#55 Medicinal Mushroom Superpowers & Supplements - with Jeff Chilton

The Holistic Nutritionists Podcast


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"To some degree, all mushrooms have medicinal compounds in them. What makes the difference between one of those mushrooms being highly medicinal and the other one not is the presence of beta-glucans in different species. Those beta-glucans are responsible for the immunological activity that makes the difference between a normal, edible mushroom and a medicinal mushroom."

Jeff Chilton | Founder of Nammex & Organic Mushroom Expert Tweet This!

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In Episode 55 of The Holistic Nutritionists Podcast, Natalie Douglas, Kate Callaghan, and their guest, Jeff Chilton (Founder of Nammex & Organic Mushroom Expert) discuss how do medicinal mushrooms work and medicinal mushrooms benefits for supporting your immune system.

  • What medicinal mushrooms are and how they are different to button mushrooms from the grocer
  • What mushrooms actually are and how they grow
  • Growing medicinal mushrooms at home
  • The main active ingredients in mushrooms producing their benefit
  • Why its important to know what your buying
  • The secret lingo of the mushroom supplement industry and how not to get caught buying an inactive product
  • Debunking concerns around mushrooms sourced from China
  • The importance of testing mushrooms for contaminants 
  • The health benefits and uses of some of Jeff’s favourite mushies
  • LOADS more 

Jeff Chilton
Founder of Nammex & Organic Mushroom Expert

Intro 0:00
Hello and welcome to The Holistic Nutritionists Podcast, with your hosts Natalie K. Douglas, Thyroid Healer, and Kate Callaghan, The Holistic Nutritionist. Nat and Kate are degree-qualified dietitians and nutritionists, certified fitness instructors, speakers and authors. If you love unfiltered banter, unedited bloopers and authentic heart-sharing then we are your ladies! Now it’s time to sit back, relax and get ready for our latest tips on living your healthiest life possible.

Natalie K. Douglas 0:36
Hi, guys, welcome back to the podcast this week. We actually have a very special guest for you guys. His name is Jeff Chilton, and Jeff has been in the mushroom industry since 1973. He has been heavily involved in both the study of mushrooms and the farming. He is a founding member of the world society for mushroom biology and mushroom products and a member of the International Society for mushroom science. Jeff co authored the highly acclaimed book, the mushroom cultivator, which was published in 1983. Then in 1989, he started mimics a business that introduced medicinal mushrooms to the US nutritional supplement industry. He traveled extensively in China during the 1990s, attending conferences and visiting research facilities and mushroom farms. In 1997, he organized the first organic mushroom production seminar in China. Jeff’s company nomics was the first to offer a complete line of certified organic mushroom extracts to the US nutritional supplement industry. And mimics extracts are used by many supplement companies. And I noted for their high quality based on scientific analysis of the active compounds. So we are really, really excited to have Jeff on the show with us today. We haven’t spoken to you guys about mushrooms before but I personally use them for many different reasons. And we’re excited to jump into the podcast and pick just brain about all things mushrooms, because clearly, you’ve got a lot of experience.

Jeff Chilton 2:14
Yes, absolutely. Thank you. Thank you very much for having me on your podcast and I’m excited to be here and happy to help to educate some of your listeners.

Kate Callaghan 2:24
You’re welcome. I’m excited. I’m looking forward to being educated as well. Just listening to your buyer then thinking wow, I mean magic. Magic not magic.

Jeff Chilton 2:37
That question a lot.

Kate Callaghan 2:39
I don’t know if you listen to a podcast but we can waffle and banter and Oakland talk sometimes. So right off the bat. There we go. This little mushrooms I didn’t know they’d been around for so long. So yeah, very excited. So thank you for coming on our podcast. Jeff. Now we love to ask all our guests a question going to start off the show and that is what did you have for breakfast this morning?

Jeff Chilton 3:05
Well, let me say my breakfasts are very simple. I don’t believe in eating a lot in the morning. My breakfast consists of a couple of cups of black coffee with regime mushroom extract added into it. And I don’t really eat anything until maybe 10 or 11 o’clock I’m kind of more into a brunch but I like to get my system arrest so I don’t eat a big breakfast and besides, I’m you know, I’m not out there burning off a lot of calories early. So that’s my breakfast.

Kate Callaghan 3:41
What does coffee with with ratio tastes like?

Jeff Chilton 3:44
Well, you know, here’s here’s the cool thing about it is that black coffee is bitter. And regime mushroom is bitter. So what it does is it adds just another bitter note to that coffee so they they blend in real really well.

Kate Callaghan 4:02
And I’m guessing that makes you feel amazing start the day.

Jeff Chilton 4:05
Oh, does it ever I can just go for it. You know talk forever.

Natalie K. Douglas 4:12
I love it. All right. Well, as we kind of already ascertained, you have clearly studied mushrooms quite a lot. And you know for a lot of people listening this might actually be the first time they hearing about medicinal mushrooms mushrooms. So could you first explain the difference between like the regular button mushrooms that we’re all familiar with in the supermarket’s can be compared to medicinal mushrooms? Like is there is there a difference there?

