People like to ask me questions about supplements. I’ve answered thousands of questions over the years, and it’s safe to say the most common questions fall along similar lines: How to boost energy levels/ make you feel younger/ more attractive/ and usher in world peace. (Ok most people don’t bring up the world peace thing, and that’s just sad).
I use to offer short-lived herbal solutions to most issues. Fatigue problems can be temporarily remedied with herbs like Rhodiola or anti-aging supplements like Resveratrol. Nothing was ever a long-term solution. Up until early last year I thought this very common request was totally absurd. I assumed if a product seemed too good to be true, it was. Then, I discovered I didn’t know much about mushrooms.
I’m not talking about the kind that makes the walls warble around, or makes you think Tori Amos is singing in your living room. I knew all about those from my sophomore year of college. I’m talking about medicinal mushrooms:
Mushrooms have been used since the dawn of human kind for food and medicine. They’re probably what Hippocrates was talking about when he said “Let thy food be thy medicine and they medicine thy food.”
While they have been commonly overlooked in modern times as the slimy portabella sandwich, medicinal mushrooms are experiencing a renaissance.
Mushrooms are typically used in their two parts, the fruiting body (as in the mushroom itself) and the mycelium (pronounced mahy-see-lee-uhm). Each species varies in preparation requirements (alcohol bath vs water bath or both) for optimal potency. Almost all types need to be heated for best results.
The Mycelium is the mushrooms brain, or Internet, to put it simply. It resembles the neurons and dendrites of our brain. I think it’s so pretty! Like our brains, Mycelium is also pretty smart. It senses disease, invaders, and other issues and sends electric like impulses through established channels within its system (1). Over 7,000 studies have been done on Mycelium alone, published since around 1900 (2). It is a subject unto itself.
But let’s get back t0 mushrooms.
Medicinal mushrooms contain polysaccharides (3), healing sugars that have antioxidant properties, which have been repeatedly shown to increase the amount of macrophage dependent immune system responses (4). Say what? Simply put, these eatables can literally shrink tumors and keep us living longer. But raspberries can do that, right? Sure, but we aren’t very closely related to raspberries, and we are to mushrooms. That alone has huge implications. So now that you know about this otherworldly solution to all of life’s problems, (except your dirty dishes), let’s talk about product.
Starting out as a student of Mycological supplementation, you may feel overwhelmed. Questions may arise like: Should I try a blend? Is a single species safer? Why the big difference in prices? Which brand is better? I like to recommend a blend that goes with just about everything: herbs, vitamins, and mushrooms alike. Blends mean a more custom fit for your cells. But single species are great, if you know what you’re doing.
Price differences predominately depend on the literal company structure. Larger companies like New Chapter tend to follow a Big Pharm model: Profit over gross quality product and marketing sparkle over full disclosure or honesty. While smaller companies like Mushroom Wisdom or Mushroom Science tend to stay in the Stone Age (yes, the typewriter was a good invention, but a MacBook Pro is much better). Also- if a company manufactures mushrooms but isn’t a mushroom company, it’s best to steer clear.
Christy’s Mushroom Company Recommendation:
So what is the MacBook Pro of the mushroom world? Host Defense is the answer.
The company is owned and run by Paul Stamets, a leading world renowned Mycologist for well over 30 years. Paul is the authority on mushrooms. He absolutely knows his stuff. Simply put, he uses the best manufacturing methods for the best results. So how does he know the best methods? Because he had to invent them, duh! Host Defense uses only lab-cultured mushrooms from very small tissue samples. There is no alteration of the natural environment whatsoever.
Paul’s home, farm, labs, and grow-rooms are located in one compound at the base of The Olympic National Rainforest in Olympia, WA. These mushrooms do not, nor ever will, come from China or various other unsafe sources. There is no co mingling in the Host Defense product line, which is very important.
‘What’s co mingling?’ you say? Oh, it just means that your mushrooms weren’t shipped from all around Asia inside of an aluminum box, in the heat, with some rotting bug guts, plastic, and other nasty bits. Remember, mushrooms are like sponges to toxins; they absorb everything. Yum!
Christy’s Brand Recommendation:
So now you know the best brand, but what’s the best product to start with? If you answered a mushroom blend, congrats, you’ve been paying attention.
