For centuries, mushrooms have been used as a form of medicinal healing. Fungi DNA closely mimics that of human DNA. Through research and studies, evidence supports the idea of mushrooms as a powerful source to fight a multitude of abnormalities in the human body.
Besides the countable benefits of mushrooms, society still associates mushroom consumption solely with psilocybin mushrooms, a powerful hallucinogenic. However, Cody Lewallen, owner of Adaptogen Superfoods in Tucson, wants to introduce medicinal mushrooms.
While living in Japan, Lewallen was introduced to mushrooms as a form of medicine. In Japanese culture, mushrooms are a strong culinary influence. Years later, Lewallen moved back to the United States and became familiar with the research of Dr. Andrew Weil in medicinal mushrooms. Weil is the founder of the University of Arizona Andrew Weil Center for Integrative Medicine.
Weil has studied medicinal mushroom use and their benefits. This caught Lewallen’s attention because the mushrooms he ate in Japan were the same mushrooms Weil has studied in Tucson.
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Lewallen began using medicinal mushrooms on himself and his mother, who was battling with cancer at the time. Following the use of medicinal mushrooms, Lewallen's mother's cancer went into remission, something that showed him the value of medicinal mushrooms.
“Once I saw the amazing success with my mother's cancer, attributed in part to her consumption of medical mushrooms, I dove headfirst into this and did all I could to build the Adaptogen Superfoods store,” Lewallen said.
Located at 5556 E. Speedway Blvd. Unit 120, Adaptogen Superfoods offers four blends, each containing various mushrooms: mind and body support, brain boost, performance boost and women’s health.
The mushrooms that Adaptogen Superfoods sells have no psychedelic elements and instead are designed to aid the body in its natural functions. Lewallen said that customers add these mixtures to smoothies, coffee or daily meals.
“Medicinal mushrooms are powerful and natural ways to do very specific functions in your body. A great example is the lion's mane mushroom,” Lewallen said. “Studies show that it helps regenerate myelin, the nerve coating on the nerve cells in your brain.”
When creating a mushroom blend for customers, Lewallen focuses on how he can optimize the benefits of each mushroom.
According to Lewallen, researchers are finding more information about these mushrooms and their benefits to the human body. He explained that the cell walls of mushrooms are not digestible, so they must be cooked to make extracts.
“This helps get all the benefits such as immune support, anti-stress or energy boosts that mushrooms can offer,” Lewallen said.
Basilio Avila, Adaptogen Superfoods co-owner, emphasized the importance of differentiating among the types of fungi.
“There is a misconception that all mushrooms are either deadly or a hippie party drug. I don’t have an opinion about those, however, I know that our mushrooms are medicinal,” Avila said. “They have been heavily studied and are functional fungi.”
According to Avila, college students tend to associate psilocybin mushrooms with medicinal mushrooms.
"They are entirely different. Knowing the common names of medicinal non-hallucinogenic mushrooms, such as reshi, turkey tail or shiitake is important,” Avila said.
Cesar Osuna is an employee at Adaptogen Superfoods who has taken medicinal mushrooms said he has seen the positive effects of the shop’s products first-hand.
“Medicinal mushrooms have made my mind and body be able to get to the next level on my job, relationships, mindset and overall health,” Osuna said.
Lewallen emphasizes medicinal mushrooms are not a complete cure for diseases, but their properties aid the natural body functions and promote a healthy living.
Adaptogen Superfoods is open five days a week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. It is closed on weekends.
Editor's note: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Lewallen worked with Weil, and that he started using medicinal mushrooms only after his mother's cancer went into remission. This article has been updated with the corrections.
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