Jeff Chilton 4:40
Well, yeah, and and and here’s here’s the thing. I started my career so to speak in 1973 on a button mushroom farm, I spent 10 years growing mushrooms on that farm, it was a big farm 2002 million pounds of mushrooms every year, literally lived with mushrooms. During those 10 years, every crop that we had was 20,000 pounds. It was a very large farm. And that’s where I got my start. But what was really interesting was that while I was there, we had a Japanese scientist who is our head of research and development, and he was growing Chautauqua mushrooms, he was growing oyster mushrooms. And he was growing a gnocchi talking mushrooms, which I had a part in working with him. So right off the bat, I got exposed to these other mushrooms, which at the time we called specialty mushrooms. And I didn’t even realize at the time that those specific species were actually medicinal mushrooms. So so here’s really the difference between those button mushrooms and the others. All mushrooms in their cell walls contain compounds called beta glue cans, beta glycans, makeup 50% of the cell walls of most mushrooms. So to some degree, all mushrooms have the medicinal compounds in them. But the difference is, is that those beta glue cans in different species can have different structure a different architecture and that architecture is what makes the difference between one of those mushrooms being highly medicinal and the other one not because it’s the beta glue cans that have the immunological activity that we look for in a medicinal mushroom and it’s that activity that makes a difference between a just a normal edible mushroom and a medicinal mushroom so so that that’s really the big difference right there. It’s just that beta glucagon architecture and and some of the mushrooms have some other compounds but that’s the most important compound in the medicinal mushrooms. That’s what gives them their mean illogical activity.

Kate Callaghan 6:58
Can I ask with that, so the button mushrooms that we all can purchase from the supermarket and testify? So they aren’t medicinal? They don’t have those active compounds and the immunological factors and are they detrimental to our health or are they still good for us in your opinion?

Jeff Chilton 7:16
Well, you know what, the fact is that those button mushrooms which the genus is a Garret because those those actually do have a mid level medicinal value. So they are in fact medicinal. But here’s the thing that a lot of people don’t really know. And And finally, the the marketplace is kind of waking up to this and that is that that mushrooms are very nutritious when I was growing mushrooms in the 70s nutritionists classical nutritionist looked at mushrooms and said, You know Yeah, they’ve got a nice flavor and they go in certain dishes and could be a garnish or something but they’ve got no nutritional value. The reason they said that was because my mushrooms are low calorie, but mushrooms actually have a anywhere from 20 to 40% protein, good quality protein. They’re mostly carbohydrate with carbohydrate is man at all which is slow acting, it’s a really good carbohydrate and those beta blue cans are carbohydrates. They have also have high levels of phosphorus potassium and they have B vitamins in in good amounts they have rival flavor and niacin. So from a nutritional standpoint, mushrooms are a really good food and and so this is something that that finally people are starting to wake up to that fact and that’s just come from from more nutritional information getting out there and the other the other thing about mushrooms high in fiber so they’re feeding the micro biome that’s another very good quality about mushrooms so so really I consider mushrooms to be an excellent food and and I even tell people I said look before you think about supplementing with a mushroom, put them into your diet mushrooms are wonderful not only are they good nutritionally but the taste is excellent you guys see every talking mushrooms?

Kate Callaghan 9:19
Yes, yes.

Jeff Chilton 9:21
Oh #### talking

you know what in China should talkie is called Shang goo and what that means is fragrant mushroom and ah the odor and flavor of should talky my favorite Moshe man stout.

Natalie K. Douglas 9:40
Yes, I do like those and oyster mushrooms. I think they’re the only two like quote unquote fence your mushrooms I have, I haven’t actually had too many more. Because I do find that it is quite difficult to find them. Like when you walk into a supermarket. Pretty much for the most part. All you’re saying is button mushrooms. I mean, I don’t really shop at the supermarket. But I assume that a lot of people would but even at the farmers markets, I don’t often find a lot of kind of other varieties of mushrooms around. But I’m not sure if I do like do mushrooms have seasons like and what’s their kind of natural growing cycle?

Jeff Chilton 10:24
Well, you know what, actually, actually, certainly in Australia and North America, people who grow mushrooms all grow them indoors climate control room, so they’re growing year round. So so they’re not like wild crafted and have to depend on the seasons outside. They’re growing all the time. But I think I think what it is is that is that like in North America, now we have lots and lots of smaller growers have these different species of mushrooms and and especially if you’re in a larger metropolis, you will have probably five or six different mushroom species to choose from. Now now that’s that that’s a huge deal considering that when I was growing Agaricus back in the 70s. That’s all there was in supermarkets and, and believe it or not, we grew enough Pataki on the farm there in that in 1978. We actually introduced fresh Pataki into our local market, and it completely bombed. Nobody wanted to buy them and the ones that did complain that it was too strong. I was just absolutely shocked. And that was 1978. That was the first fresh Pataki that was sold in supermarkets in the United States at the time, that was 1978. But But, you know, in Australia, it may be that you just don’t have that many small farms that have that have started up and are growing these other Martians, hey, in China, right now there are at least 12 to 15 different Martian species that are in the marketplace that you can purchase any time of the day, they’re they’re out there. So they eat lots of mushrooms. The other thing that’s really interesting about China is they grow 85% of the world’s mushrooms. Wow. 85% and it’s grown by by thousands and thousands of small farmers, it’s really cool. They have some big farms to they have the some of the biggest mushroom farms in the world as you can imagine. And and some of those farms are using the most advanced techniques that are available. But the majority of the mushrooms grown in China are grown with very appropriate technologies. And they’re they’re actually are grown seasonally because they’ll grow them in shade houses with ambient temperatures and fresh air, and light. They’re not putting a lot of those mechanical and expensive inputs into them like a controlled growing environment. So they do grow most of those mushrooms naturally, which I really like. And most of our mushrooms are grown in that manner, the ones that we source out of China.

Natalie K. Douglas 13:17
So really interesting, and it kind of brings like, I guess I’m playing devil’s advocate here. But I know that a lot of people will have a bit of a concern around the pollution in China and fear around Chinese products generally. Do you feel that that’s a concern? Or what would your kind of response be to people who have that fear or that concern?

