Medicinal Mushrooms – How Much Should I Take ?


Most people automatically assume that the daily dose as recommended by the supplier on the product label makes sense and is rooted in research.

During our investigation of the available scientific research we found that this assumption is in general not justified. The majority of dose recommendations appears to be arbitrary.


The therapeutic potential of a mushroom product is based on the amount of beta-glucans, triterpenes, etc. that are present. These are known as “bioactive ingredients”. Only high-quality extracts do list guaranteed levels/percentages of those bioactive ingredients. Apart from being informative this information is also an excellent valuation tool.

Non-extracted mushroom powders or tinctures are unfortunately indigestible for most people and therefore cannot guarantee therapeutic effects, nor can they guarantee bioactive ingredients because this is not possible in unprocessed non-standardized natural products.(1)

The dosage recommendation as given by the producer should ideally be based on the therapeutic potential of the product, just like with prescription drugs. After all, the main reason for a consumer to choose and to take a supplement is to achieve a certain therapeutic effect, and a therapeutic effect can only be achieved when the right amount (= correct dose) of bioactives is taken.

Scientific research showed over and over again that the therapeutic effect of e.g. beta-glucans is dose-dependent, and the concentration of pure and bioavailable beta-glucan in a product and the dose show a strong relation to immunological effects.(2)


Example
In one case the optimal dose for many immunological parameters was found to be around 5 – 10 mg of beta-glucan/kg/day, with the highest dose causing reductions in some immunological reactions (2 : Deng.).

Using this guideline, an 80 kg person needs 400 – 800 mg of pure beta-glucan per day.
The effective dose of beta-glucan within a mushroom product is determined by the quality of the source and the purity of the extract, which in turn is based on the extraction method that has been used.

(Note: this specific research tested a highly purified Maitake extract. Supplements don’t have this level of purity, so a higher dose is needed. Also, Maitake beta-glucan is structurally different from other mushroom’s, therefore this dosage-indication cannot be extrapolated just like that to other mushrooms).


Unlike the example mentioned above, the majority of scientific research unfortunately does not check the details of the product they are investigating. They usually describe how they extract the mushroom and how much is given to the subject (people, animals) but fail to map the active ingredients present in the extract they are investigating.

This is truly a missed opportunity, because with natural products such as mushrooms the potency can vary significantly depending on where they are found / have been cultivated and in what conditions they’ve been developing. Also, it is a missed opportunity to establish a link between the type and amount of specific bioactives and the accomplished therapeutic effect.

That makes often seen dosing recommendations such as “2 teaspoons daily” in fact meaningless, since you have no clue how much active ingredients are in those teaspoons.


Example
In an animal model using dogs with cancer: the dogs were given a purified Coriolus versicolor extract (similar to what we offer under the name PSP-50). The results clearly showed that the life expectancy increased with the dosage. The dosage used was 25, 50 or 100 mg/kg/day. The product-specs were 38 % polysaccharides (unknown percentage of beta-glucans).(4).


ORIVeDA mushroom supplements have a high purity and therefore a high therapeutic potential. Not much is needed for daily immune support.

Based on the existing scientific research and the level of purity of our products (all are fractionated) we recommend ± 1 gram mushroom extract daily (3 capsules @ 300 mg/350mg, or 2 capsules @ 500mg, with around 25 – 40 % beta-glucans) for standard immune support and when used as a prophylactic. Only our Reishi has a recommended dosage of 2 capsules @ 300mg daily, because of its unusual high purity.

For specific health conditions the dose should be significantly higher, up to 8 or even 12 grams daily. The instruction leaflets included with our products give more details about this. Some trial and error will always be involved, though; just like with prescription drugs.

Still, some people might need less and some might need more, depending on age, weight and their general health-condition. In general -healthy- people below the age of 35 need less (e.g. 2 capsules daily), while when you’re over 50 more might be necessary for the desired effect (at least 2 grams daily). The reason behind this is that the immune function of humans is optimal before the age of 35, and declines significantly after 50, which can lead to all kinds of ‘old-age related’ ailments (5).


Low potency products


The most easy way to determine the daily dosage for the more common low potency extracts is to use ORIVeDA’s products’ potency as a benchmark. Why ? Well, all ORIVeDA products list a large spectrum of bioactive constituents, including beta-glucans, whereas other extracts in general only list polysaccharides, if anything at all. Although all beta-glucans are polysaccharides, not all polysaccharides are beta-glucans! Despite that, knowing the percentage of polysaccharides is still better than nothing.

(To keep it simple we are not taking into account other potency factors, such as dual extraction vs. hot water extraction only, or the level of purity).

As an example, the standard daily dose for a Chaga supplement with ≥ 15% polysaccharides should be ± 3.4 grams at least, to achieve similar therapeutic effects as the ORIVeDA Chaga extract ( ≥ 50% polysaccharides). 3.4 x 15 % = 51 %.

The producer of this specific product however recommends only 2 – 6 capsules (@ 400 mg) per day (0.8 – 2.4 grams), which will be too little for most people.

This does not even take into account that low potency products are per definition less pure. The percentage of polysaccharides that can be classified as beta-glucans will not be 25- 40 % (like in the ORIVeDA products); the crucial final step of fractionation (which makes the product more pure but also much more expensive) is not included in the extraction process of these crude extracts. If it was, the product would show a much higher percentage of polysaccharides as well.


