Interview with Teelixir
Jason recently got in touch with Daniel Whitechurch, the founder of Teelixir. Teelixir is the first medicinal mushroom company in Australia to be certified organic. Today, they are one of the largest producers of medicinal mushroom powders in Australia and ship their products internationally.
Check out the interview below covering Daniels’s journey with medicinal mushrooms, how to identify a top quality medicinal mushroom product, and some insights into the Australian medicinal mushroom supplement industry. Daniel goes into great detail in answering each of our questions!
Q&A with Daniel
“That’s part of what makes Teelixir different. Since myself, my family and friends, and our employees all use our products, quality is the most important factor in creating our products.”
- How did you personally start your journey into the world of medicinal mushrooms?
Since 2008, I’ve been fortunate enough to travel all around the world playing music. It was always my dream to be a musician and make a living from it.
In the early years of touring, I was on the road for 6-8 months of the year. I was having the time of my life but after a few years, I started to develop some health issues.
My intense schedule and the gruelling lifestyle of being a touring musician—the hundreds of flights and layovers, late nights, poor sleep and eating habits—it all started to catch up with me and I could feel it taking a toll on my body and energy levels.
After every tour, I returned home and completely crashed. I would sometimes stay in bed for weeks. My body was burnt out, low energy, I developed chronic fatigue and was plagued with other immune and viral issues.
There were times when I had to take antibiotics just so I could get out of bed to play another show. I knew in my heart this lifestyle wasn’t sustainable and if I wanted to continue leading this musician’s life, I would need to make some changes.
I moved to Los Angeles in 2011, a city known for being a hub for health and wellness. I was desperate to find a solution to improve my health so I could continue travelling and playing music.
I began studying health and nutrition, meditation, yoga, Chinese medicine, any health modality or “hack” that would improve my health and restore my waning energy levels. Since then healthy living and optimising my performance has become another passion of mine.
From my studies during this early period, I discovered the ancient principles of Taoism and tonic herbalism. This was when I was first introduced to medicinal mushrooms.
I started taking mushroom extracts (Reishi was my first) and began boiling my own concoction of tonic herbs that I purchased from the Chinese herbal markets. I would drink these tonic elixirs daily and I could feel them having an instant effect on me.
It was commonplace to find me at the Erewhon tonic bar in Hollywood drinking a Reishi cappuccino with Gynostemma tea.
After a few months of consistently enjoying a range of tonic herbs and medicinal mushrooms I began to regain my energy levels, my sleep and mood improved, and my lifelong struggle with allergies disappeared.
10+ years later, I’m still enjoying the benefits of medicinal mushrooms every day.
- Can you please give us a brief history about Teelixir?
Around the same time that I moved to LA in 2011, on one of my tours back to Australia, I met my co-partner Julze at a farmers market outside of Melbourne.
He was selling a range of superfoods, medicinal mushrooms and other unique health products like Ormus and Fulvic Acid that really interested me at the time.
We bonded over our love for Jing tonic herbs, medicinal mushrooms and we both shared similar experiences of feeling fatigued and burnt out while battling chronic immune and viral issues.
We corresponded over email for a while and two years after we met, we decided to join forces. We formulated our first Teelixir product together—a Jing tonic blend consisting of medicinal mushrooms and tonic herbs—designed to support the adrenal glands and restore energy levels.
This was the product I wish I’d had when I started out as a touring musician.
We quickly recognised there was a need for medicinal mushrooms since many of our own family and friends were also dealing with similar issues—excessive stress, burnout and fatigue. The more research we conducted, the more we discovered how mushrooms solved a lot of health problems for many people.
This first product helped launch Teelixir and started our journey into the medicinal mushroom industry.
- What differentiates Teelixir from other brands?
The popularity of medicinal mushrooms is growing every year and more products are being introduced onto the market. For the most part, this is a great thing.
Today, it’s a lot easier to package up a medicinal mushroom, slap on a logo and launch a brand than it was 5-10 years ago.
However, like every niche in the supplement space, growing popularity means diminishing quality by some companies (not all) just trying to make a quick buck and capitalise on the booming industry.
What makes Teelixir different is that since the beginning, our goal has always been to source the highest quality, certified organic medicinal mushrooms at an affordable price.
Our mission is to provide education and access to these “original superfoods”, what we call medicinal mushrooms, to as many people as possible.