Jeff Chilton 13:41
Oh, I you know what, I think that we should all be concerned about pollution and chemicals and pesticides. But look, it’s not just a Chinese problem. Australia uses tons and tons of pesticides and and the United States, pesticides and fungicides and agricultural chemicals. I mean, that’s something that we all have to deal with in any country. The issue really is that ultimately, where that product is grown, is it susceptible to chemical pollution? Is it organically certified? And has it been tested to demonstrate that, that it is chemical free? I purchase organic produce when I go to the market? How many people actually do that? I mean, a lot of people are just buying the standard stuff in the supermarkets and going oh yeah, this is just fine, despite the fact that it may have chemical residues because it’s not certified organic. I totally believe in certified organic products and all of our products are certified organic. Like you said in the intro, I went there in 1997 with a with a organic certification company from the United States, the very first organic certification workshop, mushrooms in China. All of the mushrooms that we grow there are certified by high quality German certifiers before our products even leave China. They’re tested for pesticides, fungicides, heavy metals, micro organisms, and then when we land them in the United States, where we we have our warehouse, they get tested a second time. And, you know, we’re not talking about in China, where they’re all Yeah, they’re testing and you know, who knows what, what kind of laboratories? Hey, look, China, if you haven’t been to China, let me tell you, it’s like first world when you get to those cities, and the labs that they’ve got in those Chinese cities are international labs, not just some run of the mill lab, it’s an international lab. I mean, these standards that they have there are very high. Plus we grow we grow our mushrooms in China way, way back in the mountains and in very clean areas. We don’t we don’t grow them in the Shanghai right next door to you know, the pollution there anything like that. Nowhere near the the biggest cities, but but here’s here’s something that your listeners really need to know. And that is that, that in Australia, or in the United States or in Canada, you cannot grow an actual mushroom and sell it as a supplement. And the reason is, is that I can take my fresh mushrooms to the marketplace and they’ll pay me $5 Okay, great, that’s a business I can make money that way. But supplements are sold dry. So that mushroom like most vegetables is 90% water, take the water away, and now you have to get 10 times as much money for that same pound of mushrooms. So all of a sudden, it’s like you have to sell that for $50 Well, the economics do not work. So So supplement wise, and this is something we can talk about bout and and that is supplement wise no one, there’s no company in the United States that grows mushrooms add that are then used as supplements, they actually grow a completely different product. But But the key issue I’m trying to get at here is simply this is something I recognized in the 90s when I traveled throughout China and the fact that I am a commercial mushroom grower by trade by profession, I realized I could not sell mushroom supplements. If I were growing them in North America, the economics weren’t weren’t there. But I could grow them in China and grow them properly and grow them cleanly. And that’s what I I set up over there. I I’ve been working with my Chinese growers and processors now for 25 years.

Kate Callaghan 17:56
I think it’s also one of those things that they they grow better in China. I mean, we know that different plants thrive in different environments, and China appears to be that so my friends

Jeff Chilton 18:07
Well, you know what the mushrooms actually, you know, you can you can pretty much grow them in a lot of places in the world. But But the thing is, is that, you know, what’s interesting is that in China first started growing mushrooms, in fact shut talking mushrooms in that 12th century. Wow. Agaricus production first got started in Europe, this is the button mushroom in the early 1800s. So, so the Chinese have been doing this for a long, long time. And listen, traditional medicinal mushrooms come from traditional Chinese medicine. That’s where we know about the properties of these mushrooms. And we know that they’ve been using these mushrooms for thousands of years in traditional Chinese medicine. So that’s really where it all comes from. That’s where when I look at, you know, the long list of mushrooms out there, and there’s thousands and thousands of species, well, I look at traditional Chinese medicine, I say okay, what species have been used? And then then maybe maybe they have 10 or 12 species and then I’ll go out and I’ll go Okay, what is the scientific research that has been done on these particular species and in the scientific research has, in fact corroborated what Traditional Chinese Medicine has been using them for then I say, Okay, great. This this is looks like a very solid medicinal mushroom. And this is one of the species that I will grow, process and sell.

Kate Callaghan 19:44
Now, you just you just said, I’m just jumping back, somebody said, you can grow mushrooms pretty much anyway, I’ve just moved into a new house. We have a little landscaping to do. Can I grow medicinal mushroom to you? What?

Jeff Chilton 20:01
You know, that sounds like like, like a common joke is hey, I’ve got a basement. Can I grow mushrooms?

Natalie K. Douglas 20:11
Yeah, I might

Kate Callaghan 20:15
want to grow them at home.

Jeff Chilton 20:18
Well, yeah, Listen, my book that I wrote in 1983 is called the mushroom cultivator. You can find it on Amazon or wherever it is a practical guide to growing mushrooms at home. Yes, of course you can. I’m not going to say it’s easy. It’s not easy. It’s not you know, it’s like mushrooms aren’t don’t grow from seeds. You know, you can’t like take a seed and plop it in some dirt in a pot and up it comes. It’s not like that. It’s very different. In fact, let me just explain to you a little bit about this organism that we call a mushroom. Mushrooms don’t have seeds, they have spores. When those spores germinate and those spores are out there in the environment. They’re everywhere they’re in the soil there are all over the place. When they germinate. They they germinate into a very fine thread like filament, and that filament is called a Haifa. And when multiple spores germinate and those Haifa come together and fuse, they form a network and that network is called mycelium. That mycelium is the actual vegetative body of this organism and it’s out there. It’s out there recycling mushrooms and fungi are recyclers they take all of that plant matter all that organic matter. And they’re breaking it down into humans for further use by by plants to continue to grow. So it’s really they’re part of this big natural ecosystem and natural cycle. And so that mycelium is out there and it’s growing its recycling. When it when conditions change where I am when the temperature goes down when it starts to rain, mushrooms love, moisture, fungi need moisture, they do not like dry conditions. That’s why they’re in the ground or embedded in wood that protects them. When the conditions are right, up comes this mushroom now the mycelium is perennial, as long as it’s got food out there, it will continue to grow. But that mushroom is just like an up and down it comes up and maybe in two or three weeks. It basically rots back down into the ground. So there’s a short and that mushroom is called the the fruiting body. The mycelium is called the vegetative body. And that mushroom comes up it matures, it produces spores, and now we have a complete life cycle. So it’s what we would call the mushroom is what we call a plant part. So this organism that we think of as my mushroom is like, got three plant parts. It’s got spores, it’s got mycelium, and it’s got the mushroom itself, and each one of those plant parts have been utilized medicinal Lee and each one of those parts is being sold out there in the market as a supplement. So so and this gets back into a little bit what I was talking about earlier, which is that sometimes those supplements that are called mushroom are not really mushroom at all There are a lot of companies out there that sell the mycelium. Now, the mycelium does not have the same level of medicinal compounds that a mushroom does. But what these companies do, which is the big problem, are you familiar at all with Tempe?

