Riding the shroom boom

Riding the shroom boom

Will LifeCykel’s liquid mushroom extracts change your life? Yeah, nah. But then again, maybe?

Remember Limitless? The Bradley Cooper movie, yeah? A quick recap: depressed man gets his hands on a magical pill that makes him smart, so he uses it to make heaps of money, get abs and impress girls. Oh, and some very bad people try to kill him. The end. Give the man an Oscar!

Though the ‘Limitless pill’ is fictional, it’s based on a category of drugs – both chemical and natural – known as nootropics. Essentially, nootropics are thought to enhance memory and cognitive functions. In other words: it make brain more good.

Mushrooms are an example of a natural nootropic; funghis aren’t just fun guys, they have all kinds of other properties that we’re only just starting to understand and the world has caught on in a big way. The ‘shroom boom’ is real and more and more people, and consequently businesses like LifeCykel, are taking it upon themselves to find out what’s really cooking in the mushroom kingdom.

Who are LifeCykel?

LifeCykel claim to be ‘an evolutionary focused mycelium biotechnology company that engineers positive solutions to real world problems.’ I came across them and their liquid mushroom extracts because a friend, who I consider to be reasonably intelligent, bought the company’s ‘Biohacker Set’ and decided to put a few drops of something in my beer one evening. It didn’t change my life, but it didn’t kill me either; so, without doing any further research, I decided to give them a crack.

I purchased a 60mL dropper bottle of ‘Lion’s Mane Liquid Extract’ for $42.53, giving me 30 days worth of liquid designed to guide me through my day and help me reach my state of flow. I just had to add it to my smoothie every morning and boom – I’m in the flow. Welcome to the Flow State. It’s that easy.

The flow state: a review

I had high hopes for my Lion’s Mane extract. After all, it has a 4.8 star average rating (from 381 reviews) on the LifeCykel website. The feedback ranges from Max, who saw ‘a noticeable improvement in mental clarity and a better ability to focus/gather thoughts,’ to Wendy, who apparently has a great deal of pain due to her spine and claims it ‘calms the nerves that are destroyed by the bulging discs.’ That’s huge. Others claim to enjoy deeper, more restorative sleep, vivid dreams and an increased ability to concentrate on work. Once again, that’s huge, that’s something to get excited about, but my experience was, ah, different. 

I religiously added the extract to my smoothie every morning and I felt...nothing. No heightened alertness, no increased levels of concentration. Halfway through the month I switched from taking the extract in the morning to the evening, and still, nothing. If anything, I slept worse, because I went to bed each night excited for the wonders of a dream-filled sleep. I didn’t wake up feeling more refreshed either. As for increased focus and concentration, I found that yes, I could focus for hours on a single task, but unfortunately that single task was stewing over how little effect the mushroom extract was having on my life.


The verdict

It’s a strong no from me. The research out there says that Lion’s Mane can help stimulate nerve growth in the brain and may be a possible treatment for low levels of depression and anxiety, which is cool, but I have neither depression nor anxiety – though sometimes I dabble, like everyone – so there’s no real way of testing those claims. There are tons of reviews online claiming that Lion’s Mane has changed their lives and I don’t see how they can all be lying. Is it a placebo effect? A total scam?  

What I did find during my research, which I probably should’ve conducted before purchasing anything, is that the liquid extracts are thought to be a bit of a marketing gimmick. Apparently you’re paying for a useless liquid that dilutes the strength of the mushroom. The powder extracts, on the other hand, are thought to be more reliable options, though I’m sure that Wendy and her bulging discs would argue the opposite. Like I said, I think it’s unlikely that you can ‘hack’ your biology, otherwise everyone would be doing it. And I’m also wary about anything that plasters the words ‘Byron Bay’ on their packaging. Also, I’ll be sticking to consuming mushrooms the way the good Lord intended them, scattered across a life-changing pizza.


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