AYURVEDIC PERSPECTIVE ON MUSHROOMS
Stay GroundedMushrooms have an earthy taste like the dark, rich loamy soil itself. This earthiness is a sign of mushrooms' ability to keep you grounded and calm your nervous system. They are considered tamasic in Ayurveda meaning they make your consciousness sleepy.
Remedy for Late Summer InsomniaIn late summer, as the temperature starts to drop at night, your mind wakes up and sleep feels like a far away wish. You might notice bouts of insomnia this time of year. The remedy is, as always, in nature. Mushrooms suddenly become abundant as the thunderstorms of August dump heavy rains. If you have noticed insomnia with increased frequency, try including some sauteed mushrooms in your favorite dish for a rustic and satisfying meal.
Always cook mushroomsRaw mushrooms are a popular salad item. However, raw mushrooms are nearly indigestible. We suggest you always cook mushrooms to avoid these digestive difficulties.
Mineral RichMushrooms are highly absorbant of minerals in the soil, often containing a rich utritional profile, as their earthy taste suggests. As much as mushrooms absorb minerals, they also absorb whatever toxins they are grown in, and have even been used to clean up toxis waste sites. For that reason, always eat organic mushrooms.
Wild Mushroom HuntingFrom wooded trails to the front lawn, Mushrooms seem to pop up as if by magic in late summer. Just the other day I was hunting herbs in the woods and stumbled upon mushroom after mushroom, brilliantly colored, wildly shaped, exotically enticing, and a touch scary. I was reminded of a quote my herb teacher taught me:
"There are old mushroom hunters, and there are bold mushroom hunters, but there are no old bold mushroom hunters."
The part of the mushroom you pick and eat is the fruit. The living part of the plant, which looks like roots embedded in the soil or a tree, is called the mycelium. When you pick a mushroom you are not killing it. On the contrary, by picking them you are actually helping the fungus to spread its spores. But be sure not to disturb the root system beneath the mushroom when picking. The mushroom thanks you!
Many mushrooms are used in herbalism for their medicinal properties, such as the famous reishi mushroom of Chinese medicine, a strong immune tonic. Many mushrooms have immunomodulating properties, due to lectins, terpenoids, proteins, and polysaccharides. Some of these mushrooms have been used to improve vitality and fight cancer. We suggest you allow herbalists to select medicinal mushrooms, and old mushroom hunters to divide the deadly from delicious.
Are Mushrooms from Planet Earth?Many western herbalists entertain the notion that mushrooms come from another planet. While this opinion has no basis scientifically, it definitely captures the pure strangeness of the mushroom. Something about a mushroom feels distinctly alien to the human world. One mushroom I passed was bright red, with slime oozing out beneath it. Whether fluorescent orange, eerie opaque white, spotted, striped, tiny and delicate, or enormous and sprawling, mushrooms look like a dream-scape under the sea or in outer space. The largest organism in the world is a single mushroom whose mycelium extends over several mountaintops. Often the inspiration for creatures and features of fantasy and science fiction novels, mushrooms allow your imagination to run wild.
Another fact we haven't proven scientifically is that many mushroom experts we've crossed take on a gnome-like appearance. Mushroom hunters tend to be somewhat short and stocky with a slightly mad hatter personality- an effect we believe comes from eating too many odd, tamasic mushrooms. In order to avoid this mad tendency, we suggest you stick to familiar mushrooms - portobello, crimini, the occasional truffle, and familiar edibles & medicinals. These tried and true mushrooms, when cooked, give your meals a hearty, grounding feel, with no threat of turning you into a gnome.
About the AuthorJohn Immel, the founder of Joyful Belly, teaches people how to have a healthy diet and lifestyle with Ayurveda biocharacteristics. His approach to Ayurveda is clinical, yet exudes an ease which many find enjoyable and insightful. John also directs Joyful Belly's School of Ayurveda, offering professional clinical training in Ayurveda for over 15 years.
John's interest in Ayurveda and specialization in digestive tract pathology was inspired by a complex digestive disorder acquired from years of international travel, as well as public service work in South Asia. John's commitment to the detailed study of digestive disorders reflects his zeal to get down to the roots of the problem. His hope and belief in the capacity of each & every client to improve their quality of life is nothing short of a personal passion. John's creativity in the kitchen and delight in cooking for others comes from his family oriented upbringing. In addition to his certification in Ayurveda, John holds a bachelor's degree in mathematics from Harvard University.
John enjoys sharing Ayurveda within the context of his Catholic roots, and finds Ayurveda gives him an opportunity to participate in the healing mission of the Church. Jesus expressed God's love by feeding and healing the sick. That kindness is the fundamental ministry of Ayurveda as well. Outside of work, John enjoys spending time with his wife and 6 kids, and pursuing his love of theology, philosophy, and language.