Natalie K. Douglas 23:57

Jeff Chilton 23:58
Okay, you know what Tempe is right. Do you know how temp is made?


Well, tempo tempo is actually it’s cooked soybeans, right? It’s cooked soy beans, and then it has a fungus grown on it. So so you know people say it’s a fermented food. Yes, this fungal mycelium grows over those cooked soy beans and forms a cake. And when you buy it, it’s like it looks white. And you slice it and it’s like, okay, is this white cake you slice and go Yeah, look at all the soybeans in their companies now, in the United States. They will grow mycelium on cooked grain, like rice, or, and they will do it in sterilized grain inside a laboratory. And what they do is they take a piece of mycelium and they will inoculate that sterilized grain, they will grow out that mycelium over the sterilized grain to where they end up with a cake like product just just like Tempe, but at that point what they do, they will slice it, they will dry it, they will grind it to a powder, no mushrooms involved, they haven’t grown any mushrooms, it’s just my co created grain they will dry it to a powder they will not remove the grain. So they will and then they will sell it and call it mushroom raw. So so a lot of mushroom products that are on the market are actually nothing more than my co created grain like Tempe and and the issue is is that when you analyze it, and in 2015, I did a very, very large study. With 95 different samples, we tested 40 samples that were my co created grain products and we tested these samples for beta glue cans, which again is the primary immunological compound in mushrooms. A mushroom has 25 to 60% beta glucagon, it has very low levels of what’s called alpha glucagon, which includes starches. Now, when we tested these products, okay, mushrooms 25 to 60% less than 5% Alpha glucagon, which are the starches. These might see in a grain products were exactly the opposite. They were on average 6% beta glucagon, and they were anywhere from 30 to 60%. Starch Well, of course, because they’re mostly grain powder. And so right now today in the US market, probably 75% of the products out there are this Tempe, like product is my co created grain. And when you look at the label, the label says or he mushroom, Chautauqua mushroom, it has a picture of a mushroom. But there is no mushroom in that product.

Natalie K. Douglas 27:27
Wow. That’s, that’s really confusing. Because I mean, how would anyone know any better unless you know they’ve been educated on it. And if the companies aren’t forthcoming with that information, then that makes it really difficult. So how, like if someone’s listening, and they’re currently taking a mushroom supplement, but they’re not sure, you know, whether it’s the mycelium or whether it’s an actual mushroom or all this all this kind of things that we need to check for. How How do you find out like, is this information that companies must disclose or is it it? Can it be written in any other ways that people can go on? Okay, that’s, that’s actually not the product that I shouldn’t be buying?

Jeff Chilton 28:09
Well, here, here’s a, there’s a, there’s a number of issues about this that are really egregious one of which is you are, you are obligated with a nutritional supplement philosophy, you have to put plant part on that supplements. So you have to identify, for example, a lot of herbs there, you know, you have herbs where it’s the root, you have some herbs where it’s the fruit somewhere, it’s the leaves. So those are all what are called plant parts. So what I’ve talked to you earlier about spore mycelium mushroom, well, we have plant parts, you’re supposed to say which plant part now, some companies when you turn over into the supplement facts, some companies will actually say mycelium and then there’s also a little thing down that says other which means other ingredients that happen to be in that product. Sometimes they will put my co created brown rice, or my co created oats. Now, if you see that that’s an automatic tell. Yes, indeed. Now I do not have a mushroom. I have my CDA to grain and this product. The other one is if it says product of USA, my CD a grain it is not mushroom. Now if you go well, you know, how do I know maybe it really is, you know what, good whatever, well, all you have to do is empty out one of those capsules taste it, it will taste kind of like flower kind of Swedish, it will not elect the ratio of you, if you have a ratio product like that, and you dump it out and you taste it. It will not be bitter in any way. And and so so you have these things that you can look for. And if you’re really like well, you know, I’m still kind of skeptical. Well, there’s a real simple test you can do which I which I love. It’s called the iodine starch test. Mushrooms, mushrooms do not have starch in the mushrooms. This is kind of cool mushrooms. You know, I don’t have you ever heard the thing? Well, where I am mushrooms are kind of more like humans than plants. Well, the reason they say that is that these fungal organisms, they breathe in oxygen, and they give off co2, like humans, whereas plants, it’s just the opposite. So So and they also mushrooms also as their storage carbohydrate, they have glycogen like humans, whereas plants, they have starch. And that’s why we eat plants, we eat plants for that starchy, immediate calories, energy and so on. Well, this iodine starch test is really great because all you have to do is go to the store, buy a little cheap bottle of iodine, and you you come back and you take a couple of capsules from that product and you dump it into a quarter of a cup of water you stirred up really good, let it kind of settle, stir it up, put in 10 drops of iodine, if there is starch, it will turn black. You can take you can take a mushroom, you can take a mushroom, a dried mushroom, crumble it up, put it into that same glass of water, let it get wet it up really good. Put in the drops of iodine, it will not turn color, it will be the color of iodine same with a good mushroom product have some products, you know machine pipes, maybe they’re black to begin with, like we have a ratio extract, it’s already black. So the test is not going to work with it. But with others that are not dark, you just put that capsule in there and you stir it up, you put the iodine in, and if it’s a real mushroom, it will not change color. So that’s another test can be that can be used but but you know, the the thing is, is that I’m really into analysis, I really believe in in being able to guarantee that what I sell has got the active compounds in it. So we do a lot of analysis we analyze every single batch that we produce for beta glue cans that also has the alpha glue, can we analyze for air gaastra, which is the fungal sterile? And we analyze for ego finding, which is another active compound in mushroom. So we analyze for the active compounds, because we believe that’s important as a quality control standard. And most of these companies do not analyze for anything like that, because if they did, it would completely expose them.

