The World of Medicinal Mushrooms: Facts, Benefits, & Industry Insights With Pioneer Jeff Chilton

The Longevity & Lifestyle podcast

The Longevity & Lifestyle podcast

The Longevity & Lifestyle podcast

Episode 140

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Performance coach, detail-loving educator, big-thinking entrepreneur, podcaster, mama, passionate adventurer, and health optimization activist here to help people transform their lives, and reach their highest potential! All rolled into one.

“Mushrooms are the forgotten food, they are the missing dietary link.”- Jeff Chilton

Medicinal mushrooms can play a huge part in achieving longevity and overall better health!

The classic, grocery store button mushrooms might be the first to come to mind, and those are great. However, other species of edible mushrooms are nutritional powerhouses capable of tackling cognitive function, digestive issues, immune health, etc.

Here to talk all about it is this episode’s guest, Jeff Chilton, an instrumental figure in the creation of the now-booming medicinal mushroom supplement industry.

With over 40 years of experience in mushroom growing, he was one of the first to bring mushroom extracts to the North American market. He also was the first to organize an organic mushroom grower’s workshop in China back in 1996, way before medicinal mushrooms and organic produce were popular.

After his ethnomycology studies at the University of Washington in the late '60s, he spent 10 years working at a commercial mushroom farm which laid the foundation for what would later become Nammex, a leading wholesale supplier of organically certified mushroom extracts with its own retail division, Real Mushroom.

To say he’s a true mushroom expert is an understatement! Join us for a deep dive into the cultivation and benefits of reishi, cordyceps, lion’s mane, chaga, turkey tail mushrooms, and more!




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Show Notes 


Introduction (00:00)
Jeff’s beginning with mushroom farming (01:28)
From a passion for mushrooms to a supplements business (11:47)
What even is a mushroom? An in-depth explanation (15:11)
Beta-glucans, fiber, and other nutritional benefits (19:01)
Getting the most benefits from mushrooms (28:02)
About reishi mushrooms (29:51)
Farming organic mushrooms (37:50)
Different types of medicinal mushrooms (44:07)
Jeff’s take on magic mushrooms (56:53)
Outro (1:05:52)


Introduction (00:00)
Jeff’s beginning with mushroom farming (00:47)
From a passion for mushrooms to a supplements business (11:06)
What even is a mushroom? An in-depth explanation (14:33)
Beta-glucans, fiber, and other nutritional benefits (18:25)
Getting the most benefits from mushrooms (27:26)
About reishi mushrooms (29:15)
Farming organic mushrooms (37:14)
Different types of medicinal mushrooms (43:31)
Jeff’s take on magic mushrooms (56:17)
Outro (1:05:16)


“I look at Mushrooms as something for prevention. Put it in your diet, it will help you stay healthy.” - Jeff Chilton

":Mushroom growing is very demanding. Mushrooms do not sleep. When you have crops every week, you’re putting in eight new crops and throwing away eight older crops. It's a continuous cycle and there are always mushroom houses in every stage of development. So, you have to be harvesting every single day, and it takes an army of people. Every single mushroom you have ever eaten has been picked by hand. Think about that.” - Jeff Chilton

“The primary benefit of these medicinal functional mushrooms is that they’re immunological potentiators. They're considered a biological response modifier. That's the key to every one of these functional mushrooms. Now, each one will have other compounds in there, but that's what is most important — the beta-glucans.” - Jeff Chilton

Legal Disclaimer: Please note, to avoid any unnecessary headaches, Longevity & Lifestyle LLC owns the copyright in and to all content in and transcripts of The Longevity & Lifestyle Podcast, with all rights reserved, as well as the right of publicity. You are welcome to share parts of the transcript (up to 500 words) in other media (such as press articles, blogs, social media accounts, etc.) for non-commercial use which must also include attribution to “The Longevity & Lifestyle Podcast” with a link back to the URL. It is prohibited to use any portion of the podcast content, names or images for any commercial purposes in digital or non-digital outlets to promote you or another’s products or services.


Claudia von Boeselager: Welcome to another episode of the Longevity and Lifestyle Podcast. I'm your host, Claudia von Boeselager. I'm here to uncover the groundbreaking strategies, tools, and practices from the world's pioneering experts to help you live your best and reach your fullest potential. Don't forget to subscribe to the podcast to always catch the latest episodes.

Legal Disclaimer: Please note, to avoid any unnecessary headaches, Longevity & Lifestyle LLC owns the copyright in and to all content in and transcripts of The Longevity & Lifestyle Podcast, with all rights reserved, as well as the right of publicity. You are welcome to share parts of the transcript (up to 500 words) in other media (such as press articles, blogs, social media accounts, etc.) for non-commercial use which must also include attribution to “The Longevity & Lifestyle Podcast” with a link back to the URL. It is prohibited to use any portion of the podcast content, names or images for any commercial purposes in digital or non-digital outlets to promote you or another’s products or services.


Jeff Chilton 0:00
I look at mushrooms as something for prevention. Put it into your diet. It's going to help you stay healthy. It's prevention. That's what it's all about. It's just like taking a vitamin.

Claudia von Boeselager 0:15
Are you ready to boost your longevity and unlock peak performance? Welcome to the Longevity and Lifestyle Podcast. I'm your host Claudia von Boeselager, longevity and peak performance coach. Each week we'll explore groundbreaking science unravel longevity secrets share strategies to grow younger and stay up to date with world-class health and peak performance pioneers. Everything you need to live longer, live better, and reach your fullest potential ready to defy aging optimize health, and promote peak performance visit For more.

My guest today is Jeff Chilton. Jeff is an instrumental figure in the creation of the now-booming really having its Renaissance medicinal mushroom product industry. With over 40 years of experience in mushroom growing, he was one of the first to bring mushroom extracts to the North American market and organize the first organic mushroom growers workshop back in China in 1996. Jeff, it's such a pleasure to welcome you to the Longevity and Lifestyle podcast. Thank you for coming on today.

Jeff Chilton 1:25
Claudia, thank you so much for having me. It's great to be here.

