Medicinal (legal) Mushrooms
I first found Four Sigma Foods because of their absolutely gorgeous photography featured on their instagram page, which I highly suggest you follow immediately. I've been experimenting with mushrooms used in Chinese medicine, mostly for my own immune support. I left them a message about my interest to try them on their feed. Within a few weeks these little colorful boxes showed up at my doorstep. While the herbs still taste how you would imagine them to taste like (very earthy except for their medicinal chocolate blend call XOCO), when you combine it with hot water, tea or coffee, the taste is completely masked. Sometimes I will mix it with ghee, coconut oil, raw honey or stevia and then we are talking about a taste that's comparable to a gourmet latte. Also, these herbs go very well and are very easy to mix with chocolate (click here for my 10 minute raw chocolate recipe). After experimenting with these herbs, I've noticed mostly that my immune system is truly in a remarkably strong state. I tested this belief by kissing my boyfriend who was recently very sick with a cold. Lo and behold I did not come down with anything! No sniffles, no drowsiness, no nothing!
The design of these Four Sigma Food packets make them incredibly easy to travel with. I know that many of their A-list actors and top performance athletes keep them in their bag at all times and take them regularly. My hope is that instead of the artificial sweeteners that sit nice and snug inside those boxes on restaurant tables, perhaps one day we could have packets like these that contain some of the worlds more valuable foods. While I keep working on that dream let's catch up with the Finnish Four Sigma Food's team and learn more about the wonders inside these rainbow packets.
Check out this video (below) first for a great visual introduction and to meet Tero, the co-founder
Q: Tell us the story about how four sigma foods was started.
A: In 2012 our co-founder Tero was looking to help those who were suffering from health problems such as immunological issues along with hormonal and digestive issues. This became his puzzle to solve in order to help other people live healthier lives. First he was introduced to ancient superfood mushrooms, one of the most studied whole foods. Then he and other team members (see image below) started an intense product development process and the core group was made up of good friends. Now we are at 8 guys, all young Finnish entrepreneurs - popularising superfood mushrooms.
Q: Can you tell us about the interconnectedness between humans + mushrooms? Like sharing DNA...
A: The modern science has been able to identify that the mushrooms DNA is about 30-40% closer to a humans DNA than that of plant DNA. Just like us humans, the mushrooms breathe in oxygen and expel CO2. The further back in time you look, the more obvious it becomes that mushrooms must have had some special intelligence and survival abilities. They have been thriving on our planet for hundreds of millions of years longer than animals or plants have.
Q: Tell us about your line of products?
A: Our best-sellers still are the original mushroom drink mixes such as reishi, cordyceps and chaga mushrooms. All of these have hundreds and even thousands of years of traditional use. We do a thorough dual extraction to all of the mushrooms to make them bioavailable and then blend a special recipe containing supporting and balancing herbs. Individually packed extract powder mixes can then just be mixed with hot water to make a good tasting and super-effective mushroom drink! Recently we expanded our product line with also some delicious mushroom hot chocolate mixes.
Q: How do we know which product to try first?
A: The different mushrooms have various benefits so it is best to pick one that resonates the most. We like to say though, that when in doubt, choose reishi!
Q: What are some of the medicinal benefits of your products?
A: All medicinal mushrooms are effective adaptogens, which mean that they help the body to fight against all kinds of stressors and find balance. Reishi is the strongest in these means and it is wonderful in fighting anxiety and supporting good night’s sleep. Chaga improves immunity, cordyceps is an amazing energy booster. Lion’s mane supports cognitive functions, maitake balances blood sugar levels and shiitake helps with detox.
Q: How can you prove that they actually work?
A: You will feel it yourself! These mushrooms have been the focus of extensive scientific research for the last 40 years already, and for example reishi mushroom is one of the most studied natural substances. The pharmaceutical industry has come to a point now where about 40% of all the medicines are derived from mushrooms, so there really are effective substances in them naturally.
Q: How much do you have to take in order to feel it's effects?
A: One dose of our products is an optimal amount to take. Since the beginning, we have focused in making products for people that they can really feel. With mushrooms it is important that the bioavailability has been taken care of by a proper extraction. The effects are also dose-dependant, so make sure that you are taking a reasonable (500-1000mg) dose of the extracts, not just some 100 milligrams.
Q: Tell us about your dual-extraction process?
A: Especially these medicinal mushrooms have cell walls mostly made of a strong substance called chitin. Humans cannot digest that, which is why the extraction process becomes essential. Our dual extraction process is basically combining the ancient knowledge and modern technology’s possibilities by combining a hot water extraction under high pressure and an alcohol extraction. This way we get all of the water soluble and fat soluble medicinal compounds out of the mushroom and into bioavailable form, basically the best bang for you buck!
Q: How do you test your mushrooms to ensure the highest quality?
A: Each batch of ingredients we use goes through laboratory testing and the final blend that gets packed into products is tested again. It all of course begins already earlier at the growing process, and in those details we focus a lot. Our reishi mushrooms are grown in real logs to imitate the natural growing conditions as closely as possible and our cordyceps is the most widely studied CS-4 strain grown in an optimized liquid culture. We also use many wild crafted ingredients, for example our chaga mushrooms come from the clean Siberian forests.
Q: Can you tell us about your involvement with cancer patients?
A: We have a contribution program running where we donate one portion of medicinal mushrooms to a cancer patient for every box of our products that gets sold. We have seen so many miracle cures happening with these mushrooms and we want to continue helping people with effective natural cures in their health struggles. There is still a possibility to apply for the ‘shroom donation, so if you know of anybody that could be interested, please check the website.
Q: What is your go to drink/smoothie/tonic?
A: Kombucha, pure fresh spring water and coffee combined with mushrooms
Q: What are some of your daily supplements?
A: Fermented cod liver oil, magnesium, vitamin D and iodine at the moment.
Q: Do you like to mix your mushrooms with chocolate? Does this change the overall nutrition.
A: It is actually one of the most amazing combinations! The chocolate works as a delivery system to make the benefits of mushrooms even more effective, not to mention the endless possibilities of making mind blowing treats of them!
Q: What are your thoughts about foraging for your own mushrooms?
A: I simply love it. Already just being in the forest is so nurturing and then on top of that you get to enjoy the joy of finding some delicious mushrooms that will provide you probably the healthiest available food. Here in Finland we have pretty special regulations as you are allowed to hike and pick berries & mushrooms in any forest no matter who it belongs to. In the fall when it is the best mushroom season it is hard to keep me out of the forest! :D Of course one has to be 100% sure of the identification before eating any mushrooms, so please do so wisely!
Q: What books are you reading right now?
A: The brotherhood of the screaming abyss by Dennis McKenna
Q: What is your daily mantra?
A: Work hard, smile harder.
Q: Where do you find your zen?
A: In the sauna and in the forest.
Q: What is your grand vision for four sigma?
A: To popularize superfood mushrooms.
*Our friends have been so kind to create a special 10% off discount to all SFSL readers. Use the code superfoodsuperlife upon checkout!