Mushroom terminologies can get confusing especially if you are new to the world of medicinal mushrooms. It is necessary to know the meaning behind various terminologies to help you choose the right mushroom supplements based on your needs.
There is a wide variety of mushroom supplement options in the market. Medicinal mushrooms can be in the form of capsules, tinctures, powder, foods, drinks, gummies, and extracts. A mushroom powder and mushroom extract might sound and seem the same, but they are very different in the most interesting and unexpected ways.
When you are ready to start a new journey with mushroom wellness, Eversio Wellness is happy to be your guide. Let’s start by differentiating between mushroom powder and mushroom extract.
What is a mushroom extract?
The most beneficial bioactive compounds that healthy mushrooms can provide are locked inside their cell walls (called chitin). Most of the benefits are located in the fruiting bodies of the functional mushrooms.
To break down these cell walls and get into the “good” stuff, an extraction procedure is needed. Our stomachs, alone, are not designed for this as we don’t have enough of the enzymes required to effectively complete the job. To bring out all the amazing beneficial compounds from medicinal mushrooms, they must be extracted. This can be done using hot water, alcohol, or both (dual extract). Whole fruiting body mushrooms are harvested, dried, ground, cooked down in water and/or alcohol, and the beneficial compounds are isolated and concentrated from that decoction, leaving the fiber and moisture behind.
Mushroom extracts are the result of these sophisticated extraction methods and this is what is used by scientists to conduct research on the power of mushrooms for our health and wellness.
What is mushroom powder?
A mushroom powder is made from medicinal mushrooms that are dried then milled or ground into powder. Mushroom powders do not go through an extraction process. As a result, our bodies have a hard time absorbing beneficial compounds from these products and many of them are not bioavailable without extraction.
What is the difference between mushroom powder and mushroom extract?
The most significant difference between mushroom powder and mushroom extract is the purity and potency. Mushroom extracts are more concentrated with high percentages of beneficial compounds and therefore offer greater effects and benefits than lower potency, often grain filled, mushroom powders.
During the extraction procedure, the crafters have the option to isolate the bioactive compound/s they need from the medicinal mushrooms. As a result, mushroom extracts offer therapeutic doses of mushroom medicine. Mushroom extracts contain high levels of antioxidants and other polysaccharides that are the subject of hundreds of studies and trials.
However, the effectiveness and potency of both mushroom powder and extract can be affected by the quality of medicinal mushrooms and the parts used. Most of the beneficial compounds are in the whole fruiting body of the functional mushrooms. If you add mycelium entangled with grain to the formulation, the mushroom supplements will be less potent and effective because the grain takes up space and provides no medicinal benefits.
Processing method of mushroom powder and mushroom extract
Making mushroom powder starts with harvesting healthy mushrooms. For some companies, the fruiting body, mycelium, growing substrate, and reproductive structures are harvested and heated to dehydrate completely. Then, they are ground or milled into fine powder.
All the parts of the medicinal mushrooms used are mixed with small fruiting body primordia. Mushroom powder may have a combination of mushroom, mycelium, spore, substrate matter (grain), or sclerotium, all ground-up together, which decreases the potency compared to a mushroom extract containing only the whole fruiting body.
From harvesting to drying and grinding or milling, the mushroom extract processing is the same in creating mushroom powder. However, the key differences are the parts of the mushroom used and the additional extracting procedure.
There are three commonly used mushroom extraction techniques, namely
Hot Water Extraction
This is the most commonly used mushroom extraction technique in Eastern countries and has been used for centuries. The reason is that beta-glucans, which are the main active ingredient in healthy mushrooms, are water-soluble.
With this technique, the fine mushroom powder mixed into water is heated at about 80 - 175°C. When the water evaporates, the potent and nutrient-packed mushroom extract powder is left. The remaining solid medicinal mushroom plant materials are usually discarded.
As the name suggests, instead of water, alcohol is used in this extraction method. The most commonly used type of alcohol is ethanol. The alcohol extraction technique is used to extract all the alcohol-soluble compounds from the functional mushrooms that water can’t extract.
The most common compounds extracted using alcohol extraction are terpenes (triterpenoids), flavonoids, and sterols.
