As our mouths gobble on more processed food-like products than ever before, people have started to look for whole, natural alternatives for healthier, longer life without sacrificing the taste. According to Google Trends and Google Insight, “superfood” term is on the rise in the tranquil northern haven with thousands of lakes and pure nature, also known as Finland.
In the past five years or so Finns have started to opt raw chocolate for guilt-free indulging, and cacao isn’t the only star of the show; Chaga mushroom, used as coffee replacement during the war time, was chosen as the herb of the year 2013, and is available in almost any city now. In Finland, people eat more of these and other nutrient-dense treats than any country per capita. Easy access to mushrooms and ravenous bilberry-picking deep in the woods surely can’t be the only answers to why this small, distant country has become the hot spot of the industry. Maybe the Finns are onto something that other countries can follow: Could chaga be the new espresso in Italy, raw cakes replace French pastries, and kale chips beat crisps in the UK?
Foodism: The Why And The How
Curious as we in FSF are, we decided to talk to those who know and have been around superfoods and the whole hype since mr. Goji along with his friends Maca, Cacao and the rest of the exotic super gang first arrived in Finland. A doctor, a reporter, a store owner and a health coach walk into a bar…but that’s a completely different story.
Why have superfoods spread and become such a popular trend in Finland?
Samuli Perälä, co-founder of Numen Oy and the person who is said to be one of the Fathers of Superfoods in Finland, says: “There already was a demand for superfoods, because ‘normal’ foods have become less nutritional during the past years. Superfoods were the easy answer to a natural deficiency.”
Olli Sovijärvi, doctor and Helsinki Paleo podcaster adds, that superfoods are also a response to the government’s monopolies, such as Valio (dairy products) and other great “food houses”.
“in addition to the global health trend, Finland’s natural resources for superfoods such as berries make them more accessible.”, Noora Shingler, journalist, author and owner of the popular Kemikaalicocktail-blog thinks.
Maria Lönnqvist uses blueberries in her raw superfood cupcakes
What made the snowball to roll; when did it all begin and what happened for the demand to increase?
“The first superfood products such as goji and maca started to sell in 2007″, Heini Mikkonen, the owner of Runsaudensarvi eco shop in Tampere, recalls. The following year, thanks to few active, young and athletic guys with a lot of enthusiasm and sometimes aggressive promoting, the media and the masses started to get interested in these nutritional powerhouses. Mikkonen also thanks the fresh style of branding to the popularity of superfoods. She thinks that green smoothies would not have sold so well and the message would not have gone through, if it had been promoted by hippies.
Finland was fast in catching up with what was popular in the United States, and few Finnish companies started importing superfoods through “Finnish channels”. Jaakko Halmetoja, Olli Posti and eager women’s magazines’ reporters were behind the publicity and rapid growth in general interest towards superfoods. The healthy example and experience-based education from Halmetoja, Posti and few other “foodists” kept the interest high, providing them opportunities for public appearances in major tv-channels’ talk shows and other programs. Few health programs in tv and in the radio started to regularly pay interest to superfoods and better overall lifestyle, making people demand superfoods from their supermarkets.
The effects of exposure and example are vital, says Noora Shingler, an active reporter questioning our society: “When certain public personas and bloggers started spreading the word, others became interested. People tried superfoods themselves and found out that they make you feel good and can easily replace nutrient-poor ingredients. The popularity is self-evident!”
Shingler also points out, that superfoods are re-inventing the wheel: “the oldest and most precious ingredients from around the world get value in the eyes of a new target group because of their new, trendy name. I think it’s great that a new word has caught the attention of people. For all I care, superfoods could be called little rocks if it made people enjoy original, healthy and energetic ingredients instead of weak, processed products.”
Sick Of Being Sick, Or Looking For A Healthy Treat?
According to Heini Mikkonen, at first the most popular superfoods were cacao, goji and maca. Because of bad publicity goji’s popularity decreased, which still shows. “The most popular superfoods now are maca, spirulina, chaga, cacao, goji, chlorella, roseroot, guarana, FSF mushroom extracts…” and the list goes on. Mikkonen defines Finns as open to try new and that superfoods suit the “Finnish mentality” with their concrete effects on the mind and body.
“Since superfoods are often used to boost the immune system, protect from flu and other illnesses, they are more popular during the cold months of the year.” (which means basically any other month than in the summer – editor’s note)
Olli Sovijärvi, a doctor specialized in nutrition and exercise, points out that adaptogens such as roseroot are popular due to their hormone balancing effects. Sovijärvi also states that you can fill nutrient deficiencies and boost daily energy and health with superfoods. “Many of my patients use superfoods and by subjective experiences they have proven to be very beneficial health-wise.”
