Episode Highlights

00:01:13 Guest Background
00:03:11 The real health benefits of Mushrooms
00:04:16 How medicinal mushrooms are presented
00:06:26 Benefits of taking medicinal mushroom daily
00:09:16 Wild vs Cultivated Mushrooms
00:11:18 Different kinds of Mushrooms
00:17:45 Effects of taking if continuously
00:20:15 Benefits of Pine Pollen herbs
00:26:16 What is the best product for you
00:27:32 5 things to consider taking herbs and mushrooms for our health



Welcome to the Fitter Healthier Dad Podcast, where you can learn how to improve your diet, lose fat and get fitter in a sustainable and fun way without spending hours in the gym. Here is your host Darren Kirby.

Darren: Welcome back to the podcast, guys. This is the number one podcast for men in their 40s who want to improve their health through nutrition and fitness. This is Episode 103 And on today’s show, we’re going to be speaking with Neil Thenier from Wild Kingdom Extracts. Wild Kingdom is on a mission to deliver the essential compounds from nature that increase longevity, promote vitality, and boost immunity. Founded by lifelong forager, musician, and … Certified health coach Neil Thenier, Wild Kingdom has become the leading brand in ecology-based wellness. Hi, Neil, thanks so much for joining me on the podcast today. How are you?

Neil: I’m doing great. Thanks for having me.

Darren: Yeah. Thanks very much for taking some time on your day to come on the show and share with us about wild extracts and their benefits. So for people that haven’t come across you or wild extracts before. Can you give me a bit of background on how you’ve got to where you’re at now?

Neil: Yeah, sure. Yeah. After a long career and interest in the health and wellness field, I started getting really curious about nature that led me to having a desire to start foraging for food from the landscape. And I realized where I grew up in rural Pennsylvania, in the US, it was filled with all these different mushrooms and plants. And I started studying them, started learning about them, finally got the confidence to start forging them. And then from there I started learning about their medicinal benefits. Right. That’s where the extractions start to come in. So I would start to make tinctures, teas and this kind of practice of love for nature just kind of started evolving, evolving, evolving to a point where I really wanted to start my own company and I want to do something that was my own. And I kind of found my niche with medicinal mushrooms and herbs because something I noticed in the industry was that over 90 percent of everything that was produced was coming overseas from China. And they have lots of quality issues. And kind of I was just puzzled that why is everything coming from there when they grow naturally here in our own local landscape? Yeah, so that’s how the wild kingdom started. Just love for natural curiosity about nature and the brand really represents a positive interaction with nature.

Darren: Yeah, yeah, absolutely. I think it does. And it’s interesting, isn’t it, how all of a sudden? Well, for me, at least as a consumer, it would seem over the last two years that mushrooms and their medicinal benefits are really starting to come into the consumer market for them to be used as a kind of health for health purposes. So why is it you think now, given that mushrooms have been around for hundreds of years, that we’re starting to kind of realize the real health benefits of these?

Neil: Yeah, I think it’s all the research that’s starting in the United States because, yeah, like you said, there’s such a robust history of these medicinal mushrooms in Chinese medicine. And then there were lots of scientific studies done by Asian researchers and that started to pour over into the United States. And now you have all different companies, independent researchers, scientists, all studying medicinal mushrooms from all angles. What they find is so fascinating. There’s a fungal intelligence that can help regulate our own bodies, modulate our immune systems, meaning that when we get sick, they can bring us back up to a good operating baseline or for autoimmune, they can help bring us back down to the right baseline. And I think people are amazed by that. And it really supports their daily life. And, you know, in the Western world, we live such busy, chaotic lives. We have such a high demand for our bodies. We really need the right herbs to assist our daily lives.

Darren: Yeah, absolutely. And obviously now more than ever, given what’s happened over the last 18 months or so in the forms that the medicinal mushrooms are presented, obviously, that they’re presented in a lot of forms, teas, coffees, things like that. Why are they presented like that instead of just taking them like you would take a normal supplement, for example?