Claudia von Boeselager 1:28
So Jeff, as I mentioned briefly in your bio before you're definitely one of the early Western pioneers and understanding the power of mushrooms you studied ethnomycology at the University of Washington in the late '60s and started working on a commercial mushroom farm in 1973. Where did this passion for mushrooms come from? Please?

Jeff Chilton
Well, you know I was born in the Pacific Northwest Washington State Seattle area and you know what Washington State is known for is called Evergreen State. The reason why it's evergreen is that we get a lot of rain. And so we have green forests, lakes, rivers, it's just a beautiful area and is one of the best places in the world for wild mushrooms. So these mushrooms were all around me when I grew up. And then when I went to university, I studied anthropology, social anthropology

 I loved learning about other cultures. But the University of Washington also had a psychology department. And that's the study of fungi. And so I thought, well, I'll take courses in psychology as well. And so what I did I put them together. I studied the use of mushrooms worldwide as food medicine and in shamanic rites, but after university, what do you do with a degree in anthropology, especially in the 1970s I thought, well, I'd really love to learn how to grow mushrooms. I thought that would be so cool. I went to the only mushroom farm in Washington State in 1973 applied for a job, and got a job. I was there for the next 10 years and Claudia I was literally living with mushrooms.

It was a very large farm and just many many rooms full of mushrooms growing I loved every minute of it. What was really cool was that it was an Agaricus farm the button mushroom, but we had a Japanese scientist there and he was growing shutter hockey, oyster mushroom, and gnocchi talkie so I also got to see how these other mushrooms were being grown. So for me, it was just like, what a wonderful opportunity. So literally, I was living with mushrooms and eating fresh shiitake mushrooms in the 1970s.

Claudia von Boeselager 4:17
so Jeff during these 10 years and especially being exposed to you know the ship Turkey and and all these beautiful other different types of mushrooms as well. What would you say were some of the biggest and most profound insights you had during this time? What were the real sort of aha moments?

Jeff Chilton 4:35
Well, well, you know what? mushroom growing is very demanding. Mushrooms do not sleep. And when you have crops every week, we're putting in eight new crops and throwing away eight older crops. So it's a continuous A cycle. So there are always houses, mushroom houses in every stage of development. So you have to be harvesting every single day. And it takes an army of people, every single mushroom you have ever eaten, has been harvested has been picked by hand. Think about that. I mean, the bottleneck in all produce or fruits or vegetables is harvesting. With mushrooms, it's even worse, because in one single room, you've got maybe a million mushrooms, and people have to go in there every day to harvest them. Now, having known that and been at this very large farm for 10 years, I realized that maybe I didn't want to be a commercial mushroom growing in terms of running my own farm because of the demands of it. People are harvesting there on New Year's on Christmas, there is absolutely no day off. So what I had studied and what I read more about were what were called medicinal mushrooms. And so, in 1989, after my very first trip to China to go to an international mushroom Conference,

Claudia von Boeselager 6:31
Which must have been very interesting in itself.

Jeff Chilton 6:36
At that point, I realized that I could grow mushrooms in China, I could organize growers over there because one of the things that I understood was that if you're growing mushrooms as a business, you can certainly grow them for the fresh market, you can earn a reasonable profit from that. Let's say you sell your fresh mushrooms for $5 a pound. Well, supplements are dried powders, you have to dry those out that $5 A pound now you have to get $50 a pound for that same pound of mushrooms. The economics do not work for supplements.

 So I realized that very early. And I thought well, you know, first of all, if you're selling mushrooms as supplements, it's a dry powder. It can sit on the shelf, it doesn't have to get to market immediately. You know fresh produce, it has to get to market right away or spoil. So that was also very attractive. Like I know I don't want to be a babysitter to a mushroom farm as much as I love mushroom farms. And so I realized that and all through the 90s I traveled throughout China. I visited farms, and production facilities, went to research stations, went to conferences, and made many contacts. You know, Claudia Today China grows 85% of the world's mushrooms.

Claudia von Boeselager 8:27
Wow, I didn't realize the number was that big. Wow.

Jeff Chilton 8:30
Can you imagine 85% of the world's mushrooms?

Claudia von Boeselager 8:33
We compare Jeff out of interest if I made like what was it back in when you were going around there in the 80s and 90s. What percentage of the world market to China grows mushrooms then?

Jeff Chilton 8:43
I mean, China was just beginning is sort of to grow because back then it's still maybe it was only 50% of the world's mushrooms.

Claudia von Boeselager 8:50
Okay, so it's really it's been mostly grown.

Jeff Chilton 8:52
Yeah. But you know, in the United States and Europe, we were focused on the button mushroom. And the button mushroom was really interesting. It started the history of button mushrooms started in France in the lives limestone caves. So they were growing it in France in these caves. It's actually called the Mushroom of Paris. And you know, I love the button mushroom. I like all kinds of mushrooms but I still eat a lot of people gods, you know, it's so boring. But no, I still love that as a wonderful mushroom.

But what they were doing in China, and you know, look, medicinal mushrooms. The reason we know about them as they were used in traditional Chinese medicine for 1000s of years. That's where it all started. And that's why we know more about them. So being over there going to research stations, traveling all over the country visiting farms. I mean, it was fascinating and listen, I don't know Have you been to China, but back in the 90s, it was totally different than today, today is one of the most modern countries in the world. When I'm in China, today, I'm riding on high-speed trains that are going 300 kilometers an hour. I mean, they're their highways are better than our highways, their buildings are all brand new. So, so really, you know, that's what started me in my current business, you know, and it all started in 1989. When I went to China for the first time and learned more about it.

Claudia von Boeselager 10:41
Yeah. So just to mention, my father had to go to a conference, I believe it was in 1988 in Beijing, and he did a video. And if you imagine those videos, back then he had this whole big apparatus, and then the bag of women in a taxi on one of the main roads in Beijing, I don't remember the name of it. And there were hardly any cars, lots of bicycles, of course. And it was pretty empty. I lived in Shanghai for four months in Gosh, 2005 went to Beijing. And I mean, already, then the traffic was like a whole nother level. I'm like, this does not look like the video I remember. And then obviously, exponentially. Exponential growth since then has completely changed as well. So I'm curious, Jeff, as well, to hear about your mission, what made you decide to really, you know, focus on that you had the initial conference? In China? I'm even thinking like, how is your Chinese? Because I can imagine at the time, it wasn't as English-friendly as maybe they might be today. So very curious about that. And what was that spark that happened within you to be like, I'm gonna make this my mission and started traveling around China?

