SHROOMS; A DIRTY GUIDE TO MAGIC MUSHROOMS
WORDS BY HECTOR MEZA
Telling someone that I cultivate my own mushrooms, 99% of the time is followed by a delighted yet presumptuous grin, “Magic Mushrooms?” Well, yes bitch, all mushrooms are magic (though in following Orwell, some are more “magical” than others) and while psilocybe mushrooms have been predominantly trending in health and fitness spaces – with microdosing being touted as the latest panacea against depression and anxiety – this is a “on the run” and dirty guide to legal and available medicinal mushrooms that you supplement into your diet.
Whilst everyone can conjure up an image of a mushroom, very few people know what they actually are and their remedial properties. The mushroom itself, with its cap (the “hat”) and stem, is the reproductive organ of a colony of genetically related microorganisms. When the colony has expanded enough and exhausted its nutrient supply (whether in the soil, a piece of wood, or whatever substrate it was feeding on), it will form mushrooms in order to produce spores, i.e. the “seeds” of the fungus. These will be spread either by wind, water, or animals and colonize another substrate it can “eat”. According to Robert Rogers, author of “The Fungal Pharmacy: The Complete Guide to Medicinal Mushrooms & Lichens of North America”, about 2000 species are known to be safe to eat and about 800 have significant medicinal properties. Different civilizations throughout history are known to have consumed mushrooms for medicine: the Ancient Egyptians, Indians, Greeks, Romans, and Ancient Mexicans, amongst them.
“… a powerful adaptogen that packs a punch in the immune boosting department and has also been shown to fight cancer, protect the liver and prevent altitude sickness.”
Anglo culture is traditionally very mycophobic: afraid of or disgusted by mushrooms, but most of you will probably not complain – you are well accustomed to putting phallic-shaped reproductive organs in your mouth… On that note, here are three of my favorite mushrooms you can start with:
Turkey Tails, Trametes versicolor: Great for boosting the immune system. I started taking this when I moved to Mexico City two years ago and it helped me deal with the effects of pollution and allergies. It also acts as a prebiotic, creating an ideal environment in your gut for beneficial bacteria.
Reishi, Ganoderma spp: Also known as Lingzhi in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) – in China, it is known as the “mushroom of immortality”. Marcelo Vigo, a TCM doctor trained at the California Institute of Integral Studies suggests, “it’s a powerful adaptogen that packs a punch in the immune boosting department and has also been shown to fight cancer, protect the liver and prevent altitude sickness.”
Cordyceps spp: This mushroom has gained infamy due to some somewhat disturbing Youtube videos (search “zombie mushroom”). When I started consuming this fungus, I immediately saw an increase in my energy and my libido, we’re talking about 25-year-old energy levels for a 38-year-old. It has really helped boost my physical performance working out and whilst I know we’re all body positive here and I acknowledge its importance, I have seen my body fat percentage drop since consuming it, whether by direct action from the mushroom or from the increased intensity of my workouts.
“Anglo culture is traditionally very mycophobic: afraid of or disgusted by mushrooms, but most of you will probably not complain – you are well accustomed to putting phallic-shaped reproductive organs in your mouth…”
Turkey Tails, Reishi and Cordyceps should be widely available as powders or liquid extracts in your local health food store or organic grocery store, and while mushroom production is experiencing exponential growth, I suggest you stay clear from brands such as Four Sigmatic, the most widely available brand, sourced in China to assist in reducing your carbon footprint and as an alternative buying Fair Trade or locally cultivated mushroom supplements.
Safety warning: while you may feel comfortable plucking out mushrooms in your favorite darkroom, do not consume mushrooms found in the wild unless you are an expert! Misidentifying foraged mushrooms carries a serious risk of poisoning and death.
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