How to Find the Best Tonic Herbs (Organic vs Wildcrafted)

Posted by Daniel Whitechurch on

Teelixir How to find the best tonic herbs superfood medicinal mushrooms certified organic vs wildcrafted wild extract powdersThe rumours were true. Teelixir is going certified organic! After months of tenuous planning (and leaking Jing) we are very excited to start rolling out our brand new range of Australian Certified Organic products including biggest sellers Ashwagandha root powderReishi mushroom, Chaga mushroom, and Cordyceps mushroom.

It's been an important goal for us to offer certified organic medicinal mushrooms at Teelixir, and now, one of our proudest achievements.

For many years, we believed that “certified organic” herbs could not be sourced from China. The understanding was that the certified organic system had not been extensively implemented throughout the country. We often asked ourselves, would it ever be possible to find a certified organic source?

We know that China produces the best quality tonic herbs in the world, they’ve been doing so for centuries so we knew the same level of quality did not exist anywhere else.

Medicinal mushrooms are notorious for being difficult to source, especially certified organic.

We could have easily opted for the lab-grown mushroom extracts that are certified organic but these varieties are mostly mycelium grown on grain products made in the USA. And if you know your mushrooms, you know that mycelium on grain (MOG) products are cheap, inferior in quality, and lack the efficacy and medicinal potency that we are all looking for.

If you want the best you have to look for the mushroom fruiting body extracts that are only grown on logs at high altitudes and contain zero residual grain in the final product.

Identifying parts of a mushroom is not always easy but it's important to note that the most health benefits of mushrooms are concentrated in the fruiting body.

There’s a good reason why China produces over 80% of the world’s mushroom supply, they have always produced the best!

We held out hope for years searching for certified organic mushrooms. We believed in the impossible and now we have found the gold.

Teelixir is proud to be Australia’s first retail supplier of Australian certified organic medicinal mushroom extracts.

Teelixir ACO Certified Organic mushrooms extract powder Australia

What's the Certified Organic Difference?

The Australian Certified Organic (ACO) standard is one of the most respected and rigorous standards for organic production in the world. The ACO outlines a number of different criteria that help us define the important differences and the true meaning of certified organic. Excerpt from

Whole systems approach. Organics is not just “chemical free”. It is a whole systems or holistic means of growing and handling food. The whole system is linked – Soil. Plants. Animals. Food. People. Environment.

Friendlier. Certified Organic products are grown and processed without the use of synthetic chemicals, fertilisers, or GMO’s.

Innovative. Organic is an innovative method of farming and production – and is increasingly being recognised as being on the leading edge of food and fibre technology.

Market advantage. Educated consumers are happy to pay a fair price for the guarantee that the organic produce they purchase is supporting farmers who aim towards ecologically sustainable practices – looking after the environment we all share. The only way you can be assured you are buying genuine, organic products are to purchase those certified by Australian Certified Organic.

The science confirms that organic foods are better for our health. Organic foods are cleaner and proven to be more nutrient-dense than conventional grown and genetically modified foods. This is due to the absence of fertilisers, pesticides, herbicides, and other nasty chemical additives that occur during the entire farm to table process. The composition of organic soil is also higher in essential vitamins and minerals that a healthy human body needs to thrive.

Is wildcrafted better?

There is a lot of debate about wildcrafted foods and if they are “better" than organically cultivated foods, for a few reasons.

The term "wildcrafted" refers to any food that is harvested wild in nature without any human interference or cultivation. That is the definition of "true wild" foods.

Have you ever found stinging nettle growing in your backyard? Unless you planted it yourself, that nettle is most likely wild. Have you ever been walking through the forest and come across a big blackberry bush? Did you pick any blackberries? If so, you just scored yourself some wild blackberries, wildcrafted straight from Mother Nature. Do you get it? Yup.

Herbalists often agree that wildcrafted foods are more nutrient-dense and carry increased life force energy than their organically cultivated counterparts.

"Generations of herbalists have emphasized the quality of wild versus cultivated plants. This bias was not based on plant constituency, which is often higher in cultivated species, but rather on the energetics of wild plants. There is a spirit, and energy inherent in wild things, both fauna and flora, that is apparent to anybody who has visited the last remaining wilderness areas of this country. That essence is hard, if not impossible to capture."
~ Planting the Future: Saving our Medicinal Herbs by Rosemary Gladstar

Wildcrafted foods are also thought to be more “adaptogenic” in effect.

In order to survive, they must endure the constant and unpredictable changes in their environments- the harsh weather conditions, competing plants, insects and other predators etc.

The wildcrafted foods living in these stressful natural conditions are said to be endowed with greater strength and adaptability which makes for a herb with more vital energy.

Unfortunately, there isn’t a solid regulatory body like the ACO that can determine what is true wildcrafted and what is not.

