Medicinal mushrooms have been used for centuries to promote health and well-being, but only recently have we begun to unlock their full potential. While these mushrooms are undoubtedly beneficial to our health, consuming them in their raw or natural form may not always be the best way to access their full benefits. The real power lies in extracting their active compounds and concentrating those compounds into meaningful amounts.
Fresh mushrooms contain a substance called Chitin, which is a type of fiber found in the cell walls of many fungi. While chitin is not harmful to the body, it is difficult for our digestive system to break down, meaning that many of the beneficial compounds found within the mushroom remain locked away and inaccessible to us. In order to release these beneficial compounds, the mushrooms must be cooked or extracted in some fashion.
Cooking mushrooms can help to break down some of the chitin and release those beneficial compounds, but it is not always quite enough to unleash the full therapeutic potential of these mushrooms. This is where the mushroom extract steps in.
Mushroom extracts are becoming an increasingly popular way to access the benefits of medicinal mushrooms without having to consume large amounts of them. Extracts are concentrated forms of the active compounds found in medicinal mushrooms, creating an easier way for our bodies to absorb and utilize them. Our extracts are made by using a combination of heat and solvent to break down the chitin and extract the beneficial compounds from the mushroom. This process creates a concentrated form of the mushroom, which is arguably better than simply consuming the mushroom in its natural form.
There are several benefits to choosing mushroom extracts over fresh mushrooms. Firstly, as the beneficial compounds are concentrated, it is much easier to consume a meaningful amount of these compounds in a single serving. This means that you can get the same benefits from consuming a small amount of mushroom extract as you would from consuming a large number of fresh mushrooms.
For example, Reishi mushroom extract has been used for centuries as an immune system booster and anti-inflammatory agent. It contains several active compounds such as triterpenes and polysaccharides which have been shown to reduce inflammation and boost immunity. Extracts of Reishi mushrooms are much easier to consume than attempting to access the same threshold of compounds from fresh, allowing us to get more out of its healing properties.
Another example is Chaga mushroom extract, which has been used traditionally as an adaptogen due to its ability to help the body cope with stressors such as environmental toxins or emotional distress. Chaga mushrooms contain high levels of antioxidants which can help protect against oxidative damage caused by free radicals in our environment. Extracts of Chaga mushroom are much more potent than consuming it fresh, as the fruit bodies are tough and typically not palatable.
Another benefit mushroom extracts have is that the process can remove some of the less beneficial compounds found within the mushroom, such as excess fiber or indigestible substances. This means that the final product is more targeted toward the specific benefits that you are looking to gain from the mushroom, not just fiber or filler.
Finally, consuming mushroom extracts is often more convenient than consuming fresh mushrooms. While it may be difficult to incorporate fresh mushrooms into your diet on a daily basis, mushroom extracts can more easily be added to smoothies, teas, or other foods and beverages in order to provide a quick and easy dose of those beneficial compounds.
While fresh mushrooms are certainly a healthy addition to your diet, consuming mushroom extracts is often a more effective and convenient way to access the full potential of these powerful fungi. With the right extract, you can enjoy all of the benefits of these amazing mushrooms, without having to consume large amounts of fiber or struggle with difficult-to-digest chitin.