Episode 073: Medicinal Mushrooms and Mushroom Supplementation with Jeff Chilton

Episode 073: Medicinal Mushrooms and Mushroom Supplementation with Jeff Chilton

Mushrooms are the latest trending superfood and you’ve probably seen mushrooms in coffee, teas, elixirs, and even supplements!

In this episode, I’m joined by Jeff Chilton, an ethnomycology expert (the study of fungi). He founded Nammex, a company that introduced medicinal mushrooms to the U.S. nutritional supplement industry. He also co-authored the book “The Mushroom Cultivator.”

You’ll hear us discuss:

  • What medicinal mushrooms are and what’s the active ingredients in them

  • The importance of consuming organic mushrooms and how he started the first organic mushroom farm in China and the regulations that they must meet to ensure safety

  • The differences between popular mushrooms like reiki and chaga and other trending varieties

  • How mushrooms are used in supplements and how to know if you’re purchasing a quality, safe mushroom supplement





+ Click Here to Read the Episode Transcript...

Naomi N: Hello, and welcome back to the Live FAB Life Podcast. I'm your host, Naomi Nakamura.

Now for those of you who are our regular listeners, you know that on this show we often talk about food as medicine. And right now, one of the most popular super foods out there is mushrooms. And you've probably seen them because I've seen them show up in things like coffees and teas and elixirs, and even in supplements. And they sure seem to be everywhere these days.

Now, while I love mushrooms, I don't know a lot about them. But today's guest sure does. In this episode, I'm joined by Jeff Chilton. And Jeff began studying ethnomycology, which is the study of fungi, which is what mushrooms are, all the way back in the late '60s at the University of Washington, and he's been working in the mushroom industry for well over 40 years.

He was extensively involved in the research and development of shiitake and oyster and enoki mushrooms, then went on to not only start his own company back in 1989, Nammex, which introduced medicinal mushrooms to the nutritional supplement industry here in the United States, but he also founded an organization called Mycomedia, which puts on educational conferences for the mushroom industry. He's also the co-author of the highly acclaimed book, The Mushroom Cultivator.

So in this interview, you will hear us discuss what medicinal mushrooms are, and what's the active ingredients in them, the importance of consuming organic mushrooms, and how he started the first organic mushroom farm in China, and the regulations that they must meet to insure safety, the differences between popular mushrooms like Reishi and chaga and other trending varieties, and how mushrooms are used in supplements, and how to know if you're purchasing a high quality, safe, mushroom supplement.

Now, one thing that I always like to stress, and you guys know this, is to know where things are sourced from, to know where your food, your fruits, your vegetables, your animal protein, to know where the ingredients in your beauty products, to know where all of these things are sourced from, where they come from, and how they're produced. We talk about that a lot in this interview, as well as how the active ingredients in medicinal mushrooms are digested in the body, and ultimately how they support your immune health. Hint: It's what makes them medicinal.

Now, I learned a lot from Jeff in this interview, and I hope you do, too, so let's get to the show.

Hi, Jeff, welcome to the show.

Jeff C: Hi, Naomi, nice to be here. Thank you so much for inviting me.

Naomi N: So glad to have you. Why don't you start off by just telling us who you are and what you do.

Jeff C: Well, my name is Jeff Chilton, and I am a mushroom grower by profession, and I have a company called Nammex, which I started in 1989, and we sell medicinal mushroom extracts. We sell them primarily in bulk to other companies who put our extracts into capsules, bottles with their labels on them. So we're what's considered a raw material supplier of medicinal mushroom extracts.

Naomi N: That is so interesting. How did you get into this business?

Jeff C: Oh, well, I grew up in the Pacific Northwest, and that's an area of lots of forest, it's evergreen, and in those forests in the Fall, we get so much rain. In California, I know you wish you had our rain, we wish you had our sun ... We wish we had your-

Naomi N: I was actually just up in the Pacific Northwest, and I love that up there.

Jeff C: Yeah, it's very beautiful. Right now it rains a little bit too much, unfortunately, but in the Fall, it's a very temperate climate, so we have lots of moisture, and so we have mushrooms coming up everywhere. And so when I was younger growing up in Seattle, I was exposed to mushrooms and went out mushroom hunting.