Jeff Chilton 11:55
You know, what I don't think it was so much as making it my mission other than I loved the whole mushroom world, in terms of, you know, out here, we hunt wild mushrooms every year. I truly believe in mushrooms as one of the most important foods for us. And I'm always telling people before you supplement, put mushrooms into your diet, they're a fantastic food, I call them the Forgotten food and the missing dietary link. I really think there are, they're a very healthy food that provides a lot of benefits. But I guess, trying to stay within this category to make a living, I thought, well, nobody is really bringing these functional medicinal mushrooms to North America yet. And I thought that's something that I could really do.

I studied it for many years. I mean, I knew all about these medicinal mushrooms back in the 70s. And that, to me was really fascinating. Okay, here, you've got a food product, but it also has these other properties to it. And, and you know, Claudia, I really believe in food as medicine. I think that concept is so important. Because, look, diet is the basis for our health. A good diet is just the foundation. And I thought, God if I could be bringing people this mushroom, and it's basically a powder or, however, the supplements come, they come in many different forms. If I can be doing that, and staying in this natural products market, I just thought what a wonderful area to be in and I tell you, the whole natural products market in the 1990s was new. It was exciting. There are lots of great people in it. And you know, the only problem with it is back in the 90s it's like okay, you're selling nutritional mushroom the government says Well, is it a food or is it a drug? You know, is like vitamins are still just being accepted by 10 Right? So so for me, it was just an exciting area to be in it furthered my interest in mushrooms and created a really nice wonderful business.

Claudia von Boeselager 14:40
Beautiful and so let's talk about the medicinal mushroom components which some people may or may not be that familiar with, you know people sure like oh yeah, I have an egg in my sorry I have a mushroom in my omelet right but there's a difference between the sort of that or looking at it from a medicinal point of view and especially thanks to TCM too Additional Chinese medicine which has been using this for 1000s of years. So can you walk us through a little bit about the medicinal mushroom benefits and use cases and what you've seen in your career?

The first thing I really like to do is kind of explain what this is what we call a mushroom. What is this thing anyway? And, you know, if you're gonna grow mushrooms, how do you do that? mushrooms don't have any seeds, Claudia, how do I plant them? What do I do? Well, mushrooms don't have seeds, but they have spores. These spores are from a mushroom, they're out in our environment, they land on the ground, they land on pieces of wood, and the spore when the conditions are right will germinate into a very fine thread-like filament. This filament is called the hyphae and when multiple of these hyphae come together, they form a network and that network is called mycelium. Mycelium is the actual vegetative body of the organism. And the mycelium we normally never see it, you know, because it's under the ground. It's embedded in its substrate, which is what it grows into a substrate, whether it be a piece of wood or whatever. And you know what it's like when, when you're walking along and you see a mushroom and you go, Oh, my goodness, where did that come from? The and a lot of times, you might even say it wasn't there yesterday. The fact is, it was but it wasn't quite big enough for you to notice. And, and, and actually, if you get down and you pull it out, and then you look where it came from, and look down into the ground. Let's say you'll see this, this white fuzzy mold like a growth, that's the mycelium. So that's the actual vegetative body when conditions are right, that will form a mushroom. And that's the fall here. And in the UK, the fall. That's the mushroom season. So up comes this mushroom, it starts with a very fine little, what we call a pin, and then it grows into a button. And it matures. And when it matures, the stems up the cap opens up. There are gills underneath the cap, or pores, some mushrooms have pores like 1000s of pores, and that's where the spores are created. And the outcome is the spores and then we have the completion of the lifecycle of this organism. The important thing to remember is that there are with every supplement, they need to tell you what is the plant part of that supplement. So if you're buying ginseng, it's the root. It's not the plant, the leaf, or something like that. If you're buying ginkgo, okay, it's the leaf akinesia. It's the flower. So the part of it is very, very important. So with this organism, there are three plant parts or fungal parts that are used to supplement our spores, believe it or not, which is kind of Whoa, that's kind of interesting. There is mycelium because, for example, in China, they grow a lot of mycelium in liquid culture and big tanks and then they pull it out of the liquid separated and then they have mycelium or mushroom. So those are the three plant parts, the spores, the reproductive part, the Mycelium is the vegetative body and the mushroom is what they call the fruiting body. So the three plant parts that are super important when you go to buy a product, you really need because today, vendors world will sell any number of these particular products. And now why and what is it in these mushrooms that is important? And that is the beta-glucan. The beta-glucan and what we've done is we have identified through traditional Chinese medicine, what are the important mushrooms that they've been using? Well, there's about 10 of them. I've got a book from China that actually lists 270 different mushrooms that have some activity that have at least one scientific study that shows that but you know, oh 270 Mushroom products, and I don't think so. Let's look for just the 10 important ones. And then I'll go Okay, is there any scientific data or research behind them and from those 10 There's a lot of scientific research I put those two together. And that's what we'll utilize in the business. Now. There's so much information on the beta-glucans. They are immunological potentiators? And, you know, God, we've learned so much about the immune system lately, haven't we?

Claudia von Boeselager 20:23
And it still continues to.

Jeff Chilton 20:27
Yeah, and you know, this gets back to diet and foundations of health, because these beta glucans, and they make up 50% of the cell wall of a mushroom. And they are composed of a lot of fiber. Mushrooms have a lot of fiber there, they're up to 50% fiber.

