How to Make Your Own Medicinal Mushroom Tincture

The healing properties of mushrooms are traditionally accessed one of three ways: cooking and eating the fruiting body of the mushroom; making a strong mushroom tea, or decoction; or via an alcohol extraction. The method of extraction that will be right for you will depend on which mushroom suits your own health needs. That being said, almost all mushrooms can be made into an alcohol extract, or tincture, which has the added benefit of increasing the shelf life of your mushrooms so they are available when you need them most. Below we will walk you through the step by step of how to make your own medicinal mushroom tincture, and some best practices to keep in mind while selecting your materials.

Prefer the ease of a ready-made medicinal mushroom tincture? Check out Mushroom Revival’s selection of double-extracted, certified organic medicinal mushroom tinctures below! Want to make your own medicinal mushroom tincture? Shop our dried mushrooms!

Why Make a Medicinal Mushroom Tincture, and How Do You Use It?

Medicinal tinctures have been used since the times of ancient Egypt as a way to preserve and ingest medicinal herbs and mushrooms. As you can imagine, for this preparation method to withstand the test of time, it must be easy to make, and the means of preparation must be accessible to a broad audience. These simple and effective preparations double as a preservation method, extending the life of seasonal fresh herbs and berries without fear of spoilage.

As well as offering a shelf-stable formula, tinctures also concentrate higher levels of both polysaccharides and triterpenes in both plants and mushrooms, giving the extract more potency than any other method of ingestion (1). For instance, some active components in woody, or otherwise indigestible mushrooms, such as the triterpenoids and phenolic components from Reishi, Chaga, and Red Banded Polypore, will usually require an alcohol extraction, in addition to a water decoction or tea extraction (1).

Regardless of what you are desiring to tincture, all extracts share similar attributes. Namely, all tinctures:

  • Will have alcohol as the main solvent with varying amounts of water.
  • Can be made using either fresh or dry ingredients (but in the case of mushrooms, dried is preferable); which you choose will affect the amount of water needed to add to the preparation.
  • Will be shelf-stable for years to come, provided they are stored in an air-tight container in a cool, low-light, and dry space.

Looking for dried mushrooms to make your own medicinal mushroom tincture? Check out our store!

Debate on Best Methods for Mushroom Extraction

Though there is much published literature and formularies concerning herbal tincture making and herbal medicine in general, there are comparatively much less established guidelines concerning medicinal mushroom tincture preparations. For instance, basic information about the methods, ordering of procedural steps, and final concentrations of extracts is all over the map.

There are contentious debates as to how much alcohol is desirable in the final product; recipes recommending anywhere from 15 – 40% final alcohol concentration circulate. According to clinical herbalist Paul Bergner, only a 15% final alcohol concentration is desirable for a medicinal mushroom tincture – any more would cause a precipitation of polysaccharides into the extract, in his opinion (2). Alternatively, Guido Masé recommends a recipe resulting in a medicinal mushroom tincture with 25% final alcohol content (3). Here at Mushroom Revival, we follow a 35% final alcohol concentration formula, ensuring shelf-stability and a high concentration of desirable active components.

Consensus does exist, however, around the fact that mushrooms are best extracted using a “double-extraction” technique. This is a common method used for mushrooms and herbs that hold a variety of constituents that are both water-soluble (polysaccharides) and alcohol soluble (the terpenoids and phenolics mentioned earlier). In order to attain a medicinal mushroom tincture that is full-spectrum, double-extraction is necessary. Below we’ll walk you through what that process looks like.

Medicinal Mushroom Tincture How-To: Cordyceps militaris

Despite having multiple opinions on the “how-to” part of medicinal mushroom making, at Mushroom Revival we are constantly looking for evidence based research to inform our extraction techniques. We’re happy to share that we have worked with researchers from Bastyr University on best extraction methods for our Cordyceps militaris mushrooms grown here at the farm. The results of this study dictate that our Cordyceps are best tinctured in a double-extraction preparation, as are all mushrooms, but at a 60% initial alcohol concentration.

Outlined below is our process, but if you can’t get your hands on your own mushrooms, or simply don’t have time – don’t worry, we have you covered! Get a bottle of Cordyceps tincture ready to go from our apothecary here! We use the same process (but in bigger batches) as found below.

Medicinal Mushroom Tincture Steps

Step 1: Collect Dried Mushroom

Harvest Cordyceps militaris fruiting bodies (order from us online) and place them in a dehydrator.

Step 2: Start Ethanol Extraction Phase of Double-Extraction Process

Start the double-extraction process by placing dried Cordyceps militaris in a clear jar with tight fitting lid, and cover with a liquid preparation that results in a 60% alcohol concentration. Our research provided by Bastyr University dictates this concentration unique to Cordyceps, such a delicate mushroom. Make sure that all of the mushroom is covered with the alcohol preparation. We use all organic cane alcohol for our tinctures, but any clear grain alcohol will work as well. Let the tincture sit for 2-6 weeks, in a low light area. Be sure to shake the jar daily for best results.

After letting the mushrooms set for the allotted amount of time, strain and press out the liquid from the mushrooms using a cheesecloth or tincture press to separate the liquid from the remaining solid material. Save the pressed mushrooms and set aside. Place the alcohol extraction in a amber colored jar, label with the name of the mushroom, the date pressed, the alcohol contents, and store in a cool place away from sunlight.

Step 3: Water Extraction Phase of Double-Extraction Process

Place the saved, pressed out mushroom material in a crock pot or stock pot on the stove top. Generously cover with filtered water and allow the mix to boil, or decoct, for at least 30 minutes to one hour.

Step 4: Strain, Press, and Combine

Once the decoction is cooled, using a clean cheesecloth or tincture press, press the liquid from the mushrooms. Compost the leftover mushrooms, and get ready to combine the mushroom tea and alcohol extracts together. The alcohol percentage that we shoot for is 35%, so calculate the volume of water needed to dilute down the 60% original alcohol extract. Our favorite online calculator to make this all very simple can be found here.

After both parts of the extraction are combined, polysaccharides may precipitate out of solution, so remember to always shake the final combined medicinal mushroom tincture before using.

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Sources

  1. Powell, M. (2014). Medicinal Mushrooms: a clinical guide. 2nd Ed. Mycology Press; UK.
  2. Traditional Roots Conference. Paul Bergner. (May 2018). Herban Legends and Clinical Pearls. National University of Natural Medicine.
  3. How to Make a Medicinal Mushroom  Double-Extraction Tincture: Retrived on 5/1/2019 from https://theherbalacademy.com/make-medicinal-mushroom-double-extraction-tincture/
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