And then later in University, I studied mycology, which is the study of fungi, along with anthropology. And then when I got out of University, I decided you know what, I'd really like to learn how to grow mushrooms. So in 1973, I went to the only mushroom farm in Washington State, applied for a job, and I ended up there for the next ten years, literally living with mushrooms.

Naomi N: So, I guess what you're saying is that mushrooms grow in really damp climates, or what's the whole process?

Jeff C: Well, you know what, it's really, for mushrooms, they are, they will come up anywhere in the world, but the fact is is that certain places have climates that are not as conducive, like the further North you go, the shorter the season maybe. Further south, like down in the Bay area, you would have a mushroom season a little bit later than ours because you need the moisture, but it might even be a little bit longer because it's a little bit warmer. So you have good mushroom growing down there.

So that's really, the issue is the actual climate, but mushrooms are everywhere.

Naomi N: They are.

Jeff C: ... and they're places they should be and places they shouldn't be.

Naomi N: Now, on this show, we talk a lot about using food as medicine. And we talk about providing a lot of ... being a source for a lot of the supplement companies providing medicinal mushrooms. So what are the nutritional benefits of mushrooms?

Jeff C: Well, what's really interesting is that when I started work with mushrooms, growing mushrooms in the '70s, classical nutritionists looked at mushrooms and they said, "Oh, yeah, the flavor's good, maybe it's nice for a garnish or something, but there's no food value in these things." Wrong. So totally wrong. The reason they said that was because mushrooms are low calorie. You know, it's like, if you don't have calories in this food, it's a non food. Now we know that low calorie is good in certain instances, right? Low cal foods.

But mushrooms are very nutritious, they have a reasonably good amount of protein, anywhere from 20% to 40% protein, they have around 5% to 8% fat, which is good, linoleic acid, which is a high quality oil, they have [inaudible 00:06:43] potassium, phosphorus, carbohydrates, they have a lot of carbohydrates. Primarily they're carbohydrate, but the carbohydrates they have are really special carbohydrates. They have mannitol, trehalose. Mannitol is a slow acting carbohydrate, which is really good in terms of when you think of the glycemic index and things like that.

And they have a carbohydrate called a beta-glucan, and the beta-glucan makes up 50% of the cell wall of mushrooms, and it is this beta-glucan that gives mushrooms their immunological activity, or let's say their medicinal value. And you know what, I consider mushrooms to be one of those perfect food as medicine, so I mean, they've been with us for the longest time, and humans have been eating mushrooms for thousands and thousands of years.

And, think about it for a second, they are not only food, they are medicinal, and also they were used in Shamanism. So there's mushrooms out there with psychoactive properties, too. I mean, it's just a pretty amazing kingdom. So yeah, they have multiple uses and in terms of food as medicine, yeah, very premier product for that.

Naomi N: They've seemed to become somewhat of a resurgence lately, because I see them in a lot of teas and elixirs.

So what is it about them? What makes a mushroom medicinal as opposed to a regular mushroom?

Jeff C: Well, again, the key item there is beta-glucan. And let me just say this first, it's like yeah, mushrooms are all of a sudden trending. They're the latest-

Naomi N: They are!

Jeff C: They're the latest super food. And there's, you know, it's just funny, we have customers that are putting mushrooms in everything. They're putting mushrooms with chocolate. They're putting it into teas, they're putting it into-

Naomi N: Coffee.

Jeff C: ... drinks, into coffee. It's just like, there's nothing that they are putting ... I mean, there are some companies that have these really great blends of multiple herbs, and it's a powder and you mix it in, and it's a drink. These companies are purchasing products from us to put in their drinks.

And so, and it's funny because I've been in this arena for the longest of times. I mean, you can imagine, I started ... I was in University in the late '60s. I started working on a mushroom farm in '73, and started my company in 1989. I've known this all along. But finally-

Naomi N: Everyone else is catching up.

