Medically reviewed by Jessica Pyhtila, PharmD, BCGP, BCPS.
Freshcap Ultimate Mushroom Complex (formerly Thrive 6) is a blend of 6 equally-weighted types of mushrooms, which have clinical evidence of boosting immunity, cognition, and energy. Here we’ll examine its properties and effects.
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In a hurry? Here are the highlights:
- Ultimate Mushroom Complex is a blend of 6 equally-weighted types of medicinal mushrooms from Freshcap Mushrooms.
- Ultimate Mushroom Complex from Freshcap was formerly known as Thrive 6.
- The 6 types of mushrooms in Ultimate Mushroom Complex are Chaga, Red Reishi, Lion’s Mane, Cordyceps, Turkey Tail, and Maitake.
- The mushrooms in Ultimate Mushroom Complex have clinical evidence of boosting immunity, cognition, motivation, and energy.
- Freshcap uses only real whole mushroom fruiting bodies; no grain, filler, or mycelium.
- Ultimate Mushroom Complex is analytically tested for beta-glucan content. It is guaranteed to have at least 28% beta-D-glucans.
- Ultimate Mushroom Complex is USDA certified organic, gluten-free, non-GMO, and vegan.
- Ultimate Mushroom Complex is available in powder or capsule form.
Use code OPTIMIZE at checkout for 10% off.
What is Ultimate Mushroom Complex Powder?
Ultimate Mushroom Complex is an organic mushroom extract supplement from Freshcap Mushrooms. It is certified organic, gluten-free, non-GMO, and vegan. Ultimate Mushroom Complex is comprised of equal weightings of the following 6 mushrooms:
- Chaga (Inonotus obliquus)
- Red Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum)
- Lion’s Mane (Hericium erinaceus)
- Cordyceps (Cordyceps militaris)
- Turkey Tail (Trametes versicolor)
- Maitake (Grifola frondosa)
Benefits of Ultimate Mushroom Complex Mushroom Extract Powder
In general, Ultimate Mushroom Complex should boost immunity, cognition, and energy. Clinical evidence abounds for all the mushrooms in Ultimate Mushroom Complex related to their antioxidant, pro-cardiovascular, prebiotic, anticancer, immunomodulating, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antineurodegenerative, and antidiabetic properties. Let’s briefly dive into each mushroom specifically.
Chaga (Inonotus obliquus) is one of the most potent antioxidants in the world, and is rich in a variety of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients1. It has been used historically to support immune function and liver health2,3. It also appears to lower blood sugar4,5. Recent research on Chaga has been focused around its potential anti-cancer properties6–9. Chaga also has anti-inflammatory, antitumor, anti-mutagenic, antiviral, antiplatelet and analgesic properties10,11.
Red Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum) is referred to as “the mushroom of immortality.” It is praised for its support of the immune system and its ability to improve sleep and reduce stress by promoting calmness via GABAergic effects12–14. It is a potent immunomodulator15,16. Red Reishi is also renoprotective, anti-inflammatory, and hepatoprotective, and it may improve enlarged prostate symptoms in men and lower cholesterol17. As with Chaga, much of the recent research on Reishi has been devoted to investigating its anti-cancer properties18–22.
Lion’s Mane (Hericium erinaceus) is famous for its cognition-boosting and antidepressant properties, and is thus popular in nootropic supplement blends. It is neuroprotective, and is studied primarily for its potential efficacy for combating neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s23–31.
I discussed Cordyceps and its ergogenic effects in a post about PeakO2®. Cordyceps militaris appears to contain comparatively more bioactive compounds than its brother Cordyceps sinensis. As such, most supplements you see nowadays will contain the militaris species. In a nutshell, Cordyceps improves oxygen capacity and oxygen utilization, thereby improving cardiovascular function, increasing exercise capacity, boosting energy, and reducing fatigue32,33. It also appears to upregulate the dopaminergic system via enhancing tyrosine hydroxylase expression34. Cordyceps also appears to have antitumor, radioprotective, antiplatelet, renoprotective, and antidiabetic effects35.
Turkey Tail (Trametes versicolor, Coriolus versicolor, Polyporus versicolor, Polystictus versicolor) is a potent immune booster, so much so that it is an approved cancer drug called PSK (Polysaccharide K) in Japan, and has been used as an adjuvant therapy since the 1970’s36–40.
The Maitake (Grifola frondosa) mushroom is commonly known as “Hen of the Woods.” Like the Turkey Tail mushroom, its primary use seems to be as an immunomodulator, activating white blood cells. Also like Turkey Tail and others, it is studied primarily for its anti-cancer benefits41,42. Maitake is also antidiabetic and is used to induce ovulation in women with PCOS43.
Whole Fruiting Body vs. Mycelium on Grain — Know What You’re Buying
A fully developed mushroom at the end of its lifecycle is known as a “whole fruiting body.” It’s what we picture when we think of a mushroom. What most people fail to realize is that many “mushroom” supplements out there may contain little to no actual mushrooms at all. They are instead selling you what’s known as myceliated grain, near the beginning stage of a mushroom’s lifecycle.
