mushrooms aren’t just a delicious pizza topping anymore. these fungi have so much to offer.
These fungal chemical synthesizers (an organism that is in some ways closer to animals than plants) are only now beginning to be understood by scientists. Current research is unearthing the extent of their benefit to humans—mentally, spiritually, and physically. With exciting and innovative treatment options and an increased understanding of their advantages, we find ourselves closer every day to unleashing the full healing potential of mushrooms.
Mushrooms have a fascinating history and a story that deserves to be told, so pull up a toadstool and get ready to be amazed by these five awe-inspiring facts about mushrooms.
1. mushrooms have been around for a billion years!A recent discovery in Canada found fossilized fungi that dated back over one billion years. Researchers in the Arctic unearthed the micro-fossil and analyzed it, confirming it to be the oldest fungi ever discovered. It’s mind-blowing that life existed on our planet that long ago. This discovery has also changed the way scientists view the evolution and timeline of plants and animals on earth.
2. mushrooms may have led to the creation of christmas.The story of Santa and much of the iconography around Christmas may have an unlikely backstory! Some historians and mushroom experts believe the origin of the “man in a red suit with flying reindeer” was just the hallucinations of people who had taken mushrooms.
Arctic shamans used to give psilocybin as gifts for the winter solstice, often dressing as the mushroom itself (in red and white). It’s possible too that grazing reindeer, who often accompanied the shamans, were mistakenly seen as flying by the mushroom-influenced imaginations of the townspeople.
3. ancient cultures revered them.Many ancient Indigenous tribes located in what is now known as Mexico—such as the Aztecs, Maya, and Nauha—used psilocybin mushrooms in their religious ceremonies, believing that one could talk to the gods once consumed. The Aztecs called psilocybin mushrooms teonanacatl, which translates to “flesh of the gods.” Some Spanish literature describes the ritualistic use of psychedelic substances, and there is much archeological evidence to suggest the use of mushrooms by the ancient peoples of this region, as well—an example being the mushroom effigies created by the Mayans and Aztec in their art.
4. there’s a mushroom that looks just like a lion (and it’s proving to be the king of the jungle).Lion’s Mane mushrooms are more than a cool-looking forest-dweller. Found growing perched high up in the treetops, they are a visually stunning sight to behold. Shaggy “spines” hang down like a beautiful mane but looking like the king of the jungle isn’t their only power! New research is showing that they may pose significant benefits to focus, productivity, and memory!
5. they contain a cocktail of beneficial compounds.Mushrooms contain a variety of elements and chemical cocktails that combine to create many different healing properties in the brain and body. Tero Isokauppila, the author of ‘Healing Mushrooms’, says that “Mushrooms are loaded with polyphenols, polysaccharides, beta-glucans, and antioxidant properties. All of these compounds, together and separately, help to support your immune system."
While the full extent of mushrooms’ healing properties is still being discovered, scientists have shown significant data on the benefits of functional mushrooms such as Reishi, Lion’s Mane, and Chaga.
As interest surrounding the use of mushrooms in treating a wide variety of health issues—specifically mental health and wellness—continues to grow, additional (and promising) research is continuously underway to learn more about the effects mushrooms have on the brain when ingested.
We hope you enjoyed this wild ride of mushroom facts! Whether you’re enjoying them in a meal or using them to help treat an existing affliction, mushrooms are a remarkable organism that offer benefits to our lives beyond what we can imagine!