The difference between a reishi extract and a whole reishi mushroom is huge:
Someone can boil wholemeal bread in a pot, put the bread out when it is well cooked and continue boiling the water until all dissolved substances concentrate and form a brownish crust. If we grind this, we will get a "baguette" extract. It will concentrate group B vitamins which are soluble in water: B1 and B2 (B6, which is present in bread, will be missing because it will be destroyed by heat), concentrated starches (carbohydrates), concentrated gluten (proteins) and concentrated minerals: selenium, calcium, potassium, magnesium...
Is it better than the bread itself? Well, it depends on our goal. If someone has a deficiency in vitamin B2, it will be better than the original bread (it will have more vitamin per gram of substance), but for someone who needs vitamin B5, this extract will not help at all. Ah! And it would cause severe damage to intolerants to gluten's intestinal epithelium, because a few grams of extract will contain the gluten of a whole baguette.
Yes, an extract concentrates some substances, others are damaged during the extraction process, and the good ones which are highly concentrated may be harmful.
|Reishi podwer (400X)
||Reishi extract (400X)
After seeing this explanation, let’s analyze the reishi mushroom now:
Almost all the extracts on the market are processed in order to concentrate beta-glucans. The latter are extracted with sodium hydroxide (NaOH) and hydrochloric acid (HCL), highly reactive substances capable of separating the beta-glucans chains from the glucan matrix of the mushroom. What happens then? First, the beta glucan itself is affected and loses some of its triple helix conformation (similar to the winding structure of DNA). This makes beta-glucans lose activity, since those which are in the group of 1-3, 1-6 beta glucans (the ones that show this winding structure) are the ones that have biological activity. Besides, aggressive treatments with soda in order to extract beta-glucans chemically change many molecules with biological activity, making them lose their activity. In this case, bases (NaOH) and strong acids (HCL), which corrode metals at a home level, hurt living tissue (they shouldn’t be touched by hand!), and react with almost everything, including reishi substances.
I have given an example of making an aqueous extract from wholemeal bread. But let’s prepare another extract:
If we boiled the baguette in ethyl alcohol (extremely dangerous at home, because it can catch fire), and remove the bread from the liquid again and evaporated the alcohol until we obtained a crust, as we did in the previous process, we would obtain what would be a “baguette” alcoholic extract. This wouldn’t have any B vitamins, since they do not dissolve in alcohol, and would lack almost all minerals: selenium, calcium, magnesium, which do not dissolve either... Besides, it would present residual proteins and, among the few substances that it would contain, we would find oils added to bread and some fat-soluble vitamins and other nonpolar compounds. The chemical composition of the extraction will be totally different from the extraction in water and therefore its activity in the organism would be completely different.
Going back to the reishi mushroom:
There are medical studies in which very active chloroform extracts (which are not prepared commercially since the chloroform is very easily degraded and very dangerous too) were used; there are also medical studies regarding ether extracts, extracts in methanol and, of course, in water and ethanol. Each extract concentrates different molecules and thus has a different activity in the body. Of the approximately 700 medical studies about reishi which have been published to date, there is only one kind of reishi that shows all the activity of all extracts and, therefore, all properties: the non-extract reishi. Yes, it has less concentration of everything, but it will have everything.
And in relation to the extracts on the market: what problem can be found? The problem is that companies that prepare extracts, in almost all cases, don’t know what they are concentrating, how they've changed the reishi or what changes they've caused in its chemical composition. Rather, they make extracts by concentrating what can be sold better, what is more profitable and what has more “marketing" (triterpenes and beta-glucans in the case of reishi). Remember they are entrepreneurs, not scientists.
To conclude, I would like to indicate some things that any reishi extract in the planet lacks: fungal fiber: it is discarded because it is entirely insoluble: its chitin, hemicellulose, complex structural polysaccharides ... but in the organism, it has many functions: remove carcinogenic substances from the colon (preventing the cancer with the highest incidence in European population), it has nutrients for our intestinal flora (butyric acid is produced during the bacterial degradation of the fiber in the colon and is extremely important for the intestinal flora), they have antioxidants that are released through fiber metabolic processes, they are of great interest as a physical aid to go to the bathroom because they collect a large quantity of water, they reduce cholesterol (tested in the case of yeast beta-glucans, similar to those present in the reishi mushroom)...
Furthermore, during the extraction processes, reishi proteins lose their conformation; they denature or precipitate and thus lose a lot of their biological activity: Let’s not forget that a lot of the immunomodulatory capacity of the reishi has been studied for protein LZ8, among others ... And well, what we mentioned before: during the extraction processes a lot of substances, even those that haven’t been studied, are always degraded, due to the complexity of the reishi.
And what is better, the micronized (micro ground) reishi or a reishi extract?
For a healthy person, certainly, the whole reishi: there is no need to concentrate an active substance because the person is healthy, and any substance concentrated at a high dose may cause problems.
And for a person with a specific problem: the latter should never self-medicate! Much less with extracts that we do not know what they have chemically. You should always consult your doctor or the specialist that gives you treatment. And if you decide to take something, take something safe, contrasted with millennia of human consumption and with a high effectiveness: food, like an apple, broccoli, oranges or pure reishi. Extracts will never be as safe as food (that’s why the ministry of health requires that they be sold with doses and instructions for use).