Jeff Chilton - The Truth About Medicinal Mushroom Supplements | 180 Nutrition

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Jeff Chilton – The Truth About Medicinal Mushroom Supplements

Watch the full interview below or listen to the full episode on your iPhone HERE.

Stu: This week we welcome Jeff Chilton to the show. Jeff has been in the mushroom industry since 1973 and pioneered the development and manufacture of medicinal mushroom extracts for the nutritional supplement industry. Jeff’s company, Nammex, was the first company to offer certified organic mushrooms to the supplement industry in the United States.

Audio Version

downloaditunesListen to Stitcher Questions we ask in this episode:

  • Does the way mushrooms are grown affect their medicinal activity?
  •  Which single mushroom offers the most ‘bang for buck’?
  • How can we determine if mushroom supplements live up to their claims?

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Full Transcript

Stu

00:03 Hey this is Stu from 180 Nutrition and welcome to another episode of the Health Sessions. It’s here that we connect with the best experts in health, wellness, and human performance in an attempt to cut through the confusion around what it actually takes to achieve a long lasting health. Now I’m sure that that’s something that we all strive to have, I certainly do. Before we get into the show today, you might not know that we make products too. That’s right, we’re into whole food nutrition and have a range of super foods and supplements to help support your day. If you are curious, or to find out more, just jump over to our website, that is 180nutrition.com.au and take a look. Okay back to the show. This week I’m excited to welcome Jeff Chilton. Jeff has been a pioneer in the medicinal mushroom industry every since he began his career working on a large commercial mushroom farm in the ’70s. In this episode we discuss medicinal mushrooms, mushroom industry flaws and the surprising ingredient that may be lurking in your mushroom products. I wonder what that is.

01:06 Jeff is a wealth of knowledge, and given the recent popularity of mushroom supplements, a timely guest on the show. So let’s head over to Jeff. Hey guys, this is Stu from 180 Nutrition. And I’m delighted to welcome Jeff Chilton to the show. Good morning Jeff, how are you?

Jeff

01:28 Hi Stuart, how’re you doing? I’m fine.

Stu

01:30 Very well thank you. I really appreciate you sharing some time with us today. And we generally start the show with asking our guests just to tell our audience a little bit about who you are and what you do as well please Jeff.

Jeff

01:47 I was born and raised in the Pacific northwest of the United States, in the Seattle area. And this is a part of the world that we call evergreen, so that we’ve got forests, and lots of lakes and rivers and waters. I came of age actually in the ’60s, which was quite a time actually-

Stu

02:09 I bet it was.

Jeff

02:09 … as you can imagine. During the ’60s I was introduced and discovered mushrooms … not just the kind that were out hunting in the woods and stuff, but also mushrooms that were used by ancient people for thousands of years in shamanism. And when I went to university, I studied anthropology and primarily this whole idea of mushrooms in shamanism. So it was ethnomycology and I also took mycology courses while I was there. This was part of my studies. And what do you do when you graduate from university with a degree in anthropology Stuart? It’s like who cares, right? My ecology professor actually suggested that I go down the road 60 miles to the only mushroom farm in our state.

Stu

03:11 Yeah. Oh crikey.

Jeff

03:13 And I was like, “Wow, this is wonderful. This is a great idea. I think I’ll give it a shot.” So I went down there, I got a job and I was there for the next 10 years, growing mushrooms. And this was 1973, so I spent 10 years, from 1973 to 1983 as a mushroom grower. And this was a very large commercial farm. I literally lived with mushrooms for 10 years.

Stu

03:40 My word, fantastic. That’s why I’m so excited to be able to talk to you today, because specifically in Australia right now, mushrooms are becoming increasingly popular. And they are popping up, excuse the pun, everywhere, we’re finding mushroom coffees, I’m finding mushrooms in all these new health and wellness products. A heap of supplements. It seems to be the new super food. So my question to you right now is, how can we determine whether X product will actually live up to its claim, because it just seems like such a wide ranging field.

Jeff

04:24 Oh my goodness, I mean what a question. I mean it so difficult. Walk into a health food store or something like this and go to the shelves and there’s like 10 or 20 different products that are mushroom products or have mushrooms in them or something like that. And let me tell you, it’s like a minefield out there when you’re trying to find a good product. It doesn’t matter what it is really, but it’s very difficult and in the supplement industry especially, because you know the fact is a lot of the products they’re out there selling will probably not do you any good at all, but they’ll certainly lighten up your pocket.

Stu

05:04 Yeah, absolutely.

Jeff

05:05 But in the mushroom … I’ll tell you what, in 1989 I started my business Nammex, and that was North American medicinal mushrooms extracts, and I realized at that point that … A. Mushrooms themselves, we couldn’t grow them in North America and sell them as supplements. I’m a mushroom grower and if I sell my mushrooms out there in the market place out there for like $5 a pound, fresh … supplements are all dry, so the minute you dry out those mushrooms you have to get 10 times as much … you have to get $50 for that same pound.

