Our Mission to Provide the Most Potent and Pure Medicinal Mushrooms Available
As self-confessed mycophiles when we started on our journey 5 years ago to bring Inner Atlas to life we set out to offer the highest quality medicinal mushroom extracts possible. To us, fungi are some of the most fascinating organisms on the planet and we have always been passionate about ensuring that we’re working with potent medicinal mushroom extracts that live up to the full potential of the healing benefits they possess. In other words, we work hard to provide mushies that we know are active and potent and deliver their intended benefits.
A little-known fact is that methods of cultivating and processing medicinal mushrooms vary greatly which in turn affects their quality and potency. Mushrooms that are grown and processed using cheaper and faster methods, while more cost-effective, unfortunately, are most likely to result in a product that is a whole lot of rice or grain and little active mushroom.
But never fear we’ve got you covered and will run through our sourcing principles and what to look out for, so you know you’re working with a quality product. Buckle up, we’ve got a few mushie truths on the way!
We Work with Wood-Grown Mushrooms, not Grain-Grown
We're BIG advocates for wood-grown medicinal mushrooms and one of the reasons why this is so important is that wood-grown medicinal mushrooms result in the most potent extracts.
What separates medicinal mushrooms from other categories of mushrooms like psychedelic, culinary or poisonous shrooms is that in the wild they're predominantly found growing on wood or trees as opposed to springing from the ground. Medicinal mushrooms have evolved to grow on wood, and across thousands of years, ancient cultures have worked with the fruiting bodies of wood-grown medicinal mushrooms found in the wild. This is a tradition that we follow at Inner Atlas.
Different medicinal mushrooms prefer different types of wood and trees to grow on. This is traditionally called Duanwood meaning authentic or preferred wood. All of the mushrooms in our range our grown on duanwood. The substrate a mushroom grows on has a big impact on not only the appearance and physical features of a medicinal mushroom but also its chemistry with wood-grown mushrooms having a naturally higher level of active compounds. When you think about it this makes sense. Just like what we eat affects our health and vitality, it's the same for medicinal mushrooms. What they grow on, and what they feed on is imperative to their quality and the active compounds or phytochemicals they will ultimately possess.
We Source from Traditional Growing Locations – Di Tao
We source our medicinal mushrooms from traditional growing locations; the places they have been found growing in the wild for centuries, if not thousands of years meaning their genetic lines are resilient and potent. This traditional Daoist practice is referred to as Di Tao and is thought of as sourcing herbs and mushrooms from their spiritual homeland and authentic place of origin. These special places are revered for their pristine and remote natural environments providing perfect habitats and climate conditions for each mushroom to thrive.
For instance, our Inner Atlas Reishi is sourced from Jinzhai County, a Di Tao location which was recorded in The Divine Farmer's Materia Medica compiled in the 1st or 2nd century AD.
We Use Semi-Wild and Sustainably Wild Harvested Mushrooms
Our mushies are grown in semi-wild, natural environmental conditions exposed to the elements including the sun, rain, temperature changes, and wind. These conditions prime our mushies for resilience and promote the production of all of the beneficial compounds you would find in wild-growing mushrooms. There are two exceptions to this, our Chaga which is sustainably wild harvested from birch trees in Siberia and our Cordyceps Militaris which is grown indoors.
We Only Use the Fruiting Body of the Mushroom
Our extracts contain one mushroom fruiting body only. We’re big advocates for using fruiting bodies from a traditional perspective and also a scientific perspective as the fruiting body has been shown to contain the highest level of active compounds as opposed to mycelium. We don’t include any mycelium, which is the root system of the mushroom.
Mycelium does contain active compounds, but the fruiting body is widely documented as the more concentrated and abundant source. It's become popular for some products to contain both fruiting body and mycelium but there are a few downsides to this. Products that contain fruiting body and mycelium are grown on grain, as mycelium can't be successfully extracted from wood and what's more the mycelium grows enmeshed in the grain and is impossible to separate so pretty much all of the grain or rice substrate ends up in the final product whether it be a powdered extract or tincture diluting its potency. You essentially end up with a 'mushroom' product that's a little mushroom and a whole lot of grain.
Bottom line you can rest assured our Inner Atlas extracts are 100% real mushrooms!
We Use Highly Concentrated Extracts
Our mushies also have some of the highest extract ratios available. For instance, our Chaga has a 20:1 ratio, meaning 20 kg of raw Chaga makes 1 kg of our Chaga extract. You might notice some more affordable extracts in your local bulk health food store that may have a 1:1 extract ratio. This means that you’d have to consume a lot more of this lower extraction mushie to get the same active benefit.
