Everything you need to know about Coachella. The good, the bad, and expectations vs. reality. This is my review from Coachella 2018 Weekend 1 with a general admission pass.Read More
If you follow health and wellness trends, you probably have heard of medicinal mushrooms or mushroom coffee. With promises of immune support, improved skin, increased energy and metabolism, cancer-fighting properties, and cognitive enhancement, medicinal mushrooms have become the hottest new superfood and are making their way into the mainstream. The “mushroom market” is expected to reach 50 billion dollars by 2023.
But what is the actual science behind medicinal mushrooms and are they really worthy of all the hype? I wanted to find out.
I first came across medicinal mushrooms listening to The Tim Ferriss Show. Tim would often run advertisements for Four Sigmatic mushroom coffee and I was immediately intrigued by the reported benefits of increased productivity, focus, and mental clarity. Sign me up.
I started drinking it and in all honesty, I did love it. Placebo or not, it seemed to work for me. But I never really looked into any of the research behind it.
Then, through my network of yogi, biohacking, health friends, I heard about this guy named Shane. Shane is a mushroom hunter. Seriously, he actually trademarked the name "The Mushroom Hunter."
Shane forages for medicinal mushrooms in the wilderness. He is the founder of a company called Black Magic Alchemy, which makes a root beer flavored mushroom elixir that's supposed to boost immunity, clear brain fog, and "sexify" your skin. Black Magic's tonic is made from chaga mushrooms, one of the most popular of the medicinals.
After discovering all this, I needed to learn more. I finally started looking into the research behind medicinal mushrooms, and here's what I found.
Medicinal mushrooms are simply a type of wild mushroom used to improve health or treat health issues, usually available in the form of a supplement such as a capsule, powder, elixir, or coffee beverage. There are many different types of medicinal mushrooms, but the ones that seem to get the most attention are chaga, reishi, cordyceps, lion's mane, and turkey tail.
Cordyceps has the potential to boost energy levels and oxygen intake by up to 15 percent and lion’s mane could improve brain health by stimulating nerve growth factor (NGF) in the body. These conclusions come from double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trials, which tends to be the gold standard when it comes to the significance of a study's findings.
However, the overall scientific consensus is that we need more controlled clinical trials to really draw conclusive evidence about the health benefits being claimed by these mushroom companies (and all the yogis and biohackers).
Turkey tail mushroom as a cancer fighter
The most promising research I found had to do with the mushroom turkey tail and its cancer-fighting potential. Turkey tail has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries and as a cancer treatment in Japan since the 1970s. Turkey tail contains a protein called polysaccharide-K (PSK), which is the key to its immunotherapeutic benefits.
A meta-analysis conducted in 2007 looked at eight randomized controlled clinical trials where roughly half the patients were treated with just chemo, and the other half were treated with chemo and the use of PSK. The results showed that the group using PSK significantly improved survival.
"The OS hazard ratio was 0.88 (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.79–0.98; P = .018), indicating improved survival with the addition of PSK, and with no significant heterogeneity between the treatment effects observed in the different studies," according to the National Cancer Institute.
Although we need more research to really prove some of the benefits that medicinal mushrooms could provide, it seems like we have a promising start.
It’s the beta-glucans in the mushrooms that are said to provide all of these health benefits. Every mushroom has a difference beta-glucan profile, thus creating different benefits mushroom to mushroom. However, in the medicinal mushroom industry, there have been concerns that many of the products on the market may not actually contain many of these beta-glucans at all. The reason is that many companies are using a lab-grown mycelium, rather than sourcing from real, wild mushrooms.
That's where Black Magic Alchemy comes back in. Shane and his team forage for the chaga they use to make the elixir in the woods of Northern Ontario. They harvest these mushrooms in a sustainable way and use a dual extraction method to ensure the elixir is of the highest quality possible.
I decided that I needed to try the Black Magic elixir for 30 days to see if it really did provide any of the benefits it claimed to. I also went to Big Sur, CA with Shane on a mushroom hunting expedition!
Watch to see what happens!