We follow up our mission by consistently seeking out the best quality certified organic medicinal mushrooms. We produce the cleanest, most nutrient dense and efficacious extracts available on the market.
We validate our quality sources with regular independent testing for heavy metals and beta-D-glucans (polysaccharides), one of the most important compounds present in medicinal mushrooms for energy and immune support.
Mushrooms are like sponges, they absorb all the good and bad things that are present in the environment they grow in. For this reason, it’s critical that we conduct regular lab testing to confirm quality and safety.
It still surprises me today that most brands selling medicinal mushrooms do not share the beta-D-glucan content of their mushroom products.
That’s part of what makes Teelixir different. Since myself, my family and friends, and our employees all use our products, quality is the most important factor in creating our products.
“We validate our quality sources with regular independent testing for heavy metals and beta-D-glucans (polysaccharides), one of the most important compounds present in medicinal mushrooms for energy and immune support… It still surprises me today that most brands selling medicinal mushrooms do not share the beta-D-glucan content of their mushroom products.”
- What are some recent achievements by Teelixir?
One of our proudest achievements was becoming the first company to offer certified organic medicinal mushrooms in Australia.
Becoming certified organic has always been a huge goal for our brand.
Since medicinal mushrooms consume what is in their environment, the good and the bad, certified organic is a guarantee for the consumer that their medicinal mushrooms are grown and sourced from a clean environment without the use of chemicals or pesticides and free from heavy metals.
As a result of our certified organic status, Teelixir won the award for Best New Product of the Year from the ACO (Australian Certified Organics) for our Mushroom Cacao Latte with Reishi and Rose. This was another proud moment for Teelixir.
We’re looking forward to further expansion this year into Asia and the USA.
- What has been the biggest challenge for Teelixir in the medicinal mushroom industry? How did you overcome it?
Historically, it was not easy to find high quality, certified organic medicinal mushroom extracts that met our strict quality standards.
This was one of our biggest challenges in the early stages.
At the time, most organic sources were mycelium grown on grain which offered a product with very little potency or nutritional value even though shrewd mushroom producers and suppliers would tell us otherwise.
These lab grown organic mushroom extracts showed high readings of polysaccharides which looked good on the surface, however, further analysis and testing revealed these polysaccharides were alpha-glucans (not beta-glucans) due to the high starch content from the grains that remained in the final product.
Fortunately, thanks to efforts from early pioneer mycologists such as Jeff Chilton, the medicinal mushroom industry has grown and developed a lot in the past decade, especially the certified organic industry in China.
We remained vigilant, did our research and asked the right questions. After testing dozens of different sources from all over the world, we eventually found a partner that could supply us with certified organic medicinal mushrooms extracted using fruiting bodies that were wild cultivated on wood. These concentrated extracts were naturally high in beta-D-glucans with nominal amounts of starch.
Why are certified organic mushrooms so important?
Fungi are the most valuable natural recyclers (and re-composers) on earth. Fungi exist to help maintain a healthy ecosystem by breaking down dense organic material (dead trees, fallen leaves etc.) into a much finer organic matter into humus, minerals, and nutrients that feeds and nourishes other mushrooms, plants, animals, and insects.
Mushrooms do a terrific job of cleaning and recycling nature and putting it back to good use. But mushrooms also have the tendency to bioaccumulate everything and anything that might be in the environment. They absorb the good stuff and the bad stuff.
This means, in a polluted environment, mushrooms will absorb nasty toxins, chemicals, heavy metals, industrial pollution, toxic runoff from waterways, radioactivity and air pollution.
Certified organic mushrooms guarantee the sources are grown and collected from pristine environments that aren’t loaded with nasty toxins, chemicals or heavy metals that we may be unknowingly consuming in the final product.
It also guarantees you’re consuming mushrooms that have been produced without the use of synthetics additives, pesticides, chemical fertilisers, dyes and not processed using industrial solvents or irradiation.
With certified organic status, you’re able to trace all the ingredients back from exactly where they are sourced, adding an additional level of trust and assurance that what you’re consuming is medicinal mushroom products free from any harmful toxins.
- From the enquiries that you receive, what are the most common health conditions that people face and use your products for?
Teelixir products serve a wide range of health benefits. Our customers seek out our brand for a variety of reasons. Many are looking for solutions to battle their fatigue, increase energy levels, reduce stress and anxiety, boost brain health, improve gut health and promote sleep.