Claudia Von Boeselager 20:49

Jeff Chilton 20:49

I know. And, you know, I tell people, high protein, I mean, depending on the species, every species will have a different profile when it comes to nutrition. So maybe 20 to 40% protein, primarily carbohydrates, but good carbohydrates, mushrooms do not have starch, mushrooms have mannitol trehalose very slow-acting carbohydrates. You know, that's what we're looking for. We're not we're not really looking for starch to go, Oh, my God, my blood glucose has gone way up, and now it's coming way down. No, we want slow-acting carbohydrates. That's what mushrooms provide us. So they digest slowly, and a lot of it is fiber. So it goes right in, guess what? That fiber will feed our microbiome. It's a prebiotic. Wow, another cool thing from a mushroom. So not only do we get the nutrients, but when those beta-glucans come down, they will hit certain receptor sites that we have, which will activate the production of immune cells. So the primary benefit of these medicinal functional mushrooms is an immunological potentiation they're considered a biological response modifier. That's the key to every one of these functional mushrooms. Now, each one will have other compounds in there but that's what most important are these beta-glucans.

Claudia von Boeselager 22:29
And so somebody listening and saying, Okay, I need to strengthen my immune system. So should I just go and eat you know, tons of mushrooms? What is the protocol? What are where should somebody start who maybe has immune system issues or just wants to boost their immune system what would you recommend?

Jeff Chilton 22:48
Well, the first thing I recommend is is put mushrooms into your diet if you don't have mushrooms in your diet and the mushroom I would highly recommend as a prime choice edible is shiitake. How do you eat shiitake mushrooms? Oh my god, Aren't they wonderful? They are my favorite mushroom. I mean, they're just incredibly you know the flavor as strong. It leaves actually a really pleasant aftertaste too. So, shiitake mushrooms. I say if you've got shiitake in your markets, buy shiitake mushrooms. Now the Agaricus mushroom is a good mushroom as well. So but you know, in in, in the 1980s and the 1990s. Over here, we had maybe one mushroom in our markets. That was that was the button mushroom, one mushroom. And it wasn't really until probably 9090 that smaller farms came along and started to grow a lot of other mushrooms like shiitake and maitake. By the way, the R&D project of the Japanese scientist at the mushroom farm I worked on back in the 1970s. We introduced fresh shiitake into the local market, and it flopped. And you know what? The feedback was, is that this mushroom has too strong a flavor. Can you imagine? And now I was shocked. And so the owner of the farm dropped that whole program. And it really took small farms in the late 80s and 90s to come back in and start to produce these mushrooms and slowly build up to what it is today. So I mean, it's like oh my god. But at any rate, that's the first thing I tell people, eat mushrooms. And God. I mean, you know, Claudia, they're so versatile. You can do so many things with them. And the one thing I will say to people, because if you have children, most children will say, Oh, God, I hate those mushrooms. They're slimy, you know. And I'm like, Well, that's because you haven't cooked them properly. You put them in a pan, you maybe fry them up, you're on a low heat, all the water comes right out of them. Now they're swimming in a lake. And you'll wonder why they're, they're slimy and unpalatable. No, you have to cook them at high heat, which will keep the water inside them, and they will shrink. They'll be half the size when you're finished cooking, but I like even brown them on different sides, but cook them properly. And you won't have people calling them out as being these slimy things.

Claudia von Boeselager 26:00
How do you cook yours? Do you add onion?

Jeff Chilton 26:04
Oh, you know what I will I will, you know, I mean I will cook them if I'm eating meat, I'm a meat eater, I will usually cook them like just fry them up and just have them as a side dish, and I'm eating them almost with every bite of that piece of beef or whatever it is. Or if I'm doing a stir fry, I put them two together with all sorts of different vegetables. Anytime I do a stir fry, that's what I do. And the other thing too is I like to make tacos. So I'll throw in a bunch of ground beef. And that starts to go and that's got a lot of oils in it. And then I'll throw in the mushrooms, maybe green peppers, you know just about anything the kitchen sink in there. And that's what all my talk was with. So that's important. And then the the second part of that is look, if you feel like you want more look towards a supplement. And the only thing I'd say about supplements is look, when it says take to you know unless it's something like vitamin D, and you know exactly what's in there. Well with an herbal supplement. It says take to take four. I know the problem with that is it's expensive. But you know, look, if you want something to work. You just can't go with what it tells you to do on the label.

Claudia von Boeselager 27:30
That's interesting, because I am I'm taking one at the moment and I am taking two and it says to take two. Should I take four? Yeah. But I'm like, Oh, maybe I should have it?

Jeff Chilton 27:43
Well, you know, the way that the way that works is most bottles have 60 capsules. And if you take two that's a month's supply. That's the whole thing.

Claudia von Boeselager 27:54
Exactly. No, that's true as well. So, Jeff, we were talking about a few different things. We're looking at the medicinal mushrooms. Would you say it's very important to mix up the types of mushrooms that you have to have the medicinal benefits? Or if you know, see shiitake, always buy shiitake. What is your recommendation to get the most benefits?

Jeff Chilton 28:16
No, that's so interesting. Because do you know you know how there's products out there that you can buy that are like, okay, they have 101 different herbs in them. And it's like, oh, my products got more herbs than your product or my products got more mushroom species than your product. What happens is there's this kind of idea out there that more species are better. And that's wrong. I tell people look, we have one product in our retail line and it has five mushrooms, species five mushroom species and, beyond that, all you're doing is you're diluting the important ones and putting in minor species. So these companies that have 10 species, there's a company out there that has 17 species, and then another one came out and had 25 species. And I'm just going you know this is not helpful. People who are buying those products are being fooled because they're losing out on the value of the really important ones. So again, anything that's got more than five, just don't even bother with it because that would be the upper level and you know, sometimes it's better just to stay with one particular species like Reishi Reishi is a fabulous mushroom. Have you ever seen a reishi mushroom?

Claudia von Boeselager 29:53
I think I have seen one once and then obviously I'm more familiar with it in powder form which I'll add to a smoothie or something.

