October Edition - Medicinal Mushrooms
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Drawing by Amy Ross
Hello & happy Friday!
I’ve got a special treat in store for you today – just in time for Halloween weekend!
In addition to my curated newsletters that I’ll be sending out on the new and full moons, I will also be sharing a letter each month on a topic that is both seasonally relevant and personally resonating with me. Unlike the newsletters, these letters will go more in depth about my own experiences with the topic for that month. How this will manifest may change from month to month, topic to topic – variety is the spice of life, my friends!


The Magic of Medicinal Mushrooms

Typically, when we think of mushrooms, our brains go straight to the ones you find atop a slice of pizza. Or our mind wanders to psilocybin, more familiarly known as “magic mushrooms,” which have state altering effects when ingested. Then there are medicinal mushrooms – the group of fungi that have long been treasured by many cultures, and more recently by the western medical world, but have yet to really make a notable impression on the mainstream’s consciousness.
While having just come across the potent health benefits of medicinal mushrooms in the last six months or so, I am still very much a novice when it comes to the mushroom kingdom and these seemingly magical creatures remained a mystery to me. As someone who always seeks a deeper understanding of the mysteries in her life (oh hey, Rising Sign in Scorpio!), I found myself attending an introductory workshop on the healing power of medicinal mushrooms led by Inga Bylinkina at The Alchemist’s Kitchen in lower Manhattan this past Sunday.
Before getting into the mushroom matter at hand, if you live in NYC, I would highly recommend stopping by The Alchemist’s Kitchen the next time you need some peace of mind and a uniquely crafted botanical beverage. I walked into this place and found a little oasis tucked away from the frenetic energy of city life. They offer a healthier alternative to your traditional happy hour, serving state altering botanical elixirs every Friday evening and their entire downstairs level operates as a health and wellness center, providing a variety of progressive healing modalities and educational workshops. This is where I soaked in all of the valuable information that Inga had to share with us.
To ease you into this mind-blowing topic of medicinal mushrooms, here are three fun fact takeaways on the mushroom kingdom in general:

  1. Mushrooms breath just like us! They take up oxygen and produce carbon dioxide.
  2. We share enough DNA with a mushroom to make them a closer relative to us than plant life.
  3. More than meets the eye – mushrooms as we think of them are the fruiting body of a much more vast, complex system that grows underground, known as mycelium. Mycelium have been referred to as the “neurological network of nature,” connecting plant life to one another like we are connected to one another via the Internet (albeit, likely much more intelligent.)
And now for your microdose of medicinal mushroom magic:
(if you haven’t noticed yet…I love alliterations)

  • Most medicinal mushrooms have very distinct flavors that make them less palatable than a Portobello or White Button mushroom. However, Shiitake, Maitake, Oyster, and Lion’s Mane all fall into the medicinal mushroom category and are delicious sautéed into a veggie stir-fry or added to soups. 
  • Wild harvested Chaga mushrooms are one of the highest antioxidant sources of any living substance. They grow on “wounded” areas of live birch trees, creating a symbiotic relationship with the tree to help it heal as the fungi mature. 
  • Reishi is often used in Chinese medicine for liver support. Known as Ling Zhi in the Chinese language, meaning “herb of spiritual potency.”
  • Lion’s Mane is said to be nature’s gift to your nervous system. A powerhouse for cognitive function, this mushroom may have very promising therapeutic benefits for numerous diseases of the central and peripheral nervous system, such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and Multiple Sclerosis.
  • Cordyceps are grown exclusively in Bhutan at high elevations. The fungus eats caterpillars, taking on the shape of the insect it consumes, growing to be seven times the size of the original insect. Popular among athletes, this mushroom is supportive of amplified physical and mental performance as well as the equally crucial recovery process.
  • Turkey Tails are grown exclusively on dead trees to assist with the decomposition process. Due to their powerful immune boosting properties, studies are being conducted with relevance to cancer treatment.   
  • Found in beauty elixirs and skin serums, Tremella is known for its moisturizing, plumping skin benefits. Their polysaccharides can hold nearly 500 times their weight in water, deeming it a better skin hydrator than hyaluronic acid. 
Following an afternoon of enriching information on medicinal mushrooms and the mushroom kingdom at large, I am still very much a novice as I am humbled by the sheer intelligence of the mushroom kingdom. I’ve been joking around lately, saying that in my next life I hope to be reincarnated as a medicinal mushroom…but let’s be honest here, how incredible would that be?! To be so deeply tapped into this intricately interconnected network of life, transforming death into new life, and helping to heal the planet and her people.
Luminous love,
P.S. Intrigued by the healing powers of medicinal mushrooms and want to take matters into your own hands through experiential learning? Inga will be leading a hands-on workshop at The Alchemist’s Kitchen on Sunday, November 13th where she will be teaching us the basics on how to make your own tinctures and teas from medicinal mushrooms. I’ll be sending out a separate letter with more details on the workshop soon!

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