Neil: Oh, yeah, yes. First of all, one thing to differentiate between medicinal mushrooms is that they have two sets of nutrients. One set are the alcohol soluble nutrients and the other set are the water soluble. So, yeah, some people just enjoy drinking mushroom tea, and that’s great. But if you just make tea, you’re missing out on the alcohol soluble nutrients. Right? So if you make tea, you’ll get the immune-modulating polysaccharides and … They are found in mushrooms and things that will support and regulate the immune system. And that includes some antioxidants in there as well. And alternatively, if you make something like an alcohol tincture, that will give you a lot of the … Benefits from the mushroom of the beans, different anti-inflammatory acids, all that kind of stuff. Yeah, the way we do it, Wild Kingdom, is we make a dual extract, which is an alcohol extraction plus a water extraction, and we combine the two together. So that’s what’s in the bottle. So you’re getting the full host of benefits from the mushroom. But having said that, mushroom tea from time to time, but just something relaxing to do at night. So the best thing is to do what’s best for you.

Darren: Yeah, exactly. So in terms of actually taking them, then from that standpoint, what’s the benefit of continually taking them? So taking them on a daily basis, as a supplement? Because you mentioned earlier about their ability to regulate and regulate certain functions in the body, why wouldn’t you just take them at the point where you feel like you need them or the body’s inflamed or you’re sick?

Neil: Yeah, it’s a good question. Well, my argument to take them every day is kind of like you should eat broccoli every day. It’s just a really nutritious food that has great nutrition that your body will use every day. So, yeah, I treat medicinal mushrooms more like food. Right. You take it in every day. It gives your body medicinal compounds, prebiotics, all things that your body will use every day to help you maintain itself. So, yeah, it’s really great to take them over time because your body, I say, becomes dependent, but your body starts to have a great consistent source of nutrition. And people really feel that over time that they feel really supported. They stop getting like the common cold or they stop putting it or they feel like springtime, summertime. Their allergies have greatly improved their sleep, and their digestion is improving. So, yeah, I kind of see them as food and something that we can only benefit from taking every day.

Darren: Yeah, absolutely. I couldn’t agree more. So in terms of the actual product itself and the fact that it’s wild and you, I’m assuming you’re still foraging for the mushrooms, is there enough of the supply in nature to supply the markets and the demand?

Neil: Yeah, the great question, yeah, you know where I live here in Pennsylvania, in a 40-mile radius, every season, I forage enough mushrooms to meet the demands of the business. Wow. I’m always amazed someone could spend so much time, energy, money, resources on building a grow house. And it requires a lot of maintenance. Care creates a carbon footprint to grow a certain amount of mushrooms. And you can easily find the same amount of mushrooms with a small team of two or three people out in nature. And you don’t have to do any work other than the foraging itself. So, yeah, that’s kind of the whole point we’re trying to prove, or it’s kind of what we’re trying to show our audience to our customers is that it’s available in nature. And if we keep following that path, you know, people get invested in the land that things are coming from. And that in itself is a great form of land conservation.

Darren: And I guess in some respects than if you were to do it, create your own grow farm. We’re actually there is going to be an element or I would say of quality that you’re going to lose, isn’t there, because they’re not coming out of nature, not coming out of the ground, which has the nutrients and the rest of it in it.

Neil: Yeah, exactly. Another thing we talk about, you know, the stress of growing in a wild environment actually makes the mushrooms or plants or trees produce more phytochemical compounds. It’s kind of because they use these compounds to protect themselves, right? Yeah. So if you put them up in a nice grow house, it’s kind of like putting them in a five-star hotel and they’re on foot and they’re not producing as much. So they’ll be more deficient in vitamin D, they’ll be more efficient. Sometimes they’re absent in certain nutrients. Like as an example, while Chagga has this antiinflammatory compound called Metroliner acid, which comes from the birch trees that the grown in the wild, if they just grow charcoal mycelium in a grow house, it doesn’t have Metroliner acid because they’re growing them on greens and the Greens don’t contain that compound. So those are some things to know about wild versus cultivated and not the cultivated bad. It serves its purpose and it has its own benefits. But, you know, for us, what we’re trying to do, wild is best for us.