Stu

05:49 Right. Of course.

Jeff

05:50 What that means is that I cannot grow mushrooms in North America and sell them as supplements so in 1989 I went to China for the very first time. And you know what? China is the birthplace of mushroom cultivation. I went over there for a conference and all through the ’90s I traveled through China, I was going to farms, I was going to research institutes, I was attending conferences. And it was the most amazing thing you can imagine. These people started growing mushrooms in the 12th century. Their farms were absolutely amazing and so I established relationships with a lot of Chinese growers and processors, and in fact in 1997, I went to China with OCIA, which was the number one organic certifier in North America. And I took them with me and we had the very first organic certification workshop for mushrooms in China in 1997.

Stu

06:57 My word.

Jeff

07:00 And essentially that insured that my company, which again started in 1989, could sell real mushrooms into the marketplace as supplements. And let me tell you, when I first started my company, I was walking around the natural product shows, where you know there’s all these foods and supplements. I had mushroom in my hand, I had a Reishi mushroom and walking around saying to these companies … You know they’ve got a whole line of herbal products, no mushrooms. I said, “Have you ever heard of medicinal mushrooms?” And they’re like, “What?” And I said, “Like this Reishi here,” and they’re like, “What is that, it looks like a piece of wood?” It doesn’t look real and that was my dilemma early on, in terms of how do you actually interest companies in putting mushrooms into their product line. They’re telling me, “Nobody’s asking for these things, why should we buy them?” Why should they buy them and put them out? Because I’m selling the products as a raw material. I’m not selling the retail, I’m just selling the raw powders to them.

08:17 This was the number one issue that I faced, was how to actually convince companies to put these into their product lines. You’ve got a whole line of herbal products, Chinese have been using mushrooms for thousands of years and yet you’re asking me why should you put those into your product line? Well … There’s really good reasons for that, right?

Stu

08:39 How did you get around that? What was your approach?

Jeff

08:44 Writing a lot of articles, also I commissioned a number of books, so we had books written, we had articles written. I took a booth at these natural products expos to where I would essentially educate people that were coming by. And just a process … a very slow process in the 1990s of actually educating people to why they should be interested in medicinal mushrooms. What the benefits where, and why that should become part of their product line. It took a lot … And listen, Stuart you know it’s like you’re saying mushrooms all of a sudden it’s like, “Wow, overnight sensation.” Not even …

Stu

09:33 Not quite.

Jeff

09:34 Exactly. No you know how it is, you know that musician that all of a sudden pops up and you’re like, “Wow, where did they come from?” Well they’ve been slogging it out for 20 years, right?

Stu

09:43 Yeah. No, you’re right. I read as well Jeff that you penned quite a comprehensive white paper on mushrooms that was a little bit of a … I guess a defining shift in understanding and determining the nature and all of the powerful … I guess the powerful ingredients combined when mushrooms are cultivated in the way that you do. Can you tell us a little bit about that study please?

Jeff

10:15 Sure. And just as an introduction to that, what you have to remember is a mushroom is a plant part. So it is just one stage of this fungal organism. So this fungal organism starts with a spore … mushrooms don’t have seeds, it starts with a spore. The spore germinates, it germinates into a very fine filament and these fine filaments fuse together and form a network and that network is called mycelium. Mycelium is what we don’t see, we’re used to seeing the mushroom because it’s above ground and sometimes it’s big and we’re like, “Damn, look at that thing,” right? The mycelium is the actual, what we would call the vegetative body. In a sense you could almost look at it like a root system. So it’s spread out there in the ground, it’s spread out there in the wood … That’s what’s consuming and decomposing everything out there, that’s it role. Mycelium is a decomposer, it’s decomposing all of this … the wood litter, the leaf litter, all of that type of organic matter without … You know if it wasn’t around we’d be like buried in all of that stuff, right?

11:37 So it’s decomposing out there along with bacteria and other microorganisms. It’s also amassing nutrients, which … when the time is right, like here it’s in the fall, all of a sudden the weather changes, we get a lot of rainfall, the temperature comes down and a mushroom comes up. So we’ve got spore, we’ve got mycelium, and we’ve got mushroom.

Stu

12:06 Right.

Jeff

12:07 And the mushroom will ultimately produce more spoors and that’s the completion of the lifecycle. So like with any herbal product as you probably know, they’ll be selling … maybe it’s the root they sell, or maybe it’s the flowers. Or the leaves. There’s different parts of any plant that will have more or less of the medicinal compounds. What I realized out there in the market place was, what was happening was that companies were growing this mycelium … what they were doing was they were growing the mycelium out on sterilized grain. And they were doing this in a laboratory inside of a auto clavicle plastic bag.

Stu

12:55 Yes.