When selected carefully, Sovijärvi believes that superfoods can bring a lot of extra value to health. “Chronic stress, which is perhaps in the background for 90% of diseases, is one of the main reasons for imbalance in the body. Adaptogens, such as schisandra, ashwagandha and roseroot are very effective in healing this.”
“Often people eat too much stimulating superfoods, or then they eat the wrong foods because they don’t know how to listen to their body. Often the usage instructions are not clear enough, which can lead to side effects”, Samuli Perälä adds. However, Perälä has not received any completely negative feedback about superfoods during the years he has been involved in the health field and superfood scene.
All of the superfood experts agree that basically anyone from hipster teenagers to their grandparents buys superfoods. Since the selection is growing wider and wider, people start experimenting with different superfood combinations and recipes, and find their new favorites.
For few years now, bloggers have been active in creating and sharing their mouth-watering treats from superior ingredients. Guilt-free raw dessert cakes and chocolates that look just like their conventional, unhealthy versions seem to appeal especially to the ladies – which makes mastering the art of making chocolate appealing to men, too.
Chocolove by Smoothie Studio
Are Superfoods Here To Stay?
You can buy a raw chocolate kit instead of a cake bake mix, and no one can argue that smoothies take too much time to whirl up. Ashwagandha might be hard to pronounce for some, but luckily it’s not the only option in the superfood clan.
What does this all result in, what are the good outcomes of superfoods’ popularity?
Superfoods have increased general attention and knowledge about nutrients, and the low quality of “regular” food. Everyone agrees that more demand leads to easier access and broader selection, which is generally a positive thing. However, not all products are equally super: “Some products may be taking advantage of the buzzword superfood, like regular milk chocolate that has goji berries and is then marketed as superfood”, Noora Shingler points out.
Heini Mikkonen thinks that at some point the popularity and media attention went out of hands, causing irritation. As a result, natural Finnish products polished their image.
“We have woken up to appreciate and protect Finnish supers: blueberries, buckthorn, nettle, chaga and wild herbs have become better-known.”
“In general people awaken to the fact that processed “food” does not improve health, but it makes you prone to different ailments. Preventing sickness and maintaining health are the most important long-term effects of superfoods, most of which have already been used for thousands of years in China and India”, Olli Sovijärvi concludes.
Finnish honey products, Smoothie Studio honey spiked with chaga (c) Smoothie Studio
Superfoods are now everyday items to many Finns, and they are widely available. Therefore all the interviewed believe that natural, pure ingredients that are marketed as superfoods have become a staple in the Finnish kitchen repertoire for good. One of the keys to success seems to be aggressive promoting from successful people from all walks of life who are more than willing to share their discoveries, experiments and experiences with the new, yet ancient ingredients. But no matter from what angle you look at it, the real change happens through the real-life stories and individuals sharing their own experiences. With slight cultural modifications, other countries can also leverage the example of the Finns and help democratize superfoods around the world.
Blueberries and goji berries can be a match made in heaven in the same breakfast bowl, and they may become our everyday bread for the next decades, even centuries – and why not, since they’ve been around all along.
During the last year or so I’ve been traveling in 21 countries and drinking our Instant Beverages in the company of hundreds and again hundreds of people. When people ask me what are those funny looking sachets, it almost always causes chuckles and giggles when my answer is that I’m drinking mushrooms. It’s even more powerful way to make people smile than me wearing FiveFingers shoes about 4 years ago in rural Asia, which I can also guarantee caused quite the belly laugh among the locals :)
Ever since the launch of our Instants I’ve been interviewed in several medias (radio, magazines, and latest on Kate Magic’s health food community), I’ve written guest blog posts, and given public speeches about mushrooms. The common story is pretty much the same everywhere; most people still think that the word “mushroom” is equal to few culinary mushrooms (e.g. the button mushroom) or some random hallucinogenic mushrooms (ironically they can’t name any). It’s also very common that people come to me and say things like “isn’t all mushrooms in the world carcinogenic” or that “all mushrooms cause fungal diseases”. To me this is like saying all animals are bad because horses kill 20 people each year (true story!) or that all plants are bad because hops (hence also all beer) have estrogenic effects that lead to feminization of the male body. It’s a massive generalization.
Despite all of this ranting, I’ve never written about how amazing mushrooms/fungi are to this blog. So here are 7 interesting aspects about mushrooms that I’ve collected for you to showcase why our level of appreciation towards fungi is so high.
