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TO GRIND OR NOT TO GRIND?
Wondering is dried chaga good? For some, raw chaga chunks or powder is the best complementary health solution. The traditional way to consume chaga has been to take the whole mushroom and ground it into a powder or cut into chunks so you could brew it later.
During brewing the chitin in mushroom cell wall is destroyed and nutrients dissolve in the hot water. Remember that you can’t simply consume raw chaga mushroom since humans cannot digest raw chaga, so you have to brew it to enjoy the benefits of this medicinal mushroom.
Brewing process is still the same as it was hundreds years ago. However, today there are a few other ways how you can get health benefit from chaga. One of the popular ways is to use chaga extract. The extraction process involves breaking down the chaga mushroom into small pieces and processing them to get the most value from all the main components. The end result is water soluble powder.
Chaga arrives in many helpful products available today. Finding the best supplement for you and in the best form can be a challenge.
POWDER VS EXTRACT
Depending on your intentions for using chaga, you can choose different products which suit your needs the best. Some look for convenience, others take time out of a busy schedule and enjoy a few hours of brewing the best chaga tea they can.
Many are happy to cut the raw chaga from its birch tree host and brew it, right on the spot.
Others enjoy packaged dry chaga which will be sufficient for brewing your chaga tea at home. After all this is how we learn about chaga health supporting benefits.
Chaga extract on the other hand, can be used in a variety of ways without brewing process. Some use chaga extract powder stirred in water or in their favorite drink. Others mix it with coffee, foods like yogurt and even in fruit and vegetable smoothies. You can create your own party drinks and refreshing teas for everyone to enjoy. Believe it or not, you can put it even in your soup!
Whatever your preference for consumption, the most important consideration is the quality of your chaga. Look for the best suppliers with an extensive knowledge and a passion for this King of Herbs and the environment in which it is harvested.
CHAGA EXTRACTION METHODS
A few of the most important active compounds in Chaga and other mushrooms are polysaccharides, phenols, variety of triterpenes, sterols and melanin. Recent research is now beginning to demonstrate that these compounds can improve human health. With these compounds, Chaga is one of the most useful mushrooms for general immune support. *
If you are like most people who rely on Chaga mushroom extract for the health benefits, you want to gain the most out of your supplements by using the highest potency and most thoroughly studied products available.
However, not all companies that sell chaga extract use the same extraction process. Many use extract that is made by traditional water extraction process while some others use “dual extraction” that Chinese companies started to produce in the early 2000s.
With that in mind, we want to offer a difference between the two methods:
● Water extraction
● Alcohol extraction
● Dual extraction (water + alcohol)
Chaga Mushroom extracts created using water extraction, like those offered by Sayan, are the only type of mushroom extracts used by traditional herbal practitioners and studied by scientists. Sayan only manufactures and sells extracts made by low pressure freeze-dry process, which ensures the maximum preservation of the active compounds in wild harvested Chaga mushroom.
In the water extraction process, the chaga is steeped in hot water for hours. Once finished, the liquid is drained and saved while the solids are discarded.
During hot water extraction process, mushroom cells are broken down and water soluble compounds come out of the raw material. These compounds remain in the liquid. The leftovers of raw product and additional, usually unimportant, compounds that are not soluble in water remain in the solids that are discarded after the process is finished.
We need to point that Sayan extraction process is more complex than one someone might perform in their home with their own raw chaga. There is additional use of pressure, temperature, surface area of raw materials, etc.
Once the water extraction process is complete, the insoluble parts of raw mushrooms are removed and the liquid is put through a dryer to evaporate away the water, leaving only a powder. There are several ways how you can evaporate liquid, and we will explain this process separately.
Some companies want their extract to contain the non-water soluble compounds. This is when the ethanol alcohol is used. The alcohol extracts the non-water soluble compounds from the raw mushrooms into the extract liquid.
Usually the hot water extraction is first. Then with leftover solids, you add to a mixture of alcohol and continue to cook. Once complete, you will again separate the liquid from the solids and add this liquid to our first hot water extract liquid.
