The complex cellular structure of certain mushrooms, fungi, and lichens requires a little effort to extract all their vital therapeutic actions. Make a dual extraction tincture using both alcohol and water to realize the full medicinal potential of mushrooms. In partnership with Mountain Rose Herbs, I am excited to bring you a simple step by step dual extraction tutorial!
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I mentioned recently that I have a tendency to make things overly complex for myself without even trying. I overthought how to make a traditional tincture for ages before I actually took the plunge and crafted my first bottle. After I got my feet wet in tincture making, I was a tincture making animal and was embarrassed how often I was spotted at the liquor store with the BIG bottle of vodka.
FYI — it really doesn’t help to attempt convincing the clerk that are indeed making medicine and not gulping down the distilled with gusto. Trust me on this. You’ll only get even more judgmental looks, just now peppered with a “yeah, righttttt…” smugness to boot. It happens.
But I digress.
Why do you need to make a dual extraction tincture with medicinal mushroom?
Early in my dedicated academic herbal studies, I became rather intrigued by a the use of medicinal mushrooms after reading The Fungal Pharmacy and I learned a lot about extraction from my friend Nathan from Forgotten Traditions. Unlike many of the herbs that I was working with, I learned that mushrooms and certain lichens are not likely to give up the full scope of their therapeutic actions with alcoholic extraction alone. Instead, many of the immune system modulating polysaccharides, such as beta glucans, are better extracted by hot water, whereas phenolic and terpenoid constituents are better extracted with alcohol.
By creating both a water based and an alcohol based extract, and combining those two liquids, we are able to make what is referred to as a dual extraction tincture.
How do you know what types of mushrooms require a dual extraction tincture for a full spectrum extraction?
Unless you are spending a lot of time immersed in scientific studies and analysis of the medicinal constituents of mushrooms it is unlikely that you would know which mushroom require a dual extraction. Even highly knowledgeable herbalists tend to disagree on which mushroom necessitate dual extraction. While I wouldn’t through my hat into the ring of “highly knowledgeable herbalists” like those I read and admire — I am comfortable enough in my knowledge of chemistry and observation techniques to develop my own working theory on which mushrooms require the extra effort.
Forgive the simplicity here.
If it is a mushroom that is is mostly firm and inflexible fruiting body, I consider these prime candidates for a dual extraction tincture. Some of these are:
Mushrooms with softer fruiting bodies such as shitake, maitake, cordycep, lion’s mane and turkey tails seems more suitable to hot water extraction (you can use any of these in this forest flavor blend — perfect as a base for soups or even as a nourishing sipping broth.
How to prepare a dual extraction tincture with medicinal mushrooms?
- Prepare a decoction. While the exact order of the steps is also a subject of some debate, I prefer to prepare my decoction first based on the suggestion that it better prepares the marc (the herbal material for alcoholic extraction (I think of this like I think of a sponge — a dried out sponge does not yield but a moist sponge is vital and elastic). I use a ratio of one part of granulated or cubed mushrooms (I find powdered mushrooms difficult to strain and tincture later in the process) to five parts water. Simmer your decoction for 30-45 minutes, until the mixture is reduced by half (for a more hands of approach that some herbalists suggest, use an uncovered slow cooker to slowly decoct the marc). Sometimes I like to add more liquid back to the original volume level and then reduced to half again to produce a highly concentrated decoction. Strain the decoction through a fine mesh sieve lined with cheese cloth and pour the liquid in to a jar to cool. At this point I freeze the mushroom decoction to preserve it for the final steps.
- Prepare a tincture. Combine four parts 100 proof alcohol with one part vegetable glycerin. I use vegetable glycerin to help with palatability (glycerin is natural sweet), to help keep minute solids in suspension, and to promote shelf life of the resulting dual extraction tincture. Using the marc left over from your decoction, combine your mushrooms and the alcohol/vegetable glycerin mixture in a jar with a tight fitting lid and infuse for at least six weeks, shaking the jar daily. After the infusion is complete, strain the tincture through a fine mesh sieve lined with several layers of cheese cloth, squeezing tightly to extract all the liquid. A french press is also suitable for this purpose.
- Combine your thawed decoction and tincture. Completely thaw your decoction. Using a liquid measuring cup, measure out equal volumes of both the hot water and alcohol based extractions. Combine these liquids. The resulting dual extraction tincture will be approximately 25% alcohol/glycerin, making it relatively shelf stable. Bottle in individual amber glass dropper bottles or pour in larger apothecary bottles for dispensing and formulations. Label your bottles. Shake well before administering.
Although a dual extraction tincture may sound complicated and rather involved, these extra, but still simple steps, greatly increase the constituent profile in the resulting creation.
Want to make a basic herbal tincture? Learn how to make a tincture here.