In most cases, wildcrafted foods fall into a category of a growing type that makes it challenging for them to be classified as “organic.”

This is because they're not cultivated, even though their growing methods would deem them certified organic. However, it is possible.

Check out the new certified organic wild Chaga mushroom.

Teelixir ACO Certified Organic Wild Chaga mushroom extract powder Australia

There is only wildcrafted Chaga mushroom

For many tonic herb and mushroom species, it is only possible to source them directly from the wild. Chaga mushroom (Inonotus obliquus) is one of those species. The best quality and most scientifically studied Chaga mushroom is found growing on birch trees.

OK, you can cultivate Chaga mushroom in a laboratory but there are many reasons why you do not want that.

As we mentioned, many functional mushroom products on the market today are cheap and ineffective mycelium grown on grain.

Tests have shown that mycelium on grain (MOG) products have far less of the valuable compounds such as beta-glucans (polysaccharides), triterpenes, and ergosterols than the wild or log grown mushroom fruiting body extracts. Furthermore, lab-grown mushrooms (MOG) cannot produce the same compounds as they do in their natural environment.

Chaga mushroom is found growing almost exclusively on its favourite food source, birch trees.

Birch trees contain important precursor compounds such as the triterpenoid betulin which Chaga draws from the tree and converts into betulinic acid, inotodiol, and trametenolic acid.

Lab-grown Chaga mushroom, on the other hand, is usually cultivated on some kind of grain substrate (MOG), and therefore, it cannot produce the same triterpenoid compounds without the presence of the birch trees precursors.

This results in an inferior Chaga product lacking a wide range of constituents that can only be found in wild-harvested Chaga.

The triterpenoids in Chaga offer incredible health-promoting potential. These compounds are part of the reason why Chaga is so famous as an ancient health tonic and anti-aging superfood. Therefore, the best Chaga mushroom is wildcrafted from birch trees.

Teelixir offers other true wild tonic herbs including Schizandra berry and Pine Pollen. These herbs have all been proven, like Chaga mushroom, to be the most effective, sustainable, and economical when collected in their wild form.

The bad side of wildcrafting

Wildcrafting may be a better option for some tonic herbs, however, there are significant economic and environmental challenges with the improper practise of other wildcrafted herbs, especially with regards to other superfood mushrooms like Reishi and Cordyceps.

The economical heights of wildcrafted herbs.

Wildcrafted herbs are generally more expensive because there is far less to source in the wild. The lack of wild material along with increasing consumer demand makes it difficult for manufacturers to supply these herbs consistently on a mass scale.

Teelixir Wild Reishi Mushroom Ganoderma lucidum

True wildcrafted Reishi mushroom (Ganoderma lucidum) for example, can fetch hundreds or even thousands (depending on the age of the fruiting body- older is always more expensive.) of dollars per kilogram! Why is it so expensive?

Because genuine wild Reishi is extremely rare!

To give you an idea of how rare it actually is, if you’re lucky, you might find one tree for every 10,000 trees (dead or living) growing wild Reishi mushroom. Even then, your discovery would need to be made at the right time when the fruiting body (the part that looks like a mushroom) is healthy and ready for collection. Not too early, not too late.

Cordyceps mushroom is the most expensive herb in the world.

Teelixir Wild Cordyceps Sinensis Tibet

In Asia, wild Cordyceps mushroom (Ophiocordyceps sinensis) is so rare and highly regarded that it's worth more than gold. It's the most expensive herb in the world and costs in excess of $20,000 per kilogram.

The wild Cordyceps industry is also fraught with inauthentic material and corruption. The high dollar value invites a lot of fraudulent material on to the market which makes it even more challenging to source genuine wild Cordyceps. It’s very hard to tell the difference between wild and fake Cordyceps.

There is also a major global shortage of Cordyceps Sinensis due to the over-harvesting, unsustainable collection practices, and increasing damage to the environment.

The best quality and most highly sought Cordyceps Sinensis are found growing in the Tibetan Himalayas.

With the popularity of these medicinal herbs continually on the rise, all wild resources growing in these regions are under serious threat due to excessive over-harvesting. The Chinese government (who controls the Cordyceps industry) may need to ban the harvest for a year or more to ensure the survival of future crops. In the years to come, specialists say that they could simply disappear.

The impossible price point plus the inauthenticity surrounding the wild Cordyceps industry make it extremely difficult to source and sell genuine wild Cordyceps on a mass scale. For these reasons alone, it's virtually unviable economically to sell to consumers.

Would you pay $1000 for 50 grams of Cordyceps when there’s a 50/50 chance that it may not be real?

The Cordyceps CS-4 Solution

Unlike other superfood mushrooms, scientists have not discovered how to grow Cordyceps sinensis fruiting bodies successfully.