Natalie K. Douglas 32:50
And so is with that, with that analysis of the different kinds of active constituents or parts that you’re analyzing, is there friction sample a certain minimum that people should be looking for in a mushroom product? Like say, if someone’s buying a mushroom product, and it standardized to a certain percent of beta glue cans like is there a certain percent beta glue cans, it needs to be in a product in order for listeners to have an actual medicinal benefit from it as opposed to just eating starch?

Jeff Chilton 33:23
Well, yeah, and here’s the thing is, is when we do our measuring, we’re not like in when we make our extracts, we’re not like trying to build up the beta glue Kant’s we have a baseline. So will will, we have we have analyzed just a straight dried Chautauqua, let’s say or a dried, racy, so we know what the beta glue candle level should be in every species that we sell. And so then when we process the mushrooms into our extracts, we want those extracts to end up with Okay, if it’s if it’s the processes, processing is done properly, with essentially the same level as what’s in there naturally. So and, and every single species will have a different amount of the beta glucagon in it. For example, what’s really interesting is that the two mushrooms with the highest level of beta blue cans are turkey tail, and ratio. And that’s so interesting to me because ratio is the most highly revered of all the medicinal mushrooms in traditional Chinese therapy and in China and generally ratio is just like ratio. There’s there’s mythologies that have been created about ratio ratio is in art, it’s in you can see it in some of their architecture, I mean, ratio is just part of that whole culture and that may be why because it has higher levels of the Vedic Lukens which give it higher activity. It also has other compounds, which are the bitter compounds called tried Turpin, noise. That’s that’s the other thing that makes ratios stand out from every medicinal mushrooms ratio is really the primary the the major, I would say if you’re going to take one particular mushroom as a supplement ratio would definitely be my choice.

Natalie K. Douglas 35:19
And what kind of benefits in terms of like, like, are there for ratio? Like is it immune supporting? is it helping to support energy? What are the kind of key I guess benefits people can expect from taking ratio?

Jeff Chilton 35:38
Well, Immune Support number one and and the way it does it is that these beta glue cans, we actually have receptor sites in our small intestines for specifically for beta glue cans. So those that supplement or when you eat mushrooms, it doesn’t really get digested well in our stomachs, it essentially that that all happens down in the lower intestine, but those beta glute cans will hit those receptor sites, and then that will stimulate the production of macrophages, T cells, NK cells. And and, you know, the way to look at medicinal mushrooms, in my opinion is that they are something that we can look at as preventive medicine. I like to think of them as food is medicine too. But prevention there, there’s something that we would take, they sit in the background, mushrooms are not something where you’re going to take a few capsules today and tomorrow, you go, Wow, this feels fabulous. No, or my headaches gone or anything like that. That’s not how they work. They they are more slow acting. Long term. You they sit in the background, they they essentially give you to some degree what you might have been called a shield. There’s they’re they’re working to maintain a higher level of immune competence. And a lot of the way they depict that is what they would call immunological modulation. So they were they’re kind of something where it’s almost what people like to talk about when they talk about adapting and is there a harmony? Or is there something that provides balance? keeps you healthy. That’s what mushrooms are there for. Now, having said that, there are certain mushrooms that go a little bit beyond that, for example, are you familiar at all with Lion’s Mane? Yeah, lion’s mane, we can’t keep in stock. Everybody wants it because everybody’s losing their memory.

Including me. So

yeah, dear, here’s some lion’s mane, please take a lot of it. It’s, you know, a big category right now in North America, or what are called in the tropics. And tropics are like anything that stimulates you to give you a better performance. You know, what a classic Nitro pick is coffee, the caffeine there, that’s a Nitro Vic, because that allows me to like get up in the morning, have coffee and just go crazy. So anyway, it’s it’s Lion’s Mane has demonstrated the ability to stimulate what’s called nerve growth factor. And nerve growth factor is a compound that, that induces and is important for the production of neuro rights. And, you know, our nerve cells are constantly being destroyed, constantly being created. As we get older, the destruction keeps going, but the creations close. So, so at any rate, and but but these days, you know, it’s like with the whole the tropic movement, sort of people don’t care what age they are, they’re just like, I need more stimulation of my brain, I need something to give me that edge. And so, so, Lion’s Mane has demonstrated even in clinical trials, which is really interesting, one of the clinical trials was two groups. It was done in Japan, which, you know, I like Japanese clinical trials, I, they have a lot of credibility for me much more so than than Chinese clinical trials. The Japanese clinical trials, I think are a little higher level 3030 older folks around 70 or so 30 in one group 30 in the control group, the group that took the lion’s mane, they they everybody took a test to start off with, they took some battery of different cognitive tests. And so after 90 days, the group that took the lion’s mane, they tested them all again. And that group did much better than the control group. And, and so here’s that. Here’s the thing that’s kind of interesting about that study, after 30 days, when the group taking the lion’s mane stop taking Lion’s Mane after 30 days, they drop back down to the same level as the control group. So you’re kind of like, wow, that’s, that’s pretty interesting. And they’ve had another couple studies using lion’s mane and for depression, because that’s the other thing. It’s been used for depression and also for, for dementia. And so, so, so So yeah, it’s really interesting. Well, and, and every band is brought three years ago, I think we probably sold, I don’t know 50 kilos of Lion’s Mane all year long, three years ago, this last year, we probably sold

five tons of last.

