If the efforts of each individual were rooted in selfless desires to make the world a safer, more equal, and more inspired place, I believe there would be a lot less strife and a lot more satisfaction in our world. We don’t all have to be priests, politicians, or missionaries to fall into that category, but we should feel that at a minimum we are contributing a meaningful slice of our daily energy to the wellbeing of others.
As a part of my series about the the things we can do to develop serenity and support each other during anxious times, I had the pleasure of interviewing Kate Seiberlich.
Kate graduated from California Polytechnic State University, where she discovered and nurtured her passion for the natural world. Her deep connection with nature expanded beyond plants and into the world of funghi after healing her chronic autoimmune disease through the powers of medicinal mushrooms. Kate’s journey inspired her to promote holistic healing in the Western world, and in 2019, she left her full-time job in entertainment to develop her own line of medicinal mushroom tinctures, Üphoric Urth.
Kate has deepened her relationship with the practices of sustainable farming while apprenticing as a Beekeeping Guardian for The Honeybee Hub. She lives in Los Angeles where she’s training to become a Certified Herbalist.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?
It all starts with energy. Back in 2015, I had none. In addition to what felt like perpetual exhaustion, I was sick all the time. I was in my mid-twenties, and it turns out was suffering from an autoimmune disorder which left me in a state of constant discomfort, susceptibility to illness, and fear that I would never recover. Worst of all, the cause of my condition was unknown, and I was told it could be life-threatening if I didn’t do something about it.
Some known treatment options for my condition included: steroids, blood transfusions, and removal of the spleen. I was convinced there had to be another alternative to giving up vital organs at this stage in life, which may only have been a bandage solution to my chronic issue. I desperately wanted to claim my health back, holistically, and on my terms.
This inspired a holistic healing journey where my body was the test tube, the experimental vessel, and mother nature’s finest ingredients were the antidotes. After a year and a half of visiting specialists, tinkering with holistic remedies and superfoods, and experimenting with diets on all ends of the spectrum from paleo to veganism, I felt much healthier overall but my autoimmune still persisted…until I discovered medicinal mushrooms.
After several months of continued good diet and exercise, plus the integration of medicinal mushrooms into my daily routine, I felt energetically rejuvenated, and to my surprise, I had healed from my condition without pills or procedures.
This sparked my love affair of the fungi kingdom and the newfound health that mushrooms had granted me, although, I didn’t love the user experience. Often, I found myself carrying around heavy jars of mushroom powders, constantly searching for hot water to mix my concoctions. I sought to create a more user-friendly means of taking these medicinal mushrooms, which ultimately inspired the birth of Üphoric Urth. The brand has officially launched in June 2020 with six premium high-potency mushroom extracts made from Reishi, Lion’s Mane, Cordyceps, Chaga, and Turkey Tail.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
I am a big believer in signs. I believe that signs are all around us, like constant little whispers in our ears with pure intentions to keep our personal train on the tracks. At the end of 2018, I was given a sign that sounded like the loudest whisper I’d ever heard.
At this point in time, I had healed from my condition but had not yet started Üphoric Urth, nor had the notion to do so. I was simply a lover of fungi. Loving all things mushrooms as I do, I quickly said “Yes” to attending a mushroom foraging retreat in Canada after a 5-minute conversation and invitation to attend this retreat from a total stranger whom I’d met at my local Erewhon. (It’s easy to bond quickly with fellow micophiles.)
A few weeks later, I traveled solo to Canada where I entered the forest for the first time alongside my new friend from Erewhon and some expert mushroom foragers. Little did I know I was about to experience the only thing I’d ever known to feel like an epiphany.
This is where “the sign” comes in. I spotted mushrooms everywhere. I found more mushrooms than my arms could carry and every time I’d spot one, a shriek of delight would come over me. Imagine a sort of Easter egg hunting for adults situation, I was in bliss. It felt incredible to be surrounded by mushrooms, the magical foods that had healed me, in their natural habitat.
