The Healing Power of Mushrooms + Adaptogens


As someone with a historically unruly endocrine system, I’m always looking for ways to live as happy and healthy a life as possible. And on my quest to do so, I’ve been known to jump on a few bandwagons. To drink the Cool Aid, so to speak. Basically I’ll try anything once if it promises “wellness”.

A couple of years ago I was introduced to adaptogens and functional mushrooms as a way to relieve stress and reduce cortisol, and since then I’ve watched the interest in herbal medicine explode. Gwenyth Paltrow constantly raves about them on Goop, and Elle Mcpherson has infused all of her WelleCo products with at least one adaptogenic herb or mushroom (she’s particularly fond of Holy Basil and Siberian ginseng). I recently spoke with Bondi-based naturopath and nutritionist Ema Taylor, who specialises in women’s health, and she agrees that the power of functional mushrooms is not something that should be overlooked, “Mushrooms are a true superfood that have been revered in certain cultures for thousands of years because of their healing properties. I love them because they can be utilised by anyone looking to boost their health in a simple, powerful and delicious way.”

If you’ve been reading this article and so far have been like WHAT IS SHE TALKING ABOUT. ADPATO-WHO?! Let me explain.

Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine practitioners have been using adaptogens in their practice for thousands of years, but the concept wasn’t first described until 1961 by research scientist Dr. I. Brekhman, “Adaptogens are non-toxic, non-specific doses of herbs and mushrooms that produce a state of resistance in the body to physical, emotional and environmental stress.” By “non-specific”, he means that rather than serving a single, targeted purpose, adaptogens will adapt their healing properties to what your body needs at any given time in order to restore you to peak functionality. I’m sorry but that’s so cool.

All adaptogens have a unique chemical makeup and perform different tasks, for example some boost energy and brain power like Lion’s Mane and some are known for having a calming effect like Reishi, which naturally regulates the hormonal system and lowers cortisol. Chaga is known for boosting and strengthening the immune system and Ashwaghanda is rich in iron and therefore useful in treating anaemia. When asked if she had a favourite mushroom for twenty-something women wanting to achieve overall vitality, Ema said, “I love He Shou Wu for women for a multitude of reasons: not only does it nourish the nervous system and adrenal glands which improves our ability to deal with stress but it also balances hormones and improves sexual function. It’s high concentration of nutrients and ability to boost powerful antioxidants in the body makes it an amazing supplement for glowing skin and it has a long history of being used in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine to promote hair growth.”

Have I convinced you yet?

If the answer is yes, and you’re wondering where you can get your hands on these edible therapists (weird but true?), quality is so important and brands like Four Sigmatic, Super Feast Mushrooms and Misty Day Plant Potions are all highly-regarded. Ema’s brand, Ceremony Cacao, also has two new cacaos in the works that will be blended with powerful herbs and mushrooms (and yes, He Shou Wu is one of them).

Add them to smoothies, baking or do it like Ema and add half a teaspoon of Reishi and He Shou Wu to a hot choccy! “I blend medicinal mushrooms into my hot drink made with Ceremony Cacao and steamed nut milk every morning.”

Ema Taylor specialises in women’s health throughout all stages of life; from menstrual conditions to education on natural fertility, pre-conception and pregnancy to skin health and immune conditions. She offers Skype and one-on-one consultations. You can make an appointment here