What are components which we get by alcohol extraction? From Reishi mushrooms we get triterpenes (hydrocarbons). These components play important part and should be present in all Reishi products. These triterpenes are responsible for bitter taste of resihi extract and are good indicators of how good the extract is, the bitter the better.
Chaga mushroom also contains triterpenes, sterols (inotodiol) and trametenolic acid which all could be extracted by alcohol extraction. It is important to mention that we have submitted our chaga extract to independent Tampa Bay Analytical Research lab for triterpenes testing. And even though our extract was made by water extraction 2.77 % of triterpenes were detected in it. This proves that non-water components are present in extract which was produced without alcohol extraction.
You could probably can find some claims on internet that chaga extract produced by alcohol extraction contain betulinic acid (triterpene) and this is the reason why alcohol extraction is superior to water extraction. This is not entirely true. The concentration of betulinic acid in chaga mushroom is extremely low, lower than 1%. Betulinic acid could be found in birch tree bark in much higher concentration and it usually derived from betulin, which can be extracted from birch tree bark by alcohol extraction only. Both components are not water soluble products and addition of only 5% of betulin to chaga extract makes this product poorly soluble. We have developed such blend of chaga extract with betulin, where betulin is properly extracted using alcohol from birch bark and not from chaga mushroom. This pure betulin is than mixed with chaga extract which created the most powerful and potent product in our lineup.
Other mushrooms like cordyceps, lions mane, shiitake and turkey tail do not really contain any non-water soluble ingredients which could provide health benefits.
As the name suggests the dual extract are mix of water and alcohol extraction. So these are the best? Well, not that fast, there are few things which you need to know.
Some companies tout dual extract for the perceived value of having all of the compounds from the chaga. These additional compounds include triterpenes and sterols like inotodiol,
trametenolic acid and betulinic acid, all of them are the non-water soluble compounds. However, there are few issues.
First, they are difficult to measure. Only a few labs can even measure the non-water soluble compounds found in chaga or reishi. So it is very difficult to verify the benefits of dual extraction, if any.
Second, maybe manufacturer used other ingredients or fillers like starch or grain to increase the percentage of the components in final product.
Third maybe the extract is mixed with something else and just simply called dual extract, or maybe it doesn’t even have non-water soluble components.
Having said that, it Is more important to see the lab testing result for each extract and made conclusion than just simply say that dual mushroom extracts are superior comparing to water extract. It is possible to have dual extracts with lower concentration of beta-glucans than in hot water extracts.
At present, companies, often from China, present dual extraction with alcohol as something beneficial for mushroom extracts and other supplemental products. This is not supported by research. This method is often cheaper for the company to perform and may result in slightly lower prices for consumers. But the slight cost changes are offset by the unknown.
So if you are looking for fancy dual extract mushroom products, our advice – do not rush. Not all mushroom requires dual extraction process to offer you the most health benefits, but all medicinal mushroom require extraction. Lab analysis would be the proper document which will help you to make a decision about quality of the extract and help you to buy a good product.
THE DIFFERENCE IN DRYING
Significant factor in the production of high-quality chaga extract is the actual method of drying of the water extract of chaga. Today, manufacturers of chaga extract use the following methods of drying:
● thermal spray drying (extract is dried according to the principle of the centrifuge and hot air)
● Alcohol extraction
● freeze drying (sublimation or lyophilization)
Drying chaga extract in infrared and thermal spray driers requires the application of heat, which negatively impacts the effectiveness of the product. Note that during heat drying (infrared or spray), chaga extract is often overcooked, which increases the ash content and unpleasant odor of the finished product, and destroys the natural nutrients.
There is a common misconception among chaga consumers that chaga extract of a dark brown color signifies a quality product. Of course, the dark color of the extract indicates high quality, however, you must be careful, since the heat-drying method can burn the extract and also result in an unnatural dark brown color. This is atypical for extracts produced by freeze drying process.
How can you distinguish chaga extract produced by freeze drying from its counterpart dried the thermal spray method? As seen in the photograph to the right, the external difference is obvious:
The picture of the right shows two types of chaga extract. Click on the picture to enlarge it.