Jeff C: It's finally catching up. And look, we are actually catching up from the Eastern Europeans, Asia, most of the rest of the world. They knew about this. I mean, when I travel in China, literally, there's a mushroom dish in every meal, and they have maybe 12 different mushrooms in the marketplace. We're just catching up.

Naomi N: Now, you mentioned you traveled to China. And you went there to study more about how to grow the mushrooms. Can you tell us a little bit more about that?

Jeff C: Well, you know what, what I realized after being in the commercial mushroom industry in the United States, and for 10 years, and what I realized, because I was reading a lot of information during that period, I realized and I read about the fact that mushrooms had medicinal value. And of course they were being used in traditional Chinese medicine, so that's where it all came from.

And so after reading a lot, in 1989, there was an international mushroom conference in Nanjing, China, and it was sponsored by a group that I was a member of called the International Society for Mushroom Science. I went to the conference, my first trip to China, in 1989, boy has it changed.

Naomi N: I can imagine.

Jeff C: But the conference really was just fantastic for me because it allowed me to start making a lot of contacts. In fact, the next 10 years, I went to multiple conferences, I went to research institutes, I visited farms, I visited production facilities that made extracts. I mean, I made a lot of contacts in China during that period.

And one of the things I realized was that we can grow mushrooms over here for food purposes, and as a grower, I can take my fresh mushrooms to the marketplace, and let's just say I get $5 a pound for those. But remember, when we're talking about supplements, well, now we're talking about something that's dry. Mushroom, like most vegetables, are 90% water. When you dry out that pound of mushrooms that you're getting $5 for, now you have to get $50 for that same pound of mushrooms. The economics do not work in the supplement world, and especially, can you imagine if you wanted to make a concentrated extract, let's say of a four to one, or eight to one, or a 10 to one, which means 10 pounds to one pound, economics are not there to grow mushrooms here and use them as supplements. I understood that.

And for that fact, I set up all of our mushroom growing in China and processing. And here's what's really great, and so interesting. I've been organically certified since 1992. In 1997, I went to China with OCIA, which is a large U.S. organic certifier, and we had the very first organic certification workshop for mushrooms in China, 1997. And ever since that time, now we have tons of organically certified mushrooms coming out of China, and these are all certified by high quality German certifiers, and most of the mushrooms we grow are back in the Hinterlands. China's a huge-

Naomi N: Well, I was going to say, there's a lot of concern about things that come out of China and how things are sourced, and when you're talking about organic foods and food as medicine, how those things are sourced is really, really, really important.

Jeff C: Absolutely.

Naomi N: So can you talk to more about that process that you go to, to ensure that happens?

Jeff C: Oh, yeah. Well, the fact is is that first off, all of our mushrooms are grown back into the countryside, the deep countryside. I mean, it's actually amazing when I go over there because we'll start out in one of the big cities. I mean, Shanghai, it's 25 to 30 million people. It is huge!

So the first thing we'll do after we stay there a couple days and see some friends is we'll get on a bullet train, 300 kilometers an hour, through the countryside, back, back, back, deeper and deeper. And then when we finally get to our destination and then go off and visit some of these farms, we're literally back in the mountains where there's hardly anything else going on and it's almost like the end of the road. And that's where we're growing our mushrooms.

But the real key to all of this is before our products leave China, they are tested for pesticides. They are tested for fungicides. They're tested for heavy metals. They have to pass all of those tests before they leave China. And then once they arrive in North America, we send them off to labs again to test them for all the same things, pesticides, heavy metals, micro organisms, like, you don't want a product that's got salmonella in it, or something like that. No, no. All of these tests are being run on our products. And let me tell you, I have to provide a certificate of analysis with all my products. Nobody is going to buy them if they don't pass the standards that are set up.

Naomi N: So are they tested by third party companies, or how does that work?

Jeff C: Yes.

Third party. Even in China, they're tested by ... you know what I mean, my God, it's such a small world these days. Now-

Naomi N: I would imagine especially in an industry like yours.

