Functional Mushrooms 101


We sat down with Danielle Ryan Broida, RH (AHG), a key player in the worldwide mushroom movement. As a Registered Herbalist (RH) of the American Herbalists Guild (AHG), Certified Holistic Nutritionist, Instructor of Mycology, and National Educator of Four Sigmatic, Danielle is teaching the world about the importance of life on functional mushrooms.  We couldn’t just take her word for it, we decided to get crafty in the kitchen and whipped up two functional beverages with Lavva + Four Sigmatic: Cacao Reishi Elixir and a Peanut Butter Caramel Cookies n’ Cream Smoothie.  You did read that right.  Both were out-of-this world and kid approved.  Now, back to what makes mushrooms magical (and functional):

● What makes you passionate about the mushroom category?
I believe that the Fungi Kingdom contains the most powerful species that have the ability to transform both our personal health as well as the health of the planet. If I were to sum up where our stress and dis-ease comes from personally and planetarily, it would be from disconnection. Disconnection from the messages in our own bodies, from one another, and from the Earth. Mushrooms are the greatest teachers of connection. They are not only the grand decomposers of the world, responsible for the connection between death and new life (literally breaking down everything from moldy cheese in the refrigerator to huge trees in the middle of the forest floor to create soil and fertile ground for new life), their networking system, called mycelium, is the connective thread of our planet, a complex system of communication and nutrient exchange critical to the survival of all other species. The more we can bring mushrooms into our consciousness, the more we can remember our innate connection and bridge the gap to start healing our bodies, our communities and our planet.

● What are the most popular mushroom species, and what is their function?
It’s important to remember that Fungi are their own Kingdom, like Plants and Animals. So popularity often skews towards culinary mushrooms like portabellas. But beyond the culinary arena, there are ~700 mushrooms with functional or medicinal properties, used for thousands of years in cultures across the world for a variety of ailments. The big 3 to pay attention to right now are:
1. Reishi, also known as the Queen of Mushrooms, is so important right now for its ability to support occasional stress and the immune system.
2. Chaga, the King of Mushrooms, is full of antioxidant properties that make it a superhero for your immune system.
3. Lion’s Mane, your brain’s best friend, supports productivity, focus and creativity, something we are all always looking for!

● Mushrooms can be intimidating. What’s your advice to a mushroom novice on getting started?
Meet yourself where you’re at. The world of mushrooms is vast and can definitely be overwhelming if you try to jump in head fist. If you want more information, check out Four Sigmatic’s free online Mushroom Academy to learn about each of the top mushrooms, what to look for when buying mushrooms in the marketplace, and what option is best for your needs!
The best way to start is by incorporating them into your daily routine. Four Sigmatic Ground Mushroom Coffee with Lion’s Mane and Plant-based Protein with Superfoods are two of the most delicious ways to start incorporating the benefits of mushrooms into your routine without needing to do much at all. I recommend taking a moment to think about a routine that already exists in your daily or weekly life, perhaps something you do in the morning, mid-day, or evening, and elevate that routine with functional mushrooms so it is simple, easy to remember, and actually fits into your schedule.

● How would you advise someone to find what mushroom works for them?
The top 3 functional mushrooms we’re focused on today, Reishi, Chaga and Lion’s Mane, are all adaptogens and immunomodulators meaning they support occasional stress and the immune system. Sound like areas you need help in? Short answer is, you really can’t go wrong with choosing a functional mushroom to start with. They are incredibly nourishing and gentle on the body even with their potent benefits, making them a perfect entrypoint for those totally new to the world of superfoods. If you want to be a bit more picky, choose Reishi if you really need to chill, Chaga if you want some extra immune support, and Lion’s Mane if you are looking to kick your productivity into the next gear. 🙂

● Is there anything else you’d like to share with the Lavva community
Brew a mug of Mushroom Coffee, check out our Mushroom Academy for more information and free educational videos about functional mushrooms and adaptogens, and follow us on social @foursigmatic for more learning!

Author Bio:
Danielle Ryan Broida, RH (AHG) is a key player in the worldwide mushroom movement. As a Registered Herbalist (RH) of the American Herbalists Guild (AHG), Certified Holistic Nutritionist, Instructor of Mycology, and National Educator of Four Sigmatic, Danielle is teaching the world about the importance of life on functional mushrooms.
Prior to joining forces with Four Sigmatic, she received her BA in Environmental Studies and Philosophy from Whitman College. She went on to study Ayurveda in India and became a Certified Yoga Instructor on the banks of the Ganges River. She then worked with a Naturopathic Doctor in Indonesia where she became a Certified Raw Chef and Detox Coach. But it was leading trekking adventures into the backcountry of Thailand where she became particularly fascinated by herbal medicine (while also becoming fluent in Thai).
After several years in Asia, she landed in Boulder, Colorado to formalize her education in holistic medicine. Upon completing her graduate studies at the Colorado School of Clinical Herbalism (CSCH), she opened her private practice where she worked with hundreds of clients specializing in a functional mushroom-based treatment for individuals with autoimmune conditions and chronic illness. She was invited to become the Instructor of Mycology at CSCH, where she still teaches.
Danielle brings her passion and expertise in herbal medicine, clinical practice, teaching, formulation, and her deep love for fungi to everything she does.