While mushrooms have been revered for their healing qualities since ancient times, they have got a bad rap in today’s modern culture. Adaptogens are leading the trend in putting mushrooms back onto our radar for the health powerhouses that they are.
The “Chaga Guy”
I was first introduced to adaptogens while bridging the cold northern European winters in Goa, India, some years ago. One day, as I was sitting cross-legged on the floor of a restaurant, eating a meal with a friend, a guy who I only recall now as the “Chaga Guy” started talking to us from the other side of the floor at the small local restaurant. Pretty quickly we got into his favorite topic, which would a few years later also become one of mine: adaptogens.
He told us that he’s in the chaga business. At this point, I was convinced he was trying to sell me psychedelics (note: adaptogens are not psychedelics, they are non-toxic medicinal and culinary mushrooms). He shed light on some of the benefits of chaga, the best places to source the most potent ‘shrooms, and explained that he drinks chaga tea at least three times a day to boost his immunity, ward off cell un-health, and to give him an overall sense of calmness with an energy kick.
He brought around some chaga and said to give it a try. I did, and I actually felt the benefits, but to be honest, the all-encompassing awesome-ness of the chaga mushroom was partially lost on me back then. That is until, out of curiosity, I took a course on mushrooms and started foraging again in Europe.
What are adaptogens?
The word “adaptogen” may or may not already be on your radar. Sometimes referred to as therapeutic mushrooms or medicinal mushrooms, these fungi have been around since ancient times in Eastern medicine and are making an upswing into today’s wellness circles. To put it simply, adaptogens are non-toxic herbs, roots, and fungi that help restore cells back to their natural healthy state. Essentially, they have properties which “adapt” the body’s ability to restore its normal physiological function and to resist stressors. Chaga is an adaptogenic mushroom that holds good company with other adaptogens, some of which you can find in our drinks.
Adaptogenic botanicals have been used for centuries in both Ayurvedic and Chinese healing traditions to boost immunity, reduce inflammation, and alleviate feelings of stress and anxiety. Birch ploypore (Piptoporus betulinus), which is a type of chaga, was even found on Ötzi the Iceman – the oldest natural mummy of a man who lived sometime between 3350 and 3105 BC. He kept it on him as he was traversing rough landscapes, probably because of its an anti-parasitic, antiviral, and antibacterial, properties; it can also be turned into a paste to help bandage wounds.
Chai meets adaptogens
India is the kind of place that shows you a lot really fast. One thing I knew for a while, but which became abundantly clear to me while there, was that coffee had to go.
Like many of us, I was fully immersed in the hustle and grind culture of working loads as a freelancer. When my morning coffee had turned into two morning coffees which rolled into an afternoon coffee, I realized I had a slight coffee dependency. The thing was, I really didn’t like the jitters and burnout feeling coffee gave me. But coffee kind of became par for the course in work environments and social settings. So that’s what I did, I drank coffee although it made me feel like sh*t 99.8% of the time.
I literally had to ween myself off of it over the course of years before I finally broke free from what can only be described as a caffeine addiction to coffee. Sometimes we grow out of relationships, right? I just grew up and grew beyond it, and it was time to let it go.
In the post-breakup period, I drank masala chai, a drink from India that I absolutely adore. The spices, the ritual of creating it, the ginger kick I got when drinking it, and sharing it with friends – the drink hit all the right spots.
While living in Spain, I also started incorporating cacao into my warm-drink ritual - both of which give a gentle cognitive and energy boost without pounding hard on the adrenals like coffee.
Do I still drink coffee? Occasionally, maybe a couple times a month, but it’s no longer my go-to drink. Nowadays, it’s basically only chai, cacao, turmeric and adaptogens when I want something warm and mylky to drink.
Plucked out of my travels to India, living in Spain, and growing beyond the coffee-crash lifestyle, our Wild Leaves adaptogen drink line was born. I have carefully crafted two adaptogen-based drinks, the Adaptogen Chai and Adaptogen Gold.
The Adaptogen Chai
The Adaptogen Chai is a blend of chaga, reishi and Lion’s Mane mushrooms, masala chai herbs (ginger, cardamom, clove, anis seed, fennel seed, black pepper and nutmeg), cacao and black tea. The boost you get from our Adaptogen Chai is more like a smooth lift into a higher dimension of your more productive, and clear-headed self.
Our Adaptogen Gold
If you’re looking for a calming factor with a slightly spicy twist (thanks to the ginger), Adaptogen Gold is our spin on classic golden mylk and loaded up with tasty mushrooms. The ingredients for the Adaptogen Gold are turmeric, cinnamon, carob, Lion’s Mane, reishi, cloud ear mushroom, celery seeds, anis seeds, black pepper, nutmeg and cardamom.
WE SUGGEST USING OUR ADAPTOGEN DRINKS LIKE…
Grab a cup of Adaptogen Chai in the morning and/or afternoon. The mushrooms, spices and small amount of caffeine (from the tea and cacao) give you a gentle kick-start into your day without the highs and lows of coffee. The Adaptogen Gold has no caffeine so if you’re sensitive to caffeine, you’ll want this one in the evenings (or any time of the day really).
Hopefully, a peek into the enchanted, connected universe of mushrooms will turn you into a mycophile, that is, if you aren’t one already.