When it comes to medicinal mushrooms supplements, there are almost as many opinions on the best methods of extraction and ways to take them as there are products on the market.
Yet for most medicinal mushrooms, two tried, true, and tested methods are all that’s needed: hot water extraction and alcohol extraction.
Some Like it Hot
Fungal cell walls are composed of chitin, a tough, difficult to crack chemical structure that also comprises the exoskeleton of arthropods such as crustaceans like crabs and insects like ants.
Your teeth can’t break through chitin. Neither can your stomach.
Hot water over an extended period of time, also known as a hot water extraction.
In essence, a hot water extraction is like making tea. The only difference is that during an extraction the water is kept at a high, steady temperature for hours, thereby cracking the chitin bond to release the powerfully medicinal compounds — polysaccahrides, esp. beta-d-glucans — so they’re bioavailable when you take your supplements.
Others Like it Boozy
Yet hot water extractions can only do so much, since many other medicinal compounds in mushrooms aren’t water soluble, i.e. they don’t dissolve in water. To access medicinal compounds like triterpenoids and sterols, a solvent extraction is needed. Oftentimes, a high ethanol content solvent — think 190 proof or above — is utilized to nab these difficult to capture compounds.
Mash and Mix
The process of creating tinctures on a small-scale is relatively straightforward once you’ve done the hard part of growing or procuring your medicinal mushrooms or herbs.
First, you pulverize the mushroom fruit body to a fine powder, thereby increasing its surface area. Next, you submerge this powder in a solvent (high proof ethanol) to agitate the compounds. Once this process is complete, you strain out the solids, put the alcohol extract aside, complete your hot water extraction, strain out the solids once more, and then combine the two liquids to a final product that’s between 30 and 40 percent alcohol by volume.
You’ve probably noticed that most herbal and medicinal mushroom tinctures are marketed as double or sometimes even triple extracted. The double extract label just means that both a hot water and solvent extraction process was completed to create the product. For triple extracted products, the third extraction process usually constitutes the byproduct of a cold-water extraction — i.e. submerging the herb/mushroom in room temperature or colder water — that is then mixed into the hot water and alcohol extracts before bottling and packaging.
There you have it! The processes just described are extremely effective at creating potent medicine and rather simple...unless you’re making it by the hundreds of gallons.
- Real Mushrooms, The Art of Extraction, www.realmushrooms.com/mushroom-extraction/
- Fungi Magazine, Medicinal Mycology by Robert Rodgers, Vol. 9:1, Spring 2016, p. 18-21
- Radical Mycology, Peter McCoy