1. Mushrooms are surprisingly close to humans
Mushrooms and mammals separated from each others around 460 million years ago, but we still share 30% or more of the same genes, making us far more closer to mushrooms than to bacteria or plants. Just like us humans, mushrooms use oxygen and expel CO2. The bad news is that because of this DNA similarity, the same pathogens that hit fungi usually affect us like is the case of mycoses like candida (by the way plant’s pathogenic fungi are also responsible for 70% of all known plant diseases). The good news is that the same defense mechanisms of fungi can also help us when we consume them hence the whole genre of medicinal mushrooms.
2. Mushrooms are some of the oldest organisms alive
The largest living organism on the Planet Earth is a fungus discovered only a little over 10 years ago in Eastern Oregon’s conifer forest. This Armillaria solidipes fungi (formerly known as Prince…I mean Armillaria ostoyae) cover the size of about 20,000 basketball courts (8.4 km²) and weighs more than the great Blue Whale. It also could be the oldest living organism on Earth with an estimated age of 2400 years. Fungi in general are not as old as bacteria (which are about 3.5 billion years old) but with roughly 460 to 455 million years of existence support the thesis that that fungi may have played an essential role in the colonization of land by the first plants (which are approximately 425 million years old).
Photo credit: Alan Rockefeller (Armillaria ostoyae)
3. Mushrooms are an own kingdom
In biology fungi are classified as an own kingdom along with 4-5 others kingdoms such Animalia, Plantae, Chromista, Protozoa, and Bacteria. So being on the same “level” as plants is already in indicator that fungi play a massive role in biology. British mycologist Dr. David L. Hawksworth from the International Mycological Association has made a conservative estimate that there are at least 1.5 million species of fungi on earth (using a hypothesis that there are 6x the amount of fungi to every plant). This kingdom is still vastly unknown to us humans. Depending on the source we have discovered only 99,000 species of fungi, and new species are found at the rate of 1200 per year. With this pace it will take more than 1100 years to catalog and describe all remaining fungi. Sadly, many of these fungi are very likely to become extinct before they are ever discovered.
4. Mushroom are a basis of many drugs
Currently we have identified that roughly 300-400 species of fungi have medicinal properties. According to experts at least 40% of our drugs utilize directly or indirectly mushrooms. Herbalist Robert Rogers estimates that a total of 126 medicinal functions are thought to be produced by medicinal mushrooms. Judging by these figures it is not surprising to hear that during the last decade there has been over 100,000 studies on medicinal mushrooms in Asia alone. The most famous “mushroom drug” is mold fungus based penicillin. After 1928, when Dr. Alexander Fleming “found” it, it has said to save tens of millions of people (some say even over 200 million lives but who really knows for sure?). Another major mushroom drug innovation started 25 years ago when the Japanese researcher Tetsuro Fujita came up with the idea to use Ophiocordyceps sinensis against multiple sclerosis, a very common and “incurable” autoimmune disease. Based on Fujita’s studies Swiss drug company Novartis launched Gilenya. It’s a MS disease drug made from Myriocin originally derived from Isaria sinclairii, the anamorph of Cordyceps sinclairii. The Myriocin is synthesized for drug production as usual. It is said that this drug will generate up to US$5 billion a year in global sales making it soon the TOP 10 best selling drug of all time. The cost of treatment with Gilenya is $3000 per month. FSF sells Instant Cordyceps, that is made from natural cordyceps and even if used daily would not cost more than $500 a year. Just saying.
Photo: Ophiocordyceps sinensis
5. Mushrooms are a serious food business
Estimates made in 2004 already suspected that the global mushroom business is a whopping US$40 billion, which is almost the size of the global coffee business. Only 25 years ago this same production was 150x smaller. Globally there are at least 2000 varieties of edible mushrooms, and this production is clearly led by China. According to the Chinese Association of Edible Fungi, they produce 8 million tons each year, which is about 70% of the global production. Most of the production stays in China, which is the world’s largest mushroom market and a country where many meat eaters are substituting their old habits with ‘shrooms. The actual mushroom export from China is less than 5% of its total domestic production. With these numbers it’s not also striking to hear that 35 million Chinese work in the mushroom industry. Tibet is the only country that has more fungal income per capita in the world over China. Rare mushrooms like Ophiocordyceps sinensis (which I sell now through FSF) and Tricholoma matsutake (which I started my mushroom business in the dim and distant) can both cost several thousands of dollars per kilo. On the other extreme, fungi can also be used to make very economical meals. For example UK based brand of meat imitating controversial mycoprotein called Quorn is one of them. In the 1950′s people thought that by the 1980’s there would be a massive world hunger so for the upcoming protein shortage scientist invented this protein product made from a mold fungus (Fusarium venenatum). Now this cheap meat replacement is sold in 11 countries with annual sales of over US$ 140 million. In the UK alone people eat an unbelievable 500,000 Quorn based meals everyday.
