Fruiting Body vs. Mycelium - Which Mushroom Extract Is Right for You

Fruiting Body vs. Mycelium - Which Mushroom Extract Is Right for You

In the Western world, mushrooms are more than just a culinary delight; they're a blossoming revolution.

From gourmet to medicinal to the psychedelic, the once-underrated fungi are now recognised for their profound medicinal potential. This renewed fascination mirrors the collective desire for enhanced health and well-being.

Consequently, the nutritional supplement market has burgeoned, offering a range of products like mushroom powders, capsules, tinctures, and extracts. Yet, amid this surge, not all mushroom supplements are crafted with the same dedication to quality.

The truth is, many leading brands, keen to ride the wave, cut corners with fillers and inferior ingredients. A recent study's revelation- that 75% of reishi mushroom supplements lacked authentic reishi mushrooms- is a testament to this quality gap.

Central to the debate is the contest between the fruiting body and the mycelium regarding their medicinal efficacy. While some products champion either, or sometimes both, their therapeutic potency differs markedly. Even seasoned mycologists debate this, and for the everyday consumer, the territory can be difficult to navigate.

But fear not, for this guide seeks to illuminate the nuances of the mushroom supplement debate, ensuring you make an informed choice. After all, who could have anticipated the complexities lurking within these humble fungi?

Mushroom fruiting body

What is the fruiting body of a mushroom?  

The fruiting body represents the mushroom part that we commonly recognise and consume. It serves as the visible, above-ground structure that emerges from the ground or decaying organic matter. This component is what we typically identify as the "mushroom" itself. Fruiting bodies exhibit a wide range of shapes, sizes, and colors, rendering them visually appealing and diverse in their culinary applications.

They stand as the most readily identifiable aspect of the mushroom, with various species commonly available in supermarkets worldwide. Once the mushroom's fruiting body reaches full maturity, it proceeds to produce and release spores, thus initiating the mushroom's life cycle once more. 

What is mushroom mycelium?  

Mycelium is the hidden underground network of thread-like structures composing a mushroom's body, functions as its vegetative core, and operates as the equivalent of a root system. Comprising minute threads known as hyphae, mycelium extends its reach through soil or organic material, relentlessly seeking nutrients and moisture. 

When spores take root in a substrate, they initiate the colonisation process with mycelium. Essentially, this results in the substrate being overtaken by mycelium, typically using grain spawn as the initial material. Once mycelium has thoroughly colonised the substrate, it begins to give rise to primordia, which ultimately mature into the fruit body of a mushroom. 

Additionally, there exists a form of mycelium known as liquid mycelium, cultivated within a liquid culture. In the production of mushroom supplements, mycelium is extracted from this liquid culture. It's worth noting that this extraction process may differ from how your specific mushroom supplements are manufactured. 

What part of the mushroom has more beneficial compounds?  

The most important compound in mushrooms is beta-glucans. 

It's a clear winner; the mushroom fruiting body contains far more beneficial compounds than mycelium. Beta-glucans are found in the cell wall of the mushroom.  

Beta-glucan is the most studied compound found in mushrooms and has been shown to provide the most medicinal benefit. By helping stimulate the immune system, protect cardiovascular health & and maintain normal gut bacteria. 

The argument for using mycelium is that it contains certain compounds that are not found in the fruit body. The most notable is Erinaceus, found in Lion's mane mycelium. 

The problem is that most of these compounds have yet to be conclusively studied to show any potential medicinal or health properties. So, all the ingredients that actually give a benefit can be found in high quantities with the fruiting body of the mushroom. 

Fruiting Body Extracts 

Fruiting body extracts have been utilised for centuries in traditional medicine for their remarkable health benefits. These extracts are rich in bioactive compounds, including polysaccharides, terpenoids, and antioxidants, which contribute to their therapeutic properties. 

Why Fruiting Body Extracts Are More Beneficial

1. Rich in Medicinal Properties

Fruiting body extracts contain higher concentrations of medicinal compounds compared to mycelium extracts. The fruiting body is where most of the beneficial bioactive components accumulate, such as beta-glucans, which are renowned for their immune-boosting properties. A study was conducted to determine the beta-glucan content in mycelia and fruiting bodies and resulted in fruiting bodies having higher amounts of β-1,3-1,6-glucan.