Since the global pandemic in 2020, many customers are also seeking antiviral, antioxidant boosting and immune supportive supplements which are some of the key benefits of medicinal mushrooms.
There are hundreds of thousands of mushroom species in the world. According to ancient texts and scientific studies, close to 700 varieties are believed to have preventative and therapeutic properties beneficial to human health.
There are many compounds, constituents, and nutrients in medicinal mushrooms that benefit human health, but the most well studied and tested are carbohydrate molecules called polysaccharides (long-chain sugars), more specifically beta-glucans, and the triterpenes.
The polysaccharides and triterpenes are extremely beneficial to our health as they are believed to stimulate and strongly enhance our immune system. They work to increase T-cell activity, macrophage activity, natural killer cell and neutrophil activity. This is very important for any kind of pathogenic invasion or disease that may be taking place in the body where the immune system is called to respond.
The triterpenes help modulate the immune response and have been reported to have adaptogenic, anti-inflammatory, antihypertensive and anti-allergenic effects.
Medicinal mushrooms also contain antiviral activity and have high antioxidant values comparable to resveratrol. They act as prebiotics in the gut to help establish good flora in the body, and increase the good bacteria and suppress the bad bacteria while supporting fungal overgrowth conditions like candida.
Medicinal mushrooms work to enhance our own intelligence and wisdom, strengthen the mind, increase memory and prolong life. These nourishing tonics help build the body’s resistance, aid in detoxification, affect the blood, protect and support the functions of the Heart, Liver, Kidneys, Lungs, skin, and joints.
Overall, medicinal mushrooms are powerful allies that help support and nourish life.
Here are a list of common health issues and which medicinal mushrooms may offer some support:
- Stress and Anxiety (Reishi, Lion’s Mane, Cordyceps)
- Energy (Chaga, Cordyceps, Reishi)
- Brain Health (Lion’s Mane, Reishi, Cordyceps, Chaga)
- Immunity (Maitake, Turkey Tail, Reishi, Chaga, Cordyceps, Shiitake, Agaricus blazei, Lion’s Mane)
- Gut Health (Turkey Tail, Chaga, Lion’s Mane, Reishi)
- Hormone Health (Cordyceps, Reishi, Maitake, Lion’s Mane)
- Inflammation (Chaga, Cordyceps, Reishi, Turkey Tail)
- Antioxidants (Chaga, Cordyceps, Reishi, Turkey Tail)
- Skin and Hair Health (Tremella, Chaga, Reishi)
- Sleep (Reishi, Lion’s Mane)
- Bone Health (Shiitake, Maitake, Agaricus blazei)
- What future challenges do you anticipate for Teelixir in the medicinal mushroom industry? Where do you see the industry heading?
It’s an exciting time to be a mushroom.
Historically, fungi have lived in the shadows for centuries–which is typically how they grow best–but their relevance and popularity in western culture is growing exponentially year over year.
Even though mycophobia—the fear of fungi—still persists in the West, we’re witnessing that fear and the misunderstanding of mushrooms start to erode as they become more widely accepted and understood.
As the industry continues to boom, the application and use of medicinal mushrooms will widen. I expect to see medicinal mushrooms in all kinds of new products from protein shakes, kombucha, alcohol and non-alcoholic beverages, protein bars, skincare and more.
I personally feel two ways about the rapid industry growth.
The growing awareness of medicinal mushrooms and their health benefits is wonderful. This will inevitably lead to more people having access to mushroom products and ultimately improve the health of everyone using them.
The potential downside is once medicinal mushrooms become more globally accepted, naturally, bigger players will enter the space trying to capitalise on the growing market.
Most of the time, larger companies with deep pockets, only have their sights on bottom line revenues at the expense of product quality. This could potentially dilute the quality of medicinal mushrooms on the market and create confusion amongst consumers.
But this is nothing new. This is the nature of capitalism, especially in the supplement industry.
Therefore, it will be on us as the early adopters and true advocates for medicinal mushrooms to continually educate the market about what it means to source high quality organic mushrooms and what are the pitfalls consumers should watch out for.
Either way, the future looks bright for fungi and the people that accept medicinal mushrooms into their lives.
- What constitutes a good quality product?
There are many quality factors that need to be considered when sourcing high quality medicinal mushroom products.
