By Kendra Sells
Head for the Hills Press Team
Head for the Hills has numerous musical acts, but another part of what makes the festival so unique are the various vendors who sell their own products at their booths. I met with Stephanie Manera, a Texas State alumni, who studied mycology and sells medicinal mushrooms for health and nutrition. I was able to pick her brain about the many uses and benefits of the mushrooms that her company, Aloha Medicinals, has to offer and I learned about an entire realm of mushrooms that I never knew existed.
“Mushrooms play a huge role in ecosystems and all biological systems on earth,” Manera said. “We’re dietary supplement company so what we do is we grow large quantities of mycelium. Some of them have the most potent medicinal benefits. They process that into a supplement format which you can consume daily. We also produce for growing for small farmers that want to grow for their soil and compost and things like that.”
“Traditional Chinese medicine has shown us that the reishi mushroom for example, it’s been used as medicine for centuries,” Manera said. “Over 10,000 years, we have recorded and they’ve started using these mushrooms to treat a huge variety of ailments. Oxygenating the body, boosting stamina, more energy, helps your body create energy more efficiently by taking what you’ve consumed at the molecular level and converting it into energy, while boosting the immune system. Brain power, memory, all of the circulatory systems. Reishi is a natural blood thinner. Great for patients who have issues in diet and genetics, quality of sleep, reishi is also known for being an aphrodisiac, it’s a side effect of having improved health, it’s an increased sex drive, physical drive too. it Reduces allergies, strengthens the immune system.”
Mushrooms ultimately react so well with our bodies because of our evolutionary past.
“Reishi really has a lot of chemical makeup that is really similar to us genetically,” Manera said. “There is an evolutionary history between fungi and people and animals that goes way back farther than we can comprehend. Some of the chemicals that reishi produces on its own and interact with the ecosystem have benefits for us when we consume them as well because of all of the similarities we have on a circulatory level.”
Mushrooms have been proven to fight off various disease including cancer and alzheimer’s, diseases that often come with a deficiency in vitamin D. Mushrooms help to accumulate essential micronutrients for good neurological health. The mushrooms that Aloha Medicinal has to offer are for consumption, but some companies infuse the proteins into creams and butter for the skin.
“Mushrooms have a large number of benefits outside of dietary and nutrition,” Manera said. “Mushrooms interact with the environment and soil on a complicated basis. There’s more than air water and nutrient exchange. Mycelium covers the entire planet. A lot of plants can’t survive without fungi to help them bring in micronutrients.”
Mycelia has studied Mycology for four years, starting with an education in agriculture at Texas State University. She then found Aloha Medicinals at the Telluride mushroom festival in 2014. The Telluride Mushroom Festival is a conference of mycologists to share their research about mushrooms and mycelium.
Manera hopes to produce her own music/mushroom festival called Mycelia to gain visibility about the natural and healthy benefits of mushrooms. She is also an artist who hopes to make a visual to help others see the relationship between mushrooms and their role in the environment. Her paintings connect the viewer with their places in the environment as well.
Since Manera has begun her research on mushrooms and increased her mushroom intake, she’s noticed leaps in her health. She says that she no longer gets sick and hardly ever drinks coffee. She adores mushrooms and really appreciates all they have to offer.