We assembled a panel of experts in naturopathic medicine, Traditional Chinese Medicine, Herbalism, and Mycology to explain the health benefits of adaptogenic mushrooms and their effects.
Adaptogen: A natural agent (usually an herb or mushroom) that has the ability to regulate and modulate the body's stress-response system and hormone production and flow (they address the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis). Adaptogens help the body "adapt" more easily to physical and emotional stresses when used daily over the long term.
View the video below to dive into the discussion about the health benefits of mushrooms as adaptogens. Jump to a particular topic using the timestamps below, or read through the transcript lower on this page.
7:00 - Mushrooms vs Herbs as adaptogens
11:00 - TCM perspective on specificity for selecting the right supplement + Self-regulation vs stimulation/sedation
13:00 - Supporting recovery for competitive athletes
15:00 - Adaptogens & bio-individuality: how the effect can change from person to person + Lack of quality and transparency in the medicinal mushroom market place
19:00 - Real Mushroom’s educational journey
21:00 - Topical use and other specific targeted applications + Ayurvedic perspective for personalization to specific constitutions
23:00 - Mycelium vs Fruiting Body Mycelium as the largest living organism on earth
27:00 - Hermetic perspective, the doctrine of signatures, and TCM for untangling the complexity of the human body + How different parts of plants serve different functions
32:00 - Bioenergetics and medicinal mushrooms
34:00 - Beta-glucan levels vs Alpha-glucan Cordyceps Sinensis, the most expensive mushroom in the world
39:00 - Reishi mushroom visual demonstration
40:00 - Labeling and misinformation in the medicinal mushroom market + The difference between mushrooms grown in a laboratory setting vs those grown in the wild
45:00 - Mushrooms as bioaccumulators: How the mushroom host impacts its function
47:00 - Mushrooms grown on higher density nutrient sources will naturally augment their active components
58:00 - Biofeedback and tuning into your body for improving self-regulation + Supplement selection + Acute vs cumulative effects of adaptogens + Dealing with internal vs external stress
1:01:00 - Using adaptogens as a preventive measure + Chaga for gut health
1:11:00 - Audience Q&A topics:
Effects of long term use vs cycling
Diabetes and blood sugar regulation
Dr. Mark Iwanicki - Naturopathic Doctor Dr. Mark Iwanicki is a board-certified naturopathic doctor and master of acupuncture currently practicing in New York City. Dr. Iwanicki went to undergrad at Cornell University and attended naturopathic medical school in Portland Oregon at the National University of Natural Medicine. As a co-founder of Innovative Medicine, Dr. Iwanicki has a passion for bringing awareness to the many innovative, natural medicine modalities being pioneered by Innovative Medicine to the wider world. In clinical practice, Dr. Iwanicki has a particular interest in working with autoimmune, environmental medicine, and gastrointestinal patients as well as supporting natural anti-aging and promoting natural aesthetics. For more information about Dr. Mark visit his website at http://www.drmarkiwanicki.com
Justin Ehrlich L.Ac - Licensed Acupuncturist & Doctor of TCM https://www.justinehrlich.com “Drawn to many of the mystical practices that originated in ancient China for most of my life, I’ve been a California state licensed acupuncturist since 2002 and a student of the Jade Purity branch of Daoism since 2001. After many years of questioning the nature of reality, and using these practices to work through my own struggles, heal old wounds, and find a deeper connection to the Divine, I’ve personally seen just how powerful and transformative this path can be. - It has been my blessing to hold space for the journey of my clients and students many times over and I’m constantly inspired by the strength and beauty of the human spirit.”
Don Ollsin - Herbal Mentor https://www.ollsinherbalism.com As a professional herbalist (one of only 250 in North America registered with the American Herbalists Guild - AHG), author and process-oriented educator since 1972, Don Ollsin now wishes to pass down the experience of his lifetime to a new generation of budding herbalists. Because of his love of the earth, his students, and teaching he is now offering a professional training service. This is for those who wish to learn the art and science of herbalism. In 2013 Don completed his MA in Environmental Education and Communication at Royal Roads University and is the author of Don is the author of Pathways To Healing: A Guide to Ayurveda, Herbs, Dreambody and Shamanism.
Skye Chilton - Owner and Founder of Real Mushrooms. Skye came into the mushroom industry by way of his father, Jeff Chilton. Jeff is the founder of Nammex, the leading supplier of organic mushrooms extract ingredients to supplement companies worldwide. Skye discovered that most competing supplement products marketed as mushrooms were actually myceliated grain and contained a lot of grain fillers. Consumers were being sold a fake product packaged with big claims of health improvement. He says, “I saw an opportunity to develop a product line based on the mushroom itself. My goal was to educate the public on how medicinal mushrooms are grown, what to look for in a medicinal mushroom product, and ensure that our products were consistent with the scientific research.”
Real Mushrooms is the leading provider of organic, whole-mushroom extracts with the highest standards of purity and potency. Adaptogenic mushroom products are effective for functional health support if the quality and concentration of the fungi fruiting-body are present. Real Mushrooms extracts (which come in either powder or capsule form), are trusted by health practitioners because of the rigorous standards they set for their products.
While our panel of experts focused the light on Reishi in particular, you can explore the variety of health supports that mushroom can offer by reading our article introducing you to 7 types of medicinal mushrooms and their benefits. Or, you can explore our lineup of mushroom extracts for purchase here.
Today's topic is adaptogens.
This is a really cool topic. Really topical one as well. I feel like there's so much in advertising, a lot of people are seeing things in the supplement industry about adaptogens. But it's really not very well understood, what it actually means, how it pertains to herbs versus adaptogenic mushrooms, all of these different questions. So I'm really excited that today we've got a panel of experts, different practitioners, people in different fields, who really have deep insight into what adaptogens mean and why this is so important. I'm gonna let you guys all kind of go around and introduce yourselves because there's more to it than I can do justice to right here. But just briefly we've got Dr. Mark Iwanicki, who's a board certified naturopathic doctor, master acupuncturist. Justin Ehrlich, acupuncturist and doctor of traditional Chinese medicine. We've got Don Ollsin with us, who's a master herbalist and earth scientist. And of course we have Skye Chilton, who's the founder and creator of Real Mushrooms.
- It's Chilton.
- Chilton, thank you. So we have interesting different perspectives. And what I like is that everyone on this call has a real wide scope of vision. A lot of people tend to narrow in and focus on one specific aspect of their practice or their craft. Every one of you, I know, has really kind of expanded outward in a way, almost done the opposite, and has kind of a big picture view. So I'd like to just go around. We can go right in that order starting with you, Mark. Just give us a little bit of background and anything you wanna say as it pertains to the topic.
- Yes, I'm a naturopathic doctor and a master acupuncturer. I went to school at NUNM in Portland, Oregon. So kinda close to you guys up there, up near the Pacific Northwest, love that area. My experience with adaptogens is more, mostly adrenal adaptogens and using more Western herbs. I have a lot of experience with Ashwagandha, Rhodiola, Eleuthero, using minerals and B vitamins to kind of help modulate the adrenal glands, even use some low-dose pharmaceuticals and DHA, pregnenolone to kind of effect the adrenal glands. That's kinda my perspective. I've used some Cordyceps, and I really like Cordyceps. I've seen some really magical things with myself and with patients, but I'm a little bit, I would say, a little bit more of a newbie to adaptogenic mushrooms I'm familiar with their use as immune modulators, used in that way. But I'm excited to be part of this panel, kind of hear from you guys, hear a little bit more about the perspective of using adaptogenic mushrooms as adrenal adaptogens, immune modulators. I'm excited to hear from you guys and learn more.
- Yeah, yeah, awesome, likewise. Justin.
- Yes, so I am a practicer of Chinese medicine, classical Chinese medicine. And so my perspective comes in with the use of mushrooms, or based on this integration of the sort of macrocosm, microcosm perspective of, okay, it helps the specific organ to adapt. The lungs, or the kidneys, or the heart. But then there are bigger implications for what that means for the body and the system as a whole, which is part of the richness of what Chinese medicine has to offer in terms of that bigger picture of health, and how to really support the entirety of the physical body, and as well the emotional and mental body. And mushrooms, of course, are a huge part of Chinese medicine, and most of the mushrooms we get are from East Asia, from China, basically. Sort of originally in their use. So there's a lot of rich information for how to use them in that way.
- Yeah, yeah, and we're gonna get into that especially with mushrooms coming from China, what it means for something to be high quality, and kind of why that matters, particularly in this field. So, Don, yeah, give us a little bit of your background.
- So this is the Ganoderma applanatum, and it's called the artist's conk. So it's probably hard to see in the light, but you can draw on this. So being up Pacific Northwest, it's kind of one of, this was given to me by a beautiful ethnobotanist named Nancy Turner, who worked at the University of British Columbia. It was my first introduction to Reishi, it was probably back in 1986. And the other thing is that I've grown the Reishis, and I think that it's really fun when you can get to know your plants directly. Because one of the perspectives that I bring is that mushrooms are sentient beings and that we can have a relationship with the mushroom. And so we tend to focus on the fruit, which is very important and the part we use medicinally, but the mother is the mycelium that is in the host itself. And so I literally teach attunement. So I'll take my students, and have since 1980's, to the forest. And I will introduce them to the mushrooms and we may even do, sort of, an attunement to the energy of the mushroom. So that's looking at the living energetic aspect of it. But following on Justin's, I definitely practice Ayurveda and the energetics. So that's something I'll talk about further when it's my turn. Yeah, that's mostly, and just the relationship. Like I have a Reishi growing on a willow and so I have relationship to both plants. And so I love that kind of combination of the anti-inflammatory for resentment willow and then the Reishi is right there as a part of that energetics. So I'm kind of looking more into the deeper relationship of the actual mushroom in the environment that we live in.
