best mushroom supplements

Most Potent Part Of The Mushroom: A Guide To the Different Parts and Their Unique Health Benefits

Most Potent Part Of The Mushroom: A Guide To the Different Parts and Their Unique Health Benefits

Mushrooms are interesting for many reasons. For example, did you know that they are genetically closer than plants are to humans! What's more, it was recently discovered that mushrooms can even communicate with each other using electrical signals through their mycelium network.

Their anatomy is a massive part of what makes fungi so special. Unlike plants which have roots, mushrooms grow from the mycelium. The mycelium is the same part of the mushroom they use to communicate. It’s a web of thin mycelial threads, that spread through the underground and absorb nutrients from the soil.

Besides their fascinating anatomy, fungi have been used in traditional medicine for centuries. They are prized for their unique properties, with modern research catching up and beginning to unlock the secrets of the different parts of mushrooms and their amazing health benefits.

From the caps, stem and mycelium, each part of a mushroom contains unique compounds. In this blog, we’ll explore all of these mushroom parts and the unique health benefits they offer. So whether you're a health enthusiast, a foodie, psychonaut or just curious, keep reading to discover the secrets of these magical mushrooms.


What’s Above the Ground? 

Above the ground, mushrooms are comprised of caps, scales, gills, rings, stems, and volvas of the fruiting body. The cap is the top part of the mushroom, the bit that looks a bit like a hat. Beneath the cap are the gills, which are thin, fleshy strips that produce the spores of the mushroom. 


The Cap of the Mushroom

The mushroom cap, which is also known as the pileus, is the top part of the mushroom that we see above ground. The cap of a mushroom is rich in beta-glucans, which are complex sugars that have been shown to boost the immune system and reduce inflammation. 


The Mushroom Stem

Connected to the mushroom cap, is the stem, which is also known as the stipe. The stem of a mushroom is a good source of chitin, a type of fibre that can help improve gut health. Stems will have similar amounts of compounds to the caps as they both comprise most of the mushroom fruiting body.

The stem is located beneath the gills, which connects the cap to the rest of the mushroom. Some have rings on the stem, which are often found under the cap. The ring is a piece of tissue that connects to the stem. Some mushrooms have volvas at their base; these are the parts which look like bulbs and are the cells left over from when the mushroom was still growing underground.


Mushrooms Caps vs Stems: What’s More Potent?

The question is often asked whether the mushroom cap or stem is more potent; in general, they both have very similar ratios of nutritional contents and compounds. But recent research has shown that the caps may have an edge in potency over the stems. That being said, people using medicinal mushrooms should not be too concerned with this, as the difference is marginal.


Mushroom Gills

The gills are on the underside of the cap and produce spores. The mushroom gills are extremely delicate, and are protected by the thick cap. The gills contain various compounds that can help support the immune system, including beta-glucans, antioxidants, and polysaccharides.


What Are Mushroom Spores?

The spores are the reproductive cells of mushrooms. In that sense, they're similar to plant seeds. A mushroom can release millions of spores into the air, where they will eventually land in a suitable environment and germinate to grow into new mushrooms.

The spores contain all the genetic information of the mushroom, so they are vital for the propagation of fungi. Many species of mushrooms can only reproduce by releasing spores. These species are rich in terpenes, which are compounds that give mushrooms their characteristic taste and smell. Terpenes are also responsible for many of the medicinal properties of mushrooms.

But the spores themselves have not been found to contain any active ingredients which can provide any medicinal benefit. Reishi spore oil is commonly sold by companies, but with little evidence backing the efficacy of spores. And since tonnes of Reishi spores are produced during the growing process, it is easy to see why companies would create a supplement out of the spores.

The best Reishi supplement you can get is an extract made from the fruiting body (cap and stem), grown under perfect growing conditions. This means high-altitude mountain water, clean mountain air and optimal mushroom growing methods. This will produce the highest quality and most potent mushroom extract.

In the Shroomex Red Reishi, we have tested our sample at over 64% beta glucans, which is the highest amount ever tested by Eurofins!


What’s Below the Ground?

Mycelium is the part of the mushroom that grows below the ground. This is where the fungus grows and multiplies. The mycelium anchors the mushroom to the soil and absorbs all the nutrients from the ground. As we mentioned before, mycelium can also form a network of connections with other mycelia, which allows different mushrooms to communicate with each other.

The mycelium is made up of cells called hyphae, which are long and thin structures that branch out from the main body. Each hypha is covered in a cell wall; these walls strengthen the mycelium. The hyphae are also responsible for breaking down organic matter, which the mushroom then uses for food.


What Part of the Mushrooms Makes the Best Supplement?

Most people taking mushroom supplements with the aim of improving their health have the option of using the fruiting body or mycelium of the mushroom. To get the maximum amount of medicinal ingredients, the fruiting body will always be the best and most potent part of the mushroom.

The fruiting body of the mushroom is far superior to mycelium extracts because of one simple reason; it’s just so much more potent. A lot of supplement brands use mycelium as it is a much cheaper alternative, even though it lacks the same amount of active ingredients. This is why it is so important to have the supplement 3rd party lab tested for medicinal compounds, verifying the quality of a particular extract.

While the fruiting body is better than mycelium to take as a supplement, mushrooms can’t grow without it. Out of the over 10,000 different species of mushrooms, all fruiting bodies have to grow from mycelium, so in that sense it is a magic part of our ecosystem. It's just not as medicinally potent as the mushroom fruiting body.


In Summary

The underground world of fungi is often hidden from view, but it is an integral and fascinating part of the world’s natural and beautiful ecosystem. The spores that are spread through the air and water play a crucial role in plant growth and health, while the mushrooms that grow above ground provide food and shelter for many different species of animals.

Mushrooms are being studied for their potential to treat a variety of diseases. So next time you’re out on a hike or walk in nature, take a moment to look around for these amazing organisms and appreciate the role they play in our world. 

And always make sure when you’re buying mushroom supplements, to select 100% fruiting body and ensure there are published 3rd party lab test results to prove this. Read the label, and if you are unsure about anything, just reach out to us and we will be happy to help you.

Reading next

The 6 Pillars Of Health And Wellness With Medicinal Mushrooms

Leave a comment

All comments are moderated before being published.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.