Darren: Yeah, absolutely. And I think, you know, it comes back to the same thing around organic vegetables that come from ground that’s not been either farmed or pesticide. The rest of it isn’t. It’s all about taking it from it. As natural as its source is possible to get the full effects of ouseley, what they can provide. So, um, so in terms of the mushrooms and all the different compounds, are they can you start by kind of breaking down because they don’t see we’ve got lines, mine, Ricci and all the rest of them. Can you kind of for the audience listening if they have no idea what wild mushrooms are and how they can use them and what different compounds are available can kind of give us almost like a playbook as to the various different compounds that are available.

Neil: Yeah, yeah, definitely. That’s I’ll start with the turkey tail mushroom. It’s one of the most studied medicinal mushrooms out there. And we regard it as the immune supporting mushroom. So if you’re looking for something to boost the immune system, just kind of prevent things like colds and different viruses, turkey tail is the way to go. There’s also a lot of promising anti-cancer research behind it. Scientists find that if they use it as an adjunct therapy for chemoradiation, it really helps the immune system recover from the negative effects of the chemo and radiation and also shows like antitumor properties. So turkey tail is like the go-to if you need anything regarding your immune system. Right. And the next Chaga is it’s actually the world’s most antioxidant-rich. Food on the planet ranks like blueberries, turmeric, elderberry by like five times. Yeah, it’s pretty amazing. So it helps with anything, anything to do with inflammation. If you have gut inflammation like Crohn’s, IBS, Candida, it can really help soothe gut inflammation. Also, immune modulating polysaccharides will help with things like inflammation from arthritis and different autoimmune conditions. And there are some. Crossover between all the mushrooms, so you can say Chaga is good for the immune system, too, but each one has its own area where it shines.

Yeah. So yeah, that’s kind of where Chaga really shines. And then next, Reishi mushroom in Chinese medicine, it’s regarded as the mushroom of immortality. A lot of people say if you could only take one, take Rishi. I would probably agree. It’s amazing. Mushroom. Yeah. Not only will it help with inflammation in the immune system, but it’s great for cardiovascular health. It has these compounds called trapezoids and they’re kind of like natural plant steroids that help your heart, that help your brain, that help your blood increase its oxygen capacity. So that kind of leads to a relaxing, calming effect. So people will use it at night time to help sleep. And I can’t tell you how many people who like using ora ring to track their sleep. They’ll take Reishi and linesmen at night and their stats have improved so much. Really, really cool. I want to try to put together a small study and kind of do it on a mass scale. But yeah, so so because of these compounds like ratio really helps with oxygen, helps with calming and. Yes, that would be rishi and then lion’s mane, which is super, super popular right now, especially for people like in the tech industry, is because they’ve found in lion’s mane there are compounds called Ernestine’s and the Renaissance, which really help cognitive performance. Right. And what they do is they help rebuild the mind of the brain, which is like the connective tissue for like your synapses and help like transport information.

So they help rebuild that people find it, help improve their memory, improve their focus, energy, things like that. So, again, talking about how our Western world, so demanding on our brains, on our bodies, people really go to lions only to find that like neurological support. Yeah. There are hard jobs. And then the last mushroom extract we do is maitake. And maitake is kind of like the unsung hero of the group. It’s still kind of like making its way into the forefront. But again, it’s very similar to Turkey tail in the sense that it helps with the immune system. There’s a lot of anti-cancer research behind it, but it’s also really good for people who have diabetes or blood sugar issues. OK, so there’s lots of studies showing that the polysaccharides in the mushroom help reduce blood sugar after meals by five percent. So it’s something that some with diabetes might want to explore to take alongside their allopathic medicine to help moderate their blood sugar.

Darren: Yeah, that’s super interesting. I think what you said in there about lions’ mane kind of strikes me as almost like nature’s nootropic if that makes sense. Oh, yeah. You know, there’s a lot of talk around psychedelics and nootropics at the moment, but that seems to me to be a very nice, natural way to get that cognitive performance that we all would like to have.

Neil: Yeah, 100 percent, yeah, it’s definitely our best-seller, and I’ve used it myself back in the day, I had a case of neurological Lyme disease, the lion’s mane and I took an extract of it. And within two weeks I noticed such a big difference. So it’s something that is dear to me and so many people now.

Darren: Yeah, absolutely. So I guess the combination, like he said of the rishi at night and then to get nice, good restorative, deep sleep. What was the other one you took with rishi?

