grown on a growing medium or substrate that is natural to a particular mushroom and sterilized to avoid the use of pesticides.

4. The mushrooms are given enough time to mature according to the needs of each type of mushroom. This time can vary. For example, shiitake needs five months to fully mature, while reishi needs up to eight months.

All of these factors are important to ensure that the mushrooms are healthy and can grow to their maximum capacity, fully developing all of the vital ingredients that customers are looking for.

Only the purest form of the mushroom is processed under standardized and regulated conditions

A high-quality mushroom can still be turned into a substandard medicinal mushroom product if the following aspects are not taken into consideration during the production phase:

5. Only the fruiting body, or the part of the mushroom that grows out of the soil, is used to ensure highest possible potency and purity.

It’s not uncommon for some suppliers to process the mycelium or the entire root system with the fruiting body. Mycelium and fruiting body contain the same ingredients, but the concentration is much higher in the fruiting body. Certain compounds, such as triterpenes, are essentially absent in the mycelium.

Thus, by using both the mycelium and the fruiting body, these suppliers can produce a large mass for further processing. This can mean lower prices, but what the buyer is buying is not a 100% mushroom product, but a blend.

Some suppliers even include the entire substrate in the mix, further reducing the amount of important ingredients such as polysaccharides in the end product, further reducing its potency.

It’s also worth mentioning that the regulatory bodies in many countries place restrictions on the sale of such mixed products. For example, the FDA in the United States, which controls the drugs and food, doesn’t allow mixed mushroom products to be sold as mushroom products. In the EU it’s also completely forbidden to sell such mixed medicinal mushroom products, as they are considered novel food.

6. The concentration of polysaccharides is standardized for each product to ensure that the recommended dosage is safe for the end user.

The medicinal mushroom industry doesn’t yet have standardized methods of analysis. That’s why different suppliers may claim different concentrations of polysaccharides in their medicinal mushroom products.

When it comes to polysaccharides, more is not always better. The natural content of polysaccharides in mushrooms is around 20-30 %. Therefore, a product with 40-50 % or more polysaccharides is likely to have polysaccharides not only from mushrooms, but also from other polysaccharide-containing materials such as grains.

7. The raw materials are processed in GMP compliant facilities.

GMP stands for Good Manufacturing Practice. They are a set of guidelines for the safe manufacture of foods, beverages, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, dietary supplements and medical devices.

The guidelines cover aspects such as hygiene, procedures, instructions, and record keeping, and their purpose is to ensure the safety of these products.

Because medicinal mushrooms are intended to be consumed by the end user, it’s important that their suppliers follow these guidelines in their production facilities and provide adequate documentation.

8. Each batch of medicinal mushroom raw materials need to be tested for contaminants multiple times throughout the manufacturing process, both in-house and in independent, certified and accredited laboratories.

Testing the quality of the raw materials is of course crucial in any manufacturing company to ensure the safety and quality of the final products. This should happen multiple times during the production process starting from the mushroom farm all the way to the final inspection before the goods are being shipped to the customer.

Although testing can be done in-house, it’s more trustworthy for a company to have its products tested by an outside company as well. This is also to help the company avoid possible conflicts of interest and bias that may result from testing the products only in-house. After all, the goal should be the safest and most effective product possible.

End notes

The interest of all players in the market should be to provide safe and effective medicinal mushroom raw materials. Of course, it is important to have a financially successful business, but it should be done in a way that maintains the trust of the entire industry. Otherwise, we could lose the credibility that people and authorities have in medicinal mushrooms. And without that that there is no market.

That’s why it’s important that suppliers and buyers of medicinal mushroom raw materials and products strive for the highest proven quality possible.


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