The debate about Mushroom Tinctures vs Powdered Extracts is a longstanding one, especially now with various mushroom products are now available as health supplements. Although they might be sold with disclaimers about not being intended to treat, prevent, or cure disease, these substances are generally marketed under the implicit assumption that they will be used to treat, prevent, or cure disease anyway; they are popular alternative medicines regardless of the disclaimer.
Many mushroom species have been shown to contain substances with medicinal potential, and some have successfully treated or prevented certain diseases in experimental animals—though very few have been clinically tested in humans. Even fewer have been approved for use as medicine, putting most medicinal mushrooms in a hazy category where scientific research supports their effectiveness but does not actually prove it yet.
But assuming a given mushroom does have medicinal power, how should a consumer go about using the medicine? Embracing alternative medicine means doing without certain safeguards—quality can vary widely, and labeling can be unreliable. So what can a person look for?
It turns out that one of the most important details to look at is the process by which the mushroom product was made[i]. Fungal cells are strengthened by chitin, a substance we humans cannot digest well. Many people cannot digest chitin at all, meaning that when we eat intact fungal cells, those cells (and any medicinal substances inside them) exit our bodies as waste still intact, like unopened presents.
The key is to process the mushroom so as to break down the chitin and make what’s inside those cells bioavailable[ii]. And only some manufacturing processes will do the trick.
What are Tinctures?
Tinctures are similar to teas except that instead of soaking something in hot water to release its flavor and other constituents, the thing is soaked in alcohol (or sometimes vinegar)[iii]. The method works well in herbal medicine, because many (not all) medicinal substances in plants are soluble in alcohol, and alcohol can break down cellulose, freeing whatever is held inside the plant cells. Tinctures are much more concentrated than teas, making them a convenient way to take herbs—especially herbs that don’t taste very good as tea.
Unfortunately, alcohol does not break down chitin, so technically “mushroom tincture” is a bit of an oxymoron; tinctures are extracts, but the process of tincturing won’t extract anything from fungal tissues.
Products sold as mushroom tinctures are either the result of attempting to tincture mushrooms (i.e., mostly mushroom-flavored alcohol), or they are some other kind of mushroom product diluted in alcohol. In either case, the product has little to no bioavailable medicinal substance. While it is possible to make a bioavailable liquid mushroom extract (powdered extracts always go through a liquid stage in production), such a product would be much more dilute than a powdered extract. In fact, most liquid mushroom products on the market are not bioavailable.
What Are Powdered Extracts?
Powdered mushroom extracts are, ideally, the result of a multi-step process that breaks down the chitin. These are distinct from powders that are simply dehydrated and pulverized raw mushroom tissue—those are not bioavailable. The form of the product, powder or liquid, is not important. What is important is bioavailability. However, bioavailable extracts are generally powders (often packed into pills).
Powdered extract production begins with making a hot water extract (a tea) in a pressurized container. The heat melts the chitin. The pressure prevents some otherwise volatile medicinal substances from evaporating in the heat. Sometimes a second extraction process using alcohol follows the first—once the chitin has been melted, the alcohol picks up substances that are not water-soluble and would otherwise be left behind. Then, the liquid is concentrated and finally dried into powder.
Why Are Powdered Mushroom Extracts Better than Tinctures?
Powdered mushroom extracts are bioavailable and concentrated. Tinctures are usually neither and never both.
Again, the issue is not that the product is in a powder; raw, whole mushroom can also be sold dried and powdered, but in most cases is nearly useless from a health perspective. Most people cannot digest raw mushroom because of the issue with chitin, and most mushroom species are not concentrated foods—even if properly cooked, serving sizes have to be very large for most mushrooms to deliver significant nutritional value, let alone medicinal value. The medicinally-important substances are usually present only in small quantities. There is a reason why virtually all studies showing medicinal effectiveness of mushrooms have used concentrated extracts, not whole mushroom.
Unfortunately, no supplement is going to be labeled “not bioavailable,” or anything else similarly useful. In fact, vague terms, such as “high bioavailability,” or “full spectrum,” or “high quality” are perfectly legal to put on any sort of product. Identifying which products are the real deal can be challenging—the key is to look for detailed ingredient lists that include breakdowns of the specific medicinal substances involved. Purveyors pf low-quality products either can’t provide such information (their production process may be such that their product is inconsistent), or do not want to provide it because it would make them look bad.
It’s important to recognize that fungi are not plants and that the “rules” for recognizing strength and quality for herbal products may not apply to mushrooms. Herbal tinctures are fine, mushroom tinctures are not. Measures of quality familiar from herbal medicine also sometimes appear on mushroom-based products, despite being irrelevant, as a means to distract from poor quality. It is perfectly legal to put irrelevant information on packaging; it’s up to the customer to avoid being misled.