I mean, I mean, it’s just like it came out of nowhere and and driven a lot by this whole the tropics industry where where, I mean, we go to we go to a couple of trade shows occasionally. And one of them is really all about these types of things, anything that can enhance performance. Another another machine that’s maybe you’ve heard of is called quarter steps.

Kate Callaghan 41:24
Yeah. And I was just about to ask you about

Natalie K. Douglas 41:28
tiger, Tiger

Jeff Chilton 41:30
talk, we can talk about chocolate too. But quarter steps, quarter steps is is really cool because it’s it traditionally it’s been wild crafted up in the foothills of Tibet, people are out there on their hands and knees, combing the pastures for these things, quarter steps, is something that grow traditionally, and the wild crafted quarter step grows from a caterpillar and that Caterpillar has essentially crawled down into the earth in the fall hibernating. Because of course that’s what that’s what you know, mods and butterflies Do they have a caterpillar at hibernate and then they you know, when summer comes, all of a sudden they turn into a butterfly or a moth and fly away. In this case, what happens is that wallet sleeping quarter steps is spores are on it. they germinate and they consume the whole inside of the caterpillar and then in the springtime instead of instead of that Caterpillar waking up and flying away. No it’s it’s nothing but a food source now and a little quarter steps grows off the top of it. And it in the last 10 years it has become the most expensive urban China at one point as much as 20,000 US per kilogram. Wow.

Kate Callaghan 42:49
The Quarter said eight for caterpillar.

Jeff Chilton 42:51
Quarter steps each the caterpillar but the cool. The cool thing about it is that the caterpillar you can still see the caterpillar Caterpillar still there but what you don’t understand it, the whole inside of that Caterpillar is consumed and it’s nothing but the mycelium that has consumed the inside and then the little blade like fruiting bodies coming off the head of the caterpillar. And they call this winter worm summer grass because the fruiting body little mushroom is like a blade of grass. So so that has traditionally used been used for nurse Thea, which is weakness coming out of a a illness. And so people are trying to get better, but they’re just kind of stuck and they’re feeling weak. And they’ll give them quarter steps that something to to help them with their energy and overcome the fatigue that they’re feeling. Well, you know, fatigue, energy, and the next thing you know, a lot of people who are into athletics are thinking, Okay, this sounds pretty good. So that’s where a lot of these days a lot of people are taking quarter steps, I’ll do it sure you could use it for the same thing that they have done, which is again, weakness, and just a feeling of malaise and lack of energy quarter steps would be something that you’d want to take. And today, here’s here’s the coolest thing of all, is it today for the first time ever, in the last 10 years, they have learned how to grow quarter steps. So we you know, when I when I first was introduced to quarter steps in 1990, I would do I would take it around to one of the trade shows and and I’d show it to people say hey, you know, have you heard about quarter steps and we’d be interested in they look at me like, you know, buddy that we sell who’s going to eat those caterpillars come on? It’s like It’s like our audiences vegetarian. They don’t eat meat.

Or insects.

So that was like that was like, okay, so much recording.

Kate Callaghan 44:56

I wonder Megan snow about that. Well, but

Jeff Chilton 45:01
no, but see, here’s the thing is that none of those Caterpillar fungi are sold into the supplement industry because it’s too expensive. Now, that was the other side of it back then, in 1990, I could buy a kilo of quarter steps for $1,000. Today 20,000 nobody even at $1,000 a kilo, which I would have to mark up to sell. Nobody was going to buy that really it just wouldn’t work. So just in the last 10 years. They have learned how to grow quarter steps and it’s called quarter steps military it’s a beautiful orange blade like fungus. It is amazing looking. It’s on the homepage of our website, there’s a photos that we have there it is beautiful. And the powder that we make the extract powder that we make of it is orange, it is so so cool. And and here’s the other thing about that quarter steps is besides it being inexpensive, so it’s it’s great. We can sell it as a supplement. They also sell it fresh in China. When I was there a couple of years ago, I was served as one of the dishes in our dinner, they had this platter of fresh quarter steps that they had cooked up it I mean again, no insects involved everybody fresh. It was it was delicious. It was so good. So So and then finally talking about Chaka and Chaka is really interesting right now. And that is if you go out on the inner webs, and if you see people selling tchotchke it’s like the king of mushrooms. There’s nothing that this mushroom cannot do. It is the power of the new universe. So you know and and it’s hyped so much, and I just hate that it really bugs me to know and and first off because look, I’ve seen for Tango mushrooms out there should talk he was the king in the 70s regime took over in the 80s to be king, the 90s it was my talk you who became the new king. And now it’s tchotchke it’s like God come on. This is just so I’m And plus, you know, when people taken and they start to talk about an herb as being a panacea. This will cure everything. That’s what they’re saying about chocolate. It’s just absolute Bs and on true. A chalk is not the king of motion. No way. Not only that, it won’t cure everything. No, it will absolutely not. Don’t even think about it that way chocolates got traditionally, it hasn’t been used for stomach illnesses. So that’s one of the major benefits from Chaka and that’s what they’ve used it for a lot in folk medicine all across Russia and Eastern Europe. And also it was a folk remedy for cancer. But Hello everybody, it is not going to cure your cancer don’t think about it that way. Mushrooms do however, help your immune system as it is battling a lot of these types of diseases. So yes, immunity but Chaka Chaka, again, I would say stomach you know the other thing people say is Oh, it’s not got the highest level of antioxidants of anything in the world. Like what according to ORAC, which has been so discredited as any kind of a measure the Oreck they’ve come out and said it does. It’s meaningless. And so I don’t even subscribe to that. And here’s what’s interesting about Chocolate. Chocolate is not a mushroom. Chocolate is not mycelium chop is actually a canker. It’s a it’s a fungal disease, that and and the manifestation of that diseases, this gnarly looking black thing that grows off the side of a birch tree. And when you cut that off, and if you really examine it, what they found is it’s about maybe 10% mycelium, it’s got that black rind on it, which is melanin. And then then a lot of it is just woody tissue. So so it’s really an oddball fungus. But you know, let’s face it, there’s a lot of oddball fungus as

Natalie K. Douglas 49:49
you say, then that the main like, chocolate, like isn’t the king of mushrooms or whatever. But the main benefits would be in relation to more stomach illnesses, and they wouldn’t be benefit in using it in that situation. But not using it, as you’re saying is a panacea for everything in anything.

