Wood Wide Web
One of the most important things we’ve come to understand is that mycelium is a vast ecological network - a cellular network that has a far-reaching and significant impact on everything in its path. A mycelium network acts as a recycling mechanism that helps to nourish other members of the ecological community by recycling nutrients through the food chain from the earth to plants to animals. Some estimate that up to 90% of all land plants benefit from the underground mycelial network. This fungus is at the root of our entire ecosystem.
The most important outcome of research into mycelium is the beneficial relationship between this fungi and mushrooms. Mushroom mycelium is a living organism that contains various compounds shown to be beneficial to human health. From cognition to energy and stamina, sleep, cardiovascular support, liver health and microbiome, mushroom fruit and mycelium have been shown to support a robust and well-modulated immune system. Some of the most beneficial mushrooms, listed alphabetically, are Agarikon, Chaga, Cordyceps, Lion's Mane, Maitake, Shiitake, Reishi and Turkey Tail. Each favoring benefits ranging from antioxidant and DNA support, breathing, digestion and microbiome, energy and stamina, glycemic balance, to name but a few.
Mycelium is a fungal organism that has a three-stage life cycle similar to plants. The primary stage is the underground mycelium web that is the longest part of the cycle. The mycelium is a single celled thick organism composed of a myriad of intricately laced filaments that grows for months, sometime years and navigates through all types of ecosystems. Despite its delicate stature this organism succeeds in traversing the most inhospitable environments by communicating chemically with the surroundings to ensure an appropriate response to any challenge.
When the favorable circumstances arise, the second stage begins as the fungal network produces a fruit body that is perishable and with an extremely short life expectancy, compared to its progenitor. During its short existence, the mushroom that is produced maintains an extremely active immune response to prevent pathogens from harming it. This is the stage where animals, humans included, benefit from the mycelial cycle by savoring the fruit's gustative delights.
The third stage in the life of this remarkable food is its reproductive cycle. The spores contained in the fruit are redistributed to the earth where the rhythm of its life continues.
Among the many benefits that the mushroom offers are a high beta-glucan content. This is not to undervalue the many other compounds responsible for the health benefits of this fungus. However, singling out beta-glucans as the only active ingredient is misleading. Beta-glucans are a classification of compounds, structurally termed as polymers that are not all biologically active. Beta-glucans are but one variable in a host of components present in this miracle food. Research has concluded that mushroom mycelium offers an array of health supporting compounds and significant immunological benefits.