Jeff C: Well, it's like, there are laboratories out there that are international certified laboratories, well known laboratories, and they have offices in China as well as everywhere else. And let me tell you, China is like, it's first world, and the thing about China is that all of old China, especially in the cities, has been torn down. It's been replaced. Everything is new over there. You can not imagine how new it all is.

I mean, their train station. Back 25 years ago when I took the train around China, I was on a second class train, and we were literally sitting in small, little wooden benches, and the first thing that happened when the train left the station, this was the second class train, the first thing that happened was all of the food came out and everybody started eating, and all of what was left from it what was thrown on the floor. And then about halfway through the trip, somebody came down with a huge broom and swept the floor of this whole train car. And it was a pile of stuff, you can't imagine.

Not anymore. No. The trains now are beautiful, high quality, brand new, comfortable, fast, I mean, fast. It's wonderful. I wish we had a train system like that here.

Naomi N: So when they're tested by a third party there, and then they're tested here as well, then they're required to meet the U.S. standards of-

Jeff C: Yes. Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah.

Naomi N: ... organics, okay.

Jeff C: The whole thing, they have to meet U.S. standards. I mean, it's not ... These days with supplements too, I mean, we really have pretty international standards for supplements as well as foods. I mean, because for example, our products are sold in Europe, they're sold all over North America, so we have to meet the most stringent of standards, and we do. Otherwise, we couldn't sell our products.

Jeff C: And boy, let me tell you right now, talking about selling products, we have a hard time keeping products in stock these days. Everybody wants mushrooms, and it's just-

Naomi N: It's the latest super food.

Jeff C: It's the latest super food, that's right, yeah. Which is you know, it's just so interesting, but at any rate, it's a great ... Let me just tell you, mushrooms are fantastic food. And the first thing I tell people is look, if you're interested in mushrooms, put them into your diet. They're a wonderful food.

I mean, the other thing that I didn't mention about mushrooms is they're very, very high in fiber. A lot of that goes through our stomach, doesn't really get digested, it gets digested more in the small intestine. It feeds our microbiome. The small intestine is actually where we have these receptor sites, where the beta-glucans come in, they hit those receptor sites, and then that's what basically modulates our immune system, because those receptor sites will then produce natural killer cells, macrophages, T cells, I mean, that is ... and when we're talking about medicinal mushrooms, and this is what's interesting and why some mushrooms are medicinal, others are not.

And look, I consider almost all mushrooms to be somewhat medicinal because they all have the beta-glucans, food wise, they're a great food. Did I mention the B vitamins? They've got great amounts of riboflavin, niacin, so they're good in B vitamins, but each mushroom has a little bit specific architecture of that beta-glucan that all the beta-glucans are not exactly the same. Each one is a little bit different in that architecture and that makes a huge difference in terms of its immunological properties. So that's really the key, and that's why some mushrooms are very medicinal, others not so.

Where we're really lucky is that mushrooms like shiitake, maitake, choice edible mushrooms, are also medicinal. So that is fantastic for us because that means we can eat these really tasty mushrooms and also get the benefits of the medicinal properties.

Naomi N: Interesting that you say that, and I'm glad you said that, how the receptors are in the small intestines because what I talk a lot about on this show is gut health. And our immune system is located within our digestive system, and that's the connection there.

So if they're going to be immune boosting, that's what makes it very healthy. That's what makes it very medicinal, because it supports your immune system so then it also supports your digestive system, and that is so much the foundation of our well being, of our wellness.

Jeff C: I couldn't agree more. I mean, let's face it, that is the foundation, absolutely. And our diet is just so important and I don't have to tell you, I mean, you go out to a supermarket or something and it's just like, you know, unless it's, let's just say a Whole Foods or something like that, but a normal supermarket, my God, and I look in the basket that what people have decided to purchase, and it is shock-

Naomi N: It is.

Jeff C: ... and I just think to myself, why is this stuff even on the shelves? It's not helping people, it's killing them.

Naomi N: And that's why we try, and at least here on this show, to teach people what is a real food, and-

Jeff C: What is a real food.

Naomi N: ... I think that's a basic understanding that's kind of gotten lost over the years.

