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Native mushroom found to contain brainy compound

A local mushroom company has collaborated with Callaghan Innovation to scientifically confirm that the native Pekepeke-kiore mushroom, Hericium novae-zealandiae, contains compounds that are good for cognitive health.

Raglan mushroom grower and supplement company Mynd now sells an approved dietary supplement commercially.

The company first entered the mushroom market by selling novel mushrooms, such as oyster mushrooms, in home-growing kits under the name Mushrooms by the Sea.

Co-founder Sean Mills found a novel method of extracting specific compounds from Pekepeke-kiore mushroom, also known as New Zealand Lion’s Mane.

He said only one study was previously done to confirm the presence of specific compounds, and showed only the presence of one compound, hericenones.

"Independent tests indicate that our New Zealand Lion’s Mane mushroom extract is the first of its kind to contain both erinacines and hericenones,” Mills said.

The compounds have been shown in some studies to benefit cognitive health.

“We have developed a cultivation technique that allows us to harvest pure mycelia [the root-like structure of mushrooms]. Combining the mycelia and mushroom fruiting bodies results in an extract rich in bioactive compounds. Our heat extraction process ensures bioavailability and retains a wide spectrum of beneficial compounds,” Mills said.

To date only a handful of growers sell dried Pekepeke-kiore at farmers markets, he said.

“Unfortunately for New Zealand, the majority of medicinal mushroom products available in New Zealand are grown overseas, shipped to New Zealand and sold here by intermediary distributors, not growers, ” Mills said.

A Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment report showed the global medicinal mushroom market was worth USD$3.5 billion (about $5.7bn) in 2022, and is forecast to grow 8-9% by 2030.

Pekepeke-kiore is currently only grown on micro or hobby level in NZ, the report says.

There is a worldwide market for medicinal mushrooms and a growing awareness of brain health, the report says. NZs Pekepeke-kiore also is not found anywhere else and this novelty could be leveraged.

There is a well established supplement market worldwide, the report says.

Mills said Mynd’s supplement can be used to aid focus, memory, brain cognition and nerve growth.

The supplement contains no additives, Mills said.

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