Although it took about two weeks to kick in, I really couldn't believe that I actually did feel more clear-minded and focused. My productivity did seem to improve and for the most part, I felt more uplifted and energized tha I normally do.
The craziest thing that happened was that it actually made my eyes bluer! I even had friends commenting that they'd never seen my eyes this blue before.
In addition, my skin was the clearest and brightest it has been in years, and my hair even got shinier! When Shane told me these were common benefits of the elixir, I did not believe him at all. I am still shocked that it actually worked. The reason why this is not an implausible result is because chaga has such a high dose of melanin, which is the pigment that gives our eyes, skin, and hair their color.
After learning all about medicinal mushrooms and giving them a real shot, I do believe that the benefits are the real thing. However, if you are not using a medicinal mushroom supplement that is sourcing from the wild, then you may not see many of these benefits at all. When choosing a medicinal mushroom supplement, be sure to do your research on where the company is sourcing from and the extraction process they use to create the product.
Happy mushroom hunting!
This article and video were not sponsored. This is my unbiased opinion of medicinal mushrooms and Black Magic Alchemy.
We live in an age of terrible news. Tragedy, political turmoil, global upheaval, climate degradation. It's easy to be left in a state of despair every time you check your Twitter feed. Often, I have to pull myself out of the dark hole of horrific news that sucks us in like a sad leftover meal going down the drain. Not pleasant.
Here's something that might actually make you feel a little bit better: Did you know that crime rates in the United States have been on a steep decline since the early 90s? I had no idea until I started looking at the data.
What's interesting, is that public perception of crime in the US doesn't match these numbers at all. Most Americans believe that crime continues to rise when in reality, it has been decreasing for years.
We still face many severe issues in the US and globally, but maybe we're on a bit better of a path than we thought. What gives me even more hope than seeing these numbers, is when I come across humans who are doing incredible things to make a difference in the world.
Watching this year's CNN Heroes I was brought to tears at every story! I was actually binge watching inspiring TED Talks when I had the idea to create a video series about the wonderful things humans are doing for the world.
People are beautiful, and we need to remember that. It is in our biology to want to give and help one another: it's how we survived. For centuries, humans have relied on community for survival. We worked together to get here and we must work together now to pave the way for a brighter future.
This week's beautiful people:
1. Stuart Duncan
Better known online as "Autism Father," Stuart Duncan created a Minecraft community for children with autism. Stuart has autism himself and a son with autism. Other parents with autistic children kept asking Stuart if their children could play together because they were facing severe cyberbullying on normal Minecraft servers. So Stuart decided to make a Minecraft community to create a safe, welcoming environment for children with autism to all play and learn together.
The response was overwhelming. Within a few months, AutCraft had thousands of users and Stuart was getting great feedback from parents who were saying how much the game was helping their children. Some non-verbal children were even starting to speak and others started making friends at school for the first time.
AutCraft was so successful that researchers at UC Irvine even started studying it, and wrote this paper called, "Would You Be Mine: Appropriating Minecraft as an Assistive Technology for Youth with Autism." The researchers found that the guidelines for the community were helping to create a space for autistic children to learn and develop socially. AutCraft's foundation is built on the community coming together to help each other. Bullying, lying, stealing, and swearing are not tolerated in the game and good behavior is rewarded.
2. Mohamed Bzeek
Originally from Libya, Mohamed Bzeek is an LA resident who fosters terminally ill children. He began doing this with his wife Dawn 20 years ago. She has since passed away, but Mohamed continues to take in children and has fostered more than 40 children up until now.
The job is not a glamorous one. Many of these children have severe disabilities and Mohamed is responsible for bathing them, changing diapers, and handling all medication. According to this article in the LA Times, Mohamed is the only foster parent in the county known to take in terminally ill children, despite a dire need for more help.
Mohamed said he believes everyone deserves love, care, and a family, especially at the end of their life.
3. Aidan Thomas Anderson
I first came across Aidan Thomas Anderson in an article in Success Magazine. I was so impressed by all this kid was doing at such a young age. The now 17-year-old started his foundation Aidan Cares when he was just eight-years-old! Since then, he has worked with more than 500 charities and has even spoken alongside the co-founder of Apple, Steve Wozniak.