Jeff Chilton 30:01
well, you know, Reishi has the form of like a ram's horn. And it's red, it's beautiful. You can you can shine it up. But it is made almost made of wood, it's hard and Woody, you cannot eat it. It's only something that if you have a real reishi mushroom you chop up and make tea out of. The other thing about Reishi is it's very bitter. So, those bitter compounds are called triterpenoids. And they're very good for our liver. I was at a conference in China in 1996. It was a conference on reishi mushrooms, and there was a traditional Chinese medicine doctor there, I asked him about how he used it and how much. He said he used as much as 30 Dried grams of reishi mushroom per dose. And I thought, wow, that's, that's really high. But he said it was his number one herb for the liver. That was really great information coming right from somebody who was a longtime practitioner. And so the beauty of Reishi.

And you know, one of the things that Nammix does is we test all of every batch we make we test it on the case of Reishi for these triterpenoids. We also test for beta-glucans. And what we have found, through all our testing, and we've been testing our products, this way for about seven or eight years Reishi and Turkey Tail turned out to be the very highest of the mushrooms in beta-glucans. Wow, that is great information the level of triterpenes in a reishi mushroom is quite high too, as much as four to 5% triterpenes. So the important thing, you know, it's kind of like a Reishi isn't a Reishi because different of these mushrooms grown at different places will have different levels, especially the triterpenoids. So at any rate, if you have a Reishi product and you're going like okay, is this really a true Reishi product? Well, it is if it's very, very bitter, if it's not bitter, you do not have a reishi mushroom product and Claudia, this is something that I like to educate people about there are products in the marketplace that people grow. You know, I was telling you about mushrooms, you can't grow them in North America or even England and put them into the supplement world. I mean, if you're a small grower and maybe you sell some at a high price to your local herbalist, and she's selling directly to her patients, it works out. But as you get bigger and in the marketplace, just economics are not there.

So what companies do over here is they'll grow mycelium on sterile grain, and what they do is the grain is colonized. It's grown over with this mycelium, then they will dry it out grain and all that then they will grind it to a powder. Now this is this is like grain and mycelium, grind it to a powder and they'll sell it as a mushroom. And you are probably unaware of this. Most people are but in your marketplace, probably 50% of the products are to this. And what these end up being is mostly starch with very, very little very low beta-glucans. And we did a major study about this. I published a white paper on this called redefining medicinal mushrooms and we showed what was going on these products were five to 10% Beta Glucan when a mushroom is 25 to 60%, Beta Glucan. These were up to 60% of what is called Alpha glucan, which are the starches a mushroom does not contain starch. It has very, very low amounts of glycogen. And then that's kind of cool. A mushroom produces glycogen as its storage carbohydrate. What are you doing producing glycogen? Okay, I get it. You're a mushroom, you're not a plant. You're not producing, you know starches as a plant. You're a mushroom. And you're kind of like us in some ways. The undercover mushroom is also breathing in oxygen and giving out carbon dioxide. So it's like wow, not like a plant. It's more like us than those arias. So this is very important for people to understand because you know, and one of the ways you can tell is you can, you know have like the ratio, you taste it, and it's not bitter and you're going well, this kind of just tastes like flour. One of the tests you can use for most of the mushrooms is what they call an iodine starch test, just take a teaspoon of that product, mix it up in a quarter cup of water, and put in 10 drops of iodine, if it's got starch in there, it will turn black. If it's a real mushroom product, it will not turn it will just stay the color of the iodine unless it's a real dark product, to begin with. And then it's kind of difficult to do this test. But that's a really good test to use to find out because can you imagine people buying a mushroom product? And it's actually just fine-grain starch?

Claudia von Boeselager 35:58
We'll know for sure. And there's so many like there's more and more products coming to market. So I think it's so important for people to know what to look out for. And are there any labeling restrictions so that people can at least go and read and look for beta-glucan, or whatever it might be on the label? Or they don't have to put it on the label?

Jeff Chilton 36:18
You don't have to put it on. But look, if the company that's selling the product does not put, you know, I'm we have the Beta Glucan on all of our retail lines, the amount of beta-glucan in the product. And when we sell the product in bulk, we will say okay, it's got X amount of beta-glucan in it. A lot of companies that are growing these starchy products will say oh, we've got really high levels of polysaccharides beta-glucan is a polysaccharide. The problem is starch is a polysaccharide. So that test does not work. So you know, you just have to look at the label and it shouldn't say mushrooms if it says mycelium, that's probably what it what it is. And some of these companies will actually say in the other ingredients, my dated brown rice or my dated oats or something like that. So you can, you know, figure it out. But a lot of people just look at the front panel on it. And it's got a picture of a mushroom and it says reishi mushroom or stocky mushroom. So they think that's what it is. And they don't read the fine print. So I'm just, you know, your listeners really need to be aware of that. Because, you know, look, adulteration has been around for centuries and centuries. I was just watching a program last night about honey and how much adulteration is going on. Yeah, honey. And so it's going on in the mushroom category? Have to be careful.

Claudia von Boeselager 37:49

Yeah. And so let's talk about the concept of Organic Mushrooms. And obviously, when some people hear China they think of pollution and you know, issues like food contamination, etc. So what is your view? And obviously, you've been there and you know, that said, you know, TCM medicine has been around for 1000s of years. And you know, some of these farms, I assume, are holding certain quality standards. But what is the or how important is that organic piece? And then especially if it's coming maybe from China,

Jeff Chilton 38:22
well, you know what, my company's been organically certified since 1992. I'm in China, organizing farms to grow mushrooms for me, and I'm working with one particular person who's my production partner who will turn those into mushroom extracts. I knew I had to get these farms certified organic. I brought in this certifier from the United States Oh, CIA. And in 1996, we had the first organic mushroom workshop in China. Three years later, we had organic-certified mushrooms and they're certified by European certifiers, and, look, I'm just as concerned as anybody else about products from China. These are all grown deep in the mountains of China, away from all of that heavy spring. But look, you know, it's such an interesting idea of contaminated foods. And I was telling you about this documentary on honey. There's such a thing called colony collapse of honeybees. And one of the situations is all of the chemicals that are being sprayed in the United States. So a lot of people are like, Oh, I'm gonna point over there at somebody else. Whereas in the United States, I think we put more chemicals on our fruits and vegetables than anybody in the world. And this is a lot of the food we've got are contaminated that way. So really, it's very easy to point fingers. And just to give you another example, which I think is outrageous.

