Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) About Host Defense® Products

Capsules or extracts?

When considering the differences between liquid extracts and capsules, we believe that one is not better than the other; it is a matter of personal preference. Daily serving suggestions are basically equivalent; 2 capsules or 2mL per day.

All of our supplements are vegan, gluten free, certified organic and non-GMO! Many Host Defense products naturally engage immune cells, such as macrophages and natural killer cells to support your immune system, your first line of defense!*

Liquid Extracts

Host Defense® Extracts are formed from organic mushroom mycelium and fruitbodies that undergo Paul Stamets’ comprehensive double and triple extraction methods. Our extracts provide rapid absorption and flexibility of use. Due to their convenient size, they fit nicely in a pocket or purse and can be taken on the go. Please note that our liquid extracts do contain 30-40% alcohol, which plays a key role in extracting valuable nutrients from the mushroom mycelium and fruitbodies.


Host Defense® Capsules are made with heat treated and custom-dried mushroom mycelium powder. The mycelium is harvested at the peak of growth, when the organism is producing the greatest number of compounds and for many species, forming primordia (baby fruitbodies). Maitake and MyCommunity capsules also include mature fruitbodies!

The powders are encased in a plant-based pullulan capsule. We believe all of the nutrients and myriad compounds within the entire fungal organism are beneficial to the immune system, and necessary for a whole foods approach to health. A chief goal with our products is to keep the mushroom's natural chemical architecture intact. Therefore, we don't isolate any particular compounds or concentrate our powdered products.

Can I combine your products or take too much?

Research suggests mushrooms may be synergistic, meaning they accomplish more together than alone.  Our Single Species supplements (like Turkey Tail) are great for targeted support and may be combined with any of our products, including our blends.*

Mushrooms, like broccoli, are a functional food and therefore can be eaten daily. Our serving size is based on a healthy adult. It is safe to take more or less than the suggested amount in consultation with your healthcare practitioner.

While there are no toxicity levels established for our mushroom products, please never take more of our MycoBotanicals® products than the serving suggestion without consulting your healthcare advisor.

What are the Contraindications?

Contraindications for our Host Defense MycoBotanicals are on the side panel of each bottle and carton. For Host Defense Mushrooms, if you are having surgery, have a medical condition, or are taking prescription drugs, including blood thinners or insulin medications, please consult your health practitioner prior to taking our products.

I have a medical condition. Which products do you recommend?

Please keep in mind, we are not doctors, we are mushroom cultivators and our products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease or illness. If you have severe health concerns, we suggest consulting a qualified healthcare professional for diagnosis and treatment options.

Which Immune Mushroom Blend should I choose?

Mushrooms are synergistic, meaning they accomplish more together than alone. Our multi mushroom blends offer robust support for your immunity, with each species providing its own uniquely supportive properties.* Combining mushrooms provides increased Natural Killer Cell and Macrophage numbers and activity when compared to the same serving size of a single species.We offer 3 popular blends to meet your immune needs:

Stamets 7® is a 7-species mushroom blend specially formulated by Paul Stamets for daily immune support. Many use Stamets 7® as a functional food formula to support an engaged and balanced immune response.*Stamets 7 is offered in capsules (30, 60, 120 ct), liquid extract (1 oz or 2 oz), and as a powder.*

MycoShield® is a liquid extract spray designed for proactive immune support on the go.* This blend of 5 mushroom mycelium extracts provides targeted immune support for times of stress and discomfort.* MycoShield is great for travel and is available in 5 flavors to suit your preference.

MyCommunity® is our most comprehensive immune support formula and is often used to promote Year-Round Immune Support. Our best-selling MyCommunity formula is available in capsules (30, 60, or 120 ct) and liquid extract (1 oz, 2 oz and 4 oz).*

You might be interested in a short video by our Education Director that compares the Host Defense "immune support" products that are available.

Why do you grow your mycelium on organic brown rice and choose to use that over fruitbodies?

Mushroom mycelium is an excellent ingredient for supporting health. To produce mycelium, it must be given a food source to eat and grow through. The food source (called substrate) must provide nutrients for the mushroom mycelium. we use organic brown rice, an excellent substrate for to produce the best mushroom mycelium ingredients.

Beyond providing nutrients to grow the best mycelium, the brown rice substrate plays another incredibly important role.

As enzymes expressed by the mycelium break down rice bran, arabinoxylanes form from simple sugars and starch. Arabinoxylanes are well known to offer immune benefits, including antioxidant support.

In this way, the rice derivatives become an integral component in Host Defense products for supporting health. The brown rice, which has been “cultured” by the mycelium, becomes a reservoir of valuable health supporting compounds, like arabinoxylanes.

Understanding this, it is important to use a quality food source like organic brown rice to produce mycelium. And, it’s important to included the cultured substrate in the final product so that the full range of benefits may be experienced.