The extract on top – brown in color, shows chaga extract dried via thermal spray. This extract is not burnt – in fact, it has the natural color of the extract when dried in this manner.
The extract on the bottom – chaga extract dried via freeze drying. This extract is darker, and never overcooked.
Although both are water-soluble extracts, chaga extract produced via freeze drying is dissolved in water of any temperature instantly and completely, while the other extract has a flour-like consistency, floats on the surface of a liquid and will dissolve only after mixing, forming a precipitate.
WHAT IS FREEZE DRYING?
Freeze drying (sublimation or lyophilization) is the process of removing the solvent from the frozen solutions, gels, suspensions, and biological objects, based on sublimation of the solidified solvent (ice) without the formation of macroscopic liquid phase.
Freeze drying (sometimes also called sublimation} process (lyophilization) is shown in the picture to the right. Interestingly, the word lyophilization is translated from Greek as “dissolve” and “love”. Hence, our chaga extract, dried in a freeze dryer has been dried with love. Freeze drying is more difficult and expensive than other methods. Freeze drying requires:
● careful preparation of liquid chaga extract before drying, in order to release the maximum active ingredients from the insoluble impurities and ballast substances
● providing a vacuum for complete drying of the chaga extract
● carrying out a long process of drying
Careful release of the liquid form extract and insoluble particles prior to drying allows to produce a dry extract with high solubility; using such an extract as a tea or dietary supplement is much easier and much more pleasant.
SAYAN FREEZE-DRIED EXTRACT BENEFITS
The technology for producing our extract includes extraction of bioactive substances from chaga by evaporating hot water in a vacuum, followed by freeze drying (sublimation), a gentle drying process that preserves the beneficial active ingredients in chaga.
In contrast to other drying processes, freeze drying preserves the consistency, color, shape, and potent flavor of the original product. Because the product is warmed only slightly, the vitamins and minerals are preserved as much as possible. Within seconds, freeze-dried ingredients rehydrate and are restored to their original, freshly harvested condition. Contact with water restores their original color, aroma, and flavor.
Chaga extract produced by Sayan using freeze drying technology offers many advantages over chaga extract obtained by heat drying. We are the only manufacturer of chaga products that use this technology, other companies use most conventional heat drying technique. Heat drying involves the use of high temperatures, which undoubtedly leads to partial damage of the molecules of chaga’s biological substances, and a reduction in effectiveness.
Chaga extract produced using our method has a pleasant aroma and a pronounced taste. Freeze-dried chaga extract can be stored over a long period of time without losing its beneficial properties.
Only Sayan extraction process yields a dry chaga extract with an acceptable level of moisture. Products that have been freeze dried retain their organoleptic properties, are readily soluble, weigh very little, and have a long shelf life. All their vitamins are preserved, proteins are hardly denaturized at all, and thus their nutritional value is retained.
OTHER FACTORS TO CONSIDER
Today, chaga extract is a popular dietary supplement. Manufacturers are seeking to improve chaga extract products by using high-quality raw materials, as well as by improving the technical process of extraction.
The geographic origin of chaga plays an important role in the quality of the chaga extract. A study conducted by Zubr T.P. , Vasilev I., Khoroshutin P.P. and Aksenova G. I. 2010, titled “Comparative evaluation of the quality of raw chaga, used in the manufacture of dry extract” found that chaga gathered in the forests of Siberia is more potent compared to chaga grown in others regions of the world.
ENJOY YOUR LIFE!
One of the goals in our life is to live to an advanced age, but for many the real goal is to live a high quality life, which includes your overall health and well-being. If you’re feeling good, you’ll be more likely to enjoy life and all that it has to offer.
Chaga extract users often report benefits of feeling better. They have said that using chaga extract resulted in more energy, healthier skin, better digestion and improved well-being. This product, along with other health lifestyle efforts, can be part of your strong and healthy life as well. *
If you have questions about the differences between raw chaga and chaga extract, please e-mail or call us, we are always happy to talk to our customers!
* These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. This product does not intend to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any diseases.