Frequently Asked Medicinal Mushroom Questions
Keep asking us questions and we’ll keep answering them
Where’s my order?
Please check your order confirmation email which will have a link to your order’s status. This link will also contain the tracking info if your order has shipped. Orders will generally ship within 2 business days if all items are in stock.
Do you accept returns?
Yes, please see our returns page for details.
My Package arrived damaged. What do I do?
Contact us immediately with your order# and send us photos.
You’re a Canadian company but your prices are in USD. Why?
The majority of our order originate in the U.S. and the majority of our expenses are in USD hence all our prices are in USD.
Where do you ship from?
All of our orders ship from Sparks, Nevada, USA.
Where do you ship to?
We ship to USA, Canada, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Singapore and Japan.
If you are in Canada you can also order via our Amazon.ca Store. Look for the wording “Sold By Real Mushrooms and Fulfilled by Amazon.” This will ensure the order comes from Amazon’s Canadian warehouse.
If you are in Europe you can also order via our Amazon.co.uk Store and it will ship from the UK.
If you do not see your country listed at checkout, we recommend setting up a freight forwarding account with some like Shipito. These types of services give you a US address to ship to and then charge you a small fee to forward your shipment on to your destination country.
See more info on our Shipping Page.
Will I need to pay any duties on international shipping? Can it be avoided?
If you live outside the US, there is potential that your order may be assessed for duties and/or taxes. This is entirely dependent on your country’s import regulations. Typically, the higher the order value, the more likely it will be assessed for duties and/or taxes.
If you live in Canada, you can order off Amazon.ca and avoid possible duties and/or taxes. If our Amazon.ca product listing says “Sold by Real Mushrooms and Fulfilled by Amazon” then this is inventory that Amazon holds for us in Canada so it will be shipped from within Canada and you will avoid any border charges. However, if the Amazon.ca listing says “Sold and Shipped by Real Mushrooms” then this inventory comes from our US warehouse and does have the potential for possible border charges.
If you live in the EU, you can order off Amazon.co.uk and avoid possible duties and/or taxes. This is inventory that Amazon holds for us in the UK so it will be shipped from within the UK.
Mushrooms – General
Where are your mushrooms from?
We take great pride in providing mushroom extract powders of the highest quality. One of the ways we do this is by using the mushroom (fruiting body) in all our products rather than using the mycelium (mushroom root system) which is commonly grown with grain. I’ll explain more about this further below.
All our mushroom extracts are from the leading supplier of organic mushroom extracts: Nammex. They have over 40 years of mushroom growing experience and were one of the first companies to bring organic medicinal mushroom extracts to North America. Their ingredients go through rigorous quality control and are tested twice for heavy metals, agricultural chemicals and microbial contamination to ensure they meet all standards for dietary supplements of this nature. All of their extract are made from certified organic mushrooms (fruiting bodies), organically grown or wildcrafted from deep within mountain regions of China.
Mushrooms used for dietary supplements are seldom grown in North American since it’s too expensive. In fact, China is the leading supplier of mushrooms worldwide and supplies over 85% of the world’s mushrooms. It has a rich history of mushroom use as both food and medicine and is the birth place of mushroom cultivation with shiitake being farmed in the early 1200s. China is one of the only places in the world where you can get 100% organic mushroom (fruiting body) extracts that can be sold at an affordable price.
An important note is that any products made in the USA are typically not made from mushrooms but mycelium, the mushrooms root system, grown on grains.
The grain cannot be separated from the mycelium so it ends up being a significant portion of these types of products. Independent analysis has shown that due to this high amount of grain, they contain very little of the active compounds found in the research. Read your supplements panel very closely and look for the words “mycelium”, “myceliated brown rice”, “mycelial biomass”, “full spectrum”, “whole life cycle” or other derivatives of mycelium. Click here to see what it actually looks like. It is not mushrooms. See “What is mycelium on grain” for more details.
This is why we specifically test for beta-glucans and starch, to show the potency of our products and to show that we have no added fillers like grain. Just 100% mushrooms.
Do you test for heavy metals?