Since there are varying qualities of mushroom products on the market, consumers need to be vigilant and educate themselves on the differences in quality and potency.
In my opinion, this is what consumers should consider when buying any medicinal mushroom product:
- Certified organic sources
- Sourced from clean environment, preferably grown in semi-wild conditions
- Di Tao authentic sourcing
- Clean (free from toxins such as heavy metals)
- Potent (quality verified and confirmed to have active levels of beta-D-glucans)
- Concentrated extracts of at least 10:1 ratio.
- Dual extracted by water and/or alcohol.
Wherever possible, it’s best to buy certified organic medicinal mushrooms that have been regulated by a certification body such as the ACO in Australia or the USDA in America.
These regulatory bodies have strict organic standards and will conduct regular audits on companies to verify that these standards are met. This guarantees those companies work only with organic suppliers and farmers that adhere to those same organic standards. They grow or wild harvest mushrooms in clean environments and without the use of chemicals, pesticides or fertilisers.
Certified organic status gives consumers the confidence that they will be buying mushroom products that are at the very least, safe and clean for consumption and free from heavy metals.
If certified organic is not possible, another quality factor to consider is the environment and location the medicinal mushrooms are grown.
It’s my belief that the best quality mushrooms are sourced from China and come from their original growing source, or what is known as “Di Tao” locations.
The term “daodi medicinal material” refers to a concept that has been widely recognized in the Chinese medicinal industry for centuries.
Di Tao is challenging to define in English. It’s a concept that associates authenticity and quality with specific regions and production practices. It was best defined by experts at the 390th Xiangshan Scientific Conference in Beijing in 2011:
“Medicinal material that is produced and assembled in specific geographic regions with designated natural conditions and ecological environment, with particular attention to cultivation technique, harvesting and processing. These factors lead to quality and clinical effects surpassing those of the same botanical origin produced from other regions, and thus is widely recognised and has long enjoyed a good reputation.”
In Chinese herbal medicine, about 500 medicinal materials are commonly found in trade, and approximately 200 of these have specific Di Tao forms. The medicinal mushrooms are included in this.
While Di Tao grown mushrooms might not be officially regulated like certified organic, it speaks to the importance of where medicinal mushrooms should be grown to produce potent and efficacious medicinal mushroom products.
Additionally, Di Tao mushrooms often follow wild cultivation farming methods, also known as “semi-wild” cultivation.
Wild cultivated mushrooms are grown from seed (spore) then placed into a natural environment (an isolated mountain range or forest) and allowed to grow naturally without human interference.
The “semi-wild” cultivation process simulates the wild mushroom’s growing conditions where it can accumulate food and energy naturally. This method produces medicinal mushrooms with a chemical profile closely similar to the wild fungi.
While certified organic status and Di Tao grown mushrooms are an ideal benchmark, it does not necessarily guarantee a potent or efficacious medicinal mushroom product. Therefore, further analysis and testing is required.
As mentioned, high quality medicinal mushroom extracts should be validated by regular independent testing for heavy metals and beta-D-glucans (polysaccharides).
Many mushroom companies will attempt to convince the consumer that their product is high in polysaccharides which may indicate the presence of grain in a mushroom product which lowers the quality significantly. This signals the mushroom product may have been grown using mycelium grown on grain methods (more detail in the following question).
A more valuable metric to know is the percentage of beta-D-glucans.
Beta-D-glucans are a type of polysaccharide and one of the most important compounds present in medicinal mushrooms for energy and immune support.
We live in a culture where most consumers are looking for fast results. Concentrated mushroom fruiting body extracts have shown to offer a wider range of health benefits versus mushroom products made from the mycelium.
Medicinal mushroom extracts that are produced at a concentrated ratio of at least 10:1 (this follows TCM guidelines) tend to be the most potent and bioavailable. This ratio also gives consumers the best bang (health benefits) for their buck.
To explain the extraction process further, most medicinal mushrooms are woody and fibrous. In their raw form, mushrooms are very difficult for the body to digest. This is why all mushrooms need to be processed in some way, even culinary mushrooms should be cooked first. No more raw mushrooms on your salad!
The cell-walls of mushrooms are made from chitin (another polysaccharide) that needs to be broken down (extracted) to make the important compounds–polysaccharides and triterpenoids–of the medicinal mushrooms more bioavailable.
