Mushroom Medicine: Making Double Extracts

Edible mushrooms are fantastic for our health. Eating mushrooms is my favorite way to reap their benefits, but at times a stronger dose may come in handy.  This is where mushroom extracts can be handy.  For those who’ve purchased commercial mushroom extracts, you may have noticed that they’re a bit expensive.  Why not learn to make your own?

So, what is a double extract?  It’s a combination of strong tea (decoction) and alcohol tincture.  Water is great at extracting certain mushroom chemicals while alcohol is good at pulling out others.  Together, they equal good medicine. 

How to Make a Mushroom Double Extract

First, you need some mushrooms!  You can often find organically grown or wild harvested mushrooms at a good grocery store.  Don’t buy mushrooms that are not organically cultivated (or wildharvested). They may be pesticide-laden, given how absorptive mushrooms are. 

Part 1: Making the Mushroom Tincture

1. Chop fresh mushrooms and put them into a clean jar, filling it 2/3 to 3/4 of the way.   

2. Add enough vodka or brandy so that the mushrooms are about 1/2 inch below the surface of the liquid, when you hold them down (they’ll float).

3. Put the lid on and let it sit in a cabinet or other dark spot for 2 weeks. Shake it daily.

4. Strain after 2 weeks. Squeeze out the mushrooms in cheese cloth to get out as much liquid as you can.

5. Measure how much liquid you have and set it aside in a jar with a lid on. 

6. You’ve just made a mushroom tincture, well done!


Part 2: Make the Mushroom Decoction (strong tea) 

1. Put the mushrooms from the tincture you just strained (or even a new batch of mushrooms) into a pot, adding enough water to submerge them by a couple inches. 

2. Bring them to a boil then reduce heat and simmer with a lid on for a couple hours. Make sure the mushrooms don’t dry out.  After straining, this will be the mushroom decoction.

3. You’ll already know how much tincture you have.  Add half as much tea to it. (For example, if you have a pint (16 oz.) of tincture, add a cup (8 oz.) tea.  If you have more than 8 oz. tea after straining and pressing, then simmer it some more to concentrate it to 8 oz.  

4. Congratulations, you’ve now made a complete double extract! Dosage is anywhere from 1/4 to 1 teaspoon 2-3 times daily.  


A technical note for the true mushroom geeks out there…Some folks prefer to make the decoction first and store it in the freezer for the 2 weeks that the tincture is going.  They worry that the alcohol may damage some of the mushroom chemicals before these chemicals can be extracted in the tea. If you’re worried, either do the tea first or simply use a different batch of mushrooms for the decoction/tea and for the tincture. I’ve not run into an issue with this in terms of the quality of my double extracts. I’ve not noticed a difference in the quality of my extracts in terms of which step I do first.

Finally, if you’re interested in the sorts of mushroom chemicals we’re trying to extract, read on….

  • Polysaccharides: These are very large chains of sugars. “Poly” means “many” and “saccharide” means “sugar.”  These are among the most famous medicinal components of mushrooms. They’re great for the immune system, are anti-tumor in studies and have many other activities such as helping with blood sugar and cholesterol control. 
  • Glycoproteins: These are polysaccharides that have proteins stuck to them. They’re also pretty famous medicinally and have similar activities as mushroom polysaccharides. 
  • Terpenes: Some of these are responsible for the scent of a mushroom such as Matsutake, others give a mushroom its color, as with Chanterelles. Terpene-type chemicals in reishi mushroom benefit the liver. Many are antioxidant.  
  • Vitamins and minerals: Mushrooms are a wealth of nutrients. The decoction is particularly good at extracting mushroom minerals. 
  • Other good stuff: Proteins and peptides and a slew of other chemicals are being discovered in mushrooms and have been found to have all sorts of interesting activities. 

Mushroom extracts are a good addition to your daily health routine.  Have some fun and save some money by making your own!