The Magical World of Mushrooms

The Magical World of Mushrooms

"Mushroom mycelium represents rebirth, rejuvenation, regeneration. Fungi generate soil that gives life. The task that we face today is to understand the language of Nature. My mission is to discover the language of the fungal networks that communicate with the ecosystem. And I for one believe that Nature is intelligent." - Paul Stamets

The fungi kindgom is truly one of the most fascinating components of life on Earth. The magical healing powers of mushroom & mycelium is so expansive & applicable to all of life. Fungi belong to neither plant nor human kingdoms, they reside on their own, and share more DNA with humans than plants. One of the most recognized and prized mycologists, Paul Stamets, is an encyclopedia of knowledge when it comes to the world of fungi. I highly suggest you take a few minutes to watch one of my favorite talks of his: six ways mushrooms can save the world. You'll begin to understand why mushrooms are just so darn awesome.

For any newcomers to this subject, the mushroom itself is the fruit of mycelium, much like a pear is to a pear tree or cherry to a cherry tree. It is actually the mycelium that comprises most of fungus - a thin, web-like substance that resides just below the surface of our soils. Mycelium is the cellular foundation & informational highway of our food webs; this underground network is literally creating the soil that the rest of life depends upon. Fun fact: the largest organism ever recorded was a network of mycelium that ran itself across 2,200 acres amongst the soils & trees of Oregon's Malheur National Forest.

Foraging morels at my farm in southwest Wisconsin

Mushrooms and mycelium based products are potent natural healers. I am a firm believer that in nature resides all medicines for mankind to be free from disease. And fungus is certainly one of the most well-studied & recognized medicinals from our very own Mother Earth. Fungi offer a wide spectrum of health benefits including anti-tumor, antioxidant, antiviral & antimicrobial, they help ease depression & anxiety, and are full of enzymes to assist us in preventing, achieving or maximizing our state of health. Due to mycelium's pre-digesting abilities, the consumption of mushroom & mycelium also aids in digestion & helps promote beneficial bacteria deep within our microbiome. 

In addition to helping heal the human body, mushrooms are becoming widely recognized for their ability to heal our environment. It is so fascinating and in some ways overwhelming to grasp all the crucial roles fungus takes on >>> check out this fun info art on mycoremediation. Nature rules. 

So what does all this mean for you, for me, for all us? 

It means that we should be getting down with more fungus. I know plenty of people who LOVE mushrooms and plenty who are simply repulsed by them. The great news for those who are repulsed is you can still reap the benefits of mushroom healing powers without having to actually eat them. Nowadays there exists tinctures, teas, elixirs, and capsuled supplements to make shrooms that much more accessible.

One of the companies making this possible is Four Sigmatic, founded by a group of Finnish men who are passionate about all things fungi and what they contribute to the health of the planet and humans. The men behind Four Sigmatic all left their corporate jobs to dedicate themselves to bettering the lives of others through an easily consumable superfood mushroom product; their mission to find the smallest thing people could add to their current diet to produce the biggest impact on their health. And with that, Four Sigmatic has created drinkable mushroom blends, elixirs, and other beverage powders that are truly delightful.  

While I absolutely love eating mushrooms, the idea of drinking mushrooms didn't sound too enticing until I tried these products. All elixirs and the princess blend pictured above are very enjoyable; I have been sipping on them hot or chilled, but mostly chilled because the summer's heat is becoming a bit much for hot drinks. There are minimal ingredients in all products, with just a touch of sweetness added to a few, in the form of stevia.

Below are a few beneficial properties I wanted to highlight on the four mushroom exilirs pictured above. There is such amazing information documented about mushrooms, I can't even begin to cover it all! And you aren't here to read a scientific article, so I whittled it down to the following key points.

Chaga

Chaga is an adaptogen, meaning that it is non-specific and mediates a range of problematic areas; when consumed the body directs the adaptogen to whatever is needing most attention. The beneficial properties of chaga are quite vast including antiviral, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant. In ancient Siberia it was referred to as "Gift from the Gods". Chaga produces a compound called SOD {superoxide dismutase}; for anyone who doesn't share my nerdy love for chemistry, suffice to say this is an important compound in assisting the body to utilize minerals and repair damaged cells. Chaga is an excellent immunity booster so drink up to help fight the flu, a cold, or other pesky viruses.

Cordyceps

Cordyceps is a mushroom known for its ability to produce a steady supply of energy (without the associated crash like our friend caffeine does), improves aerobic capacity & speeds up recovery. Cordyceps has also been linked with tackling fatigue & muscle weakness and improving mental energy. This is an excellent blend for all the athletes out there... or anyone who just needs that extra support with muscle recovery from exercise. 

Lion's Mane

Lion's mane is your go-to elixir for enhancing concentration and cognitive performance. It has also been associated with preventing & repairing nerve damage. Sip on this while studying, conquering a long paper, or just looking for better focus. With all the distractions we are subject to these days, this is a win-win for most everyone regardless of what your lifestyle is. 

Reishi

Needing a little help to wind down at the end of the day? This reishi elixir is an excellent choice as it helps lower cortisol levels, while enhancing & increasing deep sleep. Reishi is also an adaptogen and has been shown to lower anxiety, lower blood pressure, and ease trauma & emotional stress. In other words, it calms you the you-know-what down, something most people I know could use more of. I have enjoyed having this elixir in place of the other popular nighttime herb, chamomile, as I can only handle chamomile in small doses. 

What I love about these elixirs is they target some of the most common needs of most people: energy, focus, immunity support, overall wellness & relaxation. And coming in single serving size packets make them easy to travel with, take to work, or stash in your car/purse/bag, etc. 

If you are interested in giving these products a try, check out Four Sigmatic for a complete list of their offerings. You can choose from elixirs, hot cacao mix, smoothie blends & even a lemonade. 

And for those who like to save some moolah while improving their health (who wouldn't?!) use the coupon code enjoythisorganiclife to receive 15% off your order! 

Happy shrooming, folks!