Consuming raw mushrooms without this extraction means the body must perform its own set of digestive “extraction” processes to assimilate the compounds bound to the fibre–chitin. This causes added stress to our GI tract and therefore, is not a very effective nor efficient method for absorbing the health-promoting compounds in these medicinal mushrooms. The body ends up using more energy than it gains.
Common extraction methods for medicinal mushrooms involve using hot water, alcohol or both solvents to extract the polysaccharides and triterpenes. The hot water is used to extract the immune-supportive polysaccharides (water soluble compounds) and the alcohol extracts the triterpenoids, antioxidants and other oil soluble compounds.
Depending on the mushroom, some species require dual extraction with water and alcohol, and others only need hot water extraction.
At Teelixir, we get asked a lot of quality verifying questions. These are some questions consumers might ask medicinal mushroom brands before buying their products:
- Are your medicinal mushrooms certified organic?
- Is your mushroom product made from the fruiting body?
- Is there any mycelium or other fillers in your mushroom products?
- Do you measure the beta-D-glucan content in your medicinal mushrooms?
- What is the percentage of beta-glucans in your mushroom products?
- Will you share your third party tested heavy metal reports?
- Is your mushroom product extracted using water, alcohol or both?
- What is the concentration ratio?
- What are your thoughts on the use of mycelium in products?
“Scientific studies show that most of the valuable nutrients of medicinal mushrooms are more highly concentrated in the fruit bodies. “
We choose not to use mycelium in our medicinal mushroom products.
There are various reasons for this. It’s not to say there are no benefits in mycelium, in fact, there is nutritional value in all parts of medicinal mushrooms–the mycelium, fruiting body and spores.
However, scientific studies show that most of the valuable nutrients of medicinal mushrooms are more highly concentrated in the fruit bodies.
Therefore, in our opinion, the more superior and nutrient dense medicinal mushroom products on the market use the mushroom fruiting body.
This is where the difference in origins and growing techniques can create some confusion in the marketplace.
To explain further:
Commercially, medicinal mushroom products are produced in two ways: grown and harvested as mushroom fruiting bodies or alternatively, grown as mycelium over a sterilised grain base, or what is known as mycelium on grain (MOG).
MOG cultivation is achieved by growing the fungal mycelium on a sterilised grain substrate, usually oats or brown rice. This is similar to how tempeh is produced.
The problem with this method is that a lot of residual grain (starch) remains in the final mushroom product and isn’t filtered out in the process. What you’re actually getting, in the final product, is a “mushroom” powder high in grain starch (alpha-glucans) and low in many of the bioactive compounds such as beta-D-glucans and triterpenoids.
Growing mushroom mycelium on grain was designed as a cheap alternative for manufacturer’s and is very fast to produce. Unfortunately, the results and benefits are not nearly the same.
With mycelium on grain mushrooms, you are essentially getting a lot of ground rice (or other grain substrate material) with low potency mycelium.
Mushroom fruiting bodies, on the other hand, are cultivated on wood substrates, the preferred food source for a wild mushroom, not junk food grains.
Wood substrates are the optimal food source for mushrooms (basidiomycetes)–the same food source they consume in nature–and contain the right nutrition and metabolites equivalent to produce a healthy and strong mushroom rich in the right components to support human health.
Using a wood substrate (oak log, for example) for growing mushroom fruiting bodies is a much more natural growing method and closely resembles the wild environment in which a mushroom naturally grows in.
This is known as “semi-wild” or “wild-cultivation” and a principle of Di Tao.
The mushroom is allowed to grow naturally with little human interference, living symbiotically with nature and having to fend for itself to survive against the harsh weather, climate, plants, insects and other microorganisms.
By eating the right foods and coming out on top as the dominant organism in the log, all these factors produce a super mushroom with increased adaptogenic qualities. The difference this makes in the final efficacy of the mushroom is amazing.
When searching for a quality mushroom product, we want to be consuming the active fruiting body of the mushroom.
The only exception is with Cordyceps mushroom.
Today, Cordyceps sinensis is the most expensive herb in the world fetching a price in excess of $20,000 USD per kilogram. This makes it unviable for companies to sell wild Cordyceps sinensis for commercial use.
