Chemical composition of a supplement
November 18, 2020 12:22 PM   Subscribe

What's the best and/or least expensive way to test a supplement for the actual chemical content? Is there another way to go about something similar?

Hi, I have been growing Lion's Mane mushrooms to try and help my mom with some mild cognitive decline as she's reached her 70s. We live in different states so I send her supplements. I've been refining my methods of extraction to try and get more out of them if possible, or at least get more of the good stuff into a form that will survive the trip across the US.

Is there a way to determine the levels of erinacines/hericinones and other polysaccharides in my extracts, maybe through a service that tests them chemically or something similar?

I'm a hobby grower that has shared these with family. I don't think I'm able to afford what I suspect many labs would charge, but I honestly have no idea.

I just hate to be thinking I'm doing well when I actually can only suspect. This is certified organic mushroom spawn grown on as organic a substrate I can find, extracted by methods I trust, but is there some way that I can feel more confident in what I'm sending to my mom?
posted by dozo to Science & Nature (3 answers total)
Without a gas chromatograph-mass spectrometer instrument, I'm not sure there is a way to do what you want.
posted by slkinsey at 1:00 PM on November 18, 2020 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Been there before with different fungi and botanicals.

I imagine you are interested in hericenones and erinacines? The bad news is that there is no simple DIY to quantify these compounds, and paying for spectroscopic analysis gets very expensive very quickly, if you can even find a local place willing to do it for a hobbyist.

To give you an idea, the best prices I could find in the US 5 years ago started at about $100 for setup and calibration, $60 per hour for sample treatment and preparation with a one hour minimum, $80 per hour for use of the spectrometer with a one hour minimum, consumables between $15 and $50 per run (I never understood the logic here), plus $80 per hour for labor, and other details I cant recall. This means over $300 dollars to test one batch.

In Latin America I found a lab that would do low resolution analysis for 2 or 3 compounds for the equivalent of $150 USD, but it took a few tries before they could get the results I was looking for.

My philosophy has been that since I can not afford to get quantitative testing, I have to live with the knowledge that I am getting some benefit from my extracts.

I know this is not the question you asked, but the best way to get the benefits of Hericium erinaceus is to consume the fresh live mushroom, any attempt to preserve or extract will have loses. I know for a fact that the fruits will survive at least 4 days in the mail in an insulated box with a cold pack, but then shipping gets expensive.

Second best, at least for the neurite growth promoting compounds is an aqueous solution. I can't remember the reference, but I found it in an article discussing growing Lion's Mane in tropical climate. Mycelium extract is better than fruiting body extracts, and luckily setting up a mycelium farm is way easier that a fruiting body farm. The solution will lose potency over time, the fresher the better.

In last place are dried preparations.

If you feel like you need solid numbers, I would recommend paying for one analysis from one of your best batches, just to make sure that you are getting some of the compounds you want, and trust that you are doing a good job.
posted by Dr. Curare at 2:00 PM on November 18, 2020 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks all, I was pretty sure this was the answer but just wanted to see.

Dr. Curare, yes, those are the compounds I'm seeking. I love to eat them and do at least three times a week along with a daily dose of double extract made using alcohol and hot water, but my mom isn't a fan of mushrooms so I've been sending her the extract. Eating is definitely my preferred method!

The problem I'm having is the dearth of consistent information about the process, which leads me to believe that I may be either extracting too long in the alcohol or maybe it's the right amount, I've heard conflicting accounts of two to four weeks. As of now I dry them at about 100f (they hold so much water that they'll mold if I let them dry naturally), grind them into a fine powder, put them in alcohol for a month, press the alcohol into a container, then the squeezed mushroom powder goes to a crock pot for 6 hours with twice the amount of water than alcohol.

Thanks again, I appreciate your experience with this subject!
posted by dozo at 2:58 PM on November 18, 2020

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