But they have found another way of cultivation that's more affordable and does not impact the environment.

Today, modern “fermentation” technology can grow the Cordyceps mycelium in big liquid tanks to produce large quantities of this cultivated Cordyceps sinensis, very quickly and at a far less expense. This product is known as CS-4.

Studies have shown that the cultivated variety (CS-4) shares similar nutritional benefits and a chemical profile closely related to the wild Cordyceps sinensis. CS-4 is considered just as potent and efficacious. Given that CS-4 can be produced in a lab, it is clean and doesn’t have any negative impact on the environment.

Also, Cordyceps CS-4 is 100% vegan.

Refer more to tonic herbs to repair liver.

Wild Cultivation is the Reishi Mushroom Solution

Teelixir Wild Cultivated Semi-wild Reishi Mushroom Farm China

What is "wild” cultivation?

Many herbal farmers throughout China recognised the value and importance of the role the wild environment plays in producing the best quality tonic herbs and natural food medicines. Over decades they’ve ingeniously developed a wild cultivation system (also known as semi-wild) that produces herbs of similar quality and potency as the true wild material. These wild cultivation methods also have a significantly lower environmental impact, cost less, and can be produced at a mass scale.

Wild cultivated herbs are grown from seed (or spore) that are placed in a natural environment (a mountain forest or a desert, for example) and allowed to grow naturally without human interference.

The wild cultivation process simulates the growing conditions of the true wild Reishi mushroom where it can accumulate food and energy naturally. It’s also exposed to the extreme natural conditions that enhance adaptability.

The exciting news is science has shown these methods of wild cultivation produce herbs with a chemical profile closely similar to the true wild material. The quality is consistent and often better than the wildcrafted varieties.

Differences between "true wild" and "wild cultivated" herbs

Let’s make it clear. Wild cultivated herbs are not true wild herbs but they're as close as we’re going to get. Wild cultivation is the next best thing.

In ancient times, superfood mushrooms were so highly sought after that they were only available to the emperor and other ruling members of society. They outlawed the supply from the lower classes for their own consumption. Leaders wanted to ensure that they would live long, be strong, healthy, and become more effective rulers of their dynasties. The rulers understood how valuable these herbs were as overall life-enhancing and anti-aging superfoods.

Fortunately for us, many centuries later and with the introduction of wild cultivation farming, we now have access to these widely popular tonic herbs at the same level of quality that was once only reserved for kings and queens.

Wild cultivation makes it possible to produce tonic herbs consistently at a high quality and on par (or better) than the wild material. More importantly, wild cultivation makes it economically viable for large-scale production which means we have access to these potent superfoods at an affordable price.

Teelixir Wildcrafted herbs Forests

Pros and cons of wildcrafting.

The dark sides of the industry and the few pitfalls of wildcrafting need be mentioned, however, if practised correctly the positives of wildcrafting significantly outweigh the negatives.

Wildcrafting is a truly wonderful herbal art form and a craft that demands respect. If performed, it must be pursued with intelligence, understanding, and with a great appreciation for nature and the environment. When practised properly, wildcrafting should never exploit or damage wild food communities, but instead, it should support and enhance them.

Let it be known that we are big proponents of wildcrafted foods and we try to incorporate wild foods into our diet every day. You should too. You can start by buying wild greens and berries available in your local health food store. Most farmers markets will also offer locally wild-harvested fruits and vegetables.

Be conscious. Be aware.

A lot of herbal products on the market today make the “wildcrafted” claim. However, many do not use genuine true wild ingredients but their elevated prices remain the same. Like a lot of the misinformation coming out in the health and nutrition world, this is very misleading, frustrating, and confusing for consumers.

It’s important that we do due diligence and ask questions so we can make the best-informed purchasing decisions for the health of ourselves and our family.

Organic is the future!

Unfortunately, every day the world is becoming increasingly more toxic.

The more people who wake up to this reality and recognise the dire situation that humans have created, the sooner we can move forward and make positive changes for the future. The solutions are here and the technologies are available to help us undo the damage that has been caused. All we need to do is take action.

Going organic is really the way forward for every industry in our society. A new standard must be set!

As Teelixir continues to grow, we will strive to find better solutions to become a more ethical and environmentally responsible brand for the health of our planet and all its inhabitants. We are always open to new suggestions and want you to be a part of this mission with us!

Certified organic mushrooms now available at Teelixir

Our goal is to provide the highest quality mushroom extracts that are produced in an ethical and sustainable manner, low heavy metal verified, toxin-free, and promote the wellbeing of your health and the planet.

We’re incredibly grateful that we have access to both true wild and wild cultivated certified organic mushrooms. Check out the new organic Chaga mushroom, Reishi mushroom, and Cordyceps mushroom online and in a store near you.

More to be announced in the future!


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