Science is yet to discover how to grow Cordyceps sinensis fruiting bodies. Instead, alternative cultivation methods were developed in the 1970’s to produce a potent Cordyceps extract that is genetically and analytically bio-identical to the wild Cordyceps sinensis that occurs in Nature.
This is achieved by growing the mushroom biomass (mycelium) in large tanks using modern “fermentation” technology, not mycelium grown on grain.
These cultivated Cordyceps mushrooms are grown using a strain of the wild fungi material (fruiting body species of Cordyceps sinensis) which is liquid fermented in large tanks (vegan-based medium) and then produced into a potent and highly absorbable extract powder.
The great benefit of this is that it can produce large quantities very quickly and at a far less cost than collecting the wild material off the cliffs of a peak in the Himalayas.
Over the years the technology has become so highly advanced that it is now possible to produce a variety of Cordyceps (named “CS-4”) that is completely identical to the wild fungi.
Cultivated Cordyceps CS-4 is a premier tonic herb. In fact, a lot of studies are now showing that the cultivated variety shares all the same benefits as the wild Cordyceps sinensis and that it is just as potent and efficacious. Some even say the cultivated variety (Cordyceps CS-4) is even better.
- Various brands discredit the use of Chinese grown mushrooms and promote locally grown mushrooms? Why is this so?
“We’ve spent many years meticulously sourcing and testing dozens of companies all over the world from China, Japan, USA, Germany, and Australia. What we discovered is the cleanest and most potent mushroom extract powders with the highest concentration of nutraceutical compounds all originated from China… It’s no surprise when you learn that China has been cultivating mushrooms since the 12th century, far longer than anyone else, and they do it better than anyone else.”
In my experience, if other brands or talking heads are discrediting the use of Chinese grown mushrooms, it’s usually because of a lack of education and awareness, or they’re trying to serve their own agenda.
As someone that has travelled extensively around China and understands Chinese culture and the deep reverence and respect the people have for mushrooms, it always saddens me to hear Westerners use blanket statements to disrespect Chinese grown mushrooms.
I absolutely support locally grown foods, I purchase local foods everyday, and if you’re buying mushrooms for culinary use then yes, locally grown mushrooms are a great option.
However, when it comes to medicinal mushrooms, our company has always been seeking to source the very best organic quality.
And based on our experience, locally grown medicinal mushrooms are not the best quality.
We’ve spent many years meticulously sourcing and testing dozens of companies all over the world from China, Japan, USA, Germany, and Australia. What we discovered is the cleanest and most potent mushroom extract powders with the highest concentration of nutraceutical compounds all originated from China.
It’s no surprise when you learn that China has been cultivating mushrooms since the 12th century, far longer than anyone else, and they do it better than anyone else.
Currently, 80% of the world’s mushroom supply comes from China. The fact is Chinese grown mushrooms have proven to be more potent and efficacious.
There are a number of reasons for this. This is why we absolutely believe China produces the highest quality, organic medicinal mushrooms in the world:
- Medicinal mushrooms are highly revered in China and play a deep part in their culture and heritage. For example, the cultivation of Reishi mushroom (Ganoderma lucidum) is heavily regulated by the government and it is illegal to use any chemicals or pesticides during cultivation.
- Contrary to what many people believe, Chinese farmers do not grow medicinal mushrooms in heavily populated and polluted cities. They are grown in the high altitude mountains and dense forest in areas such as Jilin and Heilongjiang provinces in the North East.
- Most medicinal mushrooms are grown in semi-wild conditions, not a sterile lab. As we discussed, the “semi-wild” cultivation process simulates wild mushroom growing conditions where it can accumulate food and energy naturally.
- The Chinese climate in the mountains is incredibly harsh and brutal. Wild weather conditions and cold temperatures force the mushrooms to adapt to their environment and ultimately make the mushrooms grow stronger. From our testing, Chinese grown mushrooms possess more adaptogenic qualities and compounds such as triterpenoids than mushrooms grown in a laboratory.
No one is denying the extensive air pollution, industrial chemicals, and polluted waterways in and around the major cities in China, and other lowland areas that may affect other foods and consumer goods that are sourced from China.
However, this does not apply to the medicinal mushroom industry because of how deep rooted and respected mushrooms are in Chinese culture.
I always encourage consumers to keep an open mind and learn more about Chinese culture and their heritage.
As a society, we need to move away from the misinformed ideas around everything that comes from China is inherently “bad” or of poor quality.
