A Beginner’s Guide to Medicinal Mushrooms

words :: Julia Murray

The fall in the Sea to Sky is known for a few distinct qualities: It’s dark. It’s moist. It’s stormy. For a mushroom however, the very elements of darkness and intensity mean one thing—time to thrive.

Around the world, researchers are looking at mushrooms as solutions to everything from single-use packaging to cleaning contaminated soil. Their simple act of decomposing back to the earth is what fuels growth and life around them. Found on every continent, including Antarctica, mushroom bodies are made up of threads called mycelium that act as a kind of underground internet, linking the roots of different plants together so they can communicate, share nutrients and help each other out. 

Cool, or what?

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When we consume certain types of mushrooms something similar happens. Medicinal mushrooms act as adaptogens, helping our bodies return to homeostasis (balance). All medicinal mushrooms are packed with antioxidants (hello anti-aging) and have strong anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting benefits (helping prevent chronic diseases and cancers), plus they each have their own unique superpowers. 

Let’s get shroomy.

But, how these mushrooms are grown and extracted is important. Longtime Sea to Sky resident and professional snowmobiler, Chris Brown recently discovered a passion for mycology (mushroom studies). During his research in Oregon on how to set up a commercial mushroom farm, he met the mycologist he’s working with now. Brown (along with Gabe Glosband, a university friend who’s been feeling sharp and healthy using medicinal mushrooms) is launching Stay Wyld Organics, collecting five types of these super shrooms for distribution throughout the Sea to Sky and beyond.

“I’ve been adding powdered mushrooms to smoothies every morning for more than a year and I haven’t been sick since,” Brown says. “Lion’s mane in particular has had an amazing effect on me. I’ve had 20 concussions and was feeling a bit lost after the last one, but it’s helped me have clear thoughts and focus again.”  

For now, Stay Wyld sources mushrooms from the organic farm in Oregon and sustainable harvesting in Canada. Many medicinal mushrooms found in health food stores are grown in China, but Brown says his primary goal is to have North American-sourced mushrooms, and eventually grow at his own commercial farm in Pemberton.

“It’s important to eat food and medicine that is organic and as local as possible,” he says. 

In November, Stay Wyld plans to launch ten mushroom products. Steam-extracted for optimal bioabsorption, the mushrooms are consumed as a powder or capsule and can offer a number of health benefits (see sidebar). Brown also adds that Stay Wyld is committed to zero single-use plastic, using glass jars and tin lids. 

“Persuading manufacturers to do this is not an easy task,” Brown says. “But hopefully our plastic-free demand will inspire other businesses to do the same.”

There’s no doubt the Sea to Sky’s health-conscious population will fall in love with mushrooms and their benefits. How couldn’t you fall in love with something that lives in the darkest, wettest and creepiest parts of the forest—and still calls themselves fun guys?

5 Medicinal Mushrooms

Lion’s Mane

Lion’s mane, aka the “smart mushroom,” is known to reduce inflammation and improve focus. It’s also been used to treat anxiety and depression, and can help heal nervous system injuries and even boost heart health.

Chaga

Chaga is a powerful mushroom with the highest antioxidant potency of any superfood (1,362 times stronger than blueberries). It helps stimulate bile flow (for fat digestion), and supports the body’s reaction to stressful environments.

Cordyceps

Cordyceps is well known in the athletic world to increase the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which in turn boosts exercise performance and improves oxygen use throughout the body. 

Turkey Tail

Turkey tail is the best selling “anti-cancer” mushroom in the Japanese supermarket because of its ability to enhance white blood cell production and destroy pathogens. It also acts as a prebiotic which is great for gut health.

Reishi

Reishi (aka the queen of mushrooms and immortality) is popular for helping your body deal with stress. It also supports better quality sleep.

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