Health Benefits of Mycelium

Why Host Defense Uses It in All of Their Supplements
shiitake mushrooms growing on a block of mycelium

Beneficial mushrooms have been used for centuries to support human health. From energy and stamina to cognition and memory, and from sleep and cardiovascular support to support for liver health and the microbiome, the various species of beneficial mushroom cover a wide range of system-specific needs. But one thing they all have in common is that both beneficial mushroom mycelium and fruit bodies have been extensively researched and shown to support an engaged and modulated immune response.§

At Fungi Perfecti® and Host Defense®, one of the most significant outcomes of our research has been discovering the enormous value of mushroom mycelium, the root-like structure of mushrooms. Mycelium is the metabolicallyactive and longest-living structure of the mushroom organism that contains numerous novel compounds shown to benefit human health.§

Mycelium is the longest living part of the fungal organism, consisting of intricate filaments that are only one cell-wall thick. Despite its delicate stature, mycelium is quite formidable, growing for months, years, and in some cases, potentially centuries. Mycelium can navigate through sometimes inhospitable ecosystems. It is capable of expanding its reach through a habitat filled with millions of microbes while communicating chemically with the surrounding environment, devising complex chemical responses to whatever challenges it encounters.§

Mycelium creates its own immune response that supports not only the health and vitality of the fungal organism, but also supports the health of the surrounding ecosystem. The mycelial immune response is often the ecosystem’s immune response. Scientific research, targeted studies, and widespread use in holistic health and wellness plans demonstrate that when mushroom mycelium is harnessed in the form of supplements, human beings also benefit from its significant supportive power.§

In order to grow mushroom mycelium, a food source called a “substrate” is used. The mycelium then breaks down and converts the substrate in a process of fermentation not unlike that of tempeh or yogurt. Host Defense® uses an organic brown rice substrate to grow their mycelium and then they use the mycelium, the fermented rice, and the fermented metabolites all together in their supplements. This provides a far greater range of metabolically active compounds than what can be found in mushroom fruit bodies alone. Recent research has shown that in Host Defense® products, both the mushroom mycelium and the fermented substrate are immunologically active and offer a complementary array of health-supporting compounds.§

The mycelium has been shown to robustly engage NK cells, NK T cells, Monocytes, B cells, and T lymphocytes. And, the fermented rice has been shown to engage the immune system’s checks and balances to keep it from overreacting, thereby maintaining a balanced response within the immune system’s “Goldilocks Zone”.§

Host Defense® Mushrooms™ began as a direct-to-store manufacturer of mushroom supplements more than 10 years ago. Today, we are the industry leader and the #1 best-selling mushroom supplement brand in the U.S. Our continued mission is to explore, study, preserve, and spread knowledge about the use of fungi for helping bees, trees, people, and planet. And, as part of our commitment to planetary health, we are proud to say we are >10x climate positive, offsetting more than 10 times our baseline emissions.

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SPINS scan Natural / Natural Products Supermarkets > $2MM / Total US – Natural Channel / Mushrooms Ingredient Report / 52 Wks 6/13/2021


Jerry Angelini

Jerry Angelini is head of education at Fungi Perfecti and Host Defense. He has a Master of Science in Rehabilitation Counseling from Boston University, and has been trained in Western herbalism, Traditional Chinese Medicine, and Ayurvedic medicine.

With more than 30 years of experience, Jerry is an invaluable source of knowledge and an important part of the Host Defense team.