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Wunderground’s Guide to Medicinal Mushrooms

History of Mushrooms

Mushrooms are foundational to life on Earth.  Beginning of story.

Their little army was the first kingdom to inhabit the land portion of our planet, arriving hundreds of millions of years before plants. Sorry, plants. The mushroom mycelium networks (the roots that grow underground) are an essential part of our ecosystem. They share similar DNA to humans, take in oxygen and give off carbon dioxide, just like we do. Mushrooms break down waste and recycle nutrients back into the soil. They provide a vital communication network between all plants big and small. In fact, they are the key indicator to the overall health of a forest. If you don’t see mushrooms on the forest floor, run! Not really. Well, maybe.

The benefits of medical mushrooms are documented in some of the oldest surviving Chinese materia medica, which is a fancy way of saying “things written down about medicine.” In them, the Reishi mushroom was referred to as the most superior medicinal substance in comparison to all plants. They called it the mushroom of immortality. All hail, Reishi! Mushrooms are a huge part of Eastern culture and have been consumed to improve overall health and immunity for centuries. The West is just now waking up to the powers of medicinal or adaptogenic mushrooms, mostly because we were distracted by microwave popcorn.

 

What are medicinal mushrooms?

Benefits: What mushrooms can do for you

All mushrooms serve a function, either as nourishment or part of the ecosystem. Medicinal (sometimes called functional or adaptogenic) mushrooms work best as part of a daily routine. Eat, sleep, mushroom, repeat. Peoples’ belief in mushrooms supports overall wellness, including brain function, immunity and emotional calm and well-being. Mushrooms contain beneficial polysaccharides, known as beta-glucans. Most contain beneficial triterpenes as well (it’s all in the extraction!). Each medicinal mushroom has a different positive effect. Most are potent antioxidants and create homeostasis, or balance in the body and our immune system. Yay!

 

Are these the same as magic or “psychedelic” mushrooms?

These are not the type of magic mushrooms you are thinking of.

Medicinal mushrooms do not contain psilocybin, the psychoactive ingredient found in “magic” mushrooms. The medical community sees great promise from psilocybin in the treatment of depression, anxiety, PSD and other mental health issues. The minor barrier is they are totally illegal. Wunderground is a big supporter of decriminalization and legalization efforts as consideration for mental wellness. 

 

How much should I consume and how often? 

The ideal amount of medicinal mushrooms one should consume each day would depend on one's general health status and individual health goals. For overall everyday support, 1000mg of a whole mushroom powder (typically found in capsules) is adequate for most folks. Wunderground mushrooms are much more concentrated than other extracts (8:1 and 15:1 concentrations, respectively), some are dual extracted, which brings benefits of triterpenes and therefore more efficacious. Higher doses can help with specific imbalance in the body or during excess stress.

 

Can I have too many mushrooms?

Mushrooms are food and have been consumed as both food and as medicine for many moons. That being said, mushrooms are extremely safe in very high amounts, even in amounts 10 times higher than what is found in one of our servings. Like anything, one can overdo it. Side effects likely being a belly ache, similar to eating too many bon bons. 

 

Can my kids have mushrooms?

Yes, mushrooms are a multigenerational food group. They’re safe for kids and great great great grandparents and all people in between. In fact, we believe kids who eat mushrooms are much more likely to become great great great grandparents.  

 

Why Coffee and Mushrooms together? 

Mushroom + Coffee = One heck of a morning

Good quality coffee has a lot of benefits, such as high levels of protective antioxidants. Coffee also gives us a jolt of energy and supports motivation and focus. A drawback for some people is excess coffee consumption can put the nervous and hormonal systems into a constant state of stress. Jitter city. So we paired our high quality, antioxidant-rich coffee with medicinal mushrooms. Adding our mushrooms to coffee ensures the body stays supported and in balance, meaning non-twitchy, long-lasting energy, without the afternoon crash.

Fun fact: Humans get most of their antioxidants from coffee!*

 

What to look for when making purchase decisions around medicinal mushrooms?

Not all mushrooms are created equally.  We see the best benefits from the following...

 

Grown on natural wood substrate. In nature, most functional mushrooms grow on decomposing wood. To get the most beneficial compounds, it’s important we mimic the growing patterns of wild mushrooms.

Fruiting Body. The fruiting body is the actual mushroom and where the most beneficial compounds live. Many companies use mycelium (the mushroom root that lives underground) grown on other substrates like rice or grain. Then they grind them up with the grain and powderize them. Blech. That mushroom supplement ends up being more starch than mushroom. Mycelium is amazing for the soil, the plants and for our mystical world. But the fruiting body is what contains the most beneficial compounds for human bodies.

Organic. We believe in always choosing organic mushrooms, wherever they come from. Many mushrooms come from China, where the threat of pesticides, herbicides and heavy metals is often greater. Not being scary, just being fact-y. Read labels, we do, and it’s worth it.

Extraction Method & Concentration: Look for concentrations in extraction. Concentrated extracts are more than a mushroom powder as described earlier (the Blech part). Concentrated extracts, such as an 8:1, means that for every 8 pounds of mushroom, you end up with one pound of extracted material. Dual vs. single extraction, you ask? Well, if we may lead the witness a little bit… Some mushrooms do well with a hot water extract, which offers a plethora of beneficial polysaccharides, such as beta glucans. Others, in addition to the beta glucans, have beneficial compounds known as triterpenes. These are best made available with an alcohol extract. “Dual extract” means the mushroom has been extracted using hot water as well as using alcohol. It is also occasionally called double awesome.

Testing: At Wunderground, we make sure that all of our mushroom extractions are the highest quality by testing their moisture, ash, pesticides, heavy metals, active ingredients and microbiology. They are already certified organic, we just need to certify them Wunderground.

 

*APA citation: Coffee is number one source of antioxidants (2005, August 29) retrieved 24 May 2021 from https://phys.org/news/2005-08-coffee-source-antioxidants.htm