I just returned from a fascinating workshop on medicinal mushrooms with world famous mycologist Paul Stamets and his wise, wonderful, supportive wife, Dusty. He presented an abundance of information on the scientific basis and cultivation of medicinal and edible mushrooms and how they can help save the world. The workshop was at a beautiful, mountainous retreat known as Foxglove Farm on Saltspring Island, where a good friend, author and bioneer, Michael Ableman is offering courses on self-sustainability. Paul Stamets (www.fungi.com) shared his decades of experience, filled with hilarious anecdotes about how he pioneered the discovery of numerous new uses of mushrooms for medicinal purposes, for bio-remediation of toxins as well as for beneficial food sources in times of need. Paul presented a superb lecture at TED Talks summarizing his vision of how mushrooms can save the world in 6 easy ways.
Personally, I have used medicinal mushrooms in my veterinary practice for decades. They are an instrumental component of my integrative approach for the treatment of immune mediated conditions, cancer as well as supporting health and wellness in the geriatric dog and cat. They are an integral part of Traditional Chinese Herbal medicine as well. Paul and I briefly discussed his beneficial anecdotal use of medicinal mushrooms in many species great and small over the decades.
Reishi mushroom is know as the longevity herb. Paul Stamets also discussed a mushroom agarikon which was new to me. It is found only in old growth rain forests and is also a key medicinal mushroom for longevity. It is another key reason for preserving what is left of our old growth forests. Paul shared how his use of Turkey Tail mushrooms for immune support in the treatment of breast cancer helped saved his mother’s life.
During the weekend workshop we actually had hands on training on learning to cultivate our own mushrooms, seeding logs with shitake mushrooms and seeding hay with oyster mushrooms. Paul lectured on how they have been able to use epigenesis, the modification of genes in mushrooms based on the environmental exposure, to be beneficial in cleaning up oil spills, sanitary pollution and possibly even nuclear pollution. He presented a plan for the restoration of the area around Fukishima based on the mushrooms they found at Chernobyl.
Paul also discussed how mushrooms with their high protein and vitamin and mineral content can be an excellent source of food for a world that is quickly running short of food. He shared how easy it can be for everyone to grow their own food source at home. It gave a whole new meaning to growing local and the concept of locavores. His vision of the future of the planet and self-sustainability includes a world growing mushrooms for food, medicine, insect control and for re-mediation of all types of pollution that is currently poisoning all of the environment.
On his website, www.fungi.com Paul offers a wealth of information in his books on what anyone needs to know about growing our own mushrooms and how to get quality mushrooms for consumption. He has his own excellent mushroom line, host defense as well.
It is such a joy to see someone still so passionate about their life work after decades and offering incredible options for keeping us all healthier in a healthier environment. His wisdom is an essential component of our vision of creating a healthier, happier society for all kindred spirits, even mushrooms! Yes, there is indeed a fungus among us!