On a related subject, not all powdered mushroom extracts are quality, in part because not all fungi are alike. While it is common enough to use “mushroom” as a synonym for “fungus” is most contexts (and the word has been used that way for much of this article), technically the word “mushroom” refers only to the fruiting body and not to the mycelial network that gives rise to the fruiting body. In some species, the entire fungus—the mycelium and its fruiting bodies—contain medicinal substances, but in others only the fruiting body does. In others, only the mycelium contains those substances. Some products are made from the wrong part of the fungus, or they may include both mushroom and mycelium even if the species in question doesn’t invest both with medicine. The key here is to understand what one is buying and not to be taken in by advertising.
So quality medicinal mushroom products are almost always extract powders, but that does not mean all powders, or even all extract powders, are quality. The key is to become an educated buyer and to read labels carefully.
So which Mushroom Supplement is Best?
This is a bit of a loaded question. However; either a dual extract or a hot water extracted mushroom supplement is almost always the best. A tincture, tea or a mycelium based supplement is never best.You almost always want a hot water extracted mushroom supplement that states Beta-D-Glucans on the label. My favorite Mushroom Supplements are sold by Noomadic Herbals. You can see all their Mushrooms for sale on their website.
[i] (2016). What You Should Know Before Buying Mushroom Supplements. Medicinal Mushrooms
[ii] (2017). Bioavailability of Medicinal Mushroom Supplements
[iii] Cirino, E. (2019). What You Need to Know About Herbal Tinctures.
Are mushroom tinctures more effective? ›
While fresh mushrooms are still a wonderful treat, we have found that mushroom tinctures are actually the most efficient way to get our daily dose of 'shrooms.Is Lion's Mane tincture or powder better? ›
A lion's mane extract is more concentrated, which can be beneficial if you want to prevent or combat symptoms of a progressive illness. A powder is usually less expensive and easier to include in your diet but can have an overpowering taste.Are extracts better than powders? ›
Absorption: Another major difference between extracts and dry powders can be seen in the way your body absorbs the beneficial compounds. Extracts enter your bloodstream much faster so you'll experience the benefits pretty quickly after ingesting.What is the difference between tincture and powder? ›
Both tinctures and extract powders are extracts, however, tinctures are liquid extracts and extract powders are solid extracts.Are tinctures better than supplements? ›
Fast Absorption Rate
With the absorption rate being so high, it's no wonder that herbal tinctures are better than capsules. Not only do you get higher levels of nutrients and chemicals with less time spent on metabolism but also because they're easily absorbed by your body in 4 minutes or less!
What Are the Benefits of Taking Functional Mushroom Supplements? Functional mushrooms contain many nutrients and bioactive compounds that have earned them the superfood status. Their use has been documented in many parts of the world for centuries. As a whole, they can support immune system functioning and gut health.Which is more potent extract or powder? ›
Extract powders tend to be more potent and can be even stronger than liquid extracts.What is the difference between mushroom powder and extract? ›
The most significant difference between mushroom powder and mushroom extract is the purity and potency. Mushroom extracts are more concentrated with high percentages of beneficial compounds and therefore offer greater effects and benefits than lower potency, often grain filled, mushroom powders.What is the difference between extract and tincture? ›
Tinctures are concentrated herbal extracts. All tinctures are extracts, but not all extracts are tinctures! Alcohol must be the solvent used to extract the herbal properties.Which mushroom powder is best for brain health? ›
As a food-based nootropic, lion's mane powder supplements are one of the best mushrooms to support brain health. Lion's mane mushrooms contain many compounds that support the brain in various ways.
What to avoid when buying mushroom supplements? ›
- Forget the fillers, look for pure fruiting body.
- Wood grown is the gold standard.
- Look for the words "extracted" or "heat treated"
- Always buy organic!
- Adverse reactions with medications. In some people, herbal remedies may interact with medications. ...
- Allergic reactions. Some plants carry risk of allergy. ...
- Blood sugar drop. ...
- Death. ...
- Estrogenic effects. ...
- Gastrointestinal issues. ...
- Headache, dizziness, and light sensitivity. ...
Both products offer similarly-strengthed cannabinoid effects and release times, so you will want to look at other differences when deciding. Some key differences when deciding between tinctures or edibles include: Taste: Tinctures and edibles offer very different tastes.What works faster tinctures or edibles? ›
Because tinctures are usually used sublingually, they are absorbed more rapidly than edibles. Tinctures can transmit their active components to the bloodstream quickly through the lining of the mouth, and the effects come on in 15-30 minutes.Do tinctures need to be refrigerated? ›
Alcohol-based tinctures have an unlimited shelf life and do not require refrigeration if stored in a cool, dark location. Tinctures that are vegetable glycerine-based do not need to be refrigerated and can last from 3-5 years. Vinegar-based tinctures are recommended to be refrigerated, and can last up to a year.Do tinctures bypass the liver? ›
The Tincture bypasses the liver and is absorbed through the mucous membrane into the bloodstream. Using tincture in food or beverages will subsidize the taste; however, this will result in slower absorption as the tincture will need to be digested.Do tinctures lose potency over time? ›
Tinctures will not truly expire, but after very long periods of time or under stressful storage conditions, they will become less potent.What are the side effects of mushroom extract powder? ›
When taken by mouth: Reishi mushroom extract is possibly safe when used for up to one year. Powdered whole reishi mushroom is possibly safe when used for up to 16 weeks. Reishi mushroom can cause dizziness, dry mouth, itching, nausea, stomach upset, and rash.Can you take too much mushroom extract? ›
As a natural organic supplement incorporated into a daily routine, mushroom supplements can provide a variety of benefits. And studies have shown that intake of too much mushroom powder can show little to no side effects.What should I look for when buying mushroom extract? ›
Avoid buying products that lack specific information about the plant part of the fungi (whether mushroom or mycelium). Look for an extract as extraction breaks down the fungal cell wall and improves bioavailability. Look for brands that list the beta-glucans content in their Supplement Facts panel.
