Medicinal Mushrooms with Jeff Chilton: Rational Wellness Podcast 103
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Jeff Chilton discusses Medicinal Mushrooms with Dr. Ben Weitz.
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3:32 The health benefits of mushrooms include the immune strengthening properties. This is due to the beta glucan compounds found in the cell walls of mushrooms. Each mushroom has a different architecture of that beta glucan and that determines how immunologically active it is. There are specific receptor sites in our intestines for beta glucans.
5:27 To get the immunomodulatory effects of mushrooms, to get a therapeutic benefit, you need to eat about 100 gms, which is about 4 ounces. And it is better to cook them to get the full therapeutic benefit or to consume them in powder form, such as in capsules. It’s not harmful to eat raw mushrooms, but they have chitin, which tends to bind up some of the compounds in mushrooms and cooking helps to break that down. or if you take them as supplements
11:20 The mushrooms that tend to have the strongest immune strengthening properties, such as part of an integrative cancer protocol, are Maitake, Reishi, Shitake, and Turkey Tail. In Japan they have developed drugs from mushrooms, including PSK from Turkey Tail and Lentinan from Shitake.
17:20 Mushrooms have both antibacterial and antifungal properties, which means that if you have mycotoxins (mold toxins) you probably don’t want to restrict consuming them. Some practitioners when treating patients for mold toxins tend to place them on a diet that restricts eating mushrooms to avoid getting exposed to more fungal/mold compounds is the wrong thing to do.
21:32 Mushrooms can have beneficial effects on cholesterol and red yeast rice is where statins (HMG-CoA-reductase inhibitors) come from. Oyster mushrooms have a good amount of a natural HMG-CoA-reductase inhibitor in them.
22:42 Reishi mushrooms in particular and mushrooms in general seem to be beneficial for blood sugar regulation and diabetes because they contain a lot of fiber, are 20-30% protein, and the primary carbohydrate is mannitol, which does not raise the blood sugar. and because of the fiber content, mushrooms are good to feed your microbiome.
24:14 Lions mane mushrooms help with brain function by stimulating BDNF production. The therapeutic dosage would be 3 gms, which is 1-2 teaspoons. Jeff said that often too small a dosage of herbs is recommended than is optimal and that’s often because they often put 30 or 60 capsules in a bottle and then want to make sure that a bottle is a month’s supply. Typically the same dosage is recommended for all patients regardless of how big or small they are.
30:07 Mushrooms can be helpful for sleep, esp. Reishi mushrooms. Reishi helps with stress and insomnia at a dosage of 2-5 gms per day and they should take it for 2-4 weeks before expecting results. Jeff explained that you need to make sure that the product that you are taking a quality product that actually contains the mushroom and not just the mycellium. The mycellium is the vegetative body of the mushroom–sort of like the roots–and it is often grown on grains and it does not contain the active ingredients, which are only found in the actual fruiting body of the mushroom. There are no good mushroom products made in the United States, according to Jeff.
39:02 Jeff explained that mushrooms are one of the most overlooked foods and we should start eating mushrooms, because they are so rich in nutrients like B vitamins and other nutrients. Just make sure that you cook the mushrooms properly to unlock the value. Mushrooms are also high in potassium and phosphorus. Jeff’s company that sells wholesale is Nammex and he also has a retail outlet called Realmushrooms.com that sells mushroom extracts.
Jeff Chilton studied Ethno-mycology at the University of Washington in the late 1960s. He has worked in mushroom production at a mushroom farm, organized educational conferences on mushrooms, wrote a highly acclaimed book, The Mushroom Cultivator, and started Nammex, a medicinal mushroom company that sells wholesale organic mushroom extracts. He also has a retail outlet called Realmushrooms.com that sells mushroom extracts.
Dr. Ben Weitz is available for nutrition consultations specializing in Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders like IBS/SIBO and Reflux and also specializing in Cardiometabolic Risk Factors like elevated lipids, high blood sugar, and high blood pressure and also weight loss, as well as sports chiropractic work by calling his Santa Monica office 310-395-3111 or by going to www.drweitz.com.