Of course. All products are screened for heavy metals twice. We follow the American Health Products Association (AHPA) guidelines for heavy metals which is in compliance with CA Prop 65.
All of our product specifications follow the following industry established limits:
- Lead: <2ppm*
- Arsenic: <2ppm*
- Cadmium: <2ppm*
- Mercury: <0.1ppm*
Based on our recommended dosage, our heavy metal limits are even stricter than the limits set by AHPA.
As we, the Real Mushrooms team, are also consuming our products on a daily basis, we are always concerned about the health and safety of our products.
*ppm = parts per million
Why do you only list beta-glucans and not polysaccharides?
Beta-glucans, which are a polysaccharide, are the most well researched medically active compound in mushrooms. For this reason, we specifically measure beta-glucan levels on our products. We do not believe in using polysaccharides as a measure of quality as it can be easily doctored using starch. Starch is an alpha-glucan, which is also a polysaccharide.
As an example, mycelium on grain products have been shown to have high levels of starch, which allows them to tout high polysaccharide numbers when in reality they have very low amounts of beta-glucans as the bulk of these polysaccharides are made up of starch. The starch comes from the grain that ends up in the final product.
Read our full article on why polysaccharides are a poor measurement of quality.
Do you test for mycotoxins?
Why do you list starch on your packaging?
We list starch as a way to prove that our product is 100% mushroom. Typically whole mushrooms contain less than 5% starch so any product claiming to be made from pure mushroom should also conform with the rule. All of our products have less than 5% starch as they are made purely from mushrooms without any added of fillers or carriers.
Starch is a common carrier material that can be found in medicinal mushroom supplements. It is often used as a flow agent in form of dextrose or maltodextrin. Flow agents are often added in the packaging process to help the mushroom materials flow through the machinery better.
In the case of mycelium on grain products, high amounts of starch are present due to the grain that ends up in the final product.
This is why it is so important to measure starch so that you’re not wasting your money on carrier materials or grain.
What is mycelium on grain?
Mycelium is the vegetative state (think root system) of the fungal life cycle. The fungal lifecycle consists of spore, mycelium and mushroom. Mycelium is the stage that produces a mushroom but it is not a mushroom. Just look at some images in Google.
Mycelium on grain or grain spawn is a method for producing the seed for growing fresh mushrooms. It has now been adopted by many “mushroom” ingredient suppliers as an inexpensive way to produce a “mushroom” supplement, yet in reality it is not a mushroom product. It is a grain based mycelium product.
The process involves taking a plastic bag of sterilized, cooked grain (rice, oats, sorghum, etc), injecting it with a fungal culture (reishi, chaga, shiitake etc.) and allowing the mycelium to grow out on the grain. Once the mycelium is fully grown out on the grain, it is harvested and the mycelium with the grain is dried and turned into a powder. This produces a product that does not contain any mushrooms, though the package may say “mushroom” on it, and it has a very high starch content (upwards of 70%) because of the residual grain ending up in the final product. Because of all this added grain, the amount of fungal material in the product is very low, leading to very low levels of active compounds like beta-glucans.
Mycelium on grain is a cheap way to make “mushroom” supplements that are not actually mushrooms. In reality, when you compare the amount of active compounds in the product, it ends up being a very expensive product. Make sure to look for wording like “mycelium”, “myceliated brown rice”, “mycelial biomass”, “full spectrum”, “whole lifecycle” in the supplements panel and marketing materials. These are good indicators of grain based mycelium.
Products made entirely from mushrooms, like Real Mushrooms, typically have 5-10x more beta-glucans than mycelium on grain products.
What is the concentration ratios of your extracts?
Our extracts range from 1:1 to 16:1 but we do not list them specifically as we believe extract ratios have only limited value when not accompanied with active compound testing.
For example, without analytical testing there’s no way to know whether a 10:1 extract is more concentrated than a 4:1 extract. It is also possible to have two products with the same extract ratio yet with completely different levels of active compounds.
Also note that the higher the extract ratio, the more dense and sticky the final product gets so in order to keep it as a free flowing powder, a carrier is often added. This will dilute the potency. This is why measurement of active compounds and starch is so important.