Photo credit: Jan Ainala (Quorn fillets – fried, defrosted and frozen)
6. Mushrooms are faster, stronger, larger…
If organism would have Olympic games, mushrooms would score more medals than China. In high jump even Javier Sotomayor at his best couldn’t compete with fungus that ejects its spores with more than 20,000 G’s of force! Even top trained humans can barely stand 12 G’s of force before passing out. At bodybuilding Ronnie Coleman would look like a Kenyan marathon runner next to the prehistoric reproductive fungal structures that were eight meters high and one meter wide. As a comparison plants at that time were at best equally high as the mushrooms were wide. And finally in the sport of ultra masculinity, Rocco Siffredi & Co. have to stand in awe to Calvatia gigantea that can produce 20 trillion spores in its lifetime. If each spore would grow into another full maturity mushroom, those 20 trillion puffballs would equal a mass of 3x greater than the Sun.
Photo credit: Hans Hillewaert (Calvatia gigantea)
7. Mushrooms can save the world in many ways
Fungi are known as extremophiles, which basically means they can live everywhere from the Sahara Deserts to the Arctic. Besides being able to break down oil – which is impressive by itself – fungi can also break down extremely toxic chemical weapons of mass destruction and nerve agents like Soman, Sarin, and VX. With melanin pigments fungi can feed itself purely on ionizing radiation and maybe because of this fact there has been fungi sightings in both spacecrafts as well as nuclear waste zones (e.g. at the reactor core of Chernobyl). Fungi are also used to remove pollutants in the field of bioremediation. They also help plants in thriving. Over 95% of all plantae have mushroom partners (mycorrhizal and endophytic symbionts), which help the plant to gather water, minerals, and other nutrients about 1,000x better than it could get on its own. This is just a preview to all the possibilities that fungi include. World’s leading mushroom expert Paul Stamets shares his 6 ways in this video.
Disclaimer: I’m not saying that mushrooms are better than plants or animals, but along bacteria they have definitely suffered from biological racism (i.e. mycophobia) and have not gotten enough appreciation. We at FSF truly believe that no matter what diet do you prefer (Paleo, 80/10/10, gluten-free, half-day fasting, Zone, Hollywood, bear diet, Master Cleanse, DASH….), you will get more bang for your buck by introducing a few top mushrooms (and some good bacteria) to your diet compared to endlessly fine tuning of your macronutrient ratio or fighting with others on how much animal-based products a human is naturally designed to eat. Peace!
Qian Long, the best known and longest ruling Emperor of the Qing Dynasty, consumed codonopsis daily. He was the longest living Emperor of the modern era, died at eighty-nine years old. The Chinese emperors usually lived a short life because of their habit of having too many mistresses; Qian Long had merely three thousand lovers.
Codonopsis pilosula, Codonopsis or Dang shen is gastroprotective, hypoglycemic agent, adaptogen and one of the primary energy tonics in traditional Chinese medicine. It is known for its’ immunomodulatory functions, in other words digestion enhancing powers. Codonopsis is also called poor man’s ginseng, because it is cheaper and has similar, yet milder effects.
Codonopsis is a perennial, shrubby flowering plant growing around streambanks and forest openings natively in Northeast Asia and Korea. The 1-3 cm thick roots of codonopsis are harvested from the plant during the third or fourth year of growth and dried before selling.
Why to Use Codonopsis
Codonopsis is known as ‘spleen qi’. In addition to speeding up food processing, it has also been used against various respiratory and skin diseases and to treat amnesia. Codonopsis increases both white and red blood cells and is believed to promote blood circulation and enhance vitality as well as strengthen the immune system.
In the modern Western science, codonopsis’ anti-tumor effects have been studied successfully: The acidic polysaccharide from the roots of codonopsis pilosula showed wound healing and decreasing effect on tumor cells. A recent study revealed that an herb blend containing codonopsis pilosula reduced breast cancer patients’ leucocyte and neutrophil (common white blood cell) levels while decreasing the levels of tumor cells, cytotoxic tumor cells and natural killer cells.
In addition to it’s cancer treating effects, studies have proven that codonopsis pilosula is a potential antidiabetic herb and it may reduce the blood glucose levels and thus delay the progression of diabetes.