"The need is so great for people to learn to give. We don't need to be a big deal, just a ripple." - Aidan Thomas Anderson
Even after reading this, you might still be thinking, "Can one person really make that much of a difference?"
Here's the truth: one person makes all the difference in the world. Everything we put out into the world matters. Every decision we make has an outcome and we have the power to decide what that outcome is. Are you contributing in a positive or negative way to the world? It's a simple question with a not-so-simple answer, but an important answer. We have the power to decide what that answer is and in our hearts, we always know.
Remember, YOU have the power to thrive. YOU have the power to live your best life ever.
Have you ever thought about what's actually in condoms, tampons, and other sexual health products we use and put inside our bodies? In this video, I learn about what's actually in condoms and tampons, and why we should care! Condoms, tampons, lubricant, and other sexual health products are going inside the most intimate, absorbent part of our body, so we should probably pay some attention to what's in them!Read More
In this video I went NO SUGAR for one week using the MIRACLE BERRY, a magic little berry from West Africa that changes your taste buds and makes acidic, sour foods TASTE SWEET! That means it can make some healthy foods taste delicious!Read More
There is so much new information and research emerging in the health and wellness space, it can be overwhelming. It seems like every day there's a new trend that promises to help you achieve "optimal health." From various diet and fitness trends to biohacking and mindfulness, I am fascinated by it all. Sky Life is about exploring these topics and sharing what I learn. My goal is for each video to be informative, entertaining, and hopefully help to improve your life in some way.
Gut health, EMS, nootropics, medicinal mushrooms, kratom, breathwork, hypnosis, neurofeedback... the list is endless and I am here to investigate it all.Read More
Upon graduating from college in May, I spent many hours reflecting on my four years at Elon University. Aside from being blown away by how fast it all went, I was overcome with gratitude for how incredible my college experience had been. I can honestly look back and say, "Good work Sky, you did it right." Of course there were challenges along the way, but I truly feel that I made every moment count. Including the sometimes hard-learned lessons.
I will never forget the words given to my class at freshman convocation by our university president, Leo M. Lambert. He stressed the importance of diving in and taking advantage of all that Elon has to offer. He told us:
“YOU HAVE ARRIVED AT A GIANT FEAST. DON’T MAKE YOURSELF A BOLOGNA SANDWICH.”
The entire crowd laughed. I often think back to that moment and that message. Well, I really took this advice to heart and I feasted my freaking face off.
If you are getting ready to go to college, or if you are currently attending college, I urge you to do the same.
However, my ability to be involved in so much throughout my four years was directly related to the time and energy I spent on taking care of myself. When I put my health first, everything else fell into place. When I did not take care of myself, now that is where I ran into trouble.
Although there were a few bumps in the road, for the most part, I stayed incredibly healthy in college and connected to my mind, body and soul. I created tactics for staying healthy and grounded and now I want to share what I have learned.
I wrote The College Guide to both you, and to my 18-year-old self. So I found it only appropriate that I open the book with a letter to her:
Dear 18-year-old Sky,
I am inspired by your wide-eyed excitement and curiosity for what will become the best four years of your life, up until this point. I am going to be honest and tell you right now, it will not be easy. College is a whirlwind in so many ways and not all of it will be flowers and rainbows. You will be tested and tried and you may even lose yourself for a short period of time. You will have some of the worst and best moments of your life thus far, but it is all beautiful.
Embrace this chapter with open and loving arms, for all that it’s worth, because what you will gain will change you forever. You are entering college as an effervescent, eager, passionate, and often naive teenage girl. You will emerge as a strong, independent, (still effervescent), and more passionate than ever, young woman.
Remember what your mom has told you since day one: “stay true to yourself and you will never go wrong.” You might not always feel like yourself during these four years, but I promise that is okay. When you do find yourself again, you’ll feel more like you than you ever have. This will lead you further to your true purpose.
