What Better Duo Than Mushrooms and Coffee?
Now I know what you’re thinking. Say what Jules, you do shrooms?! Yep that’s right, and I put them in my coffee too. Okay the word shrooms is a little misleading, I’m not talking about hallucinogenic mushrooms. I’m talking about mushrooms that will increase physical performance, strengthen your immune system, and even boost cognitive function. You may be asking, “well how come I haven’t heard of this before!?” Well, I’m not sure. But some of these particular mushrooms have been used for 1000’s of years. Some like to refer to them as adaptogens, which are basically any natural compound or herb that helps you adapt to certain stresses. The key is that they’re not exactly stimulants, such as caffeine. Often you can utilize adaptogens at either morning or night for your intended purpose. There are many types of mushrooms and adaptogens, but here I’ll talk about a few different one’s I’ve been trying and the benefits they induce.
Types of Mushrooms
Native to North America, Asia, and Europe, this powerful mushroom boasts it’s brain boosting, and overall health inducing abilities. Lion’s mane is often referred to as a nootropic, which is essentially a “smart drug” or something that helps boost focus, concentration, and learning. However Lion’s Mane isn’t a drug! It’s completely natural, and doesn’t have any psychedelic properties, or other side effects.
Lion’s mane is even believed to stimulate neurogenesis (neuron growth) which is remarkable since there aren’t many modalities that we know of that can do that (exercise is one)!  Researchers have taken it a step further and conducted studies using lion’s mane to test memory formation and retention. One study even showed that taking lion’s mane improved memory in rats with Alzheimer’s. And another study showed reduction in symptoms with those who have Parkinson’s disease.  While research hasn’t been conducted on a wide scale yet, the implications in curing or reversing certain neurodegenerative diseases is promising. Yay science!
I usually mix a packet of this stuff with some coffee while studying, or anything that requires me to get creative (such as writing my blogs), and have found my focus to be consistently dialed in. But while Lion’s Mane is mostly known for its effects on cognitive function, various studies have shown it to have anti-inflammatory effects, heart health benefits, cancer-preventing benefits, and many other effects. Talk about superfood am I right?
Now this is a fun one. In a nutshell, cordyceps were originally harvested, by monks in the Tibetan mountains, from fungi that grow atop of caterpillars. Spores would land on top of these caterpillars, then grow and consume its host until a fruiting body blossomed. Now, most of the cordyceps products that are available to the public don’t come from caterpillars, as the price tag for this specific strain is $20,000 per kilogram. There are other strains though that are just as efficacious.
Studies have shown that Cordyceps induce performance enhancing effects during exercise. ATP (adenosine triphosphate) is a molecule used by every single cell in our body. In each of these cells we have mitochondria, which produce energy to fuel all our bodily processes each and every second, we’re talking MILLIONS of ATP molecules per day. Studies have shown improvement in mitochondrial function by using Cordyceps, which led to up to an 18% increase in ATP production!  It has also been reported that cordyceps help increase lactate threshold, and delay the onset of fatigue . So you produce more energy, and get tired later on than you normally would? Sounds good to me!
Now if you’re like me, you’re always looking to improve. Certain supplements taken before your workout can aid you in your exercise efforts. Preworkout powders are concoctions of various nutrients designed to help you perform better. However, often times these powders are misused, and/or overused. We rely on them, so invariably, our tolerance to them increases, and then we go searching for the next mix to hit the market that will get us buzzing. Sound familiar? Not only that, most of these drinks contain 3-4 cups of coffee worth of caffeine, artificial sweeteners, and the newest most effective form of creatine or whatever random chemical that’s probably made up but sounds cool. Since finding out about cordyceps, I take one packet, mix it with a cup of coffee, and maybe a packet of lion’s mane. That’s it, 3 ingredients and let me tell you, I haven’t had better training sessions in my life.
Chaga has similar effects as lion’s mane, but more so revered for its medicinal and overall health benefits. Reduction in LDL or the so-called “bad cholesterol,” has been shown to occur while supplementing with chaga. Reduction in blood sugar has also been shown, which could possibly benefit those who are pre-diabetic. Chaga is extremely rich in vitamins and minerals such as zinc, magnesium, iron, selenium, B vitamins, vitamin D, as well as various antioxidants. Due to its antioxidant content, Chaga combats the free radicals that cause oxidative stress, and wreak havoc on your body. This nutrient dense mushroom has thus been linked to having anti-cancer effects. One study showed that supplementation slowed growth of various different cancers grown in a petri dish, as well as slowing of tumor growth in mice .
Where do I find these magical mushrooms?
Well I’m sure they are much more common in eastern countries as most their origins stem from there. If there are any holistic medicine suppliers near you, I’m sure they can also be found there. But unless you’re headed to China anytime soon, check out FourSigmatic. This company produces many different Mushroom extracts, as well as Mushroom extract and coffee blends, all which dissolve instantly in hot water, or in shaken cold water. I’ve personally tried the Cordyceps and Chaga coffee blend, Lion’s Mane extract, Cordyceps extract, and the Matcha Green Tea and Lion’s Mane blend, and the Superfood Blend. No I’m not sponsored by them, nor do I get any money for advertising their products, I genuinely enjoy their products and believe them to be high quality.
I will admit, the taste, takes getting used to…They don’t taste like mushrooms per se, but they also don’t taste like regular coffee. The great thing is that you can always mix it into whatever liquid you want to your liking. Almond milk, coffee with coconut milk, get creative. If you’re like me and drink your coffee black, well, you’ll get accustomed to the taste just like you did with coffee. They have many products on their website which I’m looking forward to trying, and other companies such as Onnit have also started producing mushroom supplements.
Are they right for me?
As with any food or supplement, taking a balanced approach is key. If you’re expecting something to change your life, but you only get 5 hours of sleep, or have a poor diet, you might not get the results you expect. But if you have everything in line and you want that extra push, to help support overall wellness and aid in performance, then give these shrooms a try. Once again, I’M NOT A MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL and I’m not here offering medical advice. But nonetheless the research surrounding these fascinating compounds and the health benefits they provide, is promising. I’ve only scratched the surface on the benefits of mushrooms, just as the research being done has only begun to uncover their capabilities. So what better duo than mushrooms and coffee? I don’t know but from the looks of it, Mario and Luigi were on to something. Mushrooms really do make you grow!
 Raman, Jegadeesh et al. “Neurite Outgrowth Stimulatory Effects of Myco Synthesized AuNPs from Hericium Erinaceus (Bull.: Fr.) Pers. on Pheochromocytoma (PC-12) Cells.” International Journal of Nanomedicine 10 (2015): 5853–5863. PMC. Web. 23 Feb. 2018.
 Brandalise, Federico et al. “Dietary Supplementation Of Hericium ErinaceusIncreases Mossy Fiber-CA3 Hippocampal Neurotransmission and Recognition Memory in Wild-Type Mice.” Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine : eCAM 2017 (2017): 3864340. PMC. Web. 24 Feb. 2018.
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 Chung MJ, Chung CK, Jeong Y, Ham SS. Anticancer activity of subfractions containing pure compounds of Chaga mushroom (Inonotus obliquus) extract in human cancer cells and in Balbc/c mice bearing Sarcoma-180 cells. Nutr Res Pract. 2010 Jun;4(3):177-182. https://doi.org/10.4162/nrp.2010.4.3.177