Beta-D-Glucans | Why They Are So Important When It Comes to Medicinal Mushrooms
When we started on the journey of sourcing medicinal mushrooms, we had certain criteria we were looking for. We wanted to be able to provide medicinal mushies of a higher quality than what was already available and that were at a standard we wanted to take ourselves.
Our sourcing journey was a long one, about a year and a half in fact. But we landed on a supplier and a group of farms that had practices of growing medicinal mushrooms which were in alignment with what we were seeking:
The high levels of beta-D-glucans were crucial for us.
Beta-D-glucans are what makes a medicinal mushroom medicinal. We wanted to be able to guarantee that our mushies were primed to provide the benefits they’re intended to.
What are Beta-D-Glucans?
Beta-D-glucans are known biological response modifiers, which refers to the ability to up-regulate and down-regulate the response of biological systems.
What do Beta-D-Glucans Do?
It is the beta-D-glucan content and specific beta-D-glucan architecture that makes a mushroom medicinal. The architecture of beta-D-glucans vary slightly from mushroom to mushroom, which gives each mushie its own set of benefits supported by the presence of compounds like triterpenes, antioxidants, prebiotics, proteins, polyphenols, and digestive enzymes which again vary across each individual medicinal mushroom type.
As biological response modifiers, beta-D-glucans are famed as being one of the few identified substances that can boost the immune system without pushing it to overreact. This is just one of their benefits. A 2018 study noted that the beta-D-glucans found in mushrooms were attracting a great deal of attention due to their range of health benefits including being immunomodulatory, cardioprotective, hepaprotective, antioxidant and antimicrobial.
Polysaccharides vs Beta-D-Glucans – What You Need to Know.
You may have seen mushroom products that list a polysaccharide count on the label. On first glance, it might look good, but let's clear up some of the confusion around beta-D-glucans and polysaccharides, and why beta-D-glucans are the real measure of quality when it comes to medicinal mushrooms.
Beta-D-glucans are a type of polysaccharide. Polysaccharides are water-soluble chemical compounds that make up chains of complex carbohydrates. 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.
As it turns out, some medicinal mushroom products only have a polysaccharide count listed on the label ( if any compounds are listed at all ). This, unfortunately, is not an indicator of a high quality mushroom extract, as beta-glucans are not the only type of polysaccharide found in mushrooms. Alpha-glucans are another type of polysaccharide found in mushrooms which 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 a 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.
To delve deeper into this topic, we’ve linked below to a paper from the peer-reviewed Journal of American Association of Agricultural Chemists ‘Measurement of β-Glucan in Mushrooms and Mycelial Products.’
Beta-D-Glucans & Inner Atlas Medicinal Mushrooms.
We test our mushies for beta-D-glucans with the Megazyme testing method. It’s expensive but it’s a method used in current scientific research to accurately test for beta-D-glucans in mushrooms.
We've worked hard to bring you what we believe are the highest quality medicinal mushrooms available in Australia. Mushrooms you can feel. Each of our extracts contain greater than 30% beta-D-glucans which is more than other medicinal mushroom products you may have come across, so you can be confident your Inner Atlas mushies are active and potent.