Mushroom Tinctures vs. Extracts vs. Powders vs. Capsules

Carefully made, organic mushroom supplements are one of the best ways to access the health benefits offered by medicinal mushrooms, especially those that people consider inedible.

But there are so many different supplements on the market that it can be confusing and difficult to decide which meets your needs best.

Not all supplements are equal, so we recommend buying products from a reputable supplier and carefully checking the ingredients list so you know what you’re getting.

In this article, we explore different types of mushroom supplements and take an in-depth look at their pros and cons and how they compare.

Dried reishi mushrooms with mushroom powder and capsules

Different Types of Medicinal Mushroom Supplements

Personal preference and lifestyle play a significant role when choosing a mushroom supplement, as it should easily fit into your daily routine.

Here’s some information on the different types of mushroom supplements you’ll come across to help you choose one that suits you and provides the benefits you’re after. 

Mushroom Extracts

An extract is a substance, usually in liquid or powder form, containing the active ingredients of a medicinal mushroom in concentrated form.

Extracting the active ingredients usually involves solvents like hot water or alcohol to draw out specific compounds, making them easier to digest.

You can make an extract by soaking raw mushrooms in various solvents, including hot water, vinegar, oil, glycerine or alcohol.

Hot water extraction is the most popular method for extracting medicinal mushrooms as it draws out water-soluble beta-glucans, alpha-glucans, proteins, vitamins & minerals. 

Mushroom Tinctures

A mushroom tincture is a type of extract that uses an alcohol-based solvent to extract non-water-soluble compounds like triterpenes, diterpenes, flavonoids & sterols from mushrooms.

Ideally, to access all the beneficial compounds in medicinal mushrooms, you should look for tinctures or extracts made using dual extraction.

This means that the producers combined hot water and alcohol extraction to pull as much goodness as possible from the mushrooms.

Is a mushroom tincture the same as a mushroom extract?

The terms tincture and extract are often used interchangeably, and it can be a little confusing.

Tincture is the name given to a mushroom extract made using alcohol, usually ethanol, as a solvent. 

But you can make a mushroom extract by soaking mushrooms in any type of solvent.

Learn how to make you own medicinal mushroom tincture.

Mushroom Powders

Mushroom powders are very versatile, making them one of the most popular medicinal mushroom supplements, but not all powders are equal.

Some powders consist of dried mushrooms ground into a fine powder. This type of mushroom powder is ideal for culinary use, and its umami taste enhances any dish.

Other powders consist of mushroom mycelium and dried mushrooms. These powders usually contain some of the grain the mycelium was grown in, diluting the strength of the powder.

The most potent mushroom powder is mushroom extract powder, as this contains the same concentrated ingredients as mushroom extracts.

Powders made from extractions are always better than dried mushrooms as they pull out the active compounds and make them more bioavailable for our bodies.

Mushroom Capsules

Mushroom capsules provide measured dosing and convenience and usually contain mushroom extract powder.

People often choose capsules over loose powders, tinctures or extracts because they’re easy to consume and have no flavor.

Like other mushroom supplements, how the manufacturers produced the capsule’s contents is crucial.

Lion's mane mushroom capsules

Mushroom Tincture vs Extract

As mentioned above, a tincture is a type of extract, and the primary difference between the two is the solvent used and the compounds they extract from the mushrooms.

To make a tincture, you need an alcohol-based solvent to extract alcohol-soluble compounds from the medicinal mushrooms.

But, to make an extract, you can use any solvent to extract both water-soluble and alcohol-soluble compounds. 

Another difference between a tincture and a hot water extract is the time it takes to extract the compounds from the mushrooms.

To make a hot water extract, producers simmer mushrooms in hot water for 2 to 48 hours, depending on the type of mushroom and the amount of beneficial compounds they want to extract.

Making a tincture takes a lot longer, and medicinal mushrooms are usually left to soak in alcohol for 4 to 6 weeks to fully extract the alcohol-soluble compounds.

Extracts made using the dual extraction method combine tinctures with hot water extracts to create a full spectrum extract that provides maximum benefits.

Mushroom Extract vs Powder

The difference between dried mushroom powder and a liquid extract or extract powder is the concentration and bioavailability of beneficial mushroom compounds.

Dried mushroom powder contains the same nutrients as fresh mushrooms but in higher concentrations. 

Fresh mushrooms are 80% water, and drying mushrooms concentrates their nutrients and flavor. It takes around 1 lb (450 g) of fresh mushrooms to get 1 oz (28 g) of dried mushroom powder.

Although dried mushroom powder is more concentrated than fresh mushrooms, many medicinal compounds are still locked inside the mushrooms’ indigestible chitin cell walls.

Mushrooms need to soak in solvents, like hot water and alcohol, to break down the chitin and release the bioactive compounds.

After the extraction process, you’re left with a concentrated extract full of beneficial compounds in a form that’s easier for humans to digest.

As mushroom extracts contain more bioavailable medicinal compounds than dried mushroom powder, they offer more potential health benefits.

Are mushroom tinctures or capsules better?

If both products contain similar extracts made using dual extraction, then which is better is a matter of personal preference as they’re both convenient and provide a measured dose.

However, if the capsules contain dried mushroom powder, not powdered extract, a tincture would contain more bioactive compounds.

And, if the capsules contain powder from a dual extraction and the tincture is only an alcohol extraction, the capsules would be better as you are getting a broader range of bioactive compounds.

Tinctures, taken under the tongue, are fast-acting and provide a measured dose, but many people don’t enjoy the taste.