Jeff

12:56 So they’re sterilizing this grain, they were inoculating it with a culture of live mycelium. The mycelium would grow out over the grain, then they would take this whole myceliated grain and they would harvest it. They would spread it out, they would dry it. They would grind it to a powder, and what they were doing, they were calling it mushroom. And so what my study did Stuart, I had a couple of analytical tests that I could use, and one of these tests were for what is called the beta glucan.

Stu

13:37 Right.

Jeff

13:39 Beta glucan makes up the cell wall of the mushroom. That is the most important compound of the mushroom is the beta glucan. That’s what gives it its immunological properties. I have a test. I can test any product for these … And this test is specific to mushroom and yeast beta glucan. And it not only gets the beta glucan but it gets me what’s called an alpha glucan. And alpha glucan is starch. Now here’s the key thing. Mushrooms don’t contain starch. Mushrooms … you probably heard somewhere along the line, mushrooms are kind of like humans in a way. They’re not a plant, they’re not a human, but they’re kind of in the middle. Mushrooms actually produce glycogen like we do.

Stu

4:28 Unbelievable.

Jeff

14:30 Plants produce starch right, and cellulose. Mushrooms produce glycogen and chitin as structural carbohydrate and also these beta glucans. In my study, which is called Redefining Medicinal Mushrooms, I took dried mushrooms, I took some of our mushroom extracts, I took all of these mycelium products … 40 of these products I bought right off the internet. I had 95 samples and we sent them out for beta glucan testing. And what we found … We ended up with a baseline for the dried mushroom. This is what a mushroom should have beta glucan-wise. And that was 25 to as high as 60% beta glucan in a dried mushroom right? And each species has … each species is a bit different, and it had very low alpha glucan. Well, of course, because mushrooms don’t have starch. So the alpha glucan was like 1%. These myceliated grain products were the exact opposite. They were like 30 to 60% alpha glucan and in general right around 6% beta glucan.

Stu

15:58 Oh wow.

Jeff

16:02 Think about this for a second. It’s just like reversed.

Stu

16:05 Totally.

Jeff

16:06 And the reason for the reversal was that the mycelium was grown on grain. The grain was not separated from the final product so the grain dominated these products. So when you bought these products, most of what you were getting was mostly grain starch.

Stu

16:24 So that prompted a question as well. Does that mean that they contained gluten?

Jeff

16:32 You know what? If they’re being grown on a grain that has gluten on it, that means you could be getting gluten from that mushroom product.

Stu

16:41 Wow.

Jeff

16:41 Now Stuart, I was just at a conference in Austin Texas, it was called Paleo f(x). Listen, these are like died in the wool Paleo people right? Okay. I’ve got a booth there and people come up to me and go, “Oh, mushrooms, this is fantastic.” And we’re talking and they say, “I take a mushroom product, I love it.” And I say, “Okay, well tell me what brand you’re taking.”

Stu

17:11 Oh.

Jeff

17:13 Oh my god, do they not want to hear what I’ve got to tell them. Can you imagine? You’re telling someone who thinks they’re getting a mushroom product, they’re Paleo, and you tell them what they’re mostly getting is grain starch.

Stu

17:32 Oh crikey.

Jeff

17:32 It’s shocking.

Stu

17:33 Totally. Totally.

Jeff

17:35 Absolutely shocking.

Stu

17:39 So with this study, you’ve almost uncovered … well quite radical discoveries I guess, during the process of the study, what do you do with that study then? Because quite clearly you’re sitting on top of some information that positions you in a very different place to a whole heap of other companies.

Jeff

18:01 Well does it ever. And listen you know, I’m part of a trade organization of supplement companies, many of whom are … that are selling these products are in this organization, and the supplement industry has been hit left, right, and center, in the last 10 years for all sorts of problems, right? Some of which is you have people selling supplements on the internet making wild claims. You have companies that are putting out products that are adulterated. I have to walk a very fine line because on the one hand I’m saying, “There’s a lot of products out there that are labeled as mushrooms,” and I mean literally, when you look at these products and they’re out on the shelf, it says Reishi mushroom, Shiitake mushroom, with a picture of a mushroom on the front panel. And so here I am, I’m saying, “Look, these products are not mushroom.” My trade organization is like, “Okay, we’ve got to be careful here because …”

19:14 You know, they don’t want FDA or somebody to jump in and go, “Okay, what’s going on here? You’ve got products …” I look at these products Stuart and I actually say, “If you’re not telling people that you’ve got grain in there,” … and some companies are, some companies in ‘other’ the fine print on the back, they will say oats or myceliated rice or something like that. A lot of companies don’t even do that and a lot of companies don’t even state on the back in the supplements facts panel, they don’t even state that it’s mycelium in there. And even the ones that do state mycelium on the back, the front panel says mushroom. And sometimes it even says, made with 100% organic mushrooms.

Stu

19:14 Shocking.

