As with all types of supplements or medication, you should talk to your doctor before you start taking any kind of medicinal mushroom.
Particularly since in large amounts they may interfere with existing medication that you’re taking for cholesterol or blood pressure.
Also don’t consume wild mushrooms that you find if you’re not 100% certain of their identification. Many edible and medicinal mushrooms have poisonous lookalikes that are difficult for a beginner to distinguish.
So only buy your mushrooms from reputable sources or eat those you collect with an expert mushroom hunter who can confirm they are safe.
Cooking Medicinal Mushrooms
Medicinal mushrooms can be eaten by simply cooking them in the case of some such as Oyster, Shiitake, Lions Mane, Tremella and Maitake.
Others like Reishi or Turkey Tail are too tough and bitter to eat and need to be made into tea, soup, powders or tinctures.
To consume as tea or soup they are normally just boiled in water for an hour or more and the liquid then consumed.
Most commonly though medicinal mushrooms are taken as either capsules or tinctures.
Taking Medicinal Mushroom Powder or Capsules
Capsules or mushroom powders are created with either:
- Medicinal mushroom fruitbodies (i.e. the mushrooms themselves) that have been dried and crushed into a powder
- A concentrated liquid extract of the medicinal mushrooms which is then dried and powdered (this results in an extract that is 4 – 15 times more potent than powdered fruitbodies)
Taking Medicinal Mushroom Extracts or Tinctures
A mushroom tincture is a liquid extract of the medicinal mushrooms, which is generally preserved in alcohol.
The process to make a liquid extract is usually either a hot water extraction or an alcohol based extraction. Check out our step by step video tutorial on how to make a medicinal mushroom tincture:
Each method draws out different compounds and so it’s common for many medicinal mushroom products to undergo a double extraction process.
First the dried mushrooms are chopped into small pieces or even powdered and then soaked in alcohol for 2 – 6 weeks. This draws out antioxidants and a range of compounds such as terpenes, triterpenoids, inositol, ergosterols, sterols and myco-flavonoids.
Following this a hot water extraction takes place where the same mushrooms are then simmered in hot water for 1 – 3 hours. This draws out any water soluble compounds like various polysaccharides (e.g. beta-glucans, glycoproteins, and other high-molecular weight compounds).
The water extraction is added to the alcohol extraction to create the double extract end product which is packed full of the full range of available beneficial compounds.
You can consume this:
- as a tincture by consuming 1-5 drops twice a day under the tongue
- or the liquid extract can be freeze dried and turned into powder for capsules
How Long Should You Take Medicinal Mushrooms For?
The effects of medicinal mushrooms are cumulative. You won’t notice anything if you just take it once, or sporadically whenever you feel like it.
You need to take it every day as prescribed, and only after a few weeks or months you may start to notice an effect.
It is often recommended to take a break for a few weeks every 6 months.
When taking medicinal mushrooms, it’s recommended to consume them with vitamin C. Studies show that taking vitamin C helps increase your body’s absorption rate for polysaccharides. So take a vitamin or eat an orange along with your mushrooms.
Which Are The Best Medicinal Mushroom Supplements To Use?
Mushrooms can absorb contaminants, especially heavy metals, in the substrate they are grown on as well as the air they are grown in.
For this reason it’s important to buy high quality, organically grown mushrooms and supplements from reputable sellers.
Ideally find a supplier in your country or at least ask for more info on the production methods as there have even been reports of organically certified Chinese mushrooms containing high levels of lead.
Good companies will tell you exactly how their mushrooms are grown and will have conducted tested showing the results of the exact content of various compounds in their product.
So now you know all about medicinal mushrooms, their history, the medicinal benefits of different varieties, and what medicinal ingredients they contain.
I hope you’ve found this article useful and interesting and perhaps it’s helped you to work out which medicinal mushrooms are most suited for you.