You mentioned shiitake mushrooms and you mentioned maitake mushrooms. So are those, or what other types are more medicinal than others, or is it more of, I have this specific problem I'm trying to solve, this type would be better for that?

Jeff C: Well, getting down into very fine specifics like that, immunologically what I would say is, all of these mushrooms share that same ability. There are certain mushrooms that have other properties as well as the immunological properties.

For example, probably one of the mushrooms you've heard about today is called lions' mane. Lion's mane is like, everybody wants lion's mane because it's a nootropic, right? And so they're like, what do you mean, it can help stimulate my brain cells? I want it. So Lion's Mane has shown the ability to stimulate neuron production through what's called nerve growth factor, and our neurons are dying off and being reproduced all the time. As we age, that process starts to slow down, and more are dying than getting regenerated.

That's why people like myself, all of a sudden it's like, what did you say? What? I don't remember. What's the name of that again? Could you help me out here? And at any rate, anybody who says yeah, we can help you with your memory, it doesn't really matter what age you're at, people will go like, give it to me, I want it now, because if it can help my memory-

Naomi N: Exactly.

Jeff C: ... good, you know. I mean, I even think about University and studying in University, and it's just like, I don't remember.

So lion's mane is one of the ones that right now are really trendy. We have a hard time keeping it in stock and there's so many lion's mane products out there today because of that. And so lion's mane's one of those interesting ones in that sense.

The other one that's really interesting that you might look into too, is chaga.

Naomi N: I see that in so many different places.

Jeff C: Yes. And let me just say this, because chaga is a really good mushroom, but it also is part of a pet peeve of mine which is, if you go out on the internet and you see a chaga site and it's like, that king of mushrooms, chaga. And it's like, is there anything that chaga does not do? Well, according to that website, it does everything. It might even take you to work tomorrow if you ask it, you know. And it's just like, it drives me crazy. It's like, no, no, no, no, no!

You know what, I have actually experienced four different king of mushrooms. Shiitake was the king in the '70s. Reishi was the king in the '80s and early '90s. Maitake became the king at the end of the '90s, and then chaga comes along and grabs the crown and runs with it. And it's just like, oh, God.

Naomi N: Well, I think reishi may be making a comeback. I see that around a lot, too.

Jeff C: Well, reishi has never slowed down. It is still one of our top selling mushrooms.

But here's the thing with chaga. Chaga actually, how it was used, was it was used for stomach ailments. That's where chaga was primarily used. Now, it was also used as a folk remedy for cancer, which would mean okay, it would have some immunological properties as well. There are some compounds that they've found in chaga that are some really good anti viral compounds, and it has triterpenes, which is what reishi also has.

But I think, and there are even some studies going along about chaga and irritable bowel syndrome and Crohn's disease and things like that, and I think to myself, you know what, if I had one of those illnesses, I would probably go right to chaga and give it a shot and see if that helps at all. So chaga's kind of interesting that way, reishi, reishi's got these compounds called triterpenoids, and the triterpenoids have a tremendous benefit for our liver. And they've had a lot of studies that have shown that-

Naomi N: So detoxification.

Jeff C: Yes. And the triterpenoids, they produce a lot of triterpenoids, and most of the other mushrooms do not. So that sets reishi apart from all the others. Reishi is also ... you know, one of the tests that we can do is we can test for the beta-glucans.

So I know all of the different mushrooms and which ones produce the highest amount of beta-glucans, which ones are very low in beta-glucans. For example, chaga, and chaga is not a mushroom. Have you ever seen a picture of a chaga?

Naomi N: I'm sure I have, I can't recall right now.

Jeff C: It grows off the side of the tree and it's this black, gnarly thing that grows off the side of the tree, and you're just like, what is that. What planet did it arrive from?

And so anyway, the chaga actually growing off the side of that tree, it's not mushroom flesh. It's got some mycelium in there, but it's a lot of woody tissue. Compounds that make the medicinal value for chaga come out of the tree. That's what's very important and that's one of the key things to know, is that most of these medicinal mushrooms grow on wood. So all of our mushrooms with few exceptions, grow on either wood logs, or sawdust. And that's because the wood has the precursors necessary to produce these medicinal compounds.