Jeff Chilton 50:07
Absolutely. In fact, you know, what I would say is that people who have maybe irritable bowel syndrome, or Crohn’s disease or something like that, man, get on it, try it out, see if it helps you, because I’ve seen some studies that look promising. And that’s what, that’s where I would go with it, I would, I would see if that doesn’t help people with with those conditions. And boy, you know, they need help that those are serious conditions that are very unpleasant.

Kate Callaghan 50:34
That’s awesome. And I’m just aware that we’re running out of time, I want to ask you, because a lot of our listeners deal with hormone imbalance. What are your thoughts on using medicinal mushrooms for hormone imbalances?

Jeff Chilton 50:48
Um, you know what they are, this gets back to, to the definition of adapt to gin and mushrooms as being an adult Genet type of job. So I would say, that is something that they would do. But you know what? I haven’t seen that much specific research on there. So I don’t really subscribe to that. 100%. I’m not sure. So I couldn’t really say one way or the other. Other than that isn’t something that I’ve seen a lot of research on. So. So I would be, again, I don’t think I would, I would say, Oh, yes, absolutely. No, I really don’t know. I don’t think again, I haven’t seen enough research for me to be able to say, yes, indeed, that’s something that it does.

Natalie K. Douglas 51:43
Oh, thank you. Yeah. And the other thing we kind of I mean, I specialize in thyroid health and deal with a lot of people who have Hashimoto is, which is a type of autoimmune thyroid condition. And I definitely have stayed in my clinical practice experience that using mushrooms as kind of just like you’re saying, adopted General, just, I kind of think of it as a gentle hug for the immune system that’s just there as as kind of backup, I really, I really like using that. And I’ve definitely found it beneficial for myself and for a lot of my clients. So yeah, I would encourage people to think of them as as modulating to your immune system. And kind of like, as you said earlier, Jeff, the adaptive ends of the immune system very much in that way. One other thing I wanted to quickly ask you, well, there’s a couple of other things, sorry. So there’s a lot of talk and also some research around, particularly, treaties, and also my talking in relation to in relation to cancer. And while we are definitely not treating disease or making any specific recommendations, have you seen any research in relation to that? I know, I’ve seen some in your relation to breast cancer and my talkie. But what’s your experience with that? Because I know in think it’s in Korea, is it’s actually actually use some my friends alongside conventional therapy to enhance its effects.

Jeff Chilton 53:18
Well, you know, what, there’s, there’s a number of a couple of products that have been used that way, certainly the turkey tail, they’ve, they’ve made a couple of what I would call drug products in Japan, and there’s a drug called PSK, that has an approved drug in Japan, and it comes from comedians, it’s, it’s not just a tremendous extract, which is what we deal with, but it’s something that is much more refined. So it actually is more drug like in China, they have a similar product called PSP like that. And so so, you know, I think there are certain products drug, like products out there that come from mushrooms or fungi have been used in that way. And I would say, a good solid extract can also be used in that way, in terms of, you know, a lot of what they do is they somebody going through chemotherapy going through radiation or something like that, they give them that as an Agilent. Just to, hopefully to help keep the immune system a little bit stronger, you know, wallets being torn to pieces. So, so yes, I think, you know, there, there’s relatively good data. That’s one of the reasons why why natural paths, for example, are very sort of they like, for example, PSK, or PSP, something like that, because there is a lot more clinical data on it. data that seems to be fairly positive. Now, that doesn’t say that, you know, I mean, I mean, a lot of it is okay, it people live longer, for example, and but it’s not going it’s certainly not a cure, but it is, and I highly recommend it to somebody who’s going through something like that anything that can help your immune system, I think is is positive, when you’re in a situation where your immune system is being, you know, pretty much destroyed.

Natalie K. Douglas 55:12
Yeah, yeah, no, I agree. I think that using it as an adjunct to, you know, other therapies that you’ve been prescribed to, under a practitioner can be helpful. And, and I think you’re right in that, because there’s also the other advantage of there being so much research around, you know, PSK, and PSP is that oftentimes, you’re like someone who’s going through chemotherapy, or who has an oncologist on board is going to be more comfortable with using something that has that kind of evidence behind it. But then I also agree on the flip side that, you know, using mushrooms generally going to be an immune support. And that’s, that’s not a bad thing. So I just wanted to touch on that, because I know that that would be a question that people people would have. Before we kind of wrap up, I do I’m very keen to ask you because I know this is a question will get asked if we don’t ask you. How can people actually access your products in Australia and New Zealand? Because that’s where most of our audience are from Australia and New Zealand, where How can they get access to your products?

Jeff Chilton 56:19
Well, we, we actually have a retail line that we put out, I mean, I mean, my company is primarily sells raw materials to other companies. And then they they put out the products and capsules, bottles, their label and all of that. So we supply lots of different companies out there, what happens is sometimes they will formulate and they won’t put out our products in its full, whole form. They’re got other things that they blend with it and so so we decided we put out a line that is just 100% of our different mushroom extracts. And the place you can get them is online at real mushrooms die calm. And and I think you might also try Amazon, Australia, they because the products are also sold on Amazon, you can even look at Amazon, generally, but they’re so that they’re sold, they’re sold on Amazon and also at real mushrooms.com. Certainly, you can go to real mushrooms calm first, and you can review the products there and see which ones you might be interested in. And there’s also there’s also real mushrooms has practitioner accounts. So for practitioners that want to use the products in their practice, they can sign up with real mushrooms and get get the products at a discount for resale to their their customers, which is another way of doing it as well.