- Yeah, that sounds awesome. I'm excited to learn more about that as well 'cause just on a, call it a philosophic level, it kind of makes sense that there's all of these different relationships that really need to be considered, right? And I think it's so important when dealing with a complex adaptive system like the human body, how in modern medicine, modern medical practice, we've gotten used to, with all the specialties, breaking the body down and looking at all of these individual components, the heart, the liver, the lungs, the various functions. And sometimes almost forgetting that they're part of this bigger system, right?
- And the other thing that I'll speak to later, is the extracellular matrix. So that's the ground regulating system of the body wherein all, everything goes into the matrix. And the matrix is actually, I think, the place that adaptogens really work. Because that's the only part of our body that's in touch with every other part of our body.
- Yeah, let's definitely come back to that. So, Mark, I wanna bring it back to you for a sec. 'Cause I think you posed a good question that you shared with me a little bit earlier, which is maybe just talking about the difference between herbal adaptogens and adaptogenic mushrooms. And herbs that you mentioned, for an example, are just things like Ashwagandha, ginseng. I think the ones that people think of, that come to mind most readily when they think of an adaptogen.
- Yeah, so clinically that's how I've used them for people with chronic fatigue or fatigue-related chronic illness, chronic illness-related fatigue. They come in and we, I have looked at blood hormones, looking at cortisol, at DHA, and at pregnenolone, examining those values and then trying something like an Ashwagandha or Rhodiola and seeing how those values change and how the patient starts feeling better. They feel more energetic. They feel more balanced and overall their health is improving. So that's been my kind of use, more maybe Western kind of clinical use of adaptogens. And I've had really good success with those herbs. But, yeah, I would say my experience with the adaptogenic mushrooms is a little bit more limited. I have used Cordyceps in that way as well, and I've seen Cordyceps affect lab values in that way. But I'm curious about the other potential uses of the different adaptogenic mushrooms and herbal adaptogens, and how you would use them in clinical practice, or maybe how you maybe would categorize when you would use one versus the other. So yeah, that's kind of where I'm coming with that question.
- Yeah, yeah, it's a good one. Does anyone else wanna jump in on that? Maybe, Justin, you have some insight?
- Yeah, I can certainly share some perspective on herbal medicine 'cause that's a very central part of my practice, and central to Chinese medicine of course. And one of the things we can look at when we're looking at the function of herbal medicine is there is this rich tradition and understanding that certain medicinals affect certain organs or certain acupuncture channels, certain tissues. And so an herbal medicine that goes to the liver, or goes to the lungs, or goes to the kidneys, or the spleen, or the heart, are gonna help the body to adapt in very different ways. Because those organs provide different functions for the system as a whole. And so when we look at a substance like Cordyceps that has an impact between like the lungs and the kidneys, we can understand how the lungs play a role in the immune response and protecting against external influences of viruses and bacteria. But we can also look at the lung support for oxygenation of the blood, and why Cordyceps is such a good adaptogen for athletic performance and strength building, versus something like Reishi, which has more of an impact on the lungs and the heart, which deal more with sort of the mental, emotional, calming facets of what Reishi offers as an adaptogenic mushroom. And so we can learn something about the adaptogenic capacity of a plant by knowing what parts of the body it impacts, and then knowing the medical theory of what those areas represent for the system as a whole. And there's a lot of richness in sort of being able to target our adaptogenic choice to the needs of the person rather than necessarily always doing a shotgun approach where we throw every adaptogen at them, which adaptogens by nature are really quite safe and an area where we can sort of safely be a little more shotgun in our approach. But the argument in Chinese medicine would be that specificity is always more impactful in the person's health.
- Yeah. Could you say a little bit about, you know, how you actually apply these, prescribing them, and then I'd actually like to go around and get each of your take on that because, from an herbalist perspective, from a naturopathic doctor perspective and, Skye, just coming from your background, mushroom experts. I'm curious to know. And this kind of goes into just the whole idea of an adaptogen in general, because an adaptogen, as I understand it, and I have a pretty peripheral knowledge of it, it's something that you would give, it's not something meant to either stimulate or suppress a response. The beauty of an adaptogen, again, as I understand it, is because it's supposed to provide your body back with the ability to self-regulate, whether it's immune modulation or blood pressure. So if you're looking, let's say, Justin, for someone who wants to, let's say boost their athletic performance, boost their lung capacity. How would you think of applying an adaptogen in that capacity?
- So there's a couple ways we can look at it. In the practice of Chinese medicine, herbs are always prescribed in a formula. They're rarely used individually. Even something like ginseng is rarely used alone. And the idea is that by creating the right blend you actually can amplify the benefits and make the whole concoction adaptogenic. Because it really suits the needs of the person in a balanced way. But within a concept of adaptogens, the general idea is that by taking adaptogenic herbs you're supporting stamina, you're supporting stress response on an emotional level, on a physical level, and you're supporting recovery in terms of the regenerative capacities of the body. So you're looking for like a competitive athlete, you may be looking at this broad spectrum of multiple adaptogenic mushrooms, because they all serve a different part of that equation. And then the dosage really begins to fluctuate based on the amount of stress that you're putting on the body. If we're just sort of going through day to day maintenance, that is different than the dosage you would use if you're actively trying to treat a disease, or if you're actively trying to support pushing the body to sort of extreme limits. The amount that we need is going to be different. So what I take, if I put mushrooms in my smoothie, or I put them in my coffee, or something like that, as a daily maintenance is gonna be a much lower dose. But if I'm trying to push myself to do an Ironman, or to compete in the Olympics, or something like that, I'm gonna have to take a larger dose because I'm putting a heavier stress on the body.
- Right, yeah, that makes sense. Skye, is that something that, what are your thoughts on that?
- Yeah, I mean, I find adaptogens just to be fascinating. Just because of the different aspects that they can, the different effects that they can do on each person. I mean, that's really a person to person effects that vary quite differently. I think if you're talking about something like Reishi, some people might find it calming and relaxing, or other people might find it quite stimulating. And so the effects really vary on the individual level. And I think that comes back to a lot of different factors where we're getting internal stressors and external stressors that vary hugely depending off our environments, our diets. What's our exercise like, are we stressed at work? Are we stressed at home? So there's so many different variables that play into that and that is what really amazes me the most, is we can see the feedback from our customers on things that I would never have thought of, that they're getting help with.
- Yeah, actually I wanted to kind of cycle back and let you guys give a little bit deeper intro. I think we jumped into the conversation. So Skye, actually, would you give a little bit of background on Real Mushroom, just so people really understand where you're coming from?
- Sure, yeah. So I'm the co-founder and owner of Real Mushrooms. I've got a long history of medicinal mushroom, I guess, knowledge. My father, he's been in the medicinal mushroom game for over 40 years. He started out on a mushroom farm back in the '70's. This is my dad, Jeff Chilton, and worked his way up to manage a big mushroom farm. And then he started, created his own mushroom farm. And then as he learned more about growing adaptogenic mushrooms, he found just how hard it was to sell them as a dried product. And it also led him towards just all the Asian literature and so much information that's available in Asia, specifically China and Japan, where they've been consuming mushrooms and learning about these adaptogenic mushrooms for centuries. And so he started journeying over there in the late '80's and '90's, and making contacts and going to specific medicinal mushroom conferences where he was one of the only white people there and really learning from them. And then by the mid '90's, he brought organic certifiers over to China and help set up the first organic growers. And then he had one of the first companies, this is Nammex, to sell organic medicinal mushroom extracts to the North American market. And so after a lot of conversations with him, when we were looking into the marketplace, we just saw a real lack of quality and transparency about how these mushrooms are grown, and how they're processed. And when looking into specific active compounds that most of these adaptogenic mushrooms, the benefits come from these specific actives like beta-glucans, triterpenes, ergosterol, things around those nature. We saw huge variance across different products and an expensive product could be like the cheapest product out there in terms of quality wise. And so we really wanted to put out a high quality product, measure the specific actives, so people knew that they are in the product so that they could take it with confidence, and really open up the experience to mushroom growing because a lot of people don't know how that works, and don't know a lot about mushrooms how they get processed, then get turned into extract powders. So we've been on a really big, pretty much educational journey just to educate the public more about adaptogenic mushrooms, how to use them. And this is part of how this panel comes in as well. And so I'm excited for everyone to be here and give their own take on adaptogens.
- Yeah, yeah, no, it's awesome. 'Cause, for me, like just starting to get to know you, Skye, and get familiar with Real Mushrooms, this is first that I've really learned about it. I had no idea about the difference between mycelium being grown on grain versus the benefits of the fruiting body. I think, unfortunately, a lot of people don't, or maybe don't have the tools to read past the label when they're looking for, shopping for supplements online. And I think people are becoming more sophisticated and have a sense that, especially when it comes to natural products, that quality is important, makes a difference in that basically the quality of a product will determine the quality of your health and the results that you're getting from there. But still like their marketing has become very slick, very effective, and people just lack the ability to discern what truly is high quality from just something that appears to be good on a label. So, Don, you had mentioned one thing before that I thought would be a good dovetail, or at least question, that I have here is I wanna understand a little bit more about the role of the mycelium versus the fruiting body. Specifically with respect to these adaptogenic properties.
