Not all beta glucan is created equal. There are many different sources to choose from when making a selection; oat, barley, wheat, yeast to name a few. Another source to consider is that of mushroom beta glucan or fungal bioactive polysaccharides(FBP). FBP is a specific type of polysaccharide derived from the cell wall of mushrooms and is typically more complex than the molecules found in plants. FBP, extracted from ripening medicinal mushrooms such as shiitake, maitake and reishi, has been used for health purposes for centuries, particularly in Asia. Years of use by Asian herbalists and doctors, coupled with solid scientific research have shown that FBP effectively strengthens the immune system by activating immune cells to support a healthy and robust immune response without over-stimulation.
FBP bolsters the immune response by activating macrophages, specialized white blood cells found in the bloodstream and connective tissue, that form the body’s frontline of defense. Macrophages seek out and destroy pathogens and foreign debris through phagocytic activity and trigger a cascade of immune events to occur, including the activation of B-cells, T-cells, natural killer (NK) cells and the production of cytokines. These findings and more have sparked an explosion of interest in the health benefits offered by medicinal mushrooms and consequently, have led to a vast array of mushroom supplements available in today’s market. Many of these products are unextracted forms such as mycelium biomass and dried mushroom powder and although they provide some value, they should not be confused with the medicinal mushroom preparations used in traditional herbalism and clinical research.
The potency necessary to the achieve results as identified by traditional herbalist and clinical research requires the use of the extracted form of FBP, left structurally intact and undamaged. It is extremely important to retain the shape and structure of FBP in order for beta glucan receptor sites on the macrophage and other immune cells to recognize the beta glucan molecules and become activated. Further research has found that different shaped beta glucans and beta glucans derived from different species affect immune cells on different levels and to varying degrees. To achieve maximum immune cell activation multi-mushroom complexes are preferable. Each species should be cultivated separately in a pollution free, controlled environment and undergo patented extraction and purification techniques to ensure the highest quality FBP.