Why Host Defense Is Powered by Mushroom Mycelium

October 2021 - Health & Wellness

We are all students of nature. And nature has an enormous depth of knowledge that we have barely tapped into.

At Host Defense®, 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.

The activities of mycelium help heal and steer ecosystems on their evolutionary path, acting as a recycling mechanism to nourish other members of the ecological communities. By cycling nutrients through the food chain, mycelial networks benefit the soil and allow surrounding networks of plants and animals to survive and thrive.

Increasingly known as the “wood wide web”, mycelium can be found underfoot with nearly every footstep on a lawn, field, or forest floor. It has been concluded that as much as 90% of land plants are in a mutually beneficial relationship with mycelial networks. Without fungi – without mycelium – all ecosystems would fail.

Mycelium and mycological applications have enormous potential to benefit the health of both people and planet. We are committed to continuing our research efforts to find new and innovative ways to build bridges between mycological applications to both human and planetary health.

At Host Defense, We Follow the Science

One of the most significant outcomes of our research has been discovering the value of mushroom mycelium. Mushroom mycelium is the metabolically-active and longest living structure of the mushroom organism and contains numerous novel compounds shown to benefit human health. Years of industry-based research, along with both internal and third-party testing, demonstrates that mycelium-based supplements offer significant immunological support.*

Benefits of Mushroom Mycelium

Beneficial mushrooms have been used for centuries to support human health. From cognition and memory to energy and stamina, from sleep and cardiovascular support to support for liver health and the microbiome, the various species of beneficial mushroom cover a wide range of system-specific needs. One thing they all have in common is that beneficial mushroom mycelium and fruit bodies have been shown to support an engaged and modulated immune response.

At Host Defense®, we follow the science. And years of research demonstrates that our mushroom mycelium-based supplements uniquely activate and balance immune activity. Read on to learn why we use mushroom mycelium in all of our supplements!

Mycelium = The Primary Stage of the Mushroom Life Cycle

A better understanding of the role of mycelium in the mushroom life cycle helps inform consumers about the benefits of mycelium. Mushrooms are a type of fungal organism with a three-stage life cycle that is similar to the different stages found in plants. Mycelium is the longest living part of the organism. It consists of myriad intricate filaments that are only one cell-wall thick. Despite its delicate stature, mycelium is quite formidable. It grows for months, years, potentially centuries, and navigates through a sometimes inhospitable ecosystem. It is capable of expanding its reach through a habitat filled with millions of microbes while communicating chemically with the surrounding environment, devising complex chemical responses to whatever challenges it encounters.

Eventually, when the circumstances are favorable, mushroom mycelium generates a fruit body – the above-the-surface, easily identifiable part of the mushroom organism. The process of producing a mushroom fruiting body requires that the mycelium maintain a highly active immune response to prevent pathogens from harming it. Meanwhile, the mushroom fruit bodies that eventually form, much like many flowers or fruits, can be highly perishable. For example, the oyster mushroom rots in just a few days. This is in stark contrast to the mycelium that generated it which can live for months, years, or decades.

Mushroom Life Cycle

Mushrooms are a type of fungal organism with a three-stage life cycle that is similar to the different stages found in plants:

Fungal Spores

Reproductive cells, similar to the seeds of a plant, the spores are what initiate fungal growth by ‘sprouting’ mycelium.

As with seeds that sprout into plants or develop into trees, a mushroom spore has been released from the fruiting body of another fungal organism as a means of reproduction. Under the best of conditions, spores can germinate in a matter of days, but typically take 2-3 weeks. Once germination begins, threads of mycelial hyphae begin to stretch out and grow, consuming and digesting the surrounding nutrient sources  – or “substrate” – as sustenance for further development.


The actual living organism, mycelium presents as an intricate web of root-like filaments. Mycelium is the primary “plant” portion of the mushroom.

Mycelium consists of thousands of delicate, interwoven filaments, just one cell-wall thick, with highly active cells that serve many important functions, including acting as the immune response of the fungal organism. While spores exist to sprout mycelium, and fruit bodies come and go for reproductive purposes, mycelium represents the primary ‘body’ stage of existence in the fungal organism’s life cycle.

Mycelium supports the growth of the “flower”, known as the fruiting body, as a seasonal reaction to environmental stimuli. Mycelium is like the “mother plant” of a perennial, one in which the mother continues to live for many years, while the flower – or in this case, the fruiting body – blooms seasonally and then dies.

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