We Use A Dual Extraction Process
You might notice that our mushies are dual-extracted. Dual extraction refers to a combination of water and in our case organic alcohol extraction. Alcohol is used to draw out the fat-soluble compounds in the mushrooms, the adaptogenic terpenoids. Hot water is used to extract water-soluble compounds, polysaccharides, and immunomodulating beta-D-glucans. The dual extraction process ensures you're getting the full spectrum of compounds when it comes to a potent mushroom extract.
We Don’t Use Whole Ground Mushrooms – A Little Tip These Are Undigestible
There are many mushies available out there that are often referred to as whole-ground medicinal mushrooms, meaning they're dried and ground into a fine powder. But a little-talked-about fact is that medicinal mushrooms must be extracted to provide any health benefit.
The cells of medicinal mushrooms are made of a tough fibre called chitin. Chitin acts as a barrier that surrounds and embeds the beneficial active compounds within medicinal mushrooms effectively locking them in. Chitin is an extremely hard all-natural material and is also found in lobster and insect shells. Humans cannot digest chitin properly meaning whole ground, non-extracted medicinal mushrooms are indigestible and unfortunately have pretty much no health benefit  Extracted medicinal mushrooms remove the chitin barrier by dissolving the mushroom’s tough cell walls and making the active compounds accessible to the human body. For more on this topic head over to our Journal entry Medicinal Mushroom Extracts vs Whole Powders.
We have some of the Highest Levels of Active Compounds – Beta-D-Glucans
Beta-D-glucans are one of the main components responsible for making a medicinal mushroom medicinal. As known biological response modifiers, they have the ability to up-regulate and down-regulate the response of our biological systems. High levels of beta-D-glucans were essential for us as we wanted to be able to guarantee to our customers that our mushies were active and potent and had the ability to provide the benefits they’re intended to. Each of our Inner Atlas medicinal mushroom extracts contain at least 30% beta-D-glucans, which is more than other extracts you may have come across, and we guarantee this with Megazyme testing. It's an expensive testing method to undertake but in our view, it's worth it.
Most of our batches have closer to 40% beta-d-glucans, sometimes even greater than 40! If you’re ever interested in the level of beta-glucans in one of our Mushroom Extracts or Adaptogenic Blends you’ve purchased just drop us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’d be glad to let you know!
Now you may have also seen some medicinal mushroom products that have a polysaccharide count listed on the label (if any compounds are listed at all). Let’s clear up the confusion between beta-D-glucans and polysaccharides. Some polysaccharides like starch or gluten help store the energy we gain from consuming food and are commonly found in foods like oats, potatoes, and legumes. Here’s where it gets interesting, beta-glucans are not the only type of polysaccharide found in mushrooms. Alpha-glucans are another type of polysaccharide found in mushrooms that have no medicinal properties. Mushrooms that have a high listed polysaccharide count (over 50% ) commonly contain high levels of alpha-glucans. This is due to the prevalence of mushrooms and mycelium-based products that are grown on grain or rice. These products are drawing their nutrients from the starchy substrate they are grown on and contain residual starch that isn't filtered out during processing. The reality of these grain-grown products is that they're faster and less costly to produce.
The bottom line, to make sure you’re buying a medicinal mushroom product that’s active and potent it’s important to look for a beta-D-glucans count rather than polysaccharides.
Our Mushies Are Certified Organic
We're all aware of the benefits of eating organic produce wherever possible. It's no different when it comes to medicinal mushrooms. Mushrooms are a product of their environment and absorb from their surrounding environment, which if your extracts aren't organic, could be unwanted toxins and contaminants. We source our mushies from farms that are certified organic within the EU and USDA Organic Certification Programs. Our farmers are subject to stringent audits to ensure their mushrooms and farms don't contain any contaminants, pesticides, or heavy metals. We also lab-test our mushies for a second time here in Australia as a measure to double-check their purity before they reach you.
We Test and Pack Our Mushies and Blends Here in Australia
As a final note, we test our mushies and pack both our Mushroom Extracts and Adaptogenic Blends here in Australia. A whole lot of love goes into our mushies and what we do.
We hope this rundown helps to demystify some of the messaging around medicinal mushrooms and provides a little insight into why and how we do what we do. We'd love to hear from you with any questions or thoughts in the comments section below.