- Well, I mean, first of all, I wanna really say thank you to Skye and to Jeff, I've known Jeff for a long time and it's really great to have products that you can trust. I mean, this is one of the challenges, I've been a herbalist for a long time, and over the years I've had, in my city, I've had people that were selling products that weren't even the product and stuff like that. And so it's good to know that what you've got, especially with something as important as mushrooms, when people are dealing with things like cancer. Before I answer that, I do wanna just go back quickly to the clinical part of it and the treatment part of it. Just 'cause I wanna follow on Justin's like, yeah, I think one of the challenges, and one of the, I don't wanna say it's a danger, but one of the things to be aware of is that yes, something like Reishi works for the lungs, it works with the livers, it works with the kidney, it's like pretty adaptogenic, it's pretty amazing. But like it's bad or like if you're really focusing on the lungs, then like he was saying, then we wanna use something like elecampane, that'll actually bring that energy to the lungs. We may wanna put a fermentation or compress on the lungs to bring the blood to the area that we want it, you know? So the shotgun method is, like you said, good for resiliency, good for everyday adapting, but if you're looking at a specific thing, then maybe it's like the liver, then you might wanna have milk thistle in that with it when you're trying to attack, to get to that direction. Or if it's the kidneys, a kidney herb. The other thing in Ayurveda, it's really important that taste affects the dosha. If we're trying to bring back balance, like bitter has a certain quality to it, and so bitter is good for certain constitutions, it's not good for others. It doesn't mean they can't use it, but they'd need to put some sweet in there to go with it. You know what I mean? And then also there's like the butterfly or the hummingbird constitution that's got metabolism going off the top of the map. They kind of need to get their dosage on a more sipping level like a hummingbird. And then there's your standard person who's your fire person whose that. Most herbs have a four year life, four hour life cycle before they diminish in their terms. So then you add another one. So one herb three times a day. The traditional, every herb book says it. That's great for the fire people. And then there's the water-earth people that have slow metabolism. And they need, and the pitta is also the standard dosage, whereas the kapha, the water earth person, they need that strong hit and they need it a couple of times a day 'cause their constitution is much slower. So I just wanted to give the people that are listening that idea too, that especially if you're using it on longterm for resiliency, you don't wanna imbalance your dosha while you're doing it. You know what I mean? You wanna use that advantage of knowing what your constitution is and working with it. Okay, go ahead.
- No, I was just gonna say, I just wanna put like a kind of a pin in that part of the conversation to come back to it. Maybe ask your opinion, Mark, when we get there. But I just think it's fascinating to hear there's different perspectives, to share the Ayurvedic perspective that a lot of people might not be familiar with. But we realize it's so important to layer on these different lenses, essentially, to understand the specificity and how to treat people as individuals, not just two, two caps twice a day, and that's everyone's same prescription. So for now, let's go on with the mycelium versus the fruiting body.
- Well, yeah, I mean, I agree with Skye for what the research is now in terms of especially products are being sold out in the market is like, there's no research on the mycelium and it's mostly starch. My point of view was that it's the living entity. And so it's more from a shamanic tuning into the plant, that's the part that the fruit just dies. It's like an apple tree turning into an apple, that's not an apple tree. It's the tree that's the actual apple tree. So that's what I meant by the mycelium. And then any of us who've gone into studying mushrooms, they're totally, completely fascinating, right? I mean, they're all interrelationship, they're how the trees actually live. And so I guess I encourage people to use nature, but also go into the magic of nature. Don't just take a pill and think, "Oh wow, I know Reishi mushrooms."
- Yeah. I actually, I'm just asking for myself actually 'cause I came across this on a more surface level, but I wanna dig deeper into it, and I'm not sure exactly where I'd begin my search, but I wanna understand better. I guess it's the mycelium, the root structure. Is there a definition or something about the overarching principle of, I get this almost, like this Gaia-like sensation of how mushrooms really work, right? How you can have these massive organisms that we think of like just this individual fruiting body as the mushroom. But really it's this, it's this part of a collective organism that can be much, much larger.
- It's the largest organism on Earth.
- On Earth, yeah.
- Yeah, there's a mycelium, I think it's the pine tree or the Aspen tree mushroom, that grows on the Aspen trees, and it's, you can see it from space apparently. And it's the largest living organism on the planet is this particular one mycelium. But yeah, I think we're also just touching the surface of it, but I, we're doing a lot. I mean, there's a lot of research on it now, and so you can go in and just get fascinating material on just everything these mycelium do. And I think we'll continue to be amazed at what they do.
- Yeah, Justin, I'd like to hear your take a little bit on, just that concept, I know it from Spagyrics as something called the doctrine of signatures, which, as I recall, basically is kind of like the hermetic law of correspondence. But it just, the basic idea that you use a similar compound to treat a similar compound. So I guess homeopathy is also kind of in line with this, but I'm really thinking of it specifically now in so far as what Don was just saying about the mycelium and the complexity of this structure. And when it comes to the concept of an adaptogen, one of the first things that comes to mind is complexity. So it's kind of, is there anything that you've come across, or that you understand from your background, as saying that part of the reasons why or how an adaptogen works, is because you're using the complex to treat the complex in effect? I'd just like to hear your thoughts on that.
- Yeah, I mean, I think there's a couple things in there that I can comment on. One thing from within the paradigm of Chinese medicine, we know that different parts of the plant serve different functions. And so we'll see with certain plants that we're using, the flower, the fruit, the twigs, the bark, the roots, the peel that's around the bark. And they all have very different functions within the body because they are just different. And that is really part of the richness of the herbal medicine tradition of Chinese medicine, in really the ability to recognize that different parts of the plant serve different functions. And we know this, of course, on a very basic level in terms of nutrition, that eating the twig of an apple tree is different from eating an apple. You're gonna extract different nutritional value from the bark than you would from the fruit. And if we look at adaptogenic mushrooms, we know that the historical research, at least the historical, empirical evidence, is all with the fruiting bodies. And whether that started because the naked eye was drawn to the fruiting body and couldn't see the mycelium that was growing in the earth, or because of whatever other reason. But we know that humans historically have always used the fruiting bodies. That has been the priority even within the Chinese paradigm where they were looking for mushrooms that grew underground, like the Poria, like Fu Ling, they still took the fruiting body, and found that to be the most sort of clinically useful. But we can also use the medical theory to extrapolate where the fruit is sort of the manifestation of the energetics of the plant in its complete form, where the mycelium is the growth process of the plant. It stimulates a growing mechanism, but has not yet fully manifested. And so if we're able to sort of choose which part of the plant we're using, we might be able to come up with some research to study this sort of subtleties of the differences between mycelium and the fruiting body. But at least as of now, of course, all of the historical thousands of years of research, empirical, is with the fruiting body. It's not with the mycelium. Not to say that it's not useful, it's just different energetics because the plant has been in different growth stage. And when we look at adaptogens, part of adaptability is in this concept of not being fixated. If I am fixated, if I am very mono-focus, I don't have the ability to adapt. And that is part of that mycelium imprint that happens to us when we use adaptogenic mushrooms because they are beings, they are are plants, they are species of interconnectedness. And so they facilitate our ability to adapt by their own nature of being interconnected. And by us being able to be somewhat more interconnected with the environment, or with another human, or with an animal, or with a plant, we are by default, we are more adaptable. And of course we see this in the research around psilocybin and it's use with PTSD, which is a form of extreme fixation back in sort of trauma space. And it opens up the mind to being more adaptable to come out of trauma space. But we also see it in a very physical level, in terms of the body's ability to adapt to physical stressors, exposure to climatic factors, bigger workloads, higher stress loads. And I think part of how they support our ability to adapt is in that way that they keep us from coming very mono-focused, and we see that their impact in the body is also not mono-focused. Which is, by default, the definition of an adaptogen.
- Yeah, yeah. No, that's interesting. And that's kind of, you know, what I was thinking in the beginning, it's just like, it really is that the kind of energetic qualities that go into the formation of different types of structures and plants, to me it kind of intuitively makes sense that that would transfer over into their effect that it has in the body. But to a lot of people it doesn't. And certainly intuition and the energetic aspect, I know, is a little bit uncomfortable for a lot of people. So, Mark, I'm curious to know your take on this because you've really been in both worlds. You've been in the energetic camp and really understand it with practicing Reiki, and then really going deep into quantum medicine and stuff like that, with innovative medicine. And then you went into, you're a naturopathic doctor now and there was a lot of more conventional training. So I'd like to hear your take on how can we explain to the average person who might be new to this or might not be so keen to the idea of these energetic aspects. How can we explain the benefits and importance of that?SHOP MUSHROOMS!
- So yeah, I'm fascinated by the energetics, but I'm also fascinated by a lot of the research just coming out now on the active ingredients, and adaptogens, and how they're affecting the body, and how they're modulating the immune system. Skye was talking about beta-glucans and other polysaccharides and the levels within the adaptogenic mushrooms that affect the immune system, raise natural killer cells, affect macrophages. So I'm really fascinated in that research too. And what's exciting is that more and more of that type of research is coming out. I would actually like to ask Skye his perspective, we were talking about the mycelium versus the fruiting body in terms of beta-glucans and the different active ingredients in the adaptogenic mushrooms where you see kind of the majority of those components, or how would you classify some of those more active ingredients between those two?
