I tried new mushroom gummies to improve my memory and focus. Here’s what happened.
A New York-based wellness startup released a new mushroom gummy intended to improve focus, memory, and productivity. I took the gummy for two weeks and documented the results.
You might relate: low motivation, brain fog, and mental burnout.
As a senior team lead at a fast-paced tech company, I deal with this on a daily basis. I have to manage a group of engineers and coordinate endless tasks, all while staying motivated and coherent in company-wide meetings.
And when I get home from work, the energy just isn’t there for family time.
My solution has forever been an endless cycle of caffeinated beverages. One in the morning, two around 3pm, and potentially one more in the late evening if work requires.
But the jitters, anxiety-ridden crash, and sleep disruption have taken a real toll on my mental wellness—brain fog, mood fluctuations, and frequent burnout.
But there’s a new health trend that I only recently discovered for myself: Caffeine is out, mushrooms are in.
I’m not talking about the psychedelic, ‘that tree just talked to me’ kind of mushroom. Rather, functional mushrooms—reishi, lion’s mane, shiitake—fungi we can find at our local specialty grocer.
What does the research say
Functional mushrooms, also known as medicinal mushrooms, have been used for centuries in eastern medicine to promote health and treat various illnesses.
In recent years, various clinical studies have shown that functional mushrooms contain bioactive compounds which may have immune-boosting, anti-inflammatory, and cognitive benefits to help us weather environmental stressors and emotional strain.
As these mushrooms continue to gain interest from investors and researchers, some companies are experimenting with functional mushrooms to provide benefits beyond just nutrition, such as reducing stress or increasing focus.
VELT, a New York-based wellness startup, is one such company. Last year, VELT launched a gummy derived from ingredients in lion’s mane, one of a handful of functional mushrooms used in traditional Chinese medicine along with reishi and turkey tail.
VELT is made from fruiting body extracts, the high-quality cap section of the mushroom.
Deciding to test it myself
VELT is a newcomer in the growing functional-mushroom industry, which could reach a whopping $19.33 billion by 2030, according to a November report from Allied Market Research.
David Michaels, the founder of VELT, said he’d been experimenting with functional mushrooms when he too couldn’t find a solution to caffeine crashes and ineffective pharmacy supplements like GABA and 5-HTP.
“Some friends and coworkers had turned to mushroom coffee, but I found the taste to be… let’s call it less than desirable. I’m also not a huge fan of pills, but I was keen on the idea of a gummy,” Michaels said.
Michaels is a veteran journalist who has worked for publications including The Wall Street Journal, NBC, and Business Insider. He has had the privilege of interviewing a number of successful individuals, from Bill Gates to Ryan Reynolds to Warren Buffett. It was these individuals and their desirable drive and focus that motivated Michaels to improve cognition and break his brain fog.
While stimulants like Adderall seem to be effective for about 70% of patients, they can come with serious risks like addiction and worsening of existing heart conditions.
“We wanted to create a natural, healthy product that had short-term benefits — i.e., focus, cognition, energy — but also had these long-term compounding benefits with regular use,” Michaels said in a recent interview.
The VELT team also takes care to only use high-quality fruiting body extracts, which allows for better absorption and efficacy in the body.
After speaking with Michaels and reading the clinical mushroom research, I was convinced enough to give it a go.
I tried VELT’s gummy product, FOCUS, and documented the effects of a full day beginning at 10:30 in the morning.
VELT’s website says FOCUS’s effects might kick in hours after taking a gummy, but caveated that users may also have to take the gummies for a one to two before experiencing the full compounding effects.
The raspberry taste was great, an unexpected surprise. About 45 minutes in, I started to feel relaxed, not shaky or panicky as if I’ve had too much coffee but still focused and able to work.
I definitely felt more focused a couple hours in. At about 10 minutes into the second hour, I started to feel quite positive about the work I had ahead of me.
I was energized and optimistic about what I needed to accomplish for the day. It was that feeling of taking an espresso shot, but without the heart palpitations, and with much greater clarity.
I now felt the effects fully kick in. It was as though the fog I’d been struggling with had evaporated and I felt better than I had in months. The mental haze and stress I’d been carrying around eased too. The level of alertness and concentration I began to feel was something I hadn’t experienced in years and it became so much easier for me to ignore distractions and outside noises.
Best of all, there weren’t any of the negative side effects like I’ve felt a couple hours into taking other supplements.
2 – 6 p.m.
The relaxing and energizing effects continued throughout the remainder of the day, and slowly tapered off into the evening. I did not have to spring for my usual afternoon coffee and I found myself able to ease into evening activities, dinner, and sleep.
Over the next week, I continued to experiment with VELT. I found myself bouncing out of bed, sometimes even before my alarm went off, eager to tackle the day.
Things that used to annoy me were no longer an issue. I hardly got stressed and when I did, I was able to control my emotions and get back into peak performance mode. One thing I didn’t expect was the “in the zone” feeling I consistently felt, which compounded after taking FOCUS for several days.
As a result, I’ve enjoyed my work so much more and my mood has greatly improved. I’ve tried Modafinil and countless other smart drugs, but this is by far the closest thing to feeling like you are Bradley Cooper from Limitless.
Don’t just take my word for it though; give it a try yourself. Of course, you should always consult a medical professional if you’re unsure of interactions or undesired effects with any current medications or medical conditions.
For now, I’ll be continuing VELT, likely with their monthly subscription since the effects seem to compound over time. And I’ll be thanking my lucky stars for the wonderful benefits of fungi.
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