Kate Callaghan 57:46
Do something at that site now and international shipping is any idle is very cheap.

Jeff Chilton 57:51
Wow. Wow. I’m impressed.

Kate Callaghan 57:56
us to that’s still pretty cheap. Yeah, that is usually it’s Yeah, much. Well, that’s

Natalie K. Douglas 58:01
fantastic. Like I you know, honestly, I’ve learned a lot from just listening to you talking and we can hear how passionate you are. So it’s, it’s really good to be able to share your passion with our listeners and also your knowledge. And you know, it gives us a lot more education and knowledge going into purchasing products because it can be very overwhelming when you don’t know how to navigate the industry. And there’s a lot of marketing and hyphen, different messages. So thank you for really breaking it down for us and making it accessible for us to understand into action. If we want to get our hands on some some mushrooms. I certainly know what I’m googling after this. But thank you. And just before we wrap up, how can people get your book you mentioned earlier? Is it on Amazon? Is it on your website? How do people well

Jeff Chilton 58:51
the commercial cultivator is is on Amazon. It’s funny because the book was published in 1983. We still sell five thousand copies a year that book. It just is just refuses to go away. People still use it. So they can get that on Amazon and look, come to our website nomics calm and ammex.com we have a ton of information there, we’ve got slideshows that I’ve put together on how we grow our mushrooms slideshows, on the differences between our products and and these my CD to grain products, we have a lot of very good information, very deep level of information there. So part of what I try to do, and what we try to do is just educate people because whether they buy our products or not, or whether they buy mushroom products out there or not. The key thing is to be educated. So when you go in there, and you look and you’re sort of like looking at the shelves, and there’s like, you know, 30 different products, you’re like, Oh my god, where do I even start? Right? And, and unfortunately, today, oftentimes it is people start by going Oh, gee, I saw this celebrity. And he was talking about this, that and the other and he said his products were the greatest and then I’ll buy his product, right? So this is this is like, you know, I’m just trying to help educate people so they can make an educated decision.

Natalie K. Douglas 1:00:10
Yep, we love it. That’s always out. I’m sorry. Thank you so much. And we might have to have you back if we get some follow up questions on all of that information. Because I know my mind was just going a million miles an hour thinking oh, I have so many.

Thank you so much. And

Jeff Chilton 1:00:28
yeah, very welcome, Natalie. Kate. Thank you very much. It’s been I had a fun time here talking to you both and I’m happy to come back anytime.

Natalie K. Douglas 1:00:39
Wonderful. Have a lovely day, Jeff.

Kate Callaghan 1:00:41
Thanks. Bye. Bye.

Outro 1:00:44
Thanks for tuning in to The Holistic Nutritionists Podcast. Remember, we love to make the show relevant to you have any questions or topics you’d like us to discuss, just submit them to [email protected] and we’ll get them answered for you. Also, don’t forget to subscribe, rate and review the podcast on iTunes and share it with a friend. And if you’re looking for more info about how we can accelerate your journey to optimal health you can find me, Nat, over at NatalieKDouglas.com and Kate at TheHolisticNutritionist.com. See you next time!


The Holistic Nutritionists Podcast - with Natalie K. Douglas and Kate Callaghan

Welcome to The Holistic Nutritionists Podcast!

If a professional, polished, well-edited podcast is what you’re after…then we’re not for you!

But if you love unfiltered banter, unedited bloopers and authentic heart sharing then we are your ladies.

We also have the most practical tips on holistic and alternative health care too 😉

Have a question that you want answered on the podcast or want to be interviewed? Get in touch!


Natalie K. Douglas | Thyroid Healer

Natalie K. Douglas | Thyroid Healer

Natalie K. Douglas ("Nat") is a Holistic Dietitian and Nutritionist dedicated to Thyroid, gut and hormone healing.

Nat shows stressed, burnt out, overwhelmed women how to value their worth again, change their mindset habits, prioritize healing, and reclaim their vitality. Guaranteed.

Her clients say she’s the right girl to see if you’ve tried the conventional approach and nothing has worked.

Kate Callaghan | The Holistic Nutritionist

Kate Callaghan | The Holistic Nutritionist

Kate Callaghan is a Holistic Nutritionist, Personal Trainer and Lifestyle Coach who specializes in women's hormone healing.

She recognizes that there is no “one size fits all” diet or “magic bullet” which is going to cure all illnesses.

She focuses on having a thorough understanding of your personal goals, needs, likes/dislikes, support networks and lifestyle in order to create a food and lifestyle approach that suits YOU.


Jeff Chilton | Founder of Nammex & Organic Mushroom Expert

Jeff Chilton | Founder of Nammex & Organic Mushroom Expert


Jeff Chilton has been in the mushroom industry since 1973. He has been heavily involved in both the study of mushrooms and their farming. He is a founding member of the World Society for Mushroom Biology and Mushroom Products and a member of the International Society for Mushroom Science. Jeff co-authored the highly acclaimed book, The Mushroom Cultivator, which was published in 1983.

Then in 1989, he started Nammex, a business that introduced medicinal mushrooms to the US nutritional supplement industry. He traveled extensively in China during the 1990’s, attending conferences and visiting research facilities and mushroom farms. In 1997 he organized the first organic mushroom production seminar in China.

Jeff’s company, Nammex, was the first to offer a complete line of Certified Organic mushroom extracts to the US nutritional supplement industry. Nammex extracts are used by many supplement companies and are noted for their high quality, based on scientific analysis of the active compounds.


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