Dr. Weitz: This is Dr. Ben Weitz, with the Rational Wellness Podcast, bringing you the cutting edge information on health and nutrition, from the latest scientific research, and by interviewing the top experts in the field. Please subscribe to the Rational Wellness Podcast on iTunes and YouTube, and signup for my free eBook on my website, by going to doctorweitz.com. Let’s get started on your road to better health. Hello Rational Wellness Podcasters. Thank you so much for joining me again today. For those of you who are enjoying listening to the rational wellness podcast, please, please go to iTunes and give us a ratings and review. That way more people can find out about the Rational Wellness Podcast.
Our topic for today is the health benefits of medicinal mushrooms, with Jeff Chilton. Jeff studied Ethnomycology at the University of Washington in the late 1960s. He’s worked in the mushroom business since then. He worked in mushroom production at a mushroom farm. He’s organized educational conferences on mushrooms. He wrote a highly acclaimed book, The Mushroom Cultivator, and he started Nammex, a Medicinal Mushroom Company that sells mushrooms, wholesale and also retail. Jeff, thank you so much for joining me today.
Jeff: Otherwise, thank you so much for having me. It’s great to be here.
Dr. Weitz: So why don’t you tell us how you got interested in mushrooms and in their benefits?
Jeff: Well, you know what, I grew up in the Pacific Northwest, Seattle area, and it’s an area that is wet. We get a lot of rain up here. We’ve got beautiful forests and because of our climate, which is a mild maritime climate, that’s especially wet in the fall, we get an abundance of wild mushrooms coming up. And that was fascinating to me. I got out when I was younger and did some wild mushroom hunting and later at the university, my major actually was anthropology, but I studied some mycology, and really what I did was, I kind of blended the two together, and I did a lot of work on the use of mushrooms worldwide in cultures, whether it would be for food, for medicine, or also the use of mushrooms in shamanism. And as you know, in the 60s, we practiced a lot of shamanism.
Dr. Weitz: I assume by shamanism you mean, the psychedelic properties?
Jeff: Yeah, that’s right. We didn’t have a set of rules to go by unfortunately. So we were flying a little bit blind. But you know what, we were discovering a lot of things and we were sort of in a sense, creating a new culture and, Dr. Weitz, a part of that culture too, was looking at the food we were eating and deciding, hey, there’s something wrong about the diet that we’re being fed. So there were a lot of things going on back then that we were essentially rejecting and trying to find out more information about.
Dr. Weitz: Great. So let’s talk about some of the health benefits of mushrooms. I know one of the first things that comes to mind, from what I know is the immune strengthening properties. Maybe you can talk about that.
Jeff: Oh, yeah, absolutely. The interesting thing about mushrooms is that, in the cell wall of a mushroom, they have compounds called beta glucans. And, that makes up almost 50% of the cell wall of all mushrooms and what’s interesting is that, these beta glucans have… the… each mushroom has a little bit different architecture of that beta glucan. And the structure or the architecture of that beta glucan determines how immunologically active it is. So just eating mushrooms, no matter which mushroom we eat, we’re going to get those beta glucans. But certain mushrooms have medicinal properties where the beta glucan has a structure that will actually activate immune cells. And what’s really interesting is that we have receptor sites in our small intestine that are very specific to these beta glucans, these fungal beta glucans. So when those beta glucans go down there, they hit those receptor sites and then that will activate different, the production of different immune cells. What I would say is, that is the really, the key underlying benefit to almost all of what we would call a medicinal mushroom. And you can get those benefits either through eating mushrooms or supplementing mushrooms. Of course when you supplement with mushrooms you’re not going to have to take quite as much because it might be a little more concentrated form. But still…
Dr. Weitz: If we’re going to eat mushrooms, how much mushrooms do we have to eat to get, say a therapeutic benefit? Let’s say somebody is taking mushrooms to help with some health condition or, some people use it as part of their cancer protocol. How large you are serving a mushrooms and how many times a day would you have to eat them to get a therapeutic amount?