Think of mycelium as a seed from which a mushroom later grows. Mushroom growers actually use mycelium as seeds which are put on some form of carrier material (usually grains like wheat or rice). It’s a linguistic sleight of hand on many supplement labels that is actually against FDA regulations. “Mushrooms” from some companies could still just mean myceliated grain. Compounding this problem is the fact that the research out there on mycelium is using pure mycelium, not myceliated grain.
To briefly walk you through the process, grains can be put in autoclavable bags for sterilization, after which they’re inoculated with mycelia culture. The bags are then incubated, during which stage the mycelium will colonize the grain, at which point it’s referred to as “grain spawn” or “mycelium on grain” (MOG).
This “mycelium on grain” would usually then go to a mushroom grower to continue its lifecycle into a whole fruiting body (the real mushroom). Unfortunately, many suppliers stop at this stage and simply sell you the milled grain, with a little bit of mycelium, as a nutritional supplement. The benefit for these companies is of course that the aforementioned process is very scalable and allows for mycelium to be grown and colonized quickly and cheaply in a lab from anywhere in the world.
Cheap and efficient sounds great, though, right? Wrong. The problem for the consumer is that these milled mycelium-on-grain powders contain little, if any, of the bioactive compounds (beta-glucans, triterpenoids, ergosterol, etc.) that are responsible for the benefits above. You are buying mostly grain. As you might imagine, myceliated grain products have a very different taste and smell than real mushrooms (whole fruiting bodies). The former is usually a muted beige color with a taste not unlike breakfast cereal (this makes sense, as it’s mostly grain). The latter, depending on the specific mushroom(s) used, will almost always be a vibrant brown powder with a rich aroma and taste.
Nammex (North American Medicinal Mushroom Extracts), the gold standard of organic mushroom suppliers and pioneers in mushroom growing, research, and supplementation, prides itself on only using 100% whole fruiting bodies. The mushrooms in Ultimate Mushroom Complex come from Nammex, so you can rest assured that you’re getting 100% organic whole fruiting bodies (real mushrooms), with analytically-tested and guaranteed bioactive compound content.
Jeff Chilton, President of Nammex, explains these processes and concepts in the video below[NO_PRINTED_FORM].
Click for Transcript
Hi, my name is Jeff Chilton and I’m the president of Nammex – North American Medicinal Mushroom Extracts. I’d like to talk to you today about the difference between mushrooms and mycelium, and this is a very important subject because if you want to get the most health benefits from your mushroom product, you really need to pay careful attention to the form of the product and how it’s produced. I’m in a greenhouse right now that’s growing Shiitake mushrooms and these mushrooms are being grown on sawdust logs. A mushroom is actually called a fruiting body, and it’s just one stage of a fungal organism that’s called a basidiomycete and there’s actually a number of different stages and that’s what we want to talk about today is the different stages of this basidiomycete organism.
This is a diagram of the basidiomycete lifecycle. In the top center are spores which germinate into hyphae and the hyphae will fuse together and form a large network called mycelium. And this mycelium is actually the vegetative body of this organism and its role is to absorb enough nutrients that allow it to produce a mushroom. Now when conditions are right, a small hyphal knot will form, which develops into a primordium, and then a pinhead, a button, and the various stages of the mushroom, until it has gills that are fully developed and producing billions of spores, and at that point the life cycle is complete. If I want to grow mushrooms, the first step is to get a pure culture of mycelium and you can do that either from mushroom tissue, from spores, or oftentimes you can get a mycelial culture from a culture bank. Pure mycelium is what a mushroom grower will use as seed and this mycelium is put onto a carrier material and at that point it is called mushroom spawn. Grain is a commonly used carrier material. In this instance I have cooked some wheat grain which is sterilized, inoculated with the pure culture of mycelium, and once it has grown out and completely colonized the grain, it is now called grain spawn.
In 1979 I attended an international conference on mushroom cultivation in France, and while I was there, I visited one of the largest mushroom spawn manufacturers in the world. I’d like to just show you how they were making the spawn because it’s really an interesting process. In this particular slide, they are filling the cooked grain into autoclavable plastic bags. In the next step, they’re going to put these bags onto a rack and then that rack is going to be moved into an autoclave. And in that autoclave, the grain is going to be sterilized so that it provides an environment for the mycelium to grow unopposed. Once out of the autoclave, the bags are put on a conveyor belt and as they pass, they’re inoculated with the pure mycelium. The bags are then sealed, put back on a rack, and then they are transferred into an incubation room where the mycelium will grow out and colonize the grain. Now that the grain is completely colonized, it can be boxed and it’s ready to send out to the mushroom grower. It is now what is considered to be pure cultured grain spawn.
The manufactured grain spawn was developed by Dr. James Sinden of Penn State University in 1932 so this is a process that has been going on for almost a hundred years. And again, this is simply a very, very effective way to transfer a pure culture of mycelium into a substrate to then grow mushrooms.