- Sure, yeah, so it's pretty complex. I'll try and explain it. So there is quite a bit of research on mycelium, but that typically comes from pure mycelium. And so mycelium you can grow either on a solid substrate, like a grain per se. So in traditional mushroom growing, they will take a mushroom species, they will inject it into a certain substrate. This could be a liquid or a solid. Normally they grow it out on a grain and you get kind of like a mycelia grain log that looks a little bit like tempeh. And then a mushroom grower would take that and then they'd throw it into sawdust, or straw, or something along those lines. And then the mycelium will slowly grow out on this main substrate and then they'll start to grow adaptogenic mushrooms. But what has happened in the last 20 years here is they've taken that mycelia grain and they then taken that and they've dried it and they've powdered it, with the grain that's left over from the substrate. And so what we've done back in 2015 was what we tested over 50 different retail products. Some of 'em were mycelium based. Some of 'em were mushroom based, and looked at levels of beta-glucans versus alpha-glucans. And so primary alpha-glucans are mainly starches. The mushrooms do have a small amount of alpha-glucans. That's typically glycogen. And so what we saw was mushrooms would have a very high amount of beta-glucan, very low levels of alpha-glucan, whereas when you grew the mycelium on a grain substrate and that grain ended up in the final product, you saw the exact opposite. So very low levels of beta-glucans, very high levels of alpha-glucans. And so back to growing mycelium, you can grow it in a liquid substrate. And so most of the research out there, when you actually read it, it's based off mycelium that you grow in liquid culture. And so you would take the mycelium, you'd grow it in, it's like a nutrient bath so it'd be different sugars, proteins. And at the end of this you can drain off your liquid and then you have pure mycelium. And so as a researcher, it makes it a lot easier to eliminate different variables if you know you have a pure substance that you're working with. And so that's one of the confusions when trying to dissect the mushroom versus mycelium argument, is a large grain component in a lot of the products and so. But even if you look at, there's certain pure mycelium products. So back in the '80's, Chinese researchers were trying to grow Cordyceps sinensis, which is the caterpillar fungus. So this is probably the most expensive mushroom in the world at over $20,000 US per kilo. Most of it gets sold in the Chinese market just because it's way too expensive. It's not gonna end up in any supplement in North America, though there's many products that claim to be Cordyceps sinensis. And so in China, they actually ended up growing the mycelium in liquid culture and that ended up turning into a product called Cordyceps CS4. So if you look up Cordyceps CS4 in the research, you'll find a lot of research on it. So there is some, there is research that supports the mycelium use, but even when we took a pure Cordyceps CS4, and we looked at the nutritional profile, we looked at the actives, even then we saw the mushroom had multiple times higher of primary actives, like beta-glucans. And these beta-glucans are the main components in the cell wall. So a lot of times people will talk about extracts getting, actually, like concentrations of these compounds. But in reality the mushroom is gonna concentrate these compounds when they grow and this is gonna show up in the final product. And so given that beta-glucans are the main active in the cell wall of mycelium, or the mushroom, it can also be a fungal indicator too. Same with ergosterol. So ergosterol is similar to cholesterol in our bodies, and we can use that as almost a marker of fungal matter. So if these are high, we know we have a lot of fungal material there, because it's the main component of these cell walls. And that can just be almost a marker. And compared to mushroom versus mycelium, versus mycelia grains, you have to kind of separate that out into almost its own component. We typically see a mushroom with much higher levels of actives. There's some minor exceptions there. And then you have to dive into the details, whether it's pure mycelium versus mycelium that's grown on grain. So there's a lot of intricacies and it's difficult to educate people on this when there's so many different, they're getting bombarded with all this different information and it's really hard to sort through it all.
- Yeah, I'll say, but you guys are doing an awesome job of putting all the research on the site and exposing these studies, and I think just organizing them in a way that's digestible. That's important with all the information out there. Mark, does that answer your question?
- Yeah, that was awesome, yeah. Thanks for that, that was really good education.
- Yeah. Yeah, if any of you guys have questions for each other now would be a good time to fire away. Otherwise, I've got a few more questions here and then we'll turn over to audience stuff. But Don, you look like you wanna raise your mushroom there.
- I just wanted to let, there's people probably watching that don't know what Skye said, they don't understand, but like here's the fruiting body of the, here, and this is like a grain, a block, that was like probably some kind of grain and stuff. So you buy this and it's just a block, this is a Reishi, and you just just have it in a moist environment. And it'll grow out, but here's, what we're talking about here is this part here, the mycelium, which if you ground up would have, like Skye said, it would have a high percentage of the alpha-glucans, as opposed to the beta-glucans where all the beta-glucans would be up here. So I just wanted to give a visual demonstration because a lot of people, they've maybe just taken a Reishi capsule. They don't, mycelium, they don't know what exactly, what we're talking about. And this could be very large. That was just what we talked about. (laughs)
- The labeling side of things is like a whole other issue. But just to touch further on that, I mean, the story is, so mycelium is, it's out everywhere around us. If we're out in the forest it's gonna be all over the place, and it's digesting organic matter in order to gather nutrients for this fungal organism. And so it's secreting different compounds because it's having to combat itself against bacteria, other fungi, maybe viruses. And so it's having to create these special compounds. But the thing that doesn't translate over when you're growing it in a lab environment, is lab environments is an entirely sterile setting. And so what's happening is, you have sterile cooked grain that's getting injected with the mycelium. The mycelium is growing in a sterile environment, it has zero competition. And so whether or not it actually creates these unique compounds to defend itself is purely speculative. And without testing and knowing what these compounds are, I mean, we've tested for a lot of different compounds, and there's even, there's hundreds of different compounds in these fungi, in which we don't have lab methods to test for. But for the primary markers we see just a huge difference between the adaptogenic mushroom, which is the fruiting body, and mycelium, which is also called the vegetative body.
- Thanks for that. Yeah, Mark, go ahead.
- Skye, I wanted to ask you about preparations and how that affects the beta-glucan levels. I know traditional Chinese medicine, there's a lot of liquid decoctions that are used versus dried capsules, versus just eating the mushroom. What have you seen in terms of the different preparations kind of, that works the best?
- Yeah, so traditionally is like some sort of hot water preparation, like a tea, which is, it's a low-level hot water extraction, which Justin, I'm sure, can chime in on afterwards. But most the time we're always dealing with some sort of extraction. So you take dried adaptogenic mushrooms, you grind them into a powder, they then basically go in giant pressure cookers. So they're being cooked under pressure. And this is, it's pre-digesting the cell walls. So the cell wall is made up of chitin, which is the same substance that crustaceans make their shells from. And we have a very tough time digesting this. So the active components are inside the cell wall. So if we really wanna get full access to those, we want that pre-digested before we take it. So that could be in a liquid form, but we sell all extract powders. So during the extraction process, we then take the liquid, we run it through a spray dryer, which is, I kind of describe it as a giant heated cyclone where the liquid shoots out the top and you have hot air coming up, which evaporates all your moisture, and then you get a powder out the bottom. And so then this is a fully active powder which you can take. I mean, we get questions from our customers asking like, "Does it matter how we take it?" And you know, you could have it as a capsule, you can have it as plain powder, you can mix it into food. It doesn't really matter, as long as it's already been extracted. So, and then there's other variations into that, on how the extraction is done, whether you use alcohol, whether the mark gets carried through. There's a lot of just intricacies there, concentrating to certain ratios. So there's a lot more in depth. Justin, was there anything you wanted to add to that?
- A couple of things I can comment on in terms of, again, the bigger historical perspective of herbal medicine. That's something we can extrapolate into modern times very readily, is the whole practice of farming makes a very substantial difference in the product that you receive. How you raise an animal, factory farming, versus growing out grass-fed, versus factory farmed beef, we know medically speaking, behaves in the body very differently. And within the history of Chinese medicine, there is vast amounts of documented literature showing that how you grow herbs affects their medicinal value. So we know that certain herbs are better when grown in particular ways, and it's no different with adaptogenic mushrooms. And this sort of points back to Don's comment of a Reishi growing on a willow tree, is gonna be different than a Reishi growing on a pine tree. And the history of chaga growing on birch, it's function is gonna be very directly related to the environment that it grew on and what it absorbed from the tree as it's decomposing some of the material of the tree. We see this with Poria, with Fu Ling, where in Chinese medicine we use the plain Fu Ling and we use the Fu Ling that has the root going through it, and it's called Fu Shen. And the function of just the same sort of fruiting body, but with the inclusion of the root of the pine tree that it is growing on, changes the function of the plant. And it is at least, if we're trying to look from historical evidence, it points to the importance of how we grow the mushrooms, and what parts we're using really does make a difference in their impact. All, literally all of the history of plant-based medicine says these things are important. All the evidence shows that these things are important and so they're just, they're definitely something we need to consider. It's not to say newer methods are bad, we just don't have the evidence to understand their implications the way we do with historical growing methods.
- That's a good point. I didn't know that about Poria, with the root growing through it. I've seen then, I've seen it being grown.
- Yeah, absolutely. It's called Fu Ling, Fu Ling or Fu Shen.
- Shen for body?
- [Justin] Shen for the mind, for the spirit.
