What is the Best Way to use Medicinal Mushrooms for health?
There are four primary ways to consume medicinal mushrooms for health.
Eat more mushrooms
Make mushroom tea
Take a double extracted mushroom tincture
Take a hot water extract mushroom powder
Working with plants and mushrooms to improve or maintain health is as old as humans. We have always looked to the natural realm in order to help support a healthy working body. Pharmaceutical companies even look to the natural world for ideas of drugs to create. So why does a supplement always come in a pill? Are there other ways to work with natural "medicines?" ABSOLUTELY. Taking a pill should be the last approach to working with medicinal mushrooms. There are so many other ways to incorporate the best mushrooms for health and the benefits they offer. Even though we offer hot water extracted capsules and powders your first method for working with mushroom should always be supporting your local mushroom farmer
and foraging in woods near you. If you can eat more mushrooms and make mushroom tea's at home you will be able to access many of the Beta-glucans mushrooms have to offer.
I started out as a mushroom farmer back in 2012 and still firmly believe in the benefits that can be derived from consuming mushrooms. Many studies have shown the consumption of different mushroom species impact our immune system and brain function. Below are two studies looking at mushrooms for health. These studies look at the consumption of Lion's mane mushrooms in cookies (YUM mushroom cookie!) and powdered form. Both studies found Lion's mane to be efficacious in the cooked form. In another study consumption of shiitake showed improvement in immune system function in young adults. To access the benefits of mushrooms the first approach should always be to add the best mushrooms for health to your diet!
Reduction of depression and anxiety by 4 weeks of Hericium erinaceus intake
Improvement of cognitive functions by oral intake of Hericium erinaceus
Consuming Lentinula edodes (Shiitake) Mushrooms Daily Improves Human Immunity: A Randomized Dietary Intervention in Healthy Young Adults
Developing a relationship with the best mushrooms for health
The second way to approach mushroom medicines is to make or purchase a liquid mushroom extract. Mushroom extracts are either hot water extracts or hot water and alcohol extracts (Dual extracts). Some compounds in mushrooms like triterpenes and sterols are not water soluble and need alcohol extraction to become available for humans to uptake. Having a RELATIONSHIP with the mushroom is always the best approach in my mind. If it is possible for you to buy or forage for mushrooms like shiitake, lion's mane, Reishi, maitake, turkey tail then do it! Make your own mushroom tinctures and teas
, you will be accessing so much of the benefits these mushrooms have to offer and building relationship with them. Be careful you might end up like us or do what Gary Lincoff recommended: "Quit your job and dedicate your life to mushrooms"
Understanding and making extracts with mushrooms for health
When you make a hot water extraction, the beta-glucans become available for your body to use. Beta-glucans are the primary compounds studied in medicinal mushrooms. Just making a hot water extraction will give you many of the benefits mushrooms have to offer. To make a hot water extract simply steep the mushrooms in hot water, 125-145 degrees F for 8-12 hours. The low setting on a crock pot overnight is perfect for this. Use the hot water extract (tea) to make rice, soup, or drink it straight. If there is extra you can freeze it in quart containers and use as needed.
To make a tincture you would add alcohol to the mushroom tea (include the mushrooms) and let it sit for 6 weeks. When adding alcohol it is important to keep the overall alcohol percentage around 25-35% so if you were adding 190 proof grain alcohol you would do 1/3 alcohol and 2/3 water. If you were doing 100 proof alcohol you would do about half and half alcohol and water. At home this doesn't have to be an exact science you can use jars and roughly guess the amount of alcohol and hot water to put into each extract. Place a piece of wax paper below the cap and mix the tincture up so the alcohol doesn't just sit on the top. Let it sit for 6 weeks and YOU DID IT! You made a Medicinal Mushroom Extract.
USA grown/foraged 100% fruiting body mushroom extracts
Buying these liquid dual extracts or tinctures is the only way you can buy 100% mushroom fruiting bodies grown or foraged in the United States. All of the mushroom extract powders that are 100% fruiting bodies are imported from China because of the high expense of growing mushrooms in the United States. In the mountainous areas of China, mushrooms have been grown for centuries. 85% of worldwide mushroom production happens in these mountainous regions of China. This is the clean, pristine part of China, not the smog filled cities. The mushrooms we utilize are thoroughly tested by third party labs for heavy metals, pesticides, and other pollutants to ensure we have the highest quality product. The mushrooms for health are dried, extracted, and powdered and then sent to the US.
Other US-grown products are mycelium on grain. Studies have shown that these products have SIGNIFICANTLY lower levels of beta-glucans and should be avoided. The graph below has the first 3 products derived from 100% mushroom fruiting bodies. The next eight products are mycelium grown on grain. The Blue bar is measuring Beta-glucans (mushroom compounds) and the green bar is measuring Alpha-glucans (grain compounds). The top three mushroom fruiting body products have high levels of Beta-glucans and almost no Alpha-glucans. The Mycelial products are inverse with high levels of Alpha glucans and very little Beta-glucans. This means the mycelial based products are primarily grain, the material the mushroom mycelium is grown on. The grain isn't fully digested by the mycelium and a large portion of the product is simply brown rice.
Traditionally the mushroom fruiting body has been the part of the fungus consumed for health benefits
. Only in the last 10 years, since mushrooms have become so popular has mycelium been used. Mycelium grown on grain has not been thoroughly researched but is economical and easy to scale for companies offering mushroom supplements. Instead of costing $5 for a pound of shiitake mushrooms grown in the US the mycelium on grain can be grown for close to .25 cents per pound! The choice to use mycelium on grain isn't based on efficacy, it is based on economics and it comes at a cost in quality. When you make your own mushroom medicine or consume fresh mushrooms you know what you are getting is high quality mushroom fruiting bodies.
Accessing mushrooms for health with supplement powders
The last way to approach working with medicinal mushrooms is to purchase supplements from companies like ours. As demonstrated above it is critical you know exactly what you are getting. Make sure you are getting hot water extracted MUSHROOM FRUITING BODIES! The label on the back should guarantee (like we do) Beta glucan and starch levels. If you don't have time for making mushrooms in your meals or making mushroom medicine, our bioavailable mushroom supplements are an awesome alternative. If you want to leave extraction up to professions and know the Beta-glucan content in your supplement, our product will work great for you. Or if you are looking for high doses of readily available mushroom medicine going with mushroom supplement powders is ideal.