mushroom tinctures vs powdered extracts

Liquid Mushroom Extracts vs Powdered Mushroom Extracts - Which is better and why?

In this article we're going to dive into the difference between a liquid mushroom extract, often referred to as a ‘tincture’, and a powdered mushroom extract. We’ll also go into detail about which type is the most beneficial for you to take for the maximum health benefits.

But first off, why even ‘extract’ a mushroom? What does this mean and why is it necessary?

It all starts with the chitin..

The cells within a mushroom are strengthened by chitin (pronounced “kai-tn”) a substance that our stomach has a hard time digesting. Lobsters, crabs and various other crustaceans have shells made out of chitin.

It turns out that all mushrooms are strengthened by chitin, and until fairly recently, people were simply not aware that mushrooms should not be eaten raw.

Chef turned mycologist Jim Fuller says the following about cooking mushrooms;

“[The current method] comes from French classical technique: because mushrooms are full of water, the idea is to get rid of as much water as possible,” he says. “But those techniques were designed when our understanding of fungi and their cellular structures was too young – not necessarily flawed, but they weren’t well understood.”

This is why mushrooms need to undergo some sort of extraction process, the cell walls need to be broken down so that our bodies can access the various beneficial compounds. 

Liquid Tincture Mushroom Extracts

Tinctures are commonly used for herbal extractions. Instead of soaking something in hot water, a tincture is made by soaking in alcohol. Many substances in plants are soluble in alcohol. Alcohol can, for example, break down cellulose. 

The problem with making a tincture from mushrooms is that alcohol does not break down the chitin. So the term “mushroom tincture” simply does not make sense; a tincture by definition is; “typically an extract of plant or animal material dissolved in ethanol.” (according to Wikipedia.) But the process of tincturing a mushroom won’t extract anything from the fungal tissue.

Powdered Mushroom Extracts

A powdered mushroom extract typically involves making a hot water extraction in a pressurised container. The heat breaks down the chitin during this process. The pressure is used to prevent valuable compounds evaporating in the heat.

Dual extraction methods

All of the products we sell are dual extracted. What this means is that the mushrooms are first heat extracted with water as described above. The second extraction is done using alcohol now that the chitin is broken down. The alcohol releases compounds that are not water soluble and would otherwise be left behind. This liquid is concentrated and then dried into a powder. 

Why are powdered mushroom extracts better than a liquid tincture extract?

A dual extracted mushroom powder is both bioavailable and concentrated. A tincture has little to none of these properties.

A word of caution though; simply reducing a mushroom to a  powdered form is not going to release all of the sought after compounds as we have described above.

Why turn the extraction into a concentrate?

Most mushroom species are not concentrated foods, so a person would have to eat a LOT of mushrooms to receive any medicinal benefits. This is why the best mushroom supplements are offered in a concentrated dual-extracted form for maximum bioavailability. 

Virtually every study referencing medicinal mushrooms has been conducted using concentrated extracts.

Our medicinal mushrooms are dual extracted at the following ratios;

  • Lion’s Mane 8:1
  • Turkey Tail 12:1
  • Reishi 15:1

Look for the beta glucan content

Beta Glucans are soluble fibres that are locked inside the cell walls of a mushroom. They also occur in some other foods such as wheat, oats and rye.

According to WebMD, beta glucans may; “prevent the body from absorbing cholesterol from food. They might also stimulate the immune system by increasing chemicals that prevent infections.” 

Healthline states; “[beta glucans] has been studied extensively for its effects on heart health and cholesterol levels, as well as been shown to boost immunity and stabilize blood sugar levels.”

Beta glucans are like the “gold standard” for determining the efficacy of a mushroom supplement. Any reputable medicinal mushroom retailer will publish the beta glucan content of their mushrooms.

Ever noticed how some retailers offering liquid tinctures refuse to publish the beta glucan content of their products? Given how inefficient a tincture for mushrooms actually is, now we know why.

Some even claim that “testing for beta glucans is not yet reliable” - the truth is that beta glucan testing has been in use since the 20th century. 

As an example, back in 1981, a particular interest in oat β-glucan arose after a cholesterol lowering effect from oat bran was reported.

Given the now long history of beta glucan testing and the countless studies specifically looking at beta glucans, it seems disingenuous to claim that the test for beta glucans is not yet good enough.

Sadly, many retailers will make misleading or outright false claims about their products. Statements like; “full spectrum” or “high quality” are not terms that can be regulated.

We hope that this article has given some insight into the differences between liquid and powdered extracts and why the right type of extraction is so important in order to receive the beneficial properties that medicinal mushrooms contain.

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