Making the difference with mushrooms

by Jul 29, 2020

Medicine Box has introduced me to a lot of plant allies early on, but mushrooms are a newer acquaintance — or discovery, if you will. While my maternal grandfather often went mushroom hunting with my father and uncle during visits, and I occasionally would look for mushrooms with a friend of mine in the northern hardwood forests of New Hampshire.

In particular, we were fond of these hollow, bulbed mushrooms that we would call “bombs.” That’s because whenever you stepped upon them, they’d explode and emit these grey plumes of spores.

That was long before I became a grower and learned about the importance of the rhizosphere from my mentor, Michael Hollister. As above, so below: Hollister often observed how the vast network of subterranean roots mirrored the overlay of nerve cells and synapses which connect the various lobes within our brains and throughout every portion of our nervous system, from central to sympathetic. 

As it turns out, mycellium, the delicate strands of hyphae which extend for miles underground, play a pivotal role in the rhizosphere of a plant’s underground life. They connect trees and plants to each other in forests, transferring nutrients from older “hub” trees to younger species in a “wood wide web” which is often compared to the internet where you’re reading this blog post on right now. Mushrooms act in some (but not all) fungal species to spread spores, and they all have their own unique strategies to spread themselves. Take, for instance, truffles, those fantastically expensive mushrooms with the distinctive smells. The whole point for mushrooms is to spread their spores, and some depend on us humans for their dissemination. Of course, some are poisonous, but as Terence McKenna once said, it’s not unlike any other living species: some like us, some can’t stand us, and others don’t care either way.

Mushroom on a microscope
Mushroom up close
Spores on a mushroom

Mushrooms and the Medicine Box way 

While those of you may remember my first experience with magic mushrooms, my introduction to medicinal mushrooms came with the reformulation of Happy Belly, our gut health formulation. I learned, through our Glad Scientist Dr. Refael Aharon, about Reishi and Chaga and studies tying them to the gut microbiome. They are excellent sources of antioxidants, and their polysaccharides provide energy resources as well, too. But what resonated with me the most was the connection to the rhizosphere, and their role in maintaining homeostasis. Over many years of managing cultivation, I have come to understand the rhizosphere as a sort of sponge, one that requires attention to detail and balance in order to nourish everything within its sphere of influence. 


The Rodale Institute once said, “Feed the soil; feed the plant.”
So let’s say, “Feed the gut; feed the human.” 

That manifested in our efforts to “build soil.” Too much fungi and beneficial bacteria and nematodes could be depleted; the converse also held as well. This also holds, I’ve found, with the gut biome, and preliminary studies have found an association between transplants of “aggressive” biomes and a corresponding change in the animal in question — the fabled gut-brain connection. If the gut biome is anything like the rhizosphere, maintaining a balancing act will be crucial for our mental health. Making the proper alliances with the right fungi will make all the difference. 


Making the difference with mushrooms

Nature’s classroom 

Every time I head up the stateline fire lookout trail here on North Lake Tahoe, I check in with nature and learn a little bit more from her. I’m hardly done yet, but I’m constantly reminded how important it is to keep open to new information. What you don’t know can possibly save your life, when it comes to the natural world.


Vital recovery CBD tincture
Happy Belly hemp tincture


It’s an embodied relationship our world has with its plants, and it’s ongoing. Of course, as you’ll recall from last week, fungi are even more mysterious, and we’re just beginning to ask the questions about them that carry important implications for our mental, physical and spiritual health going forward. What we do know for certain is that mushrooms and their mycellial structures support the plants that support us.

Now that they can start to speak with hemp and its associated cannabinoids, whether it’s CBD, CBG and CBC crossed with Reishi for Happy Belly or Chaga, Maitake and Shiitake with CBD, CBG, CBN and CBC for Vital Recovery, they bring new vitality to the wellness work we’re already doing. These herbs, mushrooms and compounds create a nexus of rejuvenation that, alongside diet and lifestyle, can truly make the difference.

Try it and see. Check out our special blends, Vital Recovery and Happy Belly at Medicine Box Wellness.

Mental health, simplicity, and cleaning out the cobwebs

Mental health, simplicity, and cleaning out the cobwebs

Cleaning out the clutter. Every so often, you’ve got to do it, especially in times of outer chaos, because if they’re messed up out there, they’re going to get out of sorts inside as well. And if you’re going to do a little spring cleaning, you will need the proper tools and cleaning liquids for the job. But don’t fret — Medicine Box’s got you covered. You may have grown up with or around a hoarder — in my house, that would have been my mom. The basement was pretty much where all of my childhood relics have been preserved, from Star Wars action figures to random books stretching back to my preschool days. While it annoys the hell out of my Dad, it’s hardly as bad as it can get, when it fills entire rooms and the person simply can’t bear to throw any of it out, no matter how much pain it causes them or others. Just like any sort of addiction, there’s a comfort that sets in with having things just so, even if it keeps you from budging an inch.
Mental Health and the Holidays

Mental Health and the Holidays

If you’ve lived in the United States, you’ve seen a lot of subtle changes around the Winter holiday season. While some still embrace the sentiment and pageantry surrounding the celebrations, others deal with often suppressed feelings of stress, bad memories and loss.