Extract ratios can also be misrepresented. For example, fresh mushrooms are typically 90% water so the wet to dry ratio is 10:1. Some products use this ratio saying their products are a 10:1 extract (10lb of fresh mushrooms = 1lb of powder) when in reality it’s just a 1:1 (1lb of dried mushrooms = 1lb of powder). All extract ratios should be based off dry weight.
Without analytical testing of active compounds and starch measurements to show purity, extract ratios have limited value. Higher extract ratio does not equate to higher potency.
For these reasons, we do not specifically publish our extract ratios. If you’d like to know, just contact us.
The amount of active compounds in our products are some of the highest in the marketplace and the low levels of starch demonstrate the purity of our products.
Do you provide certificates of analysis?
Yes. Please contact us directly if you wish to see a certificate of analysis.
How is a mushroom extract made?
I’m not feeling anything. Are they working?
Will using the extract powders with hot liquid kill the active compounds?
All of our products have already been extracted with hot water and/or alcohol. Any further “extraction”, like adding them to hot water, will not effect the powder or the medicinal compounds.
When alcohol is used for extraction, is any alcohol left over in the final product?
When alcohol is used for extraction, it is precipitated out so it does not end up in the final product.
What does the "Lot#" printed on the back of the package mean?
This indicates when the product was created. It is not an expiry date. The product is good for 2 years from the lot#.
Can I give your products to my pet?
Yes of course. A holistic vet who prescribes our products recommends 1/8 tsp twice daily for small dogs. Scale the dosage up or down accordingly to your pet’s size. If they do not like the taste, break the servings into smaller dosages more frequently over the day.
Why are only some of mushrooms dual extracted?
We use double extraction on our reishi and chaga ingredients in 5 Defenders and Reishi 415.
It is most important in reishi and chaga as much but not all of the beneficial triterpenes are non-water soluble. With other mushrooms it’s not as important as the main active component is the beta-glucans which are water soluble.
Typically with concentrated extracts, like in 5 Defenders and Reishi 415, you remove the mushroom fiber before concentration begins. This is why you would do separate hot water and alcohol extractions so you can obtain those beneficial triterpenes before the mushroom fiber gets removed.
On the other hand, our Chaga Extract, Lions Mane Extract, and Cordyceps-M products are 1:1 hot water extracts that still contain all of the mushroom fiber so nothing is lost in the extraction process and all of the non-water soluble components are still present even though it is a hot water extract.
For more information on this, please read our blog post.
It says you‘re USDA Organic but I can’t find you in the USDA Organic Integrity Database
Consumer brands typically don’t end up in the USDA Organic Integrity database because the brands themselves don’t apply to the certifying bodies for organic certification. It’s the facilities where the end products are produced that need to apply to be organically certified.
The facility producing the final product will add the brand’s products to their organic certificate annex which lists all the organic products for any brand that the facility produces. This means that the brand itself would not show up in the integrity database when you search for it, only the facility would.
In our case, one of the companies we use is Namar Foods. They create the finished products who are certified by SCS Global Services. You will find Namar Foods in the USDA Organic Integrity database.
Mushrooms – Health
What is the nutritional breakdown of mushrooms?
Generally speaking, mushrooms are roughly 25% protein, 58% carbohydrates and 3% fat. The rest is vitamins and minerals. 1 gram would be around 3-4 calories.
What is the optimal way to take your products?
The optimal way to use our product is whatever way is the most convenient for you. This could be with hot water, coffee, tea, smoothie, shake, yogurt, bone broth, etc.
Is it best to take medicinal mushrooms on an empty stomach or with food?
We have not seen any research to indicate one way over the other. We all respond differently to medicinal mushrooms so find the method that works best for you. Some might find they respond better mixing it with food where as others might respond better on an empty stomach.
Can I take all the medicinal mushrooms at once?
You are more than welcome to mix 5 Defenders with Reishi 415, Chaga, Lions Mane and Cordyceps-M in your coffee, tea, juice, smoothie, yogurt etc. There are some studies that suggest a synergy when you consume various medicinal mushrooms at once making them even more potent and effective.