How to Use Codonopsis
Codonopsis is used in different herb combinations, for example mixed with Bai guo (Ginko biloba) to improve cognition and overall health. Codonopsis is also effective in Weikang Keli mixture, aimed for treating gastric cancer.
In addition to herb mixtures, codonopsis can be consumed as capsules, tinctures or the roots can be soaked and boiled to make tea.
Photo Credit: Doronenko
Where to Buy Codonopsis
You may find some codonopsis dietary supplements from your local health foods stores or major international e-tailers.
If you want to test a product containing codonopsis, then look no further. We believe that the most cost-effective product out there is our FSF Princess, which also contains the power herbs Dong quai, mucuna and cistanche. You can find FSF Princess HERE.
Tremella has a long history of use in Chinese cuisine, primarily in beverages and sweet dishes. It is a rather flavorless mushroom, but is appreciated for its texture and medicinal benefits. Other names for tremella include silver fungus and snow ear fungus in English, 银耳 / 銀耳 (“silver ear”), 雪耳 (“snow ear”) and 白木耳 (“white wood ear”) in Chinese, and shiro kikurage (“white tree jellyfish”) in Japanese.
Tremella is said to be the beauty secret of Yang Guifei (born 1 June, 719; died 15 July 756), Imperial Consort and one of the Four Beauties of Ancient China.
Why to Use Tremella
The make-up of the tremella mushroom is more than 70 percent dietary fiber. It includes substances such as polysaccharides and vitamin D, making it an excellent choice for a healthy diet. Tremella’s gelatinous but fairly firm texture and faint, almost undetectable flavor make it a most interesting ingredient in various dishes.
How to Use Tremella
Currently there are not many ways to introduce tremella into your diet. The easiest is to take it in dietary supplement form – as a tincture, capsule or tablet. If you want to go “hardcore,” find some fresh or dried tremella fungus and use it in cooking. Since tremella has almost no flavor, it is easy to incorporate in almost any recipe.
Photo credit: Pellaea
Where to Buy Tremella
Tremella products are not common in America or Europe, but they can sometimes be found in larger health food stores or smaller specialized stores. In Asia, tremella products are far more common, found in most food stores and available from any practitioner of traditional Chinese medicine.
If you want to test a product containing tremella, then look no further. We believe that the most cost-effective product out there is our FSF Mania, which contains 6 other mushrooms and rose hip along with tremella. You can find FSF Mania HERE.
Mucuna pruriens seed has been used for anti-Parkinson and as a sex booster in ancient Eastern Indian ethnotherapeutics for ages, but in the western medicine Mucuna is more or less unknown plant until recently. Mucuna has been getting more attention especially among bodybuilders and those who are looking for natural sex boosters.
Why to use Mucuna pruriens seed
Mucuna pruriens seed an antihypertensive and anti-hypoglycemic agent, which contains active substances that boost the production of our “brain hormones” like serotonin and dopamine. That helps out with sleep quality, daily energy levels, sex drive, and general mood levels. Although a powerful sex booster and well-being herb, the science has drawn attention to Mucuna pruriens seed especially because of its anti-Parkinson’s disease properties.
Some scientific studies showed that Mucuna pruriens seed treatment signiﬁcantly restored the internal levodopa, dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin content in the substantia nigra (a brain structure located in the midbrain that plays an important role in reward, addiction, and movement). A metabolic disturbances in the substantia nigra are associated with Parkinson’s disease and with Huntington’s disease. Nicotine adenine dinucleotide (NADH) and coenzyme Q-10 are both present in Mucuna and are shown to have a therapeutic beneﬁt in Parkinson’s disease, but L-DOPA is believed to be the main chemical of Mucuna pruriens seed’s Parkinson’s disease inhibiting properties.
Photo credit: scott.zona
L-DOPA is a chemical, which humans (amongst the some other animals and plants) make through biosynthesis from the amino acid L-tyrosine. L-DOPA is the precursor to the neurotransmitters dopamine, norepinephrine, and epinephrine – an important brain chemical involved in mood, sexuality, and movement.
Mucuna has also exhibited signiﬁcant antioxidant effects – ability to scavenge DPPH radicals, ABTS radicals and reactive oxygen species – iron chelating properties. Polyphenols of Mucuna crosses the protective blood–brain barrier, thus exert their antioxidant and iron chelating properties in the brain.
By being a strong brain food it also assists in building more testosterone, making it an optimal addition for people looking to change their body composition by losing fat or gaining muscle.
