Tinctures are a very traditional way to extract beneficial compounds from medicinal herbs and fungi. They also are surprisingly simple to make, although the process can take a while. This step-by-step guide explains how to make mushroom tinctures at home. But first, let’s look at the science.
To extract the active chemicals from plants or mushrooms, you need a solvent. A solvent is basically a substance that can dissolve other substances. Water is probably the best-known example. Alcohol is another. However, water and alcohol are different types of solvents, and not all chemicals that dissolve in one will dissolve in the other.
Mushrooms contain numerous active compounds; some dissolve in water (e.g. polysaccharides), and some dissolve in alcohol (e.g. triterpenes and sterols). Therefore, most herbalists recommend making a dual (or double) extraction tincture to maximize the benefits of your mushrooms. It involves making alcohol and water extractions and mixing them together.
It is also necessary to use some alcohol to preserve the tincture. Most experts recommend that tinctures have an overall alcohol content of 25% to stop them from going bad. With this in mind, we’ve put together this recipe to help you get the most out of your mushrooms and create an effective, long-lasting product.
What You’ll Need
- 150g dried functional mushrooms (see below for our recommendations)
- 250ml 75% ABV grain alcohol
- 2 liters water
- 1 x 32oz canning jar (brown glass is best)
- Measuring jug
- Large pan with lid
- Coffee filters
How to Make a Mushroom Tincture: Step-By-Step Guide
Before we delve into this mushroom tincture recipe, we should mention that this is just one of many different methods out there. We have chosen it because we believe it offers the right balance between water and alcohol extraction to provide a broad spectrum of beneficial compounds.
The first step is to make the alcohol-based portion of the tincture.
Weigh out 50g of the dried functional mushrooms, saving 100g for the water extraction process. The variety of mushrooms you use is up to you, but we prefer to create a blend using several different species (see below).
Chop or grind the mushrooms into smaller pieces. This will maximize their surface area so that the alcohol can draw out the active compounds more efficiently.
Place the mushroom pieces in the clean canning jar and pour in the 250ml of grain alcohol. It should be enough to cover the mushroom pieces but if not, add a little more. Screw the lid on tightly and shake.
Place the jar in a cool cupboard and leave the alcohol to do its work for 2–6 weeks. The longer you wait, the more potent your tincture will be. Shake the jar daily to help speed up the extraction process.
Once the alcohol extract is ready, it’s time to make the water-based portion of the tincture.
Weigh out and chop or grind the remaining 100g of mushrooms. Place them in the pan on a stovetop and cover them with 2 liters of water. Bring the water to a boil.
Turn the heat down and simmer the mushrooms gently for around 2 hours. Leave the pan lid off while the mushrooms are simmering. The idea is to reduce the amount of liquid down to 0.5 liters. This measurement is critical – remember the final product must contain at least 25% alcohol to stop it from going bad.
If your pan has measurements marked on the inside, use those. If not, you may need to pour the liquid into a measuring jug to check it regularly. If at the end of the 2 hours you still have more than 0.5 liters of liquid, keep simmering until it reduces down sufficiently.
Finally, you’ll need to keep a close eye on the pan throughout the process to make sure it doesn’t boil dry. If the liquid reduces too rapidly, add a little more to stop the mushrooms from sticking to the pan and burning.
Once your water extract has been reduced to 0.5 liters, turn off the heat. Pour the alcohol extract into the pan and quickly put the lid on to stop it from evaporating. Keeping the lid on, carefully swirl the pan to thoroughly mix the water and alcohol extracts.
Line the funnel with a coffee filter and put it into the mouth of the jar. Slowly pour the finished tincture through the lined funnel and into the jar. Screw the lid on loosely and allow the tincture to cool.
Once the tincture has cooled, screw the lid on tightly. Store it in a cool cupboard and take it as required.
The above recipe should last one person approximately a year based on a dosage of 1ml, twice a day. If you need to make more, simply scale up the ingredients as necessary.
What Mushrooms Should You Use in Your Tincture?
There are tons of functional fungi to choose from, and which ones to use comes down to personal preference.
Below are some of our favorites. We suggest choosing 3–5 species depending on your desired effects and what is available.
- Reishi: Reishi is one of the best-known functional fungi. It is rich in active compounds, including polysaccharides, peptidoglycans, and triterpenes. Research has shown that it has antioxidant properties and could support healthy immune function. Animal studies suggest it could also have anti-anxiety properties, although human research is currently lacking.
- Chaga: Chaga has a unique blend of active components, including betulin, betulinic acid, and inotodiol. It has traditionally been used throughout Northern Europe for its antioxidant and immunity-enhancing effects, and there is some evidence to support this. Animal experiments suggest chaga could also have anti-tumor properties, but further research is required.
- Turkey Tail: Another great mushroom for immunity, turkey tail contains two unique polysaccharides, PSP and PSK. It is also one of the best-studied functional fungi and its extracts are often used alongside cancer treatment in East Asia.
- Shiitake: Shiitake is widely used in Asian cuisine and is one of the most readily available functional mushrooms. It contains a vast range of active compounds, including polysaccharides and sterols. As well as potentially enhancing immunity, research has shown that shiitake could help reduce the build-up of harmful cholesterol and benefit heart health.
- Lion’s Mane: Lion’s mane is another culinary mushroom with fantastic health benefits. It contains unique chemicals known as hericenones and erinacines, which influence nerve growth factors to promote neurological health. Research has shown that erinacines, in particular, have potent neuroprotective properties. People also commonly use lion’s mane to improve cognitive functions such as concentration and memory.
- Cordyceps: Cordyceps is another fungus with a wide range of benefits. Many of these are due to its unique active component, cordycepin. Research suggests that cordyceps’ many benefits include immunity-enhancing, antidiabetic, and antiaging effects. Many people also use it to prevent fatigue, making it popular among athletes.