For these people, capsules may be a better option as they have no taste, but it takes longer to feel the benefits as the gelatin capsule first needs to dissolve before you can absorb the powder.

Reishi mushroom powder and tea

Mushroom Powder vs Capsule

Now that we’ve explored the difference between an extract powder and dried mushroom powder, you may wonder, “Are mushroom capsules or powder better?”

If you find it difficult to swallow capsules, the answer is easy, mushroom powder is the way to go, but if this is not an issue, use the form that suits your lifestyle best.

To help you decide, we’ll look at some differences between the two, assuming that the loose mushroom powder and the powder in the capsules are the same quality.

Precision of Dosing

Capsules provide a pre-measured dose of a specified concentration, ensuring consistent, accurate dosing.

Loose powders are not as accurate but provide more flexibility by letting you adjust amounts in small increments different from the pre-measured capsule dose.

Taste and Texture

Depending on the species, mushroom powder can range in flavor from mild, earthy and slightly sweet to rich, savory and umami-packed and in some cases, like reishi, it can also be bitter.

Many people enjoy the taste and use mushroom powder to enhance the flavor of their beverages and meals, but not everyone is a fan.

If you don’t like the taste and texture of mushrooms, capsules are the ideal way to consume mushroom extracts.

Absorption Time

Before you can access the contents of a capsule, the gelatin shell first needs to dissolve.

Under normal conditions, a gelatin capsule takes 20 to 30 minutes to dissolve in your stomach and may release its contents gradually.

This means it usually takes slightly longer to absorb the contents of capsules than mushroom powder.


When it comes to convenience, you can’t beat mushroom extract capsules. 

It’s quick and easy to take a daily measured dose without any preparation or mess, and they’re easy to transport in your bag when traveling.

Culinary Versatility

Although capsules are more convenient, they’re not designed with culinary applications in mind, and many people prefer the flexibility and culinary versatility of mushroom powder.

There are many ways to include mushroom powder in your daily routine, and you can enjoy its health benefits while adding rich, umami flavor to your meals. 

Our article, “How to Use Mushroom Powder to Boost Your Health and Elevate Your Cooking,” has more information and ideas for you.

Shiitake mushroom powder

Mushroom Tinctures vs Powders vs Capsules

The table below has information and a list of pros and cons to help you decide which supplement type fits your preferences and daily routine best. 

TasteTaste varies from mild to bitter depending on the speciesMild earthy taste that varies depending on the speciesNo taste
DosingEasy dropper dosageMust be weighed or measuredPre-dosed convenience
How To UseTake under the tongue or add to beverages or meals.Add to beverages or meals or use in skincare products.Swallow or break open and add to beverages or meals
Pros• Easy dosage
• Fast absorption
• Long shelf life
• Easy to source 
• Versatile
• Cost effective
• Tasteless
• No preparation 
• Consistent dose 
• Ideal for travel 
Cons• May contain alcohol
• Can taste bitter
• Less ideal for travel
• Flavor preferences 
• Needs measuring 
• May contain mycelium and fillers
• Hard to swallow
• Can be pricey 
• May contain preservatives

What is the Most Potent Mushroom Supplement?

When it comes to supplement potency, it’s not the type of supplement that’s important but rather how the manufacturer produced it.

Supplements made using 100% organic fruiting bodies and dual extraction to extract as many beneficial compounds as possible are the most potent.

Unfortunately, many of the mushroom supplements on the market are not made this way and thus do not provide the beneficial compounds and health benefits they promise.

It’s always advisable to buy mushroom supplements from a reputable supplier and understand the ingredients, extraction method and concentration of beneficial compounds.

Mushroom extract supplements can come in the form of liquids, powders, capsules or gummies.

If the same supplier produced different supplements using the same high-quality extract, one should not be less effective than another.

MycoTonics Lion's mane mushroom extract

What Time of Day is Best to Take Mushroom Supplements?

We recommend people take our mushroom extracts first thing in the morning at least 10 minutes before eating for a fast-acting energy boost.

This is especially beneficial when consuming mushrooms that may boost energy levels and focus, like lion’s mane, cordyceps and chaga.

But everyone is different, and depending on the type of mushroom and your daily routine, you may prefer to take mushroom supplements at other times.

Some people recommend taking cordyceps liquid extract just before or after a workout to help increase endurance or reduce fatigue.

And because reishi mushroom supplements may help you relax and improve your sleep, taking them an hour or two before bedtime may suit you best.

Consume Reishi Mushrooms

What Is the Most Effective Way to Take Mushroom Supplements?

For the best absorption and bioavailability, take dual extract mushroom supplements alone or with water on an empty stomach.

Your body may not absorb mushroom extracts taken with coffee, tea or food as fast or as well as mushroom extracts taken alone.

However, taking mushroom extracts with coffee, tea and meals will still provide benefits.

Whichever you choose, consistency is important. The most effective mushroom supplement is one that you take regularly, as their benefits compound over time.

Final Thoughts

Always buy supplements containing mushroom extracts made using hot water or dual extraction to ensure you have access to as many medicinal compounds as possible. 

As long as the supplement comes from a reputable supplier and contains high-quality, organic mushroom extract, you can choose the form that suits your lifestyle best.

We like the ease and fast absorption that liquid mushroom extracts provide, but versatile mushroom extract powder or convenient capsules may suit you better.

To learn more about the health benefits of different medicinal mushrooms, visit our Mushroom Education Hub.