How to use Mucuna
The most common ways to use Mucuna are as a powdered extract (as a loose powder extract or in capsules). We, at FSF, believe that that is a huge disrespect towards this magnificent herb. We could do so much more out of it. Mucuna extract would actually make a delicious raw chocolate. Easiest way is to craft a basic raw chocolate and add 1-3 teaspoons of Mucuna extracts. It also goes well with smoothies and raw ice creams. Let’s be creative.
Where to buy Mucuna
You may find some Mucuna dietary supplements from your local health foods stores or major international e-tailers.
If you want to test a product containing mucuna, then look no further. We believe that the most cost-effective product out there is our FSF Princess and FSF Prince. You can find them HERE.
Our best selling product so far, Instant Reishi, has received a lot of attention lately amongst people all over the world. I have received a myriad of Reishi related comments from many different countries, and the gist of them is pretty much the same - Your Instant Reishi is the most effective reishi product I have ever tried. How do you do that?
Since there are quite a lot of people wondering why our products are so effective, we decided to let the cat out of the bag, and tell openly “our secret” to everyone;
We focus on quality
It truly is that simple. By using the best possible cultivation method, choosing the highest quality ingredients, developing recipes that have synergistic properties, keeping an eye on the whole manufacturing process, and selecting potent extracts we have managed to create products that really work.
In case of Reishi, for instance, it means that we have decided to use only the red Reishi, which is arguably the best strain of all the different (red, black, blue, white, yellow, purple) Reishi mushrooms. It has a great number of scientific research, the highest content of polysaccharides, which are the key elements of health effects of Reishi, and even historical writings are most often talking specifically about red Reishi.
We have intensively studied different cultivation methods and chosen the best option for us. And yes, we use cultivated Reishi, not wildcrafted as research has shown that the health-enhancing properties of Reishi are strongest when the plant is fully mature. In the wild Reishi hardly never gets fully mature due to the unstable conditions of environment that exist in the natural surroundings of Reishi plants.
Four methods of cultivation
Rice mass, Wood pulp, wooden box, and natural wood log cultivation are four common methods of cultivating the Reishi plant.
Rice based cultivation is getting more and more common especially in the West as it is the easiest and the cheapest way to cultivate Reishi. Reishi fungi and some fertilizers are added into the nutrient-poor white rice mass. This is what I like to call “factory farming of Reishi” – trying to get as much quantity as possible with the least possible effort no matter what.
In wood pulp cultivation, wood pulp along with Reishi fungi are placed in a glass bottle. Even though this growing method is lightyears ahead of rice mass cultivation, it still yields small mushrooms of relatively poor quality. In wood box cultivation, which is again a bit better in terms of quality, involves grafting the fungi into a wooden log that is then placed in a wooden box. Medium size and moderate quality Reishi are generally produced through this method after six months.
Large Reishi of superior quality are usually grown using the natural wood log method, which is the most complex form of cultivation. The process begins with the culturing of a high quality Reishi fungus strain in test tubes for about 85 days. A high quality germinated Reishi fungus strains are inserted into holes drilled into high grade logs between 26 to 30 years old. These logs are then placed in a greenhouse and buried under natural soil for 5 months. The Reishi fungi absorb almost all of the nutrients from the soil during this time, which means that after five years of use, the soil must lay unused for at least 2 years before it can be used again. This allows replenishment of nutrients back into the soil.
Growing conditions require continued monitoring to ensure a high quality Reishi harvest. Temperature, humidity, carbon dioxide, light intensity and nutrients are all closely monitored to maintain optimum growth conditions. The greenhouse is sprayed with moisture daily to stimulate growth and maintain an optimum humidity.
The mushrooms are grown for approximately another 3 months until they mature and reach their full size. After some time, the mushrooms produce a thick coating of spores. The spraying is stopped when the mushrooms release their spores into the air. After that the Reishi grow additional two weeks before harvesting.
Large size, thick cap and overall weight are the signs of healthy and mature Reishi plants. It is true that Reishi mushrooms grow larger with age, but they are at their best when they are fresh and moist inside. Older plants may be larger in size, but they are also usually too dry to be effective enough.
To prepare Reishi for use in health products, the mushrooms are cut into small pieces and boiled for three hours. This boiling process is repeated three times to extract all the medicinal properties of the mushroom. After the boiling the mushroom extract is air-sprayed drier to transform the concentrated liquid to a instant powder form. In a nutshell this is how high quality Reishi is produced.
With a few rare exceptions, China and Japan are the only countries cultivating truly high quality Reishi in the world, and we are committed to producing our Reishi products in Asia until standards for Reishi cultivation in the West rises. A lot.
