Wild Ophiocordyceps sinensis is a rare and expensive Chinese herb. It consists of a caterpillar and a blade-like mushroom body growing from one end. Its common Chinese name is “Winter worm, summer grass”. Due to the high cost of this herb, the Chinese produce the mycelium of this mushroom in liquid fermentation tanks. This pure mycelium product is primarily known as Cs-4. The authenticity of Cordyceps mycelium cultured from wild Cordyceps is not certain. Multiple cultures have been isolated from the wild Cordyceps, but none have actually produced the mushroom, a normal pre-requisite for determination of identity.
A large body of research has demonstrated that Cordyceps militaris has similar active compounds and activities to C. sinensis. Today, it is being cultivated on substrates free from any insects. It is traditionally used for fatigue, general weakness, improved respiratory function.
What is the difference between a 1:1 extract and more concentrated extracts?
A one to one extract starts with a finely milled mushroom powder. This powder is extracted for 3 hours in hot water at 90° – 100° C. After this extraction, much of the water is evaporated to produce a concentrated fluid. This fluid still contains the mushroom powder. At this time the powder-filled fluid is sent to the spray drier which creates a fine powder. The final product is a fine mushroom powder that has been pre-digested by the water extraction. The most important part of this process is the fact that the raw material is never separated from the extraction fluid. This means that nothing from the original mushroom is lost or discarded.
When making a more concentrated extract, a coarsely ground raw material is used. This coarse raw material is extracted three times with hot water to make certain all of the important components are fully drawn out of the raw material. With some mushrooms like Reishi and Chaga, an extra step involving a one time alcohol extraction is added. At the end of the process the raw material is discarded and considered spent. The liquid is then concentrated to the specific extract ratio. The concentrated fluid is now sent to the spray drier and dried to a fine powder. We understand that mushrooms contain both soluble and insoluble beta-glucans. The majority of these beta-glucans are insoluble and can be considered fiber. Water extraction will remove the soluble beta-glucans and most other nutritional compounds from the fiber. Research has shown that the immunologically active compounds are the soluble beta-glucans.
When we leave the fiber in the 1:1 extract, the insoluble beta-glucan plus the soluble beta-glucans will show the total amount of beta-glucans for the particular mushroom species in our testing. We think this insoluble beta-glucan still provides some benefit even though the concentration level of the extract is low. In fact, the extraction process coupled with the finely ground powder breaks down many of the bonds that often prevent full utilization of mushrooms.
When we produce our concentrated extracts, the mushroom fiber is filtered out and the insoluble beta-glucans are discarded. This means these concentrated extracts will contain only the soluble beta-glucans, the most active ones. It also means that the beta-glucan number will be lower than the 1:1 extracts. The increased amount of raw materials needed to extract only the soluble beta-glucans produces an extract of greater strength and also allows for smaller amounts to be consumed for supplementation.