- Great. Yeah, so that's a good point. I think it's good to note that adaptogenic mushrooms are bio accumulators, and so, depending on what food source you give it, it's gonna have different properties. And so that could be bad things like pollution. So that's always a big concern for us when we're testing for heavy metals and pesticides, and things like that. We want super clean environments when we're growing these mushrooms. And also in terms of the different compounds. So Reishi, they always grow on wood. They don't grow it on sawdust, they don't grow it on grains. So it'll be, it gets more of the actives because that wood is just such a higher density nutrient source. Like you mentioned chaga too. So chaga actually pulls out compounds from the birch tree. And so birch tree has medicinal compounds itself like betulin and betulinic acid, and you find those showing up in chaga as one of its main active components.
- Oh man, yeah, that's really cool. Thanks for sharing this stuff, guys. It's, man, it's awesome to think about. And I think it's such an important new direction for, to get people to start thinking and, and I say new direction 'cause I think the average person when they're looking at supplements they don't really consider that bioaccumulation effect of where it's grown. They consider it with another thing, which is alcohol. Everyone knows that where your wine has grown, everything in the soil, and the air, and the atmosphere, is gonna affect the flavor of the wine, the health of the grapes and all the rest. But when it comes to the foods we eat, the supplements we take, the medicines, the same principles are true. And if anything, just far more impactful on the human body because of the reasons that people are taking these kinds of things. Don, I was wondering if you had anything to add to that?
- Well, a couple of things. I mean, now the relationship I had with Jeff is, Jeff was actually the person who discovered the garden giant mushroom in the 1970's, which is a mushroom that they grow with plants to enhance the nutritive value of the vegetables you're growing. But it's also used to accumulate, bio-accumulate toxins. And so I, for a couple of years, I taught gardening classes with the garden giant mushrooms. And one of the things that my, a friend of mine got a contract with a mine and he was able to go in and create a garden patch with this place where there had been a strip mine and within two years he'd completely restored the ecosystem. Like there was nothing there, it was like stripped. And within two years of growing this garden with the mushrooms, everything came. The insects came back, the animals came back. It was just pretty, pretty impressive. So I guess that's just another bigger picture of what these adaptogenic mushrooms are always doing. They're like restorative and they're vitally important for that purpose. I just wanna say one other thing about mycelium that I learnt that, it was really cool. Like I used to go walking in the woods and all of a sudden I'd have this incredible, sweet smell. Like I'd look around and look at trees and plants and an herbalist identified those plants and couldn't figure it out, but love it. Realized that lots of times that's actually the mycelium, the mycelium give off a scent. That's probably how dogs can find truffles, but they actually give off a scent. And so sometimes, if you're walking in the forest, you smell something, just stop and maybe think that it's underneath you, is all this mycelium growing, that isn't fruiting so you don't see any mushrooms. But the mycelium is living and fruiting is like an apple. It comes at certain times of the year, otherwise it's not there so.
- Yeah, that's interesting. I always notice in the fall when we're out foraging for mushrooms that there's this different smell. You can almost smell the mushrooms.
- If we get good enough, hopefully we could do that.
- Man, I wanna come out there and go on like a nature walk with you guys, a mushroom hunt, gathering. But Don, to that same point, you mentioned a little bit earlier about, I think it was you who mentioned this, about the importance of kind of customizing the application of these adaptogenic mushrooms or these different types of supplements to the individual. And one of the ways that you would do that is by taste. So you mentioned different, different doshas. We're talking now from the Ayurvedic perspective.
- I'm glad you brought that up, yeah. 'Cause one of the things that I'll, some of the things I'll sometimes do for people that, if they're using pills, I'll get them to open up a capsule and sprinkle it on top of the pills. So at least their body will have a. 'Cause there's a physiological effect from tastes. Once you taste something, your body's already responding to it. There's already a physiological change in the body. Ayureveda know this very well. There's also a post digestive effect, which means after you've digested it, then it has another, different effect. But that first effect can be very strong. Ayurveda and Chinese medicine are close, but they have a slightly different thing with some of the tastes. But from an Ayurvedic point of view, there's so much able, like, I have on my website, there's a link to be able to get your constitution if you want. And there's lots of them on the thing. So it's pretty easy nowadays to go and get a rough idea of what you're designed. Whether you're the vata air type, or you're the pitta fire type, or you're the kapha, or you're a blend of them. It gets a little more complex 'cause then you do the seasonal thing 'cause if you're fire, you're gonna obviously treat more in the summertime when it's hot. But just knowing that basic could be good. So, you know, vata is pretty obvious. They're just like they're buzzy, and they're thin, and they're skinny. Then that would be the case of it's bitter, and if they're using just a bitter, then they might wanna use something sweetening that. And, again, this is where food can come in. I mean, another thing that, if we don't have the proper bacteria in our gut, we're not going to digest anything, literally. And they've done, like Siberian ginseng. They did research on Siberian ginseng and without the proper digestive bacteria, the active constituents were not absorbed. So one of the ways that I posted in their recipe book is I use kefir, and again, the reason I'm even gonna elaborate a little bit here, but the reason I love kefir is that I grow it on my fridge. So it has a relationship with my environment. So then I add the Reishi into that. I like Reishi, I like Reishi and turkey kale, 'cause they hear, I can have a relationship to them, and I've known them for a long time. I love to study the other ones, but I can't have a relationship with them because they don't grow here. So Cordyceps and stuff like that. So that's the reason I've had such a good relationship with them. 'Cause they're always in the forest so we can be playing with them. That modulating, so this type of way. So the vata can add some kind of sweetness and it could be literally, like it could be in a fruit juice. It could be that kind of thing, or it could be like a sweet herb, like licorice. Licorice has some kind of its own physiology, so you gotta be careful out there. With the pitta, they like bitter anyway so it doesn't matter so much. That's kind of ideal for them. But I would say that another thing we teach in our herbal course is allies. A bitter herb might be a really big ally for a fire sign. Fire can literally blow itself out like in a heart attack. I've known a pitta who died jogging at noon. No relationship to their environment and their constitution. So, again, Justin was talking to this a little bit about, that's how I loved what he said about the adaptogenic mushrooms, and then host guy went on to do that with the mycelium. They're already doing that, and that's why they're helping us be more open, which is totally cool. And then with the kapha, like I said, bitter is good for them too, but they really need the pungent. So really be good to put some ginger with that. And also to give, so dosage wise, the vatas would have a smaller dosage more frequently. Like every couple hours 'cause their like metabolism's running at a high level. The pittas like a sort of normal three times a day. So that would work. And it doesn't necessarily mean you have to take it three times a day. But if you were gonna do it, trying to do it, especially therapeutically, then you might do that three times a day. The kapha would be twice a day but more stronger dosage.
- And you said, Don, that you have some resources on your website?
- Yeah, there's a link, I'm pretty sure to the, there's an Ayurveda site refer, Ayurveda course. And there's a site there where you can go and do your Ayurvedic dosha.
- And figure it out. Yeah, like it's anything. You can get a basic thing and as you live with it longer and you learn a little bit more then you start to understand yourself more from that prospect.
- Know thyself, always comes back to that.
- The last thing I'll say is that it's all about adaption. So that's the good thing about Ayurveda too, is that then it's so simple. If you're overheating, take a cold shower, like, you know what I mean? It's not rocket science. If you're cold 'cause you're a vata, put on some clothes. Sometimes we're just disconnected from our environment and our bodies, and from simplistic answers, you know? Oh, I need all that.
- No, I think it's really important. It's like we tend to make things way more complicated in our present situation, but at the end of the day, if you look at some of these simple kind of methodologies, it really comes back to simplicity. It comes back to paying attention to your body, forming a relationship with your body and the things that you're gonna put in it or on it. And yeah, just being kind of like tuned into that. Skye, bringing it back to kind of a ground level now for people that are gonna be listening and might be just wanting to get into using more adaptogenic mushrooms, using herb adaptogens, getting the benefits of that. Skye, you've created a number of products with Real Mushrooms that are kind of catered to that simplicity. Like you said, powders, they're easy to use, you don't have to be incredibly specific with them. What are some of the things that you would recommend for someone who just wants to get started adding this to their diet?
- Yeah, I mean, personally, I like our five defenders blend, so that's Reishi, shiitake, maitake, turkey tail, chaga, which are kind of the main immune system boosters. So if you just want a really easy one to get started certainly that's a good one to go with. But I, the biggest thing I think for people is just to try them whether it's a blend, whether it's Cordyceps, lion's mane, Reishi. And certain ones are geared towards different areas. But a lot of it is geared around these adaptogenic properties and just trying 'em out. They're gonna work well for some people and they might not work for others. And I think that's the fascinating part about them, is that every person is different. And even as we were talking about dosage too, I mean, some people, I know some people who are taking upwards of 10 grams and someone else who might take a half gram of Cordyceps and they're just like, "Wow, okay, I can feel that." And then it's all about, this is preventative medicine per se in that these are helping us adapt to our external and internal stressors, which can lead to other more serious problems. So it's a preventative measure that is gonna take time to work into our systems and really build up and help our immune systems and overall health just be stronger in general, to keep us balanced. And you really wanna look at a longterm approach with mushrooms. It's not gonna be something like caffeine or aspirin or something where we know what it's gonna do. And we can, I've got a cup of coffee here. I know that I'm gonna feel something from it within the first 30 minutes.
