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The Magic of Mushrooms

In in the last several years I have become fascinated with the powerful medicinal effects of various mushrooms. As the global pandemic worsens, I feel compelled to share with you the plant medicines that I take on a daily basis. Please note: I am not a doctor (well...not that kind of doctor) and I do not have the authority to give medical advice. I am simply sharing what I personally do on a daily basis. (However, it might be interesting to note that I have not been sick since December of 2018). In addition to the products I discuss below, I also highly recommend the following film. My wife Ingela Onstad and I watched the most amazing and glorious documentary last summer - Fantastic Fungi. I cannot give this documentary enough praise. It was so beautiful!

The most researched, and most common mushrooms are as follows: Chaga, Reishi, Turkey Tail, Cordyceps, Maitake, and Lion's Mane. Many companies combine theses powerful medicinal mushrooms together into blends.

I am not sponsored by any of the companies I mention here, nor do I receive any benefits by writing about these products. I started my mushroom journey using blends by the company OM. I used the Immunity Blend very regularly. This blend includes Reishi, Turkey Tail, Maitake, and Agaricus Blazei. When I was training for my last half marathon (Steamworks Half Marathon in Durango, CO) I used the OM Fit Blend. This blend uses Cordyceps, Lion's Mane, and Reishi mushrooms. I have no proof that the OM Fit Blend improved my performance, as there were multiple changes to my diet and fitness regiment. However, I did set my PR (personal record) in the Half-Marathon (13.1 miles) and I didn't feel terrible after the race.

Steamworks Half Marathon - Photo Credit Erik Gustafson (who was likely just there for the post race celebratory beer!)

OM sells their mushrooms in a variety of ways. I primarily used powders that my wife Ingela and I added to our smoothies. They also sell pill forms which I have also used.

During the Covid-19 global pandemic Ingela and I decided we needed to focus on supporting local businesses. (My personal mission to save the New Mexico craft beer scene led to some significant weight gain though! HA!) Instead of buying OM mushrooms at our local store, we started ordering mushrooms from Mushroom Mama in Santa Fe. We love their products and their mission. We use her Immune Warrior blend on a daily basis in our smoothies. It combines chaga, cordyceps, maitake, red reishi and shiitake with cinnamon.

Lion's Mane Mushroom

Again, these mushrooms are not going to prevent you from getting Covid-19. However, all of these mushrooms have been documented in numerous medical studies to help boost the immune system, help heal the body, increase energy, improve liver function, etc.

Below I will break down some of the individual benefits of some specific mushrooms. For many of of the benefits I am including an actual citation from a medical journal article. I believe in science. I trust and respect experts.

Reishi - beneficial for anxiety, depression, immune function, fighting cancer cells, and healthy sleep.

Turkey Tail - beneficial for immune support, cancer prevention.

Lion's Mane - Beneficial for cognition, memory, concentration. This is one that I regularly took on the day of a performance. I took this during one of my recent performance highlights (Gustav Mahler's Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen/Songs of a Wayfarer with the San Juan Symphony - SHOUT-OUT TO MAESTRO THOMAS HEUSER!). I would take Reshi mushrooms to chill-out in the evenings, and then take Lion's Mane to focus my brain before performance. I was using Four Sigmatic Mushroom Blends often when I was traveling as they come in single serve packages.

Photo Credit: Kathy Myrick (Executive Director - San Juan Symphony)

Chaga - beneficial for reducing inflammation, lowering cholesterol, and reducing oxidative stress.

In closing: I love mushrooms. (Sorry if you thought I was going to write about Magic Mushrooms! None of these mushrooms will make you feel like you have been doing the HokeyPokey with God. If you want to read about the health benefits of those varieties you can click here.)

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