Over the past few years I have become completely obsessed with mushrooms.
Not the mushrooms that you throw into a stir fry. I’m talking about medicinal mushrooms such as reishi, cordyceps and lion’s mane, and their ability to promote optimal health and healing like no other food on the planet.
My mushroom love in started a few years ago started with a TED talk by Paul Stamets, one of the world’s most renowned mycologists. For the first time Paul opened my eyes to the incredible benefits that mushrooms have to offer… and instantly I wanted to know more.
Since that day I've spent countless hours studying medicinal mushrooms, infatuated by their ability to boost brain power, protect the immune system and even prevent against cancer. I've extensively researched their use in traditional medicine, along with the fast growing body of scientific research that is emerging to support it.
(I've also learnt that the last paragraph doesn't work when I go speed dating.)
As time went on my mycological knowledge started to grow faster than a shiitake in September. And I knew that I had to find a way to help more people enjoy the benefits.
Which is why we created MAGIC, our range of instant adaptogenic lattes made with medicinal mushrooms. But we’ll come on to that in more detail later.
First, let’s take a look at three of the most scientifically studied mushrooms and the benefits they can offer us.
The benefits of Lion’s Mane
Perhaps my favourite medicinal mushroom is the Hericium erinaceus, otherwise known as a Lion’s Mane Mushroom.
Lion’s Mane has long been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine as a brain health tonic. It would be prescribed to students to improve their memory and learning ability, the elderly suffering from cognitive decline, and adults facing symptoms of stress and anxiety.
When you look at pictures of a Lion's Mane Mushroom you can see it certainly looks like a brain... but do these claims about it improving brain health stand up to science?
Recent studies have shown that the answer is a resounding YES. New research has shown that Lion's Mane lowers the amount of inflammatory cytokines in the brain (which lead to cognitive decline), and has an even more astounding ability to stimulate the growth of new brain cells through a process known as nerve growth factor synthesis (NGF).
As a result... Lion's Mane has shown remarkable early results as a preventative intervention for Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and Dementia.
Along with all of this, Lion’s Mane has been shown to have beneficial impacts on the heart and gut, as well as being a powerful anti-inflammatory. I’ve put links to all of the studies at the bottom of this article if you want to read about these benefits in more detail!
The benefits of Reishi
Reishi is another mushroom with truly magical health benefits. I personally love this one for relaxing and helping to deal with stress, but there is also evidence that it supports recovery and exercise performance too.
Reishi is known in traditional Chinese medicine as 'the mushroom of immortality' thanks to it's powerful immune boosting and anti-cancer properties.
In fact, reishi is considered to be so powerful it was traditionally reserved for ancient kings and emperors to promote strength and longevity!
Research has shown that reishi contains compounds that strengthen and protect the immune system, and in a groundbreaking study on cancer patients reishi was shown to increase the activity of a white blood cell that destroys damaged and cancerous cells.
Reishi has also been shown to support healthy sleep cycles and improve your resilience to stress, which make it a perfect ingredient for anyone who struggles to switch off in the evening. In our Raw Hot Chocolate we have paired it with Ashwagandha which also helps reduce stress and anxiety.
The benefits of Cordyceps
Cordyceps is one of the most interesting medicinal mushrooms, and also one of the most well researched.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine cordyceps was used to treat fatigue, low libido, sickness and kidney disease. Over the past 20 – 30 years it has become the subject of a ton of scientific research to validate these claims.
One of the most impressive benefits proven by science is cordyceps’ ability to improve energy and exercise performance.
It does this by increasing our body's production of the molecule adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which is responsible for delivering energy to our cells. ATP is responsible for muscle contractions and nerve impulses, which makes it crucially important for high performance athletes.
This is why our Matcha Coconut Latte with cordyceps makes such a great pre workout drink. Matcha is also naturally energising, so the two stacked together becomes a really powerful combination.
Along with it’s energy boosting benefits cordyceps has also been shown to have powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-aging properties. And perhaps most importantly of all cordyceps has been shown to inhibit the growth of human cancer cells, including lung, colon and liver cancers.
When purchasing cordyceps it is important to look for cordyceps militaris rather than cordyceps sinensis, as militaris is the one which contains the biggest body of evidence to support its benefits.
Not all mushrooms are created equal
Since my fascination with mushrooms began, I've learnt more and more about what makes certain 'shrooms more magic than others.
The past few years have seen medicinal mushrooms explode in popularity. This has meant a lot of big brands jumping on the bandwagon and selling their range of mushroom pills, powders and potions in an attempt to cash in on a new health craze.
But the issue with the majority of these mushroom products is that the manufacturers haven't done the proper research required to make them safe, healthy and effective.
If they had, they'd know that their products aren't providing anywhere near the claims that they are making on the packaging.
The biggest problem with most mushroom products on the market is that they aren't actually using the mushroom at all!
They're using the much cheaper mycellium extract, which contains a fraction of the benefits found in the whole mushroom itself.
The mycellium is the wispy root network of the mushroom that grows underground. It's cheaper to source and much faster to grow, which is why almost all mushroom products you find on the shelves are made with mycellium.
It should be common sense that almost all the health benefits of the mushroom are found in the fruiting body, which is the visible part that grows above the ground! This is the mushroom's final form that contains the highest concentrations of polysaccharides, beta-glucans, and all the other good stuff that makes mushrooms so magical.
This is why we promise to always use the full fruiting body of the mushroom in our MAGIC range (and all of our other products too!)
The second problem with most mushroom products is that the mushrooms are grown in areas of the world where there are high levels of pollution.
As a result, the mushroom powders develop high concentrations of toxins and heavy metals such as mercury, lead, and arsenic.
The structure of a mushroom is much like a sponge. So when they are grown in polluted areas they literally suck up this pollution and pass it on to you!
This is why we promise that all of the mushrooms we use are grown in healthy and non toxic environments, and that they are third party tested to ensure they are free from heavy metals, pesticides and herbicides.
It’s a kinda MAGIC
The more I learnt about the magic of mushrooms, the more I knew I needed to help more people consume them on a regular basis.
So I took three of the most scientifically studied medicinal mushrooms on the planet and blended them into deliciously creamy instant lattes that you can mix with your favourite plant milk at any time of day.
The three MAGIC lattes that we made are:
1. An insanely creamy Matcha Coconut Latte with Ginger & Cardamom, enhanced with cordyceps mushroom to promote energy and focus.
This one is a great alternative to coffee if you're looking to boost your energy levels without that caffeine crash!
2. A nourishing Golden Turmeric Latte with lion's mane mushroom to boost brain power and strengthen neurological pathways.
This one is my personal favourite, and really helps with productivity when I need to get an important job done.
3. A perfectly spiced Raw Hot Chocolate with ceylon cinnamon, ashwagandha and reishi mushroom to help you relax + relieve symptoms of stress and anxiety.
This one is great for use in the evening when you need to relax and unwind!
- made using the full fruiting body of the mushroom
- carefully chosen for their high levels of polysaccharides and beta glucans
- dual extracted for optimal absorption
- third party tested for heavy metals, pesticides and herbicides
- used in functional daily dosages so you can get maximum benefits every time you use them.
I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!