Jeff

20:11 Shocking. I mean and when I think of people who are taking these sometimes for medical conditions that are life threatening. So yes, I’m kind of walking a fine line but at the same time … Here’s what’s really interesting about this, in last year, United States Pharmacopeia, which is the big organization that puts out all of the standards for fine chemicals, they’re starting to get into supplements … They put out the monograms for these things. They are an organization that is very highly regarded. They put … they did a study, and in this study, they took 19 different Reishi products, and they put these all through deeper tests than I did. And at the end of their testing with these 19 products, what they basically said was, “Only five … only five of 19 products could be actually called Reishi mushroom.” According to the different analysis that they did. And here’s what’s interesting, I was in contact with them prior to this study being done, talking to them about it. And I sent them some samples … three of the five were extracts that we sent them.

Stu

21:51 Right.

Jeff

21:51 Our mushroom extracts that we sent them and passed their testing.

Stu

21:58 How it is policed then? It does seem very, very easy then to deceive the customer on any given product, given what you know. Is there a specific governing body that tests these products?

Jeff

22:15 Well first of all, no there isn’t. And you can imagine there are probably 100,000 different products out there on the market in North America. No there’s nobody that tests them. What there is is the FDA is out there, and listen, what FDA is really interested in is products that ultimately cause physical harm to people. And they’re also after companies that make claims. My trade organization sends us information on when the FDA has gone in and raided a company or called them out or something. And mostly what they’re interested in is, “Look, you can’t say that this thing is going to cure this, that, or the other.” And so many companies, especially on the internet make the wildest claims. Right now, right now Stuart look, if you go out there on the internet looking for medicinal mushrooms, then you’ll come up with Chaga. And it’ll be like, “The king of mushrooms, Chaga.” And it’s like, “Chaga is everything that you can imagine, there’s nothing that it won’t cure. It’s the new panacea.”

23:31 And I’m like, I shake my head and I’m like, please, please, stop this. This is not helpful, in fact it’s absolutely the opposite. Don’t do this. Chaga’s a good medicinal mushroom, but let’s get serious here, it does not slice bread, I’m sorry.

Stu

23:56 I’m sure we could come up with a way to make it slice bread. So tell us a little bit about the medicinal power of mushrooms. Specifically I’m thinking about the most popular mushrooms right now. Why would we … Why would we gravitate towards mushrooms, what benefit would they have for our health?

Jeff

24:22 Mushrooms are considered what you’d call a Host Defense Potentiator or something that is going to work in the background … And I think of them as primarily their best use is in prevention.

Stu

24:42 Yes.

Jeff

24:44 So really, although there’s lots of folk information about yeah, okay mushrooms have … Some mushrooms have cured a cancer or things like that, but you know it really … There the more primary use of mushrooms should be in maintaining a little bit higher immune competence. And they do this by stimulating your macrophages, your natural [inaudible 00:25:13] cells, your lymphocytes … that’s the role that they play. And here’s what’s interesting Stuart is that the compounds that do this are the beta glucans. That’s what all the researchers out there have told us in their research is these beta glucans in mushrooms that cause these immunological effects. And these … what we would call potentiator of our immune system, that is really where science is going in terms of trying to find some types of compounds that can help us … in terms of immune potentiation, in terms, when we’ve got one of these life threatening illnesses that is attacking us like the cancers and so on, well immune potentiation is a whole other avenue that they’re going down and that’s where mushrooms really fit in and that’s where the beta glucans come in.

26:18 It is these beta glucans that play that role and they are in the mushroom cell wall and they occur in anywhere from again, 25% to 60%. And you know what’s interesting is that some of the top mushrooms are the ones that we found in our studies have the highest levels of beta glucans.

Stu

26:41 Right.

Jeff

26:41 So the two mushrooms that have tested the highest? Reishi and Turkey Tail.

Stu

26:49 Turkey Tail?

Jeff

26:50 Turkey Tail yeah. Actually Turkey Tail in Asia, in Japan and in China, they have developed drug products from these beta glucans in Turkey Tail.

Stu

27:08 Really?

Jeff

27:09 Yeah in Japan it’s actually a drug that they use with people going through cancer therapy … whether that be radiation, chemotherapy … they use this as a adjunct therapy to that standard therapy. So mushrooms actually have been utilized to produce these drugs by refining these beta glucans down into a more … let’s just say, concentrated specific form. But again, in my market and what we’re really talking about here, is we’re talking about natural products that are used as supplements and so that’s really where they fit into all of this. And you don’t have to be sick to be taking all of this, in fact you should be taking them before you get sick, that’s the key here. Because they’re working in the background and it’s not like you go, “Oh man, I feel a cold coming on, I better take my mushrooms.” It doesn’t work that way.

Stu

28:13 Too late.

Jeff

28:14 Too late, exactly.

Stu

28:19 In the age of Dr. Google where we can self prescribe anything and everything, given the medicinal properties of mushrooms, how cautious should we be in perhaps ordering a whole heap of different types and then just munching on those every day thinking, “I’m gonna make myself immune to everything.” Are there interactions perhaps that occur?

