Immune Boosting

The Magic of Medicinal Mushrooms

The past year or two, we've become fascinated by medicinal mushrooms. They have been pretty life changing for us and are a huge passion of ours. So much so, we're hoping to volunteer  on a mushroom farm later this year and learn all about cultivating fungi... which we're so excited for! 

We wanted to share some of our knowledge and experience of medicinal mushrooms - where to start, how to eat them, some of their benefits and our favourite companies. If your only experience of mushroom so far are the ones you buy from the supermarket, then welcome to the enormous fungi kingdom and all its magic .... 

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Images via Tumblr. 

WHAT ARE MEDICINAL MUSHROOMS?

The historical importance of mushrooms is often undervalued by mainstream society and western medicine. Mushrooms have been used for thousands of years as food, medicine and as part of spiritual practices in a range of different communities and religions. The more we learn about the fungi kingdom, the more we recognise their value in the ecosystem - they are quite literally all around us and hold so much potential! Humans are closely related to the Fungi Kingdom, therefore their benefits are lovingly received and recognised by the human body.  So what makes a medicinal mushroom any different from those you'd find in the veggie section? 

Medicinal Mushrooms are mushrooms with powerful healing properties and health benefits. When we consume these mushrooms that are rich in medicinal qualities, we absorb a variety of medicinal constituents and nutrients, increasing health and vitality.  These types of mushrooms have been such a valuable medicine for thousands of years, most notably in TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine). 

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HOW TO TAKE THEM

Our favourite way to use mushrooms is to make warm tonics or elixirs with nut/ oat / coconut milk. We have a recipe for our favourite cacao tonic here. You can also take the mushrooms in tincture form.  

When taking mushrooms, a small amount goes a long way. We use roughly 1/2 teaspoon each time, so although buying the mushrooms can initially feel expensive, they last for a very long time as they are so potent.


Some of our favourite mushrooms are as follows:

REISHI
Known as The Queen of the fungi kingdom and The mushroom of Immortality - reishi was the first medicinal mushroom I tried and I fell in love with immediately. The effects of this mushrooms are so calming for the nervous system - I can quite literally feel the relaxing, grounding effects when I take it. 

Reishi is best known in Chinese Medicine for its immune boosting properties and is prescribed for vitality and general wellbeing. Full of amino acids, polysaccharides, vitamins and minerals ... it's a super fungi full of healing  magic. If you're looking to start somewhere, we recommend Reishi.

CHAGA
If Reishi is the Queen of mushrooms, then Chaga is known as the healing King. Growing wild on birch trees in various parts of the world, the chaga fungus absorbs some of the powerful nutrients from the tree. It is known to be incredibly alkalising and a rich of source of antioxidants (which protect the body from free radical damage) and has been used for hundreds of years as a remedy for illnesses. Various studies have been released on the healing effects of Chaga against certain forms of cancer. (google Alexander Solzhenitsyn's book The Cancer Ward). Chaga chunks can be decocted into a powerful tea to promote immunity and wellness, or else it is available in powder form from various companies. 

CORDYCEPS
The cordyceps fungus is truly fascinating as it grows in the high altitudes of the Himalayas... on caterpillars (!). This mushroom has an incredible reputation for increasing stamina, vitality and strength. It's often referred to as being the mushroom for improving athletic performance and enhancing energy. Prescribed in TCM to support the function of the lungs and kidneys, it's also suggested to strengthen the immune system. 

LIONS MANE
Often used as a nerve tonic - Lions Mane can be taken to support nerve and brain function, as well as aiding digestion. Modern studies have shown it to be a potential medicine for helping diseases such as Alzheimers and dementia. It's rich in amino acids, minerals and can enhance the function of the immune system! 

 

RESOURCES TO LEARN MORE

 Rich Roll Podcast - Tero Isokauppila On Healing Mushrooms

The Life Stylist Podcast - The Magic of Mushrooms

TED TALK - 6 Ways Mushrooms Can Save the World

The Chief Life Podcast - Mason Taylor on Medicinal Mushrooms

BBC Documentary - The Magic of Mushrooms

RECCOMMENDED BRANDS & PRODUCTS

UK
Hybrid Herbs
Indigo Herbs
Sun Potion (via Raw Living)

Four Sigmatic

Rest of the World
Sun Potion
Dragon Herbs
SuperFeast


 SHOP BELOW:

 

We hope you enjoyed this post...we'd love to hear about anyones experiences with medicinal mushrooms or recommendations you have!

Fermented Carrots with Turmeric & Mustard

We've already expressed our love for fermented foods a few times on this blog, especially for homemade kombucha which we've been making for the past year. But as the days begin to get colder and we edge towards winter, fermented foods have become an even bigger part of our meals as a way to boost the immune system and fight off illnesses. Having a few fermented pickles or vegetables in the fridge is a really quick and delicious way to boost healthy stomach bacteria and add extra goodness to meals. And it's cheap to make your own too! We've been having a spoonful of these carrots with our stir-fries or curries recently  ...they're tangy, crunchy and full of healing properties from the turmeric. Overall, a great way to liven up your food when you're feeling sluggish and bunged up! 

Mustard Fermented Carrots with Turmeric

People are often a little unsure about making their own ferments at home, but we promise, it's not as difficult as you might think and it's a satisfying process to see your foods transform over time. As with a lot of things, it's really about using your instincts  to decide when the ferments are ready. The flavours will develop and change throughout the fermentation - keep tasting and decide when the flavours are how you like them! 

 

Ingredients (Makes around 800g - 2 medium jars)
750g organic carrots, chopped into thin slices
1 inch of fresh ginger, finely chopped
1 small clove of garlic, finely chopped   
4 teaspoons of lightly crushed mustard seeds
3 teaspoons of fresh turmeric (grated)  or 2 teaspoons of dried turmeric powder
3 teaspoons of sea salt
Juice of 1/2 a lemon

Method
1. Sterilise your jars with boiling water. 
2. Add all the ingredients to a large mixing bowl. Massage everything for 5-10 minutes (be warned that the turmeric may stain your fingers!). The carrots will eventually begin to release some water. 
3. Add everything to your jars, including the water from the carrots. Squeeze everything down into the jar as much as possible with a wooden spoon or hands, trying to get rid of any air bubbles. 
4.If the carrots are not completely submerged in their own juices, then cover them with a small amount of water. Place the jar lid on loosely. 
5. Leave the jar somewhere out of direct sunlight for around 4-5 days. The carrots are ready when they've reached your desired tangy-ness. Store them in the fridge once ready - the flavours will continue to change and mellow in the fridge. Like many fermented products, we really do find that the flavours get better with time. Good things come to those who wait.... 

Happy Fermenting <3  
Have you ever tried fermenting anything? We'd love to hear your thoughts & experiences!