Functional Mushrooms & Dual Extraction

In recent times, an increasing number of individuals have embraced a health-conscious lifestyle. This shift can be attributed, in part, to the global pandemic.

The pandemic served as a wake-up call for many, highlighting the importance of robust immunity and overall well-being in safeguarding against harmful pathogens.

Furthermore, the crisis acted as a catalyst for the exploration of natural alternatives, propelling the investigation into the potential health benefits offered by mushrooms.

Traditionally viewed as a culinary delicacy, prized for imparting a distinct umami flavor to dishes, mushrooms have undergone a metamorphosis. Today, they bask in the spotlight for their promising contributions to enhanced health and well-being.

Historically, functional mushrooms have played a significant role in traditional medicine practices spanning centuries. Mushrooms were ingested in various forms - raw, cooked, sliced, diced, and even powdered - each preparation method serving a distinct purpose.

While modern health-conscious individuals acknowledge the health-promoting properties of mushrooms, a pressing query looms: Is extraction necessary to unlock the hidden potential within these fungi?

Today, we embark on a journey to unearth the answers to your inquiries regarding mushroom extraction. Is the consumption of distilled essence superior to the traditional practice of consuming the whole mushroom? What extraction technique holds the utmost efficacy? Is it feasible to undertake mushroom extraction at home?

Undoubtedly, this is a captivating subject that merits exploration. Together, let’s unravel the mysteries that surround mushroom extraction and its profound implications for holistic well-being.


Understanding Mushroom Extraction

Sometimes, we receive interesting questions regarding mushrooms: Can I eat mushrooms instead of taking mushroom extract supplements? Sure, you can. But to unlock the therapeutic potential of mushrooms, you need to take supplements made using the essence of the mushroom.

High-quality mushroom supplements are made using extracts. Extraction involves isolating the active compounds in mushrooms. Extraction makes the hidden goodness of mushrooms more accessible and maximizes the benefits that mushrooms have to offer.

Remember, there are plenty of beneficial compounds hidden in mushrooms. Almost all mushroom species contain terpenoids, polysaccharides, and phenolic compounds. These compounds are part of the mushrooms and are packed inside the cell walls.

You need to eat plenty of mushrooms for a long time to ingest sufficient beneficial compounds. Mushroom extracts are concentrated bioactive compounds that are easy to store, consume, and carry.

Bioactive compounds can be extracted from mushrooms using two methods: water extraction and alcohol extraction.

Water extraction, or the decoction method, involves heating mushrooms in boiling water to break the cell wall and release the bioactive compounds. Polysaccharides and a few other mushroom compounds that boost vitality and immunity are extracted with this method.

The other method – alcohol extraction – involves using a solvent, mostly ethanol, to squeeze out a spectrum of compounds.

This method helps extract most of the fat-soluble and some of the water-soluble bioactive compounds from mushrooms. The alcohol method is best suited for extracting alkaloids and terpenoids, which are known for their potent adaptogenic and anti-inflammatory properties.

Another reason why extracts are preferred over whole-mushroom consumption is because of bioavailability. The digestive system is ill-equipped to break down the cellular matrix that guards the bioactive compounds. Hence, even if we eat mushrooms daily, the body only absorbs a tiny fraction of the bioactive compounds.

During extraction, the compounds are drawn out after breaking the cellular matrix and other indigestible components in mushrooms. As a result, extraction significantly increases the bioavailability of mushroom compounds.

The Double Extraction Method: Unlocking the Full Potential of Mushroom

Mushrooms are powerhouses of varied bioactive compounds, each boasting unique properties and effects on the human body. Any single method of extraction is insufficient to harness the full potential of mushrooms.

Currently, the double extraction method has emerged as the best technique to access the most beneficial compounds found in functional mushrooms. All of our mushrooms are dual-extracted.

The double extraction method is a two-step process. In this case, mushrooms are first subjected to water extraction, and in the second step, they undergo alcohol extraction.

Certain compounds in mushrooms are water-soluble, and some are alcohol-soluble. The double extraction method helps target different (and multiple) bioactive compounds in the functional fungus.

This method is used to draw out the maximum range of beneficial compounds, both effectively and efficiently. The double or dual extraction of mushrooms provides the best of both worlds.

