At Medicine Box we are all about introducing our community to our little friends — the terpenes, herbs and other active compounds in our products.
This month, we’d like to introduce you to what Mexican curandera Maria Sabina called her “little children” — the brand-new mushrooms that we’re bringing into the formularies. Simply put, natural medicine means more than plants and herbs — it also means working with the powerful fungi that work both within and without our bodies for greater mental and spiritual health. Mushrooms add to the entourage effect of our products, adding vitality and strength to the mix.
Photo by Andrew Ridley
We’re not the first to notice. In Entangled Life, Merlin Sheldrake relates a story about a call mycologist folk hero Paul Stamets received from the Department of Defense and Department of Health for a new initiative called Project Bioshield. Its mission: to stockpile medicinal defenses in the case of a terrorist attack. Some of thes strongest compounds tested were some of Stamets’ fungi against smallpox, the flu and herpes. Traditional Chinese medicine practitioners, of course, have been falling back on the fungi for at least 2000 years since it first started appearing in printed pharmacopoeia, and most likely even longer in oral tradition. Now people are beginning to use these as both stimulating supplements and potent superfoods to power them through their day.
Even more exciting is the work being done in mental health. The work being done connecting psilocybin to long-term improvements in mindfulness and their potential use in bringing peace to treatment-resistant depression patients (meaning patients who have tried at least two interventions for their depression with no luck.) was discussed here two months ago. That said, we recognize that even non-psychoactive medicinal and functional mushrooms can aid us in our needful quests for serenity. So welcome these new additions to our brand new Vital Recovery formulation. We’re sure they’ll grow on you. ;-)
A tree-rotting canker growing on birch trees and rarely on elm and beech, chaga may look like a burnt marshmallow, but it’s been studied for supposed anti-tumoral properties since 1955. Matter of fact, its black, melanin-containing components appear to have antioxiative and gene-protecting properties. But perhaps most exciting are studies which hint at valuable immunomodulatory activity. While “more studies are needed,” (a typical refrain in science), Stamets does speak in Mycellium Running of an arborist who was able to use a poultice to treat cases of chestnut blight on his trees, so if it’s good enough for chestnuts, it’s good enough for deez nuts lol.
AKA the “dancing mushroom,” is an almost floral and multibranched mushroom found throughout the northeastern US and eastern Canada. It’s one of Stamets’ favorites, both for its flavor and for its considerable wellness benefits. It’s been studied for its use as an antidiabetic, antiviral and even for its use as an adjunct to chemotherapy. Various fractions and isolates, particularly beta-glucans, are currently studied for their use in treating various cancers. But with us, we’re not just about the whole plant, but the whole fungus as well, too.
Perhaps the most revered and well-recognized of the Far East gourmet mushrooms, it’s also examined for antibacterial (extracts from a mycelium preparation attacks all sorts of staph cooties.) properties. A mycelium extract also targeted a strain of herpes, and a 1999 study showed another extract to encourage white blood cell production, derived in large part from a polysaccharide it produces called lentinan.
Happy Belly (red reishi) and Vital Recovery
Another legendary mushroom in the Far East, this “God of fungi” has been tied to longevity, heightened immunity — even immortality. The Chinese wrote of a tincture made from it that could arouse the dead, and while this isn’t it (yet — but we’re working on it. 😉), this slender, shelflike growth has wonderful antimicrobial properties — a biological response modulator whose constituents have been studied for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidative properties.
As we continue to build our Medicine Box, we’ll continue to work with these little buggers. Next week, we’ll be speaking to our Glad Scientist Dr. Refael about our latest formulation, and what he’s got in store.
Disclaimer: Any statements or claims about the possible health benefits conferred by any foods or supplements have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and are not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent or cure any disease.