This was the moment I knew that I was supposed to dedicate a larger part of my life to holistic wellness and specifically, medicinal mushrooms. It felt as though getting sick didn’t happen to me, but for me.
What advice would you suggest to your colleagues in your industry to thrive and avoid burnout?
It’s important to have a self-care routine that is both proactive and reactive (and not just engaging in it when you feel burnout coming on). For me, yoga and taking my daily medicinal mushrooms are both grounding and necessary for me to keep my wellness baseline at an optimal level, no matter what else is going on in my life. If a day ever goes by without engaging in either of these healthy practices I ask myself, “What did I let get in the way of my health and happiness today? Will I let that thing get in the way of my priorities again tomorrow?”
What advice would you give to other leaders about how to create a fantastic work culture?
Create a set of values or first principles that you can always fall back on, and make sure that everyone aboard the ship is in agreement with that philosophy. I left the wine industry for wellness after realizing that my personal values were often disjunct with the industry culture. I realized that the culture I wanted to create and be a part of would be better suited for a space that was rooted in healthy living, and as the sole founder of my own company I’m able to instill the values that I believe in (and the practices that lead to a supportive work environment) at work every day.
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
My collection of children’s books is about equal to the amount of books intended for adults, and I don’t have any children! I’ve always been inspired by children’s books and the way they make my imagination run wild. My favorite by far is Dr Seuss’s “Oh, the Thinks You Can Think!” Whenever I need an uplifting creative boost, I reread this book and the light bulb generally flickers on. “Think left and think right, and think low and think high, Oh, the thinks you can think up, if only you try!” It’s on my bucket list to write a children’s book collection of my own, but for now, we’re laser focussed on healing mushrooms.
Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. Many people have become anxious just from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have only heightened a sense of uncertainty, fear, and loneliness. From your experience or research what are five steps that each of us can take to develop serenity during such uncertain times? Can you please share a story or example for each.
- Step 1: Do less! You heard correctly, do LESS. Especially in today’s hard-working Western culture where hours-worked are often badges of honor, we find ourselves spread incredibly thin which can lead to all kinds of stress-induced health issues. Not to mention the disappointment that kicks in amongst the feeling of inadequacy when one is doing so many things mediocre that nothing is getting done exceptionally well. Choose one or two items for the week that are most important to you and focus all your energy on that. You may be surprised to find how well those two things get done and how much more at ease you feel overall.
- Step 2: Reward little wins. I find that I establish a zone of satisfaction when I set (very achievable) goals, and give myself permission to be generously rewarded for achieving them. Pause for a moment and refer to Step 1. This doesn’t mean setting over-the-top, unreachable goals that end up spiralling you into a self-induced state of stress. The rewards can be just as sweet for the small achievements. A very luxurious bubble bath with dried rose petals and delicious essential oils is a great reward after crossing just about anything off your list, big or small.
- Step 3: Adaptogen up! One of my favorite solutions to stress is Adaptogens, which are a class of herbs that help the body adapt to stressors as they exert a normalizing effect on the body. The golden child of anti-stress adaptogenic herbs is the reishi mushroom, also known as the “Mushroom of Immortality.” Adaptogens are one of nature’s most incredible gifts for the modern human, and the reishi mushroom contains triterpenes which are thought to be responsible for creating a calming effect on the parasympathetic nervous system which can be helpful in combating insomnia caused by anxiety and excessive stress. I love using my Üphoric Urth reishi tincture in an herbal tea before bed time.
- Step 4: Create Your Own Meditation Ritual. Define what meditation means to you, and create a practice around it that is sustainable for you. We’re all familiar with the traditional meaning of meditation with legs crossed, eyes closed, and mind quiet, but perhaps there are other mindfulness practices that may provide you with a state of calm awareness. It’s all about finding what works for the individual and what you can commit to, every day. If you can achieve states of serenity or enlightenment through other modalities like walks in nature, yin yoga in a candlelit room, or dancing around your living room into a hair brush — that’s your prerogative. Create your own meditation. The most important part is just to commit to it.