This book contains all of the important lessons you will learn during the next four years. Some of it is practical and actionable, like how to take care of your mind and body. Some of it is personal and emotional, like how to take care of your soul.
No matter what happens, I want you to trust. Trust yourself and trust the journey. It is all part of your unique path and the story of your life.
There will be hard work, learning, partying, trying new things, travel, friendship, love, heartbreak, and a shit load of fun.
Love, 22-year-old Sky
The College Guide can now be purchased here! I hope it helps you and I hope that you'll share it with anyone in college who may find it helpful. As always, I would love to hear your feedback. Please leave comments or email me!
Feeling stressed out this Holiday season? STOP. Breathe... and give yourself some L-O-V-E with these easy and delicious self-care tips.
We all know the holidays can be a stressful time. However, "the most wonderful time of the year" should be filled with peace, joy and indulgence. That's why it's important to take care of yourself during this season to relieve stress and anxiety.
SELF-CARE TIP #1: Self-Massage
Grab some peppermint oil and give yourself a delicious self-massage! Roll out all of those knots in your shoulders and neck and soothe your mind with some gentle temple massage.
SELF-CARE TIP #2: Gratitude
Write down 10 things you are grateful for. No matter what stress you encounter, or challenges you face, the holidays are a time for gratitude. By focusing on all that you have to be grateful for, you will automatically be put in a state of peace and joy. You can't be stressed and grateful at the same time! This quick practice will only take you two minutes but will have incredible results.
SELF-CARE TIP #3: DIY beauty
Take five minutes to make an easy, all-natural beauty product that you can use to exfoliate dry, cracked lips that often haunt us during colder weather. It will also get your lips ready for all that mistletoe ;)
DIY cranberry sugar lip scrub
In a mason jar or small bowl, mix together the following ingredients:
- 1/4 cup of coconut oil
- 1 tbsp. cinnamon
- 2 cup sugar
- splash of unsweetened 100% cranberry juice
Rub together a small amount on your lips and wipe away with a tissue. You can also lick it away! It tastes great. This lip scrub can also be used on your body as an exfoliator to tighten and brighten your skin that often suffers during the winter.
Remember to take good care of yourself during the holidays so that you can share your best self with others. Peace, love and joy to you and yours!
You know the feeling you get when you experience something so beautiful it feels like you're in a movie? Perhaps a moment in nature or a moment of romance.
You know the feeling you get when someone pisses you off? It may not seem like it, but such a moment of aggravation is just as "movie-like" as the moment of beauty.
We often say, "It's just like the movies!" The truth is that the movies are like this.
It is easy to get so caught up in the drama that is our life, without even thinking about certain recurring patterns that we may need to pay a bit more attention to. That's where it gets fun.
The subconscious is highly intelligent. It has a very specific memory pattern that has been building upon itself since before you were even born, a little embryo inside your mother's womb.
Every moment, every encounter, every interaction, it remembers and records. Although we don't consciously "remember" our childhood, you better believe that our subconscious does.
That's why the subconscious is the perfect movie director.
The subconscious is a casting director, holding auditions for parts in the movie that is our life. And it will find the perfect person, to play the perfect "part," in the perfect situation all in the hope that we may begin to awaken to its message.
Every situation in our lives that triggers a negative reaction is providing us with an opportunity to bring awareness to something we may be holding onto in our subconscious mind or body.
I first became aware of this reality during my yoga training. It's something we dove into and worked on. It wasn't until about a week ago when I stumbled across the thought, jotted down in my notebook, that I realized how much cultivating this awareness has shifted my perspective.
Now, when I am triggered by anything, I look inwards. I try and take a step back and watch the situation like I'd watch a movie. Since doing this, I noticed I am "triggered" a whole lot less.
It's not about trying to analyze every situation and "figure it all out." It's simply about developing an active awareness so we can continue to identify recurring patterns and themes, and perhaps look at those a bit more closely.
Eventually, the subconscious will be made conscious and that's where true healing will occur. Start with being mindful of your triggers and reactions.