Neil: Lion’s mane

Darren: Richie and lion’s mane and then in the day to obviously have, is it lion’s mane again?

Neil: Yeah. So it’s actually one of our best sellers on our website is our longevity bundle, what we call it. Right. So turkey tail Chagga, Rishi and lion’s mane. We always recommend people start out by taking Turkey tail and Chaga in the morning because that will help bolster the immune system with gut health kind of get your day started. And then at night before sleep, taking Rishi and Lion’s mane to help with deep sleep recovery. That’s just a good way to get started. But you can kind of take them all day, every day, or you can take them off your call, too.

Darren: Yeah, I mean, that was going to be my next question. Are there any adverse effects of continually taking things or is it just like you would take a vitamin, you would take these?

Neil: Yeah, and there are no adverse effects. I mean, it’s kind of like one of those things where if you just, like, take too much, your body kind of knows, like, you don’t need that anymore. Like, right for you. Too much chocolate cake. You get like a headache, you’re like a bit kind of how we’ve designed it or extracts like one dropper full is a daily dose and that’s good if you’re healthy and you just want to maintain, that’s all you need. And you can take a dropper full of each one every day. But if you like, fall sick or you have some kind of preexisting condition and you need extra help, you can take it three times a day. In some rare cases where I like having a condition that I’m trying to kick real quick, I take it like five times a day. Right. So it’s not something that becomes toxic at a certain dosage. I think that would be like you’d have to drink like three bottles or something.

Darren: Yeah. OK, so in terms of the cognitive benefits, I would assume that people that take lion’s mane in the day and they feel the cognitive benefits that can be attributed to be alertness, energy levels, what’s the kind of general impacts and feelings that people get from doing that?

Neil: Yeah, yeah, a lot of people say they increased their mental clarity. It’s easier to access your short-term memory, right? Also to lion’s Maine has some benefits for the get, so people say their digestion improves, and that kind of goes along, too, with a lot of the other mushroom extracts. I always say that you know, after a week or two, if you notice you have more energy, your digestion has improved, your sleep improves, your brain function has improved. That’s kind of the extract’s doing their magic.

Darren: Hmm. Yeah. Yeah, I would imagine that’s what you said. That’s probably the most popular seller. But that takes all the boxes for me, definitely, you know, to get good restorative sleep, cognitive ability during the day. And then for me from a sports perspective or a gym perspective, are there any benefits? Because a lot of people who take pre-workouts and all the rest of it, which I’m usually against, well, are there any mushrooms that could benefit that, or would it be Lion’s Mane Again?

Neil: Well, actually, I would recommend another product that we make that’s not a mushroom. It’s called pine pollen and some herbs. And I’m sure your audience would love this supplement due to the fact that it’s called the Fitter Healthier Dad Podcast, because pine pollen extracts are a natural source of DHEA. And DHEA helps regulate the body’s production of free testosterone. So men like us are thirty plus what we get over the hump of 30, our body naturally decreases in testosterone production. So that can make us feel more lethargic. We could start putting on more, more body fat. But pine pollen is a great herb. To help slow that down and to help restore energy balance to someone is more estrogen dominant, meaning their antigens have become imbalanced. Pine pollen has that modulating effect, kind of like the mushrooms will help lower estrogen and boost testosterone. And so pine pollen having this effect will help with things like athletic performance, more energy levels. People also found that it helps with memory and brain focus as well. So we have a bundle called the Biohacking Bundle, which is lion’s mane and pine pollen on both those fronts. And I always recommend those two for people who like to work out a lot or want to help improve their athletic performance.

Darren: Yeah. Now, that sounds like a perfect combination to make something can. Yeah, definitely. I mean, with the level of workouts I do, it’s often tough to kind of maintain that level. And if you’ve got something that will kind of regulate specific testosterone. Right. I mean, as you get older, forties become even more prevalent. So, yeah, I’ve never heard of that before.

Neil: Yeah. Yeah. It’s another herb that has a robust history in Chinese medicine. They actually used it to help erectile dysfunction. Right. For thousands of years. And it’s one of those herbs that are slowly starting to make its way into the Western world. The studies are coming out behind it. So, yeah, it’s pretty amazing here, like in the US pipe pollen. Is that yellow stuff that gets in your car that’s really annoying? But here I am with a basket trying to catch it all because of what it can do for the body.

