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  • Writer's pictureMary Shackelton, MPH, ND

Mushroom Craze

Updated: May 10, 2023



I am nuts for mushrooms right now. I just finished a great book called Healing Mushrooms by Tero Isokauppila, who is a 13th generation Finnish farmer...thirteenth! This book is fantastic if you like mushrooms and want to know a little more. The movie “ Fantastic Funghi” is a must watch if you are the slight bit interested in mycology- the study of mushrooms. Fungi have their own kingdom like the plant and animal kingdom but it is bigger in terms of the number of species it includes. That’s something.


I am fascinated by mushrooms in general. Did you know that mushrooms communicate in the forests and wherever they grow by laying down a mycelium on the forest floor— this network of roots and material allows all plants and mushrooms in the vicinity to communicate and share nutrients when necessary with another deficient plant or tree? This allows them to donate nutrients, moisture and more to each other for their optimal vitality.


The facts never stop surprising me: Chaga or Czaga mushrooms grow on Birch trees in Siberia, and the temperature must get down to minus 30 degrees in the winter for them to thrive. The Birch trees with the chaga mushrooms growing on them are the ones that survive the winter. Woah. Not only that, a mushroom known as Armillaria ostoyae (otherwise known as, the Humongous Fungus) is the largest living organism on Earth, covering over 2,385 acres (almost 4 square miles) of the Malheur National Forest in Oregon.


Mushrooms are the original superfood – they boost immunity, increase energy, improve cognitive function and memory, decrease inflammation, improve sleep, decrease stress, and so much more.


Mushrooms can be used alone or in combination for the treatment of viral infections, cancer, autoimmune conditions, inflammation, dementia and much more.


They can often be misunderstood or shrouded in mystery as we have all heard a legendary tale about someone getting sick or even dying from eating the wrong mushroom. Then there are the psychedelic kind. What other food on this earth could induce a hallucination experience or help you connect to the cosmos? There is some evidence that our ancestors consumed psychedelic mushrooms which contributed to an increase in neural networks in the brain advancing intelligence.


The more common mushrooms you can find in your local produce department will do nicely for boosting Vitamin D, biotin, pantothenic acid, selenium, copper, and riboflavin levels. In addition to the nutrients that mushrooms have, there are numerous other benefits.


For example, for years I have watched my patients suffering with Lyme Disease replenish their neurons with Lion’s Mane, citing that they have better energy and less brain fog. Others claim that it gets them through their afternoon slump, and they can stay focused at work. Here are a few of the other benefits of these powerful fungi:


Reishi

• Helps deep sleep

• Adaptogenic – stress reducer

• Support for seasonal allergies

• Lowers blood pressure

• Stabilizing blood sugar


Chaga

• Immune support

• Beta glucans boost white blood cells

• Potent antioxidant

• Geno protective (protects genes)

• Anti-viral

• Anti-bacterial

• Anti-fungal


Lion’s Mane

• Memory

• Cognition

• Sustained focus

• Protects Nervous System


Cordyceps

• Sustained energy

• Reduce fatigue

• Athletic performance

• Alleviate Bronchitis/Asthma


There are many products on the market now that make it easy to get these extracts in one’s diet every single day. Adding a little Chaga whole plant extract to your daily coffee is a way of getting these powerful mushrooms into your diet. Reishi tucks me in every night, and I usually try to get a Lion’s Mane in one other time of the day. I have been putting them in my smoothies, adding them to tea, or drinking straight up with a little Ripple (plant based half and half). Of course, it is also fun to try each of the varieties of mushrooms at the grocery store: shitake, maitake, enokii, and oyster are all delicious additions to any meal.


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