As discussed above, water extraction unravels compounds with immune-boosting power. Hot water extraction brings out polysaccharides, particularly beta-glucans, which are one of the most important compounds in mushrooms.

On the other hand, alcohol extraction captures the essence of the mushroom responsible for cognitive functioning, stress relief, and more.

Is double extraction the best method to use for all mushrooms? The answer depends on what you expect from the mushroom supplement.

Dual extraction is ideal in the case of Chaga and Reishi, both mushrooms found in our UNWIND and DEFEND mushroom gummies. In the case of other mushrooms, hot water extraction can distill some of the bioactive compounds but not most of them. Currently, double extraction is the best method to extract the maximum raw material from functional mushrooms.

Exploring Chitin and Its Role

Any discussion regarding mushroom extraction is incomplete without mention of chitin and its role. Chitin is an aminopolysaccharide polymer that is found in abundance in nature. It is a crucial component present in the fungal cell wall, providing fundamental building blocks that give shape and structure to mushrooms.

Chitin is essential for maintaining the shape, strength, and integrity of an organism. But how is it related to mushroom extraction?

In nature, chitin plays a pivotal role in determining how fungi interact with the surrounding environment. Unfortunately, chitin is a major impediment that prevents the body from fully absorbing nutrients during whole-mushroom consumption.

To put it simply, chitin is composed of a type of carbohydrate that is tough and insoluble. Chitin in the fungal cell wall acts as a reservoir that stores nutrients and bioactive compounds found in mushrooms.

The human digestive system lacks the enzymes that can break down chitin and release mushroom bioactive compounds. Due to chitin, the nutrients largely remain inaccessible to us. This diminishes the health benefits of consuming mushrooms.

At this moment, we would like to emphasize the point that extraction is the ideal solution to break down the chitin barrier. Subjecting mushrooms to various hot water and chemical reactions helps break the resilient chitin matrix.

Even after giving up most of their compounds during extraction, chitin in mushrooms provides a range of other benefits. Since chitin is an insoluble fiber, it is considered an excellent prebiotic and probiotic substance that can support microbiome health in the digestive tract.

Additionally, the byproducts of extraction can be used in wound healing, water management, environmental management, the pharmaceutical industry, and more.

The Profound Benefits of Mushroom Extracts

While the health benefits of mushrooms have captivated traditional healers and modern-day researchers for a long time, it’s only in the 21st century that they have truly become popular among the general population. This is largely due to supplements containing mushroom extracts.

Lion’s Mane, Chaga, Shiitake, Maitake, Reishi, and Cordyceps – names that were obscure a few decades ago – are now making waves in the supplement industry. These mushrooms offer a cocktail of nutrients; they are rich in vitamins, minerals, and amino acids. Additionally, they also contain compounds with adaptogenic, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties.

Reishi extract is rich in triterpenes and beta-glucans. These compounds boost the immune system, alleviate anxiety and depression, and improve sleep quality.

The compounds extracted from Chaga mushrooms contain betulinic acid. Like other mushrooms, Chaga is also a good source of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents. Chaga extract finds a place in most natural supplements because of its anti-aging properties.

Lion’s Mane extract is known for its ability to support and boost cognitive health. The bioactive compounds gathered from these mushrooms stimulate the release of Nerve Growth Factor (NGF), which is vital for brain cell repair, neurogenesis, and neuroprotection. Lion’s Mane extract helps improve focus, memory, and overall cognitive function. Grab a bottle of our BRAINY mushroom gummies with 2,000mg of organic Lion’s Mane per serving! Your brain will thank you.

Users can gain full access to these mushroom compounds and their benefits only through double extraction. Only through extraction can the tough cell wall be broken through, unlocking the full potential of functional mushrooms.


Performing Dual Extraction at Home

Unlike prescription drugs, health supplements and other nutraceuticals are not strictly regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Naturally, there are hundreds of supplement brands in the market; only a handful of them are trustworthy and effective.

Naturally, some of you might feel it’s best to create your own mushroom supplement. Functional mushrooms offer a plethora of health benefits, and you can harness the full potential of these mushrooms through double extraction.

We would recommend using a mushroom supplement. But if you want to try double extraction of mushrooms at home, then worry not – we’ll guide you through the process.

