A friendly intro to medical mushrooms and their benefits
A mycelium is a network of fungal threads. Mycelia often grow underground but can also thrive in other places such as rotting tree trunks. It grows all around, but you might not even know it's there.
The mycelium network is intelligent; it can learn from its environment to find resources more effectively. The power of this system lies in its decentralised nature. There is not one individual that controls this network, and instead each piece remains autonomous whilst still connected to others through a complex web of connections. (This is pretty similar to how we communicate with each other - pretty smart right?).
Mycelial networks are unique and do more than just support mushrooms. They form strong ties between plants and trees, allowing them to exchange nutrients. In healthy forests, each tree is connected to others via this network, enabling trees to share water and nutrients. For saplings growing in particularly shady areas, there is not enough sunlight reaching their leaves to perform adequate photosynthesis. The sapling relies on nutrients and sugar from older, taller trees sent through the mycorrhizal network for survival. A study on Douglas-fir trees at the University of Reading indicates that trees recognise the root tips of their relatives and favour them when sending carbon and nutrients through the fungal network.
The mycorrhizal network plays a distribution role in keeping the mycelium-connected trees alive and healthy and the fungi's supply of carbon consistent. As payment for their services, the network retains about 30% of the sugar that the connected trees generate through photosynthesis.
If you want to learn more about this magical world, we can't recommend Paul Stamets's Fantastic Fungi on Netflix enough.
Mushrooms have been used medicinally since ancient times—and they still play a significant role today in many people's diets and holistic health practices.
One of the first recorded mentions of mushroom-based medicine was in traditional Chinese medicine around 600BC. The Greeks and Romans later used them for various ailments.
The Shennong Ben Cao Jing (Shennong's Materia Medica) is an ancient Chinese text written in the 2nd century BC. It is the oldest and most essential text on Chinese medicine. It talked about the numerous benefits of medicinal mushrooms and the powers of other plants. Modern science has confirmed much of traditional Chinese thought surrounding the healing powers of mushrooms.
For the ancient Greeks, mushrooms were considered a symbol of fertility and rebirth. They used them as part of their religious ceremonies, both psychedelic and medical. As for the Romans, they believed that mushrooms could help you see into the future and gave them to people who had just been born or those about to die, so they could "see" what was in store for them.
Whilst we wish our mushrooms could do all that, they're still considered some of the most powerful health-enhancing foods. They contain many important health-promoting compounds that will support your life—including antioxidants, polysaccharides, polyphenols, beta-glucans and ergosterol.
Adaptogens are a class of herbs that can help your body adapt to stress, whether that stress is physical or mental. They're often referred to as "nature's balancers" because of their ability to restore the body from a state of imbalance and improve overall health. Like medical mushrooms, these plants have been used for thousands of years. Adaptogens are not quite mushrooms but more on that later.
How do adaptogens work?
Adaptogens work by regulating your hypothalamic, pituitary, and adrenal glands (where your body deals with stress) to spend longer in an optimally balanced state. They work by hacking the stress response in your body. Naturally, when our bodies are stressed, we go through three stages:
+ alarm phase
+ phase of resistance
+ phase of exhaustion
When we encounter a stressor — say, we begin lifting weights, our body responds in the alarm phase by producing hormones like adrenaline that improve muscle performance and our ability to concentrate in the phase of resistance. Our body is resisting the stressor, so we feel energised and powerful, thanks to our body giving us a boost to fight the stressor.
And then, as we fatigue, we enter the exhaustion phase. Adaptogens stretch out that "sweet spot" in the middle — the stage of resistance — allowing us to hang out in the powerful part longer. The same response happens with our emotions. Our body releases or reduces levels of hormones like dopamine and serotonin based on events which can determine how we feel. Adaptogens help keep us more level, balancing the highs and the lows.
Adaptogens vs mushrooms
especially the ones we at use No Ordinary Moments - but not every mushroom is an adaptogen. Adaptogenic mushrooms include reishi, chaga, turkey tail, lion's mane, and cordyceps. But the list of adaptogens goes far beyond these including many more plants like ashwagandha, ginseng, holy basil, maca, licorice and schisandra.
We should use adaptogens in conjunction with other stress coping measures like yoga or mindfulness meditation. They're not a cure for stress but a fantastic addition that can assist and amplify your efforts to manage all sorts of pressures your body comes under.
The first step to incorporating mushrooms and adaptogens into your life is figuring out what you want to achieve. It's easy to get caught up in fad diets and too good to be true benefits. The truth is: you should be thinking about how you want to feel and live your life.