So here's what's interesting about chaga. It's got some really interesting compounds in it, but it's very low in beta-glucans because it doesn't have a lot of fungal tissue there. Now, one of the mushrooms that is high in beta-glucans and has a lot of fungal tissue is reishi. Reishi and turkey tail, those two, in all of our testing, have the highest amount of beta-glucans. Chaga's really low in beta-glucans.

So that's one of the beauties of our ability to test our products and to test ... We started out, I did a study three years ago called Redefining Medicinal Mushrooms. And in that study, using this beta-glucan test, I tested a lot of our extracts. I tested dried mushrooms, and then I purchased a lot of products off the internet. And a lot of those products on the internet were not actual mushroom, even though they were selling them as mushroom. Can you imagine that? And you know what they were, they were actually the mycelium that was grown out on sterilized grain, but at the end of the process, they didn't take the grain out of it. They just left the grain in. And so they would just dry it, grind it to a powder, and it ended up being mostly grain powder.

Those products, instead of being like a mushroom, which is 50% to, I mean, 25% to 50%, or 60% beta-glucan which is common for our medicinal mushrooms, and very low in starches, any kind of alpha-glucan, which are the starches, like below 5%, these products were mostly alpha-glucan because of the residual grain that showed up as starch. They were anywhere from 30% to 60% starch. And mushrooms actually don't have any starch, and they were 5% beta-glucan on average.

Well, sorry, but these products aren't even medicinal. And what's interesting about it, have you ever heard of the product called tempeh?

Naomi N: Yeah.

Jeff C: Do you know what tempeh is?

Naomi N: Fermented soy, right?

Jeff C: Yeah. Do you know what ferments the tempeh?

Naomi N: No.

Jeff C: You don't get a prize today.

Naomi N: I don't eat tempeh, so.

Jeff C: Yeah. Well, it's interesting because nobody has answered that question right. But, here's what's really cool. Tempeh is cooked soybeans with a fungus grown on it. When you look at tempeh, it's mostly this kind of white blah and you slice it, and you've got the soybeans in there. That whiteness of the tempeh is fungal mycelium. So that is a grain with fungal mycelium and it's a food. That's what people in the United States are now producing, grinding into a powder and calling it a mushroom, and selling it as a supplement.

Naomi N: So, for me, just being a regular consumer and say, I wanted to look for supplements with these medicinal mushroom properties. How can I know that I'm buying a quality supplement?

Jeff C: Yeah. You know what, that is such a difficult question. But here's the main way that you can do that, is the companies that manufacture this product, they will say on their product, "Made in the USA." And this gets back to what I was telling you earlier about these products, which is, you cannot grow mushrooms in the United States or Canada and sell those mushrooms as a supplement because it's too expensive to grow mushrooms. You can grow the mushrooms and sell them into the food market, no problem. But the minute you take the water out of it, and now you've got dried mushrooms, and you grind it to a powder, you've got to get ten times as much money for that. It literally cannot be used as a supplement.

So that's why these companies grow this mycelium, they grow it on the grain like tempeh, and they'll grind it up and sell it as a supplement. Well, you know what? A person would be better off, I mean these are food products actually, is what they are, I mean, they're like tempeh, that's what they are. But they actually, and here's the worst part about it, the label says "mushroom."

So, turn it over, look at the supplements facts, it may say mycelium, the ethical companies, even though no company doing this is ethical, and then in the other fine print, sometimes it'll say myceliated rice, or myceliated oats, or something like that. Giveaway's right there.

And look, the worst part about it is that maybe 75% of the products in the market, even in the Whole Foods or something, are these products, and the front label will say, "reishi mushroom. shiitake mushroom." Sometimes they even have a little badge that says "made with 100% organic mushrooms." Not mushroom, I'm sorry. No. Not at all. Mostly grain. And what I do sometimes is when we go to a trade show, I have the reishi challenge. Have you ever tasted reishi?

Naomi N: So, I actually have had the elixir drinks. I don't think I've actually had it just by itself.

