As we’ve embarked on this journey towards holistic wellness, mushrooms have quickly become one of our favorite ways to improve energy, boost immunity, and help our bodies recover from illness or injury. Along with other natural herbal remedies, mushrooms are one of our health and wellness staples, but foraging for wild mushrooms can be a bit too time-consuming for our schedules. 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.
What are tinctures?
A tincture is an extract of an herb or other plant material. Tinctures are prepared by first soaking the fresh or dried plant material in a solvent (usually alcohol) in order to extract some of the plant’s vital components.
How long have mushrooms been turned into tinctures?
According to records, herbal tinctures have been in use ever since the discovery of distilled ethanol, or ethyl alcohol. We have evidence of tincture use among Egyptians around the year 1000 A.D., though it is possible the origin of tincture use is even earlier. We also know that mushrooms have long been utilized as both medicinal and therapeutic aids, with written records of their use to treat and prevent a wide variety of ailments dating back thousands of years. Traditional Chinese Medicine, or TCM, is widely considered the origin of the majority of these records, dating medicinal and therapeutic use of mushrooms to at least as early as 100 B.C.E.
Most herbal tinctures produced today contain herbs and herbal combinations that have been popular for their medicinal and therapeutic benefits for centuries. Some of these preparations include turmeric, cinnamon and clove, ashwagandha, white willow bark, valerian, lavender and chamomile, osha root, and astragalus, echinacea and ginger.
It is a bit unclear exactly when mushrooms started being prepared into tinctures, but this category of product has certainly seen an increase in consumer popularity over the past several years. Herbal and mushroom extracts are far from a “new” formulation, and the methods used to prepare tinctures have been passed down for generations. However, more recent technological advancements have allowed researchers to begin to identify the exact properties contained within different types of herbs and strains of mushrooms and to begin to more accurately define how they work within the body. For example, we have learned that consuming mushrooms in tincture form actually improve their bioavailability, or the ability of the body to metabolize and utilize the mushroom’s beneficial compounds.
Tincture recipes developed long ago primarily utilize high-proof ethyl alcohol to extract the beneficial components from the herbs. While similar methods are still used today, quality mushroom tinctures should undergo an additional step in their production called “hot water decoction”. This step releases the water-soluble compounds contained within the mushroom – compounds which could not be released through alcohol-extraction alone.
With regard to those wishing to avoid alcohol consumption, both herbal and mushroom tinctures can also be produced using vinegar or glycerine as an alternative ingestion-safe solvent. Tinctures produced using glycerine are often called “glycerites”, such as our Stay Well Glycerite or our Chill Out Glycerite. However, while alcohol-based tinctures tend to have a very long shelf-life, glycerites and vinegar-based tinctures are more susceptible to spoilage.
If you are interested in adding herbal or mushroom tinctures to your wellness routine, it is important to make sure any products you intend to ingest contain only the highest quality ingredients, harvested and processed in a sustainable and efficient way. For mushroom tinctures, you also want to make sure the product contains all of the mushroom’s most beneficial components. When shopping for a quality mushroom tincture, we highly recommend looking into the manufacturer’s production process to ensure they are utilizing a two-step (alcohol followed by hot water) extraction process.
How do I use the mushroom tinctures?
We usually recommend taking one full dose (approximately 1 mL) of mushroom tincture(s) between one and three times daily. The exact dosage will depend upon your own needs and individual response. Some tinctures, such as Cordyceps and Lion’s Mane usually work best when taken in the morning or before a workout. Others, such as Reishi and Chaga, are often consumed in the evening as they help promote relaxation. You will likely want to experiment with taking your chosen mushroom tinctures at different times of the day, in order to determine what best suits your personal needs and lifestyle.
You can take mushroom tinctures directly from the dropper, or you may mix them into your favorite beverage or soft food. Most tinctures taste like what they are – meaning they taste like wild mushrooms! Some people may also notice the taste of the alcohol used in the extraction process. For those who are sensitive to any of these flavors, we have found that mixing tinctures into coffee, tea, juice, or applesauce works quite well to improve their palatability.
How to Take Mushroom Tinctures
Importance of Daily Regimen
Most tinctures available in the Growing Organic Shop are intended to be taken every day for the best results. Like many herbal dietary supplements, mushrooms work best when used on a consistent basis in tandem with other healthy behaviors such as exercise, restorative sleep, and adequate self-care.
Following are two examples of daily mushroom tincture regimens. These are both personal examples of how we have found tinctures to be most beneficial for our individual needs. Please feel free to use these details as a starting point, and adjust according to your own body’s response.
As always, when beginning any new dietary changes, we recommend starting with a lower dose first, and gradually increasing as necessary. Additionally, please remember to always discuss your needs – including any concerns about medication interactions – with your own personal medical professional.
Co-Founder, Rebecca’s Daily Regimen
Rebecca takes one full dose of Northspore Chaga Mushroom Tincture for its immune boosting abilities, as well as to help detoxify the liver, which is our body’s powerhouse for filtering toxins out of the body. Alongside Chaga mushroom, Rebecca has also let go of her love for coffee and switched to a more natural means for energy boosting. The Northspore Cordyceps Mushroom Tincture provides just the right amount of energy without any of the jitters to make it through the day with ease and a smile!