Jeff: Well, in terms of eating mushrooms, what I would say is probably to get a therapeutic amount you’d want to eat about a hundred grams. And, a hundred grams, I think that would be about a four ounces. And look, you think, oh, four ounces or a hundred grams, that seems like a lot. Not a lot. The other day I weighed up a common button mushroom that you see in all the supermarkets, and I weighed up a medium sized button mushroom and it weighed 40 grams! Well that basically is an ounce and half or something. So really in terms of fresh mushrooms, you don’t have to eat that much. But what I would say is, what’s important is cooking them properly for one. You know what happens is that, and I’ve heard it for 40 years, ever since I was the guy in the mushroom business was, oh yeah, mushrooms, man, they are slimy. They are … One thing I got, people just have this conception of mushrooms. No, you have to cook them in a hot pan. You have to cook them where … I like to slice them about a quarter inch thick, throw them into your favorite oil, whatever you want to cook them in, a hot pan. Brown both sides of them. Cook them a little bit longer than shorter. So that when they come out of that pan, they’re not wet and soggy. Actually they’re dry. Because … Or if anything, they’ve maybe got a little bit of oil, but if you brown them up and then, to me, if I’m just going to eat the mushrooms alone or even like I did a couple of nights ago with a steak, and I’m a meat eater, I just put a little bit of salt, a little bit of pepper. Oh man, they were delicious. And, the thing about it is they go with about anything. So you can put them into stir fries, you can put them into your eggs, but again, cook them properly. Otherwise you’re going to go out and man, the texture’s not so good. These were dry and almost a little bit crunchy. They’re really tasty.
Dr. Weitz: Can you get the medicinal value? Eating them raw?
Jeff: You know what, I would not recommend eating mushrooms raw. I think, generally speaking-
Dr. Weitz: You see them at salad bars sometimes.
Jeff: You know what, it’s not like it’s going to harm you in any way. It won’t harm you in any way. And if you like to eat them raw, go right ahead.
Dr. Weitz: But you might not get the full therapeutic benefit.
Jeff: True. Because, the other thing about mushrooms is that, in that so all, they also have a compound called Chitin. And for those people who are unfamiliar with Chitin, normally we think about Chitin, it’s what makes up the shell of a crab or other crustacean. But, that particular Chitin actually, they use calcium carbonate to build up their shell. Mushrooms don’t. But there is some Chitin in there. It does bind up some of the compounds in mushrooms. So cooking helps to break that down a little bit. The other issue really is that, one of the things about when you go to supplementation for example is that, you have a dry, it’s a dry product. It’s been ground to a fine powder. So you have a tremendous amount of surface area. And when you’re consuming anything, I mean, let’s face it, just like if you make a soup. Well, you’ve got those compounds in whatever you got in your soup. Now they’re in a form where they’re readily available, you can take them in and they will go right to work almost immediately.
Dr. Weitz: When you speak about beta glucans, I’ve always heard of the mucopolysaccharides as a component of the mushrooms that have the immune strengthening properties. Is that the same thing?
Jeff: You know what, I’m not really that familiar with a mucopolysaccharide, because that’s not really very, what they talk about very often. But what I would say is that, beta glucans are polysaccharides. They are a … let’s just say they’re a subset in the sense that polysaccharides can be a lot of things. Like for example, starches are polysaccharides. And that’s a huge issue because, one of the great things about mushrooms is that, mushrooms have storage carbohydrates, much the same as we do. They have glycogen, plants produce starches that are storage carbohydrate. So two very different types of carbohydrates there. In fact, the other thing about mushrooms and eating mushrooms is that, one of the major components of the carbohydrate in mushrooms is mannitol. Now mannitol is a low glycemic index carbohydrate that will slowly work in your system. They’ve actually shown that mushrooms can be very good for people who are diabetics. They have a lot of fiber. They will fill you up, but they have a low glycemic index carbohydrate in there in this mannitol. So even people who are in fact, diabetic or prediabetic or something like that, mushrooms are a good food for you.
Dr. Weitz: So since we’re on the immune strengthening properties, I know several practitioners who use mushrooms as part of a integrative cancer protocol. Which particular strains of mushrooms do you think are most effective as having some sort of an anti cancer effect?
