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Why we wrote The Functional Mushroom Playbook

The Functional Mushroom Playbook

Why we wrote The Functional Mushroom Playbook

Why we wrote The Functional Mushroom Playbook

Umbo was founded by former professional athletes who played at the top of their respective games — “Suga” Rashad Evans is a former UFC light heavyweight champion and a Hall of Fame inductee, and Jake “The Snake” Plummer is a former Pro Bowl quarterback who played ten years in the NFL. Even though they both went out at the top of their games, they had played these violent combat sports for decades. They suspected that the violence of their sports would eventually take a serious toll on their minds and bodies. Though they didn’t know exactly how or when the consequences would come, these athletes were sure they would come. It was just a matter of time.


One time, a pre-fight MRI came back showing I had a brain injury. They didn’t know if I’d be able to compete again. It looked like a career ender. It wasn’t, thankfully, but once I retired, I started thinking, you know, it was just a matter of time before the results of that injury started to manifest in my daily life. Would I have any mental capacity any more, now that my career was done? I didn’t want to be trapped in my body. I needed to find something to help, but there wasn’t a lot of information out there.

—”Suga” Rashad Evans, UFC Hall of Famer


I never really got diagnosed with a concussion, but, I mean, I've been knocked out. I've blacked out and come to plenty of times. There's been damage done. I walked away from the game. Actually, I ran away from the game. I was healthy, but my body was deteriorating. And I have a lot of dear friends who I played with who are suffering. They're my age, some older, some younger, and many are not doing well right now.

—Jake “The Snake” Plummer


After retirement, each began their own separate journeys of health and healing, each turning relatively quickly to things found in nature to help. They each tried many natural therapies, including cannabis, hemp, and even some psychedelic therapies. But a turning point in our story is when Jake met Del Jolly, Umbo’s third founder, a Decriminalize Nature policy advocate, and at the time, an employee at a CBD company called Charlotte’s Web, which focused on using CBD for nontraditional healing uses. (The name of the company references a girl named Charlotte Figi, who suffered from epilepsy. CNN ran a video series documenting her positive response to a CBD extract.)

Their experience with Charlotte’s Web was eye-opening, and, through that work, they became interested in mushrooms. Del introduced Jake to Rashad, and all three were affiliated with a non-profit organization called Unlimited Sciences, which conceives and runs prospective observational research into the health effects of psilocybin (a psychoactive compound found in some mushrooms, a.k.a. “magic mushrooms”). This is serious research, done in partnership with powerful and established research organizations, like Johns Hopkins University. Their first major research study, published in 2023, was eye-opening: “Prospective longitudinal data collected before and after a planned psilocybin experience on average showed persisting reductions in anxiety, depression, and alcohol misuse, increased cognitive flexibility, emotion regulation… after psilocybin use,” the authors said.
With all of these experiences, the power of nature to heal was so patently obvious to each of Umbo’s founders. But psychedelics are highly regulated, not to mention highly stigmatized, and are only legal in a small handful of places in the United States. Their attention turned to other non-psychedelic mushrooms that have different, though equally amazing, properties.


Functional mushrooms have as much, if not more potential to help humanity than psilocybin.

—Del Jolly


These “functional” mushrooms are the heart of Umbo’s interests. They are not psychedelic. They often taste bad or are inedible. They look strange. And many people have never even heard of most of them. But they represent vast potential to help anyone who actively uses their minds and bodies. These functional mushrooms are our passion — so much so that Jake even started a farm in Colorado, so he could grow them himself — and they are the subject of this book. We want you to love them and get as much benefit from them as we do.

It’s worth noting that there is currently no federal regulation of functional mushrooms. We've barely scratched the surface of the Fungi kingdom, with only an estimated 8% of species — at best! — identified to date. There are no “official” government-sanctioned guidelines on which mushrooms to use, what their benefits can be, or what the proper daily amount should be. And legally, we have to tell you that the statements we make in this book have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (the FDA), and these statements are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Please take the contents of this book in the spirit in which they are intended: This is our point of view, based on the best available research that we’ve read, our own personal experience using functional mushrooms as athletes who played at the very top of our respective sports, as well as the experience of the professional trainers, nutritionists, and athletes that we know. Please use this content as an aid to help figure out what works best for you personally. We strongly believe it’ll be worth your time and effort.

Peace, love, and mushrooms!

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