Oddly enough, some companies now grow grain spawn and sell this grain spawn as a nutritional supplement. And despite the fact that in this slide it looks like there is quite a bit of mycelium, if you break that mycelium up, you will find that you still have mostly grain in this product. And so these companies that are producing mycelium on grain or grain spawn are actually primarily selling grain powder. This is Shiitake plug spawn – mycelium grown out on wooden dowels. And it’s very well grown in the left hand jar. But once you shake that jar up, the mycelium gets beaten down and you can see it’s mostly the wooden dowel that you’re left with. So this is just another example of growing mycelium on material, whether it be grain or wood. And what you’re really left with in these products is the material that the mycelium has grown on.
So what is called mycelium and sold by many companies as mushroom is actually grain spawn – a product grown in a laboratory on a sterile grain of rice. If you bought a mycelium product, just taste it. It will taste mildly sweet, kind of like breakfast cereal. These products, as you can imagine, are mostly starch. They have few, if any, of the medicinal compounds which you expected to get when you bought it. On the other hand, a mushroom product will have a distinctly mushroom-y smell and flavor. Shiitake is very aromatic and powerful smelling. So is Maitake. Reishi has a bitter flavor. The difference is night and day. And mushrooms are rich in the medicinal compounds. So when you’re looking for a mushroom product, look carefully and be aware that some products are not really mushrooms.
Nammex themselves tested commercially available products and concluded the following simple summation:
- Mushrooms contain consistently high levels of beta-glucans44.
- Mycelium on grain has consistently low levels of beta-glucans44.
A later study by McCleary et al independently corroborated and confirmed Nammex’s findings45.
Know what you’re buying. Look for mentions of “whole fruiting bodies” and “beta-glucan content.” Freshcap Ultimate Mushroom Complex is guaranteed to have at least 28% beta-glucans.
According to RealMushrooms.com, here are some common terms that can help you spot myceliated grain products:
- US Grown (it’s too costly to grow and harvest most real mushroom species in North America)
- Myceliated brown rice
- Mycelial biomass
- Organic White Milo
- Full spectrum
- Primordia and exocellular compounds
About Freshcap and the Creators of Ultimate Mushroom Complex
Tony Shields, co-founder of Freshcap Mushrooms, is obsessed with and passionate about mushrooms. He started a mushroom farm himself, and his primary goal has been to “demystify” medicinal mushrooms and bring their benefits to the masses. He suggests that “we can live better and feel amazing with the help of mushrooms!”
My Ultimate Mushroom Complex Review
I’ve been a fan of mushroom powders for years. Anecdotally, I can definitely feel Ultimate Mushroom Complex doing its thing – more mental and physical energy, slightly sharper cognition, elevated mood and motivation, and better sleep. Also, knock on wood, I rarely get sick nowadays.
Ultimate Mushroom Complex took 1st place and the “Best for Cognition” designation in my mushroom supplement comparison.
I actually enjoy the flavor. Most mushroom powders oddly look, smell, and taste like raw cacao/cocoa powder. Think of an earthy dark chocolate. It goes great with coffee. I would argue you could even potentially use this mushroom powder as a caffeine replacement. I don’t have a definitive before and after, but my blood biomarkers have also looked great on recent bloodwork.
You could also mix this with tea, smoothies, yogurt, oatmeal, soup, etc. Sometimes I’ll do an afternoon smoothie of:
- Almond milk
- Almond butter
- Unflavored protein powder
- Cocoa powder
- Ultimate Mushroom Complex powder
Mushroom supplementation – particularly Lion’s Mane and Cordyceps – is arguably even more important for older users, due to their aforementioned antineurodegenerative and anti-inflammatory properties.
Recommended dosage for Ultimate Mushroom Complex is 1g/day, which is 1/2 tsp. of the powder. I like to do 1g twice per day.
Freshcap Mushrooms Ultimate Mushroom Complex Powder
You can find Ultimate Mushroom Complex mushroom powder from Freshcap here.
Use code OPTIMIZE at checkout for 10% off.
Freshcap Mushrooms Ultimate Mushroom Complex Capsules
Prefer capsules instead? You can find them from Freshcap here.
Use code OPTIMIZE at checkout for 10% off.
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Medical Disclaimer: While I love diving into and extracting useful information from clinical research related to health, fitness, supplements, and more, I am in no way a medical expert. The content on this website is for informational purposes only; it is not professional medical advice, nor is it a substitute for professional medical advice. None of the statements on this website have been evaluated by the FDA. Products mentioned are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Read my lengthier medical disclaimer here.
Yuriy Nutsa says
Is host defense what a scam? I thought Paul is the authority when it comes to mushrooms research.
John Williamson says
Paul Stamets is definitely one of the most prominent voices in the mushroom community. Unfortunately, Paul himself has admitted that Host Defense uses myceliated grain and that the Host Defense products are upwards of 60% useless starch. They provide no specs or guarantees of ingredients or bioactive compounds. I’d avoid it. You can find plenty of similar evidence and anecdotal reports across the web with some cursory Googling.
What is the difference between FreshCap Mushrooms Thrive 6 powder v.s capsules?
John Williamson says
Hey Kathy, no difference other than one is the powder in a tub and one is in capsule form. The capsules cost a bit more.
Blair Farmer says
Any idea if thrive 6 is safe to take with a red super foods powder product? Thanks
John Williamson says
I’m not a doctor but I’d think that should be fine.