Read below to find out how to get started with mushroom foraging, how to prepare mushrooms, learn about their medicinal properties, and get recipe ideas!
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Hello and happy solstice dear ones!

Well, what a dynamic season it's been. (Maybe a little too dynamic, actually.) There have been a lot of positive developments lately. I'm starting my pre medicine program at the University of Washington and closing on my first home! It's a very exciting time. I've also stepped up as R&D Coordinator at Fungi Perfecti, where we're advancing some really incredible research with mushrooms for health. 

There have been struggles as well: family emergencies, car accidents, to just name a couple. It's a time of high stress, and my stress-management practices have been a true lifesaver. Think daily meditation and yoga practice, nourishing adaptogens, daily journaling, and good nutrition. 

My pondering lately have been about human resilience and conditioning. It strikes me that a lot of the tools in herbal medicine are interventional. That is, many herbs change some aspect of the body's processes. This means that we can overdo it with herbs, and become fragilized. And that's not what we want when we're talking about building up the system. My curiosity lately is: how can we nurture the body's resilience and help it become stronger than ever? As a result I've been focused on conditioning the body as opposed to intervening or treating. Things like exercise and cold exposure help us do just that. So I pose that question to you: how can you become stronger and more resilient, beyond what you thought was possible? Email me your thoughts at

Read below for:
  • the importance of being cold
  • how I recovered from my concussion
  • Ashwaganda-rose hot cocoa recipe (ahem, adaptogens)
  • the best news stories and links from around the web
  • what I'm reading this month
The Importance of Being Cold

We like to focus on staying warm during the winter. We like warm fires, chai, and bundling up with our favorite scarves and gloves. As someone who's been historically cold intolerant, I'm the chief advocate of staying warm. 

But being cold every once in a while is important. Consider: are humans designed to remain at a steady 65-72 degree temperature setting year round? It doesn't sound like an environment our bodies were designed for. 

The role of cold exposure to our health is getting increased attention in the media and scientific research. Wim Hof (aka the Iceman) has been making the podcast rounds lately, espousing the Wim Hof method of cold-conditioning for athletic performance and immune system modulation. His method was tested in a clinical trial, where volunteers were able to increase epinephrine and decrease proinflammatory cytokines when exposed to bacterial endotoxins. Really fascinating, especially if you're interested in immunology. Breathing practices and cold exposure can greatly affect immune function. 

Rhonda Patrick has also been discussing the importance of cold shock proteins in our systems. Similar to the release of heat shock proteins (which our cells release when exposed to heat that enable a number of DNA repair processes), cold shock proteins stimulate the growth of synapses and neural connections in our brain & spinal column. This was revealed in recent research on hibernation.

So, stay warm. But let yourself get good and cold every once in a while too.
Autumn-morning yoga in Blaine, WA during the American Association of Restorative Medicine conference. Getting a good workout AND increasing my cold-shock proteins!
I got a concussion.
A few week ago, I was in a car accident and suffered a concussion. It was a rear-ending accident and I hit my head on the steering wheel. The speed of impact was not fast enough to deploy airbags or lock the seatbelt. Nevertheless, it was alarming. I was diligent and went immediately to the ER for a full exam.
Concussions are also known as mild traumatic brain injuries. They occur when the brain impacts the skull, rupturing capillaries in the brain. This essentially bruises the brain, which is typically protected by the meninges. The risk of brain damage increases with subsequent concussions and assaults on the nervous system, so it's important to show your brain some tender loving care. You want to ensure complete healing after a concussion. 
Upon my return home, I was still in shock from the event. That didn't stop me from immediately engineering a healing protocol for my concussion. Here were my strategies:
  1. reduce inflammation
    1. Low-dose Arnica montana tincture, internally (3 drops every 2 hours)
    2. Turmeric extract (50:1), 1g/day.
    3. Tincture blend: equal parts gotu kola, bacopa, yarrow, ashwaganda, reishi. 8ml/day.
    4. High doses of fermented cod liver oil (I use Green Pastures' blend)
    5. Avoid inflammatory foods. (For me, this meant avoiding corn, oats, dairy, and sugar.)
  2. support the cerebral vasculature
    1. Ginkgo biloba extract - 450mg/day
    2. Bilberry extract - 1g/day
    3. easy does it on exercise- don't strain those vessels! 
  3. promote neural mitochondria and regrowth
    1. glutathione
    2. MCT oil
    3. Lion's mane mushroom extract
Along with nutritional and herbal interventions, I also utilized other modalities:
  • Craniosacral therapy
  • Floatation therapy (I did 3 90-minute sessions in 1 week)
  • Chiropractic
  • Massage
  • Meditation: its positive effects on brain health are unparalleled.
Also-and this is hard for me-I RESTED. Completely. No reading, and very limited screentime. It was torturous, but physical and cognitive rest is imperative for concussion healing. And nothing is more important than your health and healing. So even though I had a million things to do (prepare for my premed post-bacc, help finish the medical cannabis book, make offers on houses, finish newsletter, finish client protocols), I made arrangements to postpone them to give myself some healing space. Because health comes first!

After a week, I feel pretty much back to normal. It's common for concussion healing to take weeks or even months (depending on severity).
If you or a loved one ever happen to suffer a concussion, please know that there are many wonderful tools to use. It's not the end of the world, but it is an invitation to show your nervous system some extra love and care. And if you've had a concussion in the past and continue to experience symptoms, hyperbaric oxygen therapy has demonstrated benefits in clinical studies. 

Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants... my #1 book recommendation for you. Robin Wall Kimmerer is an environmental science and forestry professor at SUNY, and a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation. She draws on her background as an indigenous scientist and mother to illustrate all the ways in which plants teach us fundamental lessons about life. Kimmerer's book is expertly written, and deeply moving. It will surely achieve a place in Renee's Top 5 books. If you're looking for a book filled with rich wisdom this winter, consider this one. 
Ashwaganda-Rose Hot Cocoa
Is there anything better than a warm cup of hot cocoa on a chilly winter night? Hardly. Combine that with ashwaganda root and rose for a restorative and delicious winter tonic. 
Serves 2 (or 1, if youre having that kind of day)
  • 1 quart milk of choice
  • 1/4c cocoa powder
  • 2T honey, sugar, or sweetener of choice
  • 1t organic ashwaganda root powder
  • 1t rosewater (added at the end)
  • bonus: add 1t of organic reishi powder
Heat all ingredients (except rosewater) over stovetop on medium. Whisk cocoa powder and sweetener to taste, and turn off heat before it boils. Add rosewater shortly before serving. 
Elsewhere on the Web
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The biggest challenge for patients and caregivers wanting to learn more about how to incorporate cannabis into cancer care is the complete absence of reliable, educated and unbiased information on the subject. Until now. Answering the urgent call for this information is The Intelligent Patient’s Guide to Cannabis and Cancer, a practical, patient-centered guidebook by internationally respected medical herbalist and herb-drug interaction expert  Jonathan Treasure. 
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