Jeff: Well, you know what? I would say the species that you should look for in that sense would be Maitake, Reishi, Turkey Tail. Those three are, would probably be my top three. They’re not now, Shiitake is also been shown to have those properties. And the wonderful thing about Shiitake or Maitake, is both of them, especially where you are in Southern California. I mean you could probably go into any market in Southern California and find fresh Shiitake and fresh Maitake, I mean Reishi is not really something you’re going to eat because it is hard and woody. So traditionally it’s made into a tea. But Shiitake and Maitake. So those four I would say really would be the top ones that I would recommend for people in that sense. And, that is really the interesting part about these medicinal mushrooms, is that in Asia, they’ve actually produced some drugs based on these specific mushrooms. Like for example, Turkey Tail, there’s a drug in Japan called PSK, that’s been developed from Turkey Tail and a drug in Japan called Lentinan, which has been developed from Shiitake mushroom. So these mushrooms, there are that beta glucan as that’s part of what they have produced from these mushrooms. That is really the key here. And what they do is they use it as what we could call an adjuvant to a cancer therapy, which is, you take it along with your therapy to help keep your immune system operating in a little bit higher level. Because it’s being torn down by those, whether it be the chemotherapy or the radiation.
Dr. Weitz: Are you familiar with AHCC?
Jeff: I am, yes. And, to tell you the truth, I don’t know too much about that, other than it is a proprietary type of product that is … they use different mushrooms to break down certain organic products into this final AHCC. Again, my company doesn’t deal pretty much with those kind of products. I call that product and others like it, a process driven product, where rather than being what we considered a natural or herbal type of supplement, it goes through multiple steps to reach its final state. And so it’s quite different than most standard of your mushroom products, mushroom extracts.
Dr. Weitz: I see. I did a little reading, prior to this podcast and I read that a couple of popular chemo drugs, paclitaxel and vinblastine are actually synthesized from mushrooms.
Jeff: Well, you know what, and here’s … This is interesting because. And what I want to tell your listeners right now is, what you have to remember is the mushroom is what we would call one plant part of an organism that has a couple of different plant parts. Mushrooms don’t have seeds, they have spores. And those spores will be out in nature, whether in the soil or in wood. They will germinate into fine filaments. And when multiple filaments come together into … they will form a fuse, they’ll form a network. And that network is called mycelium. That’s the actual what we would term a vegetative body of this organism. And that’s what’s out there. That’s one of the primary decomposers we have in nature. It’s breaking down organic matter out there and turning it into humus. Without it, we’d be buried in all sorts of woody tissue and leaves and all sorts of organic matter. So we’ve got a spore. We’ve got this mycelium, which is the vegetative body when conditions are right, like I was talking about earlier, here in the Pacific Northwest, where it’s fall, the temperature goes down a little bit, it rains, humidity goes up, up pops a mushroom. So when you were talking about those particular drugs coming from a mushroom, actually, there are two divisions in this fungal kingdom and one is what we would call perfect fungi. And those are the mushrooms, the other called imperfect fungi, which are what you might consider a mold. And the differences is that, mold does not produce a mushroom. And that, mold is where penicillin came from. So fungi have produced all sorts of really interesting compounds and a lot of them come from these compounds or these types called imperfect fungi or what we would just call molds. And normally when we see a mold, it’s like on our bread or it’s on like a piece of fruit. And we go, “oh my God! It’s a mold! Throw that out.” Right? Well, that again, that funguses, has attacked that piece of fruit or that bread because it’s getting older. The spores are there. They germinate. It’s just doing its thing of, okay, I’m going to decompose this. Right.
Dr. Weitz: Right. So, I was reading about how mushrooms can have antibacterial and antifungal effects. Which is kind of interesting because sometimes I deal with patients that have mycotoxins, mold toxicity. And, I usually tell them not to eat mushrooms because they’re already having a problem with mold. But it looks like from some of the reading I did, that mushrooms actually can help you to fight off toxic mold.
Jeff: Yeah, that’s absolutely right. They can. And remember, you know that a mycotoxin, that’s actually from a, again, an imperfect fungus. And what happens is it’s an aflatoxin, it comes from a specific mold. And it will invade moist grain. And so a lot of the aflatoxins that people get are from eating grain products. Because of this mold, I mean. So people growing all those grains, they’re constantly checking their grains for these aflatoxins and the toxins. Once this mold gets into the grain, it can produce these toxins, and aflatoxins are very toxic. I mean, you definitely, it’s very important that you never end up consuming them. You can get very sick from them. But, I don’t know whether you’d heard too? There used to be a meme going around and it was there for a long time, especially back in the ’90s where it was like, if you’ve got candida, don’t eat mushrooms. And it’s like, I know herbalists that treat candida with mushrooms, you know what I’m saying? There’s this whole idea of somehow, like produces like. And, it’s an ancient idea that’s more mythological than it is real. It’s like, okay, I’ve got a fungal infection, but that means I shouldn’t eat mushrooms.