In this method, both the hot water and alcohol extraction processes are used. The resulting mushroom extract will contain both water-soluble and alcohol-soluble compounds from the medicinal mushrooms. This method is commonly used when the functional mushrooms are rich in both water-soluble and alcohol-soluble compounds, such as Reishi, Chaga, and sometimes Lion’s Mane.
In dual extraction, usually a hot water extraction is completed first. After this extraction, the remaining mushroom material will undergo the alcohol extraction. Then, the mushroom extract from the first and second extraction processes will be combined. The resulting mushroom extract is called dual extract.
Types of mushrooms for extract
The potency and benefits of your mushroom powder and mushroom extract will depend on the type of medicinal mushrooms, parts used, and the processing. Here are the top 9 most commonly used functional mushrooms for mushroom supplements and extract blends.
Also known as the brain booster, lion’s mane supports memory , focus, concentration, and brain performance. It is also used to prevent cognitive dysfunction conditions such as Alzheimer's and dementia.
Lion’s mane contains high levels of beneficial compounds, like beta-glucans, antioxidants, and neuro-protective phytonutrients. According to various research papers, hericenones and erinacines are found in lion’s mane (some in the mycelium, some in the fruiting bodies) which stimulate Nerve Growth Factor (NGF) secretion . Lion’s mane encourages the production of myelin, combined with NGF, which is crucial to better brain health.
Also known as the natural energy booster or caterpillar fungus, cordyceps militaris boosts energy, endurance, and stamina. Cordyceps increases the production of Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) which is necessary for delivering energy to your muscles. It also improves respiratory conditions, lung capacity, and oxygen absorption.
Cordyceps are also connected to enhancing libido and fertility for both sexes .
Also called the mushroom of immortality, reishi is rich in polysaccharides, associated with strengthening the immune system. Reishi acts as an adaptogen that helps reduce the effects of stress and anxiety in the mind and body. It improves sleep quality, normalizes blood pressure levels, lowers cholesterol, increases HDL, and can aid in weight loss.
Reishi can also help improve focus, and concentration, and fight different types of cancer cells [4, 5].
Turkey tail is popular for its cancer-fighting capabilities. These healthy mushrooms contain high levels of antioxidants and specific types of polysaccharides (PSK and PSP) which strengthen the immune system and improve the survival rate of people with specific types of cancer.
Chemotherapy is the most common treatment used to treat cancer [6,7]. However, it leaves the body feeling fatigued, and has other negative side effects. Turkey tail is used to enhance the immune system, especially for people undergoing chemotherapy.
Maitake contains beta-glucans and antioxidants which can lower cholesterol levels , enhance artery functionality, decrease blood pressure, and improve overall heart health and immune function. These healthy mushrooms contain SX-fraction (a beta-glucan) which is associated with lowering glucose levels in the blood. SX-fraction awakens insulin receptors and lowers insulin resistance for better glucose management. It also aids in maintaining a healthy weight, strengthening the immune system, and fighting pathogens or viruses in the body.
Maitake mushrooms also contain D-fraction, a beta-glucan that may be especially helpful in targeting and destroying cancerous cells.
Chaga is high in antioxidants which is the one responsible for fighting free radicals. Free radicals are associated with numerous health problems such as inflammatory problems, cardiovascular diseases, cancer, and cataract. To fight free radicals, antioxidants are essential. They decrease and prevent the effects of free radicals in the body. Antioxidants also prevent the effects of oxidation, DNA damage, and signs of aging.
These healthy mushrooms support digestion, strengthen the immune system, regulate inflammation, increase HDL, lower LDL, and have an adaptogenic quality.
Shiitake is not only popular in the kitchen for its delicious taste but also for its therapeutic benefits. These functional mushrooms contain lentinan, a polysaccharide, and combined with increased igA strengthens the immune system. Shiitake also lowers LDL and has beneficial compounds which prevent the production and absorption of cholesterol in the liver. It is loaded with B-vitamins that normalize the glucose level in the blood and aids in healthy inflammation response.
These functional mushrooms are beneficial for a healthy heart and improve blood circulation and pressure.
Also called the snow fungus or beauty mushrooms, tremella has been used for centuries for its extraordinary benefits to the skin. Tremella contains high levels of antioxidants, minerals, polysaccharides, and vitamin D. These medicinal mushrooms strengthen the bones, support brain, and cell health, improve the body’s detoxifying process, reduce cholesterol, slow tumor growth, and act as an adaptogen.
