Culture

Paul Stamets: 6 Ways Mushrooms Can Save the World

Featured image by Jill Bliss

Paul Stamets is an American mycologist, author, and advocate of bioremediation and medicinal fungi. He’s been a passionate, long-time supporter of fungi and its implications for healing the planet – and believes we are living in the midst of Earth’s 6th major extinction, but the “neurological network of nature” may hold the key to our survival.

Stamets recently joined Joe Rogan on his podcast to talk mycelium, and more (see video bel0w).

Could mycelium be our savior? Perhaps.

In 2008, Stamets gave a powerful TED Talk where we can find him discussing 6 ways mushrooms can save the world (see video below), and we’ve taken the liberty of curating a list of his quotes, and noteable bullet points that solidify the ideas presented in the talk.

Paul Stamets: 6 Ways Mushrooms Can Save the World

Restore habitat that’s been devastated by pollution

“I love a challenge, and saving the Earth is probably a good one.” – Paul Stamets

According to PermaCulture Magazine:

“With such extensive work on the subject, many projects acround the world are following Paul’s lead. The Ocean Blue Project based in Corvallis, Texas is just one of these.

The Ocean Blue Project, started by two local Corvallis residents – Richard Aterbury and Rosalie Bienek – begun using mushrooms to restore contaminated aquatic habitats in their area.

The project buy locally grown oyster mushroom spores that they grow in a coffee ground mix. Then they create a ‘bunker spawn’ which goes into the river. This consists of a burlap bag filled with wood chips and the inoculated oyster mushroom spawn. The bags are secured with bamboo sticks and placed on the river banks (see top photo). As the oyster mushrooms grow, they break down toxins in-situ, removing and neutralising the pollutants in the river (a form of bioremediation). Oyster mushrooms have been shown to reduce E. coli and break down hydrocarbons.”

Naturally fight flu viruses and other diseases

“Mushrooms are miniature pharmaceutical factories, and of the thousands of mushroom species in nature, our ancestors and modern scientists have identified several dozen that have a unique combination of talents that improve our health.” – Paul Stamets

Kill ants, termites, and other insects without using pesticides

In 2006, Stamets was granted a patent for SMART pesticide, which represents “the most disruptive technology we have ever witnessed.”

The mycologist has figured out how to use mycelium to keep insects from destroying crops, and this natural “pesticide” provides a safe & nearly permanent solution for controlling over 200,000 species of insects.

By taking entomopathogenic Fungi (fungi that destroys insects) and morphing it so it does not produce spores, it actually attracts the insects who then eat and turn into fungi from the inside out.

Create a sustainable fuel known as Econol

“I see the mycelium as the Earth’s natural Internet, a consciousness with which we might be able to communicate. Through cross-species interfacing, we may one day exchange information with these sentient cellular networks. Because these externalized neurological nets sense any impression upon them, from footsteps to falling tree branches, they could relay enormous amounts of data regarding the movements of all organisms through the landscape.” – Paul Stamets

By impregnating cardboard boxes with fungi and seeds, Stamets believes he can turn this creation into “life boxes”, capable of growing gardens of beans, onions and fungus – and the production of fungal sugars – econol – using mycelium as an intermedium, can produce fuels from fungus far more efficiently than cellulotic ethanol.

Mushrooms for Your Health

“Mushrooms have many helpful nutrients, including beta glucans for immune enhancement, ergothioneines for antioxidative potentiation, nerve growth stimulators for helping brain function, and antimicrobial compounds for limiting viruses.” – Paul Stamets

Acccording to Dr. Mercola:

“Just as mushrooms can strengthen the immune system of the environment, they can also strengthen the immune system in your body. Aside from being rich in protein, fiber, vitamin C, B vitamins, calcium, and minerals, there are about 50 species of medicinal mushrooms that are so rich in antioxidants they can do everything from boost your immune function to lower your risk of cancer, heart disease, and allergies.

In ancient times, Egyptians and Asians created longevity tonics from mushrooms – and even the 5,000-year-old “Ice Man” that was found in Europe a few years back had dried mushrooms with him.

Interestingly, if grown and dried in the right way, mushrooms are also one of the few foods that can provide you with vitamin D. As many of you may know, sun exposure is still the best route to make your vitamin D, but one study found that exposure to ultraviolet light could enrich growing, or just-picked mushrooms with a large supply of vitamin D.

Stamets’ book that I mentioned above also describes this topic in detail, including a study in which shitake mushrooms increased in vitamin D from 110 IUs when they were dried indoors to 21,400 IUs when they were dried in the sunlight!”

Getting Back to Sustaining the Earth

“I believe that mycelium is the neurological network of nature. Interlacing mosaics of mycelium infuse habitats with information-sharing membranes. These membranes are aware, react to change, and collectively have the long-term health of the host environment in mind. The mycelium stays in constant molecular communication with its environment, devising diverse enzymatic and chemical responses to complex challenges.” 
― Paul Stamets,

To learn even more about Stamets’ research, and the potent power of the mushroom, be sure to visit his website by clicking here.

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