Jeff C: Oh, okay. So you probably-

Naomi N: I might have had one of those [inaudible 00:31:20]

Jeff C: You might have. Well, reishi is very bitter. So if that drink was not bitter, it was probably not reishi. But at any rate, reishi's bitter, it's a very bitter mushroom. And so what we'll do is we'll put out a little thing of our reishi extract, and then we'll take some of these other products and put them out, and we say okay, taste these two and what do you think? And they'll taste the one that's just myceliated grain. Well, it's mostly grain powder, they taste it and go, hmm. Yeah. Not bad, tastes fairly good. And I say okay, try this. And they try the reishi extract and they're like, oh my God. That's bitter. Give me some water, quick.

Well, that is the difference, and that's how you could tell as well. It's like, if you have a reishi product, pour out the capsule and taste it. If it's not bitter, well, you might as well just throw it in the garbage because it's not the real deal. So there's ways, but the main was is just, if they're made in the United States, you know it's myceliated grain.

Naomi N: No, thank you so much for sharing that. I really appreciate you getting specific about what to look for. If it has oats or rice at the end, those are common names for grains.

Jeff C: You know what? That's the other issue. I attend a trade show every year called Paleo f(x). And the people there are really into Paleo, and a lot of them do not eat grains. And they come up to me and they go oh, mushrooms. I love mushrooms. I've taken this great mushroom product.

Well, the first thing I do is I say well, okay, tell me what brand it is. And they tell me the brand, and then I go oh, man, I hate to tell you this, but it's mostly grain you're consuming. They're like, oh, no. No, no, no. Yes. And we even have a bag of the grain that's been grown with mycelia at these trade shows, and we say, well, this is what it looks like. Here it is, right here. And they look at it and go, ooh. You know, it's like, no.

Jeff C: And I feel for people because, I mean, I hate to say this, but the supplement market-

Naomi N: Yeah, I know.

Jeff C: It's difficult. I mean, it's not like just buying vitamins where it's like okay, Vitamin C, is kind of Vitamin C, Vitamin C, and you can have a little bit of natural and so on. Maybe there's some flavonoids in there or something. But, no, it is really tough when it gets into the herbal market knowing what is a good supplement and-

Naomi N: It's kind of like the Wild, Wild West.

Jeff C: Well, it is, and the problem is that the people that are working in those stores, I mean, some of them are intelligent and know a bit about what's going on, but even naturopaths, even some herbalists, are not aware of these types of issues. Even they don't really know. So I even have to educate people who are educated on herbal medicine and things like that. It's very, very ... a lot of misinformation out there. And it makes it very difficult to find a good product.

Naomi N: And that's why, going back to knowing how things are sourced, that's really important.

So thank you so much for joining us today. How can people learn more about you and the kind of work that you do?

Jeff C: Well, my company's called Nammex, and if you come to nammex.com, we've got tons of information. And what I primarily do is I like to educate people. I'm not on your show today to sell products, no. I'm here just to educate people because I want people to ... I believe in mushrooms. I believe they're an important food, they're an important supplement. I want people to be educated so they can make an educated choice. If they want to buy these other products fine, but at least know what you're buying. It's really important.

So come to Nammex, that's where I mean, we've got so much deep information, we've got slideshows that are really cool that show how we grow our mushrooms and things like that. And then if you're really interested in products themselves, we do have a consumer line that we sell only on the internet for people that want to try some, and that's realmushrooms.com.

Naomi N: And I will include links to those sites over on the show notes for this episode.

Thank you so much for being here. I appreciate it. I have learned so much from you today, and I know that the audience will as well.

Jeff C: Thank you so much, I really enjoyed talking to you today,


Naomi Nakamura is a Functional Nutrition Health Coach. Through her weekly show, The Live FAB Live Podcast, programs, coaching services and safer skincare solutions, she helps people with chronic skin issues clear up their skin by teaching them where food meets physiology and how food, gut health, stress, and toxins are intricately connected to the health and appearance of our skin. Naomi resides in the San Francisco Bay Area and can often be found romping around the city with her puppy girl, Coco Pop!
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