We had the good fortune of connecting with Danielle Ryan Broida and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Danielle Ryan, is there something you can share with us that those outside of the industry might not be aware of?
The mushroom and adaptogen space is like the Wild West right now. There are a ton of brands popping up in the space, seeing the need to support stress, immune function, and overall well being in the current state of the world. Yet mainstream education around quality of these ingredients is young. The biggest thing I want people to be aware of is that not all products labeled “mushroom supplement” or “adaptogen powder” are created equal. There is a drastic difference in what is being sold with the same label. For example, there can be products labeled Reishi (an amazing adaptogenic mushroom for supporting stress and the immune system) sitting side by side on a shelf. They may both have the same amount of mg/serving, have labels like gluten free and vegan, and yet what is inside the package are barely comparable. The big things to be aware of in this space are three-fold. First, always look for the real mushroom (may be labeled as fruiting body). This is the part of the species that has been used for thousands of years by cultures across the world, where the majority of the research is on, and the most medicinally potent part of the species for human health. Second, make sure the mushroom is grown on wood. Almost all functional mushrooms (Cordyceps is for another conversation) are found naturally on trees in the wild. This is their preferred growing medium. Think of this like purchasing grass-fed beef vs. beef that has been fed corn or soy its whole life. Big difference in quality, right? Same goes for mushrooms. Log-grown or wild-harvested will ensure your mushroom is the truest form possible, as nature intended. And last but not least, always look for extracted mushrooms. Be wary of words like raw, micronized, or fermented. Mushrooms must be extracted for the human body to utilize all the incredible beneficial compounds and actually support things like stress, focus, energy and immune health. It’s pretty simply, we want to use these potent natural allies in the way herbalists and practitioners have been using them safely for thousands of years, the way that nature grows them. If a product checks all the above boxes- real mushroom fruiting body, log-grown or wild-harvested, and extracted, you are on the path to getting the most out of your supplement, in the most authentic and natural form. Bonus points if the product is USDA certified organic, double bonus points if its been 3rd party lab tested for purity, and triple bonus if the mg/serving is up to 1500 mg. Adaptogens like functional mushrooms are incredible and can offer great benefits to our overall wellbeing but in order to actually get those benefits, quality and proper assessment of what you’re purchasing is key.
What should our readers know about your business?
As a practicing Registered Herbalist (AHG), Holistic Nutritionist, and Instructor of Mycology, I have a deep love for fungi and have the honor of sharing the Everyday Magic® of Four Sigmatic with the world as their National Educator.
Four Sigmatic is a functional foods company founded by a few Finnish folks. My job is to educate, amaze, delight, and connect with our customers. It’s never been harder to make good choices for your health, so I’m here to support Four Sigmatic in their mission to help people cut through the fads and take the guesswork out of wellness. We pair the world’s most nutrient dense foods with delicious foods like coffee, lattes, plant-based protein, and chocolate, so they’re easy to fit into your day and you don’t have to start anything new. From easy-to-use elevated coffee and better evening rituals to cleaner protein post-workout and edible skincare, we help everyone meet the demands of modern life.
Getting here wasn’t an easy road!
One of the biggest challenges was truly not knowing the long-term plan of any of my endeavors. From studying Ayurveda in India to become a Certified Yoga Instructor to working with a Naturopathic Doctor in Indonesia where I became a Certified Raw Chef and Detox Coach, I didn’t know where my path would take me. It wasn’t until my trekking adventures into the backcountry of Thailand where I became particularly fascinated by herbal medicine. I started a private practice, where I worked with hundreds of clients across the U.S., specializing in treatment for individuals with autoimmune conditions and chronic illness and was invited to become the Instructor of Mycology at CSCH, where I still teach.
It was almost a decade of this and odd jobs and temporary gigs until I truly found my place as the National Educator at Four Sigmatic.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Only being in LA 6 months, and all of it in a pandemic, my knowledge of the local area doesn’t stretch far beyond the nature that I have come to know and love around here. I’d bring my best friend to all my favorite spots, each of which is a reminder of the beauty and bounty of Earth, even in the confines of a concrete jungle. My favorite part about living in Venice is my weekend harvest at the Cook’s Garden on Abbot Kinney. I have a slot every Saturday where I go and harvest a big bag full of all of the herbs, greens, and vegetables that are ready that week. I get to see the growth of the fava beans week over week, how the arugula flowers if it’s a particularly warm week, and feed the silk chickens and ducks cabbage leaves, collecting a few eggs while I’m with them. In the hustle of the city, this garden has been a true haven. Living near the beach, I would definitely bring my bestie to bike or run to the ocean every day at sunset. Just stepping out onto the sand and looking out towards Catalina brings an instant deepening to the breath, reminding us of our place on this precious Earth. And a trip with me wouldn’t be complete without getting out on some trails, hiking around, and looking for wild edible, herbs, and of course, mushrooms. I’ve been loving exploring trails around the Palisades and have found quite a few plant medicine and mushrooms (Turkey Tail, Hericium coralloides- a relative of Lion’s Mane, Puffballs) this season. I think it’s so important to breathe the air under an oak tree, look down at the dirt, and be awed by the sites, sounds and smell of nature even just a few minutes from PCH. Between the outdoor activities, gardening, and beach time, we would cook lots of plant-based meals, meditate or do breathwork in the CA sunshine, and make sure to hop into my infrared sauna for a sweat before bed! Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
There are so many brilliant, compassionate minds that have helped shaped my story- from authors, teachers, mentors, herbalists, family members, and best friends. This shoutout goes to my best friend since birth, Jamie Gray. Our moms were hiking partners when we were both in the womb, so we literally have been side by side, despite not living in the same place for the majority of our lives, for our entire existence. When I was in grad school at the Colorado School of Clinical Herbalism (CSCH), I had to give my first class to the public. Naturally, I decided to do a class on Mushrooms 101. Jamie flew into town a bit before my talk and helped promote the talk. She is a PR wiz and in a few minutes at a coffee shop in Denver, had my talk promoted on local newspapers and online community calendars. This little action which she thought was a total no-brainer, brought almost 100 people to my class. It was the largest clinician taught class ever attended at CSCH. It showed the school faculty how much of a desire there is for more education and conversation around functional mushrooms. I believe it was large factor in the school breaking their rule of not hiring new grads until 2 years out of school and asking me to start teaching my own designed Mycology classes to the students my first year post-grad. (I still teach there today!) Beyond the PR push, Jamie has been the most unconditionally loving, supportive and encouraging person through every chapter of my life. It’s this type of best friend that helps you remember who you are, what your potential is, and encourages you to keep growing and evolving past limits you didn’t think were possible for yourself. I am forever grateful for her role in loving and supporting me, giving me the foundation of friendship and a deep knowing that I will always have a shoulder to cry on or place to stay, no matter how wild my adventures take me or how big of leaps I make.