Dr. Weitz: Well, I think it comes from the concept that, the first step to clearing out some toxin, is stop getting exposed to it. So if you’re in a moldy house, leave the house or, remedy it. And, so avoiding foods that might have mold or mushrooms seems like that would be part of the same concept.
Jeff: Yeah. And here’s the thing too, because, when people are susceptible to molds, what we’re talking about here is we’re talking about molds growing in their house, on the walls or somewhere. And what they are allergic to, are the mold spores. Because those molds, when you see, like for example, a black mold, well normally most molds start out and they’re kind of whitish, but when they reach a certain point, they will mature. They will produce spores. And it’s those spores which people are breathing in. They’re not eating those spores, they’re breathing them in. And that’s causing this allergic reaction. And that’s when people have this mold issue. And it’s due to environmental factors. It is because they’re actually breathing in the mold spores and, there’s actually a thing called mushroom worker’s lung. And what it is, is that, some mushrooms, because a lot of mushrooms are grown indoors, in large houses or warehouses. And if that cap of the mushroom is allowed to mature, the spores will come out and be in that environment. And if you’re in there, harvesting, you’re in there for hours. And you’re breathing in all of these spores. It is a very bad environment to be in. And that’s where, really, people that are harvesting mushrooms should always wear a respirator. And one of the reasons why, the button mushroom that you see in the market, it is harvested before, it actually matures and produces spores.
Dr. Weitz: Interesting. I know mushrooms can have beneficial effects on cholesterol. And I know red yeast rice is where statins come from, right?
Jeff: That’s right. Yeah. That’s really, really interesting because the oyster mushroom, pretty, it was a lot of these statins. And what also is interesting is how, the company that produced the drug had the FDA keep these red yeast rice products out of the markets, and were suing people that were putting them out there. Because they said, no, you can’t do that because, we sell statins and we’ve got patents and all of this. And, isn’t that crazy? Here it is. It’s a natural product that has the statins in it and yet they’re going, you can’t sell those. What! Oh God, are you kidding me? No. Oyster mushrooms. Oyster mushrooms have the … and they’ve got a good amount of them. I mean, people who have those issues could be putting oyster mushrooms into their diet and getting those benefits.
Dr. Weitz: Cool. What about mushrooms that are beneficial for blood sugar regulation and diabetes?
Jeff: Well, that’s again, Maitake is the primary one for that. Although I think that’s something, again, that gets back to the fact of, mushrooms having this mannitol as one of their primary carbohydrates. Because mushrooms are mostly carbohydrates. They’ve got a 20 to 30% protein. So it, and it’s good quality protein, but that’s not really why you’re eating mushrooms. But they have this carbohydrate. And again, it gets back to the fact of the mushrooms being very, very high in fiber. So if you want something to feed your microbiome, man, mushrooms are perfect for that and they’re very good for your microbiome.
Dr. Weitz: Really. What form of mushrooms would you want to eat to promote your microbiome?
Jeff: Well, any of them. Because they’re all very high in fiber. And that’s one of the reasons too. Foods that are high in fiber, they’re basically not super digestible. So what’s happening is a lot of that food is just going right through and right down in the colon, and that would be your nondigestible fiber that goes to your microbiome. And if it’s a good food, it will be essentially worked on there and a lot of the benefits will come right out of the food at that point.
Dr. Weitz: So I understand lion’s mane has been touted as helping brain function. And, I did some reading apparently, it stimulates nerve growth factor.
Jeff: Lion’s mane. I tell you, we can’t keep lion’s mane in stock right now. I think in the US right now, everybody must be losing their memory.
Dr. Weitz: We are seeing a rapid increase in neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
Jeff: I know, I know, I know. And, that reminds me, I better start taking more of it every day because I’m at that age. No, it’s really interesting because, it’s what, I don’t know. You’ve probably heard of this whole category now called nootropics.
Dr. Weitz: Yes.
