Most people are surprised to learn that mushrooms/fungi and animals are each other’s closest relatives with approximately 50% shared DNA! By contrast, plants and animals share only 10% of the same DNA. The relationship between us and our fungal friends has great implications for health and wellness.
As the main decomposers of the planet, mushrooms are responsible for the continuation of life by decomposing the old into fuel for the new. In doing so, they are in direct competition with other fungi, insects, bacteria, and protozoa for the resources available. Therefore they have had to develop a myriad of antimicrobial compounds, including antifungal constituents for their own survival. In addition to antimicrobial substances, mushrooms produce medicinal actives that influence our innate immune cells, namely macrophages and natural killer cells to improve their function and activity. Due to the overlap in our genetics and immune function we are able to benefit greatly from the immune compounds that are produced by medicinal mushrooms.
The bulk of medicinal compounds created by a mushroom are secreted into the environment through the mycelia: fine, “cobweb”-like filaments, that extend through the soil in search of nutrients. The mycelial network is so extensive in nature that it is estimated that one cubic inch of soil contains eight MILES of mycelia!  It is the mycelia of the mushroom that is at the interface of the environment, releasing enzymes to digest and degrade the material around them as well as the immune compounds to protect the mushroom against harm from the competition. While not all mushroom fruiting bodies are medicinally active, the mycelia of mushrooms are universally supportive of immune health, and powerfully so.
Using the mycelia of various mushrooms not only provides high levels of medicinal actives, but it also allows for sustainable cultivation of potent mushroom supplements. Host Defense’s line of medicinal mushrooms uses mycelia that is grown on certified organic, Non-GMO Project verified brown rice in order to provide all of the immune regulating and antimicrobial compounds produced by particular species of mushrooms.
Individual mushrooms have unique properties and affinities for different tissues allowing specific mushrooms to be chosen on a case by case basic to address particular health goals or concerns. However, research shows that combinations of mushrooms provide a benefit to the innate immune system that is greater than the sum of the parts . Combinations of mushrooms are therefore useful as broad spectrum immune support.
Host Defense offers several combination products to support immune function at various levels of need. Stamets 7 is a blend of seven mushrooms for general, daily immune benefit as well as stress support, exercise recovery, and liver health through improved detoxification. Stamets 7 can be thought of as a “mushroom multi” for preventative health during changing seasons or throughout the year.
MyCommunity is a powerful combination of 17 different mushrooms. While safe for daily use, MyCommunity is most effective as a formula to really “turn up the volume” on immune function. It is appropriate for fighting infections (colds, flus, cold sores, and so on) or for supporting deeper and more symptomatic imbalances of the immune system.
MycoShield is a blend of five mushrooms that have been liquid extracted for use as a throat spray. The mushrooms chosen include a powerful anti-viral species with an affinity for lung tissue (agarikon) complemented with mushrooms that contain anti-bacterial agents, anti-inflammatory compounds, and strong antioxidant activity to heal damaged tissue. The peppermint option is soothing in cases of heat, where the throat feels burning or there is fever present, while the cinnamon warms up the body in the face of chills or cold symptoms. Either flavour is effective as a preventative measure.
Whether your goal is the prevention or treatment of illness during the winter months, or you require deeper support for challenges endured by your immune system, Host Defense medicinal mushrooms are available to support you. They are potent, sustainably cultivated medicines that provide the benefits of mycelia, the powerhouses of mushrooms, which are our closest and most powerful immune allies.
Stamets P. Mycelium Running, pg 10. Ten Speed Press; Berkeley; 2005.
Stamets P. Potentiation of Cell-Mediated Host Defense Using Fruitbodies and Mycelia of Medicinal Mushrooms. International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms, 2003.