By now, we all know the foundation needed for a healthy immune system: don’t smoke, maintain a healthy diet, exercise regularly, drink in moderation and get good sleep. For an extra boost, doctors will advise you on the importance of Vitamin C, Vitamin B6 and Vitamin E, which can be found in various supplements and multivitamins, but with the rise of herbals taking center stage in western market trends, many are quickly learning that nothing is quite as effective as medicinal mushrooms done right. The idea to launch Mushroom Design came to co-founders Ashley Southard and Jonathan Gilinski when they recognized that the mushroom supplements and multivitamins they were taking for immunity were actually burdening their immune systems. “Jonathan’s background in the nutraceutical industry brought with it stringent standards of supplement quality, knowing how shoddy most supplements on the market are and how minimally they’re regulated, I wanted to ensure that what I was taking was, well, genuinely good,” says Southard, “And thus, our Multimmunity formula was born: a supplement that was dosed for daily immune support and to change the way [we consume] mushrooms.’” Mushroom Design, in essence, is the upgrade of your daily multivitamin with 9 daily essential vitamins and 9 immune-boosting adaptogenic mushrooms in 1 easy serving. It is completely vegan, non-GMO, naturally colored and carbon neutral. Below, we spoke to co-founder, Ashley Southard on the health benefits of mushrooms and why until now, they’ve been a best-kept secret.
MM: The question on many people’s minds, who are unfamiliar with mushrooms, is likely going to be how is this different from regular hallucinogenic mushrooms?
AS: Hallucinogenic mushrooms contain psilocybin, which, when ingested, is broken down by the liver into psilocin, which then activates neurotransmitters in the brain that result in psychedelic and/or hallucinogenic experiences. Medicinal and adaptogenic mushrooms, on the other hand, do not contain compounds that induce psychoactive effects, but rather bioactive compounds such as antioxidants, terpenes, and beta-glucans, and mushroom-specific compounds that can reverse harmful DNA transcription (helpful for combatting cancers and viruses), support myelin sheath formation (helpful in memory and cognition), inhibit cancerous and tumorous cell growth, promote tissue repair (great for anyone physically active), lower cholesterol, and of course, enhance the body’s immunity. Interestingly, [medicinal] mushrooms enhance immunity through microaggressions on the immune system that prompt inflammation; the body recognizes the beta-glucans and other compounds as foreigners to be on guard for – it’s the exact same way the immune system is activated by bacteria, fungi, viruses, and other pathogens. Inflammation is a good thing – it’s what activates the immune cells to fight off pathogens and/or remove damaged cells/debris. Inflammation is what recruits immune cells and blood flow which can help repair sites of injury. Special molecular bonds in the mushroom cell walls called beta glucans are recognized by immune cells and trigger an inflammatory response. When dosed correctly, all is well; however, an overactive immune system can cause more harm than good; chronic “overdoing” of immune boosting can negatively impact the immune system through chronic inflammation.
MM: What are some other health benefits of mushrooms?
AS: Mushrooms vary in benefits; while all support the immune system via alternating methods (such as activating immune cells or inhibiting toxic activity), many lend support in more specific ways, such as lion’s mane, which supports myelin sheath formation; shiitake, which supports cholesterol; reishi, which supports heart health; chaga, which supports the regulation of blood sugar; oyster, which naturally manages cholesterol, maitake, which is one of the top natural supplements recommended for HIV/AIDS patients, agarikon, which is an antiviral; cordyceps, which improve cell metabolism, and turkey tail, which contains specific polysaccharides that have actually been approved for clinical use in Japan as adjunct cancer therapy since the 1980s — all of these are mushrooms found in Multimmunity.
MM: If mushrooms are so effective, why have they gone so under-the-radar? Why aren’t people buying them as easily and quickly as they’re buying Advil, for example?
AS: Medicinal mushrooms are herbal supplements; they’re just under-the-radar (but are currently ‘trending’ like other adaptogens) because western society doesn’t focus on herbals.
MM: What time of day should Multimmunity be taken? Will there be immediate effects?
AS: Multimmunity should be taken before 2pm daily – there is no caffeine, but there are B-vitamins that could contribute to slight energy increase. Since Multimmunity is a daily vitamin with immune support, there are not tangible, immediate effects, but you should notice within 7-10 days a bit more pep in your step — such as still being awake and alert.
MM: What are the common misconceptions with medicinal mushrooms?
AS: So often medicinal mushrooms are confused with psychedelic or psychoactive mushrooms, but that cannot be further from the case! In fact, there are 700 documented medicinal mushroom species with hundreds of medicinal functions, from cognitive support to diabetic management. Mushrooms have been used for centuries in Eastern medicine – they were even, at some point, denied to the commoners and kept only for royalty due to their value.