Canada, Oh, we're so concerned about global warming and oh, we're gonna get away from fossil fuels and we go on to electric cars, and oh, I was just in the Rocky Mountains where I go every year, they've got the biggest coal mines in the world in the Rocky Mountains. And what are they doing with that coal? Did they just go okay, we're gonna stop producing coals. No, they produce train loads of coal, they send it down to Vancouver? What do they do with it in Vancouver, they ship it to Asia to burn. And they're claiming, oh, we're just such good people. Were you on this point? No, if you were serious, you would not be selling that coal. And this is the same thing with this whole idea of pointing the finger somewhere else. And it's not us? No, of course not. So that kind of hypocrisy. And the way you know, right now, the West, the United States, especially as demonizing China, because China's all of a sudden, you know, it's a world power now. And you know, it's funny, we said, our industries to China, fine as factories in China, they produced goods for us, that came back, people loved it, because it was cheap.

You know, the quality is good or bad, whatever you wanted to pay. But people thought, Oh, we got good prices. And all of a sudden, they're to blame for what's going on. It's bizarre to me because you shouldn't be pointing at China if this is an issue, if you pointed to American business, they're the ones that went over there. Europeans to they went over there and built the factories. So it's like, come on, but no, I believe in organic certification. It's very important. For every batch we do before it leaves China, we measure heavy metals, we measure a pesticide panel, we do a microbiological panel. Before that product ships. We test it like that when it gets to our warehouse in North America, we test it again. So they're tested twice. We can't sell the product if it doesn't meet heavy, heavy metal standards, or pesticide standards, so No, our products get tested so heavily. I mean, I don't want to sell a product that is contaminated. I absolutely don't this product is supposed to help people with their health by God. Claudia, can you imagine? You know, not only that, nobody's gonna buy it. If it says, Oh, we've got high lead, or oh, we've got pesticides in it.

Claudia von Boeselager 43:03
Please don't

Jeff Chilton 43:03
My customers are not going to buy it. We get basically for the companies that buy from us. And we have companies large we have some of the biggest companies in the world, buying our products. They go through a long, we just had maybe the biggest company in the world. I can't mention them yet. But it took them two years to actually do the quality control of our products and go through the whole process of R&D and everything else two years before they qualified us

Claudia von Boeselager 43:35
for rigorous testing and you qualify them. So that's Yeah,

Jeff Chilton 43:39
yeah, it will exactly. And so it's very important and organic certification to me is very important. And I encourage people to pay the extra money. Basically support organic or what's now being called regenerative agriculture. It's so important that it's being grown without chemicals and we're giving back to the soils rather than just depleting them. So it's a very important issue.

Claudia von Boeselager 44:07
Jeff, I'd love to touch on the different types of mushrooms because people hear things like perky tail or like Chaga and like what is this and like these very funky names that sound very fun. Like, are they really good for us? What is the difference? What should people be focusing on? And where's a good place to start you said you know, eat mushrooms in general, you mentioned shiitake, but maybe you can walk through a little bit the main different types of mushrooms that are particularly beneficial for people and where they can start

Jeff Chilton 44:40
Well, you know, the most popular mushroom we sell right now is a mushroom called lion's mane. Why is it that we weren't selling hardly any of it eight years ago? That's right cognitive function. And it's considered a nootropic. It has compounds in it, that stimulate what's called the nerve Growth Factor, nerve growth factor helps to organize our neurons, it will actually sort of stimulate their production. So, science has demonstrated that it's helpful. There are some clinical trials done in Japan that demonstrate that elderly people who take tests before and after show some rise in cognitive abilities. So, the lion's mane, that's a good one, if you're looking for cognitive help, thank you.

Claudia von Boeselager 45:29
Most people should. I mean, my mother has dementia, sadly, she's on it. My father's 85 He's on it.

Jeff Chilton: 45:37
I know and what do you say your name was? Again? I forget. What are we doing here? You know, yeah, it doesn't get any better believe me. At any rate, lion's mane. When it comes to immunological enhancement, Turkey Tail is a prime when Reishi is a prime, and all of them have that benefit. But, those two Reishi in Turkey Tail would be the top ones. Maitaki is also pretty good at that. Maitaki also has been shown to lower blood sugar. And a lot of it too, is just the fact that that mushrooms are slow acting, a lot of fiber moving through so they can consider my talkie to say, Well, if you're eating mushrooms that's kind of more filling in, and this slow acting, so maybe you're not going to stay hungry. Shiitake is a great immunological mushroom as well. Other benefits Chaga. Have you ever seen a Chaga Oh my God, a Chaga is not even a mushroom. It's this gnarly growth from a fungal pathogen on a birch tree. And then the birch reacts by producing what's considered a canker of the site. It's black, it's irregularly shaped, used as a tea for the stomach. So I encourage people, if you have stomach or digestive issues, to try Chaga. You never know Chaga might be something that would work for you quarter steps. Are you familiar with cordyceps at all?

Claudia von Boeselager 47:20
Those are the ones I took this morning, two of them. So now I'm thinking about what happens if I take it for us.