Tremella medicinal mushrooms contain hyaluronic acid which is the one responsible for improving and retaining moisture, stabilizing the barrier, and enhancing the texture of the skin.
Oyster functional mushrooms contain high levels of fiber, niacin, riboflavin, beta-glucans, antioxidants, and polysaccharides. They also contain vitamin D which helps normalize the blood pressure levels and strengthen the bones.
The beta-glucans, antioxidants and an amino acid called ergothioneine from oyster mushrooms have anti-inflammatory properties. Ergothioneine protects the heart from plaque build-up, lowers cholesterol levels, lowers systemic inflammation, protects oxidative stress, and guards the cells against free radical damage.
These medicinal mushrooms can also strengthen the immune system and support metabolic health.
Health benefits of mushroom extract
Medicinal mushrooms have been used for centuries because of their therapeutic benefits. They contain varying levels of antioxidants, phytonutrients, polysaccharides, and other beneficial compounds. However, the most beneficial type of polysaccharide is beta-glucan. Beta-glucans in medicinal mushrooms are the compounds responsible for strengthening and balancing the immune system.
There are many benefits of consuming mushrooms. It will mostly depend on the type of medicinal mushrooms you are taking.
However, it is important to remember that medicinal mushrooms and mushroom extracts are not a cure-all remedy to all of your health problems. We highly recommend consulting your health practitioner to check which mushroom supplements are right for you.
Find high-quality mushroom products
Not all mushroom extract products are made the same. Some will use fillers, grains, mycelium, and extenders in making their mushroom powder, extract, or supplement. It is important to choose high-quality mushroom supplements and extract blends to ensure their potency, effectiveness, purity, and safety. We highly recommend checking the label, customer reviews, and the supplier’s reputation.
At Eversio Wellness, we provide all information, ingredients, data, lab reports, and research for our mushroom supplements. Our transparency demonstrates our sincerity, honesty, and commitment to creating the highest quality therapeutic mushroom supplements that we hope will help you to achieve overall wellness.
If you are looking for a specific mushroom capsule or extract, don’t hesitate to contact us or browse our collection. We are always happy to help you on your mushroom wellness journey!
 Se Hwan Ryu, Seong Min Hong, Zahra Khan, Seul Ki Lee, Manjunatha Vishwanath, Ayman Turk, Sang Won Yeon, Yang Hee Jo, Dae Hee Lee, Jae Kang Lee, Bang Yeon Hwang, Jae-Kyung Jung, Sun Yeou Kim, Mi Kyeong Lee, Neurotrophic isoindolinones from the fruiting bodies of Hericium erinaceus, Bioorganic & Medicinal Chemistry Letters, Volume 31, 2021, 127714, ISSN 0960-894X, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bmcl.2020.127714.
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 Jiraungkoorskul, Kanitta, and Wannee Jiraungkoorskul. “Review of Naturopathy of Medical Mushroom, Ophiocordyceps Sinensis, in Sexual Dysfunction.” Pharmacognosy reviews vol. 10,19 (2016): 1-5. doi:10.4103/0973-7847.176566
 National Cancer Institute – Medicinal Mushrooms (Physician Data Query) https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/treatment/cam/patient/mushrooms-pdq
 Gao Y. H, Zhou S. F, Jiang W. Q, Huang M, Sai X. H. Effects of Ganopoly (a Ganoderma lucidum polysaccharide extract) on immune functions in advanced-stage cancer patients. Immunol Invest. 2003;32:201–15.
 FDA Approves Bastyr Turkey Tail Trial for Cancer Patients https://bastyr.edu/news/general-news/2012/11/fda-approves-bastyr-turkey-tail-trial-cancer-patients
 National Cancer Institute – Medicinal Mushrooms (Physician Data Query) https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/treatment/cam/patient/mushrooms-pdq
 Cholesterol-Lowering Effects of Maitake (Grifola frondosa) Fiber, Shiitake (Lentinus edodes) Fiber, and Enokitake (Flammulina velutipes) Fiber in Rats Michihiro Fukushima, Tetsu Ohashi, Yukiko Fujiwara, Kei Sonoyama, Masuo Nakano First Published September 1, 2001 https://doi.org/10.1177/153537020222600808
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