A recent Food Marketing Institute (FMI) report indicated 71% of shoppers are “very/extremely” concerned about products from China. “Yes, there is especially a healthy skepticism about herbs from India and China. This is unfortunate as both countries produce the lowest and highest quality botanicals in the world. The real problem is not with India and China as countries of origin for botanicals but the ignorance of U.S. manufacturers shopping for the cheapest materials or not knowing how to discern Ayurvedic and Chinese herb quality,” said AHPs’ Mr. Upton. (Source: International Botanical Trends 2012)
The quote above is the very reason why we have a presence in Asia and meet our local partners as often as possible; at the end of the day the quality is all that matters. We want to know, see, and get involved in how our products are grown and processed, and thereby ensure they are the highest possible quality. If you have ever done a proper business with the Chinese, you know, that building a strong Guanxi with the local partners is the single most important activity you can do here.
This very common mushroom can be found in almost every corner of the world. It is formally known as Coriolus versicolor and Polyporus versicolor. In English, the mushroom is most commonly called turkey tail, because of its resemblance to the tail of a wild turkey.
Today it is the best-selling anti-cancer drug on the Japanese market
Polysaccharide K (PSK) and polysaccharide-peptide (PSP) are two important substances extracted from turkey tail. As early as the 1980s, the Japanese government accepted the use of PSK in treatment of several types of cancer. Today it is the best-selling anti-cancer drug on the Japanese market, and is used there in combination with surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
Why to Use Turkey Tail
Various studies have demonstrated turkey tail’s anti-cancer activity. Its protein-bound polysaccharides are reported to be effective immune system regulators. Turkey tail has also been shown to enhance white blood cell activity in scavenging toxins and destroying pathogens. Another of turkey tail’s distinctive features is its usefulness in treating human papillomavirus infection.
How to Use Turkey Tail
The most common ways to use turkey tail are as a powdered extract (as a loose powder or in capsules) and as a liquid extract.
Photo credit: Rebonnett
Where to Buy Turkey Tail
Turkey tail products are somewhat difficult to find in America and Europe; look for them in larger health food stores, or smaller specialized shops. In Asia, turkey tail is more common, with most local health food stores carrying it. Every practitioner of Chinese traditional medicine keeps some turkey tail on hand. Like most superfoods, turkey tail can easily be purchased though webstores such as iHerb.com and vitacost.com.
Fundi Perfecti Turkey Tail | The mushroom that cured Paul Stamets’ mother’s cancer.
Amazon US (Affiate*): Fungi Perfecti Host Defense Turkey Tail
Amazon US: Fungi Perfecti Host Defense Turkey Tail
*Affiliate program link: Product costs the same to you but Four Sigma Foods gets a percentage of the sales to bring more healthy products to you
If you want to test a product containing turkey tail, then look no further. We believe that the most cost-effective product out there is our FSF Mania, which contains 6 other mushrooms and rose hip along with turkey tail. You can find FSF Mania HERE.
He Shou Wu, sometimes also called Fo-Ti, has a very interesting history and the story of discovery. He Shou Wu’s history states all the way back to around 800 AD. That was the time when 58 years old Mr. He woke up with his hangover from a drunken sleep in a field. Some people say that Mr. He drunk often as he was badly depressed from being impotent all his life. That morning when he woke up and saw soon-to-be-called He Shou Wu plants in front of him, Mr. He said that those plants reminded him of two lovers. For this reason, he decided to dug up the roots of a He Shou Wu plant, and to all his surprise they brought to mind two humans – male and female. That got to be a sign!
Mr. He decided to give it a shot. He ground the roots into a powder and took the powder daily from thereafter. Within months he started to have sexual urges for the first time in his life, and within a year his snow-white hair turned back to pitch-black again. Therefore the Chinese name He Shou Wu – Mr. He’s Black Hair.
Mr. He got married, and also his wife started to take He Shou Wu. The legend says that Mr. He got 12 children altogether and he lived up to 130 years old. His children also took He Shou Wu powder, and one is said to have lived even up to 150 years old. Also Li Ching Yuen, a Chinese herbalist and martial artist, who died in 1933 is known for taking He Shou Wu daily. He is claimed to be born in 1736 or 1677, which both suggest a lifespan of 197 to 256 years.
He Shou Wu has been demonstrated to increase superoxide dismutase (SOD – the most powerful antioxidant in the human body)
Why To Use He Shou Wu
Stories above suggest that He Shou Wu is a real tonic and longevity herb. It has been praised for centuries for its ability to enhance our youth. It’s said to hit our body from all angles including muscular, immune, nervous, and skeletal systems as well as our blood generation and fertility. It’s the perfect food for slowing down and works wonderfully for people who need to reduce cholesterol or rebuild their adrenal levels.