- Yeah, no, I'm glad you brought that up because for a lot of people, I know that having a relationship with your body, like listening to your body means that it doesn't go much further, unfortunately, than the immediacy of like an influx of caffeine or a craving for sugar and just responding to that more superficial level of fluctuation. But what we're talking about here is, really much, much deeper. It's the ability to self-regulate. And so, yeah, I think it's important to to set a realistic, have a realistic understanding of what you can, what you might experience when you start to add these things in, that it is cumulative. Just in my kind of just basic experience, when I am more dialled into my body, when I'm even spending more time in nature and not in New York City, when there's less interference, I can, I tend to notice things much quicker, immediately. They're subtle changes, but they're absolutely changes. Whereas if I'm in the city with traffic going on outside, loads of caffeine and other stuff, it's gonna be nearly impossible to feel the immediate effects of something. And that's where those cumulative benefits are gonna be something that you have to really respect and pay attention to. So I do wanna turn it over, keep a little bit of time to answer some of the viewer questions. We put this out on Facebook, the topic of adaptogenic mushrooms.
- Can I just say one thing about internal stressors?
- [Ben] Absolutely, yeah.
- It's pretty fascinating. In 200 BC, they have records of Japanese monks coming over to our forest, 'cause you've got to realize Reishi, now that it's growing, is available to everybody. But back in the day it was for the royalty. There wasn't, it wasn't that readily available, but the Japanese monks would come over here and live in our forests and use our Reishi in 200 BC. But I only say this because Skye hit on a really important part is, a lot of stress is inside. It's internal stresses. And so Reishi was used a lot for meditation. I go back to Reishi but, so that kind of combination of using a Reishi in relationships, your meditations, and when we're trying to, as you said, like Ayurveda and traditional Chinese medicine, were really aimed at a lot of longevity and prevention, which again Skye alluded to, is that, you don't wait to get sick to take these adaptogens. You use them and you find your dosage that works for you. But then also the practice, something like meditation. But I just wanted to tune people into the fact that there's so many people doing yoga and all this kind of stuff. These herbs have a nice relationship with our psyche. And I'm just gonna make a plug for, I'm writing a new book called The Dream Makers: Herbal Apprentice. And I only bring that up because two of the factors of that book are gonna be listen to your medicine. So talk to your plants and listen to your body. Your body's dreaming as much as it's sick. It's telling us something, it's communicating to us. But I think these mushrooms, when we slow down and get more sensitive, they can take us, as Justin alluded to, they're opening us up just like he talked about. So assignments which are very direct, but that doesn't mean other mushrooms don't have a more a subtle effect that we don't necessarily get bah! I'm being affected, but it is being affected. Sorry, I just wanted to put that out there, but looking back.
- Yeah, no, that's great. Yeah, Mark, go for it.
- I just wanted to ask Skye a quick question that, I was on your website, and I was looking at some of the formulas. I noticed you had a formula for gastrointestinal health, with chaga in it. Chaga is probably one of the ones that I'm least familiar with. So my question is how, how was it kind of used for GI health or gut health, and how would you describe it in kind of that way?
- Sure, yeah, I'm not sure which recipe that is. That might've been a user submitted one, but traditionally if you look at it in Russia, they used chaga mainly for a lot of gut issues. And so we kind of gear it more towards gut health even though there's other, the black outer part of chaga is primarily melanin so that also helps with our skin. But yeah, I mean, there's so many different aspects to it. I mean, chaga they've geared towards like stomach, liver, kidneys along the same lines. I'm sure Justin might have a bit of input on that side of things too. But yeah, chaga is such an interesting one. Just, I mean, it's this weird conk and we usually call it a mushroom, but it's not a mushroom in the scientific terms. It's this woody canker that grows off of birch and a lot of the actual tissue is birchwood that we're consuming. So yeah, I'd have to dive into a few more studies and just look at it a little more closely. But yeah, traditionally used a lot for gut and like GI type stuff.
- Yeah, awesome. Yeah, Justin, do you wanna add anything to that?
- Yeah, I can. One of the ways that Chinese medicine classifies things is according to the organs, which have specific colors or energetics associated with them and chaga traditionally is sort of this orangish yellow, earthy sort of interior color with the black outside. And so by law of signatures, we can know that black is associated with the kidneys and in Chinese medicine all adaptogenic mushrooms affect the kidneys as sort of a basic foundation and then they are more specific towards other organs based on the other facets of color. And so the idea at least begins the thinking process, and Chinese medicine is here is this mushroom with a black exterior and a yellow, earthy interior. It's gonna point towards the spleen and stomach, the digestive system, the regulation of glucose, the health of the gut. But it also grows in sort of a tumoresque form. And so we know that it's also going to work to help to break down tumors by that law of associations. And that is sort of the initial thinking process of Chinese medicine. And then they go and they test it. So it's not like Chinese medicine just looks at it and thinks, oh, well it's a red color so it's going to affect the heart or it's a white color so it's going to affect the lungs but it starts the thinking process and the testing process to figure out how do we want to test this, and what do we see changed in the pulses when we give it to the person, what do we see change in the tongue? Or what do we see change in the clinical symptoms when the person consumes it to help validate our theory. 'Cause medicine is always sort of, as you know, it's a working theory. And then we'd give something, we treat, and we try to measure the results to see if our theory is correct.
- Yeah, yeah, yeah. That is kind of the way you work with a complex system, right? Little inputs, see what effects come out and then try and form an understanding of what's causing those. Yeah, awesome. Is there anything else before we jump into the user questions?
- Let's do it.
- Let's do it.
- All right, I'm gonna pull these up. So these were put out on Facebook a little while back. Let's see. First one comes from Zilla, Zilla Villa, no joke. So she says would be good to hear your thoughts on longterm use. Also anything that affects autoimmune disease would be interesting too. Yeah, let's kick it off there. Maybe Skye, what are your thoughts on that? Like adaptogens for longterm use? Is there any sort of strategy you'd wanna use to cycle or is it fine for longterm use?
- Yeah, like I touched on before, it's just really consistent use over long periods of time. You don't need to cycle, you don't need to go on and off. It's this kind of constant build-up in our system where we're really trying to keep our bodies in balance so that when we do have these internal and external stressors, our body can act immediately and really deal with that. What was the second part?
- The second part was kind of unrelated, but it's just about the effects on autoimmune diseases.
- Right, yeah, there is a little bit of debate there with autoimmune conditions. Some people say we shouldn't have adaptogenic mushrooms. It seems like more and more of some health professionals are saying that they're okay for autoimmune conditions. But it really, I think it depends on the person itself. So I would just play with that. I mean, certainly they can help in certain situations, but you would just wanna try it out and start small. A lot of people go too heavy too quickly. But yeah, just slowly introduce it, whether it's as a supplement of some sort of extract powder or if it's just adding more adaptogenic mushrooms to your diet because those are just a great food in general that all of us should be eating more of.
- Yeah, totally. Mark, what's, what's your take on that, adaptogens for autoimmune diseases?
- Yeah, I think it's an interesting question. I mean, when you look at the immune system and modulating the immune system or you're dealing with something like cancer where you're saying maybe you have an under-active natural killer cell activity and you want to kind of stimulate that using adaptogenic mushrooms, using the active constituents to kind of boost the immune system. Whereas in auto immunity you've got sort of a haywire overactive immune system. And it's like, do we really wanna be pushing more immune response and more natural killer cell activity? So I think it's interesting. I think because of the adaptogenic or the immune modulating effects of mushrooms, I think more and more research will maybe show that adaptogenic mushrooms will be beneficial for that autoimmune kind of lowering the immune response rather than kind of activating it. But with anything, you start off slow like Skye said. You kind of see how the patient responds. There are markers you can track in auto immunity, see how well they're doing. Also clinically with their symptoms, how well they're responding. So yeah, I think that's kind of a good approach.
- Yeah, just to add to that, I know one of our employees takes one of our products for her seasonal allergies. So it's on immune responsive and overactive immune system, not like a specific autoimmune condition, but a very low level. And typically they talk about adaptogenic mushrooms for helping get rid of a cold or so you don't get sick. But that's kind of the other side of that adaptogenic property of somebody say with allergies and helping out on that side of things too.
- Right, whereas allergies, it's like an overactive immune response that's causing the histamine reaction in the first place. So yeah, this is something that's interesting. I think it's one of the main reasons of what makes adaptogens so interesting because people kind of have difficulty wrapping their head around it. We're so used to a one-to-one kind of correlative effect of things where if you need to boost something, you give it to stimulate it. If you need to reduce something, you take something and it suppresses it. Whereas here it's like you can take literally, it's the same thing. It can have a stimulatory effect or a sedating effect kind of based on what your body is calling for. So it is a really interesting property. Allegra says, "Do any mushrooms have amphoretic qualities?" She says, "The formal definition for this quality "relative to herbs is a normalizer. "An herb which harmonizes and normalizes the function "of an organ or body system balancing two." This is what we were talking about. "Balancing two seemingly contradictory conditions "such as diarrhea and constipation "or high blood pressure and low blood pressure." So the question that started that off was, "Do any mushrooms have an amphoretic quality?" That's a new one for me so. Skye, you wanna take it?
- Yeah, I haven't heard that term before, but it sounds almost exactly like what we've been talking about.
- Yeah, it sounds like that's just basically kind of the definition of an adaptogen, right?