Our general recommendation is not to exceed 3-5 servings per day unless you have direction from a health practitioner.
Are mushrooms safe to take during pregnancy?
During pregnancy, it is imperative to understand that every women responds differently to adaptogen use. It would be best to consult your healthcare physician and proceed with caution on this topic.
How many calories in a serving of 1 gram?
There are 3 to 4 calories in a serving of 1 gram or 1, 000 mg.
Why do the capsules contain other ingredients?
Natural ingredients don’t always smoothly flow through processing equipment and capsule manufacturers need to utilize other ingredients in order to fill capsules. It is quite common for encapsulation facilities to require the use of other ingredients.
How much of the 500mg capsule is other ingredients?
None of the 500mg is other ingredients. Every capsule still has 500mg of organic mushroom extract powder. The other ingredients are in small amounts on top of that 500mg. Other ingredients are required to be listed from biggest amount to smallest. If you look at our labels, the capsule itself (Hypromellose) is the biggest component of the other ingredients with everything following in incrementally smaller amounts.
What is the difference between capsule and powder?
The capsules contain 500 mg per capsule of medicinal mushroom. 2 capsules = 1000 mg of medicinal mushroom extract, which is equivalent to 1/2 tsp serving of the mushroom powder. In terms of potency and efficacy, both the capsules and powders are equally effective at delivering.
The capsules are great for travel purposes, where as the powder can be great added to recipes or mixed in coffee, tea, bone broth to change up the flavor profile and lend more the full mushroom experience. In the end, you can’t go wrong here. It all depends on what you prefer.
What is the capsule made from?
The capsule is made from hypromellose, which is vegetable based cellulose.
Why aren’t the capsules USDA Organic?
Because the capsules themselves aren’t certified organic, we cannot get USDA Organic status. You will notice that the majority of capsule based supplements are not USDA Organic and this is the reason why. When certified organic capsules become more readily available, we will be looking into utilizing them.
All of our mushroom ingredients inside the capsule are still USDA Certified Organic.
What is Silicon Dioxide?
Silicon dioxide is an anti-caking agent.
What is Microcrystalline Cellulose?
Microcrystalline Cellulose is used to ensure each capsule is full with minimal air pockets.
What is Magnesium Stearate?
Magnesium Stearate is derived from vegetable based non-GMO stearic acid. It is used as a flow agent to ensure the powder flows into the capsules evenly and doesn’t stick to the machinery.
You can find more info about Magnesium Stearate and Stearic Acid here.
What is Stearic Acid
Stearic acid is a vegetable based non-GMO fatty acid. It is used as a flow agent to ensure the powder flows into the capsules evenly and doesn’t stick to the machinery.
You can find more info about Magnesium Stearate and Stearic Acid here.
Health Practitioner Accounts
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Why is this product so bitter?
To give you further details about the bitterness of Reishi 415, the bitterness comes from the beneficial triterpene compounds. These compounds give reishi its bitter flavor. These compounds are found in the mushroom and our product is extracted exclusively from the mushroom (fruiting body).
You want a reishi product to be bitter. If a reishi product is not bitter, start asking questions.
Many so-called reishi products do not taste bitter and this is a perfect indicator of the product not containing any detectable amounts of the beneficial triterpene compounds. This is either due to inferior extraction or the product not being made from the mushroom.
What is the concentration ratios of your extracts?
This product is a 15:1 extract meaning that 15 kilos of ground up reishi make 1 kilo of our extract.
What part of the reishi mushroom is used for the extraction?
We strictly use the cap of the reishi mushroom for extraction.
Is this made from red reishi?
Yes. This is made from Ganoderma lucidum which is red reishi.
Is your reishi mushrooms grown on duanwood?
“Duanwood” is not a specific type of wood but actually a trademarked term by Dragon Herbs. They have done a great job promoting “Duanwood Reishi” as being top quality.
But what does it really mean?
According to their website: “Duanwood means “original wood.” The Reishi is grown on logs cut wild from the forest. The logs are from the same trees that Reishi grows on in the wild, producing the most potent Reishi.”