Jeff Chilton 47:26
I'm gonna want I'm gonna want you to tell me after the program, what brands you're taking, because I can fill you in on a little bit. But cordyceps is wildcrafted up in Tibet, cordyceps actually parasitizes a certain type of moth. And the larva of that moth which is a caterpillar, will hibernate over winter, and come spring or summer, up comes this little tiny grass-like fungus that we call a quarter step. They will harvest the cordyceps, caterpillars, and all and that's what they will use in traditional Chinese medicine, Caterpillar and all. I tried to introduce that to the marketplace in the 90s. And I had people looking at me and going I'm sorry, my customers are vegetarian. Really? That's right. Caterpillar meat. Okay, but at any rate, what's what's interesting is that that caterpillar fungus, the value of that is $15,000, a dried kilogram. Nobody can afford that. We grow a different species of cordyceps that is used interchangeably. And it does not grow on an insect. It's called cordyceps militaris, and it's this beautiful orange fungus, and it grows up like little blades of grass. And that's what we grow and produce in quarter steps has been used for fatigue given to to people who are sick with some kind of an illness that they just can't get over. So that's when the TCM doctor will prescribe them cordyceps. And again, lack of energy lethargy, fatigue, that's what they've used cordyceps. So of course, what do we use it for in the West? Well, athletics Of course. More energy. That's right. That's right. So that's primarily where cordyceps gets utilized today. And, you know, the really the top species that we're selling now are Reishi Chaga, cordyceps, and Lion's Mane, that's what I call sort of like the top for Turkey Tail is probably the next one, it's getting more and more popular. But those four again, have very specific properties. above and beyond just the beta-glucans, and the immunological benefits that come from that. So that's where if you're looking for one particular benefit, you know, you can, you can decide whether you want cognitive or energy, lack of energy, or maybe your stomach, something like that. Or, again, overall, if there's, one particular mushroom you want to look at, it would be Reishi. That would be the one species that I would say, if you're looking for one that gives you a good balance overall, not just the high level of beta-glucans, but also these wonderful triterpenoids, reishi is the one.

Claudia von Boeselager 50:46
Reishi is the magic one. And I'd love to just touch on Turkey Tail because I'm not that familiar with it. I believe it was Paul Stamet's mother, who had a form of cancer, and he put her on Turkey Tail, and she managed to be cured of that. Have you seen reach research about the power of Turkey Tail?

Jeff Chilton 51:03
I have. And you know, that story is incorrect. Believe it or not, a lot of people think that he cured his mother with Turkey Tail, but he did not. He was giving her that before she went on to chemotherapy, with some very effective chemotherapy drugs. Herceptin was one of them. And I think another one was from Tax Hall. And it was those chemotherapy drugs that cured his mother. And if you listen very carefully to his TED talk, he actually will say that in there, but he's talking about Turkey Tail, so all of a sudden, the whole world thinks, oh, he cured his mother with Turkey Tail, he did not. And I've looked at Yeah, I mean, it's a great story. But that did not happen, unfortunately. So people still spread it around. But I've got the actual doctor's report on it. And I've read that, and it's very clear that you know, she reported that his mother was taking Turkey Tail when the doctor saw her, and, you know, an advanced stage of cancer at that point in time and said, Well, she doesn't mind, people taking these but she prescribed her this Herceptin, and she's still taking Herceptin to maintain what she's got. And Herceptin is very, very effective in up to 60% of these specific cancers. So it's a very effective chemotherapy, drug, and look, I'm I'm chemotherapy to me is like, oh my god, I never want to go through that. My wife ultimately had cancer at a point in her life. And it was very advanced and she decided, No, she wasn't going to go through that. And you know, really, at that point in time, nothing was going to help. But again, I look at I look at mushrooms as something for prevention. Put it into your diet. It's going to help you stay healthy. Do not have your smoker talk. You don't get the exercise, not your diet is terrible and you're eating a lot of sweet things. But clutter into your diet. It's prevention. That's what it's all about. It's just like taking a vitamin. You know, people go Yeah, I'm taking vitamin D. Oh, yeah. How do you feel today after you're just taking so much vitamin D yesterday? Oh, I feel wonderful. A vitamin D man. Does that ever do? Give me that wonderful feeling. No, you take these vitamins for prevention. You're like, okay, just in case I'm not getting enough vitamin D or vitamin C or something. And look, people in the northern hemisphere do not get enough vitamin D. I'm always telling people you know what's cool, Claudia is that a lot of people say well mushrooms produce vitamin D. They don't. But if you expose them to UV light, the compound in them called ergosterol, which is similar to our cholesterol you know, here we go another sort of mushroom human thing. Turns that ergosterol in the mushroom into pre-vitamin D two, and that's something that we're doing right now we have mushroom powder, and vitamin D product is nothing but mushroom powder. There is no you know, d3, which is a good vitamin of course and that's what we manufacture. The processing of that if you ever look into that you will just be shocked at the chemicals used to produce vitamin d3 Are our vitamin D To add, look, a lot of people say, ah, D two is not as good as the three, the top scientist in the world for vitamin D has said it is just as effective. You've taken on a long-term, there's no difference. And I am really stoked about the ability to provide people with vitamin D from a natural source that has gotten no processing other than being exposed to UV light for a certain time. It's amazing.

Claudia von Boeselager 55:36
Well, that's exciting. I didn't realize that.

Jeff Chilton 55:39
Yeah, I'm totally excited. And the other thing that that you need to know about mushrooms is
they're high in a compound called ergothioneine. Have you heard of ergothioneine?

Claudia von Boeselager 55:50
I have because I've had Sean Wells on the podcast, but please share for my audience who might have missed the episode.

Jeff Chilton 55:56
Ergothioneine, a lot of scientists and doctors consider that to possibly be a new vitamin, or a vitamin basically. We don't produce that. But it accumulates in certain parts of our body that are under oxidative stress. One of the best places to get it? Mushrooms. Isn't that amazing? Mushrooms are one of the few foods out there that is very high in ergothioneine. We are growing a mushroom that produces a lot of it. And that's a new product for us as well. So you can get ergothioneine from a natural source from a mushroom powder. Ah, god, it's wonderful. I take it every day, I encourage people to take ergothioneine every day.

Claudia von Boeselager 56:51
Super exciting. Jeff, I want to ask you, people here mushrooms are like, Oh, is this magic mushrooms? Right. And so psilocybin I know that psychedelics are having a Renaissance, and there's a lot of research going into them for mental health and therapeutic purposes. What's your view on what's happening?