Your life is the perfect movie. When you start to recognize that, life becomes a whole lot more fun, less stressful, and you take back the ability to control your reality.
Unfortunately, I cannot take credit for these AMAZING things, but HOLY MOLY they are on a different level. Huge shout out to This Rawsome Vegan Life for sharing the magic. I absolutely love how simple and easy the recipe with made with all PURE ingredients. No gluten, animal products or refined sugar allowed!
To be original, I did add my own twist to the dessert by adding a layer of sliced banana in between the decadent layers. Now this really blew it out of the water. I highly recommend trying a few like this.
This salad recipe was inspired by Amelia Liana, I just added my own twist to it :) It is absolutely amazing --especially the tahini dressing. It is also super filling and satisfying and has a multitude of essential nutrients packed into one meal.
- 3 cup chopped kale
- 1/2 cup chopped cabbage
- 1/4 cup shredded brussel sprouts
- 1/2 cup chopped red pepper
- 1/4 cup shredded carrot
Toasted Coconut Chili Cashews
- 1/4 cup raw cashews
- 1 tbsp. coconut oil
- 1/1 tsp. chili powder
- pinch cayenne pepper
- 1 tbsp. lime juice
- pinch sea salt
Let coconut oil melt in pan. Add in lime juice. Stir in cashews and spices and continue to mix on low heat until golden brown/toasted.
Lime Ginger Tahini Dressing
- Juice of 1 lime
- 1 tbsp. grated ginger
- 2 tbsp. tahini
- 2 tsp. organic/wheat free soy sauce
- 1 clove crushed garlic
Mix together. Massage dressing onto kale salad base. Top with cashews.
- 2 cup mixed frozen berries
- 1 frozen banana
- 1 handful spinach
- 1 scoop of hemp protein powder
- Splash of hemp milk
Blend together in food processor or high power blender until smooth and thick.
- Sliced kiwi
- Unsweetened dried coconut flakes
- Chia seeds
- Handful frozen strawberries
- Handful frozen mango
- 1 frozen banana
- Handful raw spinach
- 1/2 avocado
- 1 tsp. pure matcha powder
- 1 tbsp. pure moringa powder
- Splash of almond milk or non-dairy milk of choice
Pulse all ingredients in food processor until smooth. Top with whatever you want! Here's what's on this one:
- Sliced peaches
- Sprinkle of unsweetened shredded coconut
- Scoop of raw almond butter
- Raw almond slivers (for crunchiness purposes)
- Sprinkle of coconut flax granola
Curry Tofu Scramble
Such a yummy breakfast! I didn't measure anything. It's easy to guestimate the amount you'll need for each ingredient, so feel free to wing it and add your own twist.
- Organic, non-GMO tofu
- Cooked freekeh (an ancient grain green wheat that has more protein and twice as much fiber as quinoa and lower on the glycemic index)
- Cooked black beans (using canned is easiest)
- Steamed sweet potato
- Baby spinach
- Chopped Tomatoes
- Chopped yellow onion
- Chopped yellow and orange peppers
- Coconut oil
- Garlic Powder
- Cayenne Pepper (just a tad)
- Sea salt
- Dash of worcestershire sauce (optional)
Melt coconut oil in pan over the stove. Scramble all ingredients over low heat until veggies are sauteéd and soft. Use your taste for how much spice you want! Just keep adding until you get enough flavor.
Super Green Juice
- 1 English cucumber
- 1 bundle of kale
- 1 peeled lemon
- 1 peeled lime
- 2 baby apples
- 1 thumb of ginger (I like extra spicy so I used more like a fist, haha)
- 1 stalk of celery
Smoothie bowls are filling and satisfying and also really fun to make. There are endless combinations and possibilities so get creative with yours :)
- 2 handfuls of raw spinach
- 1/2 avocado
- Handful of frozen strawberries
- Handful of frozen peaches
- 1 thumb of fresh ginger root (peeled)
- Splash of almond milk
- Use just enough so that it will blend together but stay nice and thick for that ice cream-like consistency
- 1 scoop of your favorite protein powder. I use Raw Fit vegan protein powder from Garden of Life
- 1 heaping tbsp. of moringa superfood powder
- 1 sliced kiwi
- Handful of fresh raspberries
- Sprinkle of sliced almonds
- 3 raw cashews (halved)
- Sprinkle of chia seeds
You can really put anything you want on your smoothie bowl. Get creative and have fun with it :)
When you really want to indulge, this meal will send you to heaven and back. Perfect for a Friday movie night when you feel like just chilling and eating some dope food. Being vegan does NOT mean giving up your favorite treats and indulgences :)
- Any vegan pre-made pizza crust (thick, thin, gluten-free, multigrain, pick whatever you want!)