Jeff

28:50 Well, let me put it this way. They might work for some people, they might not work for others. But here’s what I would say first of all, and that is … And this is what I tell everybody. Before you think about supplementing with mushrooms, eat mushrooms, mushrooms are a fantastic food. And really, they’re not that expensive. And you can sit down and you can cook up 100 grams of fresh mushrooms, that’s 10 grams of dried mushrooms. That’s a really good, solid dose. And the thing is, you’re gonna get those beta glucans from a lot of the edible mushrooms that are in your markets. You’ve got Shiitake in the market, you’ve probably got Maitake in the market. Even the button mushroom has medicinal qualities. And when you cook these up, you don’t destroy the beta glucans that are in there. So number one, I mean look, I love mushrooms so I’m eating them a lot. I’m eating them two, three, four times a week. I’ll put them in the fry … And here’s the other thing, when you’re actually eating mushrooms and everybody goes like, “Oh mushrooms, they’re slimy, they’re this …”

30:10 Okay, you haven’t cooked them properly, you have to cook them in a hot pan with your choice of oil. I just use butter, I throw them in the butter. What happens if it’s too cool, all the liquid comes right out of them into the pan and they sit in this water and yeah, they end up being a slimy mess. When I cook them, the water stays in, I actually love to kind of brown them on each side, and then I put a little bit of salt, a little bit of butter, and they’re lucky if they get out of the pan. Because I’m sampling them right there. So that’s the first thing. Look, put mushrooms into your diet, they’re a great food. They’ve got vitamins, riboflavin, niacin, thiamin, good B vitamins, they’ve got potassium, they’ve got phosphorus, they’re just an excellent food, a reasonable amount of protein and the carbohydrates in there are the beta glucans. And another carbohydrate called mannitol, which is something that is a very slow acting carbohydrate, it’s not one of these starchy, boom, you know you get it with all this starch. No.

31:27 You know Stuart, in North America, I started growing mushrooms in 1973 and it was like, “Mushrooms, yeah, they’re great for a garnish, they’re not really a food. Come on, you just put them in there for flavor.” It’s like, “No,” the reason … you know why they said that? The nutritionist said that because mushrooms don’t have a lot of calories.

Stu

31:51 Of course.

Jeff

31:51 They are one of the original low calorie foods. And they’re also full of fiber. And that fiber actually feeds our microbiome. Mushrooms, I mean you want to talk super foods, listen. Paleo, can you imagine? The people out there are okay, “Yeah, I’m a caveman, I’m gonna go out and slam a couple of animals today. Look at the big mushroom.”

Stu

32:18 I’ll have that one.

Jeff

32:20 Yeah. In Britain, back in the 17th century, they called mushrooms, ‘poor man’s meat’.

Stu

32:33 Oh, is that right?

Jeff

32:34 Yeah, because you’d see this big fleshy mushroom there and if it’s in good shape, listen. That is very meaty. That was poor man’s meat, and even today, we have now mushroom burgers over here.

Stu

32:50 Yes, I’ve seen them.

Jeff

32:52 Yeah, mushrooms burgers. And the other thing that’s going on with food people is now they’re starting to chop up mushrooms and blend them in with their ground round, with their ground meat and sell that as something that just basically is not only a meat extender, but gives you a healthier portion of meat, and flavors it as well. So it’s like it’s a great food, people need to put it in their diet.

Stu

33:21 You spoke about frying in butter and enjoying mushrooms that way … Can we eat them raw?

Jeff

33:30 Well you know what? What I would say is A. They’re gonna be less digestible if you eat them raw. The other thing is that the button mushroom does have a compound in there called agaratine and it’s a hydrazine compound that does that is a mutagen but you’d have to eat quite a lot of these mushrooms for it to really have an effect on you, but for that reason a lot of people have said, “Well, don’t eat your button mushrooms raw,” but you know what? You have them in a salad, you know now and again, it’s not gonna harm you in any way. But I would say in terms of digestibility, they would be better off cooked. And so that would be my recommendation is to definitely cook them, cook them properly and man the flavor is wonderful.

Stu

34:24 Absolutely. And I would imagine this single question a number of times. If I were to choose just one mushroom, one mushroom that offered the most bang for buck, that gave me the most in terms of nutrition and medicinal properties, which mushroom would you recommend?

Jeff

34:45 Well you know what, I’m not gonna talk about kings and queens of mushrooms here Stuart, but the mushroom that’s really unique is Reishi mushroom. Reishi mushroom is something that when you go to China, you see depictions of Reishi … If you’re looking for it, you see depictions of Reishi mushrooms everywhere. You see it in their architecture, you see it in their art. You know Reishi, the cap is like a ram’s horn, and it is a beautiful red color, it is a spectacularly beautiful mushroom, and it not only has this high level of beta glucans, but it’s got other compounds called triterpenoids. And triterpenoids give Reishi this other quality that most of the other mushrooms do not have. Reishi was called the Mushroom of Immortality. In China there are mythologies about Reishi mushrooms. It is something that they know well, and really where a lot of people take Reishis they … And it’s considered a longevity herb, is they start … as they move into old age, you know your immune system starts weaken a little bit. Reishi becomes one of the major common mushrooms that people take.