My favorite product by Host Defense is Stamets 7. It’s Paul’s own blend and it contains 7 mushrooms for each of your 7 chakras. It’s best taken in the morning, about 30 before breakfast, so the polysaccharides can get to work uninhibited by food. I recommend starting with one capsule. If you’re not sensitive to new things, by all means take the serving size, 2 capsules. Also good to know, Paul’s company uses an organic mushroom derived capsule, which no other company uses. Those v-caps the other brands brag about are a DOW (cough. Monsanto! cough) patent. Just fyi, hydroxypropyl methylcellulose is pretty vile (5)(6). Hey kids, chemicals in supplements are bad! mmk?!
Stamets 7 will change your world.
Well, I can’t promise that, but I’ve never had someone tell me it didn’t. I’ve turned skeptics into believers with this product – it’s that amazing. I have had people with years of chronic fatigue feel balanced and awake within a few hours. People with chronic illness find they have no more headaches or sniffles. Coffee addicts abounding- this is the best way to quit that adrenal torturing crutch of yours. So there is a magic pill that you can take everyday to increase your energy, make you feel younger, and keep you healthy. Mushrooms are pretty cool.
The following 7 Species can be found in Stamets 7:
Royal Sun Blazea supports immunity and longevity. It’s been used to treat HIV, cancer, and liver disorders (7) .
Cordyceps drives nutrients and oxygen into your cells creating a boost of energy and blood flow (8).
Reishi calms the bodies Qi (aka lowers stress) and balances the system. It’s nourishing for the heart and supports longevity. There are numerous studies published on the effect of Reishi in the treatment of cancer (9).
Maitake contains beta-1,6 glucan with beta-1,3 branched chains and prevents the growth of abnormal cells (aka cancer). It also lowers blood pressure/hypertensive symptoms and helps with unhealthy cholesterol levels (10).
Lions Mane has been clinically proven to regrow dead neurological sites in the brain, improve memory, and nerve health. It’s also been shown to improve mood through these actions (11).
Chaga is a powerful antioxidant and is being studied in relation to healing the gut and intestines from chronic inflammation. It is also known to be anti bacterial and prevent allergic reactions (12).
Mesima is a potent anti viral, anti bacterial, and anti cancer mushroom, which support immunity and longevity (13).
I’ve been using Stamets 7 for about a year now. I don’t rely on coffee or tea to get going every day and I haven’t had a cold ‘latch on’ in forever. I feel great, I think faster, I breathe better, and oh yeah, I love this product. It retails for around $38 for one months supply at recommended doses.*
So now you know that mushrooms can change your life, go learn how they can change our world. Watch Pauls Video “Six ways mushrooms can change the world”. You can also go read more about medicinal mushrooms on the Pubmed website. If reading abstracts isn’t your thing, I encourage you to google Paul Stamets or watch his videos on YouTube. Paul also writes a blog for the Huffington post and has authored 6 books about mushrooms.* He is my only living hero.
1: Belozerskaya TA. Cell-to-cell communication in differentiation of mycelial fungi. Membr Cell Biol. 1998;11(6):831-40. Review. PubMed PMID: 9718578.
3: particularly mannoses, hexoses, arabinoses, glucoses, galactoses and fucoses
4: Ren L, Perera C, Hemar Y. Antitumor activity of mushroom polysaccharides: a review. Food Funct. 2012 Aug 6. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 22865023.
8: Panda AK, Swain KC. Traditional uses and medicinal potential of Cordyceps sinensis of Sikkim. J Ayurveda Integr Med 2011;2:9-13
10: Kabir Y, Yamaguchi M, Kimura S. Effect of shiitake (Lentinus edodes) and
maitake (Grifola frondosa) mushrooms on blood pressure and plasma lipids of
spontaneously hypertensive rats. J Nutr Sci Vitaminol (Tokyo). 1987
Oct;33(5):341-6. PubMed PMID: 3443885.
12: Park YK, Lee HB, Jeon EJ, Jung HS, Kang MH. Chaga mushroom extract inhibits
oxidative DNA damage in human lymphocytes as assessed by comet assay. Biofactors.
2004;21(1-4):109-12. PubMed PMID: 15630179.
For More on Paul Stamets see:
*Pauls books include: The Mushroom Cultivator; Growing Gourmet & Medicinal Mushrooms; Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World, and MycoMedicinals, An Informational Guide to Medicinal Mushrooms. All of which may be found on Amazon.com or through his website Fungi.com
Paul Stamets is not affiliated with Chakra Center, nor does he endorse this article or its author.
Christy Patton is Chakra Center’s savvy and experimental product reviewer. She is not a board certified medical doctor. This information is intended for educational purposes only.
*Please do not attempt to identify wild mushrooms as many are toxic and may cause permanent liver damage or possibly death.*