Darren: And that’s amazing. That’s really, really cool. But coming back to the source of the mushrooms, because I would imagine there’s a lot of people listening to this and we’ve got a lot of forest and green spaces in the UK, but they’re going to be going out looking for these mushrooms at the weekend. But I would highly advise against that because the limited knowledge that I have on mushrooms is that you can get very sick if you pick the wrong mushrooms, the rest of it. But what is the actual process that you go through when you forage for the mushrooms and then to get into state, whether in the products you produce?

Neil: Yeah, definitely, yeah. First of all, I recommend that if someone is curious about foraging, there’s so many great books out there and there are so many great identification groups you can join on Facebook. It will be a process. Definitely never pick or eat anything you don’t know. Yes, a very bad situation. But yeah, what we do when we go out and forage, everything is very seasonal. Right. So it’s me right now. Rishi mushroom season is about to start within the next week or so. So what we do is we go out, we go on scouting trips to see how things are looking in the forest like we have our spots. And when the mushrooms have reached their peak ripeness, we’ll go harvest the mushroom and we do it sustainably. We don’t take everything we see and we end the way we interact with the mushroom, like helping the spores spread. So every year there’s like more and more growth. And then what we do is if it’s during the summer months the sun will dry them and that helps increase their vitamin D too. What we do is, once they’re dried, we grind them into a fine powder. And that powder is what we’ll use in our extraction process. And then the alcohol that we use in the alcohol extraction is organic grade alcohol. So we use very high-quality alcohol. That’s grain-free, gluten free, sugar-free, all of it stuff. And we’ll perform that extraction. And then when that’s done, we’ll take that same wet powder and we’ll start with hot water, extract it. Right. And then when that’s complete, we combine the two together and then that’s the two extracts.

Darren: Wow. Fascinating. Yeah, that’s really interesting. So in terms of actually when you harvest them, you say you harvest the year that August when they go down, down into a powder, there’s no kind of shelf life, which means the nutrients within the powder diminishes over time.

Neil: Yeah. Yeah. With dried food, your shelf life is at least two years plus. Right. So, yeah, we kind of have that where we’ll harvest enough for the year based on demand. So like right now we’re basically at the last of our dry storage Rishi and we’re getting ready to bring in that this year. We keep it balanced using fresh ingredients.

Darren: Yeah, OK, that’s cool. So, guys, listen to this. Some people that want to try out, what would you recommend is the best place to store if they’re not sure how they’re going to react to it? What’s going to happen

Neil: With the extracts?

Darren: Yeah, with the products that you sell, where would you recommend the bundle? Why would you recommend people stop?

Neil: Yeah, yeah. I would first say, like ask yourself, what are you trying to improve. Right. Yeah. So if you’re trying to improve your sleep or your brain performance, definitely start with Rishi and Lion’s Mane. If you’re trying to improve your health, we have a bundle for good health, which is Turkey Tail and Chaga. So that’s how we’ve kind of made it. We’ve tried to come. We found the best synergy between the mushrooms to help with taylored health benefits. Yeah. But if you kind of don’t know and just want to start anywhere, maybe start with a bottle of Rishi that has a very general positive effect on the body, so you can start to get dropper full of that, see how you feel after a week, after two weeks, and then you can start with another one. But it’s kind of funny. When people get started, they’ll come to our website and they’ll just go straight for the longevity bundle or the microfilms bundle. They want to try it all at once in public for us. But yeah, I think people realize that mushrooms altogether have such a synergistic effect. You know, it’s like working all these different pathways in your body simultaneously and people really feel uplifted from it.

Darren: Yeah, yeah, absolutely. I mean, yeah, that is classic. If you want to try something, you especially guys tend to go all-in on everything that can overwhelm themselves. But yeah, I think that’s great advice. So now what would you say are the five top things that people should consider when they’re looking to take the herbs and the mushrooms to improve their overall health?

Neil: Sorry, how do you mean what they should consider?