- Olive oil (brush the crust before putting on any toppings)
- Your favorite pizza sauce (I used Field Day Organic Pizza Sauce )
- Daiya mozzarella style cheese shreds (BOMB when melted)
- Your favorite toppings! Get creative with it :) Here's the two I made:
Pizza One: Tomato Basil
Pizza Two: Sautéed Veggie
First of all... what's kava?
Kava is a root found in the South Pacific Islands that has been used by Islanders for centuries as a natural medicine and healing remedy. It can be consumed as a tea or in powder form. Kava has an all-natural calming effect that decreases anxiety and stress. It also promotes deep sleep. However, it should not be consumed in large quantities or it could cause nausea. It has also been linked to liver problems when consumed long term and in large amounts, so only use as much as directed! For the smoothies, I used kava in powder form. It does have a miraculous calming effect and does not interfere with mental sharpness.
- Bananas (frozen is best)
- Coconut bliss dark chocolate flavored ice cream
- Your favorite non-dairy milk (I used hemp milk)
- Raw Cacao powder
- Carob powder
- Kava powder
Obsessed with this smoothie! It tastes like a mint chocolate milk shake but is insanely healthy, chockfull of superfoods to give you a natural energy boost.
- 1 ripe avocado
- 1 bunch kale
- 1/4 head broccoli (plus the stalk)
- 1 stem fresh mint leaves
- 2 tsp. peppermint extract
- 1 1/2 tbps. raw cacao powder
- coconut water (as much needed to blend smooth)
- 2 handfulls of ice
- 1 heaping tbsp. moringa superfood powder (optional)
- 1 scoop of Raw Fit vegan protein powder (optional - or your favorite protein powder!)
- 1/2 cup mashed sweet potato
- 2 chia seed "eggs" (2 tbsp. ground chia seeds + 6 tbsp. water)
- 1-2 tsp. cinnamon
- 1 tsp. ground ginger
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 1/2 tsp. baking powder
- 2 tsp. coconut oil
Whisk together all ingredients in large mixing bowl and pour rounds onto greased (with coconut oil) skillet or pan. Cook until browned edges (should be pretty soft and gooey). Top with ground cinnamon and ginger and your favorite maple syrup.
Thanks to my friend Belinda Macri, owner of Clearwater Retreat for this bomb recipe.
This is one of my all-time favorite meals. I love making pesto because there are so many different variations to try. This one is made with kale and nutritional yeast and it's banging. I am vegan, so everything you'll find on the Sky Life blog is vegan!
- 1/3 cup raw pine nuts
- 3 gloves of fresh garlic
- 1/2 lemon, zested and juiced (I put mine through a juicer)
- 1 bunch of curly kale
- salt and pepper (to taste)
- 3/4 cup olive oil
- 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
Combine everything in food processor or blender and pulse until blended smooth. I use a Ninja blender and it rocks! Pour over your favorite pasta or veggie noodles. I used Ezekiel sprouted grain penne for this meal, which I love because it's so filling and hearty. Sprouted grain is also a great source of protein for vegans because it is a complete protein.
- 1 bag of small red potatoes
- olive oil
- sea salt and pepper
- Herbamare seasoning (optional, but I put this stuff on everything!)
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Wash and cut up potatoes into fourths. Place in baking tray and coat with olive oil, sea salt, pepper and seasoning of your choice. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Periodically, remove from oven and tossed around in the pan.