He Shou Wu has been demonstrated to increase superoxide dismutase (SOD – the most powerful antioxidant in the human body) and to inhibit b-monoamine oxidase (b -MAO). These factors brace He Shou Wu’s anti-aging effects. Furthermore, He Shou Wu has been shown to help strengthen the cell membranes and to promote the growth and development of red blood cells.
How To Use He Shou Wu
He Shou Wu is not the easiest herb to find from the Western world. It is rather unknown outside of TCM’s (Traditional Chinese Medicine) sphere of influence (China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore) and the availability especially for the higher quality of the herb is low.
If you can find some fresh He Shou Wu root, you can easily grind it and make an infusion or decoction. Additionally, you can make tincture or He Shou Wu wine by adding some herb powder to alcohol, for instance vodka, and leave it in a warm, sunny spot for 3-6 weeks.
Dietary supplements are a good way to start using He Shou Wu if you are alright with eating capsules. In that case make sure that you eat the kind of supplements that have as little fillers as possible.
Where To Find He Shou Wu
You may find some He Shou Wu dietary supplements from your local health foods stores or major international online stores.
However, you may want to consider FSF Store’s He Shou Wu extract if you are into high quality products and want to have the most value for your money. FSF He Shou Wu extract is easy to use. You can add it to your smoothies, soups, coffees, shakes etc. You name it.
People often ask us “what’s the difference between stimulants and adaptogens?”. That’s why we decided to create a simple graph for you to distinguish the difference quickly and easily. My favorite adaptogen is definitely Chaga. What is yours?
The most common stimulants and adaptogens:
- Yerba mate
Schisandra has over 2,000 years of history in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). This red berry was first mentioned in the TCM texts in late Han dynasty, AD 25-220. Chinese folklore says that it can “calm the heart and quiet the spirit”, which is a good rule of thumb for Schisandra. The Chinese name, Wu Wei Zi, means “5 flavor berry” and is associated with all major flavors of TCM – sweet, sour, bitter pungent, salty – and is unique in that sense. There are no other known foods or herbs that are said to bring to mind all these five flavors.
Both men and women have traditionally used Schisandra as a tonic for sexual energy. It is especially popular with women for its complexion enhancing properties. Not only Chinese folklore, but also Tibetans are known for having a millennia long history of use of Schisandra. More recent history of its application can be found in Russia by local hunters and the Red Army in 20th century, as well as allegedly in Sweden by the Swedish XC-skiing team. Today in Russia, Schisandra is a registered medicine for vision difficulties such as short-sightedness and astigmatism. It is also one of the rare herbs that can be found on the top of both the Ayurvedic and Chinese medicinal systems.
Not only a beauty food, schisandra is also a very powerful, yet natural, safe and legal performance enhancer.
Why to use Schisandra
This tonic berry is often cited as a beauty food that preserves youth and helps to combat insomnia. It is used to help your body to naturally deal with chemicals, pathogens, electromagnetic stress, and other toxins. Schisandra is maybe one of the world’s most praised health strategies for better organ and skin health thus it suits anyone who wants to stack longevity odds in their favor.
Not only a beauty food, schisandra is also a very powerful, yet natural, safe and legal performance enhancer. In Russia, the Red Army soldiers used dried Schisandra berry powder before they undertook long ski runs as it was shown to enhance performance by reducing exhaustion and fatigue, muscular pain, shortness of breath, the feeling of thirst, and dryness of mouth compared with control group in double blind placebo control study. Another study shows that 60% of runners treated with Schisandra extract were able to run 1,000 meters significantly faster than prior to use of it. In the given study the overall improvement for all runners was 4.45 seconds.
How to use it?
If you can find some fresh or dried Schisandra berries, you can grind them and make an infusion, decoction, or even a tincture.
Schisandra dietary supplements can be found from almost all the health foods stores, but be careful with the quality. Not all of them are high quality and many contain unwanted and unhealthy fillers.
Schisandra is generally a safe herb, and can be used also in larger amounts at once. However, it is still good to remember that it’s more herb than a food, and should be treated that way.
Where to find it
You may find Schisandra dietary supplements from your local health foods stores or major international online stores.
If you want to test a product containing Schisandra, then look no further. We believe that the most cost-effective product out there is our FSF Endurance, which contains roseroot and siberian ginseng along with Schisandra. You can find FSF Endurance HERE.