- The use of psilocybin to treat depression and addiction is growing in popularity, and 10 years ago I personally had a long-lasting positive experience with psilocybin cubensis. Have you had experience with psilocybin? What are your thoughts on this within the medicinal mushroom industry?
I’ve had both positive and negative experiences with psilocybin. However, my positive experiences far outweigh the negative.
I’m a big advocate for the use of psilocybin as an alternative treatment to improve depression, addiction, and other mental health disorders as a way to offer peace and comfort for terminally ill patients.
This kind of alternative treatment is groundbreaking and it’s where I believe psilocybin has its greatest value.
In my opinion, the way mental health is handled today is sad and devastating. Very few advancements have been made in the last four decades and there just aren’t enough effective solutions for people suffering.
It’s outrageous that psilocybin was outlawed for decades and scientific studies of these compounds were forbidden. This political oversight caused a terrible disservice for mental health communities across the globe and closed off a lot of people from receiving the help they needed.
As awareness grows and the legislation around psilocybin use starts to loosen its grip, it’s my hope that in the coming years we will conduct new studies using psilocybin to design more effective therapeutic solutions to help alleviate mental health conditions.
How psilocybin relates to the medicinal mushroom industry, I tend to separate the two completely.
However, I can see a world in the near future where medicinal mushrooms and psilocybin are stacked together to enhance their benefits.
There are some in the microdosing community that are already experimenting with different combinations of mushrooms and psilocybin. For example, psilocybin + Lion’s Mane mushroom + niacin is a combination for the potential benefit of creating new neural pathways and repairing neurological damage.
But for the most part, medicinal mushrooms and psilocybin serve different purposes in my mind.
Medicinal mushrooms are consumed daily to optimise the health and performance of the body whereas, psilocybin, under strict guidance from a professional can potentially reverse years or a lifetime of mental pain and hardship.
Medicinal mushrooms are a lifestyle. Long term consumption of medicinal mushrooms improves health over time.
The difference with psilocybin is it could only be consumed once in a person’s lifetime to have potential lifelong positive effects.
- If you could choose one, what is the most interesting discovery or fact of medicinal mushrooms that you would like to share?
Some scientists and mycology experts suggest humans used to be mushrooms.
Most people would assume mushrooms are more similar to a vegetative organism since their outward appearance (fruiting body) looks more like a plant.
However, the most interesting fact to me about fungi is that their genetic composition is actually more similar to humans than plants. In fact, humans share nearly 50 percent of their DNA with fungi and around 85% of the same ribosomal RNA.
That means you’re half a mushroom.
What’s more fascinating is that there are specific immune-cell receptor sites in the body that are designed to only receive the unique polysaccharide compounds contained in fungi. When we consume medicinal mushrooms, those immune cells are activated or, “switched on”, by beta-D-glucans and other polysaccharides.
Mushrooms even breathe the same way as humans; they inhale oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide (CO2). We also contract many of the same viruses as fungi. Additionally, when mushrooms are exposed to sunlight they can produce vitamin D — just like humans.
These pieces of evidence plus many more is why some scientists believe that human beings may have developed (or co-evolved) alongside fungi.
That is incredibly fascinating to me.
- What is your favourite medicinal mushroom, Daniel?
Reishi mushroom will always be my number one. It’s the first medicinal mushroom I consumed and the one that has had the greatest impact on my life.
Reishi mushroom helps lighten the body, calm the mind, and the spirit and can affect a profound transformation on a person’s life.
While it’s difficult to scientifically validate and verify these kinds of mental and physiological changes in people, it’s not uncommon to hear similar anecdotal stories of transformation from other long-term Reishi mushroom users.
After consuming Reishi for many years, I am still experiencing deeper levels of the many physical, emotional, and spiritual health benefits that this incredible mushroom can offer.
It has changed the overall perspective and course of my life significantly.
I’ve noticed that I’m much calmer and patient in the face of adversity and no longer that short-fused and overly reactive person that I once was.
I can honestly say that Reishi mushroom has affected my spirit deeply, helped guide me to find my purpose and find greater meaning and fulfilment in my life.
Given the current state of the world, if there is one herbal medicine I could pass on to everyone, it would be Reishi mushroom.
It might be one of the most important herbal medicines in our lifetime. For me, it is a medicinal mushroom that I will continue to take every day for the rest of my life.
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