Jeff: And that’s becoming a huge category. Anything that helps us to function at a higher level. Now the nootropic that I love the most is called coffee. And that’s what I use in the morning to get me going. And it has a real effect on me. But right now lots of people want the lion’s mane because of the whole memory benefits. And I think we all could use that. We’re all, I mean, it doesn’t matter what age you are. We all think we don’t, our memory’s not quite sharp enough. Right? And so lion’s mane stimulates nerve growth factor. Nerve growth factor is something that we produce that then will actually stimulate the growth of neurites and neurons, which are nerve cells. And those nerve cells are constantly being destroyed and regenerated all the time. And unfortunately as we get older, the destruction increases while the construction of new cells doesn’t keep up. And that’s where all of a sudden … “What did you say your name was again? I forget.” It’s like those types of issues come up and it’s not really comfortable when you start to lose your memory and it becomes a little more difficult. And so right now, certainly, lion’s mane, it’s our top selling mushroom right now.
Dr. Weitz: Is there only one type of lion’s mane? That’s number one. And then number two is, what is the best form in dosage? Is capsules better than T versus powdered form versus … What is the best form?
Jeff: Well, you know what, I personally think that when something is in a powder form, you just have that much more surface area. The thing with eating mushrooms, like eating any food, how long are you prepared to chew it? Now if we all chewed our food up as much as we should, we would be probably getting a lot more nutrients out of that food. So having that food in a powder form I think in supplement, in that sense is probably very good. So that’s what I would say about the form.
The other thing too is, there are clinical trials out there with lion’s mane, which was really interesting because we don’t get many clinical trials when it comes to actually any kind of herbal products. Right? In Japan, they gave a group of people, elderly people in their seventies, three grams of lion’s mane. They had a control group. They all took a test, a bunch of battery of tests. They continued to take the lion’s mane, powder, three grams, just three grams, that’s not a lot for 90 days. At the end of the 90 days, they tested them again. The people taking the lion’s mane scored higher than the control group. And then as they did in the beginning. What was interesting about that was that the, after they stopped taking lion’s mane, they tested everybody 30 days later. People who had taken the lion’s mane dropped back down to where they were previously.
Dr. Weitz: I guess you’re relying on natural light; you’re starting to get washed out…
Jeff: Yeah. It’s interesting. That will probably in all of this, turn this over here because I’m facing south. So I’ve got the sun in my eyes right now, but I’ll get back over here a little bit.
Dr. Weitz: There you go. So how much is, would you say three grams, how much is three grams? How much is that in terms of say tablespoons?
Jeff: Three grams would probably be two or maybe a one heaping tablespoon of Lion’s mane powder.
Dr. Weitz: That’ll be the appropriate dosage to take one or more times a day.
Jeff: Yes. Absolutely. If you took that once a … And, look-
Dr. Weitz: What if you are using it therapeutically for patients in early stage dementia?
Jeff: Well, you know what, I personally think that all of the herbal products and supplements out there, including mushrooms, that nobody ever takes enough. I mean, in traditional Chinese medicine, they would give people pretty significant doses of herbs because they wanted to see some activity. They wanted to see something happen. And you know what, the way all of the supplements are, it’s like, okay, here’s your 60 capsules, take two a day and you end up like, “okay, one gram a day of this product.” And that’s just because they want you to have a month’s supply. And also they say, “okay, take two capsules.” Well, what have you weigh 120 pounds or 200 pounds? Doesn’t make sense. Right. So I mean, if you’re a large man, you’re definitely going to take a lot more than a normal size woman.
Dr. Weitz: Yeah, so what about mushrooms for sleep?
Jeff: Reishi, absolutely Reishi. Reishi’s been a mushroom that’s been used for a long time for insomnia, stress, to relax some. And, one of the things that I think everybody has to remember is that, don’t expect mushrooms to work immediately. That’s not how they work. You have to be taking them for a while.
Dr. Weitz: So let’s say you have somebody who’s dealing with insomnia and they’d been trying some other things and now they’re going to start using Reishi mushrooms. How much should they take and how long trial do you think they should give it before they expect to see some results?
Jeff: I’d say probably two to four weeks before you see any results. I’d say take two to five grams. And, two to five grams. That would be … Two grams would be, in a lot of cases twice what they might tell you to take, because maybe they say two, 500 milligram capsules. Well, that’s only one gram. So, don’t under dose so to speak, be sure you’re taking enough of this so that you know that in fact, you’re going to get sufficient to have some kind of activities.