So Duanwood actually means reishi grown on wood logs and the vast majority of reishi grown in China already is log grown. Reishi grows on different species of hardwood trees so the actual wood log used will vary.
Our reishi mushrooms are grown on locally sourced beech wood.
What mushrooms are contained in this product?
5 Defenders contains the following extracts:
- 8:1 Organic Chaga Sclerotium Extract (hot water / alcohol extract)
- 8:1 Organic Maitake Mushroom Extract (hot water extract)
- 15:1 Organic Reishi Mushroom Extract (hot water / alcohol extract)
- 8:1 Organic Shiitake Mushroom Extract (hot water extract)
- 8:1 Organic Turkey Tail Mushroom Extract (hot water extract)
Why do you use Cordyceps militaris and not Cordyceps sinensis like the majority of other products?
Authentic Cordyceps (O. sinensis), the caterpillar fungus, the one everyone sees in pictures (the dead caterpillar with the blade-like fruiting body growing from it) is actually the most expensive mushroom in the world; upwards of $40,000/Kg. With such a price tag there is absolutely no way authentic cordyceps (O. sinensis) could be used in an affordable supplement product.
Cultivation of authentic fruiting bodies has previously been impossible and only recently has China figured out how to cultivate Cordyceps sinensis to produce a fruiting body. That being said, the price is still much too high for commercial supplements, leaving only mycelium available for commercial products.
Anything from China is typically a product called Cs-4 which is a 100% pure mycelium product made via liquid fermentation.
Anything produced in the U.S. is mycelium on grain, which ends up being very high in starch due to the nature of Cordyceps mycelium which grows very slowly leaving a high amount of residual grain in the final product.
At Real Mushrooms we take a different approach. We use Cordyceps militaris because fruiting bodies can be cultivated. This allows us to use 100% organically certified fruiting bodies for our Cordyceps-M extract powder. We do not deviate from our ethos of offering 100% fruiting body products with high beta-glucan levels and next to no starch.
If you’d like to learn more about how Cordyceps relates to supplements, read: Cordyceps and Supplements: Past and Present.
Is this made from the caterpillar fungus and does it contain bugs?
See the answer above and this product contains no bugs.
Lions Mane Extract
Are you able to measure the hericenones and erinacines?
Currently it is not possible to measure these compounds but we are looking into ways to do so.
Why do you say chaga sclerotium and not chaga mushroom?
While Chaga is commonly referred to as a mushroom, the part of the chaga that is wild harvested is actually not a mushroom but a sclerotium. A sclerotium is a hardened, dense mass of mycelium. Chaga is unique in that it is not pure mycelium like other sclerotia’s (poria, polyporus) as much of the mass is actually wood fiber which comes from the tree is grows on.
Is wild chaga harvesting sustainable?
While many claim otherwise, from the data that we’ve seen it definitely looks to be sustainable.
The only sustainability report that we’ve found was done in Russia, who is a large exporter of chaga. It showed that chaga could easily sustain existing demand for the foreseeable future.
It also estimated that 20% of all birch forest are infected with chaga.
Our own personally take is that chaga is definitely sustainable as there are vast birch forests all across the northern hemisphere. The problem being that harvesters will have to go further and further into the woods to find chaga which will further increase the price of raw chaga. At some time, there may be a tipping point where chaga will become too expensive for supplements which will curb demand well before there is any worry about over-harvesting.
Is chaga in symbiosis with the tree is grows on?
This is a common misconception.
Chaga is classified as a tree disease in British Columbia. It infects the host tree, typically birch, and slowly consumes it. At some point in t he future, the tree will die due to chaga weakening it from the inside. This might be 5 years or 20 years but eventually it will happen.
This is similar to the majority of medicinal mushrooms as they consume organic matter for food.
Is it true that chaga is super rare?
There’s an internet myth that chaga is only found on 1 to every 10,000-15,000 birch trees (<0.01%) but we have not been able to find the source of this information. If you have a source, please contact us.
One report out of Russia stated that 20% of all birch trees are infected with chaga. This is a multiple magnitude difference than the estimates above.