Stephanie Castro: Balancing Tech & Plants

Stephanie Castor describes herself as a spirit-centered businesswoman, entrepreneur, wife, and mom. She is driven by a calling to contribute to plant-centric living and building community. She believes there is a holistic connection between body, mind, spirit, plants, and people, and when integrated, these elements are the best way to reach our peak potential. She is a partner at Laka Living, a company with the goal of making functional plants and superfoods also decadent & yummy, and COO at Cobalt Software, a tech company dedicated to powering community.

PP: How did you first discover plant-based medicine?

SC: In the summer of 2018 I had just returned to South Florida to work for my family’s software company after graduating with my MBA from NYU Stern School of Business in NYC. My job was very intense, and I began looking for ways to improve my energy and focus and manage stress. I fell down a rabbit hole of adaptogens, medicinal mushrooms, matcha and CBD and became passionate about these plant allies when I saw my ability to handle the demands of my job skyrocket while also staying sane and mentally and emotionally balanced. 

PP: What is one of your key plant-based medicine rituals? 

SC: I put functional mushrooms in my coffee every morning, usually with Laka Living’s Super Shroom Drip, which has 5 different mushrooms in it. Our ‘drips’ are really unique, they’re delicious nut butters that double as creamers, salad dressings, or toppings to drinks and meals, loaded with functional plant ingredients that contribute to peak health. The healthy fats level out the stimulating effect of the coffee to avoid jitters or crashes, and the mushrooms increase my focus and help my skin stay supple. It’s also safe for pregnant mamas (I’m currently in month 9!). Before I got pregnant I was also taking Prismatic Plants’ Good Night Tincture most nights. The combo of CBD with Reishi and other plant medicines always gave me the most restful sleep (something I will desperately need again once baby arrives!)

PP: Do you have a cultural or ancestral connection to any plants? 

SC: My ancestors in Italy were farmers. When they came to the US in the early 1900’s they supported themselves through selling produce in NYC. So while I don’t come from a culture of plant medicine, my background bridges the gap between business and plants, which is a legacy I’m continuing to uphold. I give honor and respect to the ancestral cultures who preserved their knowledge of the plant medicines we use today; we can thank the ancient Indian tradition of Ayurveda for many of our adaptogenic roots and herbs, traditional Chinese medicine for the most popular functional mushrooms, and indigenous cultures in South America and other places in the world for herbs and consciousness-expanding plant medicines. 

PP: What is the one plant/herb you can’t live without and why?

SC: I have to say all the mushrooms! Lion’s mane is my go-to for focus, brain health and mental clarity, and reishi has been a friend to me with regards to heart-opening and spiritual development. It’s also great for immunity which we can all use right now. Mushrooms are also energetically symbolic of what I believe to be the coming age, where we wake up and realize that we are all connected and need to work better together. If you haven’t seen the documentary Fantastic Fungi I MUST insist you drop everything and watch it to learn more about the fascinating properties of mushrooms!  

PP: Can you share your favorite self-care practice?

SC: Meditation has changed my life, specifically audio guided meditations by Kelly Howell in her app. They may sound a little old-school-cheesy when you first listen to them, but the combination of the binaural beats, which help zone your brain into different brainwave frequencies, and empowering messages that help reprogram your mindset, can seriously help you up-level and become better at manifesting your goals. Anyone who comes to me for life advice gets a prescription to listen to “The Secret Universal Mind Meditation” every night in bed. It helps you relax and works on your subconscious mind while you’re sleeping. 

PP: What is one organization you think people should know about and support?

SC: Food banks really need our support right now since so many people have been affected by Covid-19. Find your local organizations and give to them directly. You can also donate to Feeding America which operates food banks nationally. I also like Give Directly which provides direct financial assistance to individuals based on need.