- Mm-hm, I think it's, yeah, it's just important. And what always amazes me just every single week from the feedback that we get of the difference in experiences that people have with these adaptogenic mushrooms and herbs in general. And like you're just saying, you can take the exact same thing and it really depends on a person to person level of the effects that they're gonna have. And it can be the completely polar opposite, or it could even just be small fine tunings of the same thing, and it really depends. But yeah, I think they definitely have those type of qualities like she was talking about.
- Yeah, yeah. Don, you have anything to add there?
- Well, no, I guess, yeah. I have something to add and a question for Skye. The first thing I would add, I'm mostly very familiar with the Reishi mushroom. So one of the things that Reishi is very powerful for is as an anti-inflammatory. So we've been talking about adaptogens, but the inflammation response is responsible for so many, you know, all your itises, that's your arthritis, you pruritis. So, and if you look into the depth of the inflammatory response of Reishi, it's pretty deep in there. So it really is, I think, a very systemic, very powerful anti-inflammatory. So that in itself is going to reduce all kinds of conditions. I do wanna say two things. One is, I'm a friend with Christopher Hobbs's and we've done quite a few mushroom workshops together teaching, and he suggests maybe once in a while going off the mushroom. I mean, I'm a believer of taking everything all the time, but he says the receptor sites might get a little bit used to the ligands, the ones that trigger the receptor sites or to vary it, so if you like Reishi for like X amount of time and then take chaga for a little bit. I'm playing around with that, but I finally stopped Reishi for a week or so. But it's like, yeah, so I'm just putting out that, I put that out to anybody else too, that's what the research is. But that was his thing. But the other things, Skye, is like, what, as far as an anti-inflammatory response, what are the other ones? Is there one that you favor more for anti-inflammatory?
- Yeah, good question.
- I feel like they all have anti-inflammatory properties. I mean, if you look at like Cordyceps militaris, one of the marker compounds in there is cordycepin and so that's an anti-inflammatory compound, also a partial precursor to ATP production as well. But if you kind of read some of the overarching literature they talk about 100 different medical functions. So there's just so many different facets here, and it could be anti-inflammatory. I mean, there's anti-tumor, all the immune side of things. Cognitive tie-ins, so many different facets where it can impact our bodies that, I mean, it's hard to really focus on one of them other than I think the overarching immune system is a big part of that just 'cause it has so many. It affects our body in so many different ways and we can fine tune into that whether it's inflammation or other, yeah. Different ailments.
- Yeah, inflammation is at the root of everything isn't it? There's nothing that it doesn't affect. Yeah, Justin.
- So I think if we look at the, kind of going back to the bigger picture of an adaptogen and longterm taking, one thing we can look at is there are certain medicinals that are really good and powerful for short term use, but are toxic for longterm use, and there are medicinals that actually improve their function when taken over a longer period of time. So that taking them for two years, you will get more benefit than if you took it for two months. And adaptogenic mushrooms fall into that category, and that was, in the foundations of Chinese medicine they outlined it in the sort of first herbal medicine book of lower, middle, and upper grade medicinals, upper grade being the category that Reishi and medicinal mushrooms fall into, which are really things designed to be taken for extended periods of time to reap or harvest the full benefit of what they offer. But within that you're still also meant to follow the the patterns of nature, which is a certain cyclical pattern, meaning you may take something for years, but it's going to be in variation where you take a certain type of mushroom at one time of year. You take a different type of mushroom at a different time of year because of what the body needs to adapt to in relationship to the external environment is changing. The type of support I need in the cold of winter and the type of support that I need in the heat of summer is different. I can still benefit from the adaptogenic capacity of the mushrooms, but situationally my needs are different. So hence my choice of adaptogenic mushrooms should vary, but yet I can keep taking things as a way to support the system. And going back to the autoimmune perspective, I think one of the things we want to be careful with when we're looking at medical disease is that it's much more complex and it really deserves the respect of being individualized treatment, not generalized treatment. And we can benefit from the use of adaptogens to help us adapt to the process of disease and to minimize some of the intensity or some of the flares, but we don't wanna project onto something that it's a cure because that process is really far more complex than just taking one supplement that helps our body to adapt. And there is this propensity in the Western mind to look for the next big cure. And the conversations I have with my clients all the time is really trying to slow it down and let's come back to you and to your specific needs rather than just looking for this sort of panacea where they're just, we haven't yet found something that is a panacea.
- Yeah, yeah. Yeah, I'm curious to know. Skye, go ahead.
- I was just gonna say I totally agree.
- Yeah. Mark, I'm curious to know from your perspective, if you've experienced the same thing, patients that generally are looking for a cure, a protocol, things of that nature without the understanding that we're dealing with such a dynamic system and process. Right?
- Yeah. I mean, I think everyone's looking for the magic bullet. They want that one thing that's gonna transform their lives whether it's the new hottest trend product or whatever it is or the new diet that everyone's talking about. But health is a lot more complicated than that. And everyone is different too. Like we said earlier, you can give an adaptogen to one person and it actually, you think it's gonna kind of modulate their system but actually winds up throwing them off and they get hyper and they get too anxious, you know. So I think like Don was saying, individualizing treatments through Ayurveda or through Chinese medicine or a way to getting at kind of the core of that particular person and what's gonna help them I think is key to kind of longterm healing and wellness for patients. And not everything is gonna be a magic bullet for everyone. And so, you know.
- Yeah, yeah. This is such an important concept and I don't know, maybe it negates the last question that we have here which is again about kind of a specific condition. But I'll just kind of read it off and see what insights you guys have to share on it. Myra says, "Any studies done with adaptogens "on diabetes or women's health issues?" And she mentions autoimmune as well, but we covered those. But yeah, stuff like diabetes and women's health issues. I'm kind of, I'm assuming she means anything hormone related. Justin, any insights there or anyone else, you wanna jump in?
- Yeah, there's been some interesting research around maitake mushrooms and regulation of blood sugar. The association with the spleen and stomach with chaga will show, I'm sure, a certain degree of benefit for regulation of blood sugar as well. And really technically all of the mushrooms are gonna have some benefits because of their just nature of being an adaptogen. But as far as research that's out there, I think the strongest case would be for maitake mushrooms, at least right now. And as far as hormone health, hormone health and autoimmune disease, what I would argue, what Chinese medicine would argue would be that what you wanna identify is what's throwing the hormones off and treat that rather than thinking of the mushroom as treating the hormones. Even though they can have the benefit of that, we want to really identify what's throwing a person's hormones off and then select medicines from that space versus from the other direction. And so all of them have the capacity to influence that, but what an individual person needs is gonna be very different just because what's throwing it off is different.
- Yeah. Skye, you've got something to add there?
- Yeah, definitely just wanna reiterate maitake. Shiitake as well, I would say even Reishi. I mean, if you look at Reishi and diabetes, there's definitely papers on anti-diabetic effects of Reishi. I'd say put more mushrooms into your diet in general should help and even I think oyster mushrooms like that have low levels of statins which could, could help out. Yeah, I think, yeah, it's a tricky one. I think certainly just eat more mushrooms if you can and see how you feel. I think that certainly could help. If you just do a couple of quick searches, you should be able to find some literature on that. In terms of hormones, I haven't seen as much research on that, but that'd be a bit trickier, and I think there's probably better approaches. I dunno, maybe Mark might know a bit more about the hormone side of things or Don. Yeah.
- Yeah, I just wanna address a couple things. First, we really wanna make people aware that we're a whole system. We're not just a physiological system. So like for hormones, for example, relationships can affect hormones dramatically and cause inflammatory processes. (laughs) I had a woman come in with PID, pelvic inflammatory disease, and ended up divorcing her husband and her PID went away. She had a very inflammatory relationship. But I just wanna say that. And then the same with blood sugars. It's like be aware that we're an open, nonlinear system that fluctuates far from the equilibrium. So we're always taking things in. So if you're, and it's not that complicated to balance out your sugars just by eating a little bit more moderately. And so don't totally rely on the herbs to regulate that. But then, therapeutically, as far as hormones go, in most of the work I've done with women is like one of the first things, I agree with Justin, we wanna look at the whole person and all this stuff, but one of the most key factors in hormones where the thing the adaptogenic mushrooms do for me is the liver. The liver is what processes the excess hormones, especially in things like menopause. And the beauty of using something like Reishi, again, it's my go-to mushroom, is not only are you getting the regulation of the liver, but you're also getting the lungs and you're getting the immune system, and the heart, and it has this beautiful adaptogenic thing, which we were talking about. And then you could add specific herbs like chaste tree or Dong Quai depending on the dosha to focus more on the. So I think it could be a great ally for almost any condition used judiciously and intelligently with some kind of knowledge of energetics, for example, or even pharmacological knowledge, you know what I mean? So I think it's a great. Yeah, I love mushrooms.
- Yeah. (laughing) Me too. I wanna go get some after this. Don, you mentioned the word rely, kind of jumped out at me because, yeah, in this day and age, I think a lot of people are kind of concerned with this idea of down-regulation and this feeds a little bit into our question about taking adaptogens over the long term. People are kind of worried that if they take something over the longterm, first of all, they're gonna rely on it such that if they pull it out of their supplement regime or their diet things are gonna go haywire or, secondly, and part of that is that it's gonna have this like down-regulation effect. It's gonna push other parts of the body, kind of just stop kicking in and doing their part. What are your thoughts on that?