Medical mushrooms are great if you're looking to:
+ Decrease stress
+ Increase energy levels
+ Be more focused and productive
+ Reduce inflammation
+ Reduce oxidative stress
+ Improve immune function
+ Support cognitive health and memory
+ Boost gut health
And much more. Read more about the benefits of seven medical mushrooms here.
Most people will experience some benefits from regularly taking medical mushrooms. They are not a silver bullet but another great tool to add to your physical and mental health arsenal.
Let's take reishi as an example. Also known as the 'chill one', it is great for helping you de-stressing, detoxing and mood boosting. One study on 132 Chinese patients with neurasthenia found that the group who ingested reishi mushrooms extracts for eight weeks had improved reports of aches, pains, and dizziness. Not only that, but their feelings of irritability improved, suggesting that reishi mushrooms may also act as a mood booster.
It's not as powerful as something like a benzodiazepine, so adding other stress-relieving activities like meditation and exercise as part of a holistic health plan will make the effects of reishi much more impactful.
We strongly believe in the benefits of incorporating medical mushrooms into your diet, so give them a go and see how you get on and feel the difference.
You can get a daily dose of medical mushrooms in Moksha and Plant Protein+.
Moksha is a dirty chai-style coffee alternative designed to increase energy, focus, and productivity. At the same time, escaping the jitters, anxiety and crash that comes from coffee. It contains cordyceps, reishi, lion's mane, chaga mushrooms. Plus, adaptogens like maca and turmeric.
Plant Protein+ is a plant-based protein designed to give you an energy-boosting, lean muscule-building anti-inflammatory protein. It contains cordyceps, reishi, lion's mane, chaga mushrooms. Plus a range of other powerful superfood ingredients.
For most people, the morning starts with a cup of coffee. Coffee can help you feel more alert, energised and productive. There's nothing wrong with a cup of coffee, but many people consume in excess, which can cause jitters, crashes and anxiety. If you're looking for an alternative to caffeine, there are a few medical mushrooms that have similar effects to caffeine without the drawbacks.
They also help improve focus, concentration and energy; mushrooms should be consumed consistently over time before they start working their full magic on your brain chemistry, so don't expect immediate results like caffeine..
Lion's mane mushrooms are a great alternative for keeping you focused, productive and energised instead of coffee.
A Japanese study from 2009 tested Lion's Mane on men and women aged 50-80 years over a period of 16 weeks.
Compared to the control group those who took a daily dose of Lion's Mane mushroom had higher scores on cognitive function tests at various stages during the study, but when tested again 4 weeks after the intervention stopped, their cognitive scores had declined again. Lion's Mane appears to benefit brain health when it comes to understanding, comprehension and focus, but those effects are not permanent. Instead, the benefit correlated with the daily ingestion of the mushroom.
Lion's Mane also is a catalyst for physical and mental energy production within the body. Packed with antioxidants, Lion's Mane helps increase cellular health by removing unstable molecules from the parts of the cell that create energy. This generates a clean energy sensation that caffeine and other stimulants can't provide without an ensuing crash.
You can your daily dose of lion's mane in Moksha or our Flow Tincture.
Reishi is highly regarded for its support of the endocrine system, especially the adrenal cortex, helping to balance stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline levels.
Studies have suggested that taking reishi can help you:
+ Reduce anxiousness
+ Find more stable, long-lasting focus
+ Restore balance to promote restful sleep
These are beneficial when dealing with the effects of a fast-paced, high-stress day.
You can your daily dose of reishi in Moksha or our Chill Tincture.
When it comes to choosing a mushroom supplement, look for
Quality - are the mushrooms coming from a trusted source that will ensure a high-quality product with the benefits preserved?
Ethicalness - does the company commit to ethical standards in the environment and fair treatment of their mycologists (mushroom farmers)?
Amounts - look for the total mg of mushrooms per serving.
No Ordinary Moments checks all the boxes. We cultivate all our mushrooms under optimal conditions to extract their unique benefits while removing environmental toxins. Our stringent supplier evaluation and selection system guarantees our mushrooms' safety, traceability and quality from BRC/FSSC 22000 certified manufacturing companies to protect our consumers.
Energy • Focus • Calm
Lion's mane mushroom has been revered in Asian cuisine and Chinese medicine because of its cognitive benefits.
Mood • Immunity • Calm
Reishi, the 'chill one' has supported well-being for over 2,000 years in China and Japan.
Energy • Focus • Calm
A mushroom that grows mainly on birch trees in Northern Europe. Many hail Chaga for its fantastic protective health effects on the body.
Energy • Exercise • Inflamation
An ally of athletes globally, they arrived on the global stage in the '93 Olympics games when Chinese runners who used them shattered track and field records.