Shroommate brings out the nutritional magic of mushrooms
By: Stephenie Gee
September 21, 2023
You’re not tripping. Mushrooms are the next-gen nutrition powerhouse. And the latest venture to harness their powers – minus the hallucinogenic effects – is Shroommate. Co-founder Alex Lam talks to Stephenie Gee
In H.G. Wells’ 1896 short story The Purple Pileus, the protagonist attempts to end his miserable existence by ingesting fungi. Instead of death, he is met with psychedelic visions and, in their grip, decides it’s time for a change. Mushrooms, in the literary and physical world, have long been revered for their transformative potential – and not just in the psychedelic sense. Functional mushrooms – species that have adaptogenic properties and health benefits beyond that of their nutritional value – have a history stretching back millenia. The Greek physician Hippocrates, circa 460 BC, identified the amadou mushroom as a potent anti-inflammatory and ideal for cauterising wounds. Ötzi the Iceman, who lived nearly 5,300 years ago, tethered birch polypore and tinder fungus on a leather strap to supplement his survival in the Ötzal Alps. And the Han Dynasty text Shen Nong Ben Cao Jing writes of reishi: “Protracted taking may make the body light, prevent senility and prolong life so as to make one an immortal.”
While immortality is still out of reach, the allure of mushrooms has proved powerful regardless, with a host of brands harnessing their powers to our benefit. Co-founded by singer-songwriter, actor and certified yoga instructor Alex Lam with fellow health and wellness enthusiasts Vivien Wong and Simon Yuen, Shroommate launched in June with a mission to introduce mushroom supplements as an essential part of one’s wellness journey through exclusive events, programmes and workshops. Think a two-hour “retreat” complete with a mushroom tea ceremony and yoga class, breathwork experience or ice bath challenge; or a canapés and mushroom cocktails soiree set to live music in an art gallery.
“We were trying to find a project that we really wanted to become a part of mentally, physically and spiritually. So we all aligned underneath this umbrella of what a mushroom-based lifestyle brand would incorporate, which is aspects of wellness, happiness, health and community,” explains Lam. “And it’s important that we promote a lifestyle because this is the edge that we can bring to the table. Just speaking about me, I’m very centred in entertainment work, production work, shows, making movies. And, of course, I have a background in yoga. So for me, it’s always been a dream to connect the yoga and entertainment world, like teaching a yoga class in a setting that a concert might be in: a big, big stadium with really good acoustics and PA systems so everybody can hear, and a big TV screen so everybody can see and follow. It’s something that I haven’t seen done yet, but with my background that’s something I feel that I can piece together. And I feel these are the lifestyle aspects that each and every one of our individual team members can bring; we all have our own special background and expertise. Hopefully, we can curate really good events that can bring together a community as well as provide an experience that people haven’t seen before so that we are more than just a health supplement brand.”
“More” is precisely what Shroommate seems to be pursuing. Its current three offerings are consciously designed to form a one-day course so as to become a part of one’s wellness journey: cordyceps for dawn, lion’s mane for daytime and reishi for dusk. USDA organic and certified, each sachet contains 3,000mg of only the most premium parts of the mushroom. The formulas are vegan, gluten-, nut-, caffeine- and sugar-free as well as hot- and cold-soluble, allowing for easy incorporation into your daily diet (you can mix it into your morning coffee, blend it into your lunch smoothie and even add it to your ramen broth).
“We’re going to have more coming up but it’s really interesting to centre our brand around these three mushrooms because they are really common in Chinese culture, medicine and heritage, and are held in really high regard for their medicinal purposes. And as someone of Chinese heritage, it’s something that makes me particularly proud,” Lam says. “Also, they’re all natural. I definitely still use other supplements that are based on chemical creations, but being able to have more natural substances to supplement your life is a goal that I’m slowly working towards too. It’s a journey but I can already begin to see what the long- term benefits are in my life supplementing with these three mushrooms. And that’s part of what makes us unique: we’re in for the long run. And I want to make those decisions and investments into my life now so that I can see the rewards later when I’m older.”
Shroommate’s website presents visitors with a shop and discovery page that serves as a beginner’s guide to understanding functional mushrooms and the company’s products: cordyceps is effective at boosting levels of ATP and beating fatigue, lion’s mane has the ability to boost memory and cognitive function, and reishi, the “queen of mushrooms”, promotes a calming state.
“We’re definitely trying to become an educational lifestyle brand in the sense that we want to share all the insight we have about the mushrooms that we’re using and learning about so that people can find this product for themselves and see if it can fit and how it can fit into their lives,” says Lam. “Everyone has their own way of supplementing and we want to be universal in the sense that everyone can use it in their own way to find their own balance. And how they find their own balance is through being exposed to the right education and information about the product. That’s why it’s so important for us to let people know about the benefits and the history of medicinal mushrooms.”