Darren: Yeah, so you say whether or not you’ve obviously said what your objective is, what you want to achieve, but is it for longevity purposes? Is it for cognitive ability purposes? And what should they consider their overall health before they go down the path of using herbs and mushrooms?

Neil: Ok, yeah, well, you know, actually the first thing they should really consider is the quality of the extract supplements or whatever they’re they’re about to take. Right. So to kind of shed some light on that. And in respect to mushrooms, the best option that you have is to use mushroom products that are made from actual mushrooms. Right. Because there are so many products out there that are what’s called mycelium, which are like the roots or spores of the mushroom. Right. They basically inoculate them onto grains like oats or rice or something else. And then they grind that into a powder and they say, OK, this is lion’s mane powder. Right. There’s no actual mushroom in it. So you’re just eating a ton of carbohydrates, basically. So, yeah, it’s really good to find products that, say, are made with mushroom-fruiting bodies. And obviously that’s what we do. Also another thing is to consider where these products are sourced from. If it’s something coming overseas from China, someone should really check to see if a lab tests the products to make sure that there’s no contaminants in it and things like that. So, yeah, quality is the number one thing you should always consider, and doing just a little bit of research to help that along goes a long way.

And the other things to consider, too, is your preferences on how to take a supplement, for instance, some people are just really hardcore and they love dropping a drop of all of Rishi and Lion’s Mane under the tongue, even though the alcohol content gives it a little zing, even though mushrooms have a very earthy flavor. Some would say unpleasant wine. You get accustomed to it, right? Yeah. So you should consider if that’s who you are or if you want to put it in your smoothie or drop it, that’s water juice. Either way, the mushroom is going to make it into your body and you’re going to feel great. But that’s another thing to consider. And then, yeah, lastly, maybe how much you think you need. Are you someone who just needs to maintain your health? Maybe you just want to take it once a day. You have something you’re trying to get over or you have some preexisting condition. You might want to consider taking it twice a day, three times a day.

Darren: Yeah, I think that’s a good point. I mean, I was thinking about when you were talking about the volume because, you know, often with supplements in a bottle there and you just take it and consider the volume that you’re taking. So is it any kind of and I guess gage or profile that you would follow when you first start to take them? And I guess everybody’s different, aren’t they? So they’re going to react in different ways.

Neil: Yeah, yeah. I always recommend just starting once a day. Right. See how you feel. But if someone comes to me and says, hey, I want to buy some extracts because I have the flu. OK, start with Turkey Tail and Chaga, you know, take it three times a day and see how you feel. So it all depends on where someone starts out.

Darren: Yeah, I don’t think that’s a good point to make. So now how can people connect with Wild Kingdom? Where can they go to find out more about you guys and the products that you sell?

Neil: Yeah. So the number one place is our website. It’s wildkingdomextracts.com, OK? And we have lots of information on our website and our product descriptions. We try to go all out, explain all the health benefits, but we also have a great blog with lots of different articles outlining the science and all the details there. So definitely I’ll read from our website. You can connect to us everywhere else, but also to have a great Instagram page, which is also @wildkingdomextracts. So those two places are really the best place to connect with us unless you want to shoot us an email if you have any questions, which would be [email protected]

Darren: Yeah, awesome. So I recommend guys go and check out the website and get some more information on your blog. Is very, very useful to understand this in more detail so that at least when you do decide to kind of take that, the mushrooms and the extracts, you know exactly what it is you can expect the outcome to be. Thank you very much for joining me on the podcast today. Very, very interesting and really insightful topic. And yeah, I look forward to catching up with you again soon.

Neil: Oh, can we give a coupon code to your audience?

Darren: Absolutely. Be great.

Neil: Yes. So if anyone is interested in trying out products, they can use coupon code FHD15 for 15% off anything on our website.

Darren: Awesome. Thank you very much. That I appreciate that. So, guys, check out FHD15 at wildkingdometracts.com. Awesome, thanks, Neil.

Neil: Yeah, thanks for having me.

Darren: Thanks for listening to the Fitter Healthier Dad Podcast If you enjoyed today’s episode, please hit subscribe and I would really appreciate it if you could leave a review on iTunes. All the things mentioned in the episode will be in the show notes. And a full transcription is over at fitterhealthierdad.com