Jeff Chitlon 57:09
You're talking to somebody who was of coming of age in the 60s, come on Claudia. Well, look, I ate them in the 60s and all through the 70s and grew them. And I think it's a wonderful thing. That prohibition may be coming to an end, it came to an end with cannabis, which, you know, I grew up my whole life prohibition of cannabis. And I smoked it in my younger days. Now, it's legal, I don't smoke, as well. Oh, well. But no, I fully support this, whether it's mental health issues, especially I think, for addiction issues. I think I think that's going to be a wonderful area. My company actually has a Health Canada license to grow psilocybin mushrooms. So we are currently involved in the research and development of different species, building up cultivation techniques for them, and also a complete chemical profiles of different species of psilocybin mushrooms that ultimately, we can deliver to researchers who want to research these different mushroom species. So no, I'm, I think it's wonderful. I think it's something that the time has come to look at these things. I mean, besides the fact that you know, we can medically talk about them. But look, I still support them recreationally. And I also support them. Sort of metaphysically I mean, I don't know if you've had any experience with these things. But let me tell you, it's it's something everybody should have. And mushrooms are a perfect introduction to these. And the experience is otherworldly and ineffable, ineffable, blissful, joyful.

Claudia von Boeselager 59:17

A feeling of connectedness.

Jeff Chilton 59:19

Absolutely, and you know, we need that more than anything in the world right now. We need people to understand that we're all connected here in this wonderful organism that we live in. We were all connected and and so we have to be aware of that and take care of it all.

Claudia von Boeselager 59:39
Yeah, I last night was at a talk actually, I'm not sure if you're familiar with Eckhart Tolle, who's the power of now is his book, which is quite famous. I don't know if you came across it.

Jeff Chilton 59:48
You say Eckhart Tolle Yes, exactly. Yeah, yes, indeed. Yeah.

Claudia von Boeselager 59:55
He spoke for two hours to a sold-out room and I'd See, there's probably about 50,000 people in there. I mean, it was unbelievable. Not one seat was free. Wow. Yeah. And so he was also I'd love the analogy he mentioned yesterday, which was, you know, we think we're the ripple on the surface of the ocean. And we're kind of looking at the other ripples left and right saying, Oh, this one's bigger. And like, what does this ripple have? And whatever. And we forget that we are all the ocean. Ah, yeah, I really love that analogy. You know, you think of the wave, but actually, you know, you are the ocean, and we are all the ocean, and we are all connected as well. So I think it's a beautiful time and Renaissance that's happening at the moment.

Jeff Chilton 1:00:36.

That's just a beautiful thought. Absolutely. Beautiful thought.

Claudia von Boeselager 1:00:40
Yeah. Jeff, if you could live to 150 years old, with excellent health? How would you spend it,

Jeff Chilton 1:00:47
I would probably spend it hiking through our mountains. And you know, I'm not one that necessarily, you know, oh, gee, I've gotta create this machine or that machine or do this. No, I love just getting out in nature. I love hiking. My wife loves hiking. And also, I'm a very passionate trout fisherman. So, I love to do that I was just out in the Rockies, fishing. And it's just beautiful. I mean, you know, there's nothing to me quite like standing in a small river, that the water is crystal clear. You can see right to the bottom, it's cold, you could drink it. And you've got forests around you. And it's just being out there in nature and being a part of that. And to me, that is what feeds me as much as anything else. And it's just beautiful. And that's what I would do, I would just kind of be one of those people kind of strolling through life and just enjoying every moment.

Claudia von Boeselager 1:02:07
Beautiful. What excites you most Jeff about the future of health and well being and longevity in the coming years and beyond?

Jeff Chilton 1:02:15
Well, I'm hopeful that more and more people take control back and, and stop shopping in those inside aisles of the supermarkets. And I think this whole thing of local food production, and healthy food production and healthy diet, I think, hopefully, again, as more people realize that and realize there's a better way to grow food, rather than industrial, agricultural, or industrial production of animals or anything like that. There's a better way, Claudia, and there are a lot of people working hard to bring that to us and to help with that change. That's the change, you know, these large corporations are not going to bring us change. They're not going to be able to solve the problems that they created. No, no. Well, I mean, so that falls on people at a local level, doing it locally, and again, reestablishing relationships with the natural world. So that's my hope as we move forward. And there's glimmers of it. But it is so difficult today in this world where it's just they push us to consume, consume, consume, we have to stop being consumers and be more enlightened about what we eat, what we do, how we dress, and, you know, we don't need the latest car. I drive a car that's a 2002 model. I do my best not to drive. I like to walk I will walk before I will drive. My car has very limited miles on it. I just don't you know look, I could I could afford whatever car I want. But that doesn't you know, I don't even have any idea what these new models are what they look like or what's what I mean I just don't pay attention to that

Claudia von Boeselager 1:04:35
electric car right

Jeff Chilton 1:04:39
yeah, well, you know, and so again, consumption let's stop consuming so much because that's one of the big issues that we have with that we have too much waste. We need to address that recycling is a part of it. But that's not the answer. We have to go beyond that.

Claudia von Boeselager 1:04:56
So beautiful. Jeff, where can people interested in understanding any more about you and your work and mathematics and what you're doing in your products where can people find you online?

Jeff Chilton 1:05:07
Our website is We actually have a menu that is educational. I've got lots of great slideshows there, Claudia, I've got slideshows of how we grow our mushrooms, how we process them, lots of good information there. And then our retail division is And it also has crate information there. So come and learn that don't worry about purchasing I don't care whether you purchase or not. I just I just want people to understand and to have a much better idea of what these mushrooms are all about how they can help you and what their role is in nature and so forth.

Claudia von Boeselager 1:05:51
Beautiful. Jeff, do you have a final ask recommendation or any parting thoughts or message from my audience today?

Jeff Chilton 1:05:58
Well, you know, my parting thought is just eating mushrooms. Put mushrooms into your diet. It is so important. It's a wonderful food. Again, it's the missing dietary link. Get it into your menu into your food, eat them regularly. All of the research shows that people who eat a lot of mushrooms live longer. So think about it. It's just something that will help you can your longevity and also keep you healthier.

Claudia von Boeselager 1:06:36

Beautiful. Jeff, thank you so much for coming on today and sharing your wisdom.

Jeff Chilton 1:06:41
Thanks, Claudia. I've really enjoyed being here with you. Thanks so much. Thank you

I’m Claudia von Boeselager

Longevity Coach, detail-loving educator, big-thinking entrepreneur, podcaster, mama, passionate adventurer, and health optimization activist here to help people transform their lives, and reach their highest potential! All rolled into one.

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