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Mushroom Power, Why We Extract

Webster’s defines “extract” as “to draw forth”, or “to pull out”, and this is precisely what we are trying to do when extracting our mushrooms. The
goal is to draw forth as many of the mushroom’s “goodies” (bio-active constituents) as we can with the process. Extraction is simply the process of freeing up the active compounds from the inert structural materials. It’s why people juice. They are trying to free the nutrients from the indigestible fiber found in the fruits and vegetables. The same thing goes for mushrooms, but here the limiting factor is not fiber, rather it is the chitin found in the cell walls.

When it comes down to it, the primary reason we extract our mushrooms revolves around chitin. Chitin is a key structural component of the fungal cell wall. It is a scaffolding material that is also found in the shells of crustaceans, like crabs and lobsters as well as insects. It’s then understandable to see why we are not particularly effective at breaking down and digesting it. The enzyme that does this is called chitinase and humans only produce a very minute amount of it, thereby limiting its digestibility. (Side note: so if you are eating mushrooms it helps to cook them and chew them thoroughly to get as much nutrition from them as possible).

This is also central to the decision-making process of picking what mushroom supplements to use. With the growing acknowledgement of the
health supporting activities of functional mushrooms there comes a increasing number of products being produced. This can make the selection process confusing and difficult. Extraction is not just a matter of preference, or a marketing ploy. Extraction is one important marker for choosing an effective quality mushroom product. In a previous blog post I mentioned that there are significant differences between the various mushroom products and mushroom lines sold today. And one of the key qualitative differentiating points is whether or not the mushroom product was extracted.

So why do we extract?

  1. Bioavailability
  2. Faster absorption
  3. Concentration

Bioavailability

Making sure the health supporting compounds found in the mushrooms are available to your body is obviously of fundamental importance. Bioavailability, is defined by Webster’s as: “the degree and rate at which a substance is absorbed into a living system or is made available at the site of physiological activity.” Simply, what good does it do to take any supplement if your body is not going to be able to break it down, absorb, and utilize the nutrients it contains? By extracting the mushrooms properly, we pull out the bioactive constituents, freeing them from the fiber-like chitin and cell membrane. This leaves us with a range of constituents that need very little if any digestion with nothing interfering with the absorbability by the digestive tract.

Faster Absorption

Well now that the extraction process has made the mushroom actives accessible to our body it also now makes them more quickly absorbable. That difficult to digest chitin is no longer there to hold back these compounds from either binding to receptors in our digestive tract or being taken up into the bloodstream to distribute their actions throughout the body. These compounds also tend to be relatively small molecules that don’t require much if any digestion so they can begin their work almost immediately. And to ensure that our tablets are breaking down in a quick timeframe we do dissolution tests to make sure.

Concentration

One of the wonderful consequences of mushrooms experiencing something of a renaissance, along with a growing interest in their actions and benefits by western practitioners and researchers, is a significant and increasing body of research. One of the things this research has provided us with is a greater insight, more knowledge with regards to the amounts of these mushrooms and their constituents that we need to take in order to get the desired results. The extraction process allows us to put much higher amounts of these bio-active compounds, whether into a tablet, capsule, or even a liquid, than we would be able to if we just utilized the raw mushroom. So which would you prefer, taking literally handfuls of mushroom tablets made of the dried mushroom, or 3 or 4 small tablets of the extract? Keep in mind that the extracts are also more bioavailable.

Proper Extraction is Key

Extracts have been used in traditional medicine around the world for centuries, in the form of teas, the most common, as well as with wines, vinegars, and oils (used mostly topically). Today there are innumerable methods of extraction, but the two most widely and effectively used when it comes to mushroom extracts are hot water and alcohol. The water is used to extract water soluble compounds, like the immune supporting polysaccharides and beta-glucans* while alcohol is utilized for fat soluble
compound like the triterpenes found in Reishi and Poria mushroom.

Reishi is a very “woody” mushroom, close to the table that this Reishi is on.

Mushroom Wisdom extracts their Super mushroom line using hot water for all, pulling out the polysaccharides and beta-glucans, while for the
aforementioned Reishi and Poria, we utilize a double extraction, first with hot water and then again with alcohol. The goal is always to provide a quality effective product and because of the unique chemistry of Reishi and Poria we perform this double extraction.

We also produce several unique proprietary extracts, two derived from the Maitake mushroom, the SX-fraction® and D-fraction®, and one
from Lion’s Mane, called Lion’s Mane Amyloban®. Here we use much more elaborate and specific extraction processes to concentrate key essential compounds. In a future blog post we will explore these backed-by-research products and compounds, so please stay tuned.

One common misunderstanding about extracts is that they have to be in a liquid form. This is not the case. By spray drying the liquid extract we
can turn it into a powder to make our supplements that offer the same fast absorption you get form liquids, just in an easier to use tablet or capsule.

Quality and Effectiveness

Mushroom Wisdom goes to great lengths, from the growing of our mushrooms, to the processing of our supplements to provide you with the highest quality, effective mushroom products. We combine the best of the past, with the best of the present, in these backed-by-science, while grounded in traditional wisdom, mushroom extracts. Supplements that are bioavailable to your body, quickly absorbable, and in relevant concentrated strengths. But keep in mind that the extracted mushrooms can only be as
good as the starting raw material that is used to produce them. Here again Mushroom Wisdom goes to great lengths to mirror nature’s growing process in the way that mother nature intended. We wholeheartedly make these efforts in order to support you and your loved ones on their health and healing path.

Addendum: Does this mean that there’s no value to eating mushrooms? Absolutely not. Mushrooms are nutritious super foods that are low in calories, high in several nutrients and, depending upon the mushroom, very yummy. Multiple studies have found value to regular mushroom consumption, and they also help support a healthy digestive tract and microbiome* so eat away

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

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