Additionally, she takes one full dose of Essence of Pachamama Ashwagandha Tincture each morning to help her body better adapt to stress, regulate hormones and increase cognitive function. Though this is not a mushroom tincture, it is a key part of Rebecca’s daily routine.
Customer + Video Expert, Jorge’s Daily Regimen
Jorge takes one full dose (1mL) of Essence of Pachamama “Healthy Lungs” Respiratory Support Tincture each morning as an adjunctive therapy to help minimize asthma and allergy-related respiratory symptoms. When needed, he likes to take a second dose in the afternoon to help alleviate congestion. Though this herbal tincture contains no mushrooms, it is no less a vital part of Jorge’s wellness routine.
Jorge also takes one dose of North Spore Cordyceps Mushroom Tincture each morning to improve energy. Additionally – and especially during the cold season! – Jorge gives his immune system some extra support with one dose of the North Spore Natural Immunity Blend Mushroom Tincture, along with one dose of Growing Organic “Stay Well” Herbal Glycerite. Jorge takes his tinctures directly (he likes the taste!), one at a time, usually while enjoying his morning coffee.
Can pets use the mushroom tinctures?
The question of whether it is safe or effective to give mushroom tinctures to our pets is a bit of a complicated one. The short answer is, “Maybe,” but the truth is that the scientific community simply has not done adequate research related to the use of wild mushrooms in veterinary medicine.
Most of the mushrooms used in our tinctures are considered safe for consumption by most mammals, however it is impossible to say whether or not your pet may have individual allergies or sensitivities that could make this an unsuitable treatment. Additionally, it is nearly impossible to determine if mushroom tinctures are effective in our pets, or at what dose they are most beneficial. It is likely that other mammals such as canines and horses could benefit from some of the same anti-inflammatory and antioxidative effects of certain mushrooms, but we do not have the laboratory evidence to support this hypothesis at this time.
Furthermore, with regard to our furry, feathered, spiky and scaled family members, we always want to encourage an abundance of caution when discussing their health and wellness treatment options. If you are interested in using a mushroom tincture (or any other natural wellness resources) for your pet, we ask that you discuss this topic thoroughly with your own personal, trusted veterinary medicine provider who is familiar with your pet’s specific needs.
As a reminder, it is especially important to use caution when considering the use of medicinal mushrooms in human or animal patients that are currently taking insulin or other diabetes medications, anti-inflammatories, anti-coagulants (blood thinners), or immune modulators (medications related to the treatment of autoimmune diseases and/or cancers) due to the potential for serious adverse interactions. We have provided a summary of potential benefits and
associated available research related to each of our most popular mushroom tinctures in the following individual blog posts, which we invite you to review with your chosen (human or veterinary) healthcare professionals prior to beginning treatment:
Can I mix and match tinctures?
We love to combine our tinctures! As different varieties of mushrooms tend to benefit different body systems, we highly recommend you try combining a variety of tinctures according to your own needs. Like many of Mother Earth’s gifts, mushrooms work very well together, and you may discover that combining a few different strains actually helps to achieve your desired benefits more effectively than limiting yourself to a single tincture. In addition to combining various types of mushroom tinctures, we also invite you to embrace adding herbal extracts to your daily routine.
How should I store my mushroom tinctures?
The vast majority of mushroom and herbal tinctures and extracts are packaged in airtight, amber-colored glass bottles. This is because light and oxygen will lead to the degradation and spoilage of these liquids. As long as your alcohol-based tincture is kept unopened, it should have a shelf-life of at least a few years, if not likely much longer. (Note that vinegar- and glycerine-based extracts will expire more quickly.)
Once your tincture has been opened, air exposure will begin to age the product. When stored in its original bottle in a dry and dark location, and kept tightly sealed, your tincture should still last quite some time. Just remember to make sure you tightly close the bottle after each use and to keep the bottle out of sunlight. We also do not advise keeping tinctures in the refrigerator as it is not a dry environment.
Where can I find tinctures?
We are incredibly proud to be able to offer a variety of mushroom tinctures in our Growing Organic Shop!
When navigating our Shop, listed under the drop-down category named Plant Medicine is a tab labeled Tinctures. Here, you will find a selection of herbal and mushroom tinctures created both in-house, as well as by some of the most reputable brands in the industry.
For the highest quality mushroom tinctures, we carry Chaga Mushroom Tincture, Cordyceps Mushroom Tincture, Lion’s Mane Mushroom Tincture, Reishi Tincture and Natural Immunity Blend Mushroom Tincture from our friends at North Spore.
If you are looking for herbal tinctures, our neighbors at Essence of Pachamama produce one of our favorites, the “Healthy Lungs” Respiratory Support Tincture, along with Ashwagandha Tincture, Osha Root Tincture, and White Willow Tincture.
And finally, produced here in-house from the Growing Organic Apothecary, you will find our “Chill Out” Herbal Glycerite” to promote relaxation, and our “Stay Well” Herbal Glycerite” to boost immune function.
As always, please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions, suggestions, or feedback regarding any of our products or educational materials. We are on a mission to create, grow, and live mindfully, and we sincerely appreciate all of our friends’ continued support.