- Well, again, I'll come back to what Justin was saying in the study of Ayurveda or traditional Chinese medicine is we have to take a seasonal perspective. We have to take a relationship aspect to our life. So there may be, I think it's really good times if we're not in high stress, which I don't know if those exist anymore, but if we do have a little bit of period with no high stress and we could maybe go, we're on vacation, let's not take our Reishi. I tried to tell people in the summertime as much as possible, have fun. Be on a really strict regime in the winter time. And what Ayurveda says, the toughest times for the physiological body are the transition times. Transition between seasons because we're going from hot environment to like a cold environment. We're going from a cold environment to a warm environment. And there's actually, that's backed by science. If you look at all the physiology that happens at that time is strong. Then also, I don't know about the other practitioners, but probably a huge percentage that came to me, I'm not in practice anymore 'cause I'm in my seventies, but I guess I could still be, but I'm counselling, I'm mentoring other students to do the consultations. But so many people came to me during transition because, and then what we're talking about now is the stress modulating ability of these adaptogenic mushrooms. And that, I think, is one of the key factors. And, again, what I found as a practitioner in all types of medicine that I use is, because when the body is at a really. They really work well when they're really needed as opposed to, I mean, the trick with Reishi mushroom or the adaptogens are like, we're kind of building resiliency for when it's needed, or when somebody's in the hyper acute state then that's when, whether it's using specific herbs or using. And using adaptogenic mushrooms, then it's specifically, you want to then bring the person out of that hyper state that they're in. Acute means it's hyper, it's active and stuff like that. So that's been my experience. Then again, I'll come back to the Ayurveda is about longevity and prevention and life enhancement and then treatment. So, and I think adaptogenic mushrooms, to answer your question, in the longterm, I think I would err on the side of using them, I'm not using them myself, but then I would look at times when I could not need them as much because I'm not just, I'm not feeling as stressed out. And, also, what are the other factors that I, if I'm stressed out, that's my responsibility. I like stress, I mean, I love challenges, so it's, I tend to thrive on a certain level of stress. I'm always pushing the envelope just because that's my nature.
- Yeah, no, it's embracing and respecting the fluctuations of life and accepting life as a dynamic process that. So often we get caught in wanting, like Mark was saying, that magic bullet, that protocol and there's an assumption that goes along with that, which is that even if we got a protocol or a magic bullet or a supplement or something, that things would always stay the same so that thing would always work, right? But it's like the very nature of life is that everything is fully dynamic, completely changing.
- Well, the body's an open, nonlinear system that fluctuates far from equilibrium, and we're not a frigging machine, we're not a bicycle. We're like a living organism that is hugely miraculous. People ask about miracles. I say, don't look any further than where you're sitting, man. Just think about it, just think about it, you know. I forgot my second thought to that.
- No, that's perfect. Well, we're right at the 90 minute mark. So if no one has anything else to add, we can definitely take a few more comments a little bit. But yeah, go ahead.
- I had a little comment as far as the longterm use. One way that maybe we can frame it to understand the impact of adaptogenic mushrooms, in a slightly different way, would be differentiating between medicines that we use to treat disease versus things we take to strengthen the body. Things that just strengthen the body don't weaken the body if you stop taking them. They don't shut down processes of the body. They refine the processes of the body so that they work more efficiently. Things that we use to treat disease override the processes of the body to direct the body to do a specific action which is needed medically. And those things taken for a long time can cause some side effects, some sort of chronic problem and that's, again, going back to the language of Chinese medicine would be considered a lower grade medicinal. Something that is designed to override and direct the body. Versus something that is an upper grade that just enhances what is intrinsically there. Just like exercise does, and meditation does, like all of these sort of upper-grade lifestyle choices we can make that just enhance things rather than shutting it down, and adaptogenic mushrooms fall into that category basically. That's upper grade.
- No, that's a really good distinction. I'm glad you brought that up.
- And Chinese medicine, or in Daoism, they're considered medicines of cultivation rather than medicines of treatment, would be another way to language it.
- That makes perfect sense.
- I just wanna say something along that line, food as your medicine. So you're thinking of it more like food, but I love that Justin cultivated it. But I just wanna put a plug out there for maitake. If nobody's ever eaten them, they're fricking delicious. They're just delicious. I mean, I could get them. There's a company that Japan that grows organically and they are available in the bigger city. I don't have them on tender, but whenever I can get 'em, oh my God, they're just, that's the medicine that. All of these other ones we're talking about are conks. I can chew on turkey tails 'cause they're soft enough and suck up the juice, but you're not gonna eat it. I just wanted to put a plug in. For anybody out there, try maitakes, they are yummy.
- Maitake, sounds good. All right, awesome, guys, I really appreciate it. I just wanna go around and have you guys just put a plug in for yourselves now. Just let everyone know what you're up to, where they can find you, anything you're working on. Go for it, we'll start with Mark.
- Before I do that, I just wanted to say I really love what Justin said about the medicines of cultivation. If you ever wanted to write a book called The Medicines of Cultivation, I would be a.
- Oh, sign me up.
- Your first customer.
- Thank you.
- Right now, if you just want to find more information. My website, DrMarkIwanicki.com. I'm pretty active on my Instagram as well. DrMarkIwanicki. I'm not currently. Right now, I'm still working part time for my practice in San Francisco. I just moved back to New York so managing patients remotely. But I will be shortly likely making some announcements about joining a practice in New York. So just look out for that on my socials and website.
- Awesome, thanks, man. Good to see you again, yeah. Yeah, Justin, go for it.
- Yeah, you can find me on my website as well. Just JustinErlich.com. And I work with people online and in person here in San Diego, but also distally. And a huge focus in my practice is the cultivational side, the Daoist influence of how we can use plant medicine to open up our mind, to work with our physical body and our sort of emotional journey of the bumps and bruises of being human. So a big part of my approach is giving people keys for their mindfulness and meditation practices, which is very much the Daoist cultivational thing. There is no book in the works, but maybe at some point when I have maybe another 30 years of clinical experience then it will be something worth writing, for sure.
- Yeah, and I'll just say that I've tried the teas, I've used them and, Justin, you've coached me through it a little bit, the process of how to align the use of the tea with a specific type of meditation that you call two-pointed awareness. And I can attest to the power of that, that it's just a really kind of amazing thing that certainly does fall into the realm of adaptogens in so far as your ability to just kind of modulate the stress in life. So it's cool stuff, yeah. Yeah, Don, you said you were, you had a book in the works?
- Yeah, I was gonna say, so people can find me at grassrootsherbalism.com or on Facebook at Grassroots Herbalism. And so we also have an online community now where I teach students and I also mentor students. And so we're gonna do an Indiegogo campaign starting shortly and to raise money for this book, which is Dream Makers Herbal Apprentice. Dream Makers Herbal Apprentice. So what that means is the dream maker, you could say the creator, but the dreaming that's going on, I've studied that for a long, since 1986, and studied shamanism with various shamans in the world. So it's combining the herbs and the dreaming part of it. And an application, my first book, Pathways to Healing: A Guide to Herbs, Ayurveda, Dream Body in Shamanism, has a lot of exercises around learning these things. This book, I'll be geared more towards putting it into practice, how do you put it into practice? So, yeah, and then we have a free clinic too for people that want to do a supervised clinic for my mentees. So we do it online, so people come to my website. If they go to the mentorship site or the herbal clinic button, they can sign up for a clinical thing. I supervise it, but my mentees actually can do it so that I can help them learn how to do the consulting.
- Awesome. Yeah, sounds great. Skye, tell us what's going on with Real Mushrooms?
- Well, so yeah, we've got organic mushroom extract powders and a powder form capsules. You can find them on our website, RealMushrooms.com. We do a lot of stuff on the socials as well, like this video, for one thing. So yeah, Real Mushrooms on Instagram and Facebook. We've also got an online Facebook group, a mushroom community called the Real Mushrooms Insiders that you can join up to where we just talk about mushrooms. And so, yeah, if you wanna join there or shoot us any questions as well. [email protected]. We're always happy to help people out there. I just want to thank Mark and Justin and Don for coming on here and sharing their expertise. I thought everything was awesome, and I think that we could go a lot longer if we wanted to and dive into so many more different little niches. So maybe we'll have a spin-off later off this, but this has been a great, great chat.
- Agreed, yeah. A lot of great topics that we got into here. Mark, what's up?
- I just wanted to ask Skye real quick. Are you on any of the online dispensaries like Fullscript or any of the Nature's Partners, anything like that?
- We are just in the process of doing that. So, yeah, I've got an ND buddy of mine who just came on board and he's helping us out with the practitioner's side. We just hit, I believe, 400 practitioner accounts so that's growing every month. But now we're starting to, yeah, focus on some of those practitioner dispensaries specifically. So yeah, that's been super fun. It's been, yeah, a pleasure getting to work with different practitioners and just seeing the results that they're getting with their patients. I mean, it's awesome.
- Awesome. All right, well thanks so much, guys. And special thanks to you, Skye, and to Real Mushrooms 'cause that's what's responsible for bringing us all together and having this conversation. Yeah, we're gonna post all this on the website, different links to different conversations and things like that. And, of course, we'll have the info for all of you guys as well, your bios. If there's nothing else, then thanks so much. And it was a great chat. All right, guys.
- Thank you.
- Awesome. Thanks, everybody.
- [Ben] Take care. Good to see you guys.
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