- Step 5: Never underestimate the importance of sleep. Getting good sleep is your immune system’s safety net. Don’t cut your net!
From your experience or research what are five steps that each of us can take to effectively offer support to those around us who are feeling anxious? Can you explain?
- Step 1: Be Vulnerable. Anxiety is a fear-based response, a fear of the unknown. As humans, our fears and nerves are naturally calmed when we discover that we are not alone in our fears, so when others open up and share their stories of how they too have overcome similar stressful situations, it gives hope for others to follow suit. We become of service to others when we shed our egotistical armor.
- Step 2: Listen more than you speak. Simply venting to a friend who deeply cares about you is one of the oldest and easiest tricks in the book to alleviate anxiety. I believe that in total “ventilation exhalation,” you really need to get ALL the negative gunk out of you, so it’s a total blessing to have a solid bestie that’s fully accepting of you at your absolute worst, and can handle the emotional earthquake without trying to “fix” it. Sometimes as humans, we simply just need to be heard.
- Step 3: Check-in, and check-in often. Even though we are going through a time of physical distance, that doesn’t mean we can’t be emotionally there for those who need it most right now. Showing that you are consistently supportive, not just when you’re bored or when it’s asked for, is the mark of a true friend. Check in, and check in often.
- Step 4: A little care package never hurt anyone. I personally find that I experience anxiety when I’m spinning my wheels tirelessly and putting my self-care on the backburner. My partner has epic timing in gifting little care packages or making thoughtful gestures that remind me I’m not alone, and that a little R&R does the body good.
- Step 5: Validate and appreciate. Everyone is entitled to their own feelings, and we tend to feel less neurotic when we can establish a root from which our feelings stem from. To acknowledge that you understand and recognize why a friend or family member is experiencing anxious feelings may be just the restorative reprieve they need.
What are the best resources you would suggest to a person who is feeling anxious?
One of my favorite solutions to anxiety or stress is adaptogens, which are a class of herbs that help the body adapt to stressors as they exert a normalizing effect on the body. The golden child of anti-stress adaptogenic herbs is the reishi mushroom, also known as the “Mushroom of Immortality.” Adaptogens are one of nature’s most incredible gifts for the modern human, and the reishi mushroom contains triterpenes which are thought to be responsible for creating a calming effect on the parasympathetic nervous system which can be helpful in combating insomnia caused by anxiety and excessive stress. I love using my Üphoric Urth reishi tincture in an herbal tea before bed time.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?
Though a bit dark, the quote that really hits it home for me is:
“Some people would not waste any part of today if they knew that by this time tomorrow they will be dead.”― Mokokoma Mokhonoana
There was a point in life when this idea was bone chillingly accurate. Before I dedicated my career to mushrooms, I was in entertainment. Every night as I went to sleep and every morning as I woke up, I thought about diving head first into my true passion — sharing medicinal mushrooms with the world — but I was afraid of taking the leap of faith and going all-in on my new business. Back in December 2019, I was hit in my car by a drunk driver. Though I left the scene unscathed, I felt as though I’d seen my life flash before my eyes. The very next day, I quit my job and gave 100% of my focus and dedication to my passion, as I consider my personal calling to be a “Mushroom Evangelist.” It was then that I decided to give everything I’ve got to the launch of Üphoric Urth.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
There’s a quote I love from Martin Luther King Jr. that says, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: ‘What are you doing for others?’” I fully subscribe to this statement so empathetically made by Dr. King. If the efforts of each individual were rooted in selfless desires to make the world a safer, more equal, and more inspired place, I believe there would be a lot less strife and a lot more satisfaction in our world. We don’t all have to be priests, politicians, or missionaries to fall into that category, but we should feel that at a minimum we are contributing a meaningful slice of our daily energy to the wellbeing of others.
What is the best way our readers can follow you online?
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!