Why are tinctures more effective? ›
Herbal Tinctures are More Quickly Absorbed
Our bodies utilize about 98% of herbal extracts/tinctures but only about 50% of capsule and tablets. Tinctures are far more potent due to the large concentration of herbs in a smaller dose.
Overall, extracts tend to be better than powders when it comes to taking mushroom supplements for certain desired effects, as powders often contain too little of the compound readily available for your metabolism to easily absorb.What is the most potent way to take herbs? ›
Take herbs in 1/4 to 1/2 cup water. For a stronger, more rapid effect, the formulas should be taken on an empty stomach. For those with more sensitive digestion, doses should be taken with food or after meals (this moderates the herbs' effects and rate of absorption).What should I look for in mushroom powder? ›
- Made from whole fruiting bodies without myceliated grains.
- 100 % UDSA Certified organic mushrooms.
- Lab tested for potency and purity.
- Produced by a reputable company.
1) Nooceptin - Best Lions Mane Supplement
Nooceptin is a popular nootropic and arguably the best Lions mane supplement on the market currently, which means that it can improve memory and cognition. Its compounds stimulate the growth of nerve cells, which is crucial for brain function.
Both CBD tinctures and oils are equally effective because the only difference is the suspension liquid. “The difference between tinctures and oils is what medium is used to dilute the extract,” says Higdon.Are extracts stronger than flavorings? ›
Flavoring oils and extracts can be easily substituted for one another in most recipes. Since flavoring oils are so much more concentrated, you only need a few drops in place of a teaspoon of extract. One other thing to note is that flavoring oils are usually less shelf-stable than extracts.How much of a tincture should I use? ›
Many people consume 1 milliliter (a full dropper) at a time, putting the dose under their tongue for 15 to 20 seconds. Your dosage amount may vary depending on your weight and the severity of your concerns.Which mushroom is best for anti aging? ›
Reishi mushrooms provide a broad-spectrum approach to the treatment and prevention of many of today's age-related diseases. With their diverse molecular makeup, they offer a broad spectrum of actions that attack aging at its root.What is mushroom extract powder good for? ›
Mushroom extract supplements may potentially treat health conditions including depression, seasonal allergies, insomnia, cancer, the common cold, and inflammation. So far, though, most research is limited to animal or cell studies or small human studies, so further research is needed.
What are the best mushroom supplements for cognitive function? ›
What Are the Best Mushrooms for Brain Health? The best medicinal mushrooms for brain health are lion's mane, cordyceps, chaga, and reishi mushrooms.Are mushroom supplements hard on your liver? ›
Reishi mushroom is POSSIBLY UNSAFE when taken by mouth in a powdered form for more than one month. Use of powdered reishi mushroom has been associated with toxic effects on the liver.What are the benefits of mushroom tinctures? ›
Mushroom extract supplements may potentially treat health conditions including depression, seasonal allergies, insomnia, cancer, the common cold, and inflammation. So far, though, most research is limited to animal or cell studies or small human studies, so further research is needed.Which is stronger tincture or extract? ›
Extracts are more potent and contain less alcohol than tinctures, but they still may have more alcohol than many people would prefer.Do tinctures or edibles work better? ›
Because tinctures are ingested sublingually (under the tongue), people say that they tend to feel effects of tinctures faster. Whereas gummies and edibles, which are metabolized in the digestive system like other foods, the effects can come on slower but tend to last a little longer than tinctures.What is the best way to take mushroom tinctures? ›
What is the best way to take mushroom tinctures? Tinctures are meant to be taken orally and you can ingest them any way you choose! You can put the tincture directly under your tongue, add it to your favorite beverage, or put it into soft foods (like soups, sauces, or even salad dressing!)Are tinctures and extracts the same thing? ›
Tinctures are concentrated herbal extracts with an alcohol base. The difference between a tincture and an extract is that tinctures are always made with alcohol as the solvent. If you are using water, vinegar, glycerine, or any menstruum (solvent) other than alcohol, your preparation is an extract, not a tincture.Do tinctures get you as high as edibles? ›
Because both tinctures and edibles have to pass through the gastrointestinal system to enter your body, they offer many of the same benefits. Swallowing cannabinoids has been found to provide medium effects for a longer period of time.How many hours does tincture last? ›
Tinctures can last between one to six hours after you drip a drop below your tongue.How does a tincture high feel? ›
The effects of a marijuana tincture are the same as smoked marijuana: euphoria, confusion, slowed thinking and reaction time, impaired balance and coordination.