There are some people born on this earth in whom a particular purpose or quest is embodied so completely that it makes them look like their avatar. Paul Stamets is one of those men, the crocodile hunter, but for mushrooms, a world-leading mycologist who eats, grows, lives, breathes, sells, and even uses mushrooms.
Now, the famous mushroom scientist wants to create a research station on a remote island to protect old-growth forests that contain a rare type of ancient mushroom that he believes could protect people against COVID-19, or even future pandemics. .
Coronavirus is a natural fit, as Paul Stamets, an expert on the medicinal use and history of mushrooms, explains, because for thousands of years mushrooms have been used to treat respiratory infections.
Some may have heard of Stamets through their TED Talk, 6 ways mushrooms can save the world, which garnered three million views on YouTube, or from its two appearances on the Joe Rogan Experience podcast when he gave the host one of his mushroom hats.
Others might have read your book: Mycelium running, or come across numerous newspaper reports about his famous use of mycelium to clean up oil spills and even nuclear radiation.
Regarding the current pandemic, the agarikon mushroom that Stamets has found in abundance in the primary forests of Cortes Island in British Columbia is just one of several species he is working with to cure the world’s ills.
“This rare old-growth mushroom has a history of use of thousands of years in Europe”, Stamets saying Rochelle Baker at the National Observer of Canada, while doing research on the island.
Stamets notes that the Greek physician Dioscorides actually described agarikon in his works, calling it the elixir of a long life, particularly when used to treat tuberculosis.
He has used other species, like the Garden Giant and the oyster mushroom, to advance their science called mycorrestoration, by showing that they can clean up septic runoff and toxic oil spills in both the ocean and land, respectively.
Mycorrhizal fungi, put forward the hypothesis in an online manifesto titled “The nuclear forest recovery zone, ”They are capable of absorbing and removing heavy metals, including real radioactive isotopes, from the soil.
The third branch
If you are unfamiliar with mycelium, the vegetative part of a mushroom, Stamets’ job is like walking into the best museums you’ve ever been to, as there are so many simple truths about mushrooms that are just mind blowing. but it is not said often.
Long after plants separated from the genetic lineage of animals to form the second kingdom, fungi evolved, like us, to breathe oxygen and release carbon dioxide. They get their energy by eating other organisms, rather than through photosynthesis.
Its network of roots and filaments, called mycelium, invented the first soil in the dim light of eons ago by breaking down long molecular chains of hard minerals. Under the microscope, the mycelial networks appear to transmit vast amounts of information that looks much more like the neural brain wave oscillations that characterize firing of human neurons than the equivalent patterns in plants.
And, like us, they produce compounds to defend themselves against bacteria and viruses.
There may be something hippie to that statement, but far from carrying the benefits of “essential oils”, mushrooms have a more impressive medical record; after all, they spawned a certain important compound known as penicillin, isolated by Alexander Fleming from the penicillium rubens mold in 1929.
The value of the island of Cortés
Stamets says that the agarikon mushrooms from the island of Cortés are “too valuable in life” to harvest. They can survive between 75-150 years, but are endangered in Europe and rare in North America. Stamets, who claims that the island of Cortes should be renamed “island of Agarikon,” is trying to capture as many strains as possible by taking small samples of the fruiting bodies he finds to help the species recover.
“When we cut down old-growth forests, we are potentially losing genomic libraries that could have a strain of fungi that could have huge implications for human biosecurity and also habitat health,” Stamets told Baker in the National Observer.
It clarifies that, therefore, primary forests should be considered a defense against future pandemics.
Stamets is investigating agarikon and other forgotten or unknown species of fungi in his Perfecti mushroom farm, where he grows all kinds of mushrooms to sell them to health food stores, laboratories or those looking to use his pollution cleaning methods.
Lacking any academic wall paper accreditation or affiliation with any laboratory or university, Stamets funds all of its research from To execute the perfect sales.
Although research on the use of mushrooms for just about anything is extremely limited to people like Stamets or cutting edge superfood companies, they have been used as food and medicine for thousands of years, and have changed the attitudes of thousands of North Americans toward forests. viscous and deep. Poisonous mushrooms more often associated with decay and toxicity than nutrition and viral defense are due to the work of people like the Mushroom Crocodile Hunter.
(Watch while Stamets goes for a walk to find agarikon mushrooms in BC)
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