36:12 And listen, Reishi is very bitter, and so what happens is for example, the way that I take Reishi is I have a Reishi extract, very concentrated … I put it in my black coffee in the morning and I love it in there. It gives it another bitter note, it’s very nice in my coffee. Some people may not like bitters, because over there it’s used in a tea, a bitter tea. But some people do not like bitter so they would just take it in a capsule or something. Reishi is really the premier medicinal mushroom, there’s so much research on Reishi. It’s those triterpenoids actually are very good for your liver and they’re thought of as something that is a blood purifier, as something that will help your liver function. And Reishi might even be considered your premier adaptogen … You’ve probably heard of adaptogen, adaptogens have all of a sudden come back. You know I was just talking to a friend an hour ago, who had been in the herbal industry for a long time and when adaptogen came up, “Oh yeah,” she said, “I remember adaptogens, talking about them in the ’70s.”

37:31 And I said, “Yeah, in the ’90s adaptogens were a big thing, and then all of a sudden I didn’t hear about them for 15 years.” And now all of a sudden adaptogen is the buzz word, right?

Stu

37:42 I think so.

Jeff

37:43 Kind of like super food.

Stu

37:45 I think, well I think we’ve gone full circle we’re so wired and tired nowadays, that we actually need to call upon the power of the plants again. And so yeah, there’s our … there’s the solution that has always been there.

Jeff

37:59 Yeah. No, no, it’s so true. And you know what? Here’s the other thing for me, and this is what I tell people too. To eat mushrooms is that, food is your medicine. It’s the number one thing that is going to nourish you, it’s the number one thing that is going to keep you healthy. So your diet is really the key here, so in terms of supplementation, look. Get most of what you want out of the food you eat, make sure it’s good food. If you can eat organic, eat organic. But you know okay, so if that’s taken you so far but you need a little something else, yeah, you can look at mushrooms and supplement with mushrooms. And of course, one of the things we do at the trade shows Stuart, is we do what’s called the Reishi challenge. And the Reishi challenge is we have a little thing of our Reishi extract and you know it’s bitter. Oh man it’s bitter. And then we have a little container of this myceliated grain product. Well myceliated grain product is very bland, it tastes kind of like grain.

39:08 And people, “Okay, we’re gonna try these two.” And people take a little bit of this myceliated grain and they go, “Hm, that tastes kind of good. So yeah, it’s kind of bland but yeah, it tastes kind of pleasant.” And it’s, “Okay try this.” And they take the extract and it’s just kind of like, man I tell you, it just explodes in their mouth and they’re like, “Oh my god, this tastes like real medicine.” Right?
Stu: 39:31 Yes, exactly right.

Jeff

39:32 And you know, that’s like yeah, with Reishi, it is powerful, and not only that, every mushroom has got a certain flavor, it’s got something there. And it’s just like Cordyceps now. Cordyceps for the first time ever, we can grow Cordyceps. I mean, Cordyceps is something that was wild crafted up in the foothill of Tibet, and foothills being 12,000 feet. 3,000 meters or 4,000 meters. We can grow Cordyceps now so all of a sudden we’ve got access to actual, real Cordyceps mushroom that’s not gonna cost $20,000 a kilogram because you know that’s what these caterpillar fungi that have been used in traditional Chinese medicine for a long time … that’s what they were starting to sell for. $20,000 for a dried kilogram. And that’s where you have a caterpillar and this little Cordyceps growing off the head of this caterpillar.

Stu

40:40 Right.

Jeff

40:43 And like now we’re actually able to cultivate this and it’s Cordyceps militaris. It’s orange, it’s … and Cordyceps is like a little blade like mushroom and it is also delicious and you don’t have to eat the caterpillar. If you’re a vegetarian, it works.

Stu

41:07 Exactly. Like Tequila and the worm.

Jeff

41:11 That’s right.

Stu

41:13 What about … are there any specific types of mushrooms that you think we would be better off to avoid?

Jeff

41:21 Well you know what, not really. I mean, let’s face it, if you’re out wild mushrooming, there’s obviously mushrooms you want to avoid. You may not know what they are, so that’s why I always tell people, “Look, don’t ever eat a wild mushroom unless you’ve got an expert there that has identified it for you.” Otherwise, not really. And you know, we’re just starting to catch up to the Asians. I mean like when I started growing mushrooms commercially in 1973, we only had one mushroom in the markets then in North America. One mushroom. In Asia, they’ve got at least 12 different species of mushrooms that are in the market, you can buy them and eat them. And when I’m traveling through China, every meal, one of the dishes has got mushrooms in it. Maybe two or three of the dishes has mushrooms in it. I mean they eat a lot of mushrooms and I think for good reason. I think again, this is a food that’s very powerful, it might even be the missing link.