Summarizing:

Most mushroom supplement sellers appear to be ignoring the scientific data or are unaware of them. As shown in the example, their recommended dosages are on average too low to achieve a significant therapeutic effect in most people. It will take more time and more capsules to get the same results you get with the ORIVeDA product. Or, there might be no effect at all, and you might mistake the placebo-effect that comes with all drugs and supplements for the desired effect.

In the end, it will just cost you significantly more money to get the desired results.


Why are most dosage recommendations so low ?


We are guessing here, but one reason might be marketing. Marketing means playing the customer’s emotions. Oriveda is using science-based marketing (using hard verifiable facts only), but we are the only ones. Marketing aiming at basic sentiments and emotions is the standard. We still have to meet the first seller that is using the levels of active ingredients as a base for their dosage recommendations like we do in this article. Not surprising, considering the majority does not list or does not know the levels of active ingredients to start with.

“American made!” “In historic times reserved for the elite only….” “4600 years ago already highly valued…” “215 phytonutrients…” “supreme quality..” – these are all examples of “emotion-targeted” marketing. A person in a white coat or a celebrity might be recommending the product, most of the time automatically associated with “trust-worthy”. “Patented” or “patent-pending” is another popular one – but most people are not aware of the fact that “patented” is never equal to “scientifically validated” – it is only indicating a unique way to do something.

It tells you nothing about the actual quality of the product, its intention is only to trigger positive associations in the potential customer that will make him/her decide to buy the product.

Having to choose between a $ 50 bottle with 60 daily servings of 1 capsule or one with 30 daily servings of 2 capsules and no further information to consider most people will go for the first one, because it appears to be a better value for money. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple, as will be clear by now.


As an example, we came across an European producer that was marketing its ‘XXXX’ beta-glucan products as follows:

Despite their suggestion, there is no explanation why their products should be 100 – 1000 times better – it is just mushroom beta-glucan, extracted using generic methods (according to their own documentation).

In fact, in this particular case the EFSA (European version of the FDA) decided that this product could be considered completely safe (and was allowed to be sold without restrictions in the EU market as a food additive) ‘because the potency was so low that it was likely more useful to just consume the mushroom itself’.

The daily dose as recommended by the producer was 0.0417 mg/kg/day. Compare that to the outcome of the scientific research mentioned before (5 – 7 mg/kg/day) – that is 144 times higher!!

A fine example of an arbitrary dose recommendation for a low potency product, marketed as being ‘better’ (and suggesting better value for money) but without any backup of why it is supposed to be better.


Conclusion:

The dosage recommendations for mushroom products in general appear to be arbitrary and not rooted in scientific research. For the producers the deciding factor appears to be to give the customer the idea he’s getting excellent value for money (so it will make him buy the product), not to help him normalize his health by providing him with good advice and good quality.


References


(1)
Bioavailability of Medicinal Mushroom Supplements
(2)
• Harada T, Miura N, Adachi Y, Nakajima M, Yadomae T, Ohno N. Effect of SCG, 1,3-b-D-Glucan from Sparassis Crispa on
the Hematopoietic response in Cyclophosphamide Induced Leukopenic mice. Biol Pharm Bul 2002;25: 931-9
• Carolyn J. Torkelson et. al. – Phase 1 Clinical Trial of Trametes versicolor (= Coriolus versicolor) in Women with Breast Cancer. ISRN Oncology, Volume 2012, Article ID 251632
• Babineau TJ, Hackford A, Kenler A, Bistrian B, Forse RA, Fairchild PG, et al. A phase II multicenter double-blind ran- domized placebo-controlled study of three dosage of an immunomodulator (PGG-glucan) in high-risk surgical patients. Arch Surg 1994;129:1204-10.
• Dalia Akramienė et. al. – Effects of b-glucans on the immune system. Medicina (Kaunas) 2007; 43(8)
• Deng, G., et al. – A phase I/II trial of a polysaccharide extract from Grifola frondosa (Maitake mushroom) in breast cancer patients: Immunological effects. J. Canc. Res. Clin. Oncol., 135: 1215-1221
(3)
• Carolyn J. Torkelson et. al. – Phase 1 Clinical Trial of Trametes versicolor (= Coriolus versicolor) in Women with Breast Cancer. ISRN Oncology, Volume 2012, Article ID 251632
(4)
Dorothy Cimino Brown and Jennifer Reetz – Single Agent Polysaccharopeptide Delays Metastases and Improves Survival in Naturally Occurring Hemangiosarcoma. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine Volume 2012, Article ID 384301
(5)
• Burns, E.A. – Effects of aging on immune function. J Nutr Health Aging. 2004;8(1):9-18
Aging changes in immunity
The Immune System in the Elderly: A Fair Fight Against Diseases?
• Suzanne C. Segerstrom, et. al. – Psychological Stress and the Human Immune System: A Meta-Analytic Study of 30 Years of Inquiry. Psychol Bull. 2004 July ; 130(4): 601–630
• Ann O’Leary – Stress, Emotion and Human Immune Function. Psychol Bull. 1990 ; 108(3): 363-382
• Firdaus S. Dhabhar – Enhancing versus Suppressive Effects of Stress on Immune Function: Implications for Immunoprotection versus Immunopathology. Allergy, Asthma, and Clinical Immunology, Vol 4, No 1 (Spring), 2008: pp 2–11

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