The ability to generate full-spectrum plant extracts frequently remains beyond the reach of do-it-yourself home preparation makers, despite the art and science of producing plant preparations appearing to become more complex the longer a herbalist practices. I'm going to demonstrate how to prepare a extraction tincture of mushrooms for you today.
For immune-modulating herbs, such as well-known mushrooms like reishi (Ganoderma spp.), maitake (Grifola frondosa), shiitake (Lentinula edodes), turkey tail (Trametes versicolor), and cordyceps, this procedure, also known as "double extraction" or "dual extraction," is frequently utilized (Cordyceps militaris and Ophiocordyceps sinensis).
Traditional medicine has used mushrooms for a very long time, but recent research is just now catching up to that practice. Current biochemical research reveals a wide range of active substances and molecules that help the human body maintain health and treat illnesses.
While substances like terpenoids may benefit not only the immune system but also the cardiovascular system, liver, endocrine system, and other systems of the body, fungal polysaccharides, which have been the subject of active research since the 1950s, are long, branching chains of complex sugars that have been shown to exhibit immune-modulating, anti-inflammatory, and anti-tumor activities, among other properties (Hobbs, 1986).
These studies have shown these health-promoting mushrooms to be effective against carcinogenesis (the growth of tumors and metastatic cancers), overactive immune function (such as in autoimmune diseases), and underactive immune function (such as frequent colds or other respiratory illnesses) (Masé, 2012).
The double-extraction method is required to create a full-spectrum preparation since mushrooms contain such a diverse range of components, including both easily water-soluble polysaccharides and highly alcohol-soluble terpenoids.
It was discovered while conducting research for this article that several renowned preparation makers and clinical herbalists have different approaches to creating double-extractions of fungi. For this reason, I will provide a summary of the fundamental procedures needed to complete the extraction procedure, along with more information about the choices and modifications that a range of knowledgeable practitioners have suggested.
A Mushroom Double-Extraction Tincture in 5 Easy Steps
1. Clean, Cut, and Dry
The mushroom fruiting bodies should be washed, cut into little pieces, and dried on a screen or in a dehydrator after being harvested.
The majority of people concur that the best way to determine the ultimate water content of the extract—which some people say should be at least 25% alcohol for preservation purposes—is to make preparations with dried mushrooms. For a 1:5 mushroom:menstruum extract that yields 20% alcohol, Buhner (2012) recommends using 16 ounces of powdered reishi mushroom, 64 ounces of water for decoction, and 16 ounces of 95% alcohol.
2. Is Marc single or double?
Determining whether to use the marc (remaining plant material) squeezed from the tinctures to decoct during the water extraction process or to make the alcohol extract and water extract from two different batches of dried mushrooms. Herbalists use both techniques.
Yet, other studies indicate that water-soluble polysaccharides are altered or destroyed by high-proof alcohol (Hobbs, 1986). This issue can be avoided by using two different batches of dried mushrooms.
3. Extracting ethanol
The dried and diced mushroom is placed in a jar, covered with high proof (70–95%) clear grain alcohol, and left to steep for two to six weeks away from direct sunlight. This is how many herbalists produce the tincture first. In order to maximize the extraction surface area, Hobbs (1986) suggests blending chopped, dried mushrooms with menstruum (alcohol), noting that the marc will eventually settle in the jar and leave 1 inch of clear fluid at the top, which should sufficiently submerge the plant material to prevent fermentation. To preserve emulsification throughout the ethanol extraction procedure, some herbalists even add a tiny bit of glycerin to the tincture (Masé, 2012).
Shaking the tincture jar daily is crucial when using dry mushroom material to keep the menstruum evenly distributed and in contact with the mushrooms for optimal ingredient extraction.
When the tincture is ready, it needs to be pressed, bottled, and stored in a cool, dark area so that it won't deteriorate.
A third option is the combination approach, which is suggested by Stephen Buhner (2012). It calls for mixing high-proof alcohol with the cooled decoction while it still contains the mushroom marc and letting it macerate for two weeks.
The term "decoction" describes the long-term, slow boiling of plant material, typically consisting of woody roots, stems, barks, and seeds.
While various herbalists have offered suggestions ranging from 45 minutes (Green, 2000), many days of slow boiling in a crock pot, to however long it takes a slow simmer to cut the menstruum (liquid) in half, Buhner (2012) advises a half-hour decoction. For the decoction process to continue for 1-2 hours, some herbalists advise adding water (Masé, 2012).
According to Hobbs (1996), he performs a double extraction by decocting the marc that has been pressed from the tincture in a 1:5 ratio with spring water, simmering for an hour, pressing and composting the decocted marc, and then simmering the water extract for an additional minute or two until it has evaporated to 1/5 of its original volume.
But, as was already indicated, some herbalists prefer to create the tincture and decoction from distinct batches of dried mushrooms.
5. Press, Strain, Decant, and Store
Once the decoction has cooled and the tincture is ready, make careful to strain and press the liquid out of the marc very well.
You must whisk the decoction as you add the tincture gently to prevent undiluted alcohol from coming into touch with the polysaccharides, which could cause them to change. According to Hobbs (1986), the combined alcohol content of the ethanol and water extraction should be 25%, thus the volume of the water extract should be adjusted in accordance with the alcoholic content of the spirits used to make the tincture. Shaking the bottle before using is a recommended habit because the polysaccharides can occasionally precipitate out of solution while the product is on the shelf.
Mushroom Tincture Recipe Ingredients (Adapted from Guido Masé (2012)).
Dried, chopped mushrooms 150-proof alcohol
Food-grade vegetable glycerin Water Directions
Divide chopped mushrooms into two equal portions.
Place half of the mushrooms in a clean glass jar; add 150-proof alcohol until the mushrooms are about ¾ covered. Top it off with vegetable glycerin until the mushrooms are just covered.
Place a square piece of natural waxed paper on top of the jar, then seal the jar with a lid (this protects the tincture from any chemical coating that may be on the lid). Shake it really well to make sure the glycerin and alcohol are combined.
Allow to macerate for 4-6 weeks; gently shake the jar periodically—shaking every day is ideal, but do this at least every few days.
Strain out the mushroom material; compost or discard. Reserve the strained tincture.
Measure out twice as much water as the volume of your strained tincture. For example, if you have 4 ounces of strained tincture, you will now use 8 ounces of water to make a decoction.
To prepare a decoction, combine the remaining dry mushrooms or mushroom powder with the water; heat in a crockpot, covered, on high heat for 6-12 hours, or on low heat for 8-24 hours. If using the stove top, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and
simmer for at least 4 hours. Add more water as needed to make sure that the mushrooms remain covered and there’s no opportunity for them to burn.
Strain out and compost or discard the mushrooms from the decoction.
You want to have approximately equal amounts of tincture and decoction; if the volume of decoction is greater than the volume of tincture, simmer the decoction, uncovered, until the water is reduced to the desired volume.
Allow the decoction to cool completely, then slowly pour the tincture into the decoction while whisking steadily. (It’s important to do it in that order, rather than pouring decoction into the tincture, since you want to minimize the exposure of polysaccharides to undiluted alcohol.)
Store in a labeled, sanitized glass jar with a tight-fitting lid in a cool, dark place.