When produced and processed properly, mushroom mycelium contains a vast range of compounds, including enzymes, prebiotics, antioxidants and polysaccharides to support immunity.*

For more information, here is an excellent discussion of the Immune Benefits of Mushroom Mycelium and Cultured Substrate: Benefits of Mycelium.

Do your products contain Beta Glucans, PSK, PSP, D-Fraction, or AHCC, and if so, how much?

These are some of the most well-known constituents studied in mushroom mycelium and fruitbodies, however they are only some of the many valuable compounds that can help support and maintain health. We believe all of the nutrients and myriad compounds within the entire organism are beneficial to the immune system, and necessary for a whole foods approach to health. A chief goal with our products is to keep the mushroom's natural chemical architectures intact. Therefore, we don't isolate any specific compounds or concentrate them. While our products do contain these compounds, as a supplement company, we focus our testing on Identity, Composition, Purity and Strength rather than nutritional, mineral or other analyses. We can guarantee our capsules contain greater than 55% polysaccharides.

Here is a great article by Paul Stamets, our founder, that outlines our approach: Beta-Glucan Analysis and the Seven Pillars of Immunity.

Can Host Defense supplements be used by children, or while pregnant, or nursing?

There is currently not enough research available to safely conclude mushroom supplements are safe to ingest during pregnancy or for use by children. Therefore, out of an abundance of caution, we do not suggest that these individuals take our Host Defense dietary supplements. That said, including cooked mushroom fruitbodies in your regular diet may be an alternative whole-foods approach for you and your young ones. For further guidance, please consult your doctor or pediatrician. Thank you for your understanding.

What is the best time of day to ingest supplements?

We have no directions on the best time of day to take our supplements, it is a matter of personal preference. It is important to note, everyone is unique in how they digest and metabolize these compounds. For example, Cordyceps, known for energy support, may be best to take in the morning for most - however, some customers actually prefer taking them in the evening. For further guidance, please consult your health practitioner.

When will I notice a difference?

It is important to note, everyone is unique in how they metabolize and digest these compounds. While both capsules and extracts are bio-available and have a similar suggested serving size, the liquid extracts are absorbed more quickly into the system. While something like Cordyceps, which provides energy support, can generally be noticed right away, a blend such as Mycoshield® for immune support, may take time.

Are Host Defense supplements appropriate for vegetarians and vegan diets

Yes! Our Host Defense products are vegetarian and vegan, containing no animal-based ingredients.

This question commonly arises with our Cordyceps in particular; while Cordyceps is a genus of fungi that naturally parasitizes insects, no caterpillars were harmed in the making of our Cordyceps products.

Are Host Defense supplements gluten-free?

Yes, our Host Defense products are gluten-free! Our MycoBotanicals® products contain an excipient called maltodextrin. Though derived from wheat, the refining process removes glutinous proteins, leaving the end product gluten-free. We adhere to all FDA "Gluten Free" labeling guidelines and standards.

How should I store Host Defense supplements?

Our products are extremely shelf stable.

Capsules should be stored at room temperature in their bottle. We never suggest refrigerating or freezing our Host Defense capsules.

Extracts used regularly can be stored at room temperature as well, but if you plan to store the extract longer than 3 months once opened, we recommend refrigerating it to increase longevity. In general, 30-40% Ethanol allows for reliable preservation of extracts at room temperature.

I have a mold allergy. Can I take your products?

The fungal kingdom is very diverse; immune supporting mushrooms such as Reishi and Turkey Tail are genetically and morphologically dissimilar to molds. In addition, none of our mushrooms are known to produce mycotoxins like black mold and other “imperfect” fungi. Regardless, we always recommend consulting a healthcare professional about your specific situation.

Will your products encourage yeast to grow in my body?

A common misconception is that eating mushrooms will facilitate fungal overgrowth in the body, but this is untrue. Not only are mushrooms very low in the sugars that promote yeast growth, but they also strengthen the body's immune response. If you're experiencing yeast overgrowth you should consult a healthcare professional about your specific situation.

Do you use dual extractions on your mushrooms?

Host Defense extracts utilize Paul Stamets’ comprehensive Double and Triple Extraction Methods:

    Certified organic fruitbodies of Reishi, Maitake, Turkey Tail, Lion’s Mane and Shiitake are hot-water extracted to draw out polysaccharides like beta-glucans, glycoproteins, and other high-molecular weight compounds.
    Mushroom mycelium and fruitbodies are extracted with certified organic ethanol, providing terpenes, triterpenoids, inositols, ergosterols, sterols and flavonoids.
    Filtered water is used to extract extracellular metabolites from the living mushroom mycelium within the temperature range at which the fungi’s immune systems are most active.

Double Extraction refers to ethanol and cold-water extraction.

Triple extraction refers to ethanol, cold water, and hot water extraction.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.