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Magic of Mushrooms: Health Benefits of Wild-Foraged Forest Fungi

“It is like finding the prevention of and the potential cure for almost any ailment and condition humans are afflicted by, and not sharing it. It absolutely has to be shared,” proclaims Kiel Gerhard, avid mushroom hunter and creator of Back To Nature Oils.
Ancient cultures have known it for centuries, and now Western science is catching up too: medicinal mushrooms might just be our most potent allies for natural medicine.

For millennia, different folkloric traditions have adulated mushrooms for their profound ability to improve the quality of human health. And increasingly so, scientific papers are being published that authenticate their borderline miraculous benefits.

According to Paul Stamets, world-renowned mycologist, these benefits stem from the fact that we, humans, are more closely related to fungi than to any other kingdom, sharing a common ancestor with them 460 million years ago. He attests that this close relationship is the reason why we resonate so well with the compounds found in fungi, and why they are so effective in healing us: we have basically developed similar defences against mutual enemies. What’s more, medicinal mushrooms differ from pharmaceuticals because these natural healing agents have extraordinarily low toxicity, even in high doses, and are therefore very safe to use continuously without any negative side effects.

Gerhard, who provides wild-foraged medicinal mushrooms through his business, shares his enthusiasm for medicinal mushrooms: “Whenever I go out into the woods, it’s as if they call out to me, wanting to share their medicine. Ever since I was a child I loved exploring, but this is the ultimate treasure hunt because it’s not for money or riches, but for my health and well-being, as well as that of others. That is extremely thrilling and fulfilling to me.”

Although he forages many kinds of mushrooms, his business focuses on providing two of the most potent powerhouse mushrooms known to man: chaga and reishi. He forages these sustainably and seasonally from the most pristine virgin forests of the Northeastern U.S. This is what sets him apart from most other providers that work from mushroom farms.

“When you wild-forage medicinal mushrooms, you’re not only taking in the compounds of the mushrooms,” he shares, “but also the medicine of the environments you find them in, such as the clean air, and the rich soil. The medicine is at its fullest potency, because that is where it chose to grow. You cannot duplicate these natural conditions in a mushroom farm with a controlled environment.”

Chaga and reishi have plenty to offer us. Chaga has been used as a traditional medicine in Russia for centuries, mainly as a cancer therapy, Gerhard informs. It is reverently called “The Gift of God” by the Siberians. The health benefits of the chaga mushroom are stated in Paul Stamets’ book Mycomedicinals: An Informational Treatise on Mushrooms. It’s the heavyweight champion of all antioxidants, and a premier herbal adaptogen. It’s also anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, anti-tumor, anti-viral, anti-aging, a blood sugar moderator, an immune enhancer, a liver tonic and a stress reducer.

As for reishi, which is legendarily called “The Mushroom of Immortality,” it is the oldest and most well-studied herb on record and was written about in the most ancient Chinese medical texts. It was once reserved for royalty only to extend life and improve health. Reishi’s health benefits, as stated in Stamets’ book, make an even more impressive list. So is reishi an adaptogen, anti-allergy, anti-bacterial, anti-candida, anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, anti-tumor, anti-viral, anti-aging, anti-arthritic, a blood pressure modulator, a blood sugar moderator, a cholesterol reducer, an immune enhancer, a kidney, liver and nerve tonic, a stress reducer, and an improver of cardiovascular and respiratory health.

Although Gerhard highly encourages everyone to dive into the miraculous world of mycology, he does not recommend for any inexperienced person to go mushroom hunting without first doing comprehensive research. “Mindful foraging is absolutely essential to sustain forest health,” he affirms. “I’m mindful whenever I come into an ecosystem to be grateful for the medicine that calls out to me, always giving thanks, and never disrupting its environmental purpose in the ecosystem.”

He also advises that there are many poisonous imitator mushrooms, which can cause severe, if not deadly reactions in humans. Therefore, proceed with caution.

These phenomenal fungi can be incorporated into your daily diet. On, advice is provided on how chaga and dried and sliced reishi can be made into easy, tasty and powerfully healing teas

.For more information on chaga and reishi and to order an ounce ($8, which makes a gallon of tea and can be brewed multiple times) or 4 ounces ($20, for 4 gallons of tea and also multiple servings), call 856-491-6422, email or visit

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