Dr. Weitz: It might be saying anywhere from maybe four to 12 capsules at night before bed.
Jeff: Well I would take it in the early evening. And also, this gets back into, what you’re actually taking and making sure that you’re taking the real thing and not some something else because there’s so many products out there that are not the real deal and would end up being nothing more than a placebo.
Dr. Weitz: Right. How do we know if we’re getting the real deal?
Jeff: Yeah, that’s a really good question. I mean, my God, you go into one of the stores out there and you wanted to shop. Have you done that in a whole foods or something? How does anybody ever know what to buy? It’s like how many choices do you need of everything? What I would say with mushroom products, and this is something that I address a lot, because there’s a lot of mushroom products that are not actual mushrooms. And that’s so important because, we talked a little bit before about mycelium and mushroom to very different things. There are companies in the United States that grow that mycelium on grains, sterile grain in elaborate.
Dr. Weitz: What is the Mycelium?
Jeff: The mycelium is this vegetative body and, one way to really picture this is, are you familiar with the food called Tempeh?
Dr. Weitz: Yeah, but I’m not sure what it looks like.
Jeff: Well Tempeh, if you’ve never eaten it before, tempeh is cooked soy beans with like a paste. Well, it’s kind of black, but it’s a cooked soy beans and they grow a fungus on it. And, if you open it up, it’s white. And that white part of the tempeh, which is growing all around the soybeans is actually mycelium. Tempeh is actually a mycelium product. So people will grow a, let’s just say a Reishi tempeh, but instead of giving it to you as food, they will actually then dry it, grind it to a powder, grain and all. And then when you go to test it, it turns out that that product is mostly starch. But what they say on the label and what these companies claim, is, they’ll sell it as mushroom. And it’s not mushroom. It’s mostly starch from all the grain in there. And so if that mushroom product says, “made in the USA,” it is going to be that grain based. Myciliated product.
Dr. Weitz: So there is no good mushroom products made in the USA?
Jeff: If it’s made in the USA. No, there’s not.
Dr. Weitz: Because we’re trained. We’re trained to want to avoid China because you hear about all the-
Jeff: Absolutely, I know,
Dr. Weitz: …poor manufacturing in but China and all the toxins found in products.
Jeff: Dr. Weitz. Look, do you want to go out to Long Beach and deep into the water out there and the port and have a nice swim? Do you want to go out in front of the river down there, the Tijuana river down in San Diego and have a nice swim in the water down there?
Dr. Weitz: No.
Jeff: It doesn’t matter where you are. What really matters is whether the products that you’re getting have been tested sufficiently. We grow and process all our products in China back far away from the large cities, from the industry and all of that, and then we have to test them and we test them before it leaves China. We test them again once it arrives over here. In 1997 I went to China with OCIA, the largest organic certifier in the United States, and we did the first organic certification for mushrooms in China, 1997! I totally believe in organic products. When I buy my fruits and vegetables, I’m going to a store that has organic fruits and vegetables. Where the most people buy. What do they sell in most supermarkets? Well, most people buy the products that have been grown with pesticides and chemicals and so on and so forth.
Dr. Weitz: Medically modified and sprayed with RoundUp.
Jeff: Yeah exactly, and where are they produced? Well, a lot of them are producing the United States and mean. So for me it’s, yeah, I’ve heard that a lot from people. And look, don’t get me wrong. I mean there are products and things from China and then no, you don’t want to consume them. Absolutely. But I’m just saying, there’s a lot of products in the US that you don’t want to be consuming either, because they’re just as contaminated.
Dr. Weitz: So what do we look for on the label? Is there some sort of certification, certified by something? How do we know if a mushroom product is good.
Jeff: You know what? That’s what’s so crazy about it. Because you can buy this myciliated grain product and it’ll say Vegan, kosher, organic, everything. It’ll have all the merit badges
Dr. Weitz: organic. Really?