42:33 You know it’s like … all of these plants and animals that we’re eating right? But here we’ve got this food right in between there. That might be what we really lack in our diets is this mushroom with its fiber, with its beta glucans that now all of a sudden we have this source of beta glucans. We actually have receptor sites specific to beta glucans. And these receptor sites are down on our lower intestines, they’re in our immune cells … it’s kind of one of those, what people kind of consider a lock and key, where these beta glucans go down there and they’re the key, they go right into the lock and boom. They lock up and they start to develop.

Stu

43:13 Yeah, it always intrigues me that it has taken science so many years to discover what we have been doing for millennia. In order to access all these wonderful health giving foods that are natural and heal our bodies and allow us to thrive, yet we think that we can do better.

Jeff

43:35 Oh I know.

Stu

43:36 It just doesn’t really work that way.

Jeff

43:38 But you know, it’s kind of like what you’re saying is we kind of need to go back to the future, right?

Stu

43:42 Yes. I’ll get in the DeLorean, absolutely. Tell us then Jeff, supplementation, do you take daily mushroom supplements at all?

Jeff

43:59 I take Reishi daily.

Stu

44:01 Okay.

Jeff

44:02 And you know, I’m getting on in years, I mean you can see the white hair. I’ve still got hair fortunately.

Stu

44:10 Well there you go. That’s a plus.

Jeff

44:13 Yeah. But I take probably a quarter to half a teaspoon of Reishi extract every morning. I stir it into my coffee, I like the flavor of it. Again it’s a bitter … so that’s what I do in terms of my supplementation with mushrooms. And you know what I’m a pretty healthy guy, I’m lucky, I don’t take any pharmaceutical drugs for any condition. My health is good, I work out regularly, my diet’s pretty good. You know one thing I’ve done in terms of Paleo, it’s kind of interesting is, I’ve sort of cut carbs out of my dinner. It used to be with my dinner I would be okay a potato or rice, that’s kind of like the third part. You know meat, veggies, the carb. I cut that out, now it’s kind of meat and veggies, but you know listen, I love bread. I’m sorry. So in the morning I might have toast and then I might have a sandwich for lunch or something like that. But again, my diet’s pretty good and that’s the other thing.

45:20 When you get to a certain age and your metabolism shifts a little bit, unless you’re burning off those calories, or that carb load that you’ve got, all you do … And most of us, let’s face it, most of us spend too much time sitting in front of our computers working. And so unless you’re out exercising a lot … and I try to get out and walk at least an hour every day. That’s the other thing I do. But those carbs, if you’re eating too much of those carbs and you’re not burning them off, all you’re doing is putting on weight. And that’s not you know what I want to do at this point. I need to stay sort of lean and you know maintain a muscle tone. And that comes through diet, that comes through exercise, and you know my supplementation at this point is Reishi.

Stu

46:13 Fantastic. Well look you are a picture of health Jeff, so I think you’re doing something right. There’ve been many people out there I know that will want to jump on and dig a little bit deeper. Specifically with Reishi as well. But then there is that alarm bell, well how do I know that I’m getting … you know how do they know? How do they know they’re not going to hit a gluten?

Jeff

46:39 Yeah well here’s the … Let me give you a couple of tips there that are pretty easy. Number one, if that mushroom product or what’s called a mushroom product says manufactured in the US, it’s myceliated grain, it’s that simple. And you know if you’ve already bought the product, you can pour it out, taste it, if it tastes bland and a little bit grainy, that’s the other tell. And the final tell that I love … other than I love the Reishi challenge, the other one is go to the pharmacy and buy yourself a little bottle of iodine. Iodine, there’s what’s called the iodine starch test. So you can take like a couple of capsules and you’d empty them out into a quarter of a cup of water, you stir them up really good, give it time to soak in. Stir them up, put 10 drops of iodine in, and if there’s starch in there, it will turn black.

Stu

47:46 Wow great test.

Jeff:

47:48 Black. And that is the way you can unmask one of those products right now. And again, most of those products, because they’re grown on grain, they will be lightish in color and very bland to the taste. Can you believe it Stuart? One of the companies manufacturing these products, they actually say, “You know the best thing about our products? They don’t taste like mushroom.”

Stu

47:48 Right. Right.

Jeff

48:12 Can you imagine?

Stu

48:18 Yeah.

Jeff

48:18 No they don’t, they taste like grain. They’ll go with anything because they don’t taste like mushroom. I go, now is that a red flag or what? Come on.

Stu

48:28 I certainly thing we’ve been there before, haven’t we Jeffery, with margarine that doesn’t taste like butter but it’s so much more healthy for us.
Jeff: 48:36 Yeah. Oh my god. My father switched us over the margarine back in the late ’50s, early ’60s. He was an early adopter to that stuff. And the funny thing was, he was a farm boy. And when I was raised, we ate nothing but what we called brown bread, when everybody else was eating that white Wonder bread. He had us taking vitamins in the ’50s and yet he got fooled by the whole margarine thing. And it’s easy to be fooled by what I call the marketing speak out there, because we’re inundated with all this marketing information and sometimes it’s being brought to us by so-called experts-

49:21 Yes.