Gather Your Tools and Ingredients

The tools necessary for mushroom dual or double extraction are found in the kitchen. If not, you can easily purchase them from local stores. Similarly, the main ingredient – mushrooms – can be easily procured from the nearest herbal store.

Apart from the dried functional mushrooms, you’ll need high-proof alcohol, water, a slow cooker or boiler, a strainer (with fine mesh), two glass jars with lids, and a small, dark glass bottle (with a dropper).

Stage 1: Alcohol Extraction

Cut the dried functional mushrooms into small bits. Cutting or crushing mushrooms increases the surface area, which results in better extraction.

Place the crushed mushrooms in a glass jar and fill it with alcohol. Normally, alcohol that is 80-95% proof is used for extraction. Alternatively, you can use vodka, which is 80% proof.

Make sure the mushrooms are fully submerged in the alcohol. Use the lid to completely seal the bottle. Ensure the lid is tight and leak-proof.

Store the bottle in a cool, dark, and dry place for 3-4 weeks. Occasionally, gently shake the jar to promote the extraction process.

Stage 2: Water Extraction

After 3-4 weeks, open the alcohol jar, use the fine mesh strainer to transfer the alcohol extract into another glass jar, close the alcohol extract jar and keep it aside.

Now, in a slow cooker or double boiler, heat water, close to the boiling point. Add the alcohol extract to the simmering water and let both liquids simmer for a few hours. This process will squeeze out the water-soluble compounds from the mushrooms.

Stage 3: Strain and Store the Mushroom Extract

Once the simmering process is over and the liquid in the cooker is sufficiently cooled, you can strain the liquid using a fine mesh strainer.

Collect this double-extracted liquid and transfer a portion into a small bottle. Store the double-extracted liquid in a cool, dry place.

Using a dropper, you can add a few drops of mushroom extract to tea, recipes, etc.

Mushroom Double Extraction: Best Practices

  • Use only high-quality and organic mushrooms and quality equipment for the process.
  • Thoroughly clean the tools and vessels before you begin the double-extraction process.
  • Perform the extraction process, particularly alcohol extraction, in a well-ventilated place.
  • Even homemade mushroom extract can be potent; hence, consult an expert before deciding the dosage for regular use.

Balancing the Water-Alcohol Ratios: Finding the Right Blend

Is dual extraction of functional mushrooms so simple? Afraid not. Finding the right balance of water and alcohol in the mushroom extract is the key to mastering double extraction. Choosing the optimal water-alcohol ratio helps extract the most therapeutic benefit from the chosen mushroom.

The ideal water-alcohol ratio may not be the same for different mushroom species. The bioactive compound and nutritional profile will vary from species to species. Hence, a one-size-fits-all approach will not work in the case of mushroom extraction.

Some mushrooms contain higher levels of triterpenoids that need a higher alcohol content to break free from the chitin barrier. On the other hand, you’ll have to use a higher water ratio for mushrooms with higher levels of water-soluble compounds such as polysaccharides.

Before deciding on the ideal water-alcohol ratio, it’s imperative to identify the compounds in the mushrooms you plan to extract.

You can use the baseline ratio gathered from traditional usage and peer-reviewed studies. This can be your starting point, and then you can perfect the water-alcohol ratio through experimentation.

You may not strike the right color, flavor, or potency with your first try. Patience is the key to mastering the mushroom double extraction at home.

The double extraction of your chosen fungi is both a science and an art. You’ll get an inch closer to the golden ratio with every attempt.

Bear in mind that while the journey might be slow and filled with challenges, the fruit of your toil is the essence of good health that your body and mind crave.

Final Thoughts

Mushrooms serve as more than just culinary delights; they offer a plethora of benefits that can significantly boost health and invigorate the spirit. However, the true essence of these health benefits is often concealed behind the chitin barrier.

Enter mushroom dual extraction—a process involving alcohol and water extraction. This method has risen to prominence as the most effective approach to harnessing the potent potential of these functional fungi.

The good news is that you can easily access the power of functional mushrooms from the comfort of your home. Our comprehensive guide is here to lead you through the step-by-step process.

Embark on a journey of double extraction within your kitchen and kindly share the outcomes of your experiments with us! If all else fails, you can simply purchase your mushrooms in gummy form for utmost convenience!