Jeff: Yes. Because they’re using an organic grain to grow it, but they’re growing in a lab with, and it’s just mycelium and they don’t take the grain out. So it’s mostly starch. What you need to look for is this, a product that you won’t see. All of these products will say the same on the front panel. They’ll say mushroom. And some of them will even say made with 100% organic mushrooms, even though they’re not. If you turn around the supplements facts panel and if it says mycelium, stay away. If it says mycelium in the other, you know the fine print, down at the bottom. If it says myceliated rice, myceliated oats, that’s what you are getting. You’re getting myceliated rice, you’re getting this tempeh product. What you really want to look for in the product it says no mycelium, no grain, no starch. And a lot of products are starting to say that now because it’s like, yeah, they know and they know that people want the real thing. So that’s really the issue. It’s not … these myceliated grain products. That’s not what they’ve used in China for thousands of years. They’ve used actual real mushrooms, and that’s where all these compounds are really made.
Dr. Weitz: The mushroom products should come from the fruiting body of the mushroom, not my mycelium, which is like the sort of root structure.
Jeff: That’s exactly right. And, you put it right in the mycelium for a lot of people, if you were ever to see it, it would look like a root structure. And it’s functions like a root structure, because it’s … they’re supplying nutrients up to this mushroom. When you harvest the mushrooms, the mycelium stays in the ground. Now, it’s like, okay, I’m going to just harvest this plant that I’ve been growing, and not only am I going to harvest the plant, I’m going to harvest the roots and all the dirt around it. It’s like, no, that’s not what you want. Right? You want the actual plant itself without what was in the ground.
Dr. Weitz: Cool. So I think those are the questions I have. Any other things that you’d like to talk about today?
Jeff: Well, you know what, what I’d like to do is just to, mushrooms are kind of like one of those overlooked foods. It’s something that we’re just catching up to right now in the United States and North America. In Asia, they’ve eaten dozens of mushrooms for thousands of years. When I go in the marketplace in China, there are at least 12 different mushroom species there that you can buy. And so that’s something I think that we’re missing in our diet in a sense, I consider that the dietary missing link. So what I tell people is look, before you supplement and look, maybe you want, you’re having insomnia issues and you want Reishi, fine. That’s different. Get your Reishi product. But before you supplement, buy mushrooms and start putting them into your diet. Cook them properly. But eat mushrooms. Mushrooms are a great food. They’re high in B vitamins. The mushrooms are for a hundred grams or four ounces of mushrooms, you’re going to get 25% of your RDA of a riboflavin and Niacin. Out of a hundred grams of fresh mushrooms.
Dr. Weitz: What other nutrients do you get-
Jeff: They are also very high in potassium and phosphorous. Those are the two major minerals in mushrooms in. You know what’s really cool about mushrooms is that, they actually have a compound in there called gastrol which of you take a mushroom and slice it up and put it into the sun. The UV from the Sun will turn a gastrol into vitamin D too. It’s like. So if you want to like a slice up your mushrooms, stick them out there for 15 minutes, you’re going to get probably a hundred IUs of vitamin D2 from that. They’re just a great food. And that’s what I really like to tell people is, put them into your diet.
If you want to go a little deeper, you have some issues, especially immunological issues, try to supplement with them, and be very careful when you buy that mushroom product out there. Make sure it has no mycelium and it doesn’t say on the other, is kind of … a lot of people don’t eat grains anymore. They buy these products, they tell me about how much they love mushrooms, and then I asked them the brand and I say, you know what, you’re getting mostly grains. They’re shocked. Absolutely shocked. So, definitely, think about that. And maybe even in a year I … because I know you’re really a nutritional expert, and I’ll send you some papers on mushrooms and nutritional values and stuff like that, that you can access, but maybe that’s something you’d look at for some of your nutritional counseling.
Dr. Weitz: That sounds good. So, do you want to give any links to contacts for you or your companies?
Jeff: Sure. Yeah. You know what? My company’s Nammex N-A-M-M-E-X, go to Nammex.com, we have a lot of information there about mushrooms. The benefits of medicinal mushrooms. Come to nammex. I’ve got slide shows on how our mushrooms are grown, and then, we have a retail outlet called Realmushrooms.com. You can go there and you can access our mushroom products right there at realmushrooms.com. You’ll actually get real mushrooms.
Dr. Weitz: Awesome. Thank you, Jeff.
Jeff: Thank you very much. I really appreciate it.
If someone has food sensitivity to yeast and molds, should they avoid mushrooms? What about mushroom in a tincture?