Jeff

49:22 … or some celebrity or whoever.

Stu

49:25 Yeah, exactly.

Jeff

49:25 It’s like who do you trust, right?

Stu

49:29 Totally right. I think what it boils down to Jeff is that age old saying of just eat real food.

Jeff

49:36 Oh man, absolutely Stuart. That is so true. And again, I totally believe in that. Eat real food and make food your medicine.

Stu

49:45 Exactly right. We say that we … I think we say that food isn’t like medicine, food is medicine. And it truly does have the power when you dial in to the vast array of nutrients that we always had.

Jeff

50:01 Absolutely. I mean and you know, let’s face it, unless you’re getting food that’s grown in a certain way, a lot of your food is just empty.

Stu

50:08 Yes it is, totally. So Jeff, we are … We’re just coming up on time, I just wanted to ask what’s next? What’s next for Jeff Chilton? You’re a busy man.

Jeff

50:22 Well oh my god, you can’t believe it. Now that mushrooms have all of a sudden exploded … How did I know that was gonna happen? And you know what, the fact is is that my study has really resonated and other studies have come out to support the research that I’ve done. We continue … every batch of product that we manufacture, we test it in so many ways. We’re continuing, we’re focused on putting out really the absolute best medicinal mushrooms products available out there. There are some other very other interesting compounds in mushrooms that are just starting to come to the fore. One of the things is, you know what? Mushrooms have a precursor, it’s called ergosterol, it’s a precursor to vitamin D. So mushrooms exposed to sunlight, or UV light, that ergosterol that’s in these mushrooms … and all mushrooms have it, will turn into vitamin D. And this is called ergocalciferol, the vitamin D that we get now is all coming pretty much from sheep’s wool, from lanolin, that’s where most of it comes from.

51:40 This is, just basically, you’ll be able to get vitamin D from a plant source, so this is vitamin … This is vitamin D2, what the other vitamin is vitamin D3 from lanolin, so one of the things that we’re developing is being able to expose some of our products to a UV light that will increase the vitamin D level. Because mushrooms in and of themselves don’t have a lot of vitamin D. So that’s something we’re working on. The other thing we’re working on, there’s a compound out there that you’ll be hearing more about in the future, it’s called ergothioneine. And ergothioneine is a compound that’s in our body in so many places, we don’t produce it though, we get it from food. And fungi it turns out are one of the primary plants that actually produce ergothioneine, so we’re testing all of our products now for ergothioneine. It is something where as people get older, all of a sudden the level of ergothioneine seems to be going down.

52:44 And ergothioneine, they look at it right now and it looks like it’s a major anti-oxidant and they think lack of it may be something in the aging process, so if you’re eating foods high in ergothioneine that may help you as you get older. Ergothioneine is something again, that you’ll be hearing a lot more … They’re actually, Stuart, they’re actually thinking that ergothioneine might be a vitamin.

Stu

53:11 Is that right?

Jeff

53:13 Yeah, so it might be a new vitamin and one of the primary sources where you can get it is mushrooms.

Stu

53:23 My word. Any particular type of mushroom? Or just mushrooms as a whole?
Jeff: 53:28 Well mushrooms as a whole, but there are certain species that are a little bit higher in ergothioneine and that’s one of the things that we’re discovering through all of our research and all of our analytical work. One of them would be oyster mushroom, oyster mushroom seems to be higher in ergothioneine. Actually the Shiitake mushroom is pretty high in ergothioneine too. So those two right away will give you … You know it’s just like, there are so many interesting and valuable compounds in mushrooms and there’s … You know we just keep discovering more. Super food, I tell you. Although I hate to use that word.

54:09 I think you’ve got good cause to use that word after everything that you’ve told us today. Jeff thank you so much for all of your wisdom and knowledge. For our audience that want to learn more about this, where can we send them? Can we send them to your website at all?

54:26 Oh absolutely, please come. It’s nammex.com. N-A-M- M-E-X.com. We have so much information there Stuart, it’s really deep. We’ve also got some really interesting slide shows. And also that’s where we’ll put this podcast too, once you get it up, we will link to it and look … Thank you so much for having me. I really, really appreciate … And listen, Australia is absolutely a hotbed in people interested in mushrooms right now. We get so many inquiries from Australian companies about mushrooms it’s amazing.
Stu: 55:06 Fantastic. Well look Jeff, you have certainly opened my eyes to a whole heap of stuff that’s going on out there that will make me think twice about the products that I choose as well. So really, really appreciate the time and hopefully we will be able to connect with you later on at some stage in the future.

Jeff

55:25 Absolutely that’ll be terrific. Thanks again Stuart.

Stu

55:28 Fantastic. Thank you Jeff. Bye bye.

Jeff

55:30 Bye.

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