2. Scientifically Proven Efficacy

Numerous scientific studies have focused on the therapeutic effects of fruiting body extracts. Researchers have found that these extracts possess potent antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and immunomodulatory properties, making them valuable in supporting overall well-being. A comparative study of the antioxidant and antimicrobial activities of methanol extracts from the fruiting body and mycelia was conducted. Antimicrobial activity was found significantly higher in the extract from fruiting bodies than from mycelia.

3. Better Absorption and Bioavailability

Fruiting body extracts are more easily absorbed by the human body due to their chemical structure and composition. Their bioavailability ensures that you can efficiently assimilate the beneficial compounds into your system, maximising their potential health benefits.

4. Safe and Natural

Since fruiting body extracts have a long history of traditional use and have been thoroughly studied, they are considered safe for most people when consumed as directed. It's always essential to consult with a healthcare professional before adding any new supplements to your routine. 

Mycelium Extracts: Understanding the Limitations  

Mycelium extracts, while gaining popularity in recent years, have been subject to some controversies in the mushroom supplement industry. One of the main concerns is that mycelium is often grown on grain-based substrates, which can lead to high levels of starch in the final extract.  

Moreover, mycelium extracts may contain fewer bioactive compounds compared to their fruiting body counterparts. Since mycelium's primary function is to colonise and decompose the substrate, it might not accumulate the same levels of beneficial compounds as the mature fruiting body.  

Mycelium Contains Starch and Extra Fillers 

Mycelium is low in beta-glucans; instead, there are far more alpha glucans, which are just starch. And not something you want in your mushroom supplement.

Most commercial mycelium producers grow it on grains like rye, brown rice, millet, and sorghum. These grains become difficult to separate from the mycelium, producing a high amount of starch in the final product.  

Myceliated grain that is dried and extracted contains tonnes of filler, which dilutes the mushroom supplement. And provides little to no beneficial compounds. It cannot be considered a medicinal mushroom. 

Mycelium is also grown in liquid cultures, which is then extracted. This is better than grain as you are not getting any grain fillers in the final extract. But this is still inferior to a mushroom fruit body extract. 

Comparing Fruiting Body and Mycelium Extracts 


Fruiting body extracts are more potent and offer higher bioavailability, meaning the body can absorb and utilise the beneficial compounds more effectively. This makes them a better choice for those seeking optimal results from their mushroom supplements. 

Quality and Purity 

Fruiting body extracts undergo rigorous testing to ensure their quality and purity. On the other hand, mycelium extracts can be more susceptible to contamination during the cultivation process.

Making an Informed Choice 

When choosing a mushroom extract, consider your specific health needs and the benefits you aim to achieve. While mycelium extracts might be more cost-effective, they might not offer the same therapeutic potential as fruiting body extracts. 

For those seeking optimal results and a broader range of health benefits, fruiting body extracts are undoubtedly the preferred option. Their rich profile of bioactive compounds, combined with scientific evidence supporting their efficacy, makes them an excellent choice for those looking to incorporate the power of mushrooms into their wellness routine. 

How do you know you're getting a real mushroom product?   

It is vital to do your research; make sure to read the label, front and back. Ensure that the product is detailed about ALL the ingredients and states very clearly that it is derived purely from mushroom fruiting bodies.  

With all mushroom products, be aware of any terms like "full spectrum", as it is just a marketing gimmick some companies use. Terms like this are used to justify using mycelium. It's just more smoke and mirrors to sell you cheap mushroom mycelium products.  

However, the term "full spectrum" is not like this with all supplements, and legitimately describes the quality of certain other products.  


We recommend learning about medicinal and edible mushrooms, it is important to understand what is currently on the market. To get the best medicinal mushroom supplements, you want to read up on products that you hear about. And remember that if a company is making wild claims that seem unreasonable, be skeptical! 

It is vital there is 3rd party lab testing behind any supplement or health product; without the testing quality of adaptogen mushrooms cannot be verified. 

Optionally you can save yourself some time and reach out to us; we will be happy to provide you with the answers to any questions you have. 

Reading next

Benefits of Reishi Mushroom: 10 Ways It Can Transform Your